Status of Women before Islam



   I.  Status of women in Arabian Peninsula


Before Islam the Arabian society presented a serious tragedy of suffering woman. The Arabs used to regard a woman as a shame; they hated her existence because they feared disgrace. An Arab did not prefer to have a female born baby. And if she was born, he would not see her face, and he hastened to bury his disgrace by burying her beneath the ground. But this bad treatment was not spread in all the tribes. Some women were treated well, in some well-known families, as the women in the tribe of Quraish, such as “Hind Bint Otba” the wife of “Sufyan” and “Khadija Bint Khuwailid” the Prophet Muhammad’s wife.


Prior to Islam, a woman’s status was regarded as household goods. She was bought and sold, treated as animals; in fact, animals were treated well in many cases than her. She was considered as a slave or property of men. She had to spend her life according to the desire of her guardian or owner. Thus, women had not any rights to take decisions of their life. They had no choice in the matter of marriage, and they had to obey the highest bidder.


1.    Women among tribes

In Al-jahilia period, women's situation varied widely according to laws and cultural norms of the tribes in which they lived. The status of women among the nobility gained much esteem. Her decision was so respected. And she was so highly loved that the wars were broken out internally or externally in her defense and honour.

In the low classes a woman was too underestimated. She did not enjoy any rights; she was treated as commodity, a prostitute, and a slave that men would exploit her without pity physically, socially, and even economically.


In some tribes, free women had many advantages; they could own, trade and even choose their husbands. As ‘’Khadija Bint Khuwailid‘’, the first wife of the prophet ‘’Muhammad‘’ (SAAW), who was rich and had a good respectful reputation among the men of her tribe before the advent of Islam. ‘’Hind Bint Otba‘’ Sufian’s wife was also another example of free women who had great respect and honour in her tribe when she was a disbeliever.

2.    The Birth of a Daughter

The birth of a daughter in a family was not regarded as an event of delight, but it was deemed as shame; they were killed at the time of birth or afterward.

Allah (SWT) said:

"When news is brought to one of them, of the birth of a female (child), his face becomes dark, and he is full of wrath. He hides himself from the folk because of the evil of that which is announced to him. (Asking himself) Shall he keep it in disgrace, or bury it (alive) beneath the dust? Now surely evil is their judgment." (Al-Nahl: 58-59)


There were two reasons of this inhumane act: the first was the fear that an increase in female offspring result in an economic burden. The second was the fear of humiliation caused by girls being captured by hostile tribe and preferring their captors than their parents and brothers.


‘’Qais Bin Assem‘’ a leader of the ‘’Tamim’’ tribe, buried alive every daughter he had for fear of their capture (and his disgrace). He was one example among many who brutally killed their daughters.

Allah (SWT) said:

“When the female (infant), Buried alive is questioned for what sin she was killed” (Al-Takweer: 8-9)

The Arabs kept on doing this horrible event until Allah (SWT) banned that unwise act through His Quranic verse: ‘’ Do not kill your children because of poverty, We provide sustenance For you and for them...” (Al-Ana’am: 151)

3.    Marriage of woman

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        Comments :

    The opinions expressed in the comments reflected the views of its' owners and not the opinion of the site

  • Usman bn Umar       Mr

    the way Arabs people treated their females children during the Jahiliya period is actually contrary to the teaching of Islam.

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