The world is indebted to Islam for materialization of women’s rights
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
Throughout history, there have been persons who are the source of goodness and evilness. The holy Qur’an presents to us outstanding examples in this regard, so that we can mold our life upon theirs.
For instance, the holy Qur’an mentions ladies of exceptional merits, like the Virgin Mary the mother of Prophet Jesus (PBUH), and Asiya, the virtuous wife of the tyrannical Pharaoh of Egypt. With the advent of Islam in the full limelight of history, we find the emergence of impeccable ladies, such as Hazrat Khadija (peace upon her), the loyal wife of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), followed by the noblest lady of all times, the Prophet’s Immaculate Daughter, Hazrat Fatema Zahra (peace upon her). These are indeed the role models for all virtuous ladies aspiring to acquire ethereal characteristics. As a matter of fact, the status granted by Islam to women is far superior than any creed or philosophical school of thought, and more greater than what the modern world likes to brag about on the misconception of freedom, liberty and equality. Unfortunately, despite these deceptive slogans, women in the secular west are treated as no more than carnal and commercial objects to be used and discarded. Such tendencies are the residue of the past, when in the ancient cultures and civilizations of the world, women were considered mere chattel. For instance, the Greek philosopher Aristotle viewed women as an imperfect form of creation, and thus not deserving to be treated as equal to man. Women were unfortunately reduced to part of man’s property and in cases like the decadent pagan society of pre-Islamic Arabs, as inheritance.
Until the early 20th century, women in the West did not possess basic rights as citizens. Such an erroneous tendency gave rise to feminism in the modern world which is indeed another example of the abuse of women's rights and characteristics. The great Iranian thinker and theologian, Martyr Ayatollah Morteza Motaharri in his book "Rights of Women in Islam" exposes the fallacies of feminism, pointing to the new problems such persons created for women by pretending to resolve the old issues. As a result, if in the past the human dignity of the womankind was ignored, today her delicate feminine nature is being trampled upon. In the past, the injustices and insults to women and their dignity were so acute that some fathers who lacked proper resources in the Arabian Peninsula during pagan times, used to bury their little daughters alive, on the fear that on growing up the behavior of their daughters or their treatment in society would bring shame and indignity upon the family. With the advent of Islam, God Almighty reproached such oppressive ways by making it explicitly clear in ayah 31 of Surah Isra: "Do not kill your children for the fear of penury: We will provide for them and for you"
The position of women in the supposedly cultured societies of the Romans, the Persians, the Chinese, and the Indians, was no better, if not worse. The only difference being they were discriminated against in these lands in a sophisticated way so as to keep them second grade human beings, subject to the whims and desires of the males. Thus, the advent of Islam as the universal religion revolutionized the status of women as well, by putting them on the pedestal of virtue, dignity, chastity, and freedom to own property with enjoyment of rights in harmony with their biological nature. To note the statement of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the world is indeed indebted to Islam for materialization of women’s rights. Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) set the precedent by practically showing the people of his times and all posterity that women are the perfect half of men, and in some cases deserving better treatment because of their delicate nature. In many ayahs of the holy Qur’an, we find reference to both men and women in equal terms. In other words, there is no difference between the two genders in terms of piety, faith, knowledge, courage and other virtues. In Islam, whoever has a higher degree of piety, whether man or woman, is superior. As God says in ayah 13 of Surah Hujurat: "O mankind! Indeed We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you. Indeed Allah is all-Knowing, All-Aware."
In explaining this ayah, Ayatollah Khamenei says that all human beings, both men and women, are created of the same essence, and the criteria of superiority is nothing but piety.