WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN ISLAM
MUHAMMAD NAWAZ DOGAR
Assistant Professor, University Law College
University of the Punjab, Lahore
Rights are those conditions of social life without which man cannot be at his best to develop his personality. These are such opportunities which are essential for everyone.
It is a historical fact that in ancient times women were treated like animals. In many countries they were regarded as slaves. They had no status, no rights and no privileges. Among few tribes of Arabia and in some other countries female children were buried alive after their birth. For example the women were considered as ‘organ of Devil’ ‘the instrument which the Devil uses to gain possession of the souls of human beings’ even they were named as ‘gate of Devil’ ‘road of inequity’ and the ‘sting of scorpion’ etc. by some Christians scholars1. But the Islam has laid great emphasis upon the rights of women. One Surah of the Holy Quran, “The Nisa” deals with women’s rights. The meaning of Nisa is woman in Arabic. Allah says in this Surah;
“O mankind …. Be careful of your duty towards Allah in whom you claim (your rights) of one another and toward the women verily2…”
It is worthwhile to note that Islam has granted the women all types of social, cultural, economic and other rights which were earlier reserved for men. Therefore, they enjoy full liberties for selecting their partners and their free consent is required for validity of marriage. The women have the status of a mother, daughter, sister and wife. In each role she enjoys various rights.
For example as a mother, the saying of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him) “Paradise lies under the feet of your mothers3” is very famous. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) stressed;
|‘Al Mighty Allah has prohibited from disobedience to mother’s and in refusing their help4’|
|The Prophet (PBUH) advised one of his companions when he asked to Him that whether he had any way to escape after committing a great sin, “accord good treatment for your mother and if you got no mother then for your mother’s sister”.5|
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) refused to allow Ja’hemah to join a battle6 when his mother was alive and advised that he should be near her because Paradise is at her feet. Similarly the Holy Prophet (PBUH) told to one of His companions when he enquired who is to be most obeyed? “Your mother” the same reply was given two times more when he further enquired.7
It shows that among parents mother’s place in respect of obedience has been elevated much above that of father. The Quran places duty to parents only next to one’s supreme duty towards God.
Islam has provided mother share in the property left by her deceased children, the Quran says…….
“For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased left brothers (or sisters), the mother has a sixth…….8”
As a wife The Holy Quran enjoins upon the believers to accord good and kind treatment to their wives. The relevant injunction is:
“Treat them kindly, if you hate them it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it 9”
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, “Fear Allah, in respect of women as you have got them in custody in the name of Allah……..” Further the Holy Prophet (PBUH) has advised His followers to avoid hating women on ground of one trait of their character, because another good trait may please you 10”.
Islam has emphasized good and kind treatment for the women, therefore their rights as wife are guaranteed by Islam. For example; free consent of women is required for marriage and she can settle any terms and conditions in contract of marriage which remain binding for husband. She is entitled for dower (Mahr) which is compulsory payable to her. Similarly right of Khulla in unavoidable circumstances, through court, has been granted to women against arbitrary use of power of divorcing by the husband. A wife remains and entitled to inheritance in property of deceased husband to the eighth of that. The Quran says;
“And unto them belongeth the fourth of that which ye leave if you have no child, but if ye have a child then the eighth of that which ye leave 11”
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has greatly stressed on rights of women regarding love and good behaviour, food, clothing and residence etc. He said (PBUH); “They have got (rights) over you in respect of their food and clothing according to means12.” He further advised one of his companions to give your wife food when you take your food and the clothes when you have clothes yourself 13.
Similarly in famous Farewell Address, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared: “Well then, people! Verily there are rights in favour of your women which are incumbent upon you, and there are rights in favour of you which are incumbent upon them…….. 14”
As daughter and sister, Islam has not only condemned the inhuman practice of killing female children and burying them alive but also abolished it. The Quran says:-
|“Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you: Verily the killing of them is a great sin 15”.|
The following sayings of Prophet (PBUH) are being quoted on the subject of good treatment of daughter/sisters.
- ‘Who maintain two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come on judgment day like this’ and He (PBUH) then showed His fingers joining together 16(Narrated by Hazrat Anas)
- If a person had got a female child and he neither buried her alive nor treated her unjustly ….. ‘Allah will admit him in Paradise 17(Nrrated by Hazrat Ibn Abbas)
The daughters are entitled to share the estate left by their deceased father or mother alongwith other legal heirs. The Qur’an commands:
“Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half 18”
From the above discussion it is clear that for the first time in the history of mankind, Islam has raised the status of the women from mere an article like any other articles of property to the status of human being and the women are placed on equal footings as regards the rights of human beings. And as a matter of fact Islam is the only religion which has taken up the cause of women in the earnest by defining their rights in clear and precise terms and there by raising the legal position of women in the society.
1. Extracts from scriptures of other religious and review of religious Vol-XIII by Abdullah Alladin
2. Surah Nisa, Ayat 1
3. Mukhtasarul Maqasid, page 348
4. See generally Bukhari and Muslim
5. See generally Tirmizi
6. See generally Ahmed, Nisai and Baihaqi
7. See Tirmizi and Abu Daud
8. Surah Nisa, Ayat 11 An English Interpretation of The Holy Qur’an by A.Yusuf Ali Page 112
9. Surah Nisa, Ayat 19 Ibid Page 115
10. See generally Muslim Sharif
11. Surah Nisa, Ayat 12 An English Interpretation of The Holy Qur’An by A.Yusuf Ali Page 113
12. See generally Bukhari and Muslim
13. See generally Ahmad, Abu Daud and Ibn Majah
14. Farewell Address of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) delivered at Arafat on the occasion of last pilgrimage in 10 A.H.,
15. Surah Bani Israil, Ayat 31 An English Interpretation of The Holy Qur’An by A.Yusuf Ali Page 421
16. See generally Muslim
17. See generally Abu Daud
Surah Nisa, Ayat 11 An English Interpretation of The Holy Qur’An by A.Yusuf Ali Page 112