The Status of Women in Islam
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There are many things in the current scenario and talks of the days which highlighted the many facets of sociological aspects that give emphasis to women empowerment and their status in the society. As we are aware, and when we relate back to history of women and their status, we often come across the scenario in which many societies across the globe do give little relevance as far as women right are concerned. That is to say the right of women and their status in the society is concerned to be precise; although women have always been the benchmark in any given society.
Moreover, scholars have also argued that "the worth and relevance of any given society can significantly be judged from the position that it gives to women in particular." (Singh) This is true and presents some good food for thoughts to begin with. Either in Indian, Islamic or English society, each one of it has a lot of things that defines the many facets of women and their role in particular. Women role is also very important and presents the many facets of the society and its dimensional outlook, which is why the subject matter that arises also emphasizes on the facts encompassing women status in Islamic world.
But what is Islamic world? To begin with, tracing the historical relevance of Islam there is point to note that "just after the death of Prophet Mohammed, the religion and cultural dimension of Islam spread like wildfire. Islam as a religion is emancipating in a sense, and its influence in many cultures around the world also cannot be sided apart. The spread of Islam in three continents of the world also has many interesting stories to relate." (Anonymous) Together with it, fact of the matter is that "Islam and its status today as a religion are emphasized as the second largest religion, next only to Christianity." (World religions: Islam: The second largest world religion...and growing.)
Given that status in contention, the question of its cultural dimension also arises, that is to say the status of women in Islamic world. But what is important to note is the fact that "Islam as a religion posit the many salient feature and relevance that emphasis on the equality, fraternity and stands against any ethnic or racial discrimination, and people from any background and social standing are welcomed with open hands." (Anonymous) Keeping in contention this historical insight of Islam, we feel that discrimination as far as the fairer sex is concerned also is less. This is in part based on speculation and part on the belief that women are always given high due and honorable place in the Islamic society.
However, the sad state of affairs is that the stereotypes that women faced in the patriarchal society are very demeaning to begin with when we relate back to the time gone by. Stereotyping always happens and is a reality as far as women and their status are concerned. However, the tide in that regard is heading in the right note these days, given that role of women in any given society is very significant and present a whole lot of new world and meaning. The emancipation of women happened with a great cause to liberate women to say so literally - by women rights groups and feminist. Although as a sociological phenomenon, "issue encompassing women status in Islam has raised many debates and conception also arises either from the fact that perception and people understanding of 'Islamic' were wrong and prejudiced in a sense." (Yahya, 2010) This is what we emphasize to bring into fore the subject matter discussion that should relate a lot about the status of women in the Islamic world, which is discussed below in brief.
Subject Matter Issue and Purpose
The very first question that arises as far as the subject matter goes is whether there has been a place for women in the Islamic society? Speculating to this thought we feel that women status and influence of Islam are interlinked and presents many significant points to relate the characteristic that are relevant. To begin with the issue and its discussion at hand, we feel that "the eminence that Islam identified with women folks or the fairer sex also traces a place in the holy book 'the Quran', that directly states the relationship between man and women in context of God's commandments." (Yahya, 2010)
Thus, it should be defined herein that the subject matter research of this report in brief is to relate the many significant aspects of women status in Islam, then, now and in the times to come, especially from comprehending the many relevant scenario that trace its place in women rights, their empowerment and all in the between the point that concerns with the status of women in Islamic world.
However, we take a step to discuss in that regard, we feel that a debate in context of Islam and women in the Islamic society also should be noted again, as one point to trace the significant characteristic of Islam and the speculated prejudiced that registers with people and wrong impression of women status in Islamic society, which is as follows.
Islam and Women: The Ideal Combination?
This is one point of the subject matter contention that should concern any given society and religion, and not Islam only. However, given the subject matter, we feel that only the salient characteristic and dimensional foreground of Islam and women in Islam should be noted, so as to derive a clear and significant understanding to the subject matter discussion.
