Does Islam oppress women?
There is much debate as to whether Muslim women are oppressed. However, it may be more helpful to first examine the difference between the oppression of women in general and oppression of Muslim women in Islam. For Islamic women, words like hijab, burka, polygamy, and Sharia stereotypically lead people to view Islam as a religion that oppresses women. A global Gallup Poll revealed that the majority of Muslims worry about the lack of unity in Muslim nations, violent extremism, and political and economic corruption. The polled women did not discuss issues such as the hijab or any garment covering of the body as a form of oppression.
Most Muslim women realize they have the same fundamental rights as men. Unfortunately, it has been debated that Muslim women are not victims of the religion but rather cultural abominations. It is argued that honor killings, genital mutilation, forced marriage, and the punishment of rape victims are cultural abominations. The Prophet Muhammad said “None but a noble man treats women in an honorable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully.”
However, the question is still at play, do Muslim women realize they are oppressed, or have they been raised to accept it as a norm? It is through this that some argue that oppression is still happening subliminally through things like the segregation in mosques and Muslim schools. For more information on this topic, please read the reviews of Muslims in America and Do Muslim Women Need Saving. For media, check out the media page for a history on women in Islam.
How is Islam similar and/or different to other religions?
Islam is a religion practiced by a large population of the world, that has many similarities and differences to the other religions of the world. Islam, like other religions such as Christianity and Judaism, believe in the prophets. An example are the prophets of power: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. The difference is Islam believes that Muhammad is the one true savior of their people. The Quran is the main scripture for the Islamic tradition. This differs between other religions. For example, Judaism describes the Torah to be the main scripture, Christianity the Bible, and Hinduism has the Vedas and the Shurtis. Every scripture was written in different languages to begin with and has been translated into all different languages in the present day. The Torah is written in Hebrew, the Vedas and the Shurtis are written in sanskrit, the Bible was originally written in Greek, then translated into Latin and today it is translated mostly into English, whereas the the Quran is written in Arabic. Although the Quran is the main scripture, there are other important scriptures in Islam such as the Suras. For more about the Quran and the Suras visit the page on the Quran.
Besides the savior and scriptures, there are also similarities and differences between Islamic beliefs and other religious beliefs. For instance, Islam believes in one God (Allah), which is professed in the Sharia. This is similar to Christianity and Judaism, however, but in Hinduism this is not true, for them there can be many Gods. The Islamic tradition believes in the five pillars (for more detail visit the Five Pillars page). A few of the beliefs are, praying five times a day (at set times throughout the day), and Ramadan. Most religions find it important to pray but do not require you to pray a certain amount of times each day. The time of fasting, Ramadan, can be related to other religions. Jewish faith also have a time of fasting just like Islam, it is called Yom Kippur. As well as the Jewish tradition, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhist, and Taoist are all examples of religions that believe in fasting.
In the Islamic faith, Muslims go to a Mosque (Masjid) to pray, but Christians go to church, Jews go to a synagogue, and Hindus go to a temple. Besides the place of worship being different, the days in which people pray also can be different. This is shown in the Christian tradition, where they go to church on Sundays but in both the Jewish faith and Islamic faith, they both go to worship on Fridays. These are just a few of the similarities and differences between Islam and other religions of the world.
Mahmoud M. Ayoub, Islam: Faith and History. (Oxford, England: Oneworld-Oxford, 2004).
Matthew S. Gordon, Understanding Islam: Origins, Beliefs, Practices, Holy Texts, Sacred Places (London: Watkins Publishing, 2010).
Does Islam have Holy Days?
The holy day of the week is on Friday for Muslims. On Friday afternoons, Muslims will go to mosque for an Islamic sermon and prayer, an activity called jummah. From various ahadith (written reports of what was said by the Prophet Muhammad to his Companions), it is proven that the Prophet used to celebrate this day, and he declared jummah as weekly eid (holiday) for Muslims. He used to wear clean and newly washed clothes, take a bath, and wear fragrance for this day specifically. For more information on the importance of jummah, visit this website.
Muslims also have Holy Days throughout the year:
Muharram is the Islamic New Year, Ashura celebrates the exodus of Moses from Egypt, Mawlid al-Nabi is Muhammad’s birthday, Ramadan is the holy month of fasting that Muslims observe, and ends with the Eid al-Fitr holiday, and Eid al-Adha is the Festival of Sacrifice holiday. More detailed information can be found at this website.
Do Muslims have any dietary restrictions?
The Quran has some verses that indicate what sort of foods are forbidden for consumption (Q 2:172, 5:5, 6: 118-121). These restrictions are mostly on meat, including pork, carrion, and animals that were beaten or strangled to death. It is also important that the animals consumed were killed in the name of Allah, and that Allah’s name is pronounced over the meat. Aside from that, any sort of blood is not allowed; animals must be fed natural foods, killed humanely, and blood must be drained completely in order to make the meat pure. as well as alcohol and other intoxicants.