Women and religion

The study of women and religion typically examines the role of women within particular religious faiths, and religious doctrines relating to gender, gender roles, and particular women in religious history. Most religions elevate the status of men over women, have stricter sanctions against women, and require them to be submissive. While there has been progress towards equality, religions overall still lag the rest of society in addressing gender issues. There are fundamentalists within every religion who actively resist change. There is often a dualism within religion which exalts women on the one hand, while demanding more rigorous displays of devotion on the other. This leads some feminists to see religion as the last barrier for female emancipation.

Abrahamic religions


Women Religious
Christian women in Maracaibo, Venezuela.

Some critics believe Christianity has set a mold for women to adhere to and is one that limits a woman’s freedom in the church. However, according to Christian theology, both men and women are created in the image and likeness of God, implying neither to be inferior to the next, but equal in dignity. However, the genders differ in roles, according to Christian tradition. As an off-shoot of Judaism, Christianity recognizes and appreciates the integral role of the matriarchs in salvation history: Sarah, the wife of Abraham; Rebecca, the mother of Esau and Jacob; Leah and Rachel, the wives of Jacob; Miriam, the sister of Moses. Theyas[1] "[2] Christianity recognizes Mary, the mother of Jesus, to be the most esteemed of all the women in the Christian New Testament. Mary assumes a lofty office, as she is the mother of the Son of God. “And the angel said unto her: “Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women“(Douay-Rhiems Luke 1:28). In certain Christian traditions (e.g. Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Anglicanism) Mary is integral to Christian spirituality, and is venerated with liturgical feasts, prayers, hymns, art, and other expressions of faith.

Historically, Christianity has been impacted by women (e.g. St. Hildegard von Bingen, St. Catherine of Siena, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, etc.). Women have contributed such qualities as virgins, mothers, and wives to the progression and betterment of Christianity, and still continue to do so. Although, in some denominations it is considered wrong to ordain woman as priests or ministers, and elevate them to ecclesiastical offices, women in the Roman Catholic and Anglican faiths can dedicate their lives to obedience, chastity, and poverty as nuns, and are also given leadership positions as abbesses and as lay officers. [3][4] Colossians and Peter, In the texts of the New Testament, the protagonist, Jesus of Nazarerth, revolutionizes cultural attitudes towards women, and openly defends women, converses with them, attends to them in need, etc. One of the most significant instances of Jesus’ interaction with women is at the revelation of the Resurrection to the women mourning at the tomb of Christ. The women are directed to announce the miracle to the Apostles, the disciples of Christ.


The role of women in Judaism is determined by the Hebrew Bible, the Oral Law (the corpus of rabbinic literature, including the Talmud), by custom, and by non-religious cultural factors. Although the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic literature mention various female role models, religious law treats women differently in various circumstances.[5] In historical Jewish texts, all people were seen equal under the highest level: God. The Hebrew bible states that “man” was made both “male and female”,[6] originally had a dual gender for God, but this disappeared and God became referred to as He and Him. In Judaism, God has never been exclusively viewed as male or masculine, but rather, God has both masculine and feminine qualities.[7] Scriptures and ancient texts refer God as “Him” because there is no neutral gender in the Hebrew language.

Family is strongly emphasized in Judaism. Gender has a bearing on familial lines: in traditional Judaism, Jewishness is passed down through the mother, though the status of belonging to one of the three groups within Judaism (kohen, levite, or Israel) is inherited through the father. In the Hebrew Scriptures the father's name is used to identify sons and daughters, e.g., "Dinah, daughter of Jacob".[8] Responsibilities were not taken lightly with regards to the family. The wife and mother in Hebrew, is called "akeret habayit," which in English translation means "mainstay of the house." In traditional and Orthodox Judaism the aketet habayit, or woman of the house, tends to the family and household duties.[9]

