March the 8th is International Women’s Day, celebrating Women and their rights. Its with this is in mind that we have put together this short article highlighting the role Islam has played in bringing equal rights to the sexes.
124وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ مِن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَٰئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا
4|124|But whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, and is a believer—those will enter Paradise, and will not be wronged at all.
Women’s Rights in Islam
Before Islam, women were considered shameful, female children were buried alive, prostitution was rampant, divorce was only in the hands of the husband, inheritance was only for the strong, and oppression was widespread. Islam came and abolished these practices. Even now, in “developed countries”, women are not granted respect, dignity and honor, let alone equal pay for equal work.
Women were mainly seen as a commodity to be acquired, owned and traded. There was also the shocking practice of female infanticide, where newly born girls were buried alive as they were seen as far less desirable than a male child. Islam changed all of this by giving women equal legal rights, women could no longer be oppressed or abused without consequence, in law they were now seen as equal to men. Women were now encouraged to seek education, work and choose their husband. Divorce was now also an option for women, as were financial support in the event of a divorce.
Different roles equal rights
The perspective Islam takes is that women and men are not the same. This is obvious, men and women are biologically different, therefore they have different roles. The legal framework within Islam reflects this differences. For example, if a lady earns any money, its all of hers, she does not have to spend any of her income on the household or expenses. The husband however, has to contribute money for the upkeep of the house, and his wife and any other expenses the family accumulate.