The more and more I study about Muslim Women and the obstacles they face, I become angered. In writing this paper, I’ve found that there is no substantial evidence in any Muslim or Islamic writings that states that women should be treated as slaves or insubordinates. Women are to be respected, protected, and loved; no matter what religion or color they may be. So, my paper will focus on these three things, but the lack of it. What is the definition of respect? Respect is a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity. When you respect a person, you will show it through actions and deeds; without any conjuring. I’ve noticed that Muslim women aren’t respected too well within their own religion. The Sharia Law is the moral code and religious law of Islam which deals with many topics such as prayer, fasting, diet, sexual intercourse, hygiene, etc. It is considered the infallible law of God; there is no human interpretation.
The two sources of this law are the Quran and Mohammed; the last source is part of the human interpretation that many state the Quran doesn’t possess. According to the Sharia, women aren’t equal to men unless it is in religious duties such as prayer, fasting, and making hajj. Contrary to what most Muslim men believe, a woman is not created for the purpose of a Muslim man. Rather, they are both created for each other. They are to help, support, and cleave to one another through their life and Islamic religion. Some Muslim men have taken the Quran and made it to be a falsity to their perception and added to it. This addition has caused many Muslim women to be disrespected and abused. Many Islamic religions are filled with much domestic violence. Take Bibi Aisha’s case, her husband was part of the Taliban and she never had a chance to see him. During his time away, her in-laws beat her, tortured her, and made her sleep with the livestock.
The abuse became too much, so Bibi ran away, but her father returned her back to her in-laws. Due to her disappearance, her husband returned and he proceeded to torture her in front of the community by removing her ear and nose. She was left in the desert to bleed to death. She ran to her uncle’s house and he turned her away, but her father-in-law took her to the Americans (military) where they tended to her wounds and protected her. You can find her picture on my blog for this class. When I see her, I see a woman of strength and perseverance. It’s said to say, but this incident which brought her much pain, seems to have blessed her. It is because of the mutilation of her face that she is free and in a better place. It is well known within the Islamic culture that domestic abuse is hardly unique. Many Muslim women deal with this atrocity daily, due to the thoughts of Muslim men. Most Muslim males believe that Muslim women are slaves or property.
Most husbands believe its right to beat their wives and treat her with disdain. An often-quoted verse in the Quran says a husband may chastise a disobedient wife, but this is open to several interpretations. What is the definition of protection and love? Protection is to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction and love is a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. I can’t say that I see these actions practiced within the Muslim culture. If anything, Muslim women are caused to feel scared, unsafe, unprotected, and abused. The most common form of abuse is emotional and mental abuse. This can include verbal threats, intimidation, neglect, extreme jealousy and possessiveness. The worse of the two is the mental abuse which causes severe psychological harm. It destroys her self-esteem, self-worth, and causes many to have nervous breakdowns and become suicidal.
Some of the factors that make Muslim men abusive Muslim women are: 1. Economic hardship, political oppression experienced outside the U.S., problems with the children, or an inferiority complex. 2. Some Muslim men accept the idea that it’s normal for a man to hit his wife and that she is no more than a piece of his property. 3. It’s generational; habits are picked up after watching their own fathers abuse their mothers. 4. Some abuse their wives because they want them to be more “modern” and less Islamic. SO they have their wives remove their hijab (Islamic dress), while others turn to abuse in order to keep their wives traditional; which is the exact opposite of the former. In a marriage, the Quran is very clear on procedures in discipline for Islamic wives. First, there’s peaceful discussion between the two about the problem and resolutions. If this doesn’t work, the next step is for the husband to be more stern and focused.
If the disobedience persists from the wife, the husband will leave the bed which is a form of punishment for not only the wife, but also the husband. If that doesn’t work, then other family members will become involved and try to help in resolving the issues and being fair to both parties. This is not totally true because the Muslim religion is male dominated and gender-controlled. The males within the family will be the first and last to define choices of resolution. Remember, Muslim women really don’t have rights. Whether it’s within their family, job, mosque, or society. There is no balance when it comes to gender or to resolving life’s issues in the Muslim culture. During this whole process, Muslim women keep quiet due to feelings of depression and hopelessness. They began to feel like no one will help them and they are constantly aware of their co-dependence to their husbands.
Financial independence is something that is always in the forefront of their minds, but it’s always tainted by the images of control in the Muslim culture. So, they make a decision to stay in bondage to keep their homes, children, and the love of their husbands; the latter is questionable. Some Muslim women see the abuse as a fact of life and learn to live with it. So, what does the abuse and control have to do with Women’s Studies? Well, throughout the class we focused on many different types of situations that involved women; whether good or bad. The control and abuse that is present in the Muslim culture reminds of gender prejudice and gender discrimination. Both are one in the same, but speak of different influences. Gender prejudice is a belief that women are the weaker of the sexes emotionally and physically and must be protected from the world outside. I know that males are expected to be the providers and to dominate the decision making in the home, but there should still be some form of balance.
Balance is needed in everything; whether it’s life, work, or play. We all need to have a sense of structure or rules, but there must be a state of adjustment. In reviewing gender discrimination, you will find prejudicial treatment based upon groups or individuals due to their gender or sex; there is no protection factor involved. Gender discrimination can affect both men and women, but women are usually at the receiving end, since most cultures in the world are patriarchal and male-dominated. This isn’t a far cry for religions because mostly all religions are male-dominated. You will find women aren’t seen as being equal to men within the scope of religion. It is partly due to how man has interpreted their religious readings or scriptures, and twisted it to be a form of evil and disdain.
Yes, there are places within scripture that speak of women being unclean due to their monthly or being untouchable after childbirth. But is it because the woman is evil, or is it a form of protection for her and anyone that she may come into contact with? All in all, I see the Islamic religion as being so gender biased that it causes me to become angered. This religion seems to prevent Muslim women from nurturing their true identity and blossoming into women of self-worth and self-esteem. Hiding one’s face can make a person feel unworthy and disconnected. It’s a joy to feel positive about yourself and who you are.
Being able to feel good about your looks and your body can be very uplifting to the psyche and soul. What puts a damper on that? Having a father, brother, husband, or any male to make you feel that your very essence is despicable and dirty. Hopefully, in the 21st century, things will change and get better. Until then, it’s up to us to become more aware of the many differences of cultures and religions. These differences could cause or society to become cold, unloving, and aloof. I don’t believe our world should be this way. If anything, love should prevail and the worship of a power stronger than you should cause you to love everyone even the more.
Roald, Anne S. (2001). Women in Islam: The Western Experience. Routledge. Suad Joseph, Afsaneh Najmabadi, ed. Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures. Brill Academic Publishers. “Women and Violence.” Welcome to the United Nations: It’s Your World. United Nations Department of Public Information, Feb. 1996. Web. 07 Dec. 2011 “American Muslim Women Unveil, and Explain Why: NPR.” NPR: National Public Radio. 19 Oct. 2011. Muslim Clerics on the Religious Rulings Regarding Wife-Beating. Jihad Watch. 15 Nov. 2011.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 10 January 2017
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