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Women and Religion

            The status, or "place," of women in society has been a well-debated issue that is as old as the earliest civilizations. The inequalities between men and women can be observed throughout society in varying areas such as income level, job opportunity, sexual double standards, and rights to hold offices of power, both politically and religiously. The idea of a woman's role being in the home as a housekeeper and child bearer has been violently combated by fierce feminist movements that claim there should be no divisions between the roles and abilities of males and females. The question of whether men and women were created equally or that women were created to serve men is an ideal shaped in society that can best be explained by the particular religious practices that influence them. In this paper I will be discussing two different religious practices from different parts of the world, Islam and Christianity, and how their views of women have shaped and influenced civilization. .
             Islamic laws and cultural customs impact various stages of a Muslim women's life, particularly the Quran and hadiths, or prophetic traditions based on the life and teachings of the prophet Muhammad. According to the Quran, men and women have the same spirit; there is no superiority in the spiritual sense between men and women. There are, however, moral codes, or sharia, that support the idea of complementarianism, which is a view that suggests men and women have different, but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere. The role of women, in accordance to the teachings of Islam, has been to be modest, in both actions and dress, and subservient to her husband, the teachings of the prophet Muhammad, and the true intentions of Allah. Views on particular topics involving women, such as education, employment opportunities, rights to inheritance, dress, age of marriage, permissibility of birth control, divorce, property rights independent of her husband, driving, and many others have been varied pertaining to the particular region or culture that has adopted it.

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