The most profound misconception concerning the status of women in Islam is they are not equal to men.

According to the Qur’an, Allah has prepared forgiveness “and a great reward” for devout, humble and charitable women in the same way as for men. Yet, said Bhawana Kamil of Santa Clara and Dina El-Nakhal of Davis, the equality message has been lost on some cultural groups and societies that treat women poorly and then blame their behavior on a misrepresentation of Islam.

Kamil and El-Nakhal will talk about that issue and others as panelists in a “Women of Islam” discussion at 1:30 p.m. today at the Cesar Chavez Central Library, 605 N. El Dorado St. Kamil said they will introduce the religion, then talk about women’s roles. The event is presented in cooperation with Tracy Islamic Outreach.

Invoking Islam as the reason to suppress women in various countries is similar to the Ku Klux Klan upholding Christianity for its treatment of black Americans, Kamil said.

“Certain cultures may use religion as an excuse for their political motivations because it has such a powerful effect on people,” she said. “When people say, ‘That’s what God says,’ others are less likely to rebel.”

“Islam is an easy demon and target right now, and has been for quite some time,” El-Nakhal said. “Partially because this is when the Muslim world and the Western world have clashed and demonization has become normal.”

Yet there are Muslim societies in which women are full partners. For instance, women have served as heads of state of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia.


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