Houston Smith, in his book entitled “The World’s Religions” states: “If we approach the status of women historically, comparing the status of Arabian women before and after Prophet Mohammad, the charge that Islam degrades women is patently false. Addressing conditions in which the very birth of a daughter was regarded as a calamity, the Quranic reforms improved women’s status incalculably by forbidding infanticide.” 1
Historians tell us that a commonplace practice at the time of the revelation of the Qur’an was burying female infants alive, shortly after their birth. Men and women mourned the birth of a female infant. However, the Quran states that to be ashamed of the birth of a daughter and to murder them is evil (16:57-59). The Quran repeatedly lectures against this practice, stating that the evidence of it will be recorded, and whoever does so will be called to account “Lost are those who slay their children, from folly, without knowledge” (6:140).
It is important to notice that this injunction of forbidding infanticide was the first amendment of its kind in protecting women’s right.
Houston Smith further explains that “Islam required that daughters as citizen have rights to education, suffrage, and vocation – the Quran leaves open the possibility of women’s full equality with man, an equality that is being approximated as the customs of Muslim nations become modernized.
The Qur’an speaks repeatedly of the Muslimun and Muslimat, Mu’minun and M’minat, the “Muslim men and women,” “the faithful men and women.” The same religious injunctions are valid for both sexes.2
The Holy Qur’an repeatedly makes it very clear that gender has nothing to do with one’s spiritual status. That is determined by individual belief and behavior.
- Huston Smith, World’s Religions, Harper San Francisco, 1986, p.166
- Ibid., p.166