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Gender Equality in ReligionsIslam and African Tribal Religion (!Kung)



Religion completely controls people's rights in today's world, especially the rights of women. Aside from religion, in today's world we have women who are activists around the world dedicating their lives to making sure women can live a completely equal life and that their sex is not anything that holds them back. In religion, we may not always agree with everything, but to be faithful to our religion we need to give and take, and we can do this by accepting all of the benefits our religions have to offer to us, but also learn to work with anything that may be a restraint in our lives. In this brochure there will be three quotes from Islam and three from an African American Tribal religion that will be compared in order to show the differences between the religions and how they deal with equality in their societies and religion, and also how the women of these religions use what they have, whether it be benefits or restraints, and how they go about making it work in their day to day lives.

Sacred Text #1: Islam
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"Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them."
(Quran 4:34, "Women," Dawood, p. 83)

This quote proves that in the Islamic religion women are overruled by men when it comes to authority because that is they way God intended it to be. It doesn’t show that women are ever going without because even though they may not have any authority and will always come second to man, it is still the men’s responsibility to use their authority to provide for the women. It speaks all the way back in history and that this was always the belief, since the first man and woman were created. Women have to cover up because that is also the way God intended it to be. This quote also speaks to the point that the standards of a “good woman” is one who is obedient to those of authority, which in this case is always the man. This quote justifies any man of this culture to beat a woman whom they see as disobedient. Many women of this culture may not agree with this or may believe they have more rights than what is being offered, but to be "good" women of their religion they need to learn to work with their religion and use it to help them rather than hold them back.

"A male shall inherit twice as much as a female."
(Quran 4:11, "Women," Dawood, p. 77)

This quote proves that according to the Islamic culture a man will, not should, inherit at least double to what a woman will. Considering no authority and punished if disobedient, it would be very difficult for any woman of this culture to overcome this standard. It does, though, depend on the specific man and what he sees as disobedient. In a stereotypical family the man is the provider and the women is a house wife, but again that is just a stereotype, but this religion helps gives some truth to that stereotype because that is how things have to be.

“Every faith has its hare of literalists...But only within Islam is literalism fast becoming mainstream. We muslims, even here in the West, are routinely raised to believe that the Koran is the final and therefore perfect manifesto of God’s will...This is dangerous, because when abuse happens under the banner of faith as it is today, most Muslims have no clue how to debate, dissent, revise or reform...because we have never been introduced to the possibility, let alone the virtue, of asking questions...”
(Irshad Manji)

This quote comes from an Islamic woman activist, Irshad Manji. She is one of few, but very dedicated women who actually question what this religion values and how it affects peoples' lives, especially women. Because of the abuse happening in this religion is basically protected and justified by the Koran, which is looked at as the only right thing to believe, nothing can be done. To question or argue against the abuse, which most know is wrong, is to go against what they believe in, being the Koran, which they also know is wrong. By even questioning the values of this religion this woman is slowly gaining more rights than most women in that religion already because she took the first step.

Sacred Text #2: !Kung
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“Here, in a society of ancient traditions, men and women live together in a non exploitative manner, displaying a striking degree of equality between the sexes-perhaps a lesson of our own society.”
(The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman by Marjories Shostak; p.237)

This quote proves that the history of the !Kung religion is equality and that it has been carried out that way through the years. Since the quote refers to its' ways of equality as "striking" proves that those of the religion are very aware of how outside religions deal with equality and that they know they way they deal with it is extremely unique. The lesson of their society is to be equal and to live their day to day lives in an equal manner. Because the quote speaks to their ways as a "lesson of their own society" it proves that the religion admires it's own ways and thinks it should be taught or looked at as an example.

“Mothers are responsible for close to 90 percent of child care." "!Kung Women are recognized by men and women alike as the primary economic providers of the group”
(The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman by Marjories Shostak; p.238)

This quote just proves how opposite the !Kung religion may be from the rest of the world, but it also speaks to something that seems to be very true throughout the world and that is the fact that "mothers are responsible for close to 90 percent of child care". In today's world mothers are looked at as the ones responsible for the kids, whether it be because the men are still looked at as the providers who need to be out working, or because the men, which happens in too many cases, are not in the kids' lives. Not to say that is always the case, but when reading the quote most will think about how if a women, especially a young women, gets pregnant the responsibility is automatically more of hers than his. Something thats is very unusual about this religion is the fact that the women in this case are looked at as the primary providers, which makes the fact that they still have more responsibility over the children shocking because it proves how much the women have on their plates. This goes against most stereotypical societies of today.

“All in all, !Kung women maintain a status that is higher than that of women in many agricultural and industrial societies around the world.”
(The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman by Marjories Shostak; p.246)

This quote once again proves the fact that women of the !Kung religion are, oddly, are not technically above men, but have more responsibilities than in normal societies when looked at in a stereotypical way. It also proves that the religion is very aware that the rest of the world in not like them at all because they do not just simply say that women just maintain a higher status, but they throw in the idea that they have a higher status than most in societies around the world. They look upon their religion not as being odd for being different, but they take pride in the ways of their religion and feel as though the rest of the world should look upon it as a lesson on how to live.


In both religions, and in many other religions around the world, there are both benefits and restraints for both genders. Whether or not you accept these benefits and restraints and use them to your advantage is up to you. Some women don't see the boundaries of the religion as a way to hold them back, but a way to help them grow by figuring out a way to fight for what they know is right and what they know their rights should be while still being respectful for the beliefs of their religion. No religion is perfect and some women have learned to work with their religion. Still, religions many times are interpreted wrong which can degrade women and what their rights are.

Sources Cited:

"World Scripture - Equality." World Scripture - Equality. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.

"Religious Text Quotes." Religious Text Quotes. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.

"Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman." (1853830607) by Marjorie Shostak @ BookFinder.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2013.