The Dynamics of Islamic Ideology with Regard to Gender and Women’s Education in South Asia
The article presents an investigation on certain anthropological-social aspects and the social organization of women with a focus on female education and women’s rights in Islam in South Asia, and especially in the subcontinent. It starts with the Moghul period and then turns to the colonial era and contemporary developments. Through the movement for independence from colonial rule of Britain, the Muslim identity in the South Asian region rose in a state of transformation, reform and development. This occurred due to several factors that encouraged the regeneration and reviewing of Indian society in response to the condemnation, discrimination and chauvinism of their colonial rulers and their deep-seated legacy. Women of the society, who were censured to be subjugated by the native men as entitled by colonial rulers, empowered this transformation by taking direct and indirect participation in it even though patriarchal norms and mind-sets have been a durable feature of South Asian society, cutting across faith communities and social strata, including the Hindu, Buddhist and other non-Islamic traditions on the subcontinent. While religious arguments are generally used in efforts to preserve the asymmetrical status of men and women in economic, political, and social arenas, this investigation attempts to show that religious traditions in South Asia are not monolithic in their perceptions of gender and women’s education. The structure of gender roles in these traditions is a consequence of various historical practices and ideological influences. Today, there is a substantial variability within and between religious communities concerning the social status of women. At different times and in different milieus, religious points of view have been deployed to validate male authority over women and, in opposition, to call for more impartial gender relations.
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