Paper Example: Issues Faced by American Muslim Women

Published: 2023-07-14
Paper Example: Issues Faced by American Muslim Women
Essay type:  Analytical essays
Categories:  Women United States Muslim Social issue
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1586 words
14 min read

America prides itself on being a country of diversity where all its people are guaranteed equal rights and treatment regardless of their race, gender, and religion. However, individual sections of the American population still face several challenges due to their religious affiliations. Among those groups is Muslim women, whose religious affiliations and cultural practices have become like an obstacle to everyday life. However, American Muslim women are not the only section of the population faced by challenges due to their religious beliefs or cultural practices. Contemporary Italian American immigrant women in East Harlem, American Hindu women, American Jewish women and Muslim women globally have faced a particular set of unique challenges as a result of their religious beliefs and cultural practices. This essay identifies the issues facing contemporary American Muslim women and compares them to those faced by Italian American immigrant women in East Harlem, American Hindu women, American Jewish women, and Muslim women globally.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Issues Faced by American Muslim Women

Among the most prominent issues faced by Islamic women is one that is related to fashion. As part of their religious beliefs and practices, most Muslim women choose to cover themselves and leave very little of their body parts exposed. The Qur'an is not very clear on the type of dressing, but it does instruct women to cover their breasts and wear outer garments (Sechzer 268). The exact rules of the dress code are based on the interpretation of the verses. For example, the head covering is a result of the understanding of the word "khimaar." According to Sechzer, "The purpose of covering oneself is to be recognized as a decent woman and not harassed" (268).

Their fashion presents a challenge, especially when it comes to accessing some amenities such as public beaches. Most women are unable to swim; unless they are willing to get their clothes wet. The religious laws require that a Muslim woman's body should only be revealed to her husband. Therefore, they are required to cover themselves whenever they are in public spaces, including the beach and some swimming pools. However, they are also free to uncover whenever they are in the presence of other women, and that is difficult in a public setting. The alternative is to have a women-only beach, as is the case in some countries in Europe and the Middle East. It would be challenging to have such a beach in the United States because a beach is generally public space, and preventing a section of the population from accessing because of their gender is most likely a violation of the constitution and would attract a lawsuit. There is specific swimwear that has specifically been developed to cater to the needs of Arab women, but they are not readily available in clothing stores. As a result, most contemporary American Muslim women tend to avoid the beach because of fashion limitations.

Their fashion has also exposed them to stigmatization and harassment. Muslim women stand out because of their style. Islamic women are identified by their hijab, niqab, burkini, or in some cases, a simple headscarf. These clothes are meant to cover various parts of their bodies, and that type of fashion leaves them vulnerable to islamophobia. The United States Constitution doesn't allow for discrimination. It is illegal to prevent someone from accessing a public space because of their religion. Some local governments have gotten around that provision by imposing bans on attires associated with Muslim women such as burkinis (Mathewson). Such prohibitions are designed to prevent Muslim women from accessing beaches and other spaces hence denying them access to the benefits that other American citizens get to enjoy. Also, activities such as swimming have been proved to have certain health benefits. That means that Muslim women have difficulty accessing the health benefits that other people access.

Comparison to Italian American Immigrant Women in East Harlem

At the turn of the 20th century, the immigrant Italian women faced various issues that prevented them from leaving everyday lives as the rest of the country's citizens. Unlike Muslim American women, most of the immigrant Italian Americans were Catholics. There was no direct way of identifying an Italian American woman during the early 20th century because despite being immigrants, they were still a western culture, and their dress code and mannerisms resembled that of other western cultures. But that did not prevent them from experiencing a certain measure of discrimination.

Therefore, discrimination is one of the issues that are similar to Muslim American women and the Italian American immigrant women in East Harlem during the early 20th century. The media was one of the instruments that played a significant role in promoting discrimination against Italian American women. The media portrayed that group of the American population as arrogant, dangerous, ignorant peasants who were naturally dishonest. The anti-fascist atmosphere of the 1930s did not favor them as the sentiments against Italian Americans grew during the same period.

