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The Sin of the Woman

By Monday 7 May 2018 No Comments

Since the 1920s, the so-called »return to the roots«, has become a hege­monic discourse in Iran. Whereas the Pahlavi regimes (1925–1979) propa­gated the myth of the lost idyll of pre-Islamic Iran repre­sen­ting them­selves as the true inhe­ri­tors of those monar­chies, the Isla­mists adopted a respec­tive approach in regard to Islam.

As a result, a similar fairy­tale was made about the early Islamic community. Such claims, as it were, are not so much about the past as they are about the present. So is this study.
By delving into the past, it ques­tions the wide­s­p­read nost­algic notions cons­i­de­ring the pre-Islamic era as a lost utopia, wherein women were free from the restric­tions »imposed by Islam«. In point of fact such past is a fabri­ca­tion. In the majo­rity of cases, there­fore, the revival projects invent tradi­tions to legiti­mize current political agendas.

The rise of Islam effec­ti­vely margi­na­lized the ancient reli­gions, though not neces­sa­rily the centu­ries-old tradi­tions and customs. They survived after being recon­fi­gured and upgraded in connec­tion with the new reli­gion and socio-political condi­tions. The synthesis is so dramatic that the adjec­tive »Islamic« would be far from accu­rate to attri­bute to the society that came out of this inter­ac­tion. It was rather a Perso-Islamic society.
The Perso-Islamic era started with the fall of the Sasa­nian Empire in 651 CE until 10th century CE. It flou­rished parti­cu­larly after the estab­lish­ment of the Abbasid Cali­phate in Baghdad in 750 CE. Yet, the era is highly indebted to Late Anti­quity and the early medieval period and its nomic tradi­tions.

The cultural and legis­la­tive inter­ac­tions created a »state of mixture« as a milieu in which inter­ac­tions of various legis­la­tive tradi­tions took place not only bila­te­rally but also multi­la­te­rally and among various Late Antique reli­gions and cultures such as Judaism, Manicha­eism, Chris­tianity, Zoroa­s­tria­nism, and Gnostic reli­gions. Newer studies demon­s­t­rated that the Jews within the Persian Empire had a profound know­ledge of Zoroa­s­tria­nism, not only theo­lo­gi­cally but also in terms of purity rituals.

By the same token, the belief that pre-Islamic Arabia was an egali­ta­rian society in terms of gender rela­tions, and that gender discri­mi­na­tion and sexual corrup­tion are the outcome of the Islamic sexual mora­lity and the influ­ence of other cultures is not very accu­rate.
Histo­rical evidence is indi­ca­tive of sexual permis­sive­ness, mostly in the form of ›mut’a‹, among the non-Muslim Arabs as well as early belie­vers, who strongly insisted on having sexual inter­course with diffe­rent types of women, parti­cu­larly war captives (mainly from the ›ridda‹ battles), despite the strong Qur’anic prohi­bi­tions and the Prophet’s disap­pro­ving commands.

Arab conqu­ests only rein­vi­go­rated the already extant nega­tive attitudes towards women created by the Arab war culture and Late Antique ambi­ence. As was indi­cated, all cultures of Late Anti­quity harbored similar nega­tive attitudes towards women. It is expected there­fore that Islam, which from the begin­ning had inter­acted with its own context, in turn, advo­cated sexism and into­ler­ance towards women. Islam was not a crea­tion of isola­tion, neither were its gender attitudes.
The third and fourth centu­ries witnessed the most contro­ver­sial and contra­dictory attitudes about reli­gious judg­ments on women desi­g­na­ting a severe struggle for survival. Nevert­he­less, Zoroa­s­trian customs and tradi­tions have survived through the rituals of mens­trua­tion, puri­fi­ca­tion, forni­ca­tion, marriage, and women’s diso­be­di­ence that was incor­po­rated into Sharia after being improved and adjusted to the new reli­gious appa­ratus.
This will be further pointed out.


The Sin of the Woman
Interrelations of Religious Judgments in Zoroastrianism and Islam
Fatemeh Sadeghi
Islamkundliche Untersuchungen Band 336
Klaus Schwarz Verlag
Sprache: Englisch
1. Auflage (2018)
Hardcover, 162 Seiten
ISBN 9783879974757
Verfügbarkeit: Neuauflage in Vorbereitung, vorbestellbar


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