US Mosque in Iowa City hosts discussion on honored role of women in Islam

A discussion aimed to combat the stereotype that Muslim women are oppressed in their religion was held on Sunday at Iowa City Mosque under the theme of “The Honored role of women in Islam.”

A discussion aimed to combat the stereotype that Muslim women are oppressed in their religion was held on Sunday at Iowa City Mosque under the theme of “The Honored role of women in Islam.”

“Almighty Allah said that whoever had a daughter and preferred her the same as his son would enter paradise. In that way, Islam stopped this evil act,” The Daily Iowan newspaper reported quoting Presenter Imam Molhim Bilal, the imam of the Iowa City Mosque.

Bilal addressed many of the issues that Westerners have with Islam. “People say Islam degrades women by making them cover up. This is not true,” he said. “Nuns cover themselves as well but are not considered degraded. When Muslim women cover themselves, they do it as an act of worship.”

“But what about the women who are forced to cover their heads?” said an audience member who did not want to be named.

Bilal countered that the majority of Muslim countries do not force women to cover their heads.

“The media see this situation in a few countries and makes it into a generalization for all of Islam,” he said.

Bilal also spoke about jihad, “Jihad means ‘to strive,’ ” he said. “It means to tell people about Islam and the Qur’an. When I stand here and speak to you, this is a jihad. What ISIS is doing is not a jihad.

Throughout the discussion, audience members talked about how most Americans are familiar with the stereotypes of Muslims as dangerous. However, they might be surprised to discover that many Muslims have similar stereotypes about Americans.

“When I came to the United States, people in Pakistan told me that people in the United States are bad and will rape me and put me in jail,” said UI graduate student Sumaria Taj. “There are stereotypes on both sides.”

“None of us practice our religion literally,” Taj said. “I’ve read the Qur'an many times, and I’ve never come across a value that isn’t a universal value. Forcing people to do things has never been part of Islam.”

“When reading the Qur’an and other ancient Islamic texts, it is important to remember the historical period,” said Mohammad Amarneh, the president of the Iowa City Mosque.

“Things have changed,” he said. “Women can go out, and work, and provide for themselves now.
Four thousand years ago, where could they go? Things have changed, and they are still changing.”



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