Recognizing Islam’s contribution to women’s rights on International Women’s Day
One of the most significant contributions to women's rights came from the Islamic faith, which granted women rights and protections more than fourteen centuries ago.
International Women’s Day is an occasion to celebrate the achievements of women throughout history and highlight the ongoing struggle for gender equality. While women’s rights have come a long way in many parts of the world, there is still a need to promote women’s empowerment and challenge patriarchal structures that continue to limit their opportunities.
One of the most significant contributions to women’s rights came from the Islamic faith, which granted women rights and protections more than fourteen centuries ago. Islamic teachings recognize the equality of men and women before God and enshrine principles of social justice, compassion, and mutual respect.
Islam gave women many rights that were unheard of in pre-Islamic societies, where women were often considered property and had no legal status. For example, Muslim women were granted the right to inherit property and own businesses, a significant step towards financial independence and autonomy. Additionally, they had the right to vote, voice their opinions, and seek justice in court.
Islam also recognized women’s contribution to society and acknowledged their value as wives, mothers, and caretakers. The Prophet Muhammad said, “Heaven lies under the feet of mothers,” emphasizing the critical role that mothers play in raising children and shaping society.
Furthermore, Islam granted women rights and protections in marriage, such as the right to choose their spouse, the right to a dower (mehr), and the right to seek divorce. These were revolutionary concepts in a time when women had no say in their marital affairs.
In contrast to popular beliefs, Muslim women have played an active role in society and made significant contributions to fields such as education, literature, and politics. For example, Fatima al-Fihri, a Muslim woman, founded the oldest university in the world, the University of al-Qarawiyyin in Morocco, in 859 CE.
In summary, Islam gave women rights and protections long before the feminist movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. By recognizing the equality of men and women and promoting social justice, Islam paved the way for the empowerment of women in Muslim societies and beyond. On this International Women’s Day, it is essential to recognize the contributions of women from all backgrounds and work towards creating a world where gender equality is a reality for all.