The status of woman has always been determined not only by the circumstances of her sex, but of a perennial conflict between two antithetical sets of values. On the one hand are the patriarchal values that are authoritarian and conservative in character, while on the other hand are the liberal values that are matristic and humane.

Modern societies seem to have inherited the patriarchal values and these are said to have its roots in the Middle East, Greece and Rome where man dominated woman, treated her as property and valued her only for her child bearing function. She had to live in chronic ambivalence since she must come to terms with a world created by men for men. The pre-Islamic Arab society, despite its patriarchal structure, seems to be an exception in many ways. The Arab woman of the time according to pre-Islamic men of letters was held in honour and most of her rights were not denied her. The entire corpus of what came to be known as al-adab al-Jahili (Pre-Islamic Literature) reveals that man’s affinity with woman was an obsession of the period.

This paper examines the idea of woman in the literature of the period and maintains that despite the common story of the poor status of woman at the time, the literary productions of that era present to us, dreams, longings and symbolism of eloquent, rights thinking and strong willed womanhood. The poetry and orations we inherited from the period lend credence to the fact that man’s tradition is not limited to his codified abuse of woman, sniggering at her faults, caricaturing her sexuality and trampling upon her rights. Woman in life is no doubt different from women in art. Since in art we often dare to express our dearest prejudices and falsify sanctified lies, we are concerned here with woman as mirrored in the language and literature of pre-Islamic society and not woman in life. It is not impossible that the same poet who would describe woman as the full moon, would kick his wife, bury his daughter alive and sleep with his maids, neither is it impossible that the same warrior who would mention the feminine with derision would still make offering to goddesses to aid him during war! This paper first makes a general survey of the status of woman in the human society as a whole, after which her status among the Arab is examined. The idea of woman in pre-Islamic literature follows, while the conclusion reclaims and redefines the feminine and proposes to modern feminist movements to borrow from the idea of woman in the literary works of the Arab.

Woman in Human Society

The most ancient human societies honoured woman as man’s equal partner. For almost two million years, man and woman lived by hunting and gathering food for themselves. While man hunted the wild animals, woman gathered the wild plants. Ten thousand years ago, when the Neolithic age began, man began to domesticate the animals he hunted and woman began to cultivate the plants she gathered. Hawkes and Woolley write:

It is generally accepted that owing to her ancient role as gatherer of vegetable foods, woman was responsible for the invention and development of agriculture. Modern analogies indicate that so long as the ground was prepared by hoeing and not by ploughing woman remained the cultivator.

From the above, woman made the earliest incursions into Agriculture and this paved way for the inventions pioneered by her. Leavitt writes:

Now for the first time, there was the need and the leisure to develop textiles and pottery. These were also invented by woman, who planted the flax that she spun and made into clothes for the family, and who fashioned the containers for the grains she collected, raped, stored and cooked. It has never been doubted that potter, was both shaped and decorated by women.

The valuable contribution of the woman in the Neolithic age must have informed the position of pre-eminence she occupied then9. This matrilineal structure however was not common among the great civilizations of the world. According to E. E. Evans Pritchard, all the known great civilizations were patriarchal10. This is particularly true of the ancient Greek civilization at its early stage. The Greek woman at the time had no legal rights; she was an outcast morally and socially. Her fate was conditioned by the myth of Pandora, the woman who, according to their belief, brought evil into the world. Since her kind was the cause of all ills and misfortunes, she must be treated as a sub-human being11. This image of the woman is akin to the image of woman in Judeo-Christian traditions which was also conditioned by the story of Eve. The negative influence was what prompted the diatribe of Tertullian; one of the early fathers of the church against her that:

She opens the door to satanic temptations leads man to the forbidden tree, breaks the law of God, and corrupts man, the image of God.

In a similar manner, St. John Chrysostum, one of the Greek fathers of the church also describes woman as:

An inevitable evil, an eternal mischief, an attractive calamity, a domestic risk, a charming and decorated misfortune.

The natural result of such a view was an unprecedented hostile treatment of woman in the West, while the poor woman too, had to bear it in silence or adjust to it with masochistic indulgence. With the coming of the Greek enlightenment, the status of woman improved. However, the patrilineal structure persisted among them and the western societies inherited their civilization.

