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Prophet Muhammad's dealings with women


When Islam came and gave women their rights, explained her role, raised her status, and told us the fact that she and men were ceated from the same source (Adam), Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) verified this principle by saying,

«Women are the twin halves of men» [related by Abu Dawood].

From this principle, women’s rights were preserved and men were told to be good to them and deal with them nicely. This order includes:

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) removed the slavery of the women which the Bedouin customs had forced upon her

[Muhammed’s character promoted an amazing revolution in the Arabian Penninsula and the near East in general; he destroyed the idols with his own hands, established a religion that calls [people] to Allah alone, removed the chain of slavery that the Bedouin customs had forced upon the women and called for social justice]

[James Michener].

American author and novelist

Good treatment of daughters, wives, sisters and mothers

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) used to,

«If his daughter Fatima came to visit him, he would stand to kiss her and make her sit where he was sitting» [related by At-Tirmidhi].

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) used to welcome her (may Allah be pleased with her) when she came, saying,

«Welcome, my daughter» and then make her sit next to him on his right or left. [related by Al-Bukhari].

We have noticed how compassionate and merciful a husband he was with his wives, being compassionate and merciful as well as generous and patient with them. It is enough that it has been related in his biography that he did not hit any woman or slave with his noble hands. When his sister,

through breastfeeding,

came to visit him, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) laid down his cloak on the floor and then said,

«Ask me [for anything] and you will be given, and if anybody you know wants anything from me, ask and I will give you» [to give to them] [related by Al-Bayhaqi].

Moreover, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) used to visit his mother’s grave after she had died due to his mercy and respect towards her. Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

«Prophet Muhammed visited his mother’s grave and cried, and those around him also cried. Then he said, ‘I asked for permission from my Lord to visit her grave, and He (Glorified is He) gave me permission [to visit it]. Then I asked for permission to ask for forgiveness for her, but He did not permit me [to do that]. Visit the graves as it reminds you of death’» [related by Al-Hakim].

Why did Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) treat his wives and the believing women very gently and in a good way?

Explain your reply referring to Prophet Muhammed’s biography.

Advice to his followers concerning women

Many hadiths relate that Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) told his followers to be good to women, explaining women’s psychological state and natural temperament. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said, «I order you to treat women well. They were ceated from a rib and the most curved part of the rib is its top part; if you try to straighten it, it will break, but if you leave it as it is, it will stay curved» [related by Al-Bukhari].

Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said,

«Prophet Muhammed never hit any of the women of his family or his slaves, with his hands »[i.e. at all] [related by Ahmed].

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) used to bring a slave, who was called Anjashah, on some of his travels. Anjashah used to sing

in order for the camels of the mother of the believers and the Companions’ wives to walk quickly. Consequently, the camels started to run quickly. Therefore, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said, «Becareful, Oh Anjashah! The camels you are driving are carrying glass vessels» [related by Al-Bukhari].

Another verion states,

«Be more gentle, Oh Anjashah; be careful of the glass vessels.»

Imam An-Nawawi said, "This means that Prophet Muhammed ordered him to be gentle with them."… that is, more gentle than how one deals with glass vessels

[Imam An-Nawawai’s Explanation of Muslim]

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) did not order to treat just adult women well, but he ordered to treat young girls well too. He (peace be upon him) said,

«Whoever is put in charge of these girls and treats them well, they will act as a shield for him from the hell-fire» [related by Al-Bukhari].

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) also said, «Fear Allah with regards to women. You took them as a trust from Allah, and their private parts became permissible for you by a word from Allah…» [related by Muslim].

Some people claim that Islam decreased the status of women and that it does not give women her rights.

How would you reply to such people, referring to Prophet Muhammed’s advice to his followers concerning women and fulfilling their rights which has been recorded in his biography?

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) allocated a specific time for women to advise and instruct them

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) used to allocate a specific day for women to instruct, remind and order them to obey Allah (Glorified is He). Concerning this, Yaseerah (may Allah be pleased with her), who was one of those who immigrated to Medinah, said that Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) told them,

« You [the women] should glorify your perfect Lord (say subhanAllah), declare the oneness of your Lord (say la illah il-Allah), and His holiness (say Malik Al-Quddus), and count them with your finger tips for they will be questioned and will be made to speak. Do not become heedless and do not you forget the mercy of Allah» [related by Ahmed].

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) used to allocate a specific day in the week for women to advise and instruct them. What hadith supports this statement?

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) ordered the men to bring the women to the Eid celebrations

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) told women to come to the Eid Prayer and to participate in Eid celebrations. Even for those women who were not able to pray, Prophet Muhammed ordered them to attend the Eid celebrations. Um Ateyah (may Allah be pleased with her) said,

«Prophet Muhammed ordered those who have menstrual periods to go out on the Eid days, slaves girls and ladies of households, to witness the happy celebrations, for the Muslims to gather together, and for them to visit each other. But those who have menstrual periods at that time should stand away from those who are praying. One woman said, ‘Oh Prophet Muhammed, what if one of us has no [suitable] dress to wear?’ Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Her friend should give her a dress to wear’» [related by Al-Bukhari].

Ensuring the right of the woman to choose her husband

And once the girl grows up and becomes an adult, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) gave her the right to choose her husband and to agree to become engaged to a particular man or to refuse him. It is not permissible for anyone to force her to stay with a man she does not want. Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said about this,

«One who has previously been married has more right [to choose a husband] for herself than her guardian. And a maiden girl should be asked [about the man that has proposed to marry her]. Her silence represents her acceptance» [to marry him] [related by Muslim].

