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Embracing Islam from an American Perspective By Amy Winslow.

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Presentation on theme: "Embracing Islam from an American Perspective By Amy Winslow."— Presentation transcript:

1 Embracing Islam from an American Perspective By Amy Winslow

2 Objectives To discuss the reality versus the myth regarding women in Islam To illustrate the real life of a Muslim woman in America To help eradicate the fear of the unknown that causes divisions To build bridges for better understanding

3 Women in Islam The status of women in Islam is one of the most extremely misunderstood and incorrectly portrayed things in western society Must separate religion and culture Example: No prohibition on driving in Quran

4 Islam versus Culture In the media, we are incorrectly led to believe that Islam prefers men to women Example: We are made to believe that a baby boy is more happily received than a baby girl God tells us in the Quran that both baby girls and baby boys are equally a blessing "To Allah belongs the domination of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female children to whomever He wills and bestows male children to whomever He wills" (42:49)

5 Islam versus Culture Myth: That women are made entirely for the pleasure of her husband Reality: "They are your garments and you are their garments (Q 2:187) the function of garments being to protect, cover, and adorn

6 Equality and Equity For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise-- for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward (Qur'an 33:35)

7 Equality and Equity The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Women are equal to men in all acts of piety "And their Lord answered them: Truly I will never cause to be lost the work of any of you, Be you a male or female, you are members of one another" (3:195) Adam and Eve equally responsible for their own sins by deceit he [Satan] brought them to their fall: when they tasted the tree their shame became manifest to them (7:19:23)

8 Simple facts A woman is equal to man in the pursuit of education and knowledge Both are enjoined to seek knowledge Equal right to form contracts Equal right to enterprise and to earn money To own businesses To own property To have wealth of her own Have the right of security and provision Her wealth is her own, but she has a right over her husbands wealth

9 Not identical but equitable Inheritance A woman receives a certain share of her deceased kin's property, a share which depends on her degree of relationship to the deceased and the number of heirs. This share is hers, and no one can take it away or disinherit her Amount different from that of her male relatives because she is not responsible for providing for anyone, while her male relatives must provide food, shelter, etc for her.

10 Not identical but equitable Standing in prayer Muslim women stand behind men does not indicate in any sense that she is inferior to him helps everyone to concentrate! If a man was standing behind a woman who was bending over and kneeling on the ground, would be really be concentrating on his prayer or on her?

11 The Rights of the Wife The right to receive mahr, a gift from the husband which is part of the marriage contract and required for the legality of the marriage. The right to maintenance Despite any wealth she may have, her husband is obligated to provide her with food, shelter and clothing The right to kind treatment "And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may live in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between you; Verily, in that are signs for people who reflect." (30:21)

12 Polygamy What the media wants you to believe: all Muslim men marry 4 wives Reality: Polygyny (more than one wife) in Islam is a permission not an injunction Islam did not introduce this concept, but regulated and restricted it Not to satisfy lust For the welfare of the widows and the orphans of the wars In practice, most Muslim men do not have more than one wife Culture versus Islam Misused in practice

13 Muslims in the US There are approximately 6 to 7 million Muslims in the US Largest percentage are from South Asia at 33% Second largest segment are African Americans at 30% 1,800,000 to 2,100,000 1.6 % are White Americans Between 96,000 to 112,000 0.6 % are Hispanic/Latino Between 36,000 to 42,000 Ethnicity% South Asian33 African American30 Arab25 Sub-Saharan African3.4 European (Balkan)2.1 White American1.6 Southeast Asian1.3 Caribbean1.2 Turkish1.1 Iranian0.7 Hispanic/Latino0.6 From, Ihsan Bagby et. al, The American Mosque: A National Portrait. CAIR 2001.

14 American Women Embracing Islam Myth: American women only embrace Islam when they marry Muslim men and are forced to Reality: 37 percent of American women embrace Islam outside of marriage (Daughters of Another Path, Carol Anway) There is no compulsion in religion (Q 2:256)

15 Why people embrace Islam Simplicity No intermediaries That God is one and had no partners No saints, no trinity Enjoins good manners Enjoins respect for parents And We have enjoined on every person to be good to his/her parents: in travail upon travail did his/her mother bear him/her and in years twain was his/her weaning: hear the command Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is your final Goal. (Qur'an 31:14)

16 Questions I am typically asked … Why do you wear a scarf? Did you convert for your husband? What did you parents say when you became Muslim?

17 Hijab – the headscarf Modesty And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty (or ornaments) except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their khimar (veils) over their bosoms and not display their beauty (ornaments) except to their husbands, their fathers.... (24:31-32) Protection Respected as a person for my knowledge and talents and inner beauty, not based on physical beauty Men have rules about clothing as well Their clothing must be modest and cover from naval to knee No silk or gold

18 How and when I embraced Islam... Learned about Islam from my best friend in an all-girl Catholic school in Houston, Texas Studied for 3 years Embraced Islam 8 years before I was married

19 What my parents said … Their biggest concerns: Wanted to know if I still believed in God Wanted to know if it was for a boy

20 My life as a Muslim Despite the myths that are spread about Muslim women, I do drive I am a full time student, again I have worked in large corporations and hospitals I am close to my family

21 Thank you for you listening. I would be happy to answer any questions. Contact : Amy Annette Winslow –

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