Muhammad; the Woman's Savior
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 [a1]said that: “it is universally granted that prophet’s reformations raised the status of woman as well as her social and legal position.” (1)
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
[a2] james a. michener wrote about prophet muhammad
“orphaned at birth, he was always particularly solicitous of the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, the slave and the downtrodden… in all things muhammad was profoundly practical. when his beloved son ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumours of god's personal condolence quickly arose. whereupon muhammad is said to have announced, "an eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. it is foolish to attribute such things to the death or birth of a human being." "at muhammad's own death an attempt was made to deify him, but the man who was to become his administrative successor killed the hysteria with one of the noblest speeches in religious history: "if there are any among you who worshipped muhammad, he is dead. but if it is god you worshipped, he lives forever."
source: james a. michener, "islam: the misunderstood religion," in reader's digest (american edition), may 1955, pp. 68-70.