The Dark Ages of Pre-Islamic Women’s Fate
The topic of discussion about women since ancient times is still being discussed. The main thing is about relations (relationships) between men and women, equal rights in various fields (economic, political, social, cultural, and so on).
The fate of women before the advent of Islam, was like an object that was free to be treated by men. And his position became a second class group. Women’s job is only to serve men and must be ready whenever needed. This condition is of course very worrying. In fact, the impression of misogynist (hatred of women) was so thick that it colored human life in the jahiliyah era.
As stated by Caliph Umar Ibn Khattab RA. Before he embraced Islam, the birth of a daughter in a family was like a ‘disgrace’ for the family. Especially if they have a respectable position in the community. Therefore, in order to cover up her disgrace, the newly born daughter had to be killed.
If saved (not killed), girls in pre-Islamic times were only to satisfy men. He is obliged to serve the will of men, even his father. And girls are not allowed to work outside the home. They are enough to cook in the kitchen, serve the husband (male) at night and do the laundry. It is not surprising that later there was an adage that a woman’s job was only in the kitchen, in the well and on the bed.
In ancient Greece, the dignity of women was very low. Women are only seen as a means of successor generation and a kind of housemaid as well as releasing men’s sexual desires. The philosopher Demosthenes argued that wives only functioned to give birth to children, Aristotle considered women to be equal to slaves. Another philosopher, Plato considered, the honor of a man in his ability to rule, while the ‘honor’ of women according to him is in his ability to do simple and despicable jobs while being silent without speaking.
The same situation occurs in Europe. In 586 AD (before the arrival of Islam), religious leaders in France were still discussing whether women should worship God or not. Can they also go to heaven? The discussions ended with the conclusion: women have souls, but they are not eternal and she is tasked with serving men who are freely trafficked.
Throughout pre-Islamic times, the position of women never changed, their main task was only to be ‘servants’ of men. According to the caretaker of the Aziziyah Islamic Boarding School, Denanyar, Jombang, KH Aziz Mayshuri explained, there are at least four stages of women, namely women as children, as wives, mothers and members of society who in pre-Islamic times were treated arbitrarily.
In the first phase of being a child. In the era of Jahiliyyah (ignorance), parents who had daughters would bury them alive. ”Girls born at that time were considered a disgrace to their families. Because, girls are considered useless and when they grow up, they are only used as lust to satisfy men,” he said.
Because of that, they were then killed. Before converting to Islam, the caliph Umar Ibn Khattab RA also did the same thing and buried his daughter alive.”When one of them is informed with the (birth of) a daughter, his face becomes black (red) and he is very angry. Then he hid from the crowd, because of the bad news he received. Will he nurture him with (bear) disgrace or will he bury him in the ground (alive)? Remember, how bad (decision) they set.” (Surah an-Nahl : 58-59)
This is different with boys. They make sons as potential leaders who give honor to family members. Therefore, the Arab community in this jahiliyyah era, was so proud to have a son.
The second phase, when the daughter becomes the wife. In this era of ignorance, women can be inherited either voluntarily or forced. ”A husband who is not happy with his wife can give his wife to someone else, whether she wants it or not. And if her husband wants to remarry, then his wife is accused of cheating,” said Aziz.
As is known, according to the Arab Adat of Jahiliyah, a guardian (male) has full power over the women who are under his care and the assets he owns. If the woman is beautiful, then she will be married and her wealth will be taken, if she is ugly, then her marriage to other men is prevented. The goal is that his guardian can control all his property. This kind of thing is opposed by the Qur’an as stated in Surah An-Nisaa’ verse 127).
The third phase, when women become mothers. During the period of ignorance, a mother cannot get an inheritance if her child dies. In Islam, if a child dies and he has an inheritance, then his mother can inherit it according to the division that has been determined by the Qur’an.
The fourth phase, continued Aziz, is when women become members of society. In the jahiliyah period, a woman had limited movement of steps. She is positioned only to be the caretaker of her husband and is not allowed to do other things. Because of this excessive discrimination, Islam as a religion that gives mercy to the universe (rahmatanlil ‘alamin), opposes unfair treatment of women.
As the word of Allah in the Qur’an Surah Al-Hujurat verse 11 which emphasizes, the glory of a person is not measured by the amount of responsibility or rank and position, but is measured by his devotion to Allah SWT. Likewise in Surah An-Nisaa ‘verse 124, whoever does good deeds, be it a woman or a man and believes in Allah SWT, then indeed they will enter heaven and they will not be wronged in the least.
Inequality between men and women is strongly condemned by Islam. For thousands of years, women positioned as second-class beings who served only their husbands. With the advent of Islam, all slavery and murder of girls was abolished. This just view of Islam then ignited the spirit of the movement to demand equal treatment between men and women.
The Degree of Women in Islam
O all mankind (male and female), We actually produced you from (lovebirds) a man and a woman (Surah Alhujuraat verse 13). In this regard the Prophet Muhammad SAW said: the Women are biological relatives of men. (HR Ahmad Abu Daud and at-Tirmidhi).
The Coordinator of Da’wah for PP Fatayat NU, BadriyahFayumi, said that before Islam arrived (the era of ignorance) the role of women was very low. After Islam arrived, it was balanced (raised) in rank.
If Islam stipulates that the rights and obligations for men and women are the same and some are different, it does not question their role, but their use and duties, he explained.
For the teachings of Islam, basically Allah SWT produces humans, both male and female, just for the purpose that they are able to devote themselves to serving Him. The word of Allah SWT in the Qur’an, And, I do not make the jinn and humans but let them worship Me (Surah Adz-Dzaariyat : 56).
Islam is a complete and perfect religion that was brought by the Prophet Muhammad to control human life and life in order to get happiness and prosperity in this world and in the hereafter. So, the roles, rights, and obligations of women are the same and some are different from men.
DR MashitohChusnan, Head of PP Aisyiah said that from the very beginning, Islam did not discriminate between men or women. Both in terms of worship, work and so on. Many verses of Koran that explain this role. One of them is a holy verse of Qur’an which means: Actually I (Allah swt) do not waste the deeds of those who do good among you, whether a man or a woman (Surah Ali Imran  verse 195).
What makes the difference, said the Chancellor of the University ofMuhammadiyah Jakarta (UMJ) is the physical and psychological aspects. Physically, women are given the advantage to give birth and breastfeed their children, an activity that men cannot try. And psychologically, children are born and breastfed by women (mothers), have intimacy with mothers (women). But the position that women try is as significant as the position that men try. Islam does not suppress women’s creativity and activities.
Chancellor of the SyarifHidayatullah Islamic University Jakarta, Prof. Dr. HjNabilahLubis, emphasized that Islam never differentiates between men and women. What rights are given to men, whether in education, economy or otherwise, these rights are also given to women.
Prof Nabilah also denied accusations that Islam was ‘cruel’ towards women. ”The accusation was expressed by those who do not understand the real Islam. The accusation is clearly very unfair, because Islam really loves and protects women,” he said.
Nabilah then gave an example of the hijab case, which some called an attempt to suppress Muslim women. ”For Muslim women, the hijab really protects women. Because we respect ourselves so that other people respect us,” he explained. Meanwhile, the Muslim scholar DrMuslimin Abdurrahman said that there are two systems that cause oppression of women, namely the patriarchal and capitalist systems.
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