What is important to note in that regard can be compared and contrasted between women before Islam and after. That is to say in simple meaning of the term the direct realization of women and Islam in particular. Scholars and learned men over the ages have emphasized is the facts that "Islam as a religion then and now have always gives importance to the correct Islamic behavior that are required of Muslim women in order to preserve their women characteristics as far as modesty is concerned." (Qaradawi, 1999)
Modesty as far as the fairer sex goes is very crucial facet of any given behavior that is expected. Add to it, scholastic impression is also of the opinion that "the revelation from the Quran also posits many important points to note the factor concerning men and women relationship, which is an exemplification of women status and their eminence." (Qaradawi, 1999)
As far as Islam and its essence goes again in context of women status, the important point to note is that in all respect "Islam demonstrate the equality of race, gender and social status, which in any point of the arguments also signify the real essence as to the factor encompassing the ideal combination that women are accorded towards. Take for example the facts of the matter in which Islam as a religion brought into force awareness of women rights, their role and responsibility, apart from the identity and personality that defines the many fabrics of their independence and moral obligations." (Anonymous, Status of Woman in Islam)
This point in what we feel presents a significant justification of the subject matter arguments. In that understanding of the term, we feel that Islamic setup is an ideal world for women. And Islamic women since the historical times have always held these recognition with high regards and the obligations that comes with it. That is why we feel that Islam as a religion and its recognition of women role, and their status is an ideal combination.
Women Rights and Duties within the Religion of Islam
As per the Quran, there is every factor that reveals the facts and its sermon in particular that full justice should be given to the status of women in direct contention of the point between men and their relationship with women in the society. In that respect the idea of Islam then and now also emphasis the facts and suggest to some extent the equality of rights, that is to say the responsibilities accorded to men and women and most importantly the duties that both men and women are regarded for." (Yahya, 2010)
For the better part, as we relate to the subject matter study many insight from the Quran also presents a great definition about the status of women in the Islamic society. That is to say, as par Islamic modes and the conventional features of it also cannot be sided apart. Together with it the status of women and their role within the religion of Islam present a complex relationship between men and women, however, there are great many significant features which demonstrate the facts that the Quran and Islamic text also give a clear definition of the right and duties of women in the Islamic society. Take for example the "modesty and decency in any given arrangement which Islamic women displays, which make us think at times is one factor and the highest achievement for humanity and its cause in all its essence. (Anonymous, Status of Woman in Islam)
Thus in that regard, the ideal Islamic women as per Islamic notion of the term is one who is aware of her modesty, and most importantly understands the values of being a women in behavioral fronts and how to preserve it. For the better part, there are instances that can be related from the Quran which is exemplified by "Imam Qaradawi, who noted that lowering the gaze in one factor that defines the most important feature of women characteristics. Lowering the gaze as per the Quran extract signify the fact that it is a sheer display of modesty and that which is one crucial and most important ornament of a women." (Qaradawi, 1999)
This is one reason and the essence of it that we still see women in Islam today displaying and observing the 'purdah' system. It is important though to differentiate and signify the relevance of 'purdah' system from many objective point of views, especially in context of the Islamic text and the Quran, which states the modest that comes with and that which is expected from women. Hence, with a clear understanding of what women modesty is all about, we feel that there is noting wrong as far as the 'purdah' system goes. But critics today often goes to the extent to exaggerate the matter, which in all matter and subjective debate of it presents some wrongly held notions and misconceptions.
For some people it may be not be an ideal combination when it matter to preserve the modesty in Islamic context. The western world conception and speculation making the rounds also is wrongly noted and with all misrepresentation. However, one important point to note again is the fact that "good morals that are directly communicated through the Quran are universally compatible in all respect as far as human nature and behavior goes. Together with it, we feel that Islamic notion of women status and their rights also is valid in a sense, traditionally and contemporarily, given that it emphasize the real nature behind all such undertakings, be it the idea of modesty or that which defines that male and female are both equal in deeds and that which also exemplifies the obedience and humble nature that are an exemplification of women right and duties in all respect," (Yahya, 2010) as far as Islamic society and their notion of it goes.
The Social Aspect of the Women and Their Roles
The role of women in Islamic society is much enhanced to begin with. Accordingly to Islamic law, the role of women in direct contention with male counterpart is equal. One eminent scholars also is quick to point that the "the status of woman in Islamic setup posit no foreground that is problematic in a sense. What is significant to point again in that regard is the fact that bear testimonial from the Quran and its extract, which relates that women and their role in the Islamic society is as vital as men, and nothing as such which can be termed as inferior or so in gender assimilation of the case arises." (Abdul-Ati)
This bring back into contention the point noted by Harun Yahya, in which it is related that "men and women, together with their role and responsibility are equal in term of their tasks as well as the responsibility of rewards for punishments in any given situations." (Yahya, 2010)
In fact it should be noted that the historical assimilation of civilization also traces the significance in which it is noted that following the advent of Islam, "women of the Islamic societies in particular has a much better and higher social positions and respects. And once again there is no relevance that signifies the point in which it is held that women are looked upon as an object in any capacity." (Yahya, 2010)
Fact of the matter is that "within the Islamic context, there is no point in which women in Islamic context are looked upon as an object - be it as a mother, a child or as a wife or something that is looked upon as the product of the devil and or that which contemplate the seed of the devil." (Abdul-Ati) Women are god creation, so does all men.
