Women' Treatment By Unbelievers

In a society which is governed by superstition, ignorance and self interest of the elite, the female gender is oppressed to the fullest extreme and she is always considered as a lowly being in comparison to men. Her rights are usurped by the influential class and she seldom has the opportunity to voice her grievances.

The Qur'an detests such a mentality which considers females to be of a lower worth than males, for we are clearly told that in the sight of God, every human child, regardless of race, gender, or social affiliation is equally honored and worthy of respect:

"And indeed We have honored every Human Child.." (17:70)

The Qur'an informs us that in a society of unbelievers, the female gender is despised and a son is preferred over a daughter. In Sura Al Nahl their mentality is identified:

"When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) a female (child) his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it on (sufferance and) contempt or bury it in the dust? Ah! what an evil (choice) they decide on?" (16:58-59)

In such a society, the female gender is not only despised, but she is also deprived of the nourishment that was to be meant equally for her as well as her male counterpart. The unbelievers are identified to restrict females from the sustenance that was meant for the consumption of both the genders, on the basis of self made traditions:

"They say: "What is in the wombs of such and such cattle is specially reserved (for food) for our men and forbidden to our women; but if it is still-born then all have share therein. For their (false) attribution (of superstitions to God) He will soon punish them: for He is full of wisdom and knowledge." (6:139)

Such is the treatment imparted by the unbelievers to the feminine gender. In any society, where males are preferred over females, where females are deprived of their essential nutrition, such should be identified as a society of disbelievers in the divine values, for Allah has informed us in His Book, that the birth of a male or a female is in accordance with His laws of nature and not something to raise discrimination against:

"Allah's is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; He creates what He pleases; He grants to whom He pleases daughters (in accordance with His laws) and grants to whom He pleases sons (in accordance with His laws). Or He makes them of both sorts, male and female; and He makes whom He pleases barren (in accordance with His natural laws) ; surely He is the Knowing, the Powerful." (42:49-50)

A child is born not only of a father, but also a mother, therefore it should not be subjected to any bias on account of its birth:

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." (49:13)

Now let us proceed to see what would be the status of women in a society which is governed by Quranic principles.

Right To Acquire Education

The Qur'an has stated that the acquisition of education is compulsory for all the believers. About the messenger it is stated that he taught the Book of Allah to his audience, which included men as well as women:

"He it is Who raised among the inhabitants of Mecca a messenger from among themselves, who recites to them His verses and provides development to their personalities, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were before certainly in clear error." (62:2)

For imparting knowledge, no fee was charged:

"Say: I do not ask you any reward except that any who wills, may take the way to his Sustainer." (25:57)

In the acquisition of knowledge, women are also included, as the wives of the Nabi (S.A.W) were commanded:

"And keep to mind what is recited in your houses of the communications of Allah and the wisdom; surely Allah is Knower of subtleties, Aware." (33:34)

Thus the Qur'an has stipulated that women should also be educated and trained to know the realities of life.