A society is as prosperous as its women folk is. Hence every free civilization tries to gives its women the rights as far as possible.
The status of the women in world changed greatly after the advent of Islam and has been hotly debated with people arguing from both sides.
In this article we shall analyze the differences between the status of the women in pre Islamic and Islamic Arabia.
- Goddesses: The status of women in a society is directly proportional to the Goddesses worshipped in that society. The pre-Islamic Arabic society has 3 prominent Goddesses i.e. Al-Uzza, Al-Lat and Manat. Al-Uzza was the most worshipped, even more than all other male Gods. At one point even Prophet (pbuh) himself worshipped Al-Uzza. But the first thing the Prophet (pbuh) did was burning the temple of Al-Uzza after capturing Mecca. In Islam, Allah who is considered a male is revered and no one else. Since no Goddess is worshipped in Islam, pre-Islamic Arabia can be assumed to have placed women in a higher status.
- Dress. The women in pre-Islamic Arabia did not have to cover their full bodies. Islam made it compulsory for women to don Hijab i.e. black dress covering from head to toe with their faces covered. Men could wear dress of any color but Women were forced to wear only black dress with full body covered.
- Mehram, Islam prohibits talking to unrelated people of opposite sex and is more stringent on women. This greatly restricted the social connections of women.
- Mobility, Islam also prohibits women from moving out without a male relative. Nothing of such existed in pre-Islamic Arabia. This resulted in restricting the women to their homes. With women confined to their homes, their status went down.
- Women in economic field. Look at first wife of the Prophet (pbuh) Khadija (pbuh). She was a business woman and among richest persons at that time. She was in to travel and transportation business. After Islam, we don’t find any such rich business women ever born. Had Khadija (pbuh) been able to run her business empire if she were to be forced to wear hijab or not talk to men or leave home with a male relative only? No. So it can be assumed that women were kicked out of economic and money earning activities after the advent of Islam. During the lifetime of Khadija (pbuh) the verses related to Hijab were not revealed and hence Khadija (pbuh) never had to wear hijab or follow other restrictions and hence was a very successful business woman.
- Ban on all forms of entertainment: We see girls and women show more interest in singing, dancing, drawing and painting than men. Islam banned all these activities as haram. Women got confined to their homes, had to wear cover themselves from head to toe and had no means of entertainment.
- Nikah-Halala: Whether in pre Islamic or Islamic Arabia, men could divorce their wives unilaterally. But there was no Nikah-Halala in pre-Islamic Arabia. What is Nikah-Halala? If a man divorces a woman and wants to marry the woman again, she has to marry another man, have sex with her get a divorce from him to return to her husband. Is this not a punishment to a woman for no fault of hers?
- Islamic etiquettes: Islam also mandated a lot of etiquettes mostly on women, i.e. a woman cannot laugh loudly, speak loudly and many more. All of these made women live with lot of restriction.
- Sex Slaves: Islam permitted sex-slaves. Any non-Muslim woman can be captured, purchased and the man is permitted to have unbridled sex with her. Though Islam restricted men to not have more than 4 wives, sex slaves made it easy for men to have enough extra-marital affairs. This was not the case in pre-Islamic Arabia.
From the above examples, it is clear that the Islam regressed the status of women greatly.
Summarizing, before advent of Islam,
- Goddesses were revered.
- Women had mobility
- Women actively participated in economic activities
- No sex slaves, Nikah Halala
- No black burqas
When the Muslim women realize this and revolt, time will only tell.
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