“[IN matters of civilised behaviour] women have the same rights over men as men have over women” — Al Quran (2:228). The Arabs of the ‘age of ignorance’ often indulged in infanticide of girls.
Even a woman in a marriage was not held as an equal companion who participated in the life and decision-making of her husband. She was merely an object of pleasure and the keeper of the man’s house. She was meant to carry out her husband’s commands.
Women had no right to property and no safeguards against ill-treatment by their husbands, fathers or other men folk within or outside the family.
If this description even today resembles the lives led by some men and our social mores it means that a part of society continues to live in the age of darkness. Islam has not touched their lives. There are many verses in the Quran as well as the sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and incidents in his personal life and conduct which raised the status of women and gave them many hitherto denied rights.
The first thing Islam did was to declare a genuine equality between the sexes, and no people or community has the right to make changes in the mutual relations ordered by the Almighty. In fact, it is not just a matter of right but also of decent behaviour. Men must learn to treat women with respect and consideration as well as with a sense of justice, both in economic and social relations.