Thus, the status of women in Islam is "something that which we can relate again as unique in matter of its expression and universality of idea that it generates. Together with it, women status is also novel in a sense because there is less similarity that can be derived in any other societal arrangements." (Abdul-Ati)
Hence, the Islamic emancipation of women is what we can comprehend to be a factor that is wholly ingrained and traditionally imbedded to enhance the status of women in the society in any given arrangements within the Islamic notion and conception of women status and its idea that we can derived. One factor of it encompasses the facts that "Islam brought about a great factor for the emancipation of women in the society, wherein tremendous improvement were initiated for the position of women in the Islamic society, where right and all in between endowing the features of property and all in between were accorded." (Yahya, 2010)
Women Status in Islamic World Today
Hence, as far as Muslim women and their role in the society today is concerned, there should be enough point to relate their contribution too, apart from being a "mother, a wife that comforts her husband or responsibility in faith or any other aspects is as same as that what men professes and designates." (Ikhwan)
Thus, there is every factor that should be emphasized again to the factor in which it should be held that "understanding the role of Muslim women today is crucial. What we can relate to it is the factor that encompasses to their emancipation in true Islamic sense. That is to say, a woman by all rights should be given a thorough understanding, and not based in misconception and prejudices. Accordingly to Muslim principles, the women's role apart from being a mother and a wife also posits many roles in context of the modern society. Take for example the Islam notion and its assimilation in real essence which permits Muslim women to act upon certain other things that men are accorded. That is to say, women today have the rights to exercise the vote and to engage in political discussion and foster democratic thinking. Apart from it, modern Islamic women also can take up employment or for that can even extend her domains in far reaching grounds such as running her own business. There is nothing wrong in all these features and characteristic. Although the world and its understanding in that regard is all based on the prejudiced and full of misconception." (Anonymous, Understanding the role of Muslim women , 2007)
Thus, what we can conclude is that women status in the Islamic world today is a direct example of the abovementioned facts. We can see woman in all background and corporate echelon making their mark, be it as doctor, nurses, teachers and corporate executive. There is nothing wrong in that. Muslim principle also directly supports all these factors. That is a direct retaliation of breaking the gender stereotypes in the modern society, although there is less of it in Muslim world.
As highlighted in the BBC News as well, women are in their different role to contribute to the society, especially in Islamic world. Take for example the case in "UAE, in which young Islamic women are finding their place in the workplace and standing out from the maddening crowd. Views in that regard when it concern women in the workplace be it as doctor, teacher, or executive bosses also varies. However, one important point to note is that there is no restriction as far as Islamic principles goes towards women and their status," (Sharp, 2005) but a direct exemplification in which it is held that women are accorded equal status in Islamic society.
Scholars have noted that the right "of women in Islamic modern society today were not brought into contention as a matter of voluntary grants or an act of kindness. Although, what Islam have established for women is to emphasize here feminine side and nature that gives full security as a human being and against any disgraceful channel of life and its processes in the modern world that is full with vices and dishonest acts." (Abdul-Ati)
Hence, in that capacity, we can conclude that the status of women in the modern society also can be emphasized from many angles that mirror the trends that are catching up. As far as Islamic women role and their contribution to the society today go, it is tremendous. The world has undergone many changes, so does the nature of human behavior. However, Muslim identities of a woman have not been compromised. Yet the best arrangements were made to mirror the essence of woman in Islamic world. That is to say for example the role of women in Islam, "which again emphasize in traditional sense the purpose of life." (Anonymous, Status of Woman in Islam)
Together with it, "the virtue of human being is also one exemplification that ahs a lot to do with what we can define as the virtue that posit among human being and their essence and assimilation of the meaning in it. Take for example the differentiation that are not being accorded between the fairer sex and men in the society as far as Islamic notion of it concern in the modern society today. Thus in all relevance, the virtue of human being in Islamic notion and understanding of the term relates to the fact that men and women have the potentiality to acquire knowledge and it's benign. Add to it, the exhibition of such gaiety is one factor that can again be emphasized in context of modern Islamic women and their status, where the spirit of piety and good behavioral and attributes are expected for the identity that Islam has accorded to women." (Anonymous, Status of Woman in Islam)
Thus to conclude with, this is one important factor to begin with as we relate to the nature of Muslim woman today and her contribution to some extent that signify their identity and role in the society. The idea of women emancipation also did not happen at an instance, but it took a long historical course and social phenomena to trace all the salient features that identifies with Muslim women today.
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