In the fourth installment of a six-week lecture series on Christianity and Islam, a three-woman panel put together by the United Methodist Student Movement Ministry Team spoke about women in the Muslim culture.
Often perceived by the Western world to have an oppressive attitude toward their women, Muslims often have been subjected to scorn and ridicule because of a misconception that these negative behaviors are rooted in Islamic belief, speaker Brenda Meneses said.
Meneses said that is not true.
Islam actually teaches equality and respect for everyone, including women, but people often confuse cultural behaviors with the actual theology, Meneses said. Christians in the Western world, she said, have difficulty understanding because they have a different attitude about the role of religion in their lives.
Christians – Westerners in general, for that matter – have long separated their religious life from a secular one. They are “compartmentalized,” she said.
In contrast, Muslims integrate their religion into every aspect of their lives, affecting how they dress, court one another and conduct politics, she said.
Meneses and the other two women on the panel, Aurora Deiri and Narjis Pierre, acknowledged conditions for women vary from country to country but they stem largely from the culture that existed prior to Islam’s spread throughout the world and the nuances of varied interpretations of the theology.