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CaptureIt's often believed that in Western countries Muslim women do not have or have little rights. However, this is debatable as some argue that Muslim women have greater rights than their partners. Below we discuss the range of duties concerning Muslim women according to the Quran and actual daily life. First of all, there were a variety of ideas concerning the pre-Islamic period. However, the overall outcome was that throughout Mohammed's life there were improvements for the rights of women. Unfortunately, these started to lessen after he passed away. A combination of Islamic patriarchal ideologies and poor education led to the ignorance towards Muslim women's rights to return. Secondly, the supposed 'marriage contract' which exists is practiced very differently to what is 'on paper.'  According to sources the following should be obeyed in a Muslim wedding:
  • Both sides should be of the same official marriageable age
  • The couple should be compatible regarding wealth, status, physical attraction and education.
  • The bride's dowry should be acceptable and reasonable.
  • The couple should enter marriage willingly, without force or pressure.
  • The marriage contract should be understood thoroughly by both partners and free from hidden agendas. All aspects of the contract must be explained thoroughly, and both parties must agree with it.
A contract is a requirement for any Muslim marriage and is an equal agreement. However, the woman has the right to add her conditions to the deal as she sees fit. For example, divorce terms and her expectations regarding monogamy.  In return, the woman is expected to uphold her side of the contract and look after her husband and maintain the house cleanliness to the best of her abilities. Unlike Christianity, Islam acknowledges the end of marriage. Despite marriage viewed as a life-long commitment, there are circumstances when dissolution is granted, otherwise referred to as divorce. Either the husband or wife can initiate a divorce. Before initiation, both sides must take steps to aid reconciliation or prevent divorce. This includes attending various therapies and discussing issues with family members (usually the oldest family members offers their guidance). Only after these steps have taken place can a divorce be granted. However, regardless of women's right to divorce under 'true' Qur'anic laws, men often hold all of the cards. Sadly, women are rarely allowed to exercise their rights to a divorce due to social and media pressures. Besides, few women can support themselves independently and therefore are subjected to staying in unhappy marriages. This is often the case for older women that failed to gain a good education and therefore have little career prospects. In conclusion, according to the Qur'anic guidelines, there is potential for Muslims couples to achieve peace and harmony in marriage. It can be accomplished through equality, understanding, love and uttermost respect. However, the fact is that many Islamic countries today are living lives extremely different to the life outlined by the Quran. It is believed that it will take many more years to come before an actual level of equality can be seen between women and men in a Muslim marriage.
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