14 Nov Women and the Qur’anic Prescriptions.Part2
Moreover, in contrast to the central concept of Original Sin in Christianity and Judaism, the Qur’an never mentions that woman is the devil’s gateway or a deceiver by nature:
The Qur’an clearly rejects any such notion of the “inherent” evil of woman. It explicitly demands respect for her “inherent” good as potential child-bearer (and primary nurturer).
It places her on absolute par with men in terms of the spiritual potential (to know and serve Allah) and the potential to attain Paradise, provided she and he strive to realize such potential.
The Qur’anic principle of spiritual and moral obligation has meant that women, from the very early days of Islam, have played an essential role, not just in practising the faith and engaging in Islamic mysticism, but also in writing the official history of Islam and compiling foundational works establishing the standards of religious and social practice for Islamic society.
Another essential principle pertaining to women which is woven through the fabric of the Qur’an is that of marriage. Ahmed identifies marriage as the area where Islam has introduced the greatest reform, with no institution of marriage present at the advent of Islam. The reformist nature of Islam, however, lay not just in introducing new regulations, but also in overlaying new ideas to existing practice. While the institution of marriage, for instance, did not exist in the traditional form in pre-Islamic Arabia, there were different forms of it that were present.
The Qur’an defines marriage as a contract between man and woman, with both assuming equal, though not identical, places.
It sees the institution and the sexual relations between husband and wife not as shameful, but as commendable:
By another sign He created for you spouses from among yourselves, that you might live in peace with them, and planted love and kindness in your hearts.
The status of women and the family in Islamic society was thus the product chiefly of Qur’anic prescriptions, which endure in affecting the lives of Muslim women.
As a final point, the economic principles detailed in the Qur’an provided such rights to women that women in the rest of the “civilized” world would have to wait until the nineteenth century for these rights to be recognized and granted.
With the advent of Islam, women were granted the right to inherit and bequeath property, have possession and complete control of their wealth and receive a dowry, while married and after divorce. The economic autonomy detailed in the Qur’an was perhaps one of the most striking reforms at the time, and still continues to be discussed today.
The principles outlined in the Qur’an which regulate the lives of Muslim women transformed the tribal society in which Islam emerged. While a satisfactory evaluation of each of these principles is beyond the scope of this paper, it is axiomatic that the transformations that Islam induced have had far-reaching implications for the lives of Muslim women and have directly impacted how these lives are played out in ever-changing societies.