Women have been highly regarded within the Jewish community because they are capable of a great degree of "binah" (institution, understanding, intelligence). The term, “women of valor,” describes the ideal characteristics of a Jewish woman. Traditionally, she is one who devoted all her energies towards the “physical and spiritual well-being of her family.” [10] Her continuous care enabled her husband and children to flourish, her personal reward being their successes.[11] However, that role has been reshaped through time. The “women of valor’s” impact expanded beyond the household and into the community. Volunteer work has allowed women to sharpen leadership and organizational skills.[10] While it may seem that women only have had influence in smaller communities, Jewish women have eventually established enough authority to emerge as public figures. In 1972, Sally Priesand, became the first woman ordained as a rabbi, in the Reform denomination.[12] Women in the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Renewal denominations are now able to lead worship services and read from the Torah and give drashes (sermons) just as men do, often contributing a different perspective.[13]

The role of women in traditional Judaism has been grossly misrepresented and misunderstood. The position of women is not nearly as lowly as many modern people think; in fact, the position of women in halakhah (Jewish Law) dating back as far as the biblical period is in some ways better than the position of women under American civil law as recently as a century ago.


Islam is a monotheistic religion that was founded in the early seventh century by the prophet, Muhammad. The notion of a good life for a Muslim person is defined in Islam’s sacred text, the Quran, as well as the Hadith which are the direct teachings of Muhammad. Although these sources covered a lot, there were still some situations that were left to interpretation. Thus, Islamic scholars formed a consensus around a set of secondary sources, the most notable being the ijma, qiyas, ijtihad and fatwas. It is important to recognize that the Quran is not a static source with a fixed meaning but a dynamic, versatile one.[14]

Although the introduction of Islamic principles was a step in the right direction, men kept the dominant position and women were required to be obedient to their husbands, fathers, and sons. This was less due to the teachings of the religion than to the cultural norms of the era in which it arose. Before Islam became so widespread, people of the Middle East lived in households in which women were seen as the property of their husbands and were only meant to perform household tasks, ultimately dehumanizing them.[15]

Islam also gave some recognition to women’s rights by regarding men and women as equals in their ability to carry out the wishes of Allah and the teachings of Muhammad.[16] The three main things which sharia law introduced were a women’s rights to marriage, inheritance, and divorce. It also limited the oppressive privileges of men by restricting polygamy, limiting men to marrying a maximum of four women only, and requiring the husband to take care of each wife equally and properly.[17] Marrying more than four wives is the right only of certain men in powerful positions. Muhammad himself had several wives, marrying some who were widows to give them a home and protection.

Muslims must observe the five pillars of Islam: praying five times a day, fasting during the month of Ramadan, making a pilgrimage to Mecca, donating to charity, and accepting Allah as the only God and Muhammad as Allah's prophet. Women have restrictions on praying in public, given instead separate private spaces. Also women are not permitted to pray during menstruation as they are not considered clean. If women are pregnant or nursing during the month of Ramadan, they do not need to keep the sunup to sundown daily fasts .[15] Segregation of men and women in Islamic centres gives Muslim women the right to work independently and not under men. Islam was the first religion ever to give females some equal rights in the Quran.

Due to their isolation, it became the responsibility of the ummah, or Muslim community, to pass down the customs and traditions that mold a Muslim women's life. This guidance, sharia, and Islamic scripture outlined the structure for her education, employment opportunities, rights to inheritance, dress, public appearance, domestic 'duties', age of marriage, freedom to consent to marriage, marriage contract, mahr, permissibility of birth control, divorce, sex outside or before marriage, ability to receive justice in case of sex crimes, property rights independent of her husband, and when salat (prayers) are mandatory for her.[18]

East Asian religions


The roles of women in Taoism, have differed from the traditional patriarchy over women in ancient and imperial China. Chinese women had special importance in some Taoist schools that recognized their transcendental abilities to communicate with deities, who frequently granted women with revealed texts and scriptures. Women first came to prominence in the Highest Clarity School, which was founded in the 4th century by a woman, Wei Huacun.

Indian religions


A high-ranking Bhikkhuni in the Chinese Buddhist tradition during an alms round.

