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The Position of Women in Pre- and Post-Islamic Arabia

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Chapter Summary

This chapter provides an understanding of status and role of women in Arab society before the rise of Islam and what reforms Islam introduced for lifting up the status of women. The position of women in pre-Islamic Arab society is open to dispute. The majority of scholars of Islam maintain that women were held in subjection and that Islam raised their status. To find the real place of women in Arab society, it is imperative to understand the organisation of Arab society along tribal lines and prevailing legal system. Women of high social class were able to choose their spouses on an equal basis and to own and run their businesses in contrast to women from lower strata and nomadic tribes. The position of women also varied from tribe to tribe and region to region. The Koran eliminated all distinctions and introduced egalitarianism for all segments of society, specifically women.

Keywords: Koran; nomadic tribes; pre-Islamic Arab society



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