Part 2 of a 5 part special of the advent of Islam: Lessons we should never forget.
On the advent Islamic Feminism and how it affected Arabia
One of the biggest contributions of Islam was to bring about feminist thought and improve the rights of women within the region. With the establishment of a new religion and a new central government, the rights of women were far better protected than ever before.
Female infanticide was one of the most heinous crimes of the era (the practice of slaying female infants) which was not just condemned by those who found the idea appalling but also by a source that most Arabs post Islam revered i.e., the Holy Quran. “When the buried infant shall be asked for what sin she was slain, when the scrolls shall be unrolled”... “Whither then will you go?”
The above quote from the Muslim Holy Book, the line of thinking that Islam was presenting regarding the rights of women made the people of Arabia look at women in a different light and ended up having quite a propitious effect on the land and its people. It was a wake up call for a nation of tribes who had ignored the very basics of humanity till then by depriving the innocent of their very basic right to life. The realization that women are people and should be treated as such was drawn from it. By banning the murders of innocent babies, the state of Arabia became a much better place for females to live in. A lot of female infants who would never have grown old ended up living full enriching lives as a result of this wonderful aspect of Islam.
Narrated by Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "A prostitute was forgiven by Allah,
because, passing by a panting dog near a well
and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst,
she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover
she drew out some water for it.
So, Allah forgave her because of that."
(Book #54, Hadith #538)
It is from words like this that women today draw courage to run for public office, succeed in all walks of life and excel in every academic and practical field. The concept of forgiveness, the concept of God holding women in such high esteem that a small merciful gesture is enough to wash away a lifetime of sin shows the value that Islam places on women.
While there are certain people who feel that Muslims should reject this view for a more patriarchal one, it does not really fit in with the central beliefs of Islam. In fact, it can be argued that Islam may have been one of the original proponents of feminism (which traditionally aims to prove that women are equal to men and in this context can be taken to mean women are equal to men in the eyes of God). With words of such wisdom backed up by religious arguments, how can the status of women in Islam ever be in doubt?