Mohammad (PBUH) - A benefactor of women

Nazrana Darvesh | OCTOBER 19, 2021, 12:10 AM IST

Women and Islam has always been a topic of discussion all around the globe.

October 18, 2021, marks the birth anniversary of the Last Prophet of Allah –Mohammad (PBUH). Let us, on this occasion, explore his beneficence towards women.

7th Century - the time when women were the most oppressed part of society, Mohammad (PBUH) arrived as a torchbearer of women rights.

To understand this, one must browse his life in hadith books. Mohammad was an orphan who lost his father before his birth. He was raised by Foster Mother Halima Saadia. Islam accords Foster mothers the status of an additional mother with special rights, and her children are considered as real brothers and sisters prohibiting marriages with them. Thus when his foster sister Shaima once happened to meet him, he welcomed her, spread his shawl for her, and asked her to sit next to him.

Young Mohammad’s (PBUH) first marriage was with an elderly widow who was in her forties while he was in his twenties. Though polygamy was a common state of affairs then, Mohammad (PBUH) remained in a monogamous marriage with Khadija (R A), while he was in his fifties, until her death. Khadija was a businesswoman of Arabia, who was supported by Mohammad in her career.

Islam restricted the practice of Polygamy and subjected it to terms and conditions which was earlier unlimited and without any constraint. The revelation for polygamy was sent in fact to streamline the rights of orphans by marrying their mothers as a support for their living with the condition of treating all wives equally.

‘And if you be apprehensive that you will not be able to do justice to the orphans, you may marry two or three or four women whom you choose. But if you apprehend that you might not be able to do justice to them, then marry only one wife’ (Quran 4:3)

Thus we see, the Prophet’s later marriages were either to cement political ties or to provide physical and economic shelter to the widows. His marriage with the divorced wife of his adopted son was as per the commandment of God to break the tradition of ignorance which recognized the adopted child as a real child.

Among his all wives only Aisha (R A) was not previously married. Aisha is known as the greatest scholar of hadith. Mohammad had given her authority for consultation on religious queries which continued even after the death of the Prophet. She opened the first-ever school of Fikh (jurisprudence) in Islam.

The relationship between Aisha (R A) and Mohammad (PBUH) was so adorable that they played together, drank from the same spot on the cup, and constantly exchanged sweet words with one another. The famous incident of the Prophet (PBUH) challenging his wife to race is well known.

Once, when a man asked Hadrat Aisha (R A) “What did The Prophet do at home?” Hadrat Aisha said He kept busy with housework. He patched His clothes, swept the house, milked the animals, and bought supplies for the house from the market. If His shoes were torn He mended them Himself. He tied the rope to the water bucket. He secured the camel, fed it and ground the flour with the slave.” (Bukhari)

Regarding wives he lived with this principle: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” (Tirmidhi)

"You will be rewarded for whatever you spend for Allah's sake even if it were a morsel which you put in your wife's mouth. (Bukhari)

Regarding safeguarding chastity of wives, the Prophet described the one who discloses his wife’s affairs to others as amongst the worst of people (Ahmad)

History witnesses the unprecedented affection between Mohammad (PBUH) and his daughter Fatima (R A). Whenever she entered Prophets’ room, he would stand up for her, kiss her, take her hand and make her sit in his place.

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Fatima is a part of me and whoever makes her angry, makes me angry.“ (Bukhari 3767)

Besides this love and care for women of his family, the Prophet (PBUH) uplifted the status of women in general, provided them with equal status in the society with accorded rights and dignity.

He abolished the practice of female infanticide which was prevalent at that time by reminding the punishment for the crime on Day of the Judgement when the Almighty God would gather all for accountability.

“And when the souls are reunited (with their bodies), and when the infant girl, buried alive, is asked for what crime she was slain, and when the records are unfolded, and when the veil of heaven is removed, and when Hell is set blazing, and when Paradise is brought near, then each person shall know what he has brought with him”. (Quran 81 : 7-14)

He approved the consent of the girl for her marriage:

Once A girl came to the Prophet (PBUH) complaining that her father married her to his nephew despite the fact that she did not like him. The Prophet called the father and gave the girl the freedom to accept or refuse the proposed marriage. She then decided of her own will to accept the marriage and said: "O Messenger of Allah. I have accepted what my father has done; yet I wanted to teach women that fathers have no control over these matters” (Abu Dawud)

He gave them the right to get a divorce:

Once, the wife of Thabit b Qais requested the Prophet for a divorce from her husband. The Prophet asked her to return the garden given to her at the time of marriage as Dower (Mahr). She accepted this condition and the marriage was dissolved.

To safeguard the chastity of women and avoid false allegations on them he implemented the strict condition of testimony as commanded by Allah in the Quran "If any of your women commit fornication, call in four witnesses from among yourselves against them." (Quran 4:15)

Islam entitled women to inherit from the deceased person in the 7th Century, long before the slogans for women’s rights were raised. However, the shares of men and women are different in inheritance. These shares are justifiable, keeping in view the status and role of men and women in society. It was revealed as a commandment from God in the Holy Quran that men and women have shares in inheritance.

“To men (of the family) belongs a share of that which parent and near kindred leave and to women a share of that which parents and near kindred leave whether it be little or much - a determinate share“ (Quran 4:7)

And as Prophet of God, Mohammad (PBUH) implemented this with a strict warning in these words:

“Even if a man worked all his life, like the men of Paradise, yet ended his life's record by making a wrongful bequest, he would be consigned to Hell.” (Ibn Kathir, vol. 2, p. 218.)

This is a terrifying warning in which those who either tamper with God's laws of inheritance or violate the legal bounds categorically laid down by God in His Book are warned of unending punishment.

Some of his other teachings about the rights of women are:

"Do not prevent women from going to mosques" (Muslim).

“The one who has a daughter born to him and he does not bury her alive, nor keeps her in disgrace, nor prefers his son to her, Allah will admit him to Paradise”. (Abu Daud).

"Seeking knowledge is a Muslim man's and woman's duty" ( Ibn Majah)

The write-up won’t be complete without mentioning the treatment towards mother, regarding whom the Prophet said that in terms of good treatment, mothers deserve the first position consequent for further two positions and then the position of the father is determined (Bukhari)

Thus we see Mohammad (PBUH) gave a complete code of life that not only provides rather ensures social space to women in society. 

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