Exploring Women’s Rights in the Islamic Faith
“People of the world don’t look at themselves, and so they blame one another” - A Persian Sufi mystic Maulana Jalal Al-Din Rumi, translated by Camille A. and Kabir Edmund Helminski
I have always wondered how different our world would be if every human being actually uses their God (Allah) given gifts of reason, logic, and rationality rather than succumbing to ignorance and bending their will to the popular belief whether it is right or wrong. While it is not impossible to correct people’s attitudes or way of thinking, it is also not an easy task as each society is taught to live a certain way of life so we need to constantly educate people to learn, and to encourage them to do their own research before making ignorant judgments.
This great word of wisdom from Sufi scholar Rumi is particularly prevalent in the West, where we have become so critical of Islam and their treatment of women through news media and other various outlets that it has been ingrained in our mind to think of Muslim women as suppressed human beings who have no rights and are inferior to men. Furthermore, our society has this notion that all Muslim women are enervated, disrespected, and oppressed but contrary to the popular belief, Islam regards women as equal to men in many aspects. “And they (women) shall have rights similar to the rights against them according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them” (Qur’an 2:228). As transmitted in Surah Al-Baqara (the cow), it shows that women have a unique place in Islam. Rather than listening or reading via incredible sources, we must not forget to do our own research by going directly to the source text of the religion (Qur’an), its religious text (Hadith) and scholarly books. In my research, I hope to change your outlook on women’s right in the Islamic faith relating to their spiritual, economic, legal, social and political rights. Introduction:
I would like to first address this topic by saying, Islam is the second largest religion in the world today with over two billion followers from all around the world and still growing. Hence, why would Islam continue to grow and attract followers from all over the world, both men and women if it doesn’t condone equality? In fact, Islam has given women the rights to marry, divorce, rights to inheritance, own property, earn their own living, and right to education since the birth of religion dating back to 7th century A.D. It has only been recently in the West that women are able to achieve all the rights mentioned above. In Islam these rights have always existed but in terms of practice, women were not allowed to take advantage or given the opportunity of these rights due to the conservative male-dominated patriarchal society. Just as it took time for the women in the West, it is taking women in the Islamic world little longer to exercise their rights; however that doesn’t mean they don’t have their God given rights. Part I: Spiritual Rights
The five pillars of Islamic faith is the backbone to every Muslim’s way of life as it is the framework for worship and sign of commitment to Allah. They are as follows, 1. A Muslim must acknowledge that "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet" 2. A Muslim must pray (Salaat) five times daily facing Mecca: at dawn, at noon, in the midafternoon, at dusk, and after dark. 3. A Muslim must fast for the month of Ramadan; one must refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset during entirety of this month. 4. A Muslim must give Zakat to the poor. This donation should be no less than 2.5 percent of one's savings after every twelve months (Hadith Bukhari). 5. A Muslim must make a pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca. Every adult Muslim who is physically and financially able to do so must make this pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime. When Allah commanded these acts of...
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