Religion is traditionally a man’s game. In the religion I grew up in, the attitude towards the two genders was very much a “separate but equal” type of position. (Disclosure: this is my cynical – but accurate – view of a religion I have since left.) While women in this faith aren’t obviously looked down upon, it is the men who hold what they believe to literally be the power to act in God’s name (through performing ordinances such as baptism, weddings, and healing by the laying on of hands, to name a few). The job of the women? Bear and raise children. An actual quote: “To be a wife and a mother in Zion.”
Of course, in many religions, women are being entrusted with more authority and greater duties. This is a good thing – I may personally find religion to be silly, but gender equality in all things is important, and the world seems to be moving in the right direction.
So, let’s talk about Islam. Thirty years ago, a Syrian Muslim woman named Houda al-Habash founded a school to educate girls about the Qur’an. The girls and women are becoming more religiously involved, which has created some friction in a culture with very strict traditional gender roles.
This story is the subject of the documentary The Light in Her Eyes, produced and directed by Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix. They perhaps give the best description in their filmmaker statement: “The act of women teaching each other about Islam is a key element of the religious revival taking place in the Middle East, and understanding that is crucial to understanding how the region is changing, especially through the Arab Spring.”
The documentary will screen tomorrow, Saturday, at the Iroquois branch of the Louisville Free Public Library at 1:00. The library is located at 601 W. Woodlawn. More information can be found at the event page on the library’s website.
Image: the film’s website