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The status of women in early Islam is a concept that is covered by authors Barbara Freyer Stowasser in her article The Status of Women in Early Islam and Leila Ahmed in Women and the Rise of Islam These two articles differ significantly in terms of the role that women played within society during the development of Islam despite the fact that both Stowasser and Ahmed address similar time periods and geographic regions The views of these two authors shall be explored within this paper in order to better define the image of the woman in early Arabia Ahmed and Stowasser are both quick to note that it is a challenging feat to identify those social traits that existed in the period before the Koran or the Islamic Holy Scriptures The period that predates the Koran is one that tends towards ambiguous research However the authors agree on the concept that the evolution of the Koran creates a window through which the pre- existing social roles between men and women can be examined Stowasser for example Notes that the majority of pre- Islamic urban women appear to have lived in a male- dominated society in which their status was low and their rights were negligible 15 Islamic reforms apparently consolidated a trend toward patriliny in sixth- century Arabia The type of marriage that Islam legitimized was like its monotheism deeply consonant with the sociocultural systems already in place throughout the Middle East Within Arabia patriarchal patrilinial polygynous systems were by no means starkly innovative Rather Islam selectively sanctioned customs already found among some Arabian tribal societies while prohibiting others 45 The inference that the wedding rites as well as social roles that determined the relationship of men and women was drawn from the era before the emergence of the Koran therefore suggests that much of the ritual social text defined in the Koran is the result of social norms influencing policy Both authors
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