Being religious means that you identify yourself with a set of beliefs, a higher power than you, some being somewhere that you believe looks and takes care of you and all your loved ones, one that is just and wont let you suffer alone but will come to your rescue. Muslims are no different, they too believe in Allah, and they have a set of principles that are outlined in the Quran. The Quran is an Islamic holy manuscript believed to be the word of God and was first written down in Arabic.
Culturally, Islam women clad in a garment known as a burqa-clad this is a garment that covers the face of the wearer. Islam women wear this garment because it is a tradition and are required by their religion to do so. By doing so and following their religion, they have ended up being stigmatized and looked at with in all sort of angles. Simply for living their lives, that is sad (Hasan, 2016).
In her project, Dr. Asma Barlas has looked at a picture of a Burqa-clad woman with a caption on it Does the Quran support gender equality? (CROSS, 2013). This is one of the main concerns of this author in her case study. Another question of concern from her work is, does Islam call for women oppression? Both the Muslims and Non-Muslims have a different view on the treatment of women by the Quran. For instance, the Non-Muslims denote the subdue of women in the most Muslim countries especially those that hold themselves as Islamic, on the contrary, the Muslims seem to justify how they read and interpret Quran. They justify acts like inequality, sexual oppression, and patriarchy which are not justifiable deeds to the Non-Muslims. The author develops a demonstration to the reader that shows the nature of Qurans support of male chauvinism and radical egalitarian.
How do people choose to interpret the readings from the Quran? Do people take issues literally? It is important to note that we live in different times as when the Quran was written and what is basically is the Quran is meant to be guideline to the right or rather the expected way of living. The Quran is not left off the hook when we look at the principle of Polysemy. Just like any other texts can be interpreted in more than one way (CROSS, 2013). The Quran can therefore be interpreted differently based on the readers context. Asma Barlas shows how the Quran therefore opens up possibilities for use to argue at shared notions. She goes ahead to show how we cannot arrive at best conclusions when women are left out from processes of knowledge construction and critical thinking when dealing with issues in the society. It is although important to note that the Quran offers theological criteria for reading it through the various description of God.
From her past analysis of religious awareness and authority, Barlas depicts how Muslims came to see inequality and male dominance in the Quran to justify this point of male heading the community in all aspects and social structures associated with the Quran depend on how it is read, who has read it and in what context (Ali, 2015). She keeps on seconding the Qurans take on various issues to affirm that it does not support patriarchy. However, she is able to convince that Quran supports equality of gender which gives an opportunity to theorize the radical sexual equality from the scope of its teachings. AsmaBarlas points out that the Quran does not use sexual or rather biological differences to assign gender symbolism. It does not represent women and men s opposites. It does not whatsoever show division of labor based on gender. The Quran may however bring out the differences between men and women but not in a way that pictures women as lesser beings in the society (Ali, 2015).
Patriarchy as a social system in many communities continues to portray men as the dominating and authoritative beings in the society (Francis, & Penny, 2013). It also goes ahead to dictate how the society should apparently be run. It dictates division of labor and distribution of roles in the society. It goes without saying that women are therefore considered the inferior ones in the society. The roles they are given align with being the housekeeper and staying behind at home to take care of children and doing the lighter responsibilities in the family, while men on the other hand go out to fend for their families, doing the u heavy work. Development is heavily associated to men in patriarchy societies
The issue of offering equal opportunities to both men and women has far much taken a run for optimism. Movements have come on the front to try and bring equal avenues for development of women as that of men. As opposed to earlier days when men were considered to be the superior beings to women, contemporary society aims at bringing both genders at an equilibrium platform. The fight for equality has been far associated with movements like feminist, where it took various waves to bring equality.
The Quran is greatly perceived for being the only literature that directly addresses women in a positive way and not as the lesser being. Asma Barlas uses this example from the Quran For Muslim men and women,--For believing men and women, For devoted men and women, For men and women who are Patient and constant, For men and women who humble themselves, For men and women who giveIn 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 (de la Fuente, 2015). This points out how the Quran advocates for the best on both side of gender.
