Response to ” Gender and Religion”

Although we hear that there were matriarchal societies in the prehistoric time, now there is no existence of matriarchal societies, and most of the time women are totally dominated by men. When I read “Religion and Gender” written by Moojan Momen, I realized that as in every religion men are showed as superior to women, they do not hesitate to undermine or neglect the women. They might know but neglect the fact that all men and women are equal and science has already proved it. Men always want to dominate the women, and argue that if the women do not agree with what religion says, these women are directly going to ignore the God. It is true that sometimes what religion says about the prestige and honor of men and women, we cannot agree with these. The real thing is that the religions do not always discriminate between men and women. These are the society people who want to dominate women, and that’s why they sometimes even skip or recreate the lines of the Holy Scripture for their own advantage. For example, in the religion Islam, it is said that every woman should respect their husband, and they can go to the heaven by doing this, but Islam does not ever say that if her husband do wrong deeds with them (for example, if he beats her or demand dowry), the wife should tolerate it and not say a single word against him. No, Islam does not ever say anything like this. The husbands have created a line “A woman’s heaven lies in the feet of her husband,” which is never told Islam. The meaning of the line is if you do not make your husband pleased or happy, you will not go to the heaven which means that a woman always has to do whatever her husband wants from them, whether she want to do it or not. They formed this line like the line which our prophet Mohammad said “A child’s heaven lies on the feet of her or his mother.” Therefore, in this patriarchal society, men only use the religion for their own advantage and skip the lines to take away the rights of getting honor of the women.

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Women, Religion, and My perception

Honestly, I was very surprised after reading “Religion and Gender” from Moojan Momen’s book The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach. I was not surprised because religion is immense and often an enigma, I was surprised because women were segregated even in terms of religious belief. I did not know how to react to it because I thought that in religion, there is no bias. However, the reading proved me wrong. Women are segregated even in religious position. It is as though no matter in which era or which medium, the role of women is subjugated. Moreover, women are considered evil and capable of leading men astray into temptation and sin. According to the article “Religion and Gender,” “…female deity was subjugated by male warrior god, so women have been socially subjugated by men in most societies” (445). I feel this particular line from the book is unsuitable. So, are women supposed to believe what is written? It is also stated in the article that women should be subservient, so does that mean we should do this even today because that is how it is stated in the “book”? I think that sometimes people can ignore this. It just does not seem right for women to be submissive just because it is printed in holy books.

Sometimes, I believe, not knowing the truth is a much better option. If everyone starts to believe whatever is written, then it is not going to be a “better place.” We talk about equality all the time, but if we keep considering that a religious belief says women should be dominated then there is no chance for the world to become better and equal. We live in a patriarchal society, but it does not always have to be like that. We can have a flourishing equal society if they do not deem what is written all the time. We can change them, right?

Moreover, the article also talked about the “body-spirit duality.” Men are associated with the spirit because the spirit is good. The spirit is considered immortal, free, pure, and independent. Women are coupled with the body because it is dependent, dark, dirty, and mortal. How women are perceived is quite appalling. I do not believe women are impure. I am not able to absorb all these information, as it sounds truly inappropriate for me. Being a woman, I do not feel right when women are always dominated and it certainly did not feel good when women were dominated even in religious perception.

The Healing System in Nepal and My Response

In the article “THE SOCIAL SYMBOLISM OF HEALING IN NEPAL” the researcher Stacy Leign Pigg describes the relation between traditional and western healing system and the development of the country. People have a deep faith on traditional treatments and healers as they believe in supernatural power, witchcraft, and ghosts. Moreover, over time the western treatment such as modern medicine, surgery, and clinics are taking place country wide. Though rural people tend to use the ancient system more than urban people, it exists both in cities and villages. However, the access of western system symbols the development of the nation.

While reading the book, I felt so connected with the topic as the image of Bangladesh is quite similar. In Bangladesh both urban and rural people have superstitious believe and they greatly depend on tradition healing system. Though those methods are not scientific, it cures people more than mentally than physically. However, people are much aware about modern treatment nowadays and they try their best to be cured scientifically and quickly. But they cannot quit the thought of traditional healing system. For example, in childhood, when I had a long term fever and it was taking time to be cured, my mother took me to a religious person called “Huzur” and I was given water, which was specialized by his chant, and amulets with religious words. That kinds of thing happened with me lots of time even though I grew up in town. I cannot abstain myself from telling two story about my two grand mothers.