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) also said,

«‘Do not marry those women who were previously married until she says she agrees, and do not marry a maiden girl (who has never been married) until you have asked for her permission.’ The Companion said, ‘Oh Prophet Muhammed, how do we know if she has given her permission?’ Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said, ‘If she is quiet and does not say anything’» [related by Al-Bukhari].

It has been reported about Khansa bint Khitham Al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with her) that,

«Her father married her to someone when she was a maiden girl, but she did not want that. So she went to Prophet Muhammed for him to dissolve the marriage» [related by Al-Bukhari].

Ensuring the women’s right to separate from her husband

If a woman dislikes something about her husband as a spouse and cannot withstand life with him at all, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) gave the wife the right to separate from her husband by relying on ‘Khula’. Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

«The wife of Thabit ibn Qays went to Prophet Muhammed and said, ‘Oh Prophet Muhammed, I do not complain about the religion of Thabit or his manners, but I do not want to commit an act of disbelief after becoming a Muslim.’ Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said, ‘Do you agree to return his garden to him?’ She replied, ‘Yes.’ So she gave him back his garden and Prophet Muhammed ordered that they be separated» [related by Al-Bukhari].

Because of the wise Islamic legislation, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) raised the status of women

[Muhammed was the Messenger of Allah, and because of the wise Islamic legislation, an adult women should be consulted before she is married and the dowry is no longer given to the father, but to the bride herself. The enemies of Islam have described this wise sunnah (ways) of Prophet Muhammed as being bad for women. They have not, I think, heard the logical explanation that Muslims can give in reply to them when they say that the dowry in some Muslim countries is paid by the father of the girl to the groom!!]

[Alphonse-Etienne Dinet].

French artist and author

Prophet Muhammed ensuring the right of women to go to the mosque

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said,

«Do not prohibit the female slaves of Allah from the mosques of Allah» [related by Al-Bukhari].

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) also said concerning this,

«Do not prevent women their share of the mosques if they seek your permission» [to go there] [related by Muslim].

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) was eager to keep women concealed from men’s sight

Due to Prophet Muhammed’s concern to hide women and protect her, even when she was in the mosque, he said,

«The best rows for men are the front rows, and the worst are the rows at the back. However, the best rows for women are the ones at the back, and the worst rows are the front ones» [related by Muslim].

Um Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) told us,

«When Prophet Muhammed said tasleem to end the prayer, the women used to stand up as soon as Prophet Muhammed had said the tasleem, and he used to wait for a short while before standing up himself» [related by Al-Bukhari].

This was in order for the women to leave the mosque before any of the men actually saw them leaving.

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) taking the feelings of the women in general into consideration

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) used to take the circumstances of the women as mothers into consideration, respecting the feelings of the mother to the extent that he said,

«I start praying and intend to make the prayer long. But then I hear a young child cry and so shorten the prayer as I know the difficulties the mother is experiencing due to her child crying» [related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Even when carrying out the prescribed punishments, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) did not ignore the circumstances of the woman. The clearest example of this is the story of the woman who went to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) when she was pregnant after committing adultery. She said,

<‘Oh Prophet Muhammed, I deserve legal punishment, so carry it out on me.’ Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) called her guardian and said,

«Be good to her and bring her to me after she gives birth,’ and this is what he did» [related by Muslim].

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) being eager to listen to women’s complaints and fulfill their needs

Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

«A woman came to Prophet Muhammed and said to him, ‘Oh Prophet Muhammed, I need something from you.’ He replied, ‘Oh Mother of so-and-so, mention any complaint you have in order for me to fulfill your needs.’ Consequently, Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) walked with her for some time until all her needs were fulfilled» [related by Muslim].

Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa (may Allah be pleased with him) described Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), saying,

«He was not too proud to walk with a widow or the needy to fulfill their needs» [related by An-Nisa’i].

Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

«One of the young girl slaves of Medinah used to take Prophet Muhammed’s hand and bring him wherever she wanted» [related by Al-Bukhari].

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) ordered his followers to treat women well, laid down her rights, listened to her complaints and understood her nature. Why is all this important? And how did this affect the society?

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) prohibited his followers from harming women

The clearest proof of this is that Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) told us, Many women came to the family of Muhamed complaining about their husbands, and therefore Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) said,

«Many women have come to the family of Muhammed complaining about their husbands. They [those husbands] are not the best among you» [related by Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah].

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) ordered women to obey their husbands, and he ordered men to treat their wives well in order to build a calm, stable, happy family. This is different to the families in today’s societies. Explain this point.

Visiting women who were ill

Um Al-Ala (may Allah be pleased with her) reported this habit of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), saying,

«Prophet Muhammed visited me when I was ill and said, ‘Good tidings, Um Al-Ala, as Allah (Glorified is He) makes a Muslim’s illness remove his sins just as fire removes the impurities from gold and silver’» [related by Abu Dawood].

How can you follow Prophet Muhammed’s example?

1. Every woman is either your mother, sister or daughter, so treat her politely, gently and considerately, and deal with her well. This was the practice of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) and what he ordered us to do.

2. Understand women’s feelings and her natural nature to be jealous, listen to her complaints, withstand her weaknesses and her frail nature, and treat her well, thereby following the ways of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him).

3. Ensure women receive their right to an education, to express her opinion, to choose her husband or to choose to separate from him, own property and buy and sell, as Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) used to do.

4. Respect her and do not hit her as she is physically weak, so do not overpower her. Whoever is rough with women, he is not the best of us.

5. Do not prohibit her from going to the mosque to pray or listen to religious lectures; Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) prohibited us from preventing this for her.