The Role of Women In Islam
Learning about the Quran and Islam opened my eyes like nothing ever before. Although, it should be noted that when I say “learning about Islam”, I don’t mean looking at newspapers or news reports showing the terrible things that radical extremist Muslim groups do. It’s easy to turn on the news and categorize all Muslims. The real way to learn about Islam is by studying the Quran, Muslim customs, and the history of the religion.
The real Islam. What this taught me is that not all Muslims agree with some of the things that their fellow worshippers do. These Muslims look at the Quran and its teachings differently. Islam is known as a particularly sexist religion, but in reality it is no more sexist than Catholicism. As a Catholic woman I can say that the Catholic faith and the Bible is no stranger to sexism or the ill treatment of women.
Also, it’s easy to say that Islam as a religion discriminates and objectifies women, but if we’re completely honest, so does Western culture. In fact, Western culture discriminates against the very Muslim women they claim to want to protect. The Quran does include quite a few verses that are sexist in nature and that seem to show women as inferior and subservient to men. The Quran states that “men are in charge of women,”(Verse 18:46 Quran) which sets up an unbalanced relationship between Muslim men and women.Another verse that shows the way that the Quran allows women to be treated would be, when it states that when men commit “unlawful sexual intercourse [with] women”, (Verse 35:16 Quran) the punishment is brought against the woman. The Quran demands that the man “confine the guilty wom[a]n to [her] house until death takes [her].
” (Verse 35:23 Quran) Statements such as these are what cause gender inequality in Muslim countries. They also lead someMuslim countries, such as Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, to decide on harsh punishments for adulteresses include flogging, stoning to death, and other “penalties”. Many who see these verses are quick to jump to the conclusion that Islam is a radically sexist and violent religion against women. This is not true, in fact, Islam is not a particularly sexist religion, but rather, the truth is that most religions are a bit sexist in nature. This is a product of the times in which these religions came to be.
Women’s rights have come a long way and they have greatly evolved from what they were in the times of Muhammad and Jesus. A great example of this would be the Bible. It discriminates against women as much, if not more than the Quran. It says “a wife is a man’s property”(Verse 22:38 Bible) and it even allows for “a man [to] sell his daughter as a servant.” (Verse 25:18 Bible) The Bible is a holy text that if followed exactly by Catholics and Christians, so “if a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her…, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver [for her, and then she belongs to him].” (Verse 13:26 the Bible) Something else to be noted is that the Bible allows Catholics to treat “used” or “soiled” women in a way very similar to the way Muslims treat adulteresses.
The Bible says that after a woman is discovered to have lost her virginity before her marriage then “she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death.” (Verse 13:54 Bible) The major difference between Catholicism and Islam, is that Catholicism has evolved with the times and it does not demand that women continue to be treated and subjugated in the way that they were during Jesus’s time. When women got rights to do certain things by the law of the country Catholicism allowed women those same rights. Sharia was a set of laws that was meant for a different time and culture. Yet, since Islam is a religion that combines religion and politics they have not allowed the same advances and changes for women’s rights that other religions have. The real problemIslam has, in terms of the role of the women, is not the religion itself, but the way that some of its believers interpret it.
In a certain sense, these believers are closed off to the advances that have come with the world’s modernization. Meanwhile, other believers have advanced with the times and for them the role of women has changed a bit. There are some cases of Muslims who interpret the Quran differently and allow women more freedoms. Yet, a truth that should be kept in mind during this piece is the fact that Islam is a faith and there are some believer who agree with the way they have done things. Some Muslim women CHOOSE to wear the hijab and they should not be discriminated, looked down upon, or looked at badly because of it.
If they choose to wear, it is their choice and they do it because they believe it frees them or they feel more comfortable wearing it. Just as it is not correct to force women to wear the hijab, it is also wrong to force them to go without it. How can we tell Muslim women that what they are doing is wrong, if it is what they believe in. In fact, how can we accuse Muslim countries of treating women incorrectly and objectifying them when it is something that is done herein “progressive” countries, such as Colombia, the U.S., etc.
What is that we are doing when society decides on a standard of beauty for women? Women see in TV, Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, and many more brands… Feminists and many critics of Islam tend to say that if a woman wears a hijab she is either letting herself be or is being objectified by men. This idea cannot be applied to all Muslim women. It is particular of those who are forced to wear a hijab, because in that instance they have no choice and are losing touch with their identity and freedom. Yet, doesn’t Western society do something very similar? When Victoria’s Secret releases an advertisement the women are skinny and the image of “physical perfection.” Women feel certain pressure to look like those women or else they are not beautiful. Society has given women a definition of beauty and all that a woman can do is try to follow it in order to feel like she fits in and is pretty.
Women in this case are not “free,” instead they are prisoners to society’s expectations. Yes, technically speaking this all happens voluntarily, but it is not easy to go against society’s expectations. A woman who chooses to wear a hijab defies society’s definition of being appealing and beautiful. She gets to be judged solely on other things. If this makes that woman feel beautiful and comfortable, is it fair to criticize her decision? Now, if a woman is forced to wear it the case is very different.
Western society objectifies and tries to force women into a box, but they do it in a different way than the way Muslim countries and culture does it. Whenever they place a half-naked woman on a tv show, music video, movie, etc. this shows women that it is beautiful to be half-naked. Or even when it encourages men to whistle at women in order for them to be manly. Women feel like this teaches men to think that “they [are] entitled to some sort of dominance over me? A type of ownership of my body that I was unaware of? Even more worryingly: did they even know or care that their behaviour wasn’t only insulting and threatening,” and when people tell them that this is to be expected because of the way they were dressing it tells the women that the catcalls are their fault. A Muslim woman can feel that the “.
.. hijab [is] a “form of liberation” from the media, the fashion industry, and male criticism.” It is not fair or correct to tell her that her feelings are wrong and a sign of subjugation, just because Western society has decided to associate the hijab with submission and weakness of will. Neither extreme is correct. Society cannot tell women that being whistled at or raped is their fault for the way they dress, the way they look, or the fact that they didn’t defend themselves.
Yet, it is also not correct to force a woman to cover up in order to keep her from the “base” and “feral” sexual instincts of a man.