First, my mother’s mom in village, who has a strange diseases and it has not been cured by any kind of medicine. She takes both modern and traditional medicine with the hope that once any of them will work for her. It happens like that she is taking modern medicine prescribed by well known doctors, but after some weeks she feds up. Then, she will go to the traditional ways. Though most of the traditional healers are rural and have very strange or unscientific ways of healing, it works for her! She feels very good and healthy, but again it does not work long time. She has to take her previous medicine or go to doctors again. It’s clear that the traditional healers increase her mental confidence, but it cannot cure anything completely. Still she is trying to be cured with both methods as she is the sufferer.

Second, my father’s mom in town, who is so healthy and strong till now and suffers from leg pain only. She usually does not believe in traditional healing system and always consult with doctors. As it is a problem of old age, she has never been cured completely. However, once a stranger woman come to our home and influenced he that she could cure my grandmother’s problem in he own way. My grandmother believed that and told the woman to come next day. As a result, next morning, she came to our house collecting grass, paddy, and some other beans. Then she asked my grandmother to give sugar, salt and seed oil. After that she asked her to give a gold ornament and a silver ornament in a glass of water. My grandmother came to ask me for a silver ornament as she had only gold chain. I felt curiosity and went to her room to see what was going on there. The woman was arranging all those things that time. Seeing me she was annoyed and asked me to leave the room. I was surprised what secret activities were going to be held there. However, I left quietly. At the noon, my grandmother cried out suddenly and we ran to her and found that the women replaced her gold chain with an imitation one. My grandmother did not understand when she did this. We all were shocked by the extraordinary healing method.

First Menstruation Rituals in My Community and Status of a Woman

                When I was reading the article “Rituals of First Menstruation in Sri Lanka” by Deborah Winslow, I was thinking of the rituals existing in my own community. I never thought before that all of those rituals symbolize a woman’s position in my community. In this blog post I want to share some of these first menstruation rituals from my culture.

            I am from an urban area of Bangladesh. There are lots of first menstruation rituals in my culture. Lots of arrangements are taken when a girl has her first menstruation. In some families, they arrange a milad (religious festival) to pray to Allah for a good future for the girl, and in this day, her grandmother or sister-in-law pierces her ears and nose to make her a complete woman (as they think). All her relatives are invited in this milad. They give her clothing and ornaments. After the festival, the girl is sent to her grandmother’s house where her grandmother teaches her house hold chores. The main purpose of this celebration is to prepare the girl as a perfect housewife because they think that she is now physically mature and able to give birth, so according to the religion Islam, parents should marry her off as soon as possible. They invite their relatives so that they can bring marriage proposals for her. When a girl has her first menstruation, suddenly parents give her a shawl to cover her breasts although her breasts aren’t grown up yet. She is no more allowed to play in the field because she is a fertile woman, and fertile woman are vulnerable to bad spirits who can destroy her fertility and make her unable to give birth forever. Also, she has to bear a piece of iron with her when her monthly period begins because bad spirits fear iron. She is also given food without spicy. Her family gives her food made of using turmeric only; also, they give her to drink milk and honey so that she will have a fair skin color. This belief symbolizes how significant a fair skin color is in a girl’s life to have a good husband.

I can share my own experience here. Although I am not from an uneducated family, and my family didn’t celebrate my first menstruation as I have described above, I had to follow some rituals as well. Before my menstruation, I didn’t wear any shawl to cover my head and breasts. However, on that day of my first menstruation, my mother told me to wear a shawl. I was also given food without spicy and a piece of iron to bear. My aunts started to ridicule me saying, “We have heard that you saw flower. Is it true?” I said, “What kind of flower?” They replied laughing, “Red flower to give fruit.” At that time I didn’t understand anything, but now I know what red flower and fruit symbolizes. It is a common joke people make at the girl who has her first menstruation alluding to her fertility.

Finally, every culture has some rituals that play special significance in people’s lives. These are really interesting to explore to know about the beliefs of our own people.

 

 

 

My Ideal World

My ideal world would be a world free from religion discrimination. In my world, there will be the religion that people now follow, but without suppression and favoritism. People would be following their prayers, their culture and traditions, but they would also be the part of other religions’ events and practices.

My ideal world would not revise the doctrines from masculinity to femininity; however, it would add the great and historical deeds done by women in a very sophisticated way. The children of my ideal world would equally learn about Virgin Mary, Daughter Fatima and Mother Pattini as they had learned about Jesus, Mohammad and Buddha.

My ideal world would be a world with no gender bias. There would neither be patriarchic nor matriarchic society. Everyone will respect each other’s decision. There will be equal moral standard and independence. Both men and women will be honored for their duties; no matter if it is to nurture a child or to cut the stones.

