The Women and Their Social Independence in the Society (1)

The Women and Their Social Independence in the Society (1)


One day a girl, who looked very perturbed, came to the Holy Prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allah! My father has done me a great injustice". "What has your father done?" "He has a nephew and he has married me to him without taking my consent". "If so, agree to what he has done and be the wife of your cousin" "I don't like my cousin. How can I be the wife of a person whom I don't like". "Then nothing has gone wrong. If you don't like him, go and choose another person whom you like". 

"By the way, I like him very much. I don't like any other person. I won't he the wife of anybody else. But, because my father gave me in marriage without taking my consent, I intentionally came over to have a talk with you. I wanted you to say what you have said. I wanted all the women to know that the fathers no longer had a right to decide as they pleased and give their daughters in marriage to whomsoever they liked". 

The incident has been narrated by eminent jurists in such books as the Masalik (by Shaheed Thani) and the Jawahirul Kalam. During the pre-Islamic period the Arabs, like all other people of those days, thought that they 'had full authority in regard to their daughters and sisters and sometimes even in regard to their mothers. They did not acknowledge the rights of women to choose their husbands, this choice being the exclusive privilege of the fathers or the brothers and, in their absence, of the paternal uncles, so much so that prospective fathers could give their daughters in marriage even before they were actually born. A man could enter into a contract with another man pledging that if a daughter was born to the former, she would, when grown up, be the wife of the latter. 


One day, during his last pilgrimage, while the Holy Prophet was riding and had a whip in his hand, a man approached him on the way and said: "I have a complaint to make".  "Yes, what's the matter?" 

"Years ago, during the pre-Islamic days, Tariq ibn Murqa'a and I took part in a battle. During the fighting he came to require a lance and cried: "Is there anybody who will give me a lance and take a reward?" I went to him and asked him what reward he would give. He said that he would bring up for me the first daughter that was born to him. Since then years have passed. Recently, on inquiring, I found out that he has a grown up daughter in his house. I went to him and reminded him of the promise. But he went back on his promise and demanded a fresh dower. Now I have come to you to find out whether he is right, or I am right". 

How old is the girl?" "The girl is grown up. Grey hair has also appeared on her head". "If you ask me, neither you nor Tariq is right. Go after your business and leave the girl alone". The man was taken aback at this reply and stared at the Prophet for several moments. He wondered what sort of verdict it was. Even if he paid a fresh dower to the girl's father and he willingly gave his daughter to him, still the deal was not proper. 

The Prophet observed his wondering looks and said: "Don't worry. If you do things the way I have told you, neither you nor your friend, Tariq, will be doing anything wrong". 


During the pre-Islamic days there was a form of marriage in vogue in Arabia under the name of Shighar marriage, (exchange of daughters) which was a manifestation of the absolute authority of the fathers over their daughters. A man would give his daughter in marriage to another man in consideration of the latter giving his daughter in marriage to him. In such a form of marriage neither of the wives would get a dower. Islam abolished this custom. It is worth noting that the Holy Prophet allowed full liberty to his daughter Fatimah Zahra (Peace be upon her) in choosing her husband. 

He gave in marriage several other daughters also, but he did not deprive them of their freedom. When Ali Ibn Abi Talib, (peace be on him), approached the Holy Prophet, seeking Fatimah's hand, the Prophet said that several other people had already approached him and that he had conveyed their proposals to Fatimah, but she turned her face away, as a mark of disapproval. The Prophet assured Ali that he would convey to her his proposal as well. The Prophet went to Fatimah and told his beloved daughter what Ali wanted. This time she did not turn her face away, but kept quiet and thus expressed her consent. When the Prophet came out, he was happy. He exclaimed, "Allah is the Greatest!" 


Islam has done a great service to women. It not only put an end to the absolute control of the fathers, but gave women freedom, a personality and independence of thinking and opinion. It officially recognised her natural rights. However, there are two basic differences between the steps taken by Islam and what is happening in the West and is being followed by others. The first difference concerns the psychology of man and woman. Islam has done and revealed wonders in this respect. We shall further discuss this question in the subsequent chapters. The second difference is that, while Islam made the women aware of their rights and gave them an identity, a personality, freedom and independence, it did not instigate them to revolt and harbour malice against the male persons. 

The Islamic movement for women's liberation was white. It was neither black nor red; neither blue nor violet. It did not put an end to the respect in which the daughters held their fathers and the wives their husbands. It did not upset the basis of the family life and did not make women suspicious of their responsibilities in regard to their fathers and husbands. It did not provide any opportunity to the unmarried men who are always after enticing women. It did not snatch away the wives from their husbands and the daughters from their parents and did not hand them over to the sensual executives and the moneyed magnates. It has done nothing similar to what has caused a hue and cry across the oceans that the sacred family system has broken into pieces.

There the paternal protection has vanished. No one knows what to do with all the corruption that is rampant, with the ever-growing cases of infanticide and abortion, with 40 per cent illegitimate children and with those new-born infants whose fathers are not known and whose mothers do not want to have anything to do with them, because they were not born in lawful wedlock. The mothers of such children simply hand them over to some social organisations and then never come back to inquire about them. 

No doubt, we in our country are in need of a movement for women's liberation, but what we need is a clean Islamic white movement and not a movement of the European brand with a dark and gloomy taint. We want a movement in which sensual young men should have lesser part and which should spring directly from the lofty teachings of Islam and be based on the deep and logical study of the Muslim society.