Buddhism can be considered to be revolutionary within the social and political realms of ancient India in regards to the role of women. During this time period, members of the highest Hindu caste, called Brahmins, did not allow women to have any involvement with religious rites or sacred texts of the Vedas.[19] The Laws of Manu, state that “By a girl, by a young woman, or even an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house. In childhood a female must be subject to her own father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent” (V, 147-46, 155).[20] Buddhism can be attributed as revolutionary due to the fact that Gautama Buddha admitted women into the monastic order, during a time when monastic communities were dominated by males in India.[21]

Additionally, one of the main schools of tradition that originated from the early development of Buddhism, called Theravāda Buddhism, expresses the assumption that “all men and women, regardless of their caste, origins, or status, have equal spiritual worth.”[19] Because Buddhism can be described as a religious and philosophical ideology that does not have an explicit “Creator” there is no implied “sacredness” in relation to one’s human form, which means that the practice itself is not bound to the ideas of gender, reproduction, and sexuality.[22]

However, it is argued that Buddhist traditions still have underlying issues pertaining to gender roles. While Buddhist ideologies may be considered a revolutionary step forward in the status of women, many still consider the tradition to be subject to the social and political context of undermining gender issues during its upbringing, and even up to this day. The progression of gender issues, especially between gender and authority, can be seen during the time period of Hinayana Buddhism, when the Buddhist order underwent major reforms of splitting into about 20 different schools. During this time Buddhist narratives and beliefs arose limiting the status of women’s roles within the Buddhist communities, asserting that women could not reach enlightenment, or Buddhahood.[23] This also meant that women would not attain positions of leadership because of the fact that they could not reach enlightenment, unless they “gain good karma and are reborn as men beforehand.”[24]

Alternatively, Khandro Rinpoche, a female lama in Tibetan Buddhism, shows a more optimistic view in regards to women in Buddhism:

When there is a talk about women and Buddhism, I have noticed that people often regard the topic as something new and different. They believe that women in Buddhism has become an important topic because we live in modern times and so many women are practicing the Dharma now. However, this is not the case. The female sangha has been here for centuries. We are not bringing something new into a 2,500-year-old tradition. The roots are there, and we are simply re-energizing them.[25]

In a YouTube interview on why there are so few female teachers in the Buddhist communities, Rinpoche goes on to say that:

It is because of a lack of education. It was a very patriarchal society back in the East. Wherever Buddhism grew, these societies were very patriarchal. It limits the opportunity women have to study and be independent – and you have to study and be independent to manifest any kind of realization or understanding…fortunately, that seems to be changing. I really think that opportunities for education have now really increased for women – they are becoming very competitive and learned, and things are going to change.[26]

Rinpoche states that while the underlying nature of the patriarchal system that still exists today creates more obstacles and limitations for women in Buddhism, she believes that there is a changing dynamic and optimistic future for women within the Buddhist community.[26]


Hindu Bride, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Hindu Bride

In Hinduism, women are portrayed as equal or even greater than men. For instance, Kali Ma (Dark Mother) "is the Hindu goddess of creation, preservation, and goddess of destruction." Her power included the origin of all creation's life, as well as the end of life.[27] Due to her control over life and death, Kali was seen as a goddess who should be loved as well as feared. This leads to a higher status for the woman than the man, because everyone has to respect her in order to have a smooth life and live longer. Another important female figure is Shakti, a goddess that embodies the energy of the universe, "often appearing to destroy demonic forces and restore balance".[28] Because Shakti is a universal force, she embodies all the gods in Hinduism and is worshiped as the "mother goddess".

While Hinduism portrays women as figures who play an important role in understanding how the world works, women in Hindu society have been marginalized and their importance has been diminished, as a result of "girls being made to feel lesser and not as important as boys".[29] This has created a shift in power between men and women to the point where a woman is seen as, "preordained to be ruled by the male and subjected to all kinds of atrocities, for these are the standards of being an ideal Hindu woman".[30] Due to this change in perception, Hinduism is now seen as a Partiarchal religion that teaches sexism and inequality, when in actuality it is the people in Hindu society's perception that is sexist rather than the religion itself. However, this view of women being treated as property is slowly beginning to change, as Hindu women are pushing for more equality and a change in the perception of women.


Jainism is an ancient Indian religion founded around the sixth century BCE.[31] Janism is a nontheistic religion currently practiced in multiple countries, due to Jain settlers who immigrated there (mainly United Kingdom, United States, Canada and some African countries). Jainism is inclusive of women. One of the cornerstones of the religion is the “fourfold" sangha which describes the Jainism community, which is made up of monks, nuns, laymen and laywomen.