My ideal world would allow each individual to take his/her personal decision. If a man can marry four wives then the women can also marry four husbands. If a wife jumps on fire after her husband’s death, then a husband also has to jump after the demise of his wife. Also, not only father can chant the rhymes on church but also nuns will have the same ability. Similarly, a woman could be a monk, priest or fakirs. There will be no set of rules to choose those holy people, but just the high level of their knowledge.

My ideal world would be a world where homosexuals will live a life without embarrass or dissatisfaction. The people would have free rights to divorce and marry a widowed. There will a common place to worship and show the devotion towards our almighty. Children and adults will not be assigned as high caste or low caste. Neither will there be enslavement nor boss classification; people will maintain their vocation with their interest and financial condition. Nevertheless, they would have a place where all these professionals and menial workers would come and share their ways of working to understand each other’s hard work.

At last but not the least my ideal world would be a world with no violence. Only peace will be found in each nook and corner of the earth. There would be a smile on each individual face wherever they go or whatever they do. Besides, it would be a world where animals and plants are equated as human beings and their living is valued.

Abuse of Religion

A few day ago, a case about domestic violence raised storm over a cup of tea. A lady professor of Dhaka University was severely beaten by her educated engineer husband. The husband not only beat her badly, but also pull out her eyes with his fingers and made her permanently blind. He escaped right after the oppression. At first the reason behind this torture was not known. That’s why, people from every sphere of life protested against the violence and they demanded for justice. After someday, the husband was caught by police and he made several excuses to save his back. One of the excuses was extra-marital affair. He said that his wife was having an extra-marital affair with a person in abroad, but he didn’t show any evidence. As soon as his statement was published through media, some people, especially men, started to oppose the women. They were kind of supporting the husband just because the woman was blamed with an extra-marital affair. Suppose the woman really had an affair with someone, but still it is not expected from an educated man to bit her wife like anything. He could have divorced her for not being loyal.

That time I was thinking that men started to oppose her because of the way they think of women. I have noticed a tendency among most of the men that whatever wrong happens in the society, such as—rape, eve-teasing, or adultery, they blame women for it. As if men don’t have any brain to think. Now that I have read the journal, named “Religion and Gender,” I came to know that it was some religious transcripts that created the idea that women are supposed to be sinful and are liable to lure men and lead them to destruction. The irony is, it also mentioned there that women are mentally weak and they are not as intellectual as men. If so, then how can women lure men to commit sin? As men are more intelligent than women, they should have understood women’s intention and keep themselves safe from them.

I feel so helpless when I see people blaming women for each and everything. I believe that those transcripts written about women are not accurate. In my opinion, they are misinterpreted or just created falsely by some men who don’t want a respectable place for women in the society. More detailed research should be done about religion and also advocated to general people so that they stop thinking women as devil or sinful.

Islam and Women Rights

The reading “Religion and Gender” points some important discrimination regarding religion and gender.  However, I would like to point out some right that Islam has given to women.  I am not going to mention about the other religions because I don’t know much about them regarding this issue.

Firstly, the religion Islam was given to the human kind in situation where people in the Arab countries were burying their new born baby girls alive or dead.  Islam strongly opposed this habit, and it encouraged the parents who give  birth to baby girls and nurture then by saying who ever parents give birth to three or more girls and nurture then properly will deserver heaven.

Secondly, Islam has given the right to a girl to choose her own husband.  She does not have to obey with the wedding proposal that her parents brought if she does not like that.  She has the right to say frankly whom she likes to marry and whom not to.

Thirdly, although divorce is the thing that Allah hates the most among the ones he accepted to do, he has given equal right for women similar to men.  Therefore, if a woman does not like her husband, then she is free to divorce him.  She neither deserves any bad treatments from her husband nor does she deserver dishonors from her society. 

Finally, I would like to mention the priority that Islam has given to education and no matter whether that’s a girl or a boy.  Both of them deserve education.  Islam says that education is a lost property of a Muslim and hence, we have to search for that.  It does not show any discrimination in any of these regards.

To sum up, these are some important issues that I thought of mentioning in the blog.  However, there are some superstitions like girl should not study and they should not go to mosque are not in the religious rules.  I don’t say we must go to mosque, but I can say that we can go to mosque, I go.  I think the rights that are given in my religion, Islam, is more than enough for me and perhaps to anybody else to lead a peaceful and trouble less life.

