Before modern education evolved, religious authorities and institutions were responsible for teaching reading and writing, generating and distributing sacred and secular knowledge for many centuries. Religion plays a vital role in the history and development of our society. This essay will tackle the differences and similarities between Christianity and Islam, the traditional social roles of women based on the sacred texts of both religions and aims to veil the direct connections and impact of these teachings on the current stand of women in society.
There are numerous similarities in Islam and Christian doctrines as well as differences. These differences and similarities were not limited to the teachings mentioned. To present instances of similarities on both teachings, Islam and Christianity command worshipping one God. The first and most important commandment in the Bible was that Christians must not worship any God other than God Almighty. The Qur’an also says: And make not another an object of worship with Allah. [Qur’an 51:51]. Both religions also value equality. All living things are equal, according to the Qur’an, and none must be privileged or discriminated against on the grounds of faith, race, color, sex, lineage, or culture. Similarly, the New Testament also mentioned that all are equal in the eyes of Christ, regardless of gender: “neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, nor slave or free. All are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Teachings about upholding family and responsibilities are also mentioned. In contrast to Christian teaching that states that Christ died for our sin, the Qur’an stresses in many instances that every human being is responsible for his or her actions; nobody can take the responsibility for another person’s mistake or sin. The institution of the family is the foundation of all social life, as stated in the Qur’an and Hadith, and it is therefore preserved, upheld and honoured. Husbands and wives are a source of shared solitude, love, and blessing. .Children should be treated equally. Children are unable to defy parents. At the foot of the mother is Paradise (heaven). Every person should have the right to protect himself or herself to defend his or her family and property from harm because of the significance put on the family. The relationship between parents and children is explicitly mentioned in one of the Ten Commandments given to Moses in the Old Testament: ‘Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God hath given thee’ (Exodus 20:12). Lastly, the view of sin differs in both religions. The Bible claims that we all are born guilty and that we are sinners by nature. Psalm 51:5 states that we all come into the world as sinners: “ Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin, my mother conceived me.” This is because of the inherited sin from Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God, through baptism this original sin will be cleansed. Contrarily, there is no concept of original sin in Islam. A child is free from sin until puberty. There are quite several similarities and differences between the doctrines, however, one thing is certain: religions aim to keep us from doing evil and spread hate to others.
Christianity has been a fortress of male domination virtually since its founding, despite the fact that women have served as fundamental servants from a historical and doctrinal point of view and, in many cases, as theological leaders who have been instrumental in promoting the laws of God and the Gospel. In early Israel, a number of women served as prophetesses and spokeswoman for God, and later as faithful followers and followers of Jesus during and after His earthly ministry. By their words, but often with non-judgmental acts, Jesus advocated the empowerment of women, lifting their status to the same level as males. It was stated in the New Testament that, “neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, nor slave or free. All are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Unfortunately, this progressive idea for its time had no projection in effect or significant influence.
The positions of women in the church were troubled during the first century, when Christianity spread across Asia Minor. Evidence suggests the widespread existence during the period 4000-3000 B.C. of pagan religions in the Middle East. This included the devotion with different female goddesses. However, these worships were permitted when this issue was addressed by the First Commandment. As a result, these laws reduced the position in society of many women. Additionally, despite Paul’s statements in Galatians 3:28 that specified the equality of women and men in Christ, many churches adopted the edicts of the apostle Paul concerning the behavior of women in the church (1 Cor 14:35-37. 1 Tim. 2:12).
On the other hand, not only is Islam a system of belief, but it is also a religion and cultural identity that encompasses all social backgrounds. Islam has developed a stable, faith-based organizational culture from the revealed Word of God that governs all aspects of life to the smallest detail, providing a firm interplay of the structure where aspects such as political, social, or spiritual are relevant.
The Qur’an took pride in teaching gender equity. The Qur’an states that men and women were created as equals in the eye of Allah, therefore, have the same rights and receive the same reward (Qur’an 3:195 and 9:71 and 72). “On another occasion, Mohammad said: remember that I have commanded you to treat women kindly. Said also: The husband should not have an aversion to his wife. If she hates something, there must be many good things in it that are pleasing to him” (Bashirud-Din Mahmud Ahmad 1989:7). This teaching had been widely misinterpreted for centuries. However, there are still some of the teachings about part of Islam that is discovered that I am wary of. This is due to the patriarchal interpretations done to these passages. As patriarchy took-over on the interpretation of the Qur’an, women were put in a disadvantageous position. One must say that this is a result of the fact that in Islam, all references to women were written and introduced by a man and in a very different context, when, from a socio-historical point of view, a woman was considered to be nothing more than a property, such as land or livestock. The Qur’an caters to the male superiority principle of the later time putting men in advantage when it comes to inheritance, privilege in terms of polygamy, adultery, and divorce. Polygamy (Qur’an 4:5), while governed under some conditions (Qur’an 4:130) and even tends to limit it (Qur’an 4:4), is often a male privilege developed to answer to man’s needs while avoiding women’s.
Throughout history, women have displayed immense effort, innovation, and initiative in influencing societies, despite numerous physical demands put against them by the patriarchal society. Women received greater status and respect following Muhammad’s doctrines as well as in The Bible’s teachings. In conclusion, religion had always played a part in women’s societal standing. Both religions were beautiful and founded upon love and vision of equity between genders but as words passed by and time developed, these teachings took a different path from its original aim influencing directly or indirectly women’s role in today’s time.