To the early Middle Eastern civilizations, two images of woman persisted through the ages. One is of the woman the goddess, while the other is of woman the giver of pleasure14. The veneration of woman as goddess was particularly common to all of the civilizations that congregated along the banks of the three great rivers, the Euphrates, Tigris and Nile. In Babylonia and Egypt, religious activities revolved round the fertility cult where offerings were made to the mother-goddess. Among the Phoenicians, the mother-goddess was Astarte, in Egypt she was Isis and in Babylonia, she was Artemis. Goddess Artemis of the Ephesians was indentified with the Roman Diana, the huntress, who roamed the woods and mountains, reveling in music and dancing. She submitted to no man and was seen in their mythology as the symbol of the freedom of women. Worthy of mention is the code of Hammurabi, king of Babylon, which he claimed to have received from Marduk, the Babylonian Zeus, as Moses, Mohammed and other Prophets claimed to have received their laws from a Deity.

Under this code, a woman could be judge, secretary, elder and witness to important documents. More important however is the opportunity allowed women to serve as priestess, abbess and holy sister. Those women thus consecrated to religious office held equal position with men. However, in the marriage contract, wife purchase was common, a custom still very much alive in different hues in many countries of Western Europe and Africa and was common throughout the ancient Semitic world. One thing that distinguishes this practice of wife purchase is that the bride price, however high, belongs to the wife. If a woman happened to be childless she allowed one of her maids to share her husband’s bed in order that he may not be childless. If out of jealousy, she does not allow this, the man had the right to choose a concubine who usually was a slave but who must be set free and elevated in status so that her children could be treated as legitimate heirs of the man. Though, sensible this may appear, we must not lose sight of the fact that the childlessness of a couple may not necessarily be the fault of the woman. Several times, the man has been found to be unable to produce enough fertilizing spermatozoa.

Divorce laws under Hammurabi’s codes were also simple and realistic. If a man wanted to part with his wife, he had to pay for the maintenance of their children who must remain in the custody of the woman unless she lets go. Similarly, a woman could request divorce on the grounds of inhuman treatment and cruelty. If on the other hand a wife was unfaithful to her husband or neglectful of her duties to him and their children, she could be deprived of her freedom and relegated to slavery.

The dual image of woman as goddess and giver of pleasure was perhaps not better combined anywhere as it was in the ancient Greek practice of sacred prostitution. Herodotus, the Greek historian of the fifth century B.C. narrated how every woman had to sit in the precinct of Venus in Greece, and offer to have sexual intercourse with strangers. This is said to be common to those areas where the cult of mother-goddess prevailed. In Cyprus, girls had to go to beaches to amass by prostitution, the dowries with which they would in the future purchase offerings to Venus for preserving their chastity. Syrian women had to shave their heads on the day of Adonis death ritual and if they failed to do so, they had to offer themselves to strangers to expiate their faults.

Modern Western societies inherited the Patriarchal structure from ancient civilization and through the ages, the status of woman had been between honor and discrimination. While she could rise to become idealized as man’s veritable partner as Shakespeare’s description of Imogene as “my soul” in Cymberline, or Milton’s Adam who described Eve as “part of my soul” in Paradise lost, she could suffer degradation within the same culture. Patai writes:

It is significant that, dissatisfied as European man was with most aspects of his cultural patrimony, he found nothing to be changed or improved in connection with the traditional status of women. Consequently, while he devoted prodigious energy to introducing successive improvements into practically all of the cultural realms bequeathed to him by preceding generations, he left untouched the ancient rules that governed the position of women and relationship between women and men; even after the abolition of serfdom and slavery, men felt no shame of keeping women in a state of subjugation.

Though there has been a considerable shift in recent times towards a matrilineal system, particularly after the publication of Betty Freidan’s The Feminine Mystique in America, and Elisabeth Badinter’s Mother Love-Myth and Reality in France. Experience has shown that despite the efforts of the feminist movement within the last centuries, Western societies have stubbornly remained patriarchal. Replying those who see the States as a matriarchy, Margaret Mead asserts:

In the United States women take their husband’s names and the children bear their fathers’ names. Women are expected to live where their husbands elect to live and refusal to do so is tantamount to desertion. Men are liable for the support of their wives and children, and women are not liable for the support of their husbands. The basic legal assumption is that a woman is dependent upon her father, and thereafter upon her husband. In our legal forms, we are a patrinominal, patrilineal, patrilocal and for the most part, a patriarchal society.

History demonstrates that it is almost impossible to achieve a complete matriarchy. Even in matrilineal societies like the Pueblo Indians of North America, where descent and property are inherited through the female line, political and religious powers are rarely in the hands of women.