Gender equality however remains to be one of the most provocative and controversial topics in Islam, especially with respect to western notions of gender equality. This is because of gender division of labor among the Muslims (Read, 2014). Quran makes men unequivocally overriding above women, this has brought about a lot of tensions about the teaching of the Quran. For instance, the Taliban using the Quran to prohibit the women from working and going to the extent of whipping them when their feet showed this was extreme, and using the Quran, which is a religious document to justify such heinous acts because it contained gaps that historically many know they cannot be altered, is total religious patriarchy and as well demeaning to women as lesser being of the society once a female feminist Fatima Merissi from Morocco said Of course, the Taliban were an extreme example. Therefore, I should also say that most Muslims view Islam as a religious patriarchy that, allegedly, professes modelsof hierarchical relationships and sexual inequality and puts a sacred stamp onto female subservience. (Eyadat, 2013) This is the reason why Dr. AsmaBarlas calls the dominant reading of the Quran mis-leading because they have over and over again interpreted the Quran wrongly and I align with her sentiment.
I believe the Quran can be interpreted in more than one way, therefore achieving equality across gender of the Muslim community. But as Asma says, if the Quran has been read with a different view, then this view has been of political mileage and not for the sake of the improvement of the day today livelihood of the Muslim women, who have been oppressed historically by the script that I expected to liberate them, so ironic. I am a strong believer that all humans are made in the image and likeness of God. This is to say that in some sense we are all equal. Safe to say, no gender is more equal than the other and what man can do women can do too.
However, this is not reflected in todays religion. The way women are portrayed is like they are less pure and their place is presiding over the subordinate roles. In the meantime, higher ranks are allocated to the men. This is cut across even in churches. Bishops and Fathers are strictly men. Women, on the other hand are left to be choir leaders and ushers. Why? If gender equality cannot be practiced at the most grassroots levelsuch as in the religion, how do we expect it to be practiced in more complicated sectors such as politics? In mosques, we find that there are certain sections that women cannot be allowed to enter because it is holy. Why should a fellow human being determine the level of holiness of another? The only ultimate being is God.
The weakness of this article is that it gives us a negative implication on the Muslim fraternity since the author depicts the inequality that the women are treated with. Male dominance is not a good thing for developments in the societies. However, on the other hand, her article enlightens us on the Islamic culture and different interpretations of the Quran.
These issues focused by the author in this particular are very relevant to the whole community. People need to understand each others culture so as to get along well. Through such article, the well wishers of the societies are able to know the specific points and ways to tackle these gender inequalities and how to go about the male dominance issue by first identifying the areas of concerns. Organizations have been formed to fight these discrepancies to create an equal society with less discrimination based on race, gender, religion or sex.
In conclusion, Islam religion in particular seems to perpetrate the gender inequality issue by supporting women inferiority. It does this by legalizing and legitimizing such theories that women are indeed inferior. When such theories are read by the exact same people who are listened to and looked upon by the believers to support gender equality but end up failing miserably, they affect the mindset of masses and for this reason gender inequality continues to be deeply engraved into our culture (Ahmed-Ghosh, 2013).
Islam is a very strict religion and is slowly becoming one of the most practiced religions. Therefore, we should be very careful with what is being practiced because some of these things are out rightly off and not everything is actually beneficial for consumption. Quran for instance, according to Dr. Asma, does not support gender equality. In any case, it has played a great role in demeaning women and their roles in the society. This is why you will find they rarely have an opinion on anything and if at all they do, they keep it to self. In the modern day world, this mentality and practices need to be done away with for a developmental and diverse culture that believes in the ability of people regardless of gender.
Ahmed-Ghosh, H. (2013). Portraits of believers: Ahmadi women performing faith in the diaspora. Journal of International Women's Studies, 6(1), 73-92.
Ali, K. (2015). Sexual ethics and Islam: Feminist reflections on Qur'an, hadith and jurisprudence. Oneworld Publications.CROSS, P. (2013). VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.
de la Fuente, V. R. (2015). Feminist Hermeneutics of The Quran and Epistemic Justice. AnalizeJournal of Gender and Feminist Studies is an on-line, open access, 39.
Eyadat, Z. (2013). Islamic Feminism: Roots, Development and Policies. Global Policy, 4(4), 359-368.
Francis, L. J., & Penny, G. (2013). 14 Gender Differences in Religion. Religion, personality, and social behavior, 313.Hasan, A. (2016). MODL: 398: Women in QuranA Peer Review of Teaching Project Inquiry Portfolio.
Read, J. N. G. (2014). Gender, Religious Identity, and Civic Engagement among Arab Muslims in the United States. Sociology of Religion, sru042.
Scheible, J. A., & Fleischmann, F. (2013). Gendering Islamic religiosity in the second generation gender differences in religious practices and the association with gender Ideology among Moroccan-and Turkish-Belgian Muslims. Gender & society, 27(3), 372-395.
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