Women and Islam

As this theme is very interesting and also because there is a lot of different things that can be said about it, we open this subject here, but we will also bring more facts about this matter.

At the begin of the article I would like to say that Turkey is a laic country (religion and state are separated) and the country is in a very different position if you compare it with some other Islamic countries. In Saudi Arabia, for example the Kuran (Islamic bible) is part of the law, which not happen in Turkey. An example: in Saudi arabia women should cover themselves with black cloths and scarves otherwise they go to a religious prison. In Turkey those women could choose to cover themselves or not and they will not be punished because of it. Religion and law do not work together in Turkey. So there is a gap between Turkey and some other Islamic countries if you compare them.

The contrast between women and men in Islam is clear in social life. As some religious experts say there are also some laws that protects women, like when a woman get married the man must give an amount of money to her. This money would stay with her and can just be used with her consent. Woman can only marry a man but a man can marry more than a woman. Today polygamy is forbidden in Turkey and Tunisia. In Turkey a man can only marry a woman in the register office and the civil code is a copy of the Swiss code which was implemented by Ataturk the Founder of the Turkish Republic. Still in Turkey, in a religious ceremony in a mosque a man can marry more than a woman.

Women selling turkish gozleme

Polygamy was due to two points. The first one is explained through the reason that at ancient times a lot of men died in wars. Allowing a man to marry more than a woman would mean that this woman could give birth to kids that would turn into men and increase the army of the country. So on this way the Koran is protecting the state. The second point is explained on the fact that a lot of men die in the war and they would leave their widow alone without any financial support. At that time women was not as independent as today, they did not sustain themselves financially and they did not have any profession. So those women would turn into prostitution to survive. Giving the right for a man to marry more than a woman was also thinking in a way of protecting this women. Does it make sense ?

Divorce is possible in Islam, but only if started by the man who is the responsible of the finance of the marriage. There are some rules that make the divorce harder. This fact is because Mohammed said that "divorce is the legal activity less wanted from God". In Turkey a man or a woman can start a legal divorce, the above rule is just valid for religious ceremonies.

In the Kuran, sutra 4 it is said that "if the woman is not obedient, man must instruct her, bring her in a separated bed and beat her". In Turkey any human being which is beaten is under penalty of the law and depending on the injury can go to jail.

Woman circumcision are not mentioned in the Kuran and it is not obligatory. Untill today circumcisions are done in North Africa. In recent years there is a big opposition against it.

A woman can be clearly identified as Muslim if she wears the "chador" ( a scarf). A man can be not easily identified as there is no special object that can be seen as easy as the chador. The scarf can be in different colors, black for the most religious, some have flowers or ornaments and finally some are just white. In non laic countries women must wear black scarves and black cloths. In Turkey there is a great variety of scarves colors and forms used by Moslem women.

Date: July 1st, 2001
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