Prophet Muhammad and Women Empowerment

The writer, Hasina Champsi (Toronto, Canada) is mother of four whose goal in life is to empower individuals with skills following the Sirat of our Ahlulbayt.

This article forms part of the series ‘ Muhammad – A Beacon of Hope, a Shining Star’ – an initiative to recall and appreciate the messages and lessons behind the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, its relevance, and connection to life today, for both Shi’a Muslims and the rest of the global population.

Women are still victims of poverty, illiteracy, post-war crises, homelessness, social and sexual violence. Companies and commercial institutions in industrialized countries enlarge their interests through female exploitation. The existing discriminative status of women is more or less a norm in Muslim and non-Muslim societies. Aside from the type and form of discrimination, women are discriminated against in all societies. Attempts have been made to end the injustices done to women have been institutionalized as women’s movement.

Feminism has profoundly altered Western culture in the latter half of the twentieth century. Perhaps no other social movement has shaped such profound changes in social morals and attitudes. In the 7th Century, Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) re introduced Islam during dark ages in Arabia.  The aim of ISLAM was to liberate society to be free from other than one entity and that is ALLAH. In the process Islam brought rights of different kinds and one of them was Rights of Women in Islam.

The following will be examined,

  1. Brief history of Feminism + Belief
  2. Islam, what are the views to Feminism?
  3. Status of Woman in Islam

Brief history of Feminism

Feminist theology began to establish itself in the 1970’s. it is divided into moderate and radical movements. The Moderate movement advocates reinterpretations of the established religions to purge them of what are considered sexist or androcentric elements. Radical movements, advocate a rejection of male-controlled religious thought in favor of the worship of one or more goddesses or even witchcraft.

In pre-Islamic Arabia killing of female infants was very common and very often, the moment a female was born, she was buried alive. However, after the spread of Islam in Arabia, this evil practice has been discontinued for the last 1,400 years.

With the advent of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) came hope for women in Arabia and around the World. Islam forbids killing of a human and that includes women too. In that paradigm Islam can be measured as a woman’s movement.

when the girl buried-alive will be asked, for what sin she was killed.(81:8)

Do not kill your children for the fear of penury: We will provide for them and for you. Killing them is indeed a great iniquity.(17:31)

Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) always spoke about justice and kindness towards a child whether it be a daughter or a son. Once a person in the presence of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) kissed his son and put him on his lap and did not do the same for his daughter who was with him. The Prophet (SAAW) objected and told the man that he was being unjust and that he should have also kissed his daughter and placed her on the other lap. The Prophet (SAAW) not only preached about equal justice to sons and daughters but also practised it himself. He gave high respect to his only daughter that whenever she entered the room he stood up and sat only after she was sitted.

O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you. Indeed, Allah is all-knowing, all-aware. (49:13)

The core message in this verse is that the characteristics that distinguish one person from the next are only means of knowing one another. Race, sex, class, geographical differences, age and wealth should not provide the bases of superiority or power relationships. The only criterion of honor and superiority is piety, which eradicates any unjust and discriminative hierarchical relationship.

Islam, what are the views to Feminism?

Islam negates injustice of any kind, the Prophet of God practised peace and harmony in all social relations. On the other hand, Feminist political theory views subjugation of women to male authority. Aim of the political order, in Islam, is the creation of an environment favourable to the worship of and obedience to God through which proximity to Him is gained. Women have no boundaries for what profession she wishes to choose women may be entrepreneurs, as was Lady Khadijah, the first wife of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) and the first revert to Islam. Or the daughter of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) who fought for her rights after the passing away of her father. It’s a known fact that Lady Fatima was a knowledgeable woman and many women from Medina would seek advice on different aspects be it religious or non-religious. The granddaughter of the Prophet was equally knowledgeable, her nephew, Imam Ali Zayn ul-Abidin (a.s.), said

“Alimah Ghayr Mu’allamah,” ‘she who has knowledge without being taught

The aim of the political order in feminism, by contrast, never gets beyond freedom to violate the constraints of traditional gender roles, forming relationships and even communities without any form of hierarchy, gender differentiation such as is found in the families of virtually all cultures.

Status of Woman in Islam

We have enjoined man to be kind to his parents. His mother has carried him in travail, and bore him in travail, and his gestation and weaning take thirty months…… (46:15)

Many verses in the Quran reemphasizes the same fact and asks people to treat their parents well, particularly their mothers. It reminds us of the difficulties that mothers suffer during pregnancy and delivery. Although men can also take part in post-natal responsibilities, mothers are regarded in the Qur’an as the most compatible. 

Woman’s Movement started long time with the coming of Prophet Muhammad (SAAW). I invite the readers to look at the verse of the Quran with a perspective of Hope and Liberation especially on Hijab… and other related issues.

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