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Women in the Arab World: Beyond Stereotypes

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OUTLINE Women in the Arab World: Beyond Stereotypes A western misconception of the Muslim woman 1 Status of women in the Arab world, Islamic law 2 Women's rights 3 Diff. Perspectives [i.e Greek, Roman] 4 Pre-Islamic period in Arabia 5 The establishment of Islam 6 The Prophet's (sws) view on women's rights [Hadith] 7 Women of the time, figures of knowledge [Aisha, Fatima, & Soukainah] Introduction: Initially whilst imagining what is meant by a Muslim woman, she is often referred to as a mysterious, veiled victim of male oppression that awaits Western liberation; an uneducated foregiener with whom a normal being has little or nothing in common. If one does not associate or is not in contact with a Muslim women, it is highly likely that one's impressions of them have laregly been formed through negative media stereotypes, these being far strecthed from reality inorder to attract more viewers, increase the sales of products, or even to gain support for someone's political agenda. A famous definition of the 'west' is as follows, " We can define West in many ways looking at its geographical, cultural and civilizational dimensions. Representing primarily the Western Hemisphere of the world, at the conceptual level, the principles of secularism, individualism, liberalism and nationalism found any where represent the west" [Adopted from, "Islamic Movements: Fears and Concerns" by Qazi Hussain Ahmad, appearing in Jamaat-e-Islami and National and International Politics, vol. ...read more.


Even after a thousand years after the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in 1586, French and Catholics were still debating whether or not women possessed souls! English Christians burned millions of women alive on the mere suspicion that they were witches. Married women in Europe did not gain the right to own property obtain divorce or enter into their own contracts until the 19th century. Not surprisingly, women who found such teachings unreasonable rebelled against them and fought for better treatment. Whereas other women have often had to fight for themselves against the authority of male priesthood, in Islam the dynamics of social change have been quite different. The view of a successful woman in the 'west' is one who holds a successful career derived from the capitalist way of life that evaluates actions upon materialistic benefit and profit. Thus, the woman who is a business woman, doctor, lawyer or accountant is seen as a success as she contributes economically to the society either in the service that she provides or the taxes that she pays to the state. In contrast, the role of a mother nor a wife directly contributes financially to the society and therefore is viewed in a negative light and not as a success. This is clearly reflected by a report published by the Institute of Fiscal studies in 2002 (a body that provides advice to the United Kingdom government) ...read more.


Also to erase any preconceived notions about the position in Islam, this can be achieved via differentiating between the teachings of Islam as a religion and a way of life, and the local customs and social traditions that are not part of the religion but are often incorrectly believed to be part of the faith. Several different religious documents are subject to different interpretations therefore making it often unclear as to what is the truth. This essay has analysed the controversy over the role women truly hold in Islam in relation to positions of women in other religions and perspectives. To ensure that the reader gains an insight beyond the stereotypical view that one is often under the impression of women in the Arab world. In my view the Qur'an and the Hadith have not set forth any principles or doctrines aiming to deprive, oppress or treat women unjustly in accordance with men. Rather both the Qur'an and Hadith provide an ample amount of evidence contributing to the equality of both sexes, with all legal, political, economic and social rights of men. For women who enjoy being women and appreciate the differences (as well as the common ground) between both genders, who prefer to be respected for their intelligence and character rather than being chased after for their looks, and who would like to pursue personal and spiritual fulfilment at a human pace without having to neglect their families, Islam is a very appealing alternative. ...read more.

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