A lot of assumptions and discussions surround the role of Muslim women. Sadly though, such assumptions and discussions have largely remained negative. The Muslim woman is perceived as oppressed by dictatorial fathers and husbands (Ahmed 18). Besides suffocating under the veil, Muslim women are also perceived to be forced into marriage.
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The essay is an attempt to examine the role of women in Islam.In addition, the essay shall also attempt to explore the kinds of variations from country to country regarding the role of women in Islam. Finally, the possibility of new developments to be expected regarding the issue at hand shall also be assessed.
It is important to assess the role of women in Islam since the subject is riddled with a lot of misconceptions, especially by the non-Muslims. The Islamic religion has explicitly defined and outlined the role of women in Islam. Whereas the Islamic society relegates the role of a man to the public sphere, on the other hand, the role of a Muslim woman largely remains a private matter (Ahmed 32).
Her primary responsibility is to be a dutiful wife to her husband, and also to ensure that her children are brought up in an upright manner. In Islam, women are regarded as a vital element of the family because they not only care for the children, but also because they ensure that the family remains united together. Islam encourages women to undertake all their duties with enthusiasm and devotion.
The Quran holds women who take good care of their husbands’ property and young ones in high esteem (Baden 23). On the other hand, there are also other responsibilities of a Muslim woman beyond those of a wife and a mother. Islam allows women to take part in pilgrimage (Hajj).
In addition, they are also allowed to engage in politics, exercise to vote, manage their own businesses, and also to partake in gainful employment (Baden 23). Nonetheless, a woman’s psychological and physiological make-up may hold her back from assuming leadership positions as head of state or in the army.
There is also a lot of debate on the social and spiritual role of women in Islam. Furthermore, questions of family life, marriage, sexual morality, custody, divorce, as well as inheritance, still abounds. Notably, Muslim feminists have been instrumental in such debates (Baden 24). Reports indicate that the participation of Muslim women in the labor force is lower, in comparison with non-Muslim countries.
Nonetheless, there is little evidence to suggest that Muslim women have been discriminated against in as far as their contribution in the workplace is concerned. If anything, the strong Islamic traditions regards a woman as a mother and wife first, and this could perhaps be an indication of their strong cultural orientation.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. In Egypt for example, the modern service sector boasts of a large number of women among its workforce. This may be largely due to the socialist policies in the country that encouraged more women to take up job opportunities, along with their participation in higher education (Baden 26).
In Sudan, there are a sizeable number of women taking part in the professional level jobs. However, the numbers decreased drastically following the military takeover in 1989. Consequently, thousands of women were dismissed from their posts as lawyers, doctors, nurses, and university lecturers.
Bangladesh is also undergoing diversification in terms of employment opportunities available to women in the formal sectors (Baden 28). However, the issue of wage disparities between women and men still abounds. Even in the formal sector, Muslim men still dominate job positions. For example in Mali, there are very few job opportunities available for women.
According to the Islamic law, men and women are equal with respect to responsibilities and rights. Men and women are both expected to fulfill certain roles but none of these diminishes the importance of women. An increasingly higher number of Muslim women are now as educated as their male counterparts, if not better. This, coupled with the spirited fight by feminists to champion the cause of Muslim women, we can expected to see more women assuming leadership roles both in the business world and in the political circles.
Ahmed, Leila. Women and gender in Islam: historical roots of a modern debate. London: Yale University Press, 1992. Print.
Baden, Sally. The position of women in Islamiccountries: possibilities, constraints and strategies for change. September 1992. Web.