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 Islam women 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 important to the religion of Islam; and Islam deeply encourages it. There are also a great deal of criticism about women and marriage and how she is forced to marry whoever the woman’s parents want but that is not true. In the Qu’ran it states in chapter 4 verse 20 that “It is not lawful for you to inherit women against their will, nor should you detain them wrongfully that you may take away part of that which you have given them,” The religion is on the side of a woman just as much as a man.
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John Esposito, a leading expert on Islam spoke to a wide range of audiences including members of the Congress, the Bush Administrator, government agencies, military, and the media. He wrote a book, Islam; What Everyone Needs to Know and states in it that “The revelation of Islam raised the status of women by prohibiting female infanticide, abolish women’s status as property, establishing women’s legal capacity, granting women the right to receive their own dowry, changing marriage from a proprietary to a contractual relationship, and allowing women to retain control over their roperty and to use their maiden name after marriage. ” (p. 89). The hijab, also known as the veil, is widely misunderstood. Westerners believe that this is yet another sign of oppression. Wearing the hijab has many reasons behind it, “The custom of veiling is associated with Islam because of a passage that says, “Say to the believing women they should lower their gazes and guard their modesty. They should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty. ” (24:31). The veil represents the religion of Islam. It stands for modesty, and that there is more to a woman than how she styles her hair.
A woman should be judged for what she says than how she looks. In the Qu’ran chapter 24 verse 32, it states “And say to the believing women that they restrain their looks and guard their private parts, and that they display not their beauty or their embellishment except that which is apparent thereof, and that they draw their head-coverings over…. and that they display not their beauty or their embellishment save to their husbands. ” In Islam a woman’s beauty is only for her husband The veil helps the woman focus on her intellectual, spiritual, and professional development.
Esposito also adds “Many young Muslim women have adopted Islamic dress to symbolize a return to their culture roots and rejection of Western imperialist tradition that in their view shows little respect for women. ” (p. 97) Women wear the veil by choice and in most cases are not forced. “Since the 1970’s, a significant number of “modern” women have turned or returned to wearing Islamic dress. Often this is a voluntary movement led young, urban, middle-class women, who are well educated and work in every sector in society. “(p. 97-98).
Another fact that people do not know is that the veil used to be worn to determine the class of a woman. “Veiling was originally a sign of honor and distinction. During Muhammad’s time, the veil was worn by Muhammad’s wives and the upper-class women as a symbol of their status. ” (p. 96). Esposito writes that “Women who wear the scarf complain that, instead of asking what the hijab means to them, people simply assume that veiled women are oppressed. This assumption, they say, oppresses Muslim women more than any manner of dress ever could. ” (p. 98).
I, myself, wear the hijab and appreciate those who come up to me and ask “Why do you wear that? ” or “Can I feel the scarf”? Asking does not insult me, but the staring and pointing do. It is said that the West only accuses Islam of not treating women equally. Asma Gull Hasan is twenty-five year old Pakistani-American. She was born in Chicago and describes herself as “a Muslim feminist cowgirl”. As in the book, American Muslims, author, Hasan states that “American culture often favors men and holds back women. Women are paid less than men for similar jobs; we have yet to elect a women president.
Office politics, sometimes on a subliminal level, keep women form rising to the top. Sexual harassment and rape are very difficult to prosecute. However, no one sees that American women as severely oppressed as the Muslim women. ” She continues to say that “…such oppression is not mandated by the Qu’ran. It is in fact condemned by it. ” This world in unfortunately not perfect and women all over need to work a little harder than men to succeed, but it is not fair that only Muslim women to have this description to live by. God is the only one that women need to prove themselves to, because in His eyes women are equal to men. For Muslim men and women – for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in God’s praise – for them has God prepared forgiveness and great reward. ” (Qur’an 33:35) In conclusion, there are many misunderstandings about women in Islam such as the veil, rights and equality.
Women have many rights as they can own their own land. The veil represents the religion and in Gods eyes men and women are equally judged. References A. Timmerman, Christiane, (Oct 2000) Muslim Women and Nationalism: The Power of the Image. http://search. ebscohost. com/login. aspx? direct=true=a2h=5098294=ehost-live B. Culture and the law in Islam Women Living Under Muslim Law. (Feb 95) http://search. ebscohost. com/login. aspx? direct=true=a2h=7620289=ehost-live C. Weinman, Latifa, (Mar/Apr94) Peace and freedom for women.