Throughout the world, there exists the general stereotyping of Muslim women as the slaves of their culture. Such a perception has shaped the way people think about Muslim women and hence affected their rights to investment, education, property, mobility, sexuality, leadership, and political affiliations. In this context, the Western feminism movements and the mainstream media have painted a picture of the Muslim women as ”the oppressed gender” but without much reflection on the rights they enjoy, or why they are the ”slaves of their culture” (Abu-Lughod, 2013). In this article, a reflection on Muslim women, as presented by the West, is juxtaposed with real-life experiences with Muslim women from Arab countries, such as Egypt and UAE. Such works are to find the gap between reality and the common folklore about Muslim women.
Rights of Muslim Women
A closer look at Abu-Lughod’s (2013) article indicates that there has been a continuous battle between religion and human rights, especially for Muslim women. There are many examples of the way women’s rights are overlooked in Muslim majority countries such as UAE. As illustrated by other authors like Goby (2020), Muslim women have limited rights compared to their male counterparts. In this context, Goby (2020) argues that joining professions such as healthcare and banking are harder for Muslim women in UAE than the case of Muslim men. Arguably, gender inequality in UAE affects Muslim women more than men on the bases of commerce, investment, and access to quality education. Muslim women have continuously been subjected to commercial exploitation, oppressive cultural practices, insults, restrictions from public places, and arbitrary dress codes such as the burqa. Therefore, the saving culture among Muslim Women in UAE lags behind due to their limited economic and leadership empowerment (Goby, 2020).
The oppressions described herein are essentially used to distinguish between men and women on the bases of rights and social responsibilities. However, many anthropologists and the media are interested in attaching Islam’s religious contributions to the suffering of Muslim women. A deeper reflection indicates that the government, politics, and economic status. Therefore, Muslim women’s subjection to poverty, hunger, illiteracy, domestic abuse, and sexual exploitation is a multifaceted problem that doesn’t depend on religion/culture alone (Abu-Lughod, 2013).
Understanding Muslim women’s lives is fascinating because it is a complex combination of determination, critical thinking, hard work, and adherence to cultural and religious expectations. Furthermore, the challenges in Muslim women’s lifestyles and social responsibilities have more to deal with the day-to-day experiences rather than what the media has been indicating. In this context, Muslim women have a strong attachment to their religion as their source of refuge. Therefore, despite the numerous attempts by feminism and human rights activists to ”free off” Muslim women from their oppressive religion, the Muslim women have clung to their religion as a source of encouragement (Abu-Lughod, 2013).
Muslim women are subjected to different struggles, such as poverty, gender inequality, illiteracy, and gender violence. All these factors have limited the expression of Muslim women’s rights and barred their access to investment and savings opportunities. It is sympathetic to see that Muslim women are very committed to their family and their religion. Regardless of these commitments, Muslim women have been going through hardships that need to be rectified. It is essential to enhance economic development, social and political structures to improve Muslim women’s rights to savings and investment.
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