Continued from Part 1
So what am I here to talk about? I am here to talk about how women were empowered in the Rasulullah (PBUH)’s era; not by their appearance but by their grace, knowledge, strength and heart.
Often, we fall into today’s worldly standards (in which by the way I am guilty of too) so that we would feel accepted by the society. The more I get to know the women of Islam, in a century when most were objectified in the times of Jahiliya (Ignorance), the more inspired I become and how this idea of “women belong in the kitchen or should stay at home” is nothing but a twisted, dumbfounded idea that shouldn’t even be used by both women and men.
How did these women prevail? What did they do and how did the men react?
One of the women who I look up to other than Khadija (R.A) and Aisha (R.A), is Asma’ bint Yazid (R.A). Asma (R.A) was one of the first women to give a pledge of loyalty to Rasulullah (PBUH). Imagine when it was not a norm for women to participate in a battle, and Asma’ had the courage to?
Not only that, Rasulullah (PBUH) as well as other men only saw her potential as a contributing fighter in a battle such as Battle of Yarmouk against the Romans, and never once was she dismissed because of her gender. Despite being a minority amongst the men in the battle, the men respected and honoured her and she remained humble and kept her social boundaries with these men. When she had some concerns regarding women’s rights, she voiced this eloquently to Rasulullah (PBUH) and it was taken into account with compassion and empathy. Her concerns were not of worldly matter but one that is concerned with equality of rewards from Allah. Even if the priorities set are different for women from men, the rewards are equal. 
Asma’ R.A. is truly, an epitome of a strong, independent and brave woman.
Other than Asma’, we know Khadija (R.A) came from a respectful family. She was a successful business woman and Aisha (R.A.) was a scholar who provided invaluable knowledge to all. These are just few of the many inspiring, successful women of Islam in the past. Did you also know that the first higher learning institute in the world was established by a woman, Fatima Al-Fihri in Morocco in the 859 AD? 
But why do all these matter now?
It’s to show us that respect was possible, even in the midst of ignorance and the worst crimes ever committed then, and the light of knowledge prevailed because necessary problems were addressed. Today, we see that there are many successful women being mentioned and acknowledged, and one of the many reasons is because of how highly women are recognised in Islam, contrary to a lot of culture-oriented beliefs. Even metaphorically, paradise lies in the two feet of a mother! What is a better recognition than it is from God’s?
The most important thing is; we don’t succumb to today’s standards on what it means to be strong but should be based on what pleases God and within the boundary of Islam. As Muslims, we live to please Him and not His creations. While it’s a woman’s own job to claim her confidence and bravery through the stereotypes, men should abolish this mindset that women only belong in a certain gender specific place. We need two hands to clap, don’t we?
Basically, this is not a battle of the sexes.
Nobody is more superior than the other because at the end of the day, we are all slaves of the Ar-Rahman and equal to His eyes. When one contemplates about his or her role in this world, to be the best of example, not one instant of superiority should be felt by either genders. Superiority starts with arrogance in the heart and if we know we have this, then it should be cleansed with prayers and istighfar. We are judged by Him based only our our taqwa (consciousness of God). All rewards are equal for both genders, as mentioned in Surah Al-Ahzab (33:35).
Both genders have their roles in a home and the society, and at these two different places, their roles should not be confused with. Men will always have the responsibilities to be leaders in a family, protect and provide for them, but women can be leaders at work. Wives have the responsibilities to provide emotional support and tender care, but husbands should also get involved in helping their wives at home. We know this because Rasulullah (PBUH) helped with the house chores too, and this forgotten Sunnah should be relived!
You get the gist of it. It’s all about balance and compromise.
With that said, I truly believe that everything starts from home. One rule of thumb that I have is, when a boy respects his mother and girls in his family as well as in school, then he will grow up to be a respectable man. Of course, some exceptional cases and other factors should be taken into account, but boys and girls spend every waking hour at home and school. So, it’s really up to us to educate the younger ones and lead by example. We need to empower both boys and girls with knowledge as knowledge is power, while at the same time, teach compassion and empathy just as Rasulullah (PBUH) did to all mankind.
All in all, the message is: the world doesn’t belong to us. This is not a man’s world, nor it is a woman’s; but God’s.
All belongs and returns to Him.
- Great Women of Islam (Darussalam Publishings)
- Lost Islamic History by Firas Alkhateeb