When I first started hearing people talk about the Middle East, most conversation surrounded how their women were oppressed and forced to cover every inch of their body. There have been news stories talking about how certain countries have banned women from wearing the Hijab and how horrible it must be to live in a country that demeans women. Therefore, I wanted to do some research and compare a prominent and well followed religion to Islam and see which religion, according to their own sacred texts, was more oppressive to women. Since there are many avenues I could compare, I decided to write this blog about each Genesis story.
Both the Qur’an and the Bible have their own Genesis stories of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. Both stories state that Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the forbidden tree. However, what differs, is who is forever blamed for the defiance of God. The Qur’an states, “… And the devil whispered to him saying: ‘Oh Adam! Shall I show you the tree of immortality and power that does not waste away?’ Then the two of them (Adam and his wife) ate of the fruit (of the forbidden tree)… And Adam disobeyed his Lord, so went astray (Qur’an 20:120-121). Muslims believe that Satan came in the form of a snake and as a friend of God to show them the power of the forbidden fruit. Muslims also believe that both Adam and his wife ate from the fruit willingly. From their story of Genesis emerges the idea of individual responsibility. “In maintaining the dual form, the Qur’an overcomes the negative Greco-Roman and Biblical-Judaic implications that woman was the cause of evil and damnation. Moreover, it signifies the Qur’anic emphasis on the individual responsibility”(Wadud 25).
While the Qur’an puts blame on both Adam and his wife, the Bible states that it was Eve’s fault for listening to Satan and for giving Adam the apple to eat. “The women saw how beautiful the tree was and how good its fruit would be to eat, and she thought how wonderful it would be to become wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it”(Genesis 3:6). This passage from the Bible shows that Christians believe women were the first to disobey God and that women are not to be trusted by men. Over the centuries, many men have used this biblical passage to enslave and oppress women.
While I know this is only one example comparing the Qur’an and the Bible, I have learned a lot about both religions. Many people create stereotypes about people, countries and religions without truly knowing anything about it. I spent a portion of my life hearing about different stereotypes of the Middle East. Yes, there is a possibility that women in certain countries are oppressed but the Islam religion does not condone that, just as many who follow the Bible would not consider it to do the same.
Wadud, Amina. Qurʼan and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. Print.