The Prophet (SA) elevated the status of women by not just proclaiming their rights but also exemplifying the best conduct towards them. The emphasis of Islam on equitable treatment of women is perhaps one of the reasons why many of the early converts to Islam were women. Here are ten oppressive practices against women that Islam outlaws and seeks to eradicate from society.
1) Female Infanticide
In pre-Islamic Arabia, some men would bury alive their newborn or infant daughters in order to save them the “trouble” of having to raise a girl. Although the practice was restricted in scope, it was nevertheless prevalent, with hardly any voices raised against it. The Quran alludes to this attribute of the disbelievers as follows: “And when one of them is informed of [the birth of] a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief… Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground?” (An-Nahl 16:58-59) Islam completely outlawed this cruel practice and wiped it out from Arabia. The Prophet (SA) further stated that the daughters treated with love and fairness shall act as a “shield” for the parents against Hellfire on the Day of Judgement. (Bukhari)
As narrated by Muslim, two female slaves once came to the Prophet (SA), complaining that their master, Abdullah bin Ubayy, forced them to earn money for him through prostitution. In response, the following verse of the Quran was revealed: “And do not compel your slave girls to prostitution, if they desire chastity, to seek [thereby] the temporary interests of worldly life.” (An-Noor 24:33) The same verse goes on to promise forgiveness for the women forced into prostitution if they truly repent from it. The Prophet (SA) also narrated how a prostitute was forgiven by Allah merely for saving the life of a thirsty dog, as reported in Bukhari.
3) Inheritance of Women
In some segments of the Arab society, when a man died, his wife would be inherited by one of his male heirs. Thus, the widow would literally be treated as a commodity, without having any say in how she wished to lead her life. Islam abolished this custom through the following verse of the Quran: “O you who believe, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion.” (An-Nisa 4:19) The widow was thus provided the freedom to decide if she wished to remarry and to choose her husband.
This is an excerpt from the print issue.
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