A Tragedy Named Religion

This week we read a lot about women in the eyes of religion. As it was stated in The Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach written by Momen Moojan, religion have had both positive and negative effects on women’s lives. On one hand, religion has given women the right of ownership and good association with wisdom (442). On the other side, religion has suppressed women morally and socially (436-9).
It was one of my great concerns that why Islam, has given women less freedom or to say it better, less value. Since I have started to think of having a religion or thinking of a pattern for my lifestyle, I have been wondering about Islam, the religion, which is famous for its strictness and ignoring human rights. I used to hear it all the time that in Islam, it is discouraged to counsel with women or that women cannot hold the position of leadership since their logic and wisdom is less than men’s logic. I had heard a lot of disappointing ideas about Islam and the position of women from its point of view until I read Moojan’s book and his saying that one of the reasons for negative connotation of religion and women is men. According to Moojan, it was the selfishness of some men, who changed the concepts of some religions or twisted the texts as they wanted (433-4). Similarly, some Quran interpreters and their old and prejudiced viewpoints have played an important role to taint the face of Islam in front of humans.
Today that I was surfing on the internet looking for more information about the role of women in Islam that I found an article that made me more hopeful about religion, that here is Islam.MUhammad Fazlullah, in his article “Islam and Women’s Role” says that it is the misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the Quran and Islam that has deprived women from their rights in society and family.
In this article, Muhammad Fazlullah, had written about the surah 27:33 and 34 that God says about the land whose ruler is a woman. In this part, God not only doesn’t blame men for counseling with women but also he describes her cleverness and logical way of doing her work. Moreover, God has named one of the surahs by the name of Mary, Jesus’ Mother. Islam had been the religion of supporting women and not suppressing them. What Islam has stated in the Quran and what Muslims are following as the Quran’s orders are so confusing.

Religion is Patriarchy

      After reading the article “Religion and Gender,” I didn’t find any difference between religion and patriarchy. The main perception of a patriarchal belief is to make women submissive to men; similarly, all of the world’s major religions including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism are based on patriarchal beliefs where women are considered to be inferior to men, and where women are symbolized by a body with no spirit.

     This article makes me think, is god really biased? Sometimes, I also think, is god a male? Why do god’s rules always try to suppress women? In Islam, a perfect woman has to obey her husband and perform household chores; in Hinduism, women can never be the owner of their father’s property; in Buddhism, women are considered as impure than men, and in Christianity, women’s have no voice even in the church. How ridiculous it is! All these religious doctrines are designed to dominant women. I become very frustrated thinking all of these things. Religious is a sensitive part of a culture. Personally, I have a strong faith in my religion, but reading and thinking of all these things, my mind fills with confusion. I am afraid thinking that women are not even considered as human beings; it seems that humanness is only associated with men.

       However, I’ve got my answer from the feminist study of religion. How can it be possible that every religion undermines women’s positions? Yes, it’s possible because years after years only the men have interpreted the religious doctrines. No woman has ever tried to analyze about religions, but they have only been practicing religious rituals without even thinking what they are doing. Therefore, the men misinterpreted the religious principles to establish their patriarchal beliefs. Thus, women are being dominant by men in the society. Today, we see in every step of life, patriarchy tries to constrict women development giving references from religions. Therefore, god is not biased nor a male, but the men interpreters are biased who make women gullible. It’s the time to come forward to analyze our own religions, thereby establishing them as the epitomes of equality in the world. All educated women should study their own religious doctrines to delete the lies and establish the truths in the society.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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

Discrimination in Religion

Since this blog entry is the last entry that I am writing this term, I would like to share my final thoughts about the article that I recently read.

We learnt about the article, “Religion and Gender,” written by Moojan Momen that particularly highlights the position and role of women in religion. With ample number of examples and exhaustive descriptions about the beliefs and thoughts of different religions towards gender, this article provides the idea that women have been discriminated in the aspect of religion as well. Before learning the article, I have never thought that religion could be so discriminating regarding gender. According to the article, almost in all the religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism, women are considered evils and the root cause of all sins (437-8). After having read the article, I came to realize that religion also practices gender discrimination, which I hadn’t thought before.

I follow Hinduism, a polytheistic religion, in which people worship many gods and goddess. Although there are many devotees of goddess, the main and supreme power is believed to be possessed by the male gods. Moreover, in the hierarchy of religion — priests are given more importance, and usually the religious leaders are men. Besides, religion has also played a vital role to augment the prevailing disparity in gender. Associating men with spirit and women with mere body, religion apparently brings partiality between genders. In my religion as well, women are considered to devote their lives to their husbands and never go against them. In the past, suttee pratha, in which women had to sacrifice their lives in the burning pyre with their husbands, was common in Hinduism. Although it is banned now, it can be said that religion actually sanctioned violence against women. In addition, sons are given priority over daughters to perform any kind of funeral- ritual rights and sons are also given right to inherit the power and property.

Talking about discrimination in religion, I would like to share my experience that had once disappointed me. In my religion, girls are not allowed to perform any ritual rites, or even participate in any kind of occasions and festivals when they are undergoing menstruation cycle. Once I had to face same problem during one of my favorite festivals named Tihar because I was having menstruation. This disappointed me a lot as I was not allowed to enjoy my festival as others did. I thought that my religion has been unfair. It was not my mistake, so why should I have to be “punished”? Why do my brothers not have any restrictions? These kinds of questions rose in my mind. However, I was pacified by my mother, telling me that it is the fate of every Hindu girl.

