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Women in Islam
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Women in Islam
 On no other question perhaps are opinions in our world as sharply divide das on the question of women's place in society. These clashing opinions manifest themselves in a million ways in our everyday life. They determine one's attitude on many important questions such as education for women, co-education, and “purdah system (stick Hijab)”, the dowry system, the right of women to inherit property, the question of monogamy and divorce etc. All these issues stem from one basic question. What is the place of women in our society? Is she inferior, superior or equal to man? What is her duty? What is her relation in society?
     Islam stipulates the law of Allah and provides guidance for the regulation of life in the best interests of man. The law of Allah is out and out for our benefit. Islam has made sure to strike a balance in the rights of man and the rights of the society so that no conflict may arise between the two and all must co-operate in establishing the law of Allah. As far as the question of women's place in society is concerned Islam has laid clear and concise definitions in this regard. Before moving on to what Shariah says about it is important to know as to what history has to say about it.
     Woman was man's first slave. For ages man has used woman for his pleasures. He has created the myth of woman's inferiority to man. Even today, there are many who regard woman to be essentially inferior creatures. Some think that woman is all emotion; she has no intelligence. Other asserts that she cannot resist temptation and there are still others who claim that a woman has no right to live independent. Woman is a creeper that needs support of a tree. There are many men who feel ashamed of listening to their wives with patience just because they bare the shame of being woman.
     Unfortunately women have been going through this agony since a very long time now. 1400 years ago darkness held the sway. The store of human knowledge was scanty and his outlook was narrow. There was no respect for woman and man's thinking was wild and barbaric in this regard. Whatever nations man had of moral, culture and civilization, were primitive and uncouth. Out of sheer foolish notions of prestige they would bury their daughters alive lest anyone should become their son in law. They would marry their stepmothers after death of their fathers. Woman was nothing but a symbol of sex and pleasure for man. Men were playing havoc with their lives.
     The Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) then brought with him the limits and restrictions imposed by Allah to prevent a man from encroaching upon rights of woman. Islam does not want a man to become so much selfish and self centred that for attainment of few charms of mind and body he unashamedly assails the rights of women and violates all sanctions of morality. I, therefore, propose to give here a brief summary of those injunctions of Islam that throw light on this aspect of society along with the crude views and practices that are still prevalent in this modern age.
     In Islam a woman is a symbol of respect, comfort, reverence and love in every position she holds. Family is the first cradle of      man. It is here that the primary character traits of man are set. As such it is not only the cradle of man but also the cradle of civilization. Therefore, let us all consider the injunctions of Shariah relating to the family. Islamic injunctions about the family are very explicit. It assigns to man the responsibility of earning and providing the necessities of his wife and children and to protect them from the vicissitudes of life. To the woman it assigns the duty of managing the household, training and bringing up the children in the best possible way, and of providing to her husband and the children the greatest possible comfort and containment. It is not so because a woman is not capable of working and supporting her family, Islam rather considers a woman more capable of bringing up a family then a man. Many men think that a woman's place is in home and that she suited only to keeping house and rearing children. Many are against education for women. They think that it is only for a man to become a doctor, an engineer, a scientist, a statesman etc. Why a woman's noblest ambition is to become a good mother and good wife. They deny women right to property, freedom of speech and choice of her husband. And since a man is appointed as the head of the family, most of them don't consider it wrong to mentally or even physically torture the women. This concept is wrong.       
     Being given the house hold responsibility does not mean that woman are not allowed to step out of their houses at all. This is not the case. She can go anywhere she likes and she can do anything she wants as long as she is fair to her supreme duty. As far as the question of education is concerned Islam is in favor of educating women. The Prophet (P.B.U.H) said
     “it is the duty of every Muslim man and woman to seek knowledge” (Sahih Muslim).
      If a woman chooses to be a doctor or an engineer or an expert of any technical field, there is nothing wrong in it from Islamic point of view. Islam has also stressed that man and woman are equal as far as the question of kindness and their deeds are concerned. The Holy Koran says that
     “And they (women) have rights similar to those (men) over them in kindness”.
Islam does not give any man the right to physically or mentally torture his wife/mother/sister/daughter.
                Similarly when it comes to matrimonial matters Islam gives a woman the right to marry the person of her choice. In our society people normally wed their daughters of with whomever they want to without consulting them. It is strictly pointed out in Islam that parents should ask their daughters and seek their will before they marry them. In this context Koran says that
o ye who believe! It is not lawful for you to forcibly inherit women”
                          Islam also gives the right of “law of dower” or “haq mehar” to a woman when she marries a man. It is the duty of the husband to pay this amount to his wife.      
          “and give unto the women (whom ye marry) free gift of their marriage portions”

Then a woman also has the right of “khulah” or “divorce obtained on wife's initiative”. Similarly a woman can have her own property and make whatever amendments she want in it. Islam has also granted women share in inheritance of property. These can be found in Koran in (11:4 al-Nisah). The religion also allows a woman to seek support from court just as a man can if she has any such problem. For being witnesses in court Islam has certain considerations. According to Islam testimony of a man is equal to that of two women.
Islam gives a degree of superiority to man over woman. According to Islam men are in charge of women because they spend on woman what they earn. Some people in our society confuse this term with masters, which is wrong.  
As for the question of veiling our men consider it to be there supreme duty to insult women on this issue. Islam has laid clear instructions in this regard. Islam expects a woman to cover everything except her face and her hands while going out. Our men see to it that their women are properly covered and they don't mind suffocating them. It is said in the Koran
Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is aware of what they do.”
   In short a woman is respectable in all her categories in Islam. As a mother heaven lies under her feet. In the role of a daughter she is God's blessing to parents. The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) used to rise in respect of his daughter Fatima whenever she paid a visit to him. As a wife she has the right to be politely and kindly treated. As a sister she is a symbol of love and affection. Nature has equipped woman with immense qualities and she can and she is participating in the prosperity of nations. Therefore it is wrong to believe that women are inferior to men.