This topic, " The Status Of Women In Islam " and " The Meaning of Jihad In Islam" are the most misunderstood and abused in the Western World. Hence, one is compelled to raise the following question:
Why the greatest misunderstanding of Islam, especially misunderstanding the concept of Jihad and Status of women in Islam, exist more in the Western World than any other region of the globe?
An honest question requires an honest answer.
No attempt will be made here to answer the above question.
The above question is being raised here because no one else has risen it,as far as the writer of this essay has known.
Back to the topic at hand, topic (12) The Status Of Women In Islam:
In order to understand and possibly appreciate Islam's impact on the rights of women in relation to the rights of men, one must have a degree of knowledge about the status of women in ancient times.in other religions and other cultures and in Arabia before the appearance of Islam.
It is safe to say that since time immemorial, women as equal to men, as human beings, have never been fully realized till present time. Yes, the rights of women have been recognized, in the last 100 years, and certainly developed to a better levels than it was before, it simply had not and has not fulfilled what women truly deserved as equal partners to men. That is so world wide, even in the United States of America. True, the laws call for equality with the rights of men, but how can the laws change what exists in biases against women in the hearts of so many men who do not believe that women are equal to men in every aspects, excluding their different physical characteristics, as human beings.
Within the content of all the foregoing, an attempt will be presented here, about the status of women in Islam:
Before Islam appeared in Arabia in the 7th century A.D., polygamy was rampant in Arabia. A man could marry as many wives as he could afford supporting. There was no limit. And women were willing to share their husbands with other wives lest they ended-up unmarried old maids. Women accepted such male polygamy out of necessity, because of the tribal wars that engulfed the tribes of Arabia over a well of water or grazing rights for their domesticated animals. The harshness of life in a desert region dictated on all Arabs to adhere firmly to their "Murowah", (also written as Muro'ah ) To comprehend the meaning of "Murowah",please review topic(1) Arabia Before The Appearance Of Islam of this series which is being made of 14 different topic about Islam. The point to remember is this: because of such tribal wars for survival, the gender ratio of the number of women to the number of men in the society was altered drastically, creating imbalance: much more women in the society than men. There were more than one factor creating such a social gender disorder. The following two factors come to mind:
Vengeance was an integral part of "Murowah", or " Muro'ah ". To overcome the threat of future vengeance by the males of the defeated tribe, the victorious tribe made a point in killing all males of the defeated tribes, including the infant males, leaving women and infant females alone.
Before Islam appeared, courage and ability to fight in defense of the interest of the tribe and dedication to protect the weak members of the tribes were all part of "Murowah",only physically strong males could accomplish such goals, the new birth of males in the tribe was most welcomed and the new birth of females was completely unwelcomed to a point of burying alive the newly born female babies by some tribes, those tribes that were desperate for newly born males for the fulfillment of their " Muro'ah ".
Such were the status of women before Islam appeared in Arabia. Therefore,a man having 30 wives,for example was quite acceptable,if not totally normal!!
As Islam spread in Arabia all the old norms, mores and traditions had somehow altered:
~ Tribal wars were stopped.
~ Unity amongst the people of Arabia prevailed.
~ Burying newly born female infants was religiously outlawed.
~ Polygamy was altered greatly: instead of a man marrying thirty wives or unlimited number of wives, Islam lowered it to four,with a strict qualification: only if the husband could be just among the four wives-an impossible possibility. Hence, the vast majority of Muslim husbands adhere firmly to one wife and one wife only.
So far, the foregoing outline has touched on the social disorder, with regards to women, that existed in Arabia before Islam appeared and the remarkable social order Islam had achieved and accomplished for women of the Arabian peninsula. A remarkable improvement, indeed.
Question: what has been the impact of the Qur'anic instructions and the Hadiths' teachings on the status of women in Islam?
Although the writer of this essay believes that the Qur'anic Arabic language is untranslatable, it seems that there is no other way available to pin point the status of women in Islam without using some of the translated verses of the Qur'an, in addition to some translated Hadiths:
From The Qur'an:
"Oh mankind Verily. We have created you from a single pair-male and female;and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other." (Q. 49:13).
"Women and men mutually form complements to one another." (Q. 2:18).
"He created for you helpmates from yourselves that ye may find rest in them and He ordained between you love and mercy." (Q. 30:21).
"Those who defame virtuous women and do not produce four witnesses (in support of their accusation) flog them with four score stripes and never admit their testimony. And these are to be regarded as wicked people",(Q. 24:4).
"If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one", (Qur'an 4:3).
From The Hadiths:
"The best among you is the one who is best towards his wife."
"The world is an ephemeral thing, of which one takes advantage and among the worldly things nothing is better than a good pious wife."
"The perfect believer is one who has a perfect character and is kind to his wife."
"Even paradise lies under the feet of your mothers."
These are a tip of the iceberg, but for the purpose at hand are just adequate to show that Islam has enhanced the status of women from being used or even rejected by a male-dominated social order or disorder to fully equal to the other half of the society.
There are verses prohibiting the horrible and barbaric burying of newly born infant females and strongly condemned it.
There are verses deal with inheritance with regards to rights of men as well as the rights of women. These verses require a great deal of explanations and interpretations they deserve a stand-alone-treatment, but their message is clear: women's status and rights are fully respected and protected in Islam.
As it may be seen, Islam has greatly improved the status of women from total subjugation to profound liberation. Therefore, when a Muslim husband badly abuses his wife, nowadays, in the 21 Century, he does so because of his poor character, not because Islam instructs him to do so. Not at all.
Next topic will be topic number (13),titled " Islamophobia ". It will be covered as time and health circumstances permit.