The Rights of Women in Islam, by Asghar Ali Engineer
Asghar Ali Engineer, The Rights of Women in Islam, New Delhi, Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd,, 2008.
Women’s issues continue to dominate the Islamic world in particular, as there has been a very gradual change in the status of women in the Islamic world as a whole. This book covers various aspects relating to the status of women in the pre-Islamic period — customs and -traditions, forms of marriage, divorce and forms of divorce, dower, traditions regarding slave-girls, and so on. It then goes on to deal with the status of women in the post-Islamic period — the Qur’anic concept of women’s rights in marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody of children, polygamy, maintenance, property, right to earn, etc. It quotes extensively from the Qur’an and Sunnah. It also deals with the Arab adaat, that is, pre-Islamic customs and traditions regarding women. Altogether, it attempts to arm Muslim women with Islamic arguments for their empowerment. The author, a renowned scholar, has sought to set the record straight by reinterpreting women’s rights in the true Qur’anic spirit. He argues quite convincingly that the Holy Book gives equal rights to both the sexes, and it does not discriminate between them as regards personal, democratic and human rights. The question whether in a secular society Muslim personal law needs any change, and, if so, in which direction the reform should be undertaken is dealt with in detail. This third edition contains a chapter: ‘On a Muslim Woman Leading the Congregational Prayer’. This chapter deals with the important aspect of Muslim women’s problems and also hopes to further enhance their understanding of the Shari’ah issues.
Asghar Ali Engineer (1939- 2013), an Indian Muslim, was a reformist-writer and activist. He was the head of the Institute of Islamic Studies and the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism.