KIND TREATMENT OF WOMEN
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was very serious in improving the condition of women in society and on securing for them a position of dignity and fair and equitable treatment. Islam was the first religion, which conferred upon women the right of inheritance. The Quran makes daughters along with the sons heirs to the property left by their parents. In the same way a mother is made an heir to her son’s or daughter’s property, and a wife is made an heir to her husband’s property, when a brother becomes an heir of his deceased brother’s property, a sister is also an heir to that property. No religion before Islam had so clearly and firmly established a woman’s right of inheritance and her right to possess property. In Islam a woman is the absolute owner of her own property and her husband cannot obtain any control over it by virtue merely of their relationship. A woman is at full liberty to deal with her property as she chooses.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was so careful with regard to the kind treatment of women that those around him who had not previously been accustomed to looking upon women in the light of helpmates and partners found it difficult to accommodate themselves to the standards that the Prophet was anxious to see set up and maintained. Hadrat ‘Umar relates, “My wife occasionally sought to intervene in my affairs with her counsel and I would admonish her, saying that the Arabs had never permitted their women to intervene in their affairs.” She would retort: “That is all past. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) lets his wives counsel him in his affairs and he does not stop them. Why don’t you follow his example?”
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was so careful concerning the sentiments of women that on one occasion when he was leading the Prayers he heard the cry of a child and concluded the service quickly, explaining thereafter that as he had heard the cry of the child he imagined that the child’s mother would be distressed at its cry and he had therefore concluded the service quickly so that the mother could go to the child and look after it.
When during any of his journeys women were also among the party he always gave directions that the caravan should move slowly and by easy stages. On one such occasion when the men were eager to push forward, he said: “Take care of the glass! Take care of the glass!” meaning thereby that women were of the party and that if camels and horses were put to the gallop they would suffer from the jolting of the animals. (Sahih Bukhari)
During a battle confusion arose among the ranks of the mounted soldiers and the animals became unmanageable. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fell from his horse and some of the women also fell from their mounts. One of his Companions, who was riding a camel immediately behind the Prophet jumped down and ran towards him crying, “May I be your sacrifice, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet’s foot was still in the stirrup. He released it hastily and said to his Companion, “Don’t worry about me, go and help the women.”
Just before his death, one of the injunctions he addressed to Muslims and laid stress upon was that they should always treat women with kindness and consideration.
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If a man has daughters and he makes arrangement to have them educated and takes pains with their upbringing, God would save him from the torment of Hell.” (Tirmidhi)
It was a common practice with the Arabs to inflict physical chastisement upon women for every little fault. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) taught that
women were equal to men as the creatures of God, and were not the slaves of men and should not be beaten. The Prophet admonished men and told them that those who treated women with unkindness could never win the favor of God. Thereafter, the rights of women were established, and for the first time women began to be treated as free individuals in their own right.
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was so careful of the feelings and sentiments of women that he always exhorted those who had to go upon a journey to finish their errands quickly and return home as soon as possible so that their wives and children should not suffer separation longer than was necessary. Whenever he returned from a journey he always came home during the daytime. If he found night approaching towards the end of his journey, he would camp outside Medina for the night and enter in the morning. He also told his companions that when they returned from a journey they should not come home suddenly without giving a notice of their return.
It is misunderstood that Islam neglects the women and does not give any right to them, or women are considered inferior to men. It is a lack of Islamic knowledge. If the Holy Quran and the sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) be studied, it becomes very clear that it is Islam that has really elevated the status of women. Before Islam, women were sold as personal commodities. Female children were buried alive because they were considered as curse for family. It is Islam that gave every respect and honor to women, and brought them at the level of men; otherwise women were mistreated in every sphere of life. Islam always provides equal rights and equal opportunities for men and women, as the Holy Quran says:
Surely, men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women, and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him—Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward. (Holy Quran, 33:36)
It is misunderstood that Islam does not permit equal opportunities to women to seek knowledge with men. It is entirely a wrong notion; such concept is never presented by Islam. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says in this regard, “It is the duty of every Muslim man and Muslim woman to seek knowledge”.
The Holy Quran says:
He it is who created you from a single soul and made there from its mate, that he might find comfort in her. And when he knows her, she bears a light burden and goes about with it. And when she grows heavy, they both pray to Allah, their Lord, saying, ‘If thou gives us a good child, we will surely be of the thankful.’ (Holy Quran, 7:190)
Woman has different roles in the society. Some time she appears as mother, some time as wife and some time as daughter, all these roles are respected and dignified in Islam.