So often I hear of people making harsh comments about how Arab/Muslim men treat their wives and that because the women are prefered to stay at home and raise the children, wear a scarf and long clothes when they go out, that we are oppressed. Yet if we look to what ISLAM teaches, and the majority of Muslims practice, we can see that the place of Women in Islam is very high and an honorable position. If we look to all other countries we can find plenty of men who abuse the women in their life; physically, sexually, mentally and emotionaly. Abuse, subjucation, and oppression of women is not new, does not know color, age, race or religious roots.
Islam has set women’s position equal to that of man on religious standing as stated in the Quran:
Allah Almighty equalizes between men and women in good deeds; “If any do deeds of righteousness be they male or female and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them. (The Noble Quran, 4:124)“
Allah Almighty further equalizes between men and women; “For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise,- for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward. (The Noble Quran, 33:35)“
Both of these verses show us that in front of Allah men and women are equal in value and in the deeds that they do. There is no inherant value that makes one sex better or higher than the other, nor is woman held responsible for sin of Eve, i.e. orignonal sin. This point is then reinforced by this verse:
Righteousness determines the value of humans in Allah Almighty’s sight. It is not their gender or race: “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. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted. (The Noble Quran, 49:13)“
In Islam, men and women are equal, but that doesn’t mean the same. We are all created with natural abilities and natures; equality between men and women in Islam is determined by their belief and righteous work, but their roles and responsibilities in life are different because of their physical and emotional differences. Each to excell in their gifts and abilities.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A person came to Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and asked, “Who among people is most deserving of my fine treatment?” He (PBUH) said, “Your mother”. He again asked, “Who next?” “Your mother”, the Prophet (PBUH) replied again. He asked, “Who next?” He (the Prophet (PBUH)) said again, “Your mother.” He again asked, “Then who?” Thereupon he (PBUH) said,” Then your father.”
In another narration: “O Messenger of Allah! Who is most deserving of my fine treatment?” He (PBUH) said, “Your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, then your nearest, then nearest”.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
This does not mean that mothers are better than fathers, for they provide and guide us in our life, but that the mother endures the stress and hardship of pregancy, then again in labor and lastly in the time she suckles or breast feeds the child. They are usually the ones who are tasked with the daily chores of raising the child, even when the father is greatly involved.
The Prophet Muhammad said, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him: Your Heaven lies under the feet of your mother (Ahmad, Nasai). This means that we gain admission to Jannah (Heaven) through our treatment of our mothers. We can also be denied admission through mistreatment of mothers. It is said that no person will ever be granted access to Paradise if his mother died while angry with him. Now, obviously, there are many other factors that determine whether or not a person will ever see Jannah. This hadith simply shows the importance of being kind to our mothers.
A wife of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: (The Prophet) never hit anyone with his hand, neither a woman nor a servant.”
Sahih Muslim, Hadith 1082
The Prophet said: “The most perfect Muslim in the matter of faith is someone who has excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best toward their wives.”
Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 106
Finally we can see the beauty of the relationship between a husband and wife as written in the Quran: ” They are raiment (clothing or garments) for you and you are raiment for them”. (2/187)
This annalogy is most fitting and beautiful of the relationship that Islam promotes between a husband and wife, where one protects the other and vice versa. In this verse we can see that men and women are equal to each other, yet each in their unique and individual roles.