The role of women has been made controversial by those who have deliberately misinterpreted Islam. It is known that the rights granted to women in the Qur’an and by Muhammad Rasulullah (S) brought about a revolutionary change in the early Muslim society. As the original Islam was hijacked by the usurpers after the demise of Rasulullah (S), the right of women was also snatched by the male dominated ruling class in the name of religion, which led to regression to the pre-Islamic times. Men and women have the same religious and moral duties and responsibilities and they shall face the consequences of their deeds. The Qur’an is quite clear about the issue of the claimed superiority or inferiority of any human, male or female. Islam was the first to decree the right of independent proprietary ownership to women, which admittedly wasn’t practiced by many back then, and isn’t even today. The Islamic Law recognizes the full property rights of women before and after marriage. They may buy, sell, or lease any or all of their properties at will. For this reason, Muslim women may keep (and in fact have traditionally kept) their maiden names after marriage, an indication of their fundamental rights. Financial security is assured for women and they are entitled to receive marital gifts without limit, and to keep present and future properties and income for their own security, even after marriage. No married woman is required to spend any amount at all from her property and income on the household. The woman is also entitled to full financial support during marriage and the “waiting period” (iddah) in case of divorce or after the death of her husband, as a widow.
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A woman who bears a child in marriage is entitled to child support from the child’s father. Generally, a Muslim woman is guaranteed support in all stages of her life, as a daughter, wife, mother, or sister. The financial advantages accorded to women and not to men in marriage and in family have a social counterpart in the provisions that the Qur’an lays down in the laws of inheritance, which afford the male, in most cases, twice the inheritance of a female. Males do not always inherit more; at times a woman inherits more. In instances where the men inherit more, they ultimately are financially responsible for their female relatives: their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters. Females inherit less but retain their share for investment and financial security, without any legal obligation to spend any part of it, even for their own sustenance (food, clothing, housing, medication etc.). It should be noted that before Islam, women themselves were sometimes objects of inheritance (see the Qur’an 4:19). In some Western countries, even after the advent of Islam, the entire estate of the deceased was given to his/her eldest son under the law of Primogeniture. The Qur’an, however, made it clear that both men and women are entitled to a specified share of the estate of their deceased parents or close relatives. The Qur’an informs:
“There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by parents and those nearest related, whether the property be small or large – a legal share.” (Qur’an 4:7)
With regard to the woman’s right to seek employment, it should be stated first that Islam regards her role in society as a mother and a wife as her most sacred and essential one. Neither maids nor baby-sitters can possibly take the mother’s place as the educator of an upright, complex-free, and carefully-reared child. Such a noble and vital role, which largely shapes the future of nations, cannot be regarded as idleness. However, there is no decree in Islam that forbids women from seeking employment whenever there is a necessity for it, especially in positions which fit her nature best and in which society needs her most. We would try to discuss the following points for wider understanding:
- Ending domestic and outside violence against women
- Women in Society: Political Participation
- Gender Equality in Islam and the Spiritual Role of Women
- An Islamic Perspective on Sexuality
- Legal Rights of Women in Islam, Succession, Mahar, Dowry, compulsory concern for her marriage, Polygamy, her sole right of divorce by Khula, marriage after ‘iddah amongst others.
- An Islamic Perspective on Hij’ab
- Role of women as mother, wife, sister and daughter
- Masail regarding Menses, Pregnancy, Abortion, Iddah etc.