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Throughout history, women have suffered an underprivileged social status. In the faith of Muslim, Islamic women have traditional roles which differ from the modern women. Islamic women traditional roles have slightly changed over the years. Whereas, in the past Islamic women were given no rights and no freedom, however in Islamic countries today have change their set of laws involving women. In spite of this, Islamic women are still faced with many difficulties today which include employment opportunities, marriage rights and dress code.
Women in Islamic countries are allowed to work but are subjected to certain conditions. The Muslim faith recognizes that within the society women are needed to work for improvement. Karen Armstrong states the women's right to work has these certain conditions:
- Work should not command the woman to infringe Islamic laws and be respectful of each woman's security.
- If the work commands the woman to abandon her home, she ought to uphold her modesty.
- A woman's work should not influence key obligations, which includes those in the direction of her family. (Armstrong, 10-11)
In addition, employment opportunities for women in Islam countries females are restricted to schools, colleges, and sports facilities. Although Islamic women are allowed to work and to be educated, women's employment opportunities are still imbalanced to men. Paul Grieve explains in Egypt, women have few employment opportunities to work in every sector because women are expected to put their responsibility towards the family first. In addition, Islam countries such as Egypt men are perceived to be more reliable over the long period than women.
In contrast, the modern women status has been evolving since the women's movement in the 1960's. Fazlur Rahman explains the roles of women have also changed due to the chances presented to modern women in today's workforce as a result of education. (Rahman, 1) Additionally, increasing employment opportunities has lead to the modern woman to become more self-supporting financially.
In marriage rights, Muslim women have partial decision-making authority in Islam countries. The key decision the Islamic women has is the right to choose her husband which tend to be for financial support instead of love, and after marriage, she has the ability to choose her last name. In addition, after marriage the Islamic wife has to stand behind her husband at all times even if she disagrees with her husband's decisions. (Braswell, 157) The role of being an Islamic wife requires the responsibility of nurturing their children, which involves educating them. As well, Muslim women are allowed to work outside of their homes as long as the needs of her family are met first. George Braswell describes women in the Islamic religion are responsible for suggesting a appropriate manner of acting, which involves Muslim women must show politeness and respect at all times, especially towards their husbands. (Braswell, 155) Islamic women have the decision-making authority to process a divorce if they feel unhappy with the marriage, or it is unbalanced. In addition, an Islamic woman may divorce her husband for the following reasons: if she is receiving no financial support from her husband; if she is harmed by her husband; if her husband becomes non-intimate with her, or cannot produce a child. (Lippman, 98)
In comparison, modern women today do not marry just for love but as well financial support, love is often seen as only a small factor in their marriage decision. Influences are driven from parents reaping the benefits of getting married is solely the aspect of financial security. However, a small number of women in today's society are nurtured by their parents that send them to post-secondary education to allow them to gain specific credentials and knowledge required to provide them the opportunity to obtain an occupation that will make them self-supporting financially. With this capability it provides them to choose their own lifestyle without the aid of a husband. (Harpster, 2000) Traditionally, women satisfied their motherly character of getting married then giving birth at a very young age in order to achieve being a mother. Conversely, a large number of women are deciding to give birth without being married and provide financial and parental assistance by them. (Harpster 2000) As a result, the availability of higher level education and well paid careers require time and dedication, which conflicts with the social aspect of meeting the right husband.
In the Muslim faith, Islamic women are instructed to dress discreetly, and are specified which laws to follow. According to the Prophet Mohammed, Islamic women must follow these rules in order not be regard as the type of women that comprise one of the categories of the dwellers of hell. Measures that are regard as immodest by the Islams includes walking like a flirt, beautify their heads with any sort of hair piece, women who are tattooed, or even remove hair to make themselves look more attractive. (Esposito, 56) Also, Islamic women are not permitted to stomp the earth when strolling, before their unseen jewelry have the sense of heard and attracts immediate attention from people within the surroundings. According, to Islamic dress code for women they have to wear veils (hijabs) in public. Both veiling and privacy have been early Muslim customs since ancient time. By wearing the veils it is intended to protect and gain respect for women. Although, not only Islam countries follow these practices but are now most Islamic communities adapted these rules for all Islamic women. (Esposito 98-99)
In comparison, modern women also have regulations to tolerate as well. If the women are Christian they are guided by God to behave themselves discreetly. For a women's beauty it should not arrive from outward enhancement, such as ponytail hair and wearing gold jewelry and exceptional clothing, but it should arrive from the inner self, in order it will cause the vanishing beauty of the tender and silent spirit which is worthy in God's view. In contrast, modern women today do not have a specified dress code as the Islamic women do by wearing veils (hijabs) in public. Modern women in today's society can wear any type of clothing without restrictions. In the past, modern women was restricted to wearing long skirts and a non-cleavage shirt but in today's society women has evolved to the point women are free to wear what they want as long it does not violate nudity in public.
In conclusion, Islamic women have made great progress in changing and improving their status in society. Over the years, they have stimulated from an era where they had no rights and no freedom to now having more employment opportunities, lesser dress restrictions, and being able to have a decision in marriage. Although Islamic women are still faced with some differences they have made a great deal of progress towards equality with Islamic men. As a result, the differences among the modern women and Islamic women are evident concerning employment opportunities, dress rules, and rights in a marriage.