Many times, people question women’s rights in Islam. Before we delve into what the Quran and Sunnah about the topic, Islam came at a time when women were barbarically treated by the Arabs. Female infanticide was so common that women would be scared giving birth to a girl child. The male was considered superior in all forms. He was given all the rights while the female stood deprived.
And then came Islam. It taught men how to honor women, how to give her the rights she deserved. It elevated the status of the woman from a second class citizen of the society to somebody who deserved to be respected.
Women’s rights as mothers:
Al-Bukhaari (5971) and Muslim (2548) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: A man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, who is most deserving of my good company?” He said: “Your mother.” He asked: “Then who?” He replied: “Your mother.” He again asked “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Then your father.”
Women’s rights as wives:
“and live with them honourably”
“And they (women) have rights similar (to those of their husbands) over them to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise”
And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I urge you to treat women well.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 331; Muslim, 1468.
Women’s rights as daughters
And Islam honours women as daughters, and encourages us to raise them well and educate them. Islam states that raising daughters will bring a great reward. For example, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever takes care of two girls until they reach adulthood, he and I will come like this on the Day of Resurrection,” and he held his fingers together. Narrated by Muslim, 2631.
Ibn Maajah (3669) narrated that ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Whoever has three daughters and is patient towards them, and feeds them, gives them to drink and clothes them from his riches, they will be a shield for him from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.
Women’s rights as aunts and sisters
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “O people! Spread (the greeting of) salaam, offer food (to the needy), uphold the ties of kinship, and pray at night when people are sleeping, and you will enter Paradise in peace.” Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 3251; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.
Al-Bukhaari (5988) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Allaah, may He be exalted, said to the ties of kinship: ‘Whoever upholds you, I will support him, and whoever breaks you, I will cut him off.’”
In addition to these, a woman is given the following rights in the Qur’an and Hadith:
- The right to inherit property.
- The right to choose her spouse.
- The right to deny living with her in-laws.
- The right to seek a divorce.
- The right to education
- The right to earn for herself.
- The right to equal treatment.