Talking Cultural Diversity

a discussion board for cultural and diversity issues by Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis

Jesus, Mohammed and Women

By Jean Mavrelis - 04.11.2010

Maybe it’s because she echoes my Irish Catholic world view, but once again Maureen Dowd hits the mark for me. 

When she compares Muslim women in Saudi Arabia and Catholic women in the U.S. I’m right there.  In both cases, culture co-opts religion.

Neither Jesus nor Mohammed excluded women.  In fact, it’s quite the contrary.  Mohammed worked for his wife, transporting goods back and forth to Mecca.

Jesus loved women, and even embraced the “prostitute”, Mary Magdalene.  For me, that’s right up there with Abraham receiving the message he shouldn’t sacrifice his son.

Elizabeth Warnock Fernea points out (p. xv of In Search of Islamic Feminism) that “Islam was the only shared identity of people (in the middle east) that predated western colonization.” And later on p.422,  “ In their struggles for legal and economic equality they stress the viability of the family group, a sense of responsibility to the wider group, the importance of religious values, . . . Muslim, Christian, and Jewish women are combining elements of both East and West to develop several feminist ideologies of their own.”

One statement above that jumps out at me for its difference from U.S. Christian religious fundamentalism is the one that says: “sense of responsibility for the larger group”, especially if that group is the larger society.

Healthcare for all would be a prime example of responsibility for the larger group at work, yet many U.S. women don’t see it that way.

Thank goodness the Catholic nuns stepped up in support, challenging the Church\’s patriarchal hierarchy and the position taken by U.S. Catholic Bishops.

Perhaps women in the U.S. have something to learn from Islamic and Jewish women in the Middle East and Catholic nuns when it comes to their values of keeping the needs of the whole group as a priority.

Individualism is important, but “evolved” women, as I describe in our book, Corporate Tribalism, value both the individual and the collectivity.

Leave a comment