Knowing Your Right as A Muslim Woman
Before Islam, the status of the woman was degraded in most nations and they were treated like slaves or property. Then the light of Islam rose to illuminate the darkness with the treatise brought by Prophet Muhammad, Shallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, to fight against all forms of injustice and to guarantee the rights of every human being without exception.
The existence of women in Islam is so glorified that there is a surah in the Qur’an named Surah An-Nisa’, it means women. In this surah the laws relating to women are mentioned more than in others and there is much written about the rights of Muslim women. It honors women as mothers who must be respected, obeyed and treated with kindness. Pleasing one’s mother is regarded as part of pleasing Allaah (SWT). Islam tells us that Paradise lies at the mother’s feet, i.e. that the best way to reach Paradise is through one’s mother.
Islam also honors women as wives. Islam urges the husband to treat his wife in a good and kind manner, and says that the wife has rights over the husband like his rights over her, except that he has a degree over her, because of his responsibility of spending and taking care of the family’s affairs. Islam states that the best of the Muslim men is the one who treats his wife in the best manner, and the man is forbidden to take his wife’s money without her consent. Allaah (SWT) says (interpretation of the meaning):
“and live with them honorably”
“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 Allaah is All-Mighty, All-Wise”
The rights of Muslim women were given to us by Allah, the All-Compassionate, All-Merciful, which written in Al-Qur’an:
– Muslim woman are equal to a man as a human being and as his partner in this life. Women have been created with a soul of the same nature as men. The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of man, but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two very different things. Islam puts women in a perfect place.
Allah (SWT) says in the Al-Qur’an:
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever and All-Watcher over you.” (Al-Nisa 4:1)
And in the words of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW),
“Assuredly, women are the twin halves of men.” (Sahih reported by Abu-Dawud (RA)
Even though the Qur’an proclaims equality between the sexes, men’s superiority is also clearly indicated: “Men are in charge of women by right of what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them guard. But those wives from whom you fear arrogance—advise them; forsake them in bed; and, strike them. But if they obey you, seek no means against them.”
– Muslim women have the right to get a mahar (dowry) in marriage
And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease. (An-Nisa’: 4)
– Muslim women have the right to get inheritance
For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much – an obligatory share. (An-Nisa’: 7)
– Muslim women are in a perfect place.
In Islamic law a woman is an independent, unique individual in her own right. She has the same responsibilities towards herself, towards Allah (SWT) and towards other human beings as the male, and will be punished or rewarded in the Hereafter without discrimination towards her female gender.
“O You who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the Mahr (bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at time of marriage) you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings
through it a great deal of good.” (An-Nisa 4:19).
– Muslim women have the right to get an Education
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“To seek knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim.”
(Declared Authentic By Shaikh Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaani)
Muslim here means male and female Muslims, as women are the twin halves of men.
The Prophet (SAW) said:
“Whoever follows a way to seek knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a way to paradise.” (Narrated by Shaikh Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen Al-Albaani)
A woman in Islam has the right to knowledge and education. Allah (SWT) encourages women to read and to keep up the learning process. He also bestows His mercy upon all who seek knowledge, and gives them high status:
“Is one who is obedient to Allah, prostrating himself or standing (in prayer) during the hours of the night, fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the Mercy of his Lord (like one who disbelieves)? Say: “Are those who know equal to those who know not?” It is only men of understanding who will remember (i.e. get a lesson from Allah’s Signs and Verses). (Az-Zumar 39:9)
This is referring to religious knowledge, in the first place, and to any other kind of knowledge, in the second place, where one has the intention of benefiting herself, her family and the Islamic society. Additionally, a husband should not forbid his wife from going out of the house to seek basic religious knowledge, unless he is teaching her at home.
There is du’a in the Qur’an that Allah (SWT) advises us to read:
“Then Highest above all be Allah, the True King. And be not in haste [O Muhammad (SAW)] with the Quran before its revelation is completed to you, and say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” (Ta-Ha 20:114)
– Muslim women have the right to go to the Mosque
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
“If someone’s wife asks his permission to go to the mosque, he should not deny it to her.”
At the same time, a woman’s prayer in her home is better, from the standpoint of her household duties and duties as a mother. Also it is better in the sense that it prevents unnecessary mixing with men. The Prophet (SAW) also stated on another occasion:
“But their homes are better for them.” (Narrated by Abu Dawud and Ahmed)
– Muslim Women have the right to go outside of her Home
Muslim women are not forbidden from going out in the community, working, or visiting relatives and female friends, and there should be no objection from their guardian/husband if they are covered and behave and speak according to Islamic guidelines and, if necessary, are escorted by their Mahram (a close male relative). However, a woman’s home should be the main base that she works from. Allah (SWT) instructed the wives of the Prophet (SAW):
“O wives of the Prophet! You are not like any other women. If you keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft in speech, lest he is whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy or evil desire for adultery, etc.) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honorable manner. And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and offer prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah wishes only to remove Ar-Rijs (evil deeds and sins, etc.) from you, O members of the family [of the Prophet (SAW)], and to purify you with a thorough purification.” (Al-Ahzab 33:32-33)
But her work should not be a source of friction within the family, and the husband’s consent is required in order to eliminate later disagreements. If she is not married, she must have her guardian’s consent. In addition, her appearance, manner, tone of speech and overall behavior should follow Islamic guidelines such as wearing correct Islamic dress, not walking in a provocative manner, and not using make-up or perfume attractively in public. Also, her job should not be one which causes moral corruption in society, or which affects her own religion, morals, and dignity.
اَيُّهَا النَّبِىُّ قُلْ لِّاَزۡوَاجِكَ وَبَنٰتِكَ وَنِسَآءِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِيۡنَ يُدۡنِيۡنَ عَلَيۡهِنَّ مِنۡ جَلَابِيۡبِهِنَّ ؕ ذٰ لِكَ اَدۡنٰٓى اَنۡ يُّعۡرَفۡنَ فَلَا يُؤۡذَيۡنَ ؕ وَكَانَ اللّٰهُ غَفُوۡرًا رَّحِيۡمًا
O Prophet, enjoin your wives and your daughters and the believing women, to draw a part of their outer coverings around them. It is likelier that they will be recognized and not molested. Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful.(Al-Ahzab:59)
-A Muslim woman is not permitted to change her family name to her husband’s name upon marriage. She is always known by her father’s name, as a mark of her own identity.
-In choosing a marriage partner, her consent to accept or reject any prospective suitor for marriage must be respected.
-A Muslim woman has the right to seek divorce, if necessary within the laws of Islam.
-Muslim women have equal rights with men in worship and will be rewarded:
وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنْثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا
And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer – those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged, [even as much as] the speck on a date seed. (An-Nisa:124)