Under Islam, women are spiritually equal to men; however, the rights of women in Islamic society have changed throughout history and vary from region to region. In Islamic society, women require their husbands' approval to realize many activities and are limited in their access to certain political, educational and economic goods.
Oxford Islamic Studies explains that Islam has brought many benefits to the women of the Middle East, despite the usual patriarchal nature of Islamic society. Prior to the arrival of Islam, women in Arab cultures were treated as property. Female infanticide was a common practice, women were unable to own property, and polygyny was completely unrestricted. Islam introduced the idea that women and men are equals.
According to the International Association of Sufism, Islam instructs men to honor their wives, mothers and daughters. Islamic law gives women the right to take and hold property, take legal actions, vote and participate in politics. Moreover, women have the right to choose their marriage partner and solicit divorce in cases of abuse or infidelity. Islam also limits the scope of polygyny, teaching that a man can have only four wives and may not take a second wife without the permission of his first.
The International Association of Sufism also states that many of the practices associated with Islamic culture were adopted by Muslims from the cultures that they conquered. The wearing of the veil, for instance, is not a practice found in the Koran.