Women in Islam are thought to be subjugated, degraded, oppressed - but are they really? Are millions of Muslims simply that oppressive or are these misconceptions fabricated by a biased media? Over fourteen hundred years ago, Islam gave women rights that women in the West have only recently began to enjoy. In the 1930s, Annie Besant observed, It is only in the last twenty years that Christian England has recognized the right of woman to property, while Islam has allowed this right from all times. It is a slander to say that Islam preaches that women have no souls.
“And for women are rights over men, similar to those of men over women.”Qur’an 2:228
Equal Reward & Equal Accountability
Men and women worship Allah in the same way, meaning they worship the same God (Allah), perform the same acts of worship, follow the same scripture, and hold the same beliefs. Allah (the Arabic word for the One true God of all creation), judges all human beings fairly and equitably. Allah emphasises the just treatment and reward due to both men and women in many verses of the Qur’an:
“Allah has promised to the believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss.”Qur’an 9:72
“Never will I allow the loss of the work of any worker amongst you, male or female; you are of one another.”Qur’an 3:195
These verses show that reward is dependent upon one’s actions and not one’s gender. Gender does not play any part in how a person is rewarded and judged.
If we compare Islam to other religions, we see that it offers justice between the sexes. For example, Islam dismisses the idea that Eve is more to blame than Adam for eating from the forbidden tree. According to Islam, Adam and Eve both sinned, they both repented and God forgave them both.
Equal Right to Knowledge
Both men and women are equally encouraged to seek knowledge. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Education is compulsory for every Muslim.”
Also, great female Muslim Scholars existed at and around the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Some were from his family and others were his companions or their daughters. Prominent amongst them was Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him) through whom a quarter of the Islamic law has been transmitted.
Respect and right of a mother in Islam
Islam honours women greatly. It honours women as mothers who must be respected, obeyed and treated with kindness. Pleasing one's mother is regarded as part of pleasing Allah. Islam tells us that Paradise lies at the mother’s feet, i.e. that the best way to reach Paradise is through one's mother. And Islam forbids disobeying one’s mother or making her angry, even by saying a mild word of disrespect. The mother’s rights are greater than those of the father, and the duty to take care of her grows greater as the mother grows older and weaker.
Islam considers a woman to be equal to a man as a human being and as his partner in this life. Women have been created with a soul of the same nature as man’s. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:
"O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever and All-Watcher over you." (Al-Nisa 4:1)