Women 's Representation Of Women

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In Women and Gender in Islam, Leila Ahmed skillfully conveys her perspective on current ideologies about Islamic women by taking into consideration the chronological framework for which it help to shape women’s position in society. By covering a vast range of Islamic doctrines during various historical periods ranging from pre-Islamic times all the way to Western influences in nineteenth century Egypt, Leila is able to provide a distinctive picture of the often misunderstood topic of women’s role in Islam. What makes her book more fascinating is that she includes lots of details surrounding Islamic society, while focusing on the inherent stereotypes of women’s oppression and their cultural aspect of veiling. Throughout the book, Ahmad…show more content…
That’s why it is important for her to focus in the Arab societies that helped shape Islamic discourses on the gender system to show Islam did not emerge in isolation. Ahmed prepares the ground by contrasting and pointing out women’s position in pre-Islamic era and how certain cultural liberties deteriorated with the origin of Islamic societies. In the first chapter, she describes women’s role in Mesopotamia and how the veil and other cultural aspects came into place before the formation of Islamic societies. During this period, patriarchal families were institutionalized as a way of excluding women from becoming involved in the professional arena, which contributed to the decline of their social status. In addition, men were allotted to commit adultery with their slaves or prostitutes, whereas women would have been punished with death if found guilty of the same act. As a result, during this time, women resourced to veiling which “served not merely to mark the upper classes but, more fundamentally, to differentiate between “respectable” women and those who were publicly available…the veil classified women according to their sexual activity” (Ahmed, 1992, p. 15). Although the act of veiling consolidated the patriarchal society, women who were part of the upper class could engage in their family business, inherit property if they became priestesses. Many of the Mesopotamian laws show a parallel with the Islamic law in that
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