Sex Roles

, Volume 51, Issue 5–6, pp 263–272 | Cite as

“Islam and Woman: Where Tradition Meets Modernity”: History and Interpretations of Islamic Women's Status

  • Jeri Altneu Sechzer
Article

Abstract

The status of Islamic women varies in different Muslim countries, which interpret Islamic religion and law differently, especially with regard to their attitudes toward women. Most of these Islamic countries have specific beliefs about women and have restrictions concerning them. Gender stereotypes of Islamic women have their origin in the evolution of the Muslim religion. This is similar to the early development of many other religions and how the gender stereotypes of women developed along with the development of these religions. This paper describes the meaning of being a Muslim and the doctrine of the Qur'an, which came from the revelations to Muhammad, Islam's founder and prophet about 610 C.E. During Muhammad's life, he was sympathetic toward women and was concerned about their equal treatment, including full religious responsibility. Although the restrictions were still there on women, their treatment was much more favorable than after Muhammad's death. Conditions for women under Muhammad's successors became worse. Attitudes and perceptions about women were even more negative. Women were isolated, secluded, forced to pray at home—not in the mosque, and exclusion was put into practice. Women were essentially removed from most sectors of society. Veiling of women included covering specific parts of their body to prevent enticing men. Women's status declined rapidly and any freedoms they had were essentially abolished. And as Islam spread across the centuries, these restrictions and practices were adopted, amended, or made more extreme by most if not all Muslim countries and have continued until the present time. The current status of women in Islamic countries is described along with the intensified discussions and debates concerning women, presently taking place. In some states, bills and laws were passed to improve conditions of women but some have already been revoked. In other countries, new restrictions have been proposed. Nevertheless, Islamic women and women's groups are continuing the struggle for their rights. This struggle, amidst the continuing turmoil in the Middle East and the increase in fundamentalist groups, has unfortunately made the final outcome for women yet to be decided.

early islam islamic women muhammad and women in islam 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Adams, C. J. (Ed.). (1965). A readers guide to the great religions(p. 287F). New York: The Free Press. (Cited by Noss, J. B. and Noss, D. S., p. 496).Google Scholar
  2. Ahmad, E. F. E. M. (2001). Veil-wearing Saudi women at higher of risk of respiratory disease. Journal of Asthma, 38, 423–426.Google Scholar
  3. Anatomy of a coverup. (2003, May 26). Daily News,p.3.Google Scholar
  4. An-Naim, A. (2002). The Islamic counter-reformation. New Perspectives Quarterly, 19(1), 1-6.Google Scholar
  5. Armstrong, K. (2002). Islam.New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  6. Carmody, D. L. (1989). Women and world religions(2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Carroll, T. F. (1983). Women, religion, and development in the third world (pp. 10–40). New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  8. Denmark, F. L., Rabinowitz, V. C., & Sechzer, J. A. (2000). The origin of gender stereotypes in mythology and religion. In Engendering psychology: Bringing women into focus. Needham, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  9. Doi, A. R. I. (2002). Women in Islam. Retrieved from http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/human relations/women in islam/womeninsociety.html.Google Scholar
  10. El Fadl, K. A. (2001). Speaking in Gods name; Islamic law, authority, and women. Oxford: Oneworld.Google Scholar
  11. Haddad, Y. Y. (1985). Islam women and revolution in twentieth-century Arab thought. In Y. Y. Haddad, & E. B. Findly, (Eds.), Women, religion and social change(pp. 275–306). Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  12. Islam for Today. (2002) Retrieved http://www. islamforto-day. com/veil.html. Koran 81.I-14 (cp. Rev. 6.12–14); Pelican trs., p. 17, II.3-11. (Cited by Ringgren and Strom, p. 181.)Google Scholar
  13. Moore, M. (2000, October 29). The probelms of Turkey rest on women's heads. Washington Post Foreign Service, p. A32.Google Scholar
  14. Muslim Women's League. (2002). Retrieved http://mwlusa. org/pub hijab.html.Google Scholar
  15. Naipaul, V. S. (1998). Beyond Belief: Isamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples. Vintage Books, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Noss, J. B., & Noss, D. S. (1984). Man's religions(7th ed.). New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  17. Pal, R. M. (2000). Womens movement in Islamic countries. PUCL Bulletin(December 2000). Drawn from the Lahore based women's organization, Shirkat Gah's News Sheet, Vol. XI, No. 4, and its Special Bulletin, February 2000, entitled Women's Rights in Muslim Family Law in Pakistan: 45 years of Recommendations vs the FSC Jusgement.Google Scholar
  18. Parrinder, G. (1983). World Religions: From Ancient History to the Present. New York: Facts on File.Google Scholar
  19. Ringgren, H., & Strom, A. V. (1967). Religions of mankind: Today and yesterday (p. 44.5). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.Google Scholar
  20. Smith, J. I. (1985). Women, religion and social change in early Islam. In Y. Y. Haddad and E. B. Findly (Eds.), Women, religion and social change (pp. 19–36). Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  21. Susman, T. (2000). Women of Iraq Fear the Future. Newsday.Google Scholar
  22. Tannahill, R. (1982). Sex in history. New York: Stein and Day.Google Scholar
  23. Walker, M. (2002). Imapct magazine. Retrieved http://media. is-net. org/offIslam/basics/Women.html.Google Scholar
  24. Young, K. K. (1987). Introduction to women in world religions. In A. Sharma, (Ed.), Women in world religions(pp. 1–36). Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeri Altneu Sechzer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyPace UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations