Muslim Women and Islam

Before the advent of Islam, several diverse nations and cultures existed in the Arabian Peninsula for about 14 centuries prior to its Islamization. These nomadic desert dwellers were led to worship many male and female Gods for many centuries together. Much before the birth of the Arab prophet was born, a goddess called Al-Lat was widely worshipped along with the Arabian peninsula. The word ‘El’ was used by the Arab nomads to designate or refer to deities or Gods. Therefore, the word ‘Allah’ to is taken from here and its contracted form is al-Ilah’. That era was dominated by tribes with patriarchal traditions, and the position of women can at best be described as subservient. They were deemed unequal to men both socially and at home, wherein they had no right to business, inheritance, education, and property. The bias against women was so strong that newborn infant girls were often buried alive or else abandoned to die (Angha). The position of women in these times was in keeping with the prevalent tendencies the world over. Polygamy was rampant.With the flowering of Islam, the lives of women were set for change. The Prophet and his teachings gave an impetus to women in Arabia in all fields and the protection of the rights of women was high on the agenda. In fact, the Quran has more passages which address women’s issues than on any other matter (Wadud, Amina). The teachings of the Prophet brought about far-reaching changes in the Arabian society of the seventh century, and in accordance with his sayings, women began to participate in all facets of society, be it social, political, religious or intellectual. Women had the task of preserving traditional knowledge and to work towards a proper unraveling of the Prophet’s words. Women were also free to join the army to fight against the enemies of the Prophet, and there are many recorded historical references to it.