Hughes' Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate In the Hughes’ text, Women in World History: Volume 1, the chapter on Middle Eastern women focuses on how Islam affected their lives. Almost immediately, the authors wisely observe that “Muslim women’s rights have varied significantly with time, by region, and by class” (152). They continue with the warning that “there is far too much diversity to be adequately described in a few pages.” However, I argue that there is essential information and insight on said topic that the authors have failed to include, as well as areas of discussion with incomplete analyses. I will use Leila Ahmed’s book, Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate, as well as her essay entitled “Early Islam and the Position of Women: The Problem of Interpretation,” to cite the shortcomings of the text. After the first part of the Hughes chapter on Middle Eastern Muslim women, the emphasis shifts, from Quranic doctrine regarding women to how Muslim law and scholarship have interpreted the Quran’s direct admonitions to women. However, this shift is unfortunately subtle. The authors fail to make a clear distinction between the Quran, a sacred text believed to be the verbatim word of God; and Muslim law, which was formulated by (male) Muslim jurists who consulted the Quran and whose consensus was later declared infallible (Ahmed 58). Such a distinction is necessary because the Quran itself is vastly different from a legal document; Ahmed observes in “Early Islam and the Position of Women” that “Quranic precepts consist mainly of broad, general propositions chiefly of an ethical nature, rather than specific legalistic formulations” (59). Indeed, the Qura... ... middle of paper ... ...areas of emphasis. In contrast, Leila Ahmed analyzes representations and mores of Muslim women in different social and religious contexts in order to draw conclusions about their effect on women’s--and men’s in relation to women’s--status, in earlier periods of Islam, as well as the further-reaching implications they have had for modern Muslim societies. Works Cited Ahmed, Leila. Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992. Ahmed, Leila. “Early Islam and the Position of Women: The Problem of Interpretation.” In Women in Middle Eastern History: Shifting Boundaries in Sex and Gender, ed. Nikki R. Keddie and Beth Baron. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1991. Hughes, Sarah Shaver, and Brady Hughes. Women in World History. Vol. 1. Armonk, N.Y., and London: M.E. Sharpe, 1995.
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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.
Since the September Eleventh attacks by Islamic extremists at the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania, Islamic culture has come under scrutiny by Americans more so than at any other period in the history of the ancient religion. One area that is often criticized by the American main stream media is the role of women in Islamic culture; it is almost common knowledge now that Islam subjugates women to a degree not seen since the Medieval Ages, and is backwards in all aspects of gender relations. Like many stereotypes, this one is overblown, exaggerated, and often completely incorrect. Women have been a fundamental part of Islamic culture since the founding of the Muslim faith. Women have had tremendous influence in all areas of Islamic culture including education, politics, economic concerns, and religious interpretation; by examining each of these four areas, it become clear that women have tremendous opportunities within mainstream Islam. Of course, certain hardline regimes like the one currently holding power in Iran will always oppress women, as well as gays and other minorities. It is important to not focus on the few areas where Islamic culture is practiced and women are subjugated, but to look at the broader Islamic culture where women are a critical component.
We are not prepared to enter a discussion on Muslim women if we do not understand that our stereotypical images are not accurate. The purpose of this project is to bring light to the facts of Islam, of women, and of the Qur'an. After obtaining these facts, only then can we interact for the common goal of feminism.
The American media has a tendency to portray Muslims in a negative light. Some pity Muslims while others feel pure disdain for them. This statement made by Ann Coulter (2001) following the September 11th terrorist attacks demonstrates the disdain for Muslims, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity” (as cited in Arab American National Museum, 2011). While this particular statement was directed at all Muslims, there are also many misconceptions directed solely at Muslim women. In this essay, I will discuss the issue of Muslim women and some of the ways in which their reality contradicts the common media representations of women in that area.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world today. Many of us do not understand the religion Islam and women’s rights within the Islamic faith. American society has the idea that Muslim women are weak, disrespected, belittled, mistreated, and oppressed. “And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them.” (Qur’an 28:229).Contrary to common belief, Islam regards women as equal to men in many aspects and that women have a unique place in Islam. Finally, with this research I hope to end all misconceptions and misunderstandings of Muslim women rights relating to their spiritual, economic, social, political, and legal rights.
The significance of representing such a history is that it may open William Beckford’s narrative of the Arab Muslim woman to a new analysis and judgment. It may, as well, help in “allowing us to see them [Arab Muslim women] not as "culminations" of a natural truth, but "merely the current episodes in a series of subjugations" (Foucault 1977, 148)” (mohja), and to differentiate between them as represented in Western texts whose feet never touch earth, and the real –flesh and blood–ones whose “feet touch earth in Hamah or Rawalpindi or Rabat.”( MOHJA)
Society in western civilization sees Islam's treatment of women as heinous, unfair, and typically cruel. How can one respect a religion and culture that makes their women cover themselves from head to toe in 100 degree weather, walk behind her spouse, enter separate doors of the mosque (if they are even allowed to enter), pray in an closed off area separate from the men, marry complete strangers, and receive little to no education. These few examples and a lot more can surely discourage anyone from even wanting to become a Muslim, especially women. These problems are particularly ironic due to the fact that Islam was the first religion to try to equalize men and women, which is truly hard to believe being that Muslim countries by far treat their women the most unjust. This paper will discuss certain hardships of the women of Islam and further discuss if this is truly a religion that discriminates women and if not where the problem exists. The topics that will be discussed are the problems for women in mosques, and common misinterpretations of rights of Muslim women vs. the laws they actually have.
Sechzer, Jeri Altneu. "“Islam and Woman: Where Tradition Meets Modernity”: History and Interpretations of Islamic Women's Status." Sex Roles 51.5-6 (2004): 263-272.
In Rethinking Women and Islam, Amira Sonbol remarks that while the "vision of equality has been one of the mainsprings and central teachings of Islam," it is not extended to women. Rather the numerous Quranic references to equality between man and woman are commonly disregarded, "as the man is given superior moral and physical role as guardian over his wife." It is this type of understanding that is rooted into Arab culture whether or not Arab women have experienced great changes in modernization and industrialization. Therefore, it is imperative that women stand up for themselves and have a sense of self-determination.
Yahyaoui Krivenko, Ekaterina. Women, Islam And International Law : Within The Context Of The Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2009. eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
...eath,” come down to pick up the wheat that has fallen on the ground. Lastly, many believe the abrupt ending to the middle of the three paths could refer to the premeditated ending of his life.