Women have been, from time immemorial, subjected to all kinds of difficult circumstances all in the name of male supremacy over them. In fact, in most societies and life setting, she is considered a second class being for the use of the male counterpart. This same view is exactly what all the so-called "women liberation movements' and propaganda reflect in different ways. The difference is that in the case of the old times, it was so obvious and no deceit was attached to it. But in these days of ours, it has been covered with all sort of outlooks to garnish it, making it so inviting and safe to belong to, while in the real sense it is all the same agenda to make a woman cheap commodity for the male to use.
From the economic side of things, the advent of the long economic downturn in the mid-1970s, capitalism launched the most concerted worldwide offensive against women's rights in 40 years. In the neo-colonial countries, women are bearing the brunt of IMF and World Bank-imposed economic structural adjustment programs and women are the largely invisible victims in the increasing number of localised wars over the ever shrinking resources not in the hands of the imperialists. The same women are the ones who are thrown first onto the scrap heap as privatisation that always create skyrocketing unemployment and public welfare spending is slashed.
In the quest to gain equality in social life or working opportunities, women end up being used as prey by employers to attract customers. Thus making them prone to all sort of harassments ranging from sexual, physical bullying and so on.
Others who find themselves naturally beautiful and appealing to the opposite sex are normally found within the realms of the so called freedom fighters or woman right fighters. In this vain, they go into so many kinds of societies that empower and encourage activities of all kinds, ranging from entertainment industries, media, fashion and beauty clubs, home violence against women groups and so on.
However, at the end what happens? The woman is still reduced to that same cheap object for the use of man counterpart at a very less or not even a price-paid price (i.e. free).
This is the case of what we face today. Women are encouraged to seek for their total freedom from the shackles of religions and so tagged male-dominated set instruments. Thus they go out and struggle face-to-face, shoulder-to-shoulder, body-to-body with the same men all to achieve the so-called freedom and women rights. They go naked all over the places; prostitution becomes legalized and even protected by laws laid down by the same so-called men; marriages are no more encouraged and single mothers are seen all over the places in very huge and disturbing numbers; males also now run from their natural responsibility to marry and cater for a family. Instead they see it much easier to have children for as many ladies as possible without bearing the responsibility of catering for the children. Bloods and lineages of children are now very difficult to determine as ladies sleep around with many men and cannot even some time be able to point at the father of her child amongst her lovers.
Today people think that women are liberated in the West and that the women's liberation movement began in the 20th century. Actually, the women's liberation movement was not begun by women but was revealed by God to a man in the seventh century by the name of Muhammad (PBUH), who is known as the last of the divine Prophets. The Qur'an and the Traditions of the Prophet (Hadith or Sunnah) are the sources from which every Muslim woman derives her rights and duties, which form the final and perfected ways sent to all prophets of Allah in history of mankind. Here lies the true libration that strikes between both extreme ends.
Some of these are as follows:
I. HUMAN RIGHTS
Islam, fourteen centuries ago, made women equally accountable to God in glorifying and worshipping Him - setting no limits on her moral progress. Also, Islam established a woman's equality in her humanity with men.
In the Qur'an, in the first verse of the chapter entitled "Women," God says, "O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it its mate and from them both have spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and towards the wombs (that bore you). Lo! Allah has been a Watcher over you." (4:1)
Since men and women both came from the same essence, they are equal in their humanity. Women cannot be by nature evil (as some religions believe) or then men would be evil also. Similarly, neither gender can be superior because it would be a contradiction of equality. Instead the uniqueness of both sex is retained and guarded within the equity as provided by Islam.
II. CIVIL RIGHTS
In Islam, a woman has the basic freedom of choice and expression based on recognition of her individual personality. First, she is free to choose her religion. The Qur'an states: "There is no compulsion in religion. Right has been made distinct from error." (2:256)
Women are encouraged in Islam to contribute their opinions and ideas. There are many traditions of the Prophet (pbuh) which indicate women would pose questions directly to him and offer their opinions concerning religion, economics and social matters.
A Muslim woman chooses her husband and keeps her name after marriage. A Muslim woman's testimony is valid in legal disputes. In fact, in areas in which women are more familiar, their evidence is conclusive.
III. SOCIAL RIGHTS
The Prophet (pbuh) said: "Seeking knowledge is a mandate for every Muslim (male and female)." This includes knowledge of the Qur'an and the Hadith as well as other knowledge. Men and women both have the capacity for learning and understanding. Since it is also their obligation to promote good behavior and condemn bad behavior in all spheres of life, Muslim women must acquire the appropriate education to perform this duty in accordance with their own natural talents and interests.
While maintenance of a home, providing support to her husband, and bearing, raising and teaching of children are among the first and very highly regarded roles for a woman, if she has the skills to work outside the home for the good of the community, she may do so as long as her family obligations are met.
Islam recognizes and fosters the natural differences between men and women despite their equality. Some types of work are more suitable for men and other types for women. This in no way diminishes either's effort nor its benefit. God will reward both sexes equally for the value of their work, though it may not necessarily be the same activity.
Concerning motherhood, the Prophet (pbuh) said: "Heaven lies under the feet of mothers." This implies that the success of a society can be traced to the mothers that raised it. The first and greatest influence on a person comes from the sense of security, affection, and training received from the mother. Therefore, a woman having children must be educated and conscientious in order to be a skillful parent.
IV. POLITICAL RIGHTS
A right given to Muslim women by God 1400 years ago is the right to vote. On any public matter, a woman may voice her opinion and participate in politics. One example, narrated in the Qur'an (60:12), is that Muhammad (pbuh) is told that when the believing women come to him and swear their allegiance to Islam, he must accept their oath. This established the right of women to select their leader and publicly declare so. Finally, Islam does not forbid a woman from holding important positions in government. Abdur-Rahman Ibn Auf consulted many women before he recommended Uthman Ibn Affan to be the Caliph.
V. ECONOMIC RIGHTS
The Qur'an states: "By the creation of the male and female; Verily, (the ends) ye strive for are diverse." (92:3-4)
In these verses, God declares that He created men and women to be different, with unique roles, functions and skills. As in society, where there is a division of labor, so too in a family; each member has different responsibilities. Generally, Islam upholds that women are entrusted with the nurturing role, and men, with the guardian role. Therefore, women are given the right of financial support.
The Qur'an states: "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend of their wealth (for the support of women)." (4:34)
This guardianship and greater financial responsibility given to men, requires that they provide women with not only monetary support but also physical protection and kind and respectful treatment.
The Muslim woman has the privilege to earn money, the right to own property, to enter into legal contracts and to manage all of her assets in any way she pleases. She can run her own business and no one has any claim on her earnings including her husband. The Qur'an states(translation of its meaning):
"And in no wise covet those things in which Allah hath bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others; to men is allotted what they earn, and to women, what they earn; but ask Allah of His bounty, for Allah hath full knowledge of all things." (4:32)
A woman inherits from her relatives. The Qur'an states: "For men there is a share in what parents and relatives leave, and for women there is a share of what parents and relatives leave, whether it be little or much - an ordained share." (4:7)
In fact, the libration Islam gives to a woman is so much that if we read and care to know, we will all be glad for being Muslims. The above is but just a pinch out of an ocean of what Allah has given women in Islam.