Women's rights and islam: from the I.C.P.D.to Beijing
The author presents her experiences as an Islamic woman and her chosen direction to study women's issues from a nonpatriarchal, theological perspective. A major issue at the Cairo conference was who controls women's bodies: men, the state, the Church, the community, or women? The challenge ahead for Muslim and all women is to shift from a reactive mindset to an assertion of autonomy over their own bodies, minds, and spirits. The author's first challenge was to determine the origin of the Islamic image of women as secondary and deferential to men. Modern Muslims support modernity but object to Westernization. After education abroad, a man returns as modernized and a woman returns as Westernized. Educated women are more frequently present in Muslim men's public spaces. The author's activism led her to consider how unjust laws could be upheld by an Islamic country, such as Pakistan, that professed a passionate commitment to both Islam and modernity. Islamic, Christian, and Jewish traditions are based on three assumptions about the superiority of men. 1) God's primary creation was man; woman was created from man's rib. 2) A woman was responsible for man's fall in the Garden of Eden. 3) Women were created for men. In the Quran, which is the supreme, authoritative text of Islam, there are no terms for the biblical Adam and Eve as specific humans. The Quran uses generic terms for humanity. In human creation, men and women were created equal. The story of Adam's rib is based on the inferior Hadith texts. The author argues that the Quran, as God's word, cannot be made the source of human injustice against women. Western media do not represent the views of the vast majority of Muslims, who are religious without being fanatic, narrow-minded, or inclined toward terrorism. The way to reach the poor, illiterate, rural woman is to inform her that God is just and merciful and that she is entitled to protection from oppression.
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