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Leila Ahmed, author of “Women and Gender in Islam,” explains that the origin of the veil predates Islam and began as a Christian custom. The Koran says both men and women should dress modestly.
The Koran outlines polygamy, a practice that is not prevalent in Islam. It also states equality between men and women. The first interpreters lived in a highly misogynist society.
Women are more a key part of the Koran than the Old and New Testaments. Some rules of Islam led to a dreadful history for Islamic women. Ahmed believes these need to be rejected or reformed.
Moslem women help to transform Islamic society by entering the workforce and becoming educated. There were Islamic women prophets and soldiers. Mohammed treated women with equality.
Islamic rights for women include the right to own property and sexual rights (contraception, abortion, and sexual pleasure). Ahmed believes the fundamental Islamic people are dangerous.
Most Moslem women believe the Koran advocates justice. Men tend to hear only parts that confirm their dominance. Ahmed advocates a new interpretation, stressing its message of justice.
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Leila Ahmed, professor of women’s studies at Amherst, argues the case for revision of the widely-held views in the Islamic world about the role of women, using examples from history and the role played by women in the contemporary world. She explains the origin of the veil, and discusses the issue of marriage and women’s rights within marriage. (30 minutes)
Length: 27 minutes
Copyright date: ©1993
"An outstanding survey."Middle East Studies Association Bulletin
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