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What many don’t know that if a Muslim woman wants to adopt women rights as declared by the United Nations, and forgo her rights in Islam, it will be her loss, as she has more rights in Islam.

Before the advent of Islam, women were treated as property, and had a lower status than livestock. They were offered in trade or taken in marriage without their consent or any consideration for their feelings.

These days, people are so busy proving that women can do what men can do, that women are losing their uniqueness. Women in fact were created to do everything a man cannot do: give birth, breastfeed, nurture, etc. In Islam, men and women are moral equals in God’s sight and are expected to fulfill the same duties of worship, prayer, faith, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca.

Islam generally improved the status of women compared to earlier Arab cultures, prohibiting female infanticide and recognizing women’s full personhood. Islamic law emphasizes the contractual nature of marriage, requiring that a dowry be paid to the woman rather than to her family, and guaranteeing women’s rights of inheritance and to own and manage property. It gave women the right to inherit similar to or more than their male counterparts in more than 30 cases (males inherit more than females in 4 cases only depend on the degree of kinship, the generation position, and the financial obligations).[1]Women were also granted the right to live in the matrimonial home and receive financial maintenance during marriage and during the waiting period following death and divorce.

The Qur’an states that Eve is not blamed for Adam’s sin. Each of them accepted their own mistake and repented to God, and asked God to forgive them and God did forgive them. So this burden of seduction and the original sin is lifted from women.

Islam elevated kind treatment of women to the best of good deeds.

“The most complete of the believers in faith, is the one with the best character. And the best of you are those who are best to their women.”  [2]

“Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember God often and the women who do so – for them God has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.”(Qur’an 33:35)

“O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and God makes therein much good.”(Qur’an 4:19)

“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear God, through whom you ask one another, and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Indeed God is ever, over you, an Observer.”(Qur’an 4:1)

“Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.”(Qur’an 16:97)

“…,they (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them,…”(Qur’an 2:187)

“And among His signs is this that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them; and He has put love and mercy between you. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.”(Qur’an 30:21)

“And they seek of thee the decision of the Law with regard to women. Say, God gives you His decision regarding them. And so, does that which is recited to you in the Book concerning the orphan girls whom you give not what is prescribed for them and whom you desire to marry, and concerning the weak among children. And He enjoins you to observe equity towards the orphans. And whatever good you do, surely God knows it well.

And if a woman fears from her husband contempt or evasion, there is no sin upon them if they make terms of settlement between them – and settlement is best. And present in [human] souls is stinginess. But if you do good and fear God – then indeed God is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.”  (Qur’an 4:127-128)

God has commanded men to provide for women and allow them to keep all of their wealth, inheritance and income without any obligations to support their families. It has protected women’s rights by keeping their identity separate as they are not the property of men. As such, they are no longer forced to change their last names to be that of their husbands. This is still the practice of Muslim women today just as it was fourteen hundred years ago.

Divorce is allowed but hated; and marriage is sanctified. If the couple cannot live in harmony there are three necessary steps prior to divorce: advice, mediation, and waiting out a period while tempers cool off.

Mary (The mother of Jesus Christ) is the only woman mentioned in the Qur’an by name. While the Qur’an does not directly name any woman except for Mary, women play a role in many of the rich and varied stories that the Qur’an tells.

For example, the Qur’an describes the encounter of the Queen of Sheba with Prophet Solomon and her subsequent embrace of his faith (to believe in the Creator and unify Him in worship).

“A woman ruling over them, and she has been given abundance and she has a mighty throne.” (Qur’an 27:23)

History shows us that Prophet Muhammad consulted women and weighed their opinions seriously.  Women prayed in mosques with men, gave sanctuary to men, fought in wars, nursed men in combat, engaged in commercial transactions, were encouraged to seek knowledge, and were both instructors and pupils in the early Islamic period.

Islam also gave the women full status as citizens over 1,400 years ago giving them the right to speak and vote. Up until the last century, women of the West had to take their cause to the streets with the “Women’s Suffrage Movement” to demand the right to vote.

Although Qur’an permits limited polygamy, it is not a rule but an exception. Many people are under the misconception that it is compulsory for a Muslim man to marry more than one wife.

“…, marry woman of your choice in twos’ threes’ or fours’ but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly, (with them), then only one.” (Qur’an 4:3)

Qur’an is the only religious scripture in the world that says ‘marry only one’. Before the Qur’an was revealed there was no upper limit for polygamy and many men had scores of wives, some even hundreds. Islam put an upper limit of four wives. Islam gives a man permission to marry two, three or four women, only on the condition that he deals with them justly, which is extremely difficult.

” And you will never be able to be just and fair between wives [in feeling], even if you should strive [to do so],…” (Qur’an 4:129)

By nature, males and females are born in approximately the same ratio. During childhood itself a female child has more immunity than a male child and has better chances for survival. Also during wars, more men are killed compared to women. The average life span of females is more than that of males, and at any given time one finds more widows in the world than widowers. World female population is more than male population. Restricting each and every man to have only one wife may not be practical.

In some societies where polygamy is prohibited it is common for a man to have mistresses and/or multiple extra-marital affairs, in which case, the mistress can lead, a shameful, unprotected life, without rights for herself or her children. It is strange that we have no problem accepting relations without marriage; same sex marriages; relations without responsibility; children without fathers, etc; but have no tolerance for a legal marriage between a man and more than one woman. Currently, the only two options for a woman who cannot find a husband are to marry a married man or to become a mistress.  Islam prefers the more honorable status of a wife.

In any case a woman has the right to be the only wife for her husband by stating this condition in the marriage contract.  The basic principle with regard to the conditions stipulated by both partners in the marriage contract is that it is a valid condition that must be fulfilled, and it is not permissible to break it.

One very important point that is often overlooked by modern society is the right that Islam gave to women that it does not give to men. A man is limited to marry only unmarried women. Obviously, this provides rights for the children and protects their inheritance from their father. But Islam permits women to marry a man who is already married, as long as he has fewer than 4 wives. Therefore a woman has a larger selection of men to choose from. She has the opportunity to see how the other wife is being treated and enters into marriage knowing exactly what to expect from her husband.

[1]when a deceased leaves a son and daughter, the man inherits twice the woman’s share. But the man heir is obligated to support a woman (i.e. his wife) and their kids. On the other hand, the female heir is provided for along with her kids by another man (her husband). Now, the share inherited by the female is purely her own property. It is free of financial support obligations and she can save it for any needs or emergencies in the future.

[2]At-Tirmidhi and authenticated by Al-Albani.

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