In the far East and Africa, the patriarchal structure is not very different from the Middle Eastern pattern. Female goddesses were worshipped by men and women alike. Women dominated the agricultural scene. They were often married in large numbers so that they could help on the farm. Men felled trees while woman cultivated and gathered crops. However, their involvement in commercial activities surpassed the involvement of their kinds in other patriarchal societies. Patai writes:

The cultures have traditionally included freedoms which in other parts of the world women have only recently begun to enjoy or aspire to. Outstanding among these is the sexual liberty of women in certain African societies, and the important roles women play in commercial activities in both Africa and South-East Asia.

Woman in the Pre-Islamic Arab Society

Like other Middle Eastern cultures, the Arab society before Islam was patriarchal in structure. The popular belief was that the pre-Islamic woman was a nonentity. A. Rahim writes:

The position of women was very degrading in the Arab Society. They were treated as chattels and with contempt. The birth of female child was considered as a great curse and she was often buried alive by the heartless father. Women could not have any shares of the property of the husbands or the fathers. In a word, the women of pre-Islamic days had no status in the society.

This is a rather exaggerated picture, obviously motivated by a desire to establish Islam’s emancipation of woman. One of the earliest wars fought by the pre-Islamic Arab was the Harb al-Basus occasioned by the wounding of the she-camel of a woman of Banu-Bakr, named Basus by a chief of Banu-Taghlib. Her tribe rose to avenge this incident and the ensuing conflict lasted forty years. It must be observed that in a situation whereby “women had no status” the huge sacrifice of going to war because of the injustice done to a poor old woman could hardly have been made.

In reality, women enjoyed an important position in the pre-Islamic days. They played important roles during wars, treaties and conciliatory meetings. They had the freedom to choose their spouses and their opinions were sought in matters. The widely reported case of female infanticide was not a general practice of the Arab. Certain clans among the tribes of Tamim and Asad were reported to have done it. Nu’man bn Mundhir is reported to have replied the Chosroes of Persia when he (Chosroes) asked about the burying of their daughters alive:

“أما قولك أيها الملك يئدون أولادهم، فإنما يفعله من يفعله منهم بالإناث أنفة من العار وغيرة الازواج

O king as for what you said that they used to bury alive their children well, those who do that to their daughters do so to ward off shame or because of the jealousy of wives.

The reference of the Qur’an to this practice does not mean that every Arab was involved. As a religious book, every custom has to be addressed by it. It is, therefore, in this light that the Qur’an condemns the burying of female infants. According to Nicholson, this practice was due partly to the frequent famines with which Arabia was inflicted and partly to a perverted sense of honour. Fathers were afraid of poverty or the disgrace of losing them if they were taken as prisoners of war.

Similarly, history records the enviable positions held by Hind, the daughter of al-Khuss, and Khadijah, the wife of Prophet Muhammad before the advent of Islam. The worship of goddesses reputed to be daughters of Allah by pre-Islamic Arabs also shows that reverence for the feminine was an established practice. All we have said above do not, however, mean that all categories of women had access to freedom and honour.

Shawqi Dayf divides the women of the period into two. On the one hand were the freeborn who enjoyed all rights, while on the other hands were the slaves. The slave girls differed in their occupations; some were prostitutes. Some served as singers and dancers in drinking dens, some served women of nobility while some reared cattle and camels for their lords. Even when a man impregnated a slave girl, the child of such a woman was not accepted as a true son of the man until he achieved a noble feat. One of such was cAntarah bn Shaddad, one of the celebrated poets of the period.

The freeborn, in addition to property and inheritance rights, also enjoyed rights of intercession as they were seen as responsible members of the society. An example of this right of intercession was the case of al-Sulayk bn al-Sulakah who fell into the hands of Banu Uwar. He sought refuge in Fukayha’s tent and she offered protection to him. Such was the respect they had for her person. Such was the status of the freeborn woman of the pre-Islamic society.

Idea of Woman in Pre-Islamic Arabic Literature

The literature of the pre-Islamic period is assumed to span about one hundred and fifty years before the Prophetship of Prophet Muhammad. It records for us the poetry and orations of the period and its themes cover a wide range of subject including eulogy, dirge, satire, description, erotic yearnings, to boasts of acts of valour and other adventures.

