Islam and the International Day of Women

Islam and the International Day of Women

Contrary to popular belief that Islam muzzles women, their stature in society is actually highly regarded in this religion than in any other

International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked on March 8 and it is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

It is also a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

History has it that IWD has been observed since the early 1900’s-a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth.

Additionally, besides being a day of global celebration; it also a time to agitate for gender parity.

With that, Muslim Times 3600 sought to know the relevance of this day to Muslims and generally, the position of women in Islam.

Contrary to popular belief that Islam muzzles women, indeed the position of a woman in the society is highly regarded in Islam.

The Imam of Landhies Mosque in Nairobi, Sheikh Ahmed Uthman says women are highly regard compared to men and takes issue with the way the Western world or modern society has demeaned the stature of a woman.

 “The so-called Ms World and related beauty pageant competitions as well as the use of women in marketing gimmicks demean their stature in society.”

Sheikh Uthman is supported by Sheikh Muhammad Swalihu-the Imam of Nairobi’s Jamia Mosque who says that Islam does not support the idea of having just a single day to celebrate women.

“Uislamu unamtukuza na ime mpa cheo/athi mwanake siku zote. Haya mambo tunayoyaona sasa hivi ni umagharibi (That women in Islam are highly regarded all year round and what we are seeing today is influence from the Western world),” says Sheikh Swalihu.

Just like Sheikh Uthman, Sheikh Swalihu questions the relationship between a woman’s body and the sale of goods.

“Does it mean that goods and services cannot be sold without the misuse of a woman’s body?” he wonders.

Asked to explain instances in Islam on how women are held in high regard in Islam, Sheikh Uthman refers to Surah Nisa-The fourth chapter in the Holy Qur’an-a chapter regarding the rights of women.

“There are thawabs (spiritual rewards) upon reading this and other surahs in the Holy Qur’an,” he explains.

That’s not all, Sheikh Uthman also reminds us of a hadith in which the holy Prophet (SAW) said that whoever raises two girls until the age of puberty/adolescence and honourably marries them off, then the two will act a hijab (shield) between him the hell fire.

Further, Sheikh Uthman talks of the Islamic dress code-the hijab which women are commanded to wear.

“The hijab is a dignified dress code that attracts respect. If a Muslim woman feels comfortable in it, then that should be respected,” he says.

Amongst the clearest examples of Islam’s honoring women is the great status of a mother.

Islam commands kindness, respect and obedience to parents and specifically emphasises and  preference is given to a mother.

For example, Surah Al-Ahqaf (46) verse15 which mentions the struggles of a mother.

“And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.”

Further, the following hadiths also serve portray that a mother has more rights than a father in Islam.

A famous hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim says that a man came to the Prophet (SAW) and said: O Messenger of Allah! Who from amongst mankind warrants the best companionship from me? He replied: “Your mother.”

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