The religious status of women is a very important aspect of the history of the religion and one of the most critical issues between the oldest religious divisions of the religion, Svetambar and Digambar. The major distinction between these two divisions is the position of women in their societies. Digambar Jains believe that women are not capable of being enlightened, while Svetambar Jains have opposite beliefs, believing that women are able to become renouncers, are capable of enlightenment and can become religious role models. Women, especially among Svetambar Jains, are believed to be deceitful, and that this characteristic is the main foundation of their character, to the extent that rebirth as a woman is a consequence of being deceitful in a former life. One of their sacred texts states:

“As the result of manifesting deception, a man in this world becomes a woman. As a woman, if her heart is pure, she becomes a man in this world.”[32]

Women are important in Jainism, playing a major role in its structure (nuns and laywomen), making up two of the four categories within the community and participating in the continuation and spread of the religion. The Jain social structure is patriarchal, with men holding primary leadership roles in the society. Except for modern times, Jain women have been unable to speak for themselves or to tell their stories. Almost all the texts regarding Jain women's roles and experiences have been written by monks, who are males. The pan-Indian belief that women are “weak-minded”, “deceptive”, “fickle”, “treacherous” and “impure” are beliefs common to Jainism and mentioned various times in their sacred and later texts.[32]

Jain women do have significant roles, however, especially in the performance of rituals. Jain women are nuns and laywomen in this society. In the fourfold community, the mendicants (monks and nuns) center their lives around asceticism. There are stricter rules/restrictions on nuns in their daily routine and rituals compared to those for monks. And nuns are dependent and subordinate to monks. More years are needed by nuns to gain higher positions in comparison to monks. Although nuns may have seniority in tenure they may be subservient to monks with fewer years in their religious life.

The laity, which consists of laymen and laywomen, are very important to Jainism for its survival and economic foundation. The laity support the mendicant orders, following rules which create the groundwork of the religion. For example, the doctrine of Jainism places great emphasis on dietary practices. Laywomen play a very important role in ensuring that the rules surrounding dietary practices are followed, as their first and major responsibility is the preparation of meals.


Preparing langar
Volunteers preparing langar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India.

According to Sikhism, men and women are two sides of the same coin. There is a system of inter-relation and inter-dependence where man is born of woman, and woman is born of man's seed. According to Sikhism a man can not feel secure and complete during his life without a woman, and a man's success is related to the love and support of the woman who shares her life with him, and vice versa.[33] The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, reportedly said in 1499 that "It is a woman who keeps the race going" and that we should not "consider woman cursed and condemned, when from woman are born leaders and rulers."

Sikhs have had an obligation to treat women as equals, and gender discrimination in Sikh society has not been allowed. However, gender equality has been difficult to achieve.

At the time of the Gurus women were considered very low in society. Both Hindus and Muslims regarded women as inferior and a man's property. Women were treated as mere property whose only value was as a servant or for entertainment. They were considered seducers and distractions from man's spiritual path. Men were allowed polygamy but widows were not allowed to remarry; instead they were encouraged to burn themselves on their husbands funeral pyre (suttee). Child marriage and female infanticide were prevalent and purdah (veils) were popular for women. Women were also not allowed to inherit any property. Many Hindu women were captured and sold as slaves in foreign Islamic countries.

