Among the many topics of interest to non-Muslims, the status of Muslim women and the theme of their rights -- or rather, the perceived lack of them – seems to be foremost. The media’s portrayal of Muslim women, usually outlining their “oppression and mystery” seems to contribute to this negative perception.
The main reason for this is that people often fail to distinguish between culture and religion -- two things that are completely different. In fact, Islam condemns oppression of any kind whether it is towards a woman or humankind in general.
The lives of the people who responded to the Quran have changed drastically. It had a tremendous impact on so many people, especially women, since this was the first time that the souls of man and women were declared equal -- with the same obligations as well as the same rewards.
The Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, said: "Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim (male and female)." 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.
The two great roles a woman plays in life are that of a wife and a mother. The Prophet –peace be upon him-, once said to a group of Companions:
Concerning motherhood, the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH, said: "Heaven lies under the feet of mothers." This implies that the success of a society can be traced to the mothers who 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.
A man came to the Prophet, PBUH, and asked: "Who among my kinfolk is worthy of my good companionship?" The Prophet –peace be upon him-, replied: "Your mother" three times before saying: "Your father." This indicates the impact that a mother has in a person's life. So women are highly honored in this great religion.
"The best among you are those who are the best to their wives." This shows that Islam highly encourages treating the wives well. They should be shown love, respect and care. To foster the love and security that comes with marriage, Muslim wives have various rights. The first of the wife's rights is to receive dowry, a gift from the husband, which is part of the marriage contract and required for the legality of the marriage.
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