Women are the twin halves of man. They appear in various roles in our society. In whatever role women appear, Islam has accorded their due rights to them. Here we will have a bird’s eye view of those rights.
Islam is that religion of life, which prefers knowledge. It does not tolerate ignorance even for a moment. The first divine revelation was about knowledge.
As mentioned in Surah ‘Alaq:
(O Beloved!) Read (commencing) with the Name of Allah, Who has created (everything). Surah ‘Alaq (96:1)
Human life is not complete with men alone. Women are also a basic pillar of the society. All the Shariah rules of the household, societal relations and the like are associated with women only. If only men are given education and women are ignored, then not only will this be an oppression on women, but a huge part of society will be forced to remain ignorant and will lose out on the benefits of education.
For this reason Islam has declared the education of women as also compulsory. The daughters of the community can adorn themselves with both Islamic and worldly education and reform the exterior and the interior of the society. Teaching women, educating them and making them aware, adorning them with the pearls of good character, making them aware of their role in raising children and many other tasks, only women can handle these tasks.
Within the framework of the Shariah and following the rules and guidelines of Hijab (veil), they can take social service as well. There is a Hadith in Sahih Bukhari:
Translation: It has been narrated on the authority of Hadhrat Rab’eea (May Allah be well pleased with her), she says that we, along with the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) would distribute water, wash and dress the wounds of the injured and would take the martyrs to Madina. (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1, Pg. No. 403/404)
In the blessed era of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam), the ladies would take care of the injured, would distribute water during the wars and would take up many other responsibilities. To summarize, the daughters of the community should acquire education in the Hijab, which includes worldly education as well and should serve the society in every possible way. They should especially concentrate on Medical field and become specialists in that field as well.
Marriage is not a barrier to education. Even after marriage, education can be continued. However, it is anyhow better to accept what the parents say. There is a Hadith in Kanz Ul ‘Ummal:
Translation: The pleasure of the parents is the pleasure of Allah Most High and in their displeasure is the displeasure of Allah Most High. (Kanz Ul ‘Ummal, Hadith No: 45551)
Islam regards the consent of the girl also as necessary. The consent of an adult and sane girl is also necessary for marriage.
However, if a girl wants to marry someone below her, then the parents can stop her and still if she ends up marrying, then they can get the marriage annulled. Also, if the dower (Mehr) is less than the alimony of her mother/aunt (Mehr Mithl), then the parents/guardian can demand it. They can also demand a separation as given in Fatawa A’alamgiri, Vol. 1, Pg No. 292/293/294.
Islam lays a lot of stress on Hijab for women. It is Haraam (forbidden) to remain without Hijab or to go before Non-Mahram people without Hijab. The best and safest place for women is their house, which safeguards them and their modesty. The Holy Quran orders women to stay in their houses.
If there is no one to take up the responsibility for women or for some educational, Islamic or economic reason, then with complete Hijab and with absolute avoidance of corruption of any kind, it is permissible for them to go ahead and work. At the place of work, they should practice Hijab, as prescribed by the Shariah
Men are the providers of women and not vice versa
The Shariah has obligated the husband to provide for the food, clothing, shelter and other basic needs of the wife. The Shariah has not fixed any particular percentage of the salary as expenses. Instead, guidelines for the expenses are given as per the income of the husband. If the couple is poor then the expenses would be the amount which is generally enough for poor people to lead their lives. If the couple is rich, then the expenses would be what is generally necessary for the rich to fulfill their needs. As given in Fatawa A’alamgiri, 547/548.
The husband is the head of the family. Supporting the wife is the responsibility of the husband. As Allah Most High says in Surah Nisa:
Men are guardians of women, because Allah has made one superior to the other, and (also) because men spend their wealth (on them)… Surah Nisa (4:34)
The husband has no right on the income of the wife
The Shariah does not give the women any organizational or economic responsibility. In light of this, husband has no right over the income of the wife. However, if the wife willingly gives her money/wealth to the husband, he may use it. Doing so when the husband needs it is a very high standard of courtesy and mutual help.
A daughter is not cut out of her parents’ inheritance
Whatever the family spends on the daughters on their marriage, education, etc. and on different occasions is their good treatment of them.
If the parents are distributing their property in their life itself, then they should be just and give an equal share to all children. If a son/daughter is financially weak, they may give an extra share as well.
However, if the property is distributed after their death, then the inheritance will be distributed as per the injunctions given in the Holy Quran and the Hadith only.
The parents or remaining relatives cannot cite marriage expenses, etc. and force daughters out of their share of inheritance.
Rights as a mother
Islam considers motherhood as the most sacred of all relationships. The rights that Islam accords to mothers are unmatched by any other religion/philosophy. Have a look at the following Hadith:
Translation: It is narrated on the authority of Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (May Allah be well pleased with him), he says that a certain Companion came to the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and asked: O Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam)! Who is the most deserving of my kind treatment? The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Your mother is the most deserving. He again asked: Then whom? The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Your mother is the most deserving. He again asked: Then whom? The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Your mother is the most deserving of your kind treatment. That Companion asked for the fourth time: Who is the most deserving of my kind treatment? Then the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Your father is the most deserving of your kind treatment. (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith No. 5971)
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has granted 3-fold excellence to serving the mother. The secret here is that the mother passes through 3 phases of motherhood in which the father doesn’t participate: The phase of pregnancy, the phase of delivery and the phase of suckling the infant.
Imam Badruddin ‘Aini (May Allah shower His mercy on him) writes in the explanation of the aforementioned Hadith:
Translation: Muhaddith Tammaam has narrated on the authority of Hadhrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas (May Allah be well pleased with them) that a Companion came to the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) and said: I had taken an oath that if Almighty Allah makes you victorious over Makkah, that I would go there and kiss the threshold of the Ka’aba. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: You kiss the feet of your mother. Indeed, you have fulfilled your oath. (‘Umdatul Qari, Vol. 15, Pg. No. 141)
Rights as daughters
Islam declares the birth of a girl child to be a means of mercy. There is a Hadith in M’ojam Sagheer Tabarani:
Translation: The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: When a person is blessed with a girl, Almighty Allah sends a group of angels. Those angels address all the members of the family: O dwellers of this house! Peace be to you. The angels shade the girl with their wings and caress her head with their radiant hands and say: A weak one which has come from a weak one. Those who take care of them will be helped until the Day of Judgment. (M’ojam Sagheer Tabarani, Hadith No. 70)
There is another Hadith in Jame’ Tirmidhi:
Translation: It is narrated on the authority of Hadhrat ‘Aisha (May Allah be well pleased with her) that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Any person who is tested by Allah through his girls and that person is patient on it, then these girls become a shield for that person on the Day of Judgment. (Jame’ Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 2037)
Rights as a wife
A wife is the better half of the husband. It is the responsibility of the husband to care for the wife in all aspects of life. We have seen the economic rights that Islam grants to women. Similarly, the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has also instructed men to be caring, understanding and forbearing in relations with their wives.
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Whatever you eat, give the same to your wife, whatever you wear give the same to your wife. Never hit her on the face and don’t leave her alone anywhere except in one’s home. (Sunan Abu Dawood, Hadith No. 2144)
Here men are being instructed to treat their wives as equals and not to look down upon them.
The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: No Muslim man should dislike his believing wife. If he doesn’t like some habits of her, he will surely like some other attributes in her. (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 3721)
Here the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) is instructing men not to be realistic in their expectations with their wives and to keep in mind that being humans, they are also prone to some shortcomings. It is the task of the husband to lessen or when and where possible ignore those shortcomings and laud their wives for whatever good they have.