See also


  1. ^ "What Does the Bible Say About Virtuous Woman?". www.openbible.info. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  2. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: 1 Corinthians 11:3 - New International Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  3. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Genesis 2:18 - New International Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2018-04-13.
  4. ^ Template:Cite society
  5. ^ "Judaism 101: The Role of Women". www.jewfaq.org. Retrieved 2016-02-09.
  6. ^ Genesis. The Hebrew Bible. London: Cassell.
  7. ^ Coogan, Michael (2011). God and sex: What the Bible really says. Twelve. p. 175.
  8. ^ "The Role of Women".
  9. ^ "What is the Role of the Woman in Judaism?". www.chabad.org. Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  10. ^ a b Wenger, Beth (1989). "Jewish Women and Voluntarism: Beyond the Myth of Enablers". American Jewish History. 79 (1): 16–36. JSTOR 23884567.
  11. ^ Krieger, Aliza (2010). "The Role of Judaism in Family Relationships". Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development. 38 (3): 154–165. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1912.2010.tb00123.x.
  12. ^ "Women Rabbis". Jewish Women's Archives.
  13. ^ Zucker, David. "Women Rabbis: A Novel Idea".
  14. ^ Motahari, Ayatollah Morteza. "Jurisprudence and its principles." New York: Tahrike Tarsile Quran (1980).
  15. ^ a b "Women." In The Islamic World: Past and Present. Ed. John L. Esposito. Oxford Islamic Studies Online. Apr 11, 2018. <http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t243/e370>.
  16. ^ Smith, Jane I. "Women in Islam: Equity, Equality, and the Search for the Natural Order." Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol. 47, no. 4, Dec. 1979, pp. 517-537. EBSCOhost, electra.lmu.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000775406&site=eds-live&scope=site.
  17. ^ Khel, Muhammad Nazeer Kaka. "THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN ISLAM."
  18. ^ Dunn, S. & Kellison, R. B. "At the Intersection of Scripture and Law: Qur'an 4:34 and Violence against Women." Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, vol. 26 no. 2, 2010, pp. 11-36. Project MUSE, muse.jhu.edu/article/394785.
  19. ^ a b Halkias, Georgios (2013). A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy. UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 494. doi:10.1002/9781118324004. ISBN 9781118324004.
  20. ^ Buhler, George. "Laws of Manu". Internet Sacred Texts Archive.
  21. ^ Sirimanne, Chand (November 2016). "Buddhism and Women - Dhamma has no Gender". Journal of International Women's Studies. 18: 275.
  22. ^ Gross, Rita (1993). Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism. New York: State University of New York Press. p. 24.
  23. ^ Yuichi, Kajiyama (1982). "Women in Buddhism". The Eastern Buddhist. 15 (2): 54. JSTOR 44361658.
  24. ^ "Can Women Become Leaders in the Buddhist Tradition?". berkleycenter.georgetown.edu. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  25. ^ Chodron, Thubten (1999-01-01). Blossoms of the Dharma: Living as a Buddhist Nun. North Atlantic Books. ISBN 9781556433252.
  26. ^ a b Study Buddhism (2017-11-09), Khandro Rinpoche – Why Are There So Few Female Teachers?, retrieved 2018-04-12
  27. ^ "Kali Ma | Hindu Goddess". The Mystica. 2018-02-04. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  28. ^ "Shakti: A Universal Force". The Chopra Center. 2016-05-01. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  29. ^ Hindu, The White (2014-06-05). "The Truth About Women and Hinduism". The White Hindu. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  30. ^ Basharat, Tahira (July–December 2009). "The Contemporary Hindu Women of India: An Overview" (PDF). A Research Journal of South Asian Studies. 24: 244.
  31. ^ Sharma, Arvind (1994). Religion and women. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0791416895. OCLC 27109180.
  32. ^ a b Sharma, Arvind, ed. (2002). Women in Indian religions. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195646347. OCLC 51163290.
  33. ^ "Sri Guru Granth Sahib – A brief history | Islam Ahmadiyya". www.alislam.org. Retrieved 2016-02-09.

Further reading

Position of Women in Buddhism: Spiritual and Cultural Activities

External links

Anna L. Peterson

Anna L. Peterson (born 1963) is an American scholar of religious studies who is currently a professor in the Department of Religion at the University of Florida, where she has worked since 1993. Her research variously concerns religion in Latin America and ethics—including religious ethics, Christian ethics, environmental ethics, animal ethics and social ethics. She is the author of five monographs: Martyrdom and the Politics of Religion (State University of New York Press, 1997); Being Human (University of California Press, 2001); Seeds of the Kingdom (Oxford University Press, 2001); Everyday Ethics and Social Change (Columbia University Press, 2009); and Being Animal (Columbia University Press, 2013).

Catherine Wessinger

Catherine Wessinger () is an American religion scholar. She is the Rev. H. James Yamauchi, S.J. Professor of the History of Religions at Loyola University New Orleans where she teaches religious studies with a main research focus on millennialism, new religions, women and religion and religions of India. Wessinger is co-general editor of Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions. She served as a consultant to federal law enforcement during the Montana Freemen standoff and has been cited for her expertise concerning the Branch Davidians and other apocalyptic groups.

