Watford Bridge of Peace

The Role and Perception of Women in the 3 Abrahamic Faiths

Our speakers: Stephanie, from the Friends Meeting House, Di from the Watford and District Synagogue and Kauser from the Muslim community.

Listening to the various speakers, we could find a common trend between the 3 faiths: all expressed a great respect towards women and an equal value between men and women.

But in reality and with time, this wasn’t actualised. A more male oriented society dominated people’s lives and restricted women mostly to the rearing of children and the keeping of the home. Each speaker gave interesting facts about their faiths. For example, Stephanie said that the Quakers were quite advanced for their time in considering women’s role in society. Quakerism arose 350 years ago out of Christianity. Women were allowed as ministers since the early 1800s. But this wasn’t the case throughout the Christian faith. Christian like Martin Luther said that women should be confined to children, home and cooking. Only, recently the Christian churches have ordained and accepted women in a leading role. The Catholic Church is still only ordaining men. Women are still trying to find their place as an equal partner to men.

Di described fascinating details on the life of Orthodox Jewish women. Women are wearing modest clothing with long sleeves, long skirts and thick stockings. Their hair is covered with a scarf, hat or wig – shetel. The adoption of modest clothing and the covering of the head is a common tendency in all three Abrahamic faiths. Jewish mother are the Queen of the home. Her role is to keep a Kosher home with everything labelled and teach this to their children. A Jew's spiritual essence is inherited via his or her mother. When spoken about, a Jew is associated to his mother’s name and not his father’s name.

Listening to Kauser speech helped us understand better the way women are view in Islam. Once again the original teaching promoted respect and equality between the genders but the concept was lost with time. Aiasha, one of the most prominent of Mohammed’s wives became a role model for Muslim women. She is considered as the foremost scholars of Islam early age contributing to the writing of the Islamic Sharia law. Aiasha lead and lost a battle against rebels disputing Mohammed’s succession. Following Aiasha’s defeat women lost their status and became marginalized in Islam.

Those are just a few reflections from the meeting. We thank Riaz and Robina for their warm welcome and hospitality and for a most interesting afternoon.

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