The Status of Women in Different Religions
The definition of religion is defined as, “The belief in and worship of superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods” (Dictionary.) Religion is a source for a systematic way of living in an organized society. Their are estimated 10,000 distinct religions in the world. According to research, Eighty four percent of the world’s population is affiliated with one of the five largest religious groups. Out the of the five the three main religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam though are all completely different religions from an outsiders point if view they are mutual in understanding when it comes to the topic of the status of woman. Gender inequality and women’s rights has been a normal practice in my cultures for over decades. It has been a topic that is surrounded with many theories and lots of history. For centuries women all around the world have been struggling and fighting for equal rights and gender equality. Women still are struggling to have equal opportunities in work field, higher educational field and even when it comes to greater health. This draw -back is not only holding women back but is also causing many hurdles in the international progress.
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Many efforts and organizations have been established to conquer the gender inequality. Many organizations have had helped gain women their rights while many organizations helped to prevent them. In modern countries, women are somewhat successful in gaining their rights, while the third world countries’ women are still struggling. In the 1800’s during the civil war some of the women started to get jobs as nurses and assisted the injured soldiers and cooked meals for them. However, the positive result is lacking. National Organization for Women was started in 1966 hoping to bring equality for women around the world, but sadly the movement died in 1982.
Historically the rumor has been that women in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are a deprived gender. Therefore the struggle of women’s equality has been going on for over 100 years. The oppression of women on the basis of male dominant world is an obvious factor that made a serious gender issue. Due to this issue, women were deprived from essential human rights, they were restricted towards education, their mental and physical state of mind was unhealthy, and their chances to rise in the society was placed hault. The gender discrimination, not only affected the future women, but also impacted the human mind growth in general. The major role of women was restricted to a mother and a child barrier. The liberation movement started from 1829 til 1920 in which women started to fight for their equality. Many think that the 1920’s era liberated women and that it was when the equal right began, however historically women have been liberated from the very beginning. In reality all three of the main religion hold women to the highest.
Women In Ancient Christianity: The New Discoveries by Karen King, Karen is very much concerned about this subject matter and takes the initiative and examines this topic. For the past twenty years, the history of women in the older Christianity has been on the verge of revision and new findings have been discovered. The women historians entered in the field with new questions, new findings and developments which resulted in the proof the presence of women’s which were neglected in the texts. According to Karen, “only a few names of women were widely known: Mary, Mary Magdalene, his disciple and the first witness to the resurrection; Mary and Martha, the sisters who offered him hospitality in Bethany. Now we are learning more of the many women who contributed to the formation of Christianity in its earliest years.”
According to the New Gospel Testament, women were among Jesus’ earliest followers. Since the beginning women had disciplined and accompanied Jesus during his ministry and supported him out of their private means. In the bible, Jesus was a frequent visitor at the home of Mary and Martha, and was in the habit of teaching and eating meals with women as well as men. When Jesus was arrested, women remained firm, even when his male disciples are said to have fled, and they accompanied him to the foot of the cross. It was women who were reported as the first witnesses to the resurrection, chief among them again Mary Magdalene. Although the details of these gospel stories may be questioned, in general they reflect the prominent historical roles women played in Jesus’ ministry as disciples” (Mark 7:24: Matthew 15:21-28.) After the passing of Jesus, women kept on assuming conspicuous jobs in the early development.
As we move on to Judaism, women also hold the utmost status. In a Jewish household, the wife and mother is called in Hebrew “akeret habayit.” This literally means the “mainstay” of the home. It is she who largely determines the character and atmosphere of the entire home (Dubov.) In Judaism, men and women are considered equal in all possible level. For example, God, in Judaism is not viewed “According to traditional Judaism, women are endowed with a greater degree of ‘binah’ (intuition, understanding, intelligence) than men.
The Rabbis inferred this from the idea that woman was ‘built’ (Genesis 2:22) rather than ‘formed’ (Genesis 2:7), and the Hebrew root of ‘build’ has the same consonants as the word ‘binah.” It has been said that the matriarchs (Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah) were superior to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) in prophecy. It has also been said that women did not participate in the idolatry regarding the golden calf. Some traditional sources suggest that women are closer to God’s ideal than men. In the Ten Commandments it is required that respect for the mother and father go both ways. The Talmud says that when a pious man marries a wicked woman, the man becomes wicked, but when a wicked man marries a pious woman, the man becomes pious.
According to Islam women are not considered inferior to men. Men and women are equal in rights better yet in many areas women in actual enjoy certain privileges that the men do not. For example when it comes to property, marriage and divorce women have been given rights and have been given consideration while being provided with appropriate. In western culture women have been struggling and involved in the movement since 1848 while it is fair to say that Islam respectively held women rights to the utmost high standard from the birth.
God has declared in the Holy Qur’an that He has created men and women as equal beings. He has created you from a single being; then from that He made its mate. (Ch 39: V.7) There is also a saying of the Holy Prophet(sa) that: ‘A person who is blessed with a daughter or daughters and makes no discrimination between them and his sons and brings them up with kindness and affection, will be as close to me in Paradise as my forefinger and middle finger are to each other.’ (Muslim II, Section Beneficence).
Islam was formerly to grant the women a status never before. The Holy Quran emphasizes that God and his wisdom has created all species and pairs and men and women have been created from the species. “He created you from a single being, then of the same kind made its mate” (39:7.) Islam elevated the social status of women by ensuring that they are treated respectfully by their husbands, sons, and fathers. When coming about the economic front, Islam entitles women to possess money, property, and other assets. In chapter four verse thirty three it is stated, “Men shall have their share of that which they have earned, and women a share of that which they have earned.” It is extremely stressed in the Quran that there is no disputing the equality of men and women even though they are created differently in role and nature but this does not change their status.
Women being restricted does not have anything to do with religion therefore more is connected to culture purposes. Many assume women are held back from doing certain things because religion says so.