Role of Women in Islam Past and Present

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Mariam Abrar,
GEND 341,
Paula Humfrey,
May 25, 2006.
My selected topic is: Role of Women in Islam Past and Present In this paper I will argue that the position of women in Islam according to the Qur'an and Hadiths (tradition) of the Prophet differs vastly from Islam in practice, currentely. It is not the Islamic ideologies that determine the position of women in the Islamic societies; it is rather the pre-Islamic patriarchal ideologies existing in a particular society, combined with the lack of education and ignorance, which construct the Muslim women's position. In the early days of Islam, women enjoyed more freedom than many Muslim women today.  Women were protected by laws concerning such areas as inheritance, divorce, and property.  Also, women and men were considered religiously equal, according to one interpretation of the Qu'ran, the Islamic holy book.  As Islam spread from Arabia into Northern Africa, Southern Europe, and farther east into the Indian subcontinent, it began taking on cultural aspects of those areas, through the normal process of diffusion.  Examples of this are the seclusion of women and the covering of a woman's face in public.  The role of Islamic women began to be relegated to the order of the household, while men handled all public affairs.  Many of these practices remain in varying degrees throughout the modern Islamic world.  Working Women:

Islamic law makes no demand that women should confine themselves to household duties. In fact the early Muslim women were found in all walks of life. The first wife of the Prophet, mother of all his surviving children, was a businesswoman who hired him as an employee, and proposed marriage to him through a third party. . Women traded in the marketplace, and the Khalifah Umar, not normally noted for his liberal attitude to women, appointed a woman, Shaff'a Bint Abdullah, to supervise the market. Other women, like Laila al-Ghifariah, took part in battles, carrying water and nursing the wounded, some, like Suffiah bint Abdul Muttalib even fought and killed the enemies to protect themselves and the Prophet* and like Umm Dhahhak bint Masoud were rewarded with booty in the same way as the men. Ibn Jarir and al-Tabari siad that women can be appointed to a judicial position to adjudicate in all matters, although Abu Hanifah excluded them from such weighty decisions as those involving the heavy hadd and qisas punishments, and other jurists said that women could not be judges at all. The Qur'an even speaks favorably of the Queen of Sheba and the way she consulted her advisors, who deferred to her good judgment on how to deal with the threat of invasion by the armies of Solomon. (Qur'an 27:32-35): Women can do work like men, but they do not have to do it to earn a living. They are allowed and encouraged to take the duties of marriage and motherhood seriously and are provided with the means to stay at home and do it properly. Women are thus well provided for: their husbands support them, and they inherit from all their relations. They are allowed to engage in business or work at home or outside the house, so long as the family does not suffer, and the money they make is their own, with no calls on it from other people until their death. Nor are women expected to do the housework. If they have not been used to doing it, the husband is obliged to provide domestic help within his means, and to make sure that the food gets to his wife and children, already cooked. The Prophet* himself used to help with the domestic work, and mended his own shoes. Women are not even obliged in all cases to breast feed their own children. If a divorcing couple mutually agree, they can send the baby to a wet-nurse and the husband must pay for the suckling. If the mother decides to keep the baby and suckle it herself, he must pay her for her trouble! Qur'an, (2:233):

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When people talk about Islam, the stereotype belief is always presented that these women are veiled and...
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