Islamic Awareness. Women in Pre-Islamic History. Women are viewed as having been of no value and as subordinate to males . They are seen as not independent, represented as bad and slanderous, as having their rights oppressed, and their bodies bought and sold as objects of property . .
Women are viewed as having been of no value and as subordinate to males. They are seen as not independent, represented as bad and slanderous, as having their rights oppressed, and their bodies bought and sold as objects of property.
The majority of intellectuals and historians, primarily from Islamic circles, view the position and lives of women in pre-Islamic times as being very dark and worrying.
They were considered to have been undeserving of humane treatment, because those valued as ‘human’ are those who have their own independence, and possess full rights to inheritance. At that time, this only referred to men. Women had no power.
The burying of living female babies was also rampant during those times, which was the biggest tragedy in pre-Islamic history for women.
The same was true in Greek tradition, in which women at that era were more associated with the third class (slaves) and did not have full rights. Women’s lives were devoted to the interests of men, without being compensated or given anything in return. Women could be treated in accordance with the desires of the male who owned her.
Much of the treatment of women during such periods was rejected by Islam, and are in stark contradiction to Islamic teachings
Women were respected within Muslim communities during the time of the Prophet, and were treated no differently from men.
They were not prohibited from playing the same roles as men, whether in politics or in other matters. The intensity of women’s involvement in intellectual, cultural and political spheres shows that their position was valued at that time.
Women’s significance was not limited to their involvement in the collection of hadiths (prophetic traditions) and the construction of early Islamic discourses.
They also participated in other sectors of public life which were often viewed as male domains, such as in war. Women used to accompany the Muslim armies engaged in battles to nurse the wounded, prepare supplies, and so on.
Islam arrived with an agenda of equality of men and women, declared their freedom and granted them all human rights during a time when women occupied the lowest in societies.
To counter this inhumane practice, the Prophet was openly proud of his daughters. He carried and held his daughters in public. He stated that there was no greater reward for a Muslim than to have two daughters, treating them well and supporting them, unless God took them into His heaven.
1) The Prophet (upon him be peace) dramatically changed the Arab worldview which did not welcome the birth of a daughter. Such families felt they only had two choices: to keep their daughter and live with the shame of it, or to bury her alive.
2) His actions were revolutionary. Privately, he also demonstrated by example how to treat women well, particularly through his good treatment
of his wives. There were no stories of violence or injustices made by the Prophet towards his wives and attempted to share what he had equally with all of them.
“The most perfect man of religion is one who excels in character. The best among you is he who gives the best treatment to his womenfolk.”
~ Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace)
3) Even the proximity of women to the Prophet was not limited. For example, when men held discussion groups on the Quran with the Prophet, women did not want to be excluded and hence were also invited. The Prophet thus opened the door to both men and women seeking knowledge.
The Prophet was supportive of women on many occasions, and was aware of this was a humanistic commitment. His defence of women took place in many forms and on many levels.
According to Islamic law, women are considered to possess the same legal capabilities in all civil cases pertaining to buying, donating, trusteeship, and disposal of goods, unhindered by requirements of permission from either their father or their husband.
The legal system went so far in its kindness to women that it rid them of the burden of earning a living and freed them from the obligation of participating in household and childrearing expenses. It does not make such work obligatory upon her as it does upon man.
Before Islam, women was not only deprived of a share of inheritance but was herself considered as property to be inherited by man.
The Qur'an, however, established the right of women to the share which depends on her degree of relationship to the deceased and the number of heirs.
Islam recognizes a woman’s right to gain full employment and education if she so desires. It also safeguards her inheritance rights and her rights for unrestricted financial dealings.
In principle, both man and woman are equally entitled to inherit the property of the deceased relations but the portions they get may vary.
In some instances man receives two shares whereas woman gets one only. This no sign of giving preference or supremacy to man over woman. It commensurate with the duties of men toward womenfolk.
1) Firstly, man is the person solely responsible for the complete maintenance of his wife, his family and any other needy relations. It is his duty by Law to assume all financial responsibilities and maintain his dependents adequately. It is also his duty to contribute financially to all good causes in his society. All financial burdens are borne by him alone.
2) Secondly, in contrast, woman has no financial responsibilities whatsoever except very little of her personal expenses. She is financially secure and provided for. If she is a wife, her husband is the provider; if she is a mother, it is the son; if she is a daughter, it is the father; if she is a sister; it is the brother, and so on.
3) If she has no relations on whom she can depend, then there is no question of inheritance because there is nothing to inherit and there is no one to bequeath anything to her. However, she will not be left to starve, maintenance of such a woman is the responsibility of the society as a whole, the state.
A lifetime of scholarship and learning started at young age for 'Aishah, wife of the Noble Prophet and also the 'Mother of Believers', may God be pleased with her. Born to believing parents who were themselves learned, she inherited a thirst for knowledge early on.
Her sharp mind was very receptive to learning and understanding. Her excellent memory facilitated her memorizing the Quran, famous poetry and eloquent speech in addition to her extensive memory of medicinal remedies.
In the half a century she lived after the death of the Prophet, she shared many details of his private and public life by way of teaching others his Divinely-inspired conduct and behavior. Thus she transmitted over 2200 ahadith (prophetic narrations).
