"Womenfolk in Islam”
History is silent as to whether there was any distinction in status between the male and the female sexes during the beginnings of human civilization. In later days no doubt the female sex was regarded as inferior to the male and the idea of inferiority developed to such an extent that the male sex not only claimed a complete superiority over the female sex, but further arrogated to himself the right to utilise and employ the female sex as he liked.
Surveying the history of the world on this point we find that in pre-Christian Europe and Greece, which was the centre of light and learning for a long time and which provided philosophical and scientific inspiration to the Europe of later days, regarded woman as something definitely inferior to man. She was a subservient creature who had come into existence solely for the purpose of breeding citizens for the state and soldiers for the army. Their opinion of women was that these creatures were deprived of any good and was instead the sources of many evils. Such degrading conceptions led to a moral degeneration which ultimately ruined the Greek society. The names of virtuous women scarcely appear in Greek history.
In pre-lslamic Arabia, the general conception of womanhood was of such a degraded type that her very existence was considered ignominious for the family. Female infanticide was consequently practiced on a wide scale. Those women who, however, escaped early death were allowed to live only on sufferance. For, an Arab woman had no rights; she could not inherit property; her person formed part of the inheritance which came to the heir of her husband, and he was entitled to marry her against her will. Hence, there sprung up the impious marriages of their sons with their stepmothers and others of an even worse character. Polygamy was universal and quite unrestricted; equally so was divorce at least as far as man was concerned.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) on Women's Rights
Such was the condition of the female sex in the world when the Holy Prophet of Islam, the Perfect Man, Muhammad (pbuh) the Saviour of womanhood, stood up in Arabia and, through the Divine Revelation of the Lord of the Universe Who created both the male and the female and Who loves them equally, preached to the world that females were just like males and that they have equal rights, equal honour and an equal status in life.