Desideria Quintanar de Yáñez

Desideria Quintanar de Yáñez (1814–1893) was the first woman baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in Mexico.

Esclarmonde of Foix

Esclarmonde of Foix (French: Esclarmonde de Foix; Occitan: Esclarmonda de Fois), was a prominent figure associated with Catharism in thirteenth century Occitania (in the south of modern-day France).

Her personal history is difficult to establish, because several noblewomen in the region at that time had the same rare first name. The name Esclarmonde means "clarity of the world" in the Occitan language.

Inquiring Nuns

Inquiring Nuns is a 1968 Kartemquin Films production directed by Gordon Quinn and Gerald Temaner. The documentary film features Sisters Marie Arne and Mary Campion, two young Catholic nuns who visit a variety of Chicago locales to ask people the question, "Are you happy?" They meet a variety of individuals ranging from hippie musicians to intellectuals, whose responses are everything from the mundane to the spiritual. The film was directly influenced by Jean Rouch's Chronique d'un été, which Quinn and Temaner had watched at Doc Films while they were undergraduates at the University of Chicago. The film was shot on Kartemquin’s “Camera #1”, a custom-modified crystal sync Auricon with a used manual zoom lens Quinn purchased from Albert Maysles, and to which he added a World War II gunner handle bought from a pawn shop as an extra grip for steadiness. Quinn and Temaner's fourth collaboration was produced for about $16,000 ($110,005 US in 2016) for Chicago's Catholic Adult Education Center which never suggested any changes or requested a single edit. Both Sisters Marie Arne ( now named Kathleen Westling ) and Mary Campion ( now named Catherine Rock ) served at the St. Denis Parish in Chicago's Southwest Side at the time of the filming. They subsequently left the sisterhood within a few years after the film's release, the former eventually becoming a family counselor in the Chicago suburbs and the latter a school superintendent in Florida. One of the random people they encountered in the film was Stepin Fetchit who showed a few of his publicity shots and stated that he was happy.An Official Selection of the 1968 Chicago International Film Festival, Inquiring Nuns features music by the then relatively unknown composer Philip Glass (Truman Show, Fog of War) who was paid $100 ($688 US in 2016) for earning his first film credit.Entertainment Weekly graded Inquiring Nuns an 'A' and applauded the film's "reaffirmation of the virtue of conventional wisdom".In 2018, Kartemquin received a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation for a new restoration of the original 16mm print, and collaborated with Argot Pitcures on a 50th Anniversary release of the film in US theaters.

Judith Plaskow

Judith Plaskow (born March 14, 1947 in Brooklyn) is Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College. Her scholarly interests focus on contemporary religious thought with a specialization in feminist theology. Plaskow has lectured widely on feminist theology in the United States and Europe. She co-founded The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and co-edited it for its first ten years. She is past President of the American Academy of Religion.

She received a B.A. from Clark University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University.

She came out as a lesbian in the 1980s.In 1981 she helped found the Jewish feminist group B'not Esh (Daughters of Fire).Plaskow has written two books, Sex, Sin and Grace: Women's Experience and the Theologies of Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich (1980) and Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (1991), as well as a collection of essays entitled The Coming of Lilith: Essays on Feminism, Judaism, and Sexual Ethics (2005). Her book Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective (1991) is the first book of Jewish feminist theology ever written.She has co-edited three books: Women and Religion (1973), Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (1979), and Weaving the Visions: New Patterns in Feminist Spirituality (1989). She has also published numerous articles in edited volumes and journals. She also wrote chapter 14 of Transforming the Faiths of our Fathers: Women who Changed American Religion (2004), edited by Ann Braude.