Her position in Madinah was incontestably superior to any other women in reaching intellectual heights, contributing to the body of knowledge that exists to this day.
Her public involvement, like that of her female contemporaries, had much to do with alleviating the suffering and fulfilling the needs of the disadvantaged. To this end, she distributed whatever came her way, be it food, money, clothes or gifts she received.
What she gained in the close company of the Prophet was by no means kept to herself, for 'Aishah was renowned for conducting classes for male and female students, some of whom travel from afar to join her teaching sessions.
It was said, by one of the Prophet's Companions. 'Urwah ibn al-Zubayr: "I did not see a greater scholar than 'Aishah in the learning of the Quran, shares of inheritance, lawful and unlawful matters, poetry and literature, Arab history and genealogy."
The noble lady Khadijah, may God be pleased with her, was the first person to embrace Islam. She was widowed twice before her marriage to the Prophet (upon him be peace). He was fifteen years younger that she was but their marriage was a partnership of noble minds and hearts.
Khadijah loved her husband dearly. When the Prophet was still a young man, she entrusted him with her wealth, asking him to trade with it in Syria on her behalf. He returned from Syria after having made a large profit for Khadijah. At that time he was already well known for his honesty and trustworthiness, his beautiful manners, his gentleness and generosity. All these formed the basis for her proposal to him.
The noble Prophet’s words fell on her fertile heart. The lady Khadijah’s intelligence, wisdom and knowledge of her husband’s character were sufficient to make an independent choice – and she chose to accept the final message of God. She reassured him with the following words:
“By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you. You keep good relations with your kith
and kin, help the poor and the destitute, serve your guests generously and
assist the deserving calamity-afflicted ones.“
When Jibril first appeared to the Prophet, he went to Khadijah and narrated what happened to her. Khadijah did not feel any fear, instead she realized that something tremendous and awe-inspiring had happened to her husband, and she was certain, knowing him as she did, that he was neither mad nor possessed.
Henceforth, Khadijah continued to be the emotional anchor for her husband, but did not stop at supporting him as a wife only. She invested all her wealth and connections to deliver the message of believing in One God, assisting in every way she could.
She sacrificed in her personal comfort as well as suffered with the small, yet growing numbers of believers in Makkah. She was known as the patron of the poor, and found contentment in giving to those in need.
The year in which the noble lady died became known as ‘The Year of Sadness’. The Prophet’s love and affection for her, however, never died as he would speak of her frequently, in addition to sending food and greetings to her friends who outlived her.
Reminiscing some years after her passing away, he spoke thus from the heart: “She believed in me when no one else did, she embraced Islam when people disbelieved me and she helped and comforted me when there was none to lend a helping hand.”
Maryam (Mary) was a pious Muslim woman, daughter of Imran from the family lineage of Dawud (David), the offspring of the Children of Israel. Maryam's mother, Hannah, conceived and delivered Maryam when she was an old woman, at an age when women usually can no longer have babies.
With the birth of a son in mind, Hannah vowed that she would dedicate the child to the service of the Sacred House in Jerusalem, dedicate the child for worship, freed from all worldly affairs.
She became the best of the women in the world. It is mentioned in the Quran that the angels said Allah chose Maryam and preferred her to the other women of the world.
[And (remember) when the angels said: "O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allah has chosen you, purified you, and chosen you above the women of the 'Alamîn (mankind and jinns).“
(Al-Quran, Chapter Al-Imran: verse 42)
Instead Almighty Allah blessed Hannah with a daughter. She named the girl "Maryam," which literally means "maidservant of Allah," and she asked Allah to protect Maryam and her offspring from evil. She grew up as a righteous, pure, and pious Muslim woman worshipping Allah and endeavoring greatly in performing obedience to Him.
Maryam was unique in that she gave birth to a son by a special miracle, without the intervention of the customary physical means – a matter preordained by Allah's power and will. This does not mean that she was more than human, any more than her son was more than human.
When Allah wanted to grant her His servant and messenger, Isa (peace be upon him), Maryam withdrew from her family and secluded herself from them. She retired to the eastern side of the Sacred Mosque in Jerusalem where she prayed.
It was in this state that the angel appeared to her in the shape of a man. As she thought the angel was a man, she was frightened and asked him not to invade her privacy.
The angel said to her in response, and in order to remove the fear that she felt within herself, 'I am only a messenger from your Lord, to provide to you the gift of a righteous son.' (Surah Maryam: 19)
Maryam was amazed at this. How she could have a son when she did not have a husband nor did she commit wicked acts like fornication? For this reason she said, “How shall I have a son when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste”? (Surah Maryam: 20)
Due to this, The angel responded to her and conveyed Allah's Words, He said: "Thus said your Lord: 'That is easy from Me (Allah). And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind..” (Surah Maryam: 21)
When Mary showed the baby to her people, an amazing thing that had happened in which the newly born baby (Jesus) replied to the people:
He said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; "And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; "(He) hath made me kind to my mother and not overbearing or miserable; "So Peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the Day that I shall be raised up to life (again)"! (Surah Maryam: 30-33)