Values & Beliefs of Arab Women
While not all Arab women identify culturally or religiously as Muslims, many values and beliefs held by Arab women are nonetheless derived from the Islamic faith prevalent in parts of the Middle East. To many Arab women the role of traditional practices regarding, for example, modest dress and relationships with their children, reflect this system of cultural values.
Modesty is valued by both men and women in Arabic culture. According to Islamic doctrine, men and women are expected to dress and act with a sense of non-flamboyant decorum. The hijab, a head scarf worn by many Muslim women, is a widely-recognized form attribute of such modesty. Some Muslim women also choose to wear veils that entirely obscure their faces in addition to a full-length robes or other garments. Although the Quran does not specifically mandate wearing a hijab, many Arab women believe that covering the head and face protects their privacy and creates a sense of dignity and modesty.
Families are the cornerstone of Islamic society. Husbands are considered to be the heads of households, and are responsible for working and providing for their families. Wives are primarily responsible for the care of children and the home. The role of maternal caretaker is greatly valued in Arab culture.
3 Social Interaction
Many Arab women believe that social interaction between men and women who are not related or not married should be avoided whenever possible. Depending on the community a woman lives in, all public spaces, including mosques, may be segregated by gender. This is a valued practice in Islamic culture, since such separation is considered to be essential in limiting the opportunity for temptation and inappropriate contact. According to the Quran, refraining from extramarital sex is the religious responsibility of all Muslims.
4 Financial Freedom
In Arabic culture, women have the right to earn money by working outside the home. They also have the right to keep all of their earnings. Furthermore, wives are not obligated to spend any money on things such as housing and food, as it is considered to be a man's responsibility to provide for the family. Another right granted to Arab women is the right to receive a dowry, which is often a sum of money or valuables. This provides Arab women with financial freedom upon marriage.
- 1 Emory University: Women, Islam and Hijab; Kim Parker; 2012
- 2 Council on American-Islamic Relations: Understanding Modesty - a Look at Muslim Men; Aabeda Masra; 2012
- 3 Brigham Young University: Family Life in Islam/Women in Islam; Shaikha Kouthar Allie Cader; 2003
- 4 Public Broadcasting Service: Beliefs and Daily Lives of Muslims
- 5 British Broadcasting Corporation: Muslim Wedding; Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood; 2009