Take a Moment To Discover Rights of Women Before and After Islam
The classical defensive argument of the Muslim scholars has been that Islam announced and enforced rights of women when the women were considered not more than a commodity. They could be sold, bartered and even buried alive under the garb of local cultures and traditions. Though the angle of discussion has been changed in modern times but you can’t measure the boldness of Islam in the dark ages without looking at conditions of women in pre-Islamic times. The condition was worse than depicted here but a few glimpses can tell you that the women were in the worst condition of their history when Islam introduced rights for Muslim women
The women were considered equal to other commodities in possession of men. They could be inherited like a house or flock of horses. There was no concept of respect for a mother as sons could marry their mothers on death of their fathers.
Islam resurrected respect for women and given very important rights to them. Islam banned certain marriages being invalid like marriages to mothers, sisters, daughters etc. Islam declared that heavens are under the feet of your mothers. It was revolutionary announcement in the given situation.
No Right to Own Property
When a woman was considered a commodity herself, how could she own a property herself? Whatever she could generate with her labor was considered in ownership of her father or husband, as the case may be.
Islam has broken this myth. The women were entitled to inherit and be inherited as described in Quran. They were allowed to generate their income in valid ways and keep the produce without spending even a single penny against their wishes. Even today, the courts can force a husband to pay expenditures for women but can’t force a woman to contribute in the expenditures of the family. They women were allowed either to save or to spend their earned money and owned property as they like.
Cause of Shame and Insult
The women were not only commodity but a commodity to bring shame and insult to the honor of a man. Men wanted to enjoy their ‘benefits’ without given them any kind of respect. Either due to financial reasons or for shame to be a father-in-law, the women were buried alive on their birth.
Islam declared this act as murder and unforgivable sin against humanity. Islam also declared that if you can grow up two daughters as good Muslims, you shall stand besides Muhammad (PBUH) on the doomsday. Islam declared a daughter as blessing of God. Once a step-sister of Muhammad (PBUH) came to him, he stood up to see her and spread a sheet for her.
No Right to Re-Marry
The man was allowed to marry as many women as he wanted. Many people had hundreds of wives. On the other hand the women were not allowed even to remarry on divorce or death of their husbands. In India, they had to burn themselves along with the dead bodies of their husbands.
Quran limited the number of wives to four only if you can be just with all of them. The permission is not a direction that every Muslim male must marry more than two women. Furthermore, some scholars say, there are certain restrictions behind this permission for polygamy.
On the other hand, Quran directed the men that once the women pass through the period of ‘Iddat’, they should not check them to remarry. All sects of Muslims agree that such women need not even to ask from their parents.
No Right of Choice for Marriage
In pre-Islamic days (and even today in many societies) women were not asked about their choice of marriage. It was natural when women were considered a commodity. A commodity can’t decide who is going to be her next master.
Islam made it very clear that no one should marry a woman without her consent. There can be no consent of minors. However, under cultural influences or unusual circumstances, if a minor girl is married she has right to denounce such a marriage on achieving the age of majority.
Divorce as a Tool
In Pre-Islamic days, men could divorce their wives as many times as they wish and get them return back after some days. It was not only a black-mailing tool but also frustrating for the women at large. Quran fixed the number of divorces up to three.
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