INTRODUCTION The position of women in society has often been the subject of much debate. Islam’s position regarding this has usually been presented to the Western reader with little objectivity. This paper is intended to provide a brief and accurate explanation of the Islamic stance, drawing upon the authentic sources of the Qur’an (God’s final revelation) and Hadeeth (sayings, actions and approvals of Prophet Muhammad, (P). The paper begins with a look at the position of women in pre-Islamic societies. It then focuses on some major questions: what does Islam teach regarding the position of women in society? How does this stance differ from,or resemble, the position of women in the era in which Islam was revealed? Finally, how does this compare with the rights gained by women in recent decades?
II HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES In order to assess if Islam made any notable contribution to the restoration of woman’s rights, it may be helpful to briefly review how women were treated in former faiths and cultures, especially those which preceded Islam. (Pre-610 C.E.).1 WOMEN IN ANCIENT CIVILISATION Describing the status of Indian women, the Encyclopaedia Brittanica states: “In India, subjection was a cardinal principle. Day and night women must be held by their protectors in a state of dependence says Manu. The rule of inhertance was agnatic, that is, descent traced through males to the exclusion of females” 2 And according to the Hindu scripture, a good wife is described as “... a woman whose mind, body and speech are kept in subjection; acquires high renown in this world and, in the next, retains the same abode as her husband.”3 In Athens, women were not better off than Indian or Roman women: “Athenian women were always minors, subject to some male - to their father, to their brother or to some of their male kin.”4 Also, a Greek woman had no right to consent to marriage because: “...she was obliged to submit to the wishes of her parents, and receive from them her husband and her lord, even though he were a stranger to her.” 5
Similarly, a historian commented that a Roman wife was: “... a babe, a minor, a ward, a person incapable of doing or acting anything according to her own individual taste, a person continually under the tutelage and guardianship of her husband.” 6 The Encyclopaedia Brittanica, sums up the legal status of women under Roman civilisation7: “In Roman Law a woman was, even in historic times, completely dependant. If married, she and her property passed into the power of her husband...the wife was the purc hased property of her husband, and like a slave, acquired for his benefit. A woman could not exercise any civil or public office.... could not be a witness, surety, tutor, or curator, she could not adopt or be adopted, or make a will or contract.” Turning to the status of Scandinavian women, we discover that they were: “...under perpetual tutelage, whether married or unmarried. As late as the Code of Christian V, at the end of the 17th Century, it was enacted that if a woman married without the consent of her tutor he might have, if he wished, administration and usurp of her goods during her life.” 8 According to English Common Law, a woman’s rights were equally suppressed: “...all real property which a wife held at the time of a marriage became a possession of her husband, He was entitled to the rent from the land and to any profit which might be made from operating the estate during the joint life of the spouses. As time passed, the English courts devised means to forbid a husband’s transferring real property without the consent of his wife, but he still retained the right to manage it and to receive the money which it produced. As to the wife’s personal property, the husband’s power was complete. He had the right to spend it as he saw fit.” 9 Only by the late 19th Century, the situation started to improve: “By a series of acts starting with the Married women’s property Act in 1870, amended in 1882 and...
...WOMEN IN ISLAM
It is not a news flash that Islam has been painted as a religion that oppresses women. In fact, the Westerners especially are very progressive in proving this by starting to put the idea that there is no difference between men and women thus they must be equally treated. Those who are ignorant about Islam would perceive that this religion is very oppressive to women by looking at the surface of the issues that involve women’s right such as hijab, polygamy and inheritance. These issues lead to the misconception of Muslim women all over the world, leaving Islam as a bias religion which denies women of their rights and freedom.
What people do not understand is that Islam gives both men and women their rights according to their natures. Women and men are different in nature thus they have their own rights which suit their natures. According to Abdul Rahim Green in his talk, Women in Islam: Liberated or Subjugated?, he stated that “Islam gives men and women their rights by defining for them their natural positions and natural situations. Islam is liberating us by returning us to our natural conditions which Allah created us.” He made his point by starting to make people understand that men and...
...The Misconceptions about Women in Islam
While people in the west think that women in Islam are oppressed, they do not know that Islam liberated women from oppression. There are many people who have opinions about the religion of Islam, but mostly about the women who follow it. Westerners have this idea that women in Islam are disrespected, mistreated and oppressed. In actuality, these allegations are incorrect. Women in Islam have rights and are not oppressed. The veil is widely misunderstood and many do not know what it represents. In many ways, men and women are equal as much as they are not; and this is in every religion.
In Islamwomen are given many rights, such as owning properties, having an education, working, and marrying who she wants. In the Holy book, the Qu’ran, it explains that women are allowed to own inheritance or properties. However, it is less than, for instance, the brother of a woman, because when she marries she can combine her inheritance with her husbands. “…a male shall have as much as the share of two females; but if their be females only, numbering more than two, then they shall have two-thirds of what the deceased leave; and if there be one, she shall have half.” (4:12, Qu’ran). Having an education is very...
The Analysis of the Role of Women in Islamic Culture
May 24, 2012
My paper is written in purpose to cover the issue of the role of women in Islamic culture. My first part is devoted to the status of women according religious texts of Islam, Quran and Sunna. The first factor that determines the role of Muslim women is spirituality. In this regard women are equal to men; they all play the role of “vicegerents”. Women are allowed to take part in Friday prayers and other religious activities as well as they may be present at war. The second criterion evaluating the role of women is their status within the family, namely their rights and duties in terms of marriage, divorce, motherhood and widowhood. Then the economic and political rights of women take place.
