Women and Religion: An Ongoing Conflict


Religious scriptures are the backbone of most religions. It is how followers defend their beliefs and often how they engage with fellow followers. Texts and scriptures have been interpreted in the patriarchal and degrading to women directions since the beginning of the faiths, so it is seen as the core beliefs of the religions when in actuality it is not at all. Alison Boden delves into the conflicts between following one’s faith and following the unwritten laws of feminism.

A common toss up for women of faith is the claim of being pro-choice or pro-life. According to bell hooks, one cannot stand as a feminist while they shame others for getting an abortion. The conflict begins to form as religious leaders and scriptures are proclaiming abortion as murder and damning anyone who gets one to hell. To give an example of how much of a misconception religions are and their connections with abortion, I will explain a situation my roommate was facing.

For the sake of her privacy, we will simply refer to this girl as ‘Roommate.’ Roommate is a devout Muslim who never fails to pray five times a day, does not wear clothing that reveals her arms and legs, and does not drink, smoke, or engage in any delinquent behavior. Roommate also attended the Women’s March, supports LGBTQ rights, and is studying to become a lawyer. She is both Muslim and a feminist. When the topic of abortion was brought up, something interesting happened.

The topic of abortion was brought up and I, as a non-religious raging feminist, identified as a pro-choice follower and was stating all of my reasonings behind it. Roommate eventually spoke her opinion, stating only recently has she claimed to be pro-choice. As she explained more, I learned that because of her religion and because of her believing her family were conservative Muslims, she believed she MUST be pro-life. After she researched a bit, she made a few discoveries; let me share them with you.

The Qur’an never once mentions abortion; however, it does mention infanticide. The killing of a baby is unheard of and is completely condemned. Classical Islamic law states that a fetus is not a human or have a soul until either four months or even until it leaves the womb. The argument that abortions are murdering babies is completely invalid because they are not humans yet. Women are able to receive abortions if it is going to negatively affect the mother’s health, if it is going to put the baby in an unstable environment, or if it is a product of infidelity/rape. Roommate also states that her religion is based upon forgiveness and peace, so if a woman chooses to receive an abortion for a reason outside of those listed above, then so be it. All of this information was gathered from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/altaf-saadi/celebrating-roe-v-wade-as_b_2543782.html, I highly recommend reading the whole article if you get the chance.

Roommate researched for hours on the topic and never really found a scripture or a statement of a Muslim scholar that proves abortion goes against the Qur’an and will damn the woman receiving one. Interpretations of the Qur’an have created a gateway to claiming pro-life and condemning those who believe otherwise, when in reality all of this is coming from a conservative who wishes to push their beliefs on others.

At the end of the day, the topic of abortion will never not brew a debate debate in any scenario, whether it be among Muslims, Christians, Jews, liberals, conservatives, and everything else in between. Feminism is intertwined with giving a woman the rights of her own body and not dictating what she does with it. One may not be a feminist and be pro-life.

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