The Place Of Woman In Islamic World History Essay
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Nowadays basing on spiritual values, the program of Kesher's Project "The position of women in society" contributes to the social status of women, the advancement of women in the modern world and wants to change the relations of various structures of society to women's issues (Hekmat, 1997). This project changes personal attitude to the women, discusses women's place in the world and in career, helps women to improve their social activity and to take concrete steps for the purpose of personal and social situations improving; it promotes status of a women's not only in the Jewish community but also in contemporary society at the local and regional levels, attracts women's groups to address social problems, based on their needs and wishes. Thus, observing contemporary situation it is necessary to say that the problem connected with the place of woman in society has its deep roots. Thus, in the light of the last events, it will be interesting to talk about the issue in what ways the experiences of women in the Islamic world were similar to those of their counterparts in China during the Song and Tang dynasties.
Many centuries ago women were in the same conditions in all countries and religions. Historical data stated that women's living conditions before the rise of Islam were very difficult, and the same information we can read about China's feudal epoch, because in China, like in other countries, society was male-centered and pervasive belief in man's superiority over woman have spoiled life for millions of woman in both cultures and religions. In feudal China, for example, women were regarded as servants and they had no rights -only obligations.
Discussing the place of women in Islam it is necessary to mention that in a case, when woman had no guaranteed rights, and her opinion means nothing for society, exactly Islam took her out of the powerlessness, it saved her from a variety of harassments and gave her the opportunity to feel self worthy person. Also Islam provided legal rights to woman, and withdrew her from an allegation that she is a root of all evil in the world.
Comparing the place of woman in the Islamic world to the place of woman in China we see many differences and similarities. First of all it is necessary to say that, during the Tang and Song dynasties, the population of China nearly doubled and life of many people, in particular men greatly changed. Many researchers considered the Tang dynasty (618-907) the golden age of Chinese civilization, and dwelling on its description they stated that the Tang's emperors ruled over one of the most prominent periods not only of Chinese art, but also culture and diplomacy. Bernhardt describing the status of woman in this period of time said that "Empress Wu expanded China, improved international relations and trade, raised the status of women and encouraged the arts." (Bernhardt, 1999). Thinking about the Song dynasty we see further development of the country and it lasted about three centuries (960-1279) like previous dynasty.
In the early period of Islam, and even in its 'golden age', the woman in the Islamic state has been so prejudiced in her rights and deprived of opportunities to receive professional education, that shortly Grand Imam assessed the situation and realized that this situation can not really bring use. (Hekmat, 1997). The decision to change the situation has a place, because the uneducated woman can not give any kind of good education to her children, including religious. Once the head of the Islamic church came to this conclusion, women were allowed to receive education. It was only a partial and conditional practice in the beginning, which could affect only women and girls who lived in rich families. Then, situation has changed and education was affordable for all social classes, although it did not happen in all Islamic countries even now. Thus, the same we can declare about China, according to Birge "Women of the Tang Dynasty were fortunate to live at a time characterized by open-mindedness and liberal ideas" (Birge, 2002). Into the acknowledgment of similarities in education Bernhardt also stated that "The Tang Dynasty attached great importance to education, and Tang women were granted the same rights to, and opportunities for, education as men." (Bernhardt, 1999).
Discussing more similarities between women's place in two cultures it is obvious that palace women in China during the Song dynasty have had similar rights with ordinary women in Islam. For example, Islam gives men and women the same rights and imposes on them the same duties, except when required by the physiological and psychological differences between the sexes. Saying about palace women in the Northern Sung researchers mentioned that "these women were graded like male officials and even had their own judicial system responsible for law and order within the palaces." (Chung, 1981).
Dwelling on family and marriage we see that in Islam the divorce agreement is an agreement in which each spouse after the marriage imposes certain obligations for which he or she will be responsible. In a case of divorce a women has this right to leave her husband, when it have been discussed in the divorce agreement and a husband have agreed with this point. So, Islamic shariah is fully aware of the reality of the human soul, its feelings and emotions. As it gave the man the right to divorce his wife if he feels for her hatred, so it gave the same right to woman with hatred for her husband, when he treats her bad in words or actions. So, the similar divorce agreement we can find during the Tang dynasty ruling, because according to the Tang Code, "a couple wishing to divorce on the basis of mutual consent and a peaceful process were not to be punished" (De Pee, 2007). This means that the law of that period of time protected both spouses' right to divorce or remarry on their own wish. It is rather interesting to know that "a Tang Dynasty divorce agreement, unearthed from Dunhuang, reads: "Since we cannot live together harmoniously, we had better separate. I hope that after the divorce, niangzi (a form of address for one's wife) can be as young and beautiful as before, and may you find a more satisfactory husband. I hope that the divorce will not plant hatred between us in the future" (De Pee, 2007). In both cases and in both cultures such divorce agreement reflected not only women's equality, but also a considerable open-mindedness of the people in different countries.
Thus, it is possible to say in conclusion that we have discussed ways the experiences of women in the Islamic world were similar to those of their counterparts in China during the Song and Tang dynasties.
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