The condition of women before Islam:
Islam came at a time when women all over the world were being oppressed and exploited.
The most any society would accord the woman was to admit that she was part of the human race. They never admitted her dignity or gave her rights and responsibilities equal to those of men. The Greeks considered her to be an object of pleasure and amusement. This view was articulated in the text of Deemo Stayn:
He said: “We take prostitutes for pleasure, lovers to care for our daily health, and wives to give us legitimate children.”
The Romans gave the father and husband the right to sell her to whomever they pleased.
The Arabs gave the son the right to inherit the wife of his father (not his own mother) just like he would inherit his father’s wealth and his steed! That is if she were lucky enough not to have been buried alive at birth.
This was the case with the rest of the world’s societies, like the Persians and the Hindus.Women remained in this horrible state without protesting or rebelling against it. No one else was to do so either. Nor were there any social or economic developments that would require a betterment of her status.
Then Prophet Muhammad came, proclaiming her rights and her equality with men. He established for her all of her rights to bring her out of the miserable state that she was in and elevate her to the noble status that she deserves.
In Islam there is absolutely no difference between men and women as far as their relationship to God is concerned, as both are promised the same reward for good conduct and the same punishment for evil conduct. The Qur'an says:
And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women. (2:226)
The Qur'an, in addressing the believers, often uses the expression,'believing men and women' to emphasize the equality of men and women in regard to their respective duties, rights, virtues and merits. It says:
For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God's praise, for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward. (33:35)
This clearly contradicts the assertion of some the Christian Fathers that women do not possess souls and that they will exist as sexless beings in the next life. The Qur'an says that women have souls in exactly the same way as men and will enter Paradise if they do good :Enter into Paradise, you and your wives, with delight. (43:70) Who so does that which is right, and believes, whether male
or female, him or her will We quicken to happy life. (16:97) (Abdur Rahman,Women in the Qur'an and the
Sunnah -Ahmadu Bello University, Zaire.)
How Does Islam Elevate The Status Of Women?
Why The Western Media Has Negative Stereotypes Of Muslim Women?
Why Are SO Many Women Converting To Islam?
Significance of the Study
The religion of Islam is misunderstood in the western world. The Muslim Women images in the west are stereotyped with backwardness and being oppressed by men. Understanding the Religion of Islam would correct the wrong ideas and introduce the religion of Islam with its valuable values and principles to the non-Muslims. The values of Islam, if applied, would be a public, private policy and a way of life. The western media show the Muslim women in a negative image. This study is to introduce the real status of the Muslim women from the two main sources of Islam: The Quran and the tradition of the prophet Muhammad.
(Infante at all, 1997) define Stereotypes that they are are mental categories shared by group members about other groups based on learned opinions rather than information about a specific individual.
Ford and Stangor (1992) tested the hypotheses that when forming stereotypes of social groups, the attribute dimensions which are most differentiated will most likely become stereotypical. They suggest that stereotypes may be best viewed as the characteristics that are most strongly associated with a group in memory. Therefore, stereotypes of a group are the attributes that are most likely to come to mind when thinking about a particular group. (http://www.student.richmond.edu/~sjohnso2/stereotypes.html
In the past, when so many attacks were launched against Islam under an open and unabashed crusader flag, various popes used to encourage some fanatics to write booklets containing lies against Islam, distorting the message and reviling the religion. Many of the strongest stereotypes are from this era.