this study highlights an obvious aspect of our messenger muhammad’s mercy, that is, the emancipation of woman from the darkness of pre-islamic times.
many of the western scholars pointed out this aspect, especially in the context of discussing the position of the arab woman in the era of the prophet (pbuh). they really appreciated the prophet’s reformations that raised the status of woman, protected her from being buried alive, excluded or marginalized.
talking about prophet muhammad (pbuh), british scholar h. a. r. gibb said that: “it is universally granted that prophet’s reformations raised the status of woman as well as her social and legal position.” (1)
james mitchner has also written that: “prophet muhammad (pbuh) freed woman from the shackles of slavery that were imposed by the desert traditions.”(2)
historian will durant believes that islam “raised the woman status in the arab land, abolished the custom of burying newborn girls alive, equalled between man and woman regarding legal procedures and financial independence, gave woman the right to work in every legal field and keep her money to herself and manage it the way she wants, as well as the right to inherit. islam also put an end to the habit of the transfer of women from fathers to sons as if they were effects and made them inherit half of the male’s shares. islam prohibited their fathers to marry them without their consent.” (4)
emil durmingham detailed how prophet muhammad (pbuh) freed women: “there is no doubt that islam raised the status of woman in the arab land and bettered her situation. omar bin al khattab said that ‘we kept dealing with women as effects until it was revealed they were human beings.’ the prophet (pbuh) said: ‘the best believer is the best in morals, and the best among you is the best to his wife.’ although the prophet (pbuh) advised the women to obey their husbands, he ordered the husbands to be gentle to them, and the fathers not to marry girls forcibly, not to absorb their money by bullying or at divorce.” (5)
nazmi luqa wrote that “in the pre-islamic times, women had no right to inherit, but the qur’an gave them this right. it also prohibited burying newborn girls alive and ordered the moslems to deal with women and orphans fairly. prophet muhammad (pbuh) prohibited temporary marriage and forcing women salves to be prostitutes.” (6)
in his book, on my way to islam, ahmad sosa indicates that: “in the arab land, woman was part of the effects and just her mentioning was a disgrace. yet, when prophet muhammad (pbuh) was sent, he upgraded woman’s status to be a full human being that has the right for a respectable life, to own and inherit money.” (7)
1) mohammedanism, p.33.
2) quoted in they said about islam by hassan al shaikh ghidhr al zalmi, p. 50.
3) contemporary american writer and the author of story of civilization (30 volumes), which is one of the most important encyclopaedias. he published the first volume in 1935. he also wrote the story of philosophy.
4) will durant, story of civilization, vol. 13, p. 60.
5) emil durmingham, life of muhammad, p.329-330.
6) nazmi luqa, muhammad: mission and messenger, p.96.
7) ahmad sosa, on my way to islam, 2/24
hamilton alexander rosskeen gibb(1895 –1971), was a scottish scholar of islam and the middle east. he was born in alexandria, egypt. his mohammedanism, published in 1949, became the basic text used by western students of islam for a generation. . source: www.wikipedia.org
source: james a. michener, "islam: the misunderstood religion," in reader's digest (american edition), may 1955, pp. 68-70.