This scientific paper on portrayal of women in different Indian religion intends to present how women are treated in religion, the importance given to women in religion, the specific roles played by women in religion. This term paper will enlighten you with a holistic understanding of women’s role in different religion. Certainly religion creates an important impact in every woman’s life which is an undeniable truth. Religion is just an instrument to make human life meaningful and significant irrespective of any gender discrimination. Especially religion played an important role in ancient time in determining what a woman ought to do and what not to do. Of course initially every rule and principle was drawn for a good reason and for smooth running of a society. There was no any kind of suppression, oppression, discrimination and belittlement exercised when any religion initiated. All these evil elements entered into religion after many decades of its birth through a few corrupted minded people. In each religion women are given certain roles to play. Women have been discriminated in all religion invariably on the aspect of the femaleness or in other words their physical weakness.
Portrayal of Women in Christian Religion
One could say that Christianity has respected women and given due respect to her in their religion. Even the Bible says that both men and women are created without any disparity among them for they are created in the image and likeness of God. Though the roles given to them may differ, they are equal to each other. We could see that women were placed in important positions and movements even from the very early ages of Christianity. Studies have been made by the historians to check the amount of contribution made by women to Christianity. There are two views which explain the role of women in Christianity namely: Traditional view and Egalitarian view. Understanding these two views would give us the understanding of how women really play an important role in Christianity.
The traditional view emphasizes on submission and dependence. The women are to be subjected and dependent to the husbands at home, elderly men and leaders in the society and in the Church. By saying this they do not say that they are to be treated as slaves, rather they are to be given freedom to exercise their own wishes but depending on men. For in the book of Genesis from The Bible it said that Eve came from Adam and was created from Adam. Thus, this view follows the hierarchal standard which is spoken by St. Paul in his letter were he says that Christ is subjected to the Father, man to Christ and woman to man.
The Egalitarian view stresses on the mutual understanding and reciprocity of submission between each other, both men and women. Here there is no hierarchal standards rather submission of one to the other both in at home and in the church. This view says that both men and women are from God and are made in the image and likeness of God.
Role of women
Having seen how women are looked at, it is equally important to see how women play a vital role in the church and what they did in the church. Down through the centuries women are not only treated as submissive but we find they are teachers and scholars. Several atrocious rules which existed have been banned. Women are considered equal to men by giving special privileges and honour. We find women in all the fields in Christianity, where they are allowed to start special orders like men religious, they are given the power to be the superior of their religious institutes, are asked to take up new missions to venture and proclaim the Word of God. Even in marriage life gone are those days where men rules her. They are united together to express mutual love between them and Christ. They are asked to offer and share love like Jesus Christ.
It is said that it is because of women that Christianity got constituted. They have played major role as religious women who gathered people together. This continues even today and we are still able to witness and experience the support of women in Christianity. In the 1970s there were several authors who broke the idea of traditional view and complemented with the egalitarian view which focuses on mutual submission. As a sign of encouragement during this period were formed four primary views in Christianity regarding the role of women namely: Christian feminism, Christian Egalitarianism, Complementarianism and Biblical patriarchy? Christian feminism focused on the active feminism from Christian perspective and how to face life challenging situations. Christian Egalitarianism kept an end to the specific importance to one gender and highlighted mutual love and submission are the key factors in building up a relation.
Portrayal of Women in Sikhism Religion
Sikhism is a monotheistic religion. It is one of the youngest major world religions. It is originated form Punjab the northern part of the Indian Subcontinent. Guru Nanak is the founder of Sikhism. The basic teachings of Sikhism are given in the Sacred Scripture Guru Granthe Sahib. Some of the teachings are: Divine Unity and Equality of all humankind; engaging in selfless service; striving for social justice for the benefit and prosperity, honest conduct and livelihood while living a house holder’s life.
Woman in Sikhism
One of the fundamental beliefs of Sikhism is equality of all humankind. It also stressed on social justice. Sikhism preaches women as equal to man. Sikhism believes that women have the same souls as men. Women have an equal right to cultivate their spirituality and attain salvation. Women are not restricted to take part in religious cultural, social and secular activities. They take part in recitation of the Holy Scripture (Akhand Path) and join in the congregational singing of hymns (Kirtan).
Sikhism: As Feminist Religion
Sikhism is considered as feminist Religion. It has many traits of feminism. There is gender equality and social Justice. Sikhism considered women as equal to men. Gurus and the Sikhs saints did much to progress the woman rights since the 15th century. The gurus have no distinction between sexes in matter of initiation, instruction or participation in Sangat (holy fellowship) and Pangat (eating together).