There is also a similarity between the issues faced by Muslim American women and Italian American women in East Harlem during the early 20th century in that both groups were discriminated based on their religious beliefs. Extremist groups' actions all around the world who conduct acts of terrorism in the name of Islam have dented the image and reputation of the Muslim people. Muslims are now perceived as a threat by sections of the population. That has inadvertently affected the Muslim American women. Similarly, the Italian American immigrants were also discriminated against for their religious beliefs. The mostly protestant American population showed anti-Catholic bigotry that was rife at the time. A high number of Americans perceived the Roman Catholic church as an institution that was hostile towards democracy, and that attracted some level of discrimination and negative sentiments towards its followers, such as the Italian American immigrants.

Comparison to Contemporary American Hindu Women

Like their Muslim counterparts, American Hindu women have face difficulties related to fashion. Although the Hindu women's sense of style does not follow strict guidelines as those of Muslim women, it is still considered as "ethnic dress" and fails to attain the same level of attention as the other western fashions and modes of dressing. According to Akou, "garments that were not directly connected to the western fashion system were labeled as an ethnic dress or folk costume" (404). Such monikers implied that they had not reached a global audience and that they were limited in production.

Contemporary American Hindu Women have limited options when it comes to dressing code because most fashion stores and brands prefer to cater to the needs of western fashion. In some areas, one would have to travel a long distance to access a clothing store that sells Indian women's attire.

Also, their fashion encourages the use of jewelry which trigger metal detector alarms. As a result, the contemporary American Indian women's sense of fashion inconveniences them when they try to access public spaces such as airports due to the fashion style and preferences. That is an issue that is similar to that of American Muslim women who have difficulty accessing public spaces due to their fashion.

Comparison to Contemporary American Jewish Women

The issues facing the contemporary American Jewish women compare to those facing the American Muslim women in that both groups face discrimination as a result of their religion and cultural affiliations. The hatred and intolerance that Jewish women experience is by design an extension of anti-Semitism. The anti-Semitism has different manifestations ranging from cultural, religious, economic, racial, political, and even conspiracy theories.

However, the Covid 19 pandemic has introduced a unique challenge to American Jewish women. Jewish women ritual impurity or "niddah" each month when they get their period (Winter). During the period, which usually lasts about a week, they can't be sexually involved with their partner. But while that seems familiar, some couples go to the extent of not kissing, hugging, or sleeping in the same bed with their partner. As if that is not enough, some desist from passing objects to each other. As a result, they have to visit the mikvah, where they have to dip into a pool that has potentially been used by several different people. The action is necessary to get out of niddah, but the pandemic has made it difficult because of the risk of contracting the coronavirus. The alternatives are remaining separate from your partner or violating the Torah.

Comparison to Global Muslim Women

Some of the challenges faced by American Muslim women are unique to them because most of the world's Muslim population resides in Muslim countries. That means that they are less likely to face discrimination as a result of religion or cultural practice. For instance, the issue of beach dress code has been solved in some countries by creating a women-only beach, where they are allowed to dress as they want without the fear of going against their religious beliefs. Also, Muslim women residing in Muslim countries have access to a wider variety of fashion as compared to those living in America.

Works Cited

Akou, Heather Marie. "Building a new "world fashion": Islamic dress in the twenty-first century." Fashion Theory 11.4 (2007): 403-421.

Mathewson, T. Jimothy. "Burkini Bans Prevent Muslim Women from Health Benefits of Swimming." GlobalSport Matters, Accessed 7 May 2020.

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.

Winter, Damon. "Orthodox Jewish Women Are Facing an Impossible Choice Right Now." The Atlantic, Accessed 7, May 2020.

Cite this page

Paper Example: Issues Faced by American Muslim Women. (2023, Jul 14). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism