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Women play an important role in any society. In many cultures, a woman looks after the family while the man works to support them. Not all women look after the family, as many have full time careers. Women's education is encouraged almost everywhere, allowing women to better themselves. Education allows for better career opportunities. In most societies, the role a woman chooses to take for herself is often a choice rather than a restriction. In Islamic societies, however, women seem to be forced into certain roles and responsibilities. These restrictions often seem to elevate a man's status and importance in society while degrading a woman's status. While the Koran and Islamic society state that the two sexes are equal in religious and legal aspects, the two sexes have very different roles within the society. These roles and responsibilities push women down, and create an unjust standard of living between the sexes.
The Koran is meant to be the everlasting word of God, and is the text that guides Islamic society. According to Tove Dahl, "women received through the Koran a religious status equal to that of men as believers, and in addition legal status as an independent subject ." In pre-Islamic society, women were often considered the property of their men, and did not enjoy much freedom. Men would control the women's actions, often dictating their lives. As Islam and the word of Allah spread, a society was formed on religious beliefs, and based on the literal text of the Koran women were to be treated as equals. Given that the word of the Koran is the word of God, then women in Islamic society should be treated as equal with men. If women were granted equal religious matters and given independent legal status, then in a society which revolves around religion, women should have the same rights as men, and given freedoms to make their own decisions pertaining to most issues.
However, women in Islamic society are often not treated as equals with men. Although the Koran allows women the same religious and legal status as men, the same text also allows men to remain in a dominant position over women. Many times women are not allowed to be independent and free, as they are forced to raise a family, be obedient to their husband, and follow certain laws which favor men, and at the same time push women down. The text of the Koran often times limits the actions and decisions of women, despite granting them the same religious and legal status as men. These variances in the Koran continue to put men on a hierarchy compared to women.
One of the more amazing aspects of Islamic society is that the oppression of women by men revolves around one central verse of the Koran. Verse 4:34, according to traditional understanding, has been used as a weapon to subjugate women in the name of Islam . The verse has four parts: 1) Men are guardians of women and hence their rulers; 2) Women must obey their husbands if they are to consider themselves good Muslim women; 3) After due admonition and punitive separation, the husband has a right to beat his wife if he fears willfulness; and 4) If the woman refuses to accept this form of subjugation, the husband can divorce her. The common interpretation of this verse makes women out to be second class citizens in their own homes. There is no similar verse in the Koran granting women any such powers over their husbands. Despite the fact that the Koran grants women equal religious and legal status as men, it also puts men on a hierarchy above women, giving them some control over their wives.
Marriage also faces sexual discrimination in Islamic societies. Most all women in Islamic society, and in the world, hope to marry in their lifetime. In pre-Islamic society, women were often sold by their fathers to another man, and the woman was given very little choice in the decision of whom she was marrying. Upon the rise of Islamic society, women's rights pertaining to marriage were expanded. Now, only if a girl was considered a minor (pre-pubescent) was she allowed to be married off against her will . At puberty, she became an independent legal person and therefore had a choice in her marriage decision. If a contract
Quotes talked about in this paper
Names referenced in this essay
Tove Dahl, Asghar Ali, Rahman,
Organizations referenced in this paper
Islamic society, Muslim society,
Keywords mentioned in this paper
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