Man and woman make one family unit. A family is the basic unit of society, based on the bonding between a man and a woman. A woman is a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a wife, at a time. Every relationship in which a woman is bound is equally beautiful and respectable. Before the advent of Islam, women were treated inhumanely. Women had no rights in property or decision-making. Even in some cultures, the woman was a part of her male family member`s inheritance. Even a son received his stepmother from his father as inherited property. But Islam raised the status of women in every possible relationship.
Islam gave equal rights to men and women in every aspect of social, political, economic, and family life.
Right of Seeking Knowledge
In Pre Islam era, there was no concept of seeking knowledge for the general public. Only Elite class men and women were given the right of getting an education. Only the elite class or religious clergy was educated. A common man has no right of getting an education. In this situation, Islam gave a man and a woman, equal rights of getting an education. Islam emphasizes getting everyone educated. There is no difference between men and women, in this regard. Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him said,
“Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim (man and woman)”
Thus, Islam gave the right of education to women.
Status of Women as Daughters
In Pre Islam era, there was a tradition of burying infant daughters alive. Islam strongly condemned this tradition. Even Quran stated the condition of a man in the days of ignorance when he received the news of his daughter`s birth;
“When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain her on (sufferance) and contempt, or bury her in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on.? (Qur`an 16:58-59)
This was the situation before the advent of Islam. But Islam raised the status of daughter from this miserable condition to the extent that Prophet Muhammad Peace was upon him always stood at the arrival of his daughters. There are so many Ahadith describing the reward for raising daughters with love and compassion.
“Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, does not favor his son over her, God will enter him in paradise. (Ibn e Hanbal, No 1957)
Status of Women as Wife
A man and a woman complement each other when it comes to matrimonial life. A wife is said to be the better half of her husband. Islam emphasizes loving and caring behavior with the wife. Allah Almighty declared the matrimonial relationship as one of His signs. It indeed is a sign of Allah Almighty, how He creates love and affection among two strangers. How they start sharing their joys, sorrows, and responsibilities. How they collectively made one unit, a family. They share the goals of their lives. They share every moment of their lives. This indeed is a sign of Allah Almighty. Allah Almighty revealed a beautiful verse about this beautiful relationship as follows:
“And among His signs is this: That he created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and he ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for people to reflect”
Similarly, Islam gave a woman the right of marrying by her own choice. No one can force a woman to marry a man without her consent. Islam gave the whole responsibility of earning bread and butter to only the husband, woman has no responsibility as far as financial matters are concerned.
“And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them, and men are a degree above.” (Quran 2: 228)
Despite all that, Islam gave a full right to a woman about her Mehar. Mehar is the amount to be fixed at the time of the marriage contract (Nikah), the husband is bound to pay the amount to his wife. The wife has complete possession of that amount. Not even her parents can ask any questions about Mehar. If, God forbid, divorce occurs between a couple, husband is bound to pay Mehar. Husbands are advised to set her free decently. As women have the right of marrying a man of their choice, she has the right to part ways with husband. If a woman is not satisfied with her husband`s attitude or any other aspect, she can claim Khula`a. She can get a divorce for herself by leaving her right to Mehar. So, it is clear that Islam raised the status of women.
Women as Mothers
A most beautiful and precious relationship is a mother and child relationship. A mother is a manifestation of the love of Allah. Allah describes His love for His creatures in comparison with a mother`s love. Islam laid great stress on loving and taking care of parents in general and mothers in particular.
Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him said,
“Paradise is laid beneath a mother`s feet”
There are many verses of the Quran emphasizing good behavior with parents.
“Your lord has decreed upon that you worship none save Him and that you be kind to your parents. (Quran 17:23)
In another verse Allah SWT said;
“And we have enjoined upon man (to be good) to his parents: His mother bears him in weakness upon weakness…” (Quran 46:15, 29: 8)
We can conclude by saying that Islam gives a due status to a woman, in every relationship. Even men are advised to respect stranger women. As this will disturb her. Islam raised the status of women, much more than the status given to them, in the days of ignorance.