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Female Pioneers in Islamic Middle Ages: A Theological and Psychological Perspective

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Abstract

A gender role is a set of societal norms dictating what types of behaviours are generally considered acceptable, appropriate, or desirable for a person based on their sex. However, socially constructed gender roles can lead to equal rights between genders but also to severe disadvantages and discrimination with considerable variety between different countries. Remarkably, gender inequality regarding educational opportunities for men and women is a common criticism wrongly attributed to Islamic faith. Some scholars have argued that Islamic nations have the world’s highest gender gap in education. But is Islamic theology the real reason for this disparity? We argue that there is a problematic confoundation between cultural traditions on the one hand and Islamic faith on the other hand. Due to knowledge deficits of Islamic theology, philosophy and Islamic history, Muslims and non-Muslims in many countries tend to intermingle traditional habits with Islamic theology. The aim of this chapter is therefore to clarify several crucial misconceptions about gender role in Islamic history by differentiating between (pre-Islamic) cultural traditions in different countries and Islamic theology. Based on the historical biography of several remarkable female pioneers we will highlight their contributions as female role-models in the Islamic Middle Ages and discuss the psychological impact of this knowledge for today’s gender role. In line with Bandura’s social learning theory, we recommend promoting female pioneers from the Middle East in schools and in the media to provide inspiring role-models for young girls with similar cultural backgrounds. Future studies should empirically evaluate the impact of providing positive female models from the Middle East in school and in the media on gender-based attitudes and discrimination against women in different countries.

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-16-1413-2_3
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Fig. 3.1
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Fig. 3.3

Notes

  1. 1.

    Translation and interpretation according to Tafsir ibn Kathir. Available at: http://www.quran4u.com/Tafsir%20Ibn%20Kathir/033%20Ahzab.htm.

  2. 2.

    https://www.1001inventions.com/.

  3. 3.

    Hadith can be retrieved at: https://sunnah.com/bukhari/76.

  4. 4.

    Hadith can be retrieved at: https://sunnah.com/nasai/45/125.

  5. 5.

    cf. https://www.1001inventions.com/libraryofsecrets.

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Correspondence to Ahmed A. Karim .

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Karim, A.A., Al-Jundi, H., Khalil, R. (2021). Female Pioneers in Islamic Middle Ages: A Theological and Psychological Perspective. In: Karim, A.A., Khalil, R., Moustafa, A. (eds) Female Pioneers from Ancient Egypt and the Middle East. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-1413-2_3

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