Many today think that sexual liberation began in the West. Alongside the problematic misrepresentation of Islam as a violent and extreme religion, there is hardly any other problematic discourse within the Western circle concerning Islam than discussions that revolve around sexuality and gender.
However, the movement for sexual liberation has its roots firmly nestled in Islam – and was led by a man named Muhammad (pbuh) who is known as the last Prophet of Islam. Islamic traditions are the sources from which the Muslim woman derives her sexual freedom and rights, and this is proven in a number of ways:
- Human Rights
Fourteen centuries ago, Islam made it possible for women to be equally accountable to God in worshipping and glorifying him, with no limits to the moral progress of the woman. Islam also established the equality of a woman in her humanity and relationship with men. In the first verse of the chapter in the Quran titled “Women”, God says in part, “O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your lord who created you from a single soul and from its mate and from them both have spread aboard a multitude of men and women”.
Since men and women are of the same essence, they are equal. By nature, women cannot be evil as some religions make-believe, or it would be safe to say men are evil too. In the same vein, a woman cannot be a sex tool. As there is no superior gender, understanding and respect will be key to enjoying a happy home after marriage.
- Rights of a Wife
The Quran states that God “created for you mates from among yourselves”. Hence, marriage is not just an emotional or physical necessity, but a sign from God. Men and women were created with complimentary natures, and in the Quran, a system of laws was designed to ensure the harmonious interaction between both sexes.
To foster love, affection, and security in the home, Islam provides the Muslim woman with different rights. The first is that a wife is entitled to receive mahr, a gift from her husband which is required as proof of a legal marriage. The second right of a wife is maintenance. Despite her level of wealth, her husband is under obligation to provide her with food, clothing and shelter. He is required to guard her as a leader in the family. However, according to the Quran, “Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him”. As such, a man is not forced to spend beyond what he is capable of and a wife is required to be reasonable with her demands.
In Islam, every woman has the basic freedom of choice and expression based on her unique personality. According to the Quran, “there is no compulsion in religion”. Hence, a woman is free to choose her religion, and she is even encouraged to contribute their ideas and opinions. More so, a Muslim woman must choose her husband can keep her name even after marriage. In legal disputes, her testimony is valid; and in settings where women are more familiar, their testimony and evidence is conclusive.
- Social Rights
According to the Prophet (pbuh), “seeking knowledge is a mandate for every Muslim”. This mandate includes the knowledge of the Hadith and the Quran. Since it is the obligation of a Muslim woman to promote good behavior and eschew any vices, she must acquire the needed education to help her perform this duty in line with her interests and natural talents. In addition to providing support for her husband, maintaining the home, and raising the children the right way, a Muslim woman can work outside the home is she has the skills to do so. However, she must ensure that her family obligations are met.
Islam also recognizes the natural gender differences and abilities of men and women, despite their equality in humanity. Some jobs are more suitable for men and some women. This does not, in any way, diminish the effort of any gender. Both sexes will be equally rewarded by God for the value they offer from the work of their hands.
In Islam, a woman has the right to live her life, so long as it is in accordance with God’s laws. She is in no way the tool of satisfaction of any man. Her abilities are unique, recognized by God, and will be rewarded by Him alone. Even before women were viewed as equal to men in any aspect of life, Islam has long recognized their role and influence in the success of any family – and the society at large.