The right to vote, to inheritance, education, a role in politics and civic society were controversial and groundbreaking ideas that Muhammad promoted for women in a seventh century society that regarded them as mere possessions.
The Quran states that men and women were created to be equal parts of a pair. Muhammad said that the rights of women are sacred and that they are the “twin halves of men”. Considering women in Australia received the right to vote, inherit and own property thirteen centuries later, Muhammad’s campaigns were both radical and revolutionary.
Muslim women gained full ownership over their money, while husbands had the responsibility to provide for them even if their wives were wealthier than them. Women had the right to divorce instantly on returning the dowry, something other religions don”t allow. One duty enjoined upon them was that of education. Early Islamic history saw the establishment of Muslim women as scholars, politicians, businesswomen, jurists and doctors. Fatima al Firhi founded the first university in 859 in Fez, Morocco; Razia al Din ruled the Delhi Sultanate in India in 1236; Umm Darda, a scholar from Syria, taught imams, jurists and even had the 5th Umayyad caliph who ruled from Spain to India as her student. In fact some eight thousand accounts of Muslim female scholars have been documented, many of whom in addition to theology and jurisprudence, were skilled in calligraphy and philosophy, women who not only contributed to their society but actively shaped it.
The fruits of Muhammad’s reforms are as visible now as they have been throughout history. Today, Muslim women in Australia are achieving positions of status and respect as police officers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, medics, social activists, academics and politicians. Remaining true to the ideals cemented 1,430 years ago, Muslim women were and still are role models for future generations.