Women and religion

Women and religion
Women wearing the Muslim head-dress
Durga, Burdwan, 2011
Hindu Bride

The study of women and religion typically examines the role of women within particular religious faiths, and religious doctrines relating to gender, gender roles, and particular women in religious history.

Women in Christianity

Further information: Women in Christianity

According to the Christian Bible, wives are expected to be submissive in many ways. They are asked not only to be submissive to their husbands, but the church, their community, and God.[1]

Leadership roles in the organized churches and sects of Christianity are often restricted to males. In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, only men may serve as priests or deacons; only males serve in senior leadership positions such as pope, patriarch, and bishop. Women may serve as abbesses. Most mainstream Protestant denominations are beginning to relax their longstanding constraints on ordaining women to be ministers, though some large groups, most notably the Southern Baptist Convention, are tightening their constraints in reaction. Most all Charismatic and Pentecostal churches were pioneers in this matter and have embraced the ordination of women since their founding.

Women in Judaism

Further information: Women in Judaism

The role of women in Judaism is determined by the Hebrew Bible, the Oral Law (the corpus of rabbinic literature), by custom, and by non-religious cultural factors. Although the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic literature mention various female role models, religious law treats women differently in various circumstances.[2]

Gender has a bearing on familial lines: in traditional Judaism, Jewishness is passed down through the mother, although the father's name is used to describe sons and daughters in the Torah, e.g., "Dinah, daughter of Jacob". T

The wife and mother in Hewbrew, Jewish language, is called akeret habayit, which in literal English translation means "mainstay." A Jewish household is expected to live up to the Torah, in which the aketet habayit, or woman of the house, tends to the family and household duties.[3]

Women in Islam

Further information: Women in Islam

Women In Islam are guided by primary Islamic sources of personal law, namely the Quran and hadiths, as well as secondary sources such as the ijma, qiyas, ijtihad in form such as fatwas; the secondary sources vary with various sects of Islam and schools of jurisprudence (madhhab).

Islamic laws and cultural customs impact various stages of a Muslim women's life, including her education, employment opportunities, rights to inheritance, dress, age of marriage, freedom to consent to marriage, marriage contract, mahr, permissibility of birth control, divorce, sex outside or before marriage, her ability to receive justice in case of sex crimes, property rights independent of her husband, and when salat (prayers) are mandatory for her. Polygyny is allowed to men under Islam, but not widespread; in some Islamic countries, such as Iran, a woman's husband may enter into temporary marriages in addition to permanent marriage.There is debate and controversy on gender roles according to Islam.[4]

Sharia provides for complementarianism, differences between women's and men's roles, rights, and obligations. Being a Muslim is more than a religious identity; Islam outlines and structures ways in which Muslim women should live their lives on a day-to-day basis. In majority Muslim countries women exercise varying degrees of their religious rights with regards to marriage, divorce, legal status, dress code, and education based on different interpretations. Scholars and other commentators vary as to whether they are just and whether they are a correct interpretation of religious imperatives.

Women in Buddhism

Further information: Women in Buddhism

Women in Buddhism is a topic that can be approached from varied perspectives including those of theology, history, anthropologyand feminism. Topical interests include the theological status of women, the treatment of women in Buddhist societies at home and in public, the history of women in Buddhism, and a comparison of the experiences of women across different forms of Buddhism. As in other religions, the experiences of Buddhist women have varied considerably.

Although Buddha taught that wives should be obedient to their husbands (AN 5:33), he also taught that husbands should respect their wives – something that was revolutionary at the time.

Scholars such as Bernard Faure and Miranda Shaw are in agreement that Buddhist studies is in its infancy in terms of addressing gender issues. Shaw gave an overview of the situation in 1994:

In the case of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism some progress has been made in the areas of women in early Buddhism, monasticism and Mahayana Buddhism. Two articles have seriously broached the subject of women in Indian tantric Buddhism, while somewhat more attention has been paid to Tibetan nuns and lay yoginis.

However Khandro Rinpoche, a female lama in Tibetan Buddhism, downplays the significance of growing attention to the topic:

When there is a talk about women and Buddhism, I have noticed that people often regard the topic as something new and different. They believe that women in Buddhism has become an important topic because we live in modern times and so many women are practicing the Dharma now. However, this is not the case. The female sangha has been here for centuries. We are not bringing something new into a 2,500-year-old tradition. The roots are there, and we are simply re-energizing them.[5]

Women in Hinduism

Further information: Women in Hinduism

Ancient and medieval era Hindu texts present a diverse picture of duties and rights of women in Hinduism. The texts recognize eight kinds of marriage, ranging from father finding a marriage partner for his daughter and seeking her consent (Brahma marriage), to the bride and groom finding each other without parental participation (Gandharva marriage).[6] Scholars state that Vedic era Hindu texts, and records left by travelers to ancient and medieval India, suggest ancient and early medieval Hindu society did not practiceDowry or Sati.[7] These practices likely became widespread sometime in the 2nd millennium CE from socio-political developments in the Indian subcontinent.[8]

Hinduism is known to be a male dominate religion, meaning women take a backseat. Men have more duties within the community and to his family where women are more of a supportive element to the relationship. There is still a great respect for women, and men are expected to take care of their wives. In Hinduism, women are considered to be closer to nature and there are many feminine deities that are worshiped.[9]

Women in Sikhism

Further information: Women in Sikhism

According to Sikhism, men and women are two sides of the same coin of the human. There is a system of inter-relation and inter-dependence where man takes birth from woman, and woman is born of a man's seed. According to Sikhism a man can not feel secure and complete during his life without a woman, and a man's success is related to the love and support of the woman who shares her life with him, and vice versa.[10] The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, reportedly said in 1499 that "It is a woman who keeps the race going" and that we should not "consider woman cursed and condemned, when from woman are born leaders and rulers."

Sikhs have had an obligation to treat women as equals, and gender discrimination in Sikh society has not been allowed. However, gender equality has been difficult to achieve.

See also


  1. "What Does the Bible Say About Virtuous Woman?". www.openbible.info. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  2. "Judaism 101: The Role of Women". www.jewfaq.org. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  3. "What is the Role of the Woman in Judaism?". www.chabad.org. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  4. Dunn, Shannon; Kellison, Rosemary B. (2010-01-01). "At the Intersection of Scripture and Law: Qur'an 4:34 and Violence against Women". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 26 (2): 11–36. ISSN 1553-3913.
  5. Chodron, Thubten (1999-01-01). Blossoms of the Dharma: Living as a Buddhist Nun. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 9781556433252.
  6. "Formats and Editions of Hindu Samskaras : a socio-religious study of the Hindu sacraments. [WorldCat.org]". www.worldcat.org. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  7. Brick, David (2010-01-01). "The Dharmaśāstric Debate on Widow-Burning". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 130 (2): 203–223. JSTOR 23044515.
  8. Sarkar, Sumit; Sarkar, Tanika (2008-01-01). Women and Social Reform in Modern India: A Reader. Indiana University Press. ISBN 025335269X.
  9. V, Jayaram. "Traditional Status of Women in Hinduism". www.hinduwebsite.com. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  10. "Sri Guru Granth Sahib – A brief history | Islam Ahmadiyya". www.alislam.org. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
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