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In fact in some instances women are not even treated like human beings. However, in other parts of the world Muslim women enjoy relative equality and freedom. It is important to recognize that not all Muslims are extremists or violent towards women.
Men in Islam
As it pertains to men in the Islamic world, their positions in Muslim society are significant. The Islamic religious leaders are and have been men ever since the inception of the religion. Men hold the highest positions in the Muslim faith and they still dominate positions in government in Islamic nations.
The dominance in men in Muslim society is the most prevalent in the Muslim home. As with other aspects of Islam, the amount of power or dominance that men have has a great deal to do with the nation that they live in. However for the most part Muslim men are seen as the rulers of the home and are expected to provide for their families.
In some of the more conservative or even primitive factions of Islam men are permitted and even instructed and permitted to beat their wives (Hekmat, 1997). Wives can be beaten if they try to challenge their husband's authority or if she conducts herself in a way that her husband does not approve of. Again this type of treatment of women is not characteristic of all Muslim men but it is a prevalent practice in many Islamic homes.
Muslim men are also allowed to have more than one wife. Many Muslim men in more moderate countries do not practice this aspect of Islam. However, many Muslim men do have more than one wife and many children. According to a book entitled Women and the Koran: The Status of Women in Islam
For the ordinary Muslim man, the Koran (4: 3) decrees: "Marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four." Thus, the institution of polygamy was divinely legalized by Muhammad in his scripture and on the basis of such permission, many millions of Muslim males have had more than one wife in wedlock. Some apologists, however, try to justify this institution by saying that Islam, though it permits polygamy, does not enjoin it: "The passage permits polygamy under certain circumstances; it does not enjoin it nor even permit it unconditionally." However, polygamy has been in practice in Islam ever since Muhammad permitted it in the Koran. The law permitting a Muslim male to marry as many as four wives concurrently is most certainly a discriminatory decree against women and to the benefit of men in every Muslim society (Hekmat, 1997, pg 128-129)."
In addition to marriage laws and the position of men within the home, Muslim men, particularly those that are from extreme factions of Islam, may be expected to participate in Jihad. Jihad is defined as struggle or striving (Knapp, 2003). However it is often interpreted to mean holy war. In Jihad men are often the ones that "go to war" or sacrifice themselves for the cause of Islam. Although most Jihadists are men, there has been a substantial increase in the number of women that have been involved in acts of Jihad. In some cases women are used to carry out certain acts because people are less likely to suspect them and therefore the act can be carried out without interruption. Whether male or female any Muslim can participate in Jihad, however they often participate in different ways.
Overall men have a great deal of power as it pertains to the Muslim faith. Men control the government and most aspects of Muslim life throughout the Muslim world. Many fundamentalists in the Muslim faith still practice the polygamy and are permitted to beat their wives with no consequences. However, in some countries there is more of a balance of power between men and women. In addition in the nations where this balance of power exists, there is greater equality for women and men are not resistant or bitter about this equality.
The purpose of this discussion was to explore gender and religion as it pertains to Islam. The research will focus on the manner in which women have been treated different Muslim nations. The investigation revealed that women in certain areas of the world have been treated cruelly under the guise of Islam. Muslim extremists such as the Taliban have mistreated women and forced them to adhere to some very rigid edicts. However, the research also reveals that there are moderate nations in which women hold positions of power in government and in various industries.
The research also focused on the role of men in Islamic Society. Overall it was made evident through the research that Muslim men have the most power within the context of Islamic religion and in the context of the Islamic home and family life.
Hekmat, Anwar. Women and the Koran the Status of Women in Islam. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1997.
Knapp, Michael G. "The Concept and Practice of Jihad in Islam." Parameters 33.1 (2003): 82+.
Tell, Carol. "The Women of Afghanistan." Social Education 66.1 (2002): 8+.
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