Question/Criticism: Al-Islam oppresses women, treats them badly and considers women to be inferior to men.
These are ugly charges made against Al-Islam that are totally untrue and have no basis in the teachings of Al-Islam. To show how ridiculous these charges are I will share what Al-Islam teaches regarding the treatment of mother, wife and daughter. I will also give examples of freedoms that Al-Islam gave women long before western women had them and accomplishments made by Muslim women that women in the US have yet to achieve.
1. In regards to mother…
The Prophet Muhammad (saaw) was asked, "Who in this world should be loved more than anyone else?" He answered, YOUR MOTHER. He was asked then who next? He answered, YOUR MOTHER. Again he was asked who after that? He answered, YOUR MOTHER. And again he was asked who after that? Then he said, YOUR FATHER.
The Prophet said, "Heaven is at the feet of the mother." This shows the great importance of women to society. How she raises her children can bring about heaven for a society if she raises them correctly.
Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. Qur’an 17:23
And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal. Qur’an 31:14
With teachings like this regarding mothers both from the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet (saaw), how could anyone accuse Al-Islam of treating mothers bad?
2. In regards to wives…
The relationship between a man and his wife is captured in these beautiful words from the Qur’an:
And among His Signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect. Qur’an 30:21
A life of tranquillity filled with love and mercy between their hearts is what Allah ordained in the Qur’an for husband and wife.
The Prophet (saaw) said, "O People! It is true that you have certain rights with regards to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah's trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers."
Instead of suppression, the Prophet (saaw) said: "The best among you is he who is most kind to his wife." And the Qur’an says: "Live with them in kindness; even if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good" (4:19). Kindness to our wives is very heavily emphasized. The Prophet also said: "Do not beat the female servants of Allah;"
O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence G'd, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for G'd ever watches over you. (Qur’an 4:1)
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of G'd is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And G'd has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Qur’an 49:13)
Both verses above show that male and female are twin halves of each other created from a single soul. Our essence is the same and we are incomplete until we become one with our other half. We are to reverence the "wombs that bore us" which is an open endorsement by the Qur’an on how we should regard our women. Hurting them would be the same as hurting ourselves.
3. In regards to daughter…
When Al-Islam was revealed, it decreed a daughter -like a son- was a gift from Allah, to be granted to whomever Allah wishes of His worshippers:
"He bestows female (offspring) upon whom He will, and bestows male (offspring) upon whom He will Or He bestows both male and females, and He renders barren whom He wills. Verily, He is the All-Knower and is Able to do all things. [ Surah 42 : 49 - 50]
The Prophet Muhammad taught that the Muslim father who educates his daughters will go straight to heaven.
Yes, education of daughters will cause a man to go straight to heaven. That is how important educating women in Al-Islam is. Here is more about daughters in Al-Islam:
On the authority of Abu Huraira: "The Prophet (saaw) said, `Whoever had three daughters and showed patience in their keeping, their pleasure and displeasure, Allah admits him to Paradise for his mercy over them. A man asked, `And what about two daughters, O Messenger of Allah? He said, `And two daughters as well." Another asked, `O Messenger of Allah, what about one daughter?" He said, `And one daughter as well".
In `Aisha's narration, the Prophet (saaw) said, "Whoever suffers any mishap due to keeping his girls, but still treats them well, there will be protection for him from the Fire of Hell.
How the Prophet (saaw) regarded his own daughter is an important example for Muslims to look at. He demonstrated love and the utmost concern for his daughter. This is shown in what the Prophet (saaw) says about his daughter Fatima, "Fatima is part of me; what makes her angry, makes me angry". And, "Fatima is part of me, what makes me sad, makes her sad, and what pleases me, pleases her". And "surely my daughter is part of me; I fear what frightens her, and I am harmed by what harms her".
In the brief history of maybe about 50 years being free from colonial rule, Islamic women were able to accomplish a feat that women in the more than 200 year history in the U.S. have not been able to accomplish. What is that? In 3 Muslim countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia women were ELECTED President of their countries. They became the "head honchos" of their countries. How could that be if Al-Islam treats women as "inferior"?
Al-Islam gave women the right to vote, to own properties and to initiate divorce 1400 years ago long before women in the western world got those rights. When did women get these rights in the U.S.? It was only in the 1920s and it took a Women’s suffrage movement to make it happen.