There is nothing to equal the rights which Islam has granted to women, and the tremendous amount of respect it has given to them, neither in the religions of the world, nor in any secular administration system of the past or the present. The philosophers and law givers of olden times, in whom the west unduly prides itself so much, they did not even consider women as human beings. Some enlightened thinkers of that age held that women are a kind of worthless toy, very much inferior to men, but slightly superior to animals. No class of people was more oppressed than women and slaves. At the time when the august Messenger of Islam was born women were considered to be a man’s personal property. The neither could contract a marriage on their own, nor did they have any say regarding their future spouse. If their guardians, due to covetousness, and greed, decided not to get the women under their guardianship married at all, then there was nothing to check such behaviour, or to prevent them from doing so.
The Messenger of Allah . was sent as mercy for the worlds, especially for the weak, oppressed and exploited classes of mankind. He gave women an honourable position in society, he granted them the right to inherit and he let marriage be such a contract in which a man is not owner of a woman, and the woman not the property of man hut in which both spouses are parties of a contract, two intimate, honourable and respectable companions during the journey of life. The laws of guardianship are just another outstanding example of the just teachings of Islam, which aim at establishing justice in society. Unfortunately it is true that a girls preferences and her consent are hardly given any importance.
Often she is forcefully contracted in marriage by her guardians, or she was simply married off without her consent. It is a fact that in our society, especially in the rural areas, a girl is almost completely deprived of her right to choose a husband, because in the environment in which she lives she has absolutely no right to raise any objections against a decision made by her parents or any other of her guardians. Under such circumstances all future marriages are overcast by dilemnas, whereas the Sari’at does not authorize this except for a few juristic schools of thought, according to which a father has got the right to compel his virgin daughter, when it comes to marriage and according to which seeking the girl’s opinion in this affair is only laudable. Imam Abu Haneefah and his followers have given a verdict regarding this that neither a father nor any other guardian has got the right to force a mature girl into a marriage against her will. It is incumbent on the father or the other guardians to take the girl’s consent, and it is not correct to put the girl under any kind of pressure.