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The Politics of Female Sexuality in Islam

As iam taking my Master degree in Gender and Development i have been not here for long but now thought why not to share part of my assingment done through the programe. Today i have just copied and basted this assignment as part of the course Gender and State So feel free to comment on it. and to share it if it was any useful but dont forget to copy write it:)

History reveals that sexual oppression of women, in one form or another, exists in every society in the world. Nevertheless, it has been achieved by different methods, economically, intellectually, physically and psychologically. The control of women’s bodies, or in other words physical mutilation, was raised with the rise of patriarchy.
In this article I will try to identify how that the women have been subject to different degrees of control over their bodies, sexuality and limiting their mobility taking example of different region and states systems.
Muslim women have for centuries lived within a social, cultural and religious system that is not friendly to them.

The existence of gender system which highlight the male and female selves as roles and mandates of the sexual and material differences between man and women, and it is also sites for social, cultural and political construction. Even though this difference is naturally bestowed it establishes more than what material differences suggest, it carry with it certain regulatory norms that govern the progress of sexual development from childhood to adulthood.


The aim of the article is to highlight who that Muslim women are being subject to inequality and faced with problems in their status in the private and public sphere as their non- Muslim counterpartners but the Muslim women face yet another inequality this is not just for being part of this religious community but also due to how gender issues are dealt with I the Islamic low and the Sharia laws.

Source of information

This article is mainly using information on Islam, Muslim women and their issues of rights, sexuality and laws that are available over the internet from different scholars and institutions that are interesting in the issues especially the work of the Women Living Under Muslim Laws and Sisters in Islam a two pioneers women organization actively involve in the debates of women and Islam and women rights although they are taking different approach and discourses.


In the last three decades there have been different calls for the need to reforms for Muslim personal laws, in different regions. In this article I am taking the argument of that the statues of Muslim women are less favorable today than it was in the early days of Islam. This does not mean that the discrimination against Muslim women is based on Islam but it is a result of patriarchal interpretations, cultural or customary influences (Moosa 16:39).
The statues of Muslim women need cooperation among women in the different contexts as the call of the essentiality of the feminism in order to be able to face the raise of the fundamentalism and politics to Islam that is taking from women more than giving.

In order to perpetuate male domination and to limit women’s fitna, women were relegated to a submissive role by giving them a negative concept of themselves: this takes many forms, e.g. chastity, sexual repression, seclusion, female circumcision; polygamy (for men), monogamy (for women) motherhood and so on.
In Islam, extra marital sex for men has become an inseparable part of life and society, whereas for the women Islamic society upholds the value of virginity and marital fidelity.
The Quran and the Sunnah are considered the primary sources for understanding Shariah and the development of Islamic jurisprudence (Figh). Muslim scholars, whom are human agents, developed the Figh in order to help Muslim societies become more just and equitable. The figh has complex secondary sources like qiyas and ijma. These were that patriarchal practices find way of entering into the Muslim system and that interpretation of Quarn and Sunnah take the men side of view. What is uppermost is that Islam is a fair and just way of life. Muslim women as individual, members of the family and as a public servant in Muslim society are equally entitled to enjoy justice and fairness.

The work in reform of Islam and Muslim women reform concepts, which are working to make changes in women statues as second-class members of their religion.
For Islamic reformists, reform signifies a revival, a return to sources of Islam to regain a purified vision, long lost in the mire of worldly governments. They argue that reform, a return to the roots and recapturing of both the purity and the vitality of Islam as it were at inception, is necessary because Islam is a total and comprehensive way of life and religion is integral to politics, law, and society (Olarinmoye, 2013: 135).

I strongly agree with the argument of the Muslim reformer that Islam demands respect for women, and offers them opportunities to be learned, educated and trained while at the same time providing an honored space for them to become mothers, wives and home makers. They demand for the return to sources of Islam which define women as human beings.
For Muslim women reformers the first feminist of Islam was the prophet Mohammed himself as it was during his prophet-hood that many reforms concerning the treatment and place of women were instituted. He abolished female infanticide, allowed women to possess and implement full control over their wealth, and guaranteed women the right to inherit property and keep their dowry while ensuring that strict limits were placed on polygamy (Olarinmoye, 2013: 138).

To take examples, we have the cases of Muslim laws in Indonesia and Malaysia. Indonesia has largest Muslim community 85% of 190 million people. Bout country witnessing the raise of an intensely religious (but not fundamentalism) class of professionals pushing for economic modernization. Yet in 1993 Indonesian government banned a popular, state-backed lottery.

In Kuala Lumpur a Singaporean singer was fine for being found in an up market hotel room with her boyfriend under Khalwat laws which were introduced in the 80s and forbid an unmarried Muslim man and women to be alone in close proximity (Dossier 16, 1996: 54).

Another example that shows that the female sexuality is an act of control over women body is the study of the Zina laws “adultery”. when we look at the laws implemented by the state or non state actors in this regard we found out that those laws been implemented are being employed to assert and maintain control over general public sexuality and specially women for variety of political and social ends. To understand why women have been the main target of zina laws, we could look at two areas the zina as a concept and as a set of legal rulings in the Islamic legal tradition.

The classical figh divides crimes into three categories based on their punishment that are: Hudud, Qisas and Tazir. Two of the five Hudud crimes are offences against sexual morality zina and unfounded allegation of zina (gadhf). There are differences between schools and among jurist as to the definition, elements, evidentiary requirement, legal defenses, exonerating conditions and penalties applicable to each of the three categories of crimes. The boundaries between the sacred and the legal are particularly hazy with respect to hudud crimes.
This is the case in the zina as it sometime treated as a sin to be punished in the hereafter not as a crime. There is room for god’s forgiveness.

The differences in the schools in the condition requested for a valid confession and for testimonial evidence. But the closer look is showing that the classical zina ruling confirm that they did their utmost to prevent conciction, and provided women with protection against accusation by their husbands and the community.
But the reality of the honor crime committed in Muslim context such as Jordon and Turkey and Nigeria that show that it is the patriarchal male dominant system that is controlling women sexuality is the ruling not the Islamic interpretation of the Quranic texts and Hadith.


Islam came to protect the dignity of human being and to honor both men and women, the debate on the Islamic orginal of women dergredation and discrimination is based on the interpretation of human being of wht they think how Islam should be.
The international movements of Muslim women, Muslim feminist to reinterpret the Quranic text and the Hadith to reshape the culture and to change the status of women within the Muslim context is long journey that is facing patriarchy and cultures in society that are for long have benefited from this power hierarchy.

Although there are taboo around sexuality and especially women sexuality and the talk about women sexuality have been around control and looking down on it. But Islam have talked positively about female and male sexuality rights in Quran and Hadith and this was on bases of equality and justice.

• Anwar Etin (2006), Gender and self in Islam, Routledge, New York, pp.25.
• Dossier 16, A Veil over the east, reproduced from south chain morning post, 29 July 1995, pp54.
• Moosa Najma(1996), The interim constitution and Muslim personal law, Dossier 16, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUM), pp. 39.
• Olarinmoye Omobolaji(2013), Muslim Women Reformers in Africa: The Nigeria Case, Afrika Zamani, Nos 18 & 19, Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa & Association of African Historians, pp. 135.

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