A strong feature of the poetry of the period is the honour given to woman in its artistic structure. A poem often opens with one or two lines of in remembrance of loved one (mostly woman) or a place where the poet and beloved used to meet. This romantic opening of their poetry shows how important the woman was. In the most celebrated poem of Amr bn Khulthum, we read of the poet’s willingness to die for the women of his tribe as therein alone lies honour. The poet Antarah also saw motivation to valiant deeds in the desire to win the hand of Abla, his uncle’s daughter.

A passionate picture of the pre-Islamic woman is found in the poetry of Imru’ al-Qays. Though speaking in a poet’s language and in the euphoria of a playboy’s excesses, his poem describing his exploits at the darat-juljul, portrays a lofty conception of woman. He says:

أغرك منّى أن حبك قاتلى # وأنك مهما تأمرى القلب يفعل

Does it surprise you that your love is killing me,
And that whatever you command my heart it will do?

A reflection upon this line and the lines before is, where he describes how he slaughtered his camel for the ladies who came to bath at the pool, is a picture of the inner yearnings of the men of the time to sacrifice every honour for their women. Similar to this is the following lines of al-Muthaqqab al-Abdi:

أفاطم قبل بينك متّعينى # ومنعك ما سألت كأن يبينى
ولا تعدى مواعد كاذبات # تمرّ بها رياح الصيف دونى
فإنى لو تخالفنى شمالى # خلافك ما وصلت بها يمينى
إذا لقطعتها ولقلت بينى # كذلك أجتوى من يجتوينى

Fatima, before you depart, comfort me,
your refusal of what I want is as if you hate me.

Give me not vain promises,
which the summer wind will blow away from me.

If my left hand were to disagree with me concerning you, My right hand will not agree with it.

In that case, I will sever it from my body saying: away from me!
In such a manner I treat him, who hates me

Beside these romantic pictures, the pre-Islamic woman had a moral stature that was also celebrated in the literature of the period. The poet al-Shanfara, in a poem described by Charles Lyall as “the loveliest picture of womanhood which heathen Arabia has left us, declares about his wife, Umayma:

لقد أعجبتنى لا سقوطا قناعها # إذا ما مشت ولا بذات تلفت
تبيت بعيد النوم تهدى غبوقها # لجاراتها إذا الهدية قلّت
تحل بمنجاة من اللوم بيتها # إذا ما بيوت بالمذمة حلّت
كأن لها فى الأرض نسيا نقصّه # على أمها وأن تكلمك تبلّت
أميمة لا يخزى نثاها حليلها # إذا ذكر النسوان عفت وجلّت
إذا هو أمسى آب قرّة عينه # مآب السعيد لم يسل أين ظلّت

She amazes me; when she walks her veil of modesty falls not, neither does she looks about her carelessly.

Generous she is, she spends the night giving gifts of milk, to her neighbours at the time of drought.

She protects with her bashfulness, her home from all blame, when other homes are blameworthy.

She lowers her gaze in modesty looking at the ground as if looking for a lost property, and when she talks to you, it is brief.

No information about her would bring shame to her husband, when women are mentioned; she stands out as virtuous and gives glory to her man.

When in the evening her man returns home, he finds her at home a source of delight and he does not need to ask after her where about.

This picture of the woman presents a patriarchal structure where everything a woman does complements the efforts of man and is tailored towards pleasing him. Another look at the poem also reveals the picture of a woman who is above anything petty and who is economically independent to the extent of being able to give gifts of milk at time of drought. The pre-Islamic tradition thus establishes a kind of status balancing by which a woman, though submissive to a man, retains her freedom in a bond of reciprocal love and respect. A clearer picture of this is seen in the admonition of Amamah bint al-Harith to her daughter, Umm Iyas, at the time of her marriage. This admonition further throws light on the understanding of the people of the time concerning the relationship of man to woman. She says:

أي بنية: إن الوصية لو تركت لفضل أدب تركت لذلك منك ولكنها تذكرة للغافل ومعونة للعاقل، ولو أن امرأة استغنت عن الزوج لغنى أبويها وشدة حاجتهما إليها، كنت أغنى الناس عنه، ولكن النساء للرجال خلقن ولهن خلق الرجال.
أي بنية: إنك فارقت الجو الذى منه خرجت وخالفت العش الذى فيه درجت إلى وكر لم تعرفيه وقرين لم تأليفيه، فأصبح بملكه عليك رقيبا ومليكا، فكونى له أمة يكن لك عبدا وشيكا.

My dear daughter, surely if this advice is not offered in your own case, it is only an extra that has been withheld (i.e. you have had access to sufficient moral training) but it is a reminder to the forgetful, and an aid to the thoughtful. And if ever there is a woman who does not stand in need of a man on account of the wealth of her parents and her usefulness to them, you are the least in need of this man, but women have been created for men and men for women.

