Gender is a key issue in every religious society. There are many opinions and viewpoints on how women and men interact with each other, as well as with their faith. The question that will be discussed in this paper is "What are the roles of women in the Islamic and Christian religious societies?" There are many key differences as well as similarities in these two religions concerning women. .
Because we are looking at an issue that is affected by religion, the Bible is quoted as well as the Koran, as they are the books of laws in each religion. Also, an essay by Dr. Jamal Badawi was researched (some quotes from the Koran have been taken from his essay, but were cited as the Koran, as the book was also looked at for further reading). Another research material used was an Internet publishing of a statement by Pope John Paul II. There is also a reference from an unpublished in-class lecture as well as the textbook of Many Peoples, Many Faiths. .
In the Christian and Islamic religions, there are many different denominations that have different viewpoints and interpretations as far as the status of women. Islam is divided into two main groups: Sunni Islam is a more traditional path of Islamic life (Ellwood and McGraw, 2002). In additionally Shi`a Islam puts it's faith into the authority of Imams, who are believed to be Muhammad's hereditary successors. Because the different viewpoints are very different, it is difficult to classify any certain opinion about Muslim women as a whole. .
One of the hardest things to decide about where Islam women stand is the fact that there are many different interpretations of the Koran. Despite this, it is documented that when Islam was founded, it improved women's status at that time. (Ellwood, 2002) There is also documentation from Hadiths that no man or woman had authority over another. The Koran states that Adam and the woman were jointly wrong for their sin, both repented, and were then forgiven (Koran, 2:36).