The Islamic Shari'ah stated that men and women share the same rights and duties, since Islam is the first system in the world to liberate women from all the unjust restrictions imposed on them. In fact, the social system before Islam subjected women to injustice and marginalization; Thus, Islam came to support women, as mothers, sisters, daughters or wives and guaranteed them all their rights.
Thus, it is a grave mistake to consider the marginalization of the eastern women from which they suffer is due to the teachings of Islam; this is totally a false claim. In fact, this suffering is because of the violation of the teachings of Islam that are concerned with women, and preferring to apply obsolete traditions and customs which have nothing to do with Islam, rather than applying the judgments concerned with women in the Islamic Shari'ah. As a matter of fact, Muslim women have suffered from imposing restrictions on them that have nothing to do with the Islamic Sahri'ah, which led to the emergence of several problems like spinsterhood, disinheritance… etc. In fact, the Muslim society has lost a lot of its creative energy, when we, as Muslims, allowed the marginalization of women to take place and excluded them from the positions of influence in our societies.
In my view, there is no issue that has exhausted the minds of thinkers and researchers as much as the issue of women’s rights. Indeed, our contemporary Arab and Islamic library contains thousands of books, and research papers that tackled such an issue and studied it thoroughly; however, this issue sounds as if it has never been dealt with.
For me, the issue of women rights can be studied from three perspectives, which are:
First: the perspective of Islam, which has done justice to the Muslim women and unshackled them from restrictions imposed on them by civilizations contemporary to the advent of Islam such as the Greek civilization and its two well-known poles, Plato and Aristotle, the Roman Constitution, the Indian religions and other holy books and texts that made women carry the burden of the Original Sin. The Arab Jahiliyyah (Before Islam) deprived women from the right of living, the right of education, the right to own properties, the right of inheritance… etc.
However, amid these suffocating circumstances, Islam had appeared and settled this issue; as a matter of fact, at that time, Islam could have ignored all the subjugations and grievances women were suffering from, without being subjected to any blame or reproach. At that time, the whole world was against giving women their rights and human dignity; nevertheless, Allah revealed his Qur'anic order, as he says: "women shall have rights similar to those due from them, with justice" (Q:2:228) and "do not retain them in harm to transgress" (Q:2:231), while the last words of Prophet Muhammad (bph) was: "women are sisters of men". Additionally, Islam stopped the crime of Female infanticide forever and guaranteed the Muslim women rights, by which they preceded their counterparts by fourteen centuries. Moreover, Islam gives women the right of inheritance, education, the right of choosing their husbands, the right to have an independent financial status, the right to keep their family names so that a wife does not get dissolved in her husband's character, and finally Islam equaled between men and women in relation to their duties and responsibilities.
It is known that these rights should make the woman a creative component in the society that is as important as man or even more important. It is true that Prophet Muhammad said: "… If I prefer one to another, I would prefer women to men". However, this preference is not as making amends to an oppressed, but it draws attention to the advantages and specifications that distinguish women from men.
As for the second perspective, it is the perspective that is affected by traditions and norms more than Quran, Sunnah, and the explicit texts that elevate women and their academic, social and human status. This perspective would have returned women to their lives before Islam; it limits many of the rights Islam granted women and calls for a strange jurisprudence that imposes isolation and alienation on women to which they have almost got accustomed. It is worth mentioning that Islam came to liberate women from this siege and make them bear the responsibility for constructing and developing the society.
Furthermore, the third perspective is the western modernity that is associated with special concepts and new philosophies that shunned many fixed values in the histories of these societies and its ideologies. I would say –in brief– that there is a sharp difference between modernity with all its cautions and modernization that is interaction, diligence and renewal of religious and moral heritage to make use of its treasures. Needless to say that modernity with its western concept is not the ideal model which deserves to be circulated and marketed internationally and globally.
Then we would wonder- is modernity the ideal alternative to a society that preserves values of family and motherhood despite associated religious transgressions? Or should we accept this fact and try to change it or renew it based on our different identities and cultures, since the other alternatives are definitely destructive and catastrophic in both the materialistic and moral sense
Moreover, the Arab and the Islamic world is in dire need today to elevate the status of women and their role in supporting the movement of progress and community development, especially in the light of the current challenges that the Arab and Muslim communities are witnessing. And this requires us to glorify the role of women, honor them, to be fair with them, exploit their wasted energy, and respect their rights granted by Islam.