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I found Ahmed’s contention that women are less empowered after Islam was founded than they were in the Jahilia period interesting, especially when she gives the example of Prophet Mohamed’s wife, Khadija, as an entrepreneur who proposed marriage to a younger man (Ahmed, 1992: p45). It shows the freedoms that she feels were possessed by women during this period. Ahmed further delves into the common aspects of cultural, religious, and legal mores that were inherited by Islam from conquered lands of Jews and Christians. In my understanding, Ahmed attempts to show that the norms acquired from these lands were more prohibitive to women than the restrictions that Muslim women suffer, for instance, in present day Saudi Arabia. It becomes clear to me from reading this article that veiling and seclusion were institutionalized, as legal codes, to regulate the sexuality of women, especially in Byzantium Christianity where disreputable women of status were required to wear a veil. What I found especially striking in the book was Ahmed’s assertion that urbanization, as well as growth of military competitiveness and wealth, helped in asserting the domination of men as opposed to anything in the Quran. When Ahmed says that wealth caused disutility of land holdings by the community, it becomes clear to me that institutionalization of a patrilineal family was enforced to ensure that wealth remained in the family, especially since most people who earned wealth wanted the share to remain with them forever. It becomes clear to the reader that the author believes that the endorsement of patriarchy was entrenched by an exchange of culture between the communities that viewed the concept of gender androcentrically, rather than by anything propagated by the Islamic religion itself. Muslims following conquests of foreign lands by Arabs adopted this. As I have expressed above, it is enlightening to read this book’s assertion that a distinction appears between the early generation of Muslims and their reality in comparison to ethical and moral vision that, as the author says, were promoted through the Quran. I found that the Quran, being different from other scriptures that promote monotheism, is an explicit and specific address to femininity that mentions moral and spiritual obligations according to which women and men have existed (Ahmed, 1992: p 101). I perceived this as an interpretation of decisions taken by scholars of Islam; the andocentric vision that Islamic statesmen shared being taken literally in the textual edifice of the Quran. It was perhaps inevitable that what was assumed back then relating to women and gender would go on to inform, silently, the way that Islamic text was interpreted. I find that Leila Ahmed contends that biological paramouncy triumphed over spiritual being and has bound the Islamic faith ever since. Moving on to Deniz Kandiyoti’s Bargaining with Patriarchy, what struck me first was the description of what patriarchal bargains entailed. I admit this was a new concept to me and I found it quite interesting. Kandiyoti attempts to describe negotiations by women in a system that is constrained by patriarchy. According to what I gather from this article, patriarchal bargains aim to make maximum benefits from in oppressive Islamic systems with the argument that patriarchal bargain influences the building of gendered subjectivity for women, as well as determining the nature that ideology of gender in various Islamic text (Kandiyoti, 1998: ...Show more
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Gender and Islam Name: Institution: REACTION PAPER GENDER AND ISLAM Women and Gender in Islam is a book by Leila Ahmed that critically discusses the position of women in Islam. It is my opinion that the title does not encapsulate honesty and in full details what Leila Ahmed puts into the work…
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