The Quran and Gender Equality

American Palestinian physician Laila al-Marayati believes that the Quran speaks to women and men in a manner that eliminates the gender issue. "For instance," she said, "in [the Quranic version of] the story of Adam and Eve, Eve does not lead Adam astray, and both are forgiven."

Psychologist Ilham al-Sarraf explained how Islam helped end the practice of female infanticide in the Middle East. "These were a tribal desert people who relied on men to herd camels. Females were not considered an asset to the survival of the nomadic way of life," she said. "The Quran prohibited [female infanticide] in the most vigorous language that left no room for misinterpretation."

Putting such teachings into practice isn't easy. "The belief system that minimized women was deeply ingrained, however," al-Sarraf explained, "and in some remote areas where the people were not educated, women have been held back. That is why it is important for the feminist movement to take on the responsibility to read the Quran as it is revealed and demand the enactment of verses that stipulate the equality of men and women."

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