Maid of Heaven

Maid of Heaven (Arabic: حورية‎, ḥúrí) refers to a vision that Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith was said to have had of a maiden from God, through whom he received his mission as a Manifestation of God.In August 1852, during the height of the persecutions of the followers of the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh was arrested in Tehran with about 30 or more other Bábís. He was cast into the underground dungeon, nearby the court of the Sháh, known as the Síyáh-Chál. In October 1852, after two months had passed in the gloom and stench of the dungeon, Bahá’u’lláh had a vision of a heavenly Maiden. In his Súriy-i-Haykal (Tablet of the Temple) Bahá’u’lláh describes his vision as follows:

"While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden — the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord — suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good-pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the All-Merciful. Betwixt Earth and Heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outer being tidings which rejoiced My soul, and the souls of God's honoured servants. Pointing with her finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in Heaven and all who are on Earth saying: "By God! This is the best beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not. This is the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand."The Maid of Heaven also appears in several tablets of Bahá’u’lláh’s, which include the following: Tablet of the Maiden (Lawh-i-Húrí), Tablet of the Deathless Youth (Lawh-i-Ghulámu’l-Khuld), Tablet of the Holy Mariner (Lawh-i-Malláhu’l-Quds), Húr-i-'Ujáb (Tablet of the Wondrous Maiden), the Súriy-i-Qalam (Súrih of the Pen; 1864–68) and the Tablet of the Vision (Lawh-i- Ru’yá; 1873). The first four of these were written in the Baghdad period (1856–63).Shoghi Effendi compares the Maid of Heaven with the Holy Spirit as manifested in the Burning Bush of Moses, the Dove to Jesus, the angel Gabriel to Muhammad. Further, Farshid Kazemi discusses links with the Zoroastrian Daena.

Matriarchal religion

A matriarchal religion is a religion that focuses on a goddess or goddesses. The term is most often used to refer to theories of prehistoric matriarchal religions that were proposed by scholars such as Johann Jakob Bachofen, Jane Ellen Harrison, and Marija Gimbutas, and later popularized by second-wave feminism. In the 20th century, a movement to revive these practices resulted in the Goddess movement.

Me and the Mosque

Me and the Mosque is a 2005 Canadian documentary film by Zarqa Nawaz about the efforts of Muslim women in North America to pray in mosques, and the use of partitions to conceal women from male worshippers.In the documentary, Nawaz speaks with women from Canadian Islamic communities in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. In the U.S., she attends an Islamic Society of North America conference in Chicago, and speaks with journalist and activist Asra Nomani, activist Aminah Assilmi as well as author and speaker Tareq Al-Suwaidan about the role of women in Islam. Nawaz often takes a humorous approach to her subject matter; the film also incorporates animated sequences.The film was produced as part of a National Film Board of Canada competition for emerging filmmakers of colour, in partnership with CBC Newsworld.


Panchakanya(पञ्चकन्या, pañcakanyā), also known as the Five Virgins, is a group of five iconic heroines of Hindu epics, extolled in a hymn and whose names are believed to dispel sin when recited. They are Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari. Ahalya, Tara, Mandodari and are from the epic Ramayana; while Kunti and Draupadi from Mahabharata.The panchakanya are venerated as ideal women and chaste wives in one view.

Religious views on female genital mutilation

There is a widespread view among practitioners of female genital mutilation (FGM) that it is a religious requirement, although prevalence rates often vary according to geography and ethnic group. There is an ongoing debate about the extent to which the practice's continuation is influenced by custom, social pressure, lack of health-care information, and the position of women in society. The procedures confer no health benefits and can lead to serious health problems.FGM is practised predominantly within certain Muslim societies, but it also exists within some adjacent Christian and animist groups. The practice isn't required by most forms of Islam and fatwas have been issued forbidding FGM, favouring it, or leaving the decision to parents but advising against it. However, FGM was introduced in Southeast Asia by the spread of Shafi'i version of Islamic jurisprudence, which considers the practice obligatory. There is mention of it on a Greek papyrus from 163 BCE and a possible indirect reference to it on a coffin from Egypt's Middle Kingdom (c. 1991–1786 BCE). It has been found among Coptic Christians in Egypt, Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia, and Protestants and Catholics in Sudan and Kenya. The only Jewish group known to have practised it are the Beta Israel of Ethiopia.

Ruth Halperin-Kaddari

Ruth Halperin-Kaddari (born 15 May 1966; Hebrew: רות הלפרין-קדרי‎) is an Israeli legal scholar and international women's rights advocate who is known for her work on family law, feminist legal theory, women's rights in international law, and women and religion. She is vice chair of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and has served on the committee since 2006. She is Professor of Law at the Bar-Ilan University and is the founding Director of the Ruth and Emanuel Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women. She is also involved in international academic collaborations on the theme of women, state, and religion, and participates in international litigations as an expert on Israeli family law. She was one of the first recipients of the U.S. Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award for her work on international women's rights in 2007. She was ranked as one of the world's hundred most influential people in gender equality policy in 2018.

