|This is an opinion article from a user of WikiChristian.|
The topic of Women in Islam has been of special concern to the West. Opinions vary greatly with many Muslims claiming complete equality and many claiming large chauvinism; likewise many non-Muslim scholars disagree.
Western or modernly educated Muslims will (almost) never identify Islam as sexist. This is a curious opinion because Muslims not Western (eg, Middle Eastern Muslims) and Muslims not modernly educated (including the whole history of Islam) identify women as clearly lesser than men. Modernly educated or Western Muslims are largely ignorant of this observation. Those that do recognize it respond that the other Muslims have been are simply wrong, but it is dangerous to discount a thousand years of tradition and the current majority of Muslims practicing now.
However, we can understand the evolution of these two opinions. Historically, sexism has been accepted at large until relatively recently. This is true even in Muslim nations; regardless of what Muhammad and the Qur'an actually teach, history clearly states that Muslims were always sexist. In the recent two centuries sexism began to be questioned on secular and Christian levels and now is unquestionably immoral in the West. Westerners at large cannot accept a sexist religion. Muslims propogating Islam in the West and adopting Western ideas such as gender equality faced the decision of either denying their faith, denying gender equality, or integrating them and most chose to integrate because this was easiest. Thus Muslims believe Islam is not sexist not from objective exegesis of the Qur'an and tradition but because they want to hold their faith and make it appealing to non-Muslims.
However, Christians must be careful with this argument because the same could be applied to Christian history. There are two major differences. First, strong women teachers (e.g., Priscilla, Lydia, and Junia) existed in the first century of Christian history (and disappeared soon afterwards) eliminating the possibility that early Christian doctrine taught oppression of women. Islamic history shows no such progression from equality to sexism and back to equality. Second, Protestants as well as non-Christians helped move women forward.
The ultimate question is whether Islam is divine or human; if divine (and from a benevolent god), it is not sexist; if human it must be sexist because the people of the time were sexist. The contrapositive is also true; if Muhammad and the Qur'an are not sexist at all, there are divinely led; if they are sexist they are not divinely led.
Several unanimous opinions among everyone are:
- Males and females have different roles (complimentarian)
- Practice in many Muslim nations is chauvinistic
- Muhammad's view of women was higher than pagans of his time
Sexism in the Qur'an and Hadith
There is of course mixed evidence for Islamic chauvinism.
Evidence of Sexism
- More Women in Hell than Men (JBJ) - Muhammad has a vision of hell with twice as many women as men.
- Inheritance Laws in the Qur'an - Males are given larger inheritance than females.
- No Muslim Women in Leadership
- Muslim Women in Heaven (JBJ)
- Surah 2.223 - Men in Control of Sex - The Qur'an compares a women to a field to be tilled however the husband wants.
- Temporary Marriages in Islam - Muhammad permitted sex for his army without permanency.
- Sex with Female Prisoners in Islam
- Islamic Polygamy
- Wife Beating in the Qur'an
- Husbands a Degree Above Wives
- Women Testimony in the Qur'an - Males testimony are worth twice a woman's testimony
- Marriage with Prepubescent Girls
Evidence of Equality
- Aisha's Great Involvement
Sexism in Muslim Culture
- Sexism of the Veil
- Women Issues on Answering Islam