Women in various religions

Women in various religions November 15, 2013


This morning here at the Global Faith Forum there was a conversation between three women representing the three Abrahamic faiths. I have interweaved my notes of the session which had a lot of back and forth.

The first woman was Dr Nia Mackay. She is a Muslim, and originally from Indonesia. She grew up in a family that encouraged children to think. and was taught that whatever you do should be for the love of God. She was shocked to hear that some women in Islamic countries were not allowed to be educated or drive a car. In the Quran it is a generic male/female version of the word “man” that is used to describe people who it has been given to learn. In the USA most people thought she was a Christian. She didn’t follow any dress codes at first when she lived here. When she was pregnant she suddenly was afraid of how long she had to live, and wanted to be obedient to God. She then decided to wear a headscarf. Which she prefers to the full covering of the face. In the question time, she said that the Quran says you shouldn’t cover the face, but the prophet’s wife did wear the full covering.

The second speaker was Rabbi Ariel Boxman She said that she grew up in a Jewish home, and was very rebellious. At sixteen she suddenly decided she wanted to be a Christian. She put up a Christmas Tree in her bedroom. Her father sent her to Israel on a trip and said that if she came back still wanting to be a Christian, he would drive her to the church himself. There she found a relationship with the God of Ariel. When she came back she wanted to be a Rabbi.

Then Dale Hanson Bourke spoke as a Christian. She grew up with a sense of direction. As a follower of Jesus she felt she was supposed to care for others and use her talents to move forward. Combined a business career and humanitarian work, sitting on boards of organizations. Often the first woman on those boards. Looking back she sees God’s direction in her life.

Islam recognizes equality in worship, women are seen as a partner in the family, obtaining knowledge. Children are nutured by the mother, so if we have educated mother the kids will do better. In many cultures the women have the choice, and they wear the scarve to please God and him only. She acknowledged that some cultures do put pressure on women to cover up. In Islam women were given the right to agree or not to marry the choice of their parents. Muhammad refused to be the witness for a marriage when the two partners hadn’t even met. They have rights to do business, and own a house.

There are very different views of women in Judaism. As a reformed Jew, Ariel is allowed to be a Rabbi, this is not true in some branches. Men and Women are created equal, but with more “bina” which is understanding, intuition and intelligence. Women don’t need as many commandments to be kept in line because they just get it. In biblilcal times women were allowed to buy, sell and own property. They had the right to do business. (Proverbs 31). In Judaism sex is the right of a woman. A man must provide food, clothing and sexual pleasure in marriage according to the marriage contract.

Traveling internationally she has seen that there is a view that Christianity and politics have converged. Viewed as conservative politically. Christians have to be careful that we are stereotyped, but need to live our life in a way that disrupts those stereotypes. Some people are more afraid of evangelical Christians than they are of Muslims, Jews or anyone else.

Muslim women should respect those of other opinions. If that doesn’t hurt anybody else we are obligated to get to know each other, live peacefully, and love each other.

Jewish women believe that men and women are created equally but we have our differences. In Exodus the women were the only ones that did not help to build the Golden Calf. Jewish women are rewarded by a special holiday once a month, a day of rest for women. Should celebrate what they do have rather than regret what they don’t.

Conservative women often care deeply about their sisters. They can often also work within their cultures to gently promote change. As a Christian woman, she believes in a very personal relationship with God, and spends time each day praying and listening to God. She has an ongoing dialogue with God.

Ariel believes it is important to build relationships across faith. She has brought women together especially in an interfaith context. There is a power in women to create peace.

Muslim women believe that behind every president is a First Lady. Eve was made from a rib of a man, and so are meant to be side by side with men. If women’s rights are applied then a lot can be achieved. Women can make the world a better place.

Women want to survive war for the skae of the children. Women want to cme together. Faith doesn’t usually keep them apart.


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  • Ayesha Kaukab

    I myself being a female feel proud to say that Islam gives freedom and importance to a woman more than any other religion . Before Islam, girls were buried alive, when Islam came, it gave value to the woman. A woman in Islam is given the right of “KHULA” that she can claim to have divorce if she is not satisfied with her husband. As a mother she is supreme to a man. Once a man asked the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him), “who deserves my service more; my mother or my father? ” The Holy Prophet (peace be upon Him) replied,”Your mother” . The man asked three times the same question and the answer was the same . When that man asked the same question fourth time, The Holy Prophet(peace be upon Him) answered: “your father”. It is not true that Islam does not accept the evidence of a woman. A wife is never treated as a slave to the husband in Islam. A husband is bound to fulfill all her needs, he is answerable to ALLAH and will be punished on the Day of Judgment. What you see is the practice of the people not the commandments of Islam. Islam gives freedom of trade, business, etc. to woman but not with direct contact with unknown men, this is only for her protection ;as she is physically weak than a man and cannot protect herself from any ill mannered act from the males she meets. You said that a female in Islam is not allowed to go out of the house alone. The reason behind is the same. Before Islam most the people didn’t allow the girls to get education. It is Islam that makes it compulsory for every person (whether male or a female) to get education.

  • Do not assume that a Muslim woman wearing Niqab is from some distant country. In fact there are many White native European women who choose Islam and then choose to wear Niqab or hijab. This is their choice and should be their right. I don’t understand why women see those who use burka’s as a sign of oppression when I’m sure women who use burka’s see women who are in bikini’s showing their whole body to all is a sign of oppression. It’s all about perspective. As a Muslim woman I do not prefer to be on display in front of a large group of men. It is for our privacy and comfort that we are behind them. I believe Facial Coverings are of no harm in nature, in turn, they can prevent some airborne illness, as well as prevent germs from circulating due to coughing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with covering your face, If she made if beyond security checks to get into the facility, than she obviously is of no harm. This is stigma, and they are enforcing law due to a religious practice, although i would practice such behaviours as sanitary and self-privacy. both of which anyone is entitled to
    uphold how they see fit.

    Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. In a few decades Islam will be the dominant religion in Europe and it will be because Europeans are choosing Islam. It will not be by force and it will not be through violence.

    Although Islam has unconfined Women and has given them the human right to reach for the sky without becoming ruler. But because of the misconception there have been Muslim Women Presidents through out the centuries, but to this date, the oppressive mentality of the men in the Western U.S.A. has stopped any Women from becoming Presidents in predominately Christian countries, while the Muslim countries have voted for and elected Female Presidents. How ever Quran clearly says that Men are protector and maintainer of women, which also leads us that only men can be ruler of a country (Al_Quran_004:034). Also, it was narrated that Abu Bakrah said: When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) heard that the people of Persia had appointed the daughter of Chosroes as their queen, he said, “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of them.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4163.

    I find Islam to be liberating not oppressive: women are partners.

    Islam is the first religion which systematically empowered women when women were considered as totally subservient to man. There was no concept of her being an independent entity and enjoying equal right with dignity. We live in a country where women are over-sexualised and sold as ‘products’ for capitalist gains. A woman’s beauty is splashed around everywhere, and she is only judged by that. Islam tells a woman to cover up so that she is not abused as Western women are. Islam provides the security and respect to women community than other religions. The western countries are using the women as an entertainment channels. All the women in the world should think about themselves then decide what is right and what is wrong for them in other religions (than Islam)

    Qur’an does lay down certain strict norms for sexual behaviour. Both man woman have right to sexual gratification (a woman has as much right to sexual gratification as man) but within marital frame-work. There is no concept of freedom for extramarital sex in any form. Sex is permissible only with marital framework. Sex, as far as Islam is concerned, is not mere enjoyment but an act for procreation and hence has sanctity.