My response to the year as a whole

Our academic year is coming to its end. Throughout the year we have read many articles, fiction and non-fiction journals, plays, and poems. All of them were really fascinating as our teacher has chosen them very carefully for us. We did various activities like plays, gender bending day, mixed group discussions, writing blogs and so on. Basically, our readings were based on different themes such as gender, religion, family, dreams, hopes, imaginations and so on.

I learned a lot this whole year. Among all the themes, gender was the one that I enjoyed the most. Under that theme, I learned the things I had known in the past but not have realized it carefully. Now that I have learned a lot about it, I can see the clear discrimination among male and female in the society. In the past I just had accepted the rules and followed them as the society wants. However, now I am able to question the conventional rules and regulations that the society imposes on us for being a woman. Furthermore, our critical thinking practices have also helped us to analyze the matters carefully and think it through all the aspects as much as possible.

Overall, the theme of gender was applied to all the readings that we did this year. We started the course learning about this topic and ended the course learning more about this topic. Most of the readings and novels associated with the class throughout the year were somehow explaining the gender roles in the society and depicting the gender discrimination in our society. I also got to apply the things that I have learned in this class in other classes, especially about gender issues.

To sum up, the academic reading and writing class was very interesting and informative. I learned many new things about anthropology, gender, sociology, politics, and history. The most important of all of these is that I started noticing things such as gender discrimination, parents’ love towards their children, importance of family, and variations in our cultures in the society that have existed in this world but was not much noticed. I also realized that the small things we learn in every moments of our life make a big difference. Heartily thanks to our respected teacher for teaching us such great lessons which we would remember throughout our life.

Digya Shrestha

My response to “Religion and Gender”

              Reading the chapter “Religion and Gender,” of the book The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach by Moojan Momen, I feel astonished because there is some information that I have never heard before in my religion, Christianity. For example, it is mentioned that women are represented body (bad side) while men are associated with spirit (good part) and that Eve is believed to be inferior to Adam (Momen 436). However, as I have learned from my community, Adam was not superior to Eve, and they do not blame for Eve as woman to persuade Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. Rather, I have been taught that they were both human beings, so they were easy to have sins like any other people. In addition, inside each person, male or female, there are always two parts, body and spirit. Actually, bodies are connected to bad things whereas spirits are holy. There is nothing related to gender discrimination, but men and women are equally treated by Jesus Christ.

            I find that the ideology was made of human beings who mistranslated God’s words. This is societies that have misled a lot of people to a wrong way because they have strength and social status. How could people exploit their power to change the truth? I feel indignant for women in the past who were strongly discriminated against. Why has there always been inequality in our societies? Why can people live peacefully together without dominating each other? Particularly, how can they treat women partially while they are also the other side of the whole world? Without women, how can humans’ lives continue? I wonder when the world is free of fallacies about the power and the importance of women. Therefore, I think we can totally change these fallacies one day if we together make our effort.

             As a student having chances to study these things, I feel myself responsible for escalating woman statuses in our societies. However, in my opinion, we need to focus on obtaining equity among everyone, not on retaliating by endeavoring to dominate men again. The important thing is to make all people understand their fallacies of making stereotypes over women. It is a very good step that in some religions, women have started to have stance and raised their voices for themselves. Hope that we can see the brighter world without discrimination against women in the near future.

                                                                    Works Cited

Momen, Moojan. The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach. Oxford, 

                England: Oneworld, 1999. Print.

Thu

Wrath

In the chapter “Wrath” of the autobiography of Vasant Moon, we get to know that Ambedkar and his followers somehow tried to oppose the Quit India movement against British headed by Mahatma Ghandi by telling Hindus to enter the British army, demanding an independent country, and many others (102).

I believe that Ambedkar and his followers were right to demand for their rights. They had right to fight for their position in society, but as soon as I read about their opposition to the Quit India movement, I felt that it was wrong time to fight for their position. I think it was the time when they need to be together so that they first could get freedom from British government. It was fortunate that they got freedom from the British government at that time. I think it was quite possible that British government could trick on their politics, and let them fight with each other rather than setting them free from their control. I am not a politician to interfere in the decision of great politicians, but I think they should have been together when Congress party was fighting for the freedom of India.

Some may think that if Ambedkar and his followers had accompanied Congress that time, they would not have gained their own country as Pakistan. It is true that they gained separate country in which they made their own policy. However, we can’t forget the terrible war between two countries which lasted for several years, some may believe that the war was certain even they had not demand for the separate country at that time, but I believe if they had worked together for certain period of time, they would have solved their problem through negotiation rather than breaking up into the war.