The second part is aimed at the implementations of the Muslim laws in Islamic countries: how women are treated in families and problems they face; to what extent they participate in the social life, economically and politically. The analysis of these factors may show us the real role of women and bring...
...Women Rights in Islam - Modernizing or Outdated?
According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘Women’s Rights are the rights that promote a position of social and legal equality, of women to men.
According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘they are the rights, claimed for the women, equal to those of men, as regards to suffrage that right to vote, as regards to property, etc.
‘Modernizing according to the Oxford dictionary means, ‘to make modern, to adapt to modern needs or habits
And according to the Webster’s dictionary it means ‘to make modern, or to give a new character or appearance - e.g., to modernize ones ideas
In short, modernizing is a process of updating or opting for the betterment of the present status itself - It is not the present modern status itself.
Can we modernize ourselves, to master our problems, and to realize a new way of life, for the whole human race?
I am not concerned about the modern ideas, the conclusions and the categorical statements made by scientists and inexperienced armchair experts, as how a life should be lived by a woman.
I am going to base my conclusions and considerations on truth, which can be proved by experience.
Experience and unbiased factual holistic analysis, are the sure test, between the gold of truth, and the glitter of theory.
We have to check our thinking against reality, otherwise many a times, our mental process will go astray - Indeed...
W oman in I slam: B. A isha Lemu
Fantasy and Escape
Spiritual Status o f W oman
Relations Between the Sexes
Rights and Obligations
Marriage in Islam
Right to Inheritance
Role as Mother
Sex and Society
F amily Life in I slam: Fatima Heeren
The I slamic A pproach
Structure o f M uslim Family
The Family as a Cradle f or Human Society
T he Education Process
Islamic D uties
Training f or Life
II T he Family as Guardian o f Desires
l \l T he Family and Character-Building
I V T he Family as Refuge
Covering the Face
T he W est has known Islam f or over thirteen centuries now,
but i t has generally known i t in antagonistic terms as an enemy
and as a threat. I t is n ot surpri'sing therefore that our religion has
been portrayed as a hostile, tyrannical, violent and even i dolatrous religion and o ur c ulture has been painted in dark and
dismal colours. T his state o f affairs cannot be allowed to persist
and d isfigure relations between Islam and the Western world.
With the advance o f knowledge and a greater contact between
Europe and the Muslim world, intellectual, social, cultural and
p olitical and economic, we...
...The American Woman of the Early Nineteenth Century
Perceptions of Women in the 19th Century
During the early 1800s, Americans generally believed that there was a definite difference in character between the sexes -- man was active, dominant, assertive, and materialistic, while woman was religious, modest, passive, submissive, and domestic. As a result, there developed an ideal of American womanhood, or a "cult of true womanhood" as denoted by historian Barbara Welter. This cult, evident in women's magazines and religious literature of the day, espoused four basic attributes of female character: piety, purity, submissiveness,domesticity.
1) Religion/Piety was the "core of woman's virtue, the source of her strength" (Welter, 21). Religion was a gift of God, given so that the "Universe might be Enlightened, Improved, and Harmonized by WOMAN!! (Philadelphia, 1840, quoted in Welter, 22). Women were expected to be the "handmaids of the Gospel," serving as a purifying force in the lives of erring men. Women naturally possessed virtues of faith, simplicity, goodness, self-sacrifice, tenderness, affection, sentimentality, and modesty.
2) Purity was an essential characteristic to maintain one's virtue against the continuous "assault" of the more aggressive male. To protect one's self, Mrs. Eliza Farrar recommended in The Young Lady's Friend (1837): Sit not with another in a place that is too narrow; read not out of the same book; let...
...Women's Rights in Islam
In Those days before Islamwomen were not recognized as independent individuals, they were treated like slaves or things that belong to men. It was called the period of ignorance. All women's rights were denied and ignored; they never had the choice to have a decision in their lives or even be part of the marriage contract. In addition, in times of war women were treated as a part of the prize, and the birth of a daughter was not a happy occasion. Instead, they felt humiliated by it, because the idea of a woman was so much connected to shame and weakness, in a way that made them hide this shame or bury it till death.
Allah (S.W.T) said " and when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to anyone of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief; he hides himself from the people of the evil of whereof he has been informed. Shall he keep her with dishonor or bury her in the earth? Certainly, evil is their decision." (Al-Nahl 16; 58-59).
However, the western view of Islam and Muslim women is very similar to that view of the period of ignorance (before Islam) which is the extreme opposite of the true Islam. Westerns believe that Islam prevents women from their rights, carrying ideologies that make women nothing but for sex and raising kids....
...Violence Against Women in Muslim Families: an Agenda for Muslim Women’s Empowerment
Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared in a 2006 report posted on the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) website that:
Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime with the abuser usually someone known to her, (Kofi Annan 2006)
One of the key issues addressed at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing was the elimination of violence against women.' Violence affects the lives of millions of women worldwide, irrespective of their socio-economic status. It cuts across ethnic, cultural and religious barriers, impeding the rights of women to participate fully in the society. The urgency of addressing this global problem is tragically illustrated by the treatment of women in conflict or crisis situations, where various forms of harassment, intimidation, rape and forced pregnancies are being used as instruments of war, especially by the opposing forces or the supposed peacekeepers. The recent incident in the Darfur region of Sudan, where women were violently...