Soferet (film)

Soferet: A Special Scribe is a 2005 television documentary about Aviel Barclay, who studied to become a sofer, which is a traditionally male position transcribing Jewish Hebrew texts. The documentary explains how she became the world’s first known traditionally trained female scribe in October 2003. The film explores the importance of the Torah in Jewish life, the perfection required to execute a kosher Torah scroll, and a feminist perspective on the battle waged by some Jewish women to assume responsibilities traditionally reserved for men.

Sovereignty goddess

Sovereignty goddess is a scholarly term, almost exclusively used in Celtic Studies (though parallels for the idea have been claimed in other traditions, usually under the label hieros gamos). The term denotes a goddess who, personifying a territory, confers sovereignty upon a king by marrying or having sex with him. Some narratives of this type correspond to folk-tale motif D732, the Loathly Lady, in Stith Thompson's Motif-Index. This trope has been identified as 'one of the most well-known and often studied thematic elements of Celtic myth'. It has also, however, been criticised in recent research for leading to 'an attempt to prove that every strong female character in medieval Welsh and Irish tales is a souvenir of a Celtic sovereignty goddess'.

Submission (2004 film)

Submission is a 2004 English-language Dutch short drama film produced and directed by Theo van Gogh, and written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (a former member of the Dutch House of Representatives for the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy); it was shown on the Dutch public broadcasting network (VPRO) on 29 August 2004. The film's title is one of the possible translations of the Arabic word "Islam". A Muslim fundamentalist reacted to the film by assassinating Van Gogh.

Tenrikyo creation narrative

The Tenrikyo creation narrative is the creation myth of the Tenrikyo religion. The narrative was conveyed by the foundress Nakayama Miki in writing through the Ofudesaki and orally to her early followers. After compiling the scriptures and the manuscripts left by early followers, Tenrikyo Church Headquarters formalized and published the narrative in chapter three of The Doctrine of Tenrikyo, titled "Truth of Origin" (元の理 moto no ri).

Women as theological figures

Women as theological figures have played a significant role in the development of various religions and religious hierarchies. The study of women and religion typically examines the role of women within particular religious faiths, and religious doctrines relating to gender, gender roles, and particular women in religious history. It is worth noting from a gender scientific approach, women occupy the second room in all of the following religions in the examples below, with the exception of Nakayama Miki, the founder of Tenrikyo.

George H. Gallup Jr. wrote in an analysis for the Gallup Organization in 2002 that, a mountain of evidence shows that women have more religiosity than men. Gallup goes on to say that women hold on to their faith more heartily, work harder for the church, and in general practice with more consistency than men.

Women in Taoism

The roles of women in Taoism (, ) (also spelled "Daoism" ) have differed from the traditional patriarchy over women in ancient and imperial China. Chinese women had special importance in some Taoist schools that recognized their transcendental abilities to communicate with deities, who frequently granted women with revealed texts and scriptures. Women first came to prominence in the Highest Clarity School, which was founded in the 4th century by a woman, Wei Huacun. The Tang dynasty (618-907) was a highpoint for the importance of Daoist women, when one-third of the Shangqing clergy were women, including many aristocratic Daoist nuns. The number of Daoist women decreased until the 12th century when the Complete Perfection School, which ordained Sun Bu'er as the only woman among its original disciples, put women in positions of power. In the 18th and 19th centuries, women Daoists practiced and discussed nüdan (女丹, "women's neidan inner alchemy"), involving gender-specific practices of breath meditation and visualization. Furthermore, Daoist divinities and cults have long traditions in China, for example, the Queen Mother of the West, the patron of xian immortality, He Xiangu, one of the Eight Immortals, and Mazu, the protectress of sailors and fishermen.

Women in the Guru Granth Sahib

The Guru Granth Sahib is the holy text of Sikhs. Several of the shabads (hymns) from the Guru Granth Sahib address the role of women in Indian and Sikh society.

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