Thus, these are some views about my religion which I consider to be discriminative.

Religion and Women

While reading the article, “Religion and Gender,” many thoughts and questions gripped me. First, I wondered why there were only male Gods in every religion except for Hinduism. When I read about the transformation of power from the hands of female Goddesses into the hands of male Gods, I had a question, “Is women’s biology the major cause for suppression of women and their loss of power?” This may be true to some extent since the female Goddesses had to bear children and rear them.

 

The other thing that continuously haunted my mind is, “Why are women regarded as sinful, cheap, root of all evils, devil’s gateway, and so on?” I was heartbroken to encounter all these titles given to women by all the religions in some way. At the mean time, I remembered about Hindu Goddess, Durga, who is regarded as the most powerful Goddess and is provided with weapons and power by all other Gods, according to Hindu religious texts. More importantly, the major Hindu festivals are celebrated on the praise of Goddesses. Isn’t it ironic then to consider women as “the root of all evils” by the same religion?

 

When talking to one of my classmates, she said that when questioned Allah whom to give high respect and position, he had said, “Mother”. Only the fourth time he had mentioned about father. This shows that Islam has such higher status for women, but the same Islam again regards men superior to women.

 

The reading at first quite depressed me, but later I had more logical thoughts regarding it. I came to the deduction that in the beginning of civilization, men were the ones who had first access to the religious texts. They were the ones who wrote them, if not they were the ones to interpret those religious texts. It is common that whoever finds a way to dominate other group will not hesitate to manipulate the main message for their group benefits. Thus, it may have been the same to cover the aspects that prioritize women and bring into light the bad aspects of women in those religious texts.

 

Despite the fact that this reading was depressing to learn, it was thought provoking at the same time. It is after this reading that my desire to read the religious text books of the religion I follow has become more intense so that I can find out what actually is written there, and what we need to take from there and what to leave behind.

Patriarchy

Patriarchy is a society ruled by men and they have the sole power in making decisions. So far, I have experienced the control of patriarchy neither in my family nor in my school. My blog is mainly focused on the comparison of patriarchal experience between my friend Tasnia Symoon and myself. When I interviewed her last time, she said that she experienced patriarchy in several aspects of her life. In her family, her father is the one who made the decisions. Moreover, in her schools, most of her teachers were males especially the headmasters. Conversely, in my family, both my mother and father have equal right to make the right decision. Both provide suggestions and take whichever is more beneficial to our family. Also, from my elementary schools to high schools, I had studied under both male and female teachers. We have equal proportion of male and female teachers as well.
In Bhutan, no such thing called patriarchy and matriarchy exists. As long as we have the ability, a woman can become a leader, and if she doesn’t have the ability, she can land up somewhere else. Also, the same goes with men. Our entire accomplishment depends upon our qualifications, academic marks, and other necessary attributes. In the schools, I didn’t face any inequality as a girl. None of the boys dominated the environment. We had free access to every corners of the territory. However, Tasnia said that she can go outside her home, but it is not always secure.
Tasnia asserted that although she lives in a patriarchal society, she doesn’t feel any sense of inferiority. Also, she believes that it is good to have her father as the head of her family. Her father treats the children and her mother lovingly and affectionately, so she doesn’t have any negative notion about it. However, she is not happy with the fact that most schools were controlled by male principals. She raised the question why can’t a woman be the headmistress of the school? She said that woman can also do like men.
Tasnia concluded my interview by saying that both men and women are human beings, we share the same community, and we all are special in our own ways. So let us all broaden our minds leaving behind those stereotypical views about the distinctions between men and women. She ended saying all women are capable to participate in the society.

Without Women, Men are Also Nothing

After reading “Religion and Gender”, I really felt bad. To be candid, it was really depressing to know all sorts of discrimination against women. The contemporary society, laws, our family has been giving importance to male than female. Now that I knew, religion has played a vital role in discriminating women, I feel somewhat bad. I am sad thinking that the religion on which I have this
much faith and the religion that I have been following by accepting its every rule, itself has been discriminating me. People’s tendency to discriminate based on sex and gender is somewhat understandable, but knowing that this predominant patriarchic society was in existence from the era of gods and goddesses is really frustrating. Even knowing that women are the creator, how can they be considered inferior? Is it because the male partners are needed to fertilize any woman? Then if men are asked to give birth to a child themselves, would it be possible? The prominent answer would be “NO!”  If men and women both need each other to continue the mankind then why should only women be underestimated?

I felt indignant after learning that women are considered as a sinful body, whereas men are taken as pure soul. Its right that body needs soul to be alive then what is the identity of soul that has no body? Can soul be seen? If so then why would we all human beings are associated with this physical body even though we have soul? Moreover, only body is seen, there is a proof of existence of body but where is the proof of existence of any soul? Have anyone seen it? If looking from this point of view then body should be ranked at higher position than soul. It’s really not justice to female when the creators are female, those nurturing are women and those who teach men how to live socially are female. Atleast females should be given the respect they deserve. In absence of one, either male or female, mankind can’t be possible. They both need to cooperate with each other and should have due respect for each other.