Editor’s note: This piece was inspired by a writing exposition on what it means to be a Muslim woman.
Women’s rights often have been violated throughout history, sometimes as a result of policies citing Islam as their inspiration. The inequality stems from a lack of awareness among men and a spirit of sacrifice among women.
Islam dates back to the age of Adam and its message has been conveyed to man by God’s prophets and messengers, including Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad. Islam means submission to the will and laws of God. Its root word, salema, means peace, submission, and obedience. But the Quran, the holy book of Islam, recognizes men and women as equals, with equal rights and equal needs for knowledge and education.
Under Islam, men and women are meant to share equal roles in the family and society. The leader of women, holy Bibi Khadija, the wife of the holy prophet Mohammad, was an active businesswoman known throughout the Arabian Peninsula. She fed and clothed the poor, supported her family financially, and provided for marriages of relatives who did not have the means to marry.
Despite having been orphaned by 585 A.D. and twice widowed by the Arabian wars, Khadija had little interest in marrying again. Then Muhammad became her trading agent, traveling with her caravans in exchange for a commission. By the time they married, Khadija was wealthy enough to give up trading and retire with her husband.
We Muslims believe firmly in our God who protects us and is always with us. In difficult times, we pray to Allah to protect us from hardship. A person who believes in God can never become disappointed or frustrated. She tolerates life’s hardships with the patience and perseverance of her faith. That is the power of Islam to Muslims.
Khadija’s portrait in Guillaume Rouillés iconography “Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum” (1553).