New Delhi: Islam is a magnanimously monotheistic religion and followers of this religion are called Muslims. However, there are so many myths about the practices of Islam especially with regard to the personal rights of women. Those who are unfamiliar with the faith, often have misunderstandings about its teachings and practices. One of the most common misconceptions is to consider it misogynistic (anti-women) religion in the light of the practice among Muslim women to keep their whole bodies including their faces veiled, ensuring no say in the matter of divorce and restrictions on the various normal functions.

Other delusions regarding Muslim women’s rights are:

-    Muslim women lag behind in the field of education due to restrictions on their exposure to outer world

-    Men and women are not equal in Islam

-    Spousal abuse and restricted movement

-    Only Muslim men have the right to divorce their wives

On the occasion of Women’s Day, let us know what precisely Islam talks about women and their rights
Historically, women played an important role in the foundation of many Islamic educational institutions.

Female education in the Islamic world was inspired by Prophet Muhammad's wives, Khadijah, a successful businesswoman, and Aisha, a renowned Hadith scholar and military leader. The education was mainly restricted to religious instructions.

According to Hadith which is attributed to Prophet Muhammad, it has been said that he praised the women of Medina because of their desire for religious knowledge. Fatima al-Fihri's set up the University of Al Karaouine.

This continued through to the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th and 13th centuries, when 160 mosques and madrasahs were established in Damascus, 26 of which were funded by women through the Waqf (charitable trust or trust law) system. Half of all the royal patrons for these institutions were also women.

On asking about the Muslim women rights, noted Advocate Abha Kala Vijayan said, “Islam is a nice and most liberal religion regarding women liberty.” Giving reference to Fayzee’s book on Islamic laws, she talked about women rights guaranteed by Islam. These are:


In terms of Nikah: Wedding in Islam is a kind of civil contract and women have full right to say yes or no according to their wish. So women cannot be forced to accept a marital relationship against their will. The Prophet of Allah says: “An ‘ayyim’ (a divorcee or a widow) must not be wedded without their consent. A virgin must not be wedded unless she is consulted.” And, in another Hadith, Prophet said, “A widow or divorcee has been given more freedom than her parents or guardians with regard to deciding remarriage.”

 Islamic marriage is based on following three pillars:

1) The consent of the bride’s guardian

2) The presence of two witnesses.

3) Mehar (a sum of money promised by a groom to his wife at the time of niqah)
Mehar: This is considered to be the best way to show respect to women by promising ‘mehar ki rakam’.
Remarriage of a woman: Women have full right to remarriage in case of her husband’s demise or cessation of marriage. In case of a woman’s remarriage, it has to be performed only after the period of Iddat. Iddat or iddah, is a three-month period a woman must observe after the death of her spouse or after a divorce, during which she may not marry another man. She has to keep away herself from non-mehram (other man) , it means three months after a divorce and four months and ten days after the death of a spouse, is calculated on the number of menses that a woman has. Iddah was intended to ensure that the male parent of any offspring produced after the cessation of a nikah would be known.  This rule is meant only to ascertain the legitimacy of a new born baby after cessation of the marriage of its mother.
 In terms of Talaq:  A women also can give divorce in the form of Khula. This is with right of a woman to seek a divorce from her husband. Based on traditional fiqh on the references of the holy Quran and Hadith, Khula allows a woman to initiate a divorce through the mutual consent of the husband or a judicial decree. However, conflicting interpretations of khula prevail across Islamic schools of laws and religions with regard to compensation, consent of the husband, role of the court and judge, number of witnesses a woman must have, and the iddah (waiting) period and child custody.
Right of inheritance: Islam is probably only religion which guarantees rights to property to women. In Islam, women are entitled to claim their right of inheritance. Normally, Islam allows women to claim for half of the share of inheritance. Though it is not followed strictly. Moreover, the sister of a childless man has right on half of his property after his death, while a brother of a childless woman inherits all of her property. However, this principle is not universally applicable. Also the share of a uterine brother is equal to the share of a uterine sister, as do the shares of their descendants.
In terms of Hijaab: According to Muslim historians, in pre-Islamic era there were a lot of chaos and women were very insecure therefore, for their protection, the trend of hijaab was introduced.  It means, hijaab is meant only to insure their safety.
In terms of women education: On getting enlightenment, Prophet Muhammad had said that it is binding upon all Muslims, irrespective of gender divide, to acquire knowledge. In Islam, women have same right to get the education.

Farhat Jabeen/JPN