We can summarize the whole idea of women in Sikhism in the words of Guru Nanak the founder of Sikhism. He said, “from woman, man is born; within woman. Man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her kings are born. From woman, woman is born, without woman; there would be no one at all
Women play an important role in Sikhism. Some of the roles of women in Sikhism are discussed below.
- Gender Equality: Gender equality means equal right and responsibility of women and men and girls and boys. Gender equality is one of the fundamental beliefs in Sikhism. Men and women are different by virtue of gender. There is no subornation of one sex over the other. They are all equal in the eyes of god. Guru Nanak exclaimed that with woman there would be no one.
- Hereditary Right: In Sikhism, women have the full right to claim their hereditary rights. The property of the father is equally shared because they believe that all men and women are equal before the eyes of God.
- Salvation: In many religion woman is considered as a hindrance to man’s spirituality. But in Sikhism, all men and women are equal and thus women can also attain spirituality. Sikhism believes that the god pervades all forms male and female. Therefore, woman was not a hindrance to man’s spirituality but a partner.
- Opportunity to pray: In Sikhism any woman enters to Gurudwara are freely allowed to go inside and pray. They can even recite the Guru Grath Sahib. Women are always the integral part of the congregation. They are not to be blamed for the inability of man’s enlightenment as some religions do.
- Menstruation: In Hinduism, menstruating woman are traditionally considered ritually impure; so also in Islam menstruating woman cannot touch a Quran. In early Orthodox Church of Christianity, they observe the ancient practice of abstaining from the Holy Communion during menstruation. While in Sikhism the Gurus made it clear that menstruation cycle is a God given process and that it required for the creation of any human being. They reject the any superstitious ideas considering as impure.
Portrayal of Women in Islam Religion
Since the 7th Century the Islam religion has ensured equal rights to both men and women. When thinking about women in Islam, words that arise in our mind are Oppressed, Inferior and Unequal these words no more mean the same in the current scenario. Islam confirms that both men and women are equal in the sight of God. In the Holy book of Quran, God declares, “Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is most righteous of you” (49:13). In another place of Quran, God clearly states that all humans are equal. “To whoever, male or female, good deeds and has faith, we shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of their actions” (16:97).
Islam gives women the right to Education, marry someone of their choice, retain their dignity after marriage, divorce, own and sell property, seek protection by the law, vote and participate in civic and political engagement. The rights, roles and responsibilities of women are evenly balanced with men in Islam.
The following are the different rights of women in Islamic society
- Financial Responsibilities
Islam encourages women to be educated no restriction is laid upon the freedom of education for women. The best example is Muhammad’s wife Aisha herself. She is considered as one of the most influential scholars. Seeking knowledge, especially religious knowledge, is an obligation upon all Muslims regardless of their gender. Women are allowed to pursue knowledge of any kind and they are not forbidden to any field of research. Hence the freedom of educating is guaranteed for the women in Islam.
Women in Islam religion are neither nor forced to earn money for their survival. At the same time they are not reserved if do they wish to do? One good tradition practiced in Islam religion is, the dowry giver during marriage to a woman solely belonged to her alone. Husband has no ownership over that dowry either money or any goods. This dowry is legally owned by her and cannot be used by anyone else. This principle was brought into practice to avoid problems, hardships, difficulties that she would face after the divorce. Even the things and money gained personally out of her hard work completely belonged to her. The previous husband has no command and possession of her goods. This naturally ensures a woman’s financial security and independence when problem reaches her.
Islam religion offer adequate respect to the wish and will of a woman. It means that woman can agree and disagree to her suitor, if she does not willing to marry a person she can not be forced. Any act against the will of a woman is punishable offence according to the Islam religion. Marriage is arranged and made fixed if only both man and woman are in favour of it. In Islam, marriage is made feasible on the platform of mutual peace, love, and compassion. God says about Himself, “And of His signs are that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy…” (Quran 30:21) Muhammad himself projected as the best role model to be imitated, because he gave due respect to his wife. He even walked a mile ahead by helping in the household task of his wife. In this way Muslim men are exerted to give due respect and follow the footstep of Muhammad.
In Islam motherhood is considered as highly exalted position in the family. In Holy book Quran the sacrifice of mother is much spoken explicitly. It is done in order make the children realize the value of mother’s sacrificing heart. In turn all that any mother expects from their children is care, love and protection when they become weak due to age and any kind of sickness. The Prophet Mohammed Said “Heaven lies under the feet of your mother”.