There are societies which permit men to beat their wife for their willful disobedience, although Shari’ a has tempered this with several processes of admonition such as verbal reprimand, withholding of sexual relations, and light or symbolic beating (Pratt, 2005). Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that Islam regards women as part of a society where privileges and responsibilities are shared and cherished. They are not supposed to be oppressed or subjected to male domination as some scholars believe them to be. Besides, the belief that men have authority over women would be incompatible with the principle in Qu’ ran (Surah 9:71) which says: “ The Believers, men and women, are awilya (protectors) one of another” (as cited in Mejia, 2007, p. 12).
Distilling the Islamic principle behind this, men and women have independent personality due to their particular sexual make-up. This individuality allows them to perform their respective roles in society which are neither a reflection of inequality nor of male superiority. Thus, in explaining the misconceptions Al-Turabi said: Islam does not provide different moral codes for men and women. Even in matters of public life they, too, are expected to do their part and endure the sufferings of life as patiently as men are supposed to do.
They too are expected to show solidarity with the community of believers and to forsake the comforts of their home and hearth to migrate to the state of the Muslims, to wage jihad with them, and to promote the well-being of their society. In all these matters there is no distinction between Muslim men and women (2005, p. 9). PRACTICES AND MYTHS There are several cultural practices that Muslim women of today abide by even if not strictly required.
Women in Muslim societies have a menstrual taboo called purdah. It is the confinement of women during the menstrual discharge. This is however not Quranic but rather a cultural practice wherein women are totally secluded from nonfamily males and not permitted to leave home except for extreme situations. In fact, this is not originally a Muslim custom but was a pre-Islamic culture in India and Iran. The extent of its application is however culturally influenced and varies from country to country (Pratt, 2005).
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