In recent modern times, the Islamic faith and culture has been scarred by bad publicity and criticism worldwide concerning terrorism, fanaticism, and the treatment of women. All these issues have existed in most religions throughout time, but the treatment of women is different in which most other cultures and religions have minimized the issues and Islam, under its attempts to also end it, has failed to create a society in which the treatment of women is equal to that of men. The treatment of women, beginning from the time when they are born, to the time of their marriage, to the moment of their death, has not been equal to that of men despite the actions taken to end the injustice.
The Islamic faith rose during the life of Muhammad the Prophet (570 - 632 C.E.) who was born in Mecca, an area that was mostly Jewish, Christian, and Zoroastrian. At the age of 40, during a religious retreat at Mount Hira, he had a revelation in which the angel Gabriel spoke to him. This led to many more revelations throughout his life which led to the Qur'an being written. Muhammad spread his belief of a monotheistic religion after his first revelation. At the age of 63 he died, with Islam spread through out most of Arabia, and within the century reaching as far away as Spain and China.
Muhammad denounced the mistreatment and inequality of women. He also treated women and men as two different but complementary types of humans as the Qur'an says. Muhammad, while in Medina, once said:
"Among my followers the best of men are those who are best to their wives, and the best of women are those who are best to their husbands."
This quote clearly illustrates what Muhammad taught about equality in both marriage and everyday life. He wanted women and men to treat themselves equally without any of the two being considered as more or less. But during the same time he has been quoted to be referring to women as "property" or "commodity":
"The world, the whole of it, is a commodity and the best of the commodities of the world is a virtuous wife."
Although what Muhammad wanted to say was not to treat women as commodities, if someone misinterpreted this they may believe that even though women are the best commodity, they still are just property. It is this misinterpretation between the teachings of Muhammad that may have led to men thinking that it was right for them to mistreat women and oppress them.
In the times before the writing of the Qur'an Arabs practiced female infanticide, the killing of female newborns by smothering them to death or by burying them while still alive. Families practiced infanticide because a female was less helpful in creating and sustaining a family than were men. This atrocity was condemned by Muhammad and written in the Qur'an:
"He hideth himself from the folk because of the evil of that whereof he hath had tidings, (asking himself): Shall he keep it in contempt, or bury it beneath the dust. Verily evil...