My dear daughter, you are parting with the atmosphere under which you grew up, and you are leaving the abode where you were reared to an environment you do not know, and to a companion you are not familiar with, but who has become by virtue of his authority over you a guardian and a master. Be unto him a maidservant, and he will become your willing slave.

In the quotation above, the idea of reciprocity is expressed in two sentences the last sentence in the first paragraph and the last sentence in the second. The first emphasises the indispensability of the sexes to each other while the second emphasises reciprocity in conduct, thereby making one gender dissolve into the other to actualize the androgynous dream of two becoming one.

Pre-Islamic literary history also documents for us the story of outstanding women who excelled men in their calling. An example is Tamadur bint Amr bn al-Harith bn al-Sharid, popularly known as al-Khansa, the pre-Islamic poetess who also witnessed the advent of Islam. Bashar bn Burd is reported to have said that no woman ever composed poetry without flaws and artistic frailties. When he was asked: including al-Khansa? He replied: no, that one excelled even the masters. Similarly, Jarir was asked: who is the best poet of all? He replied: I, except for al-Khansa. Prophet Muhammad himself is reported to have judged her as the best of all.

Apart from al-Khansa, several other poetesses existed among the pre-Islamic Arab. Of these were Asma bint Ukht Kulayb, Umm al-Agharr bint Rabicah, Amamah bint Kulayb, Aminah bint cUtaybah Umm al-Banin and Umaymah bint Abd al-Mutallib, to mention but a few. It could be observed that all of these women composed mostly dirges for dead husbands, brothers or friends. The only exception appears to be Umm al-Aswad al-Kilabiyyah who composed satires which were heaped on her husband.

The choice of a “humane” theme like dirge by the pre-Islamic poetesses and their neglect of the so called “manly” themes may appear to lend credence to the common reference to woman as the weaker sex. However, pre-Islamic Arab history is replete with the exploits of valiant women who were everything but weak. There was the story of the noble matrons, who were named al-Munjibat i.e. mothers of heroes. There were also the intrepid female rulers and tribal chieftains like Zabiba, Shamsi, Yati, Tayl Khunu, Tubwa and Adiya who long resisted the Assyrian Kings. There was the exploit of Queen Nayla also known as Zabba, the heavy-Browed who estasblished herself on the Euprates about 270 C.E. at whose hand Jadhima bn Fahm of the Tanukh tribe suffered a humiliating defeat when he tried to make incursions into her territory.

Another glorious image of the feminine is found in the zeal with which the pre-Islamic Arab rose to defend their mothers. Because of the strength of the bond between mothers and their children, they saw mothers as the ultimate symbol of honour, nobility and dignity.

In realization of the above, the pre-Islamic Arab loathe any kind of assault on their mothers, physical or verbal. The vilest satire therefore was the one that vilified the personality of the mother of a person. It is because of this that pre-Islamic poetry contains several lines written in defence of certain mothers; or accounts of how brave sons avenged insults upon their mothers.

An example was ‘Urwah bn al-Ward whose mother was abused for being too daring and agile, a trait they considered to be negative since she would not, according to their belief, be able to give birth to a hero or a worthy son. In response, Urwah sang:

أعيّرتمونى أن أمى تريعة # وهل يُنجبن فى القوم غير الترائع
وما طالب الأوتار إلا ابن حرّة # طويل نجاد السيف عارى الأشاجع

Do you condemn me that my mother is daring and agile?
Who else gives birth to heroes other than agile women?

Only the son of a noble woman seeks the bow strings;
Tall in frame, focused with the bow.

A more apt example is that of ‘Amr bn Khulthum whose vengeance for his mother’s honour had become proverbial and legendary. It is reported that Hind, the mother of ‘Amr bn Hind, who was a ruler of his people, wanted to humiliate Layla, the mother of ‘Amr bn Kulthum by making her a servant. When Layla saw this, she cried out to her son, who was nearby in the company of ‘Amr bn Hind. Amr bn Kulthum knew instantly that his mother was being humiliated. He drew his sword and slew ‘Amr bn Hind. It is to this he referred in his Mu‘allaqah thus:

بأي مشيئة عمرو بن هند # نكون لقيلكم فيها قطينا
تهدّدنا وأوعدنا رويدا # متى كنا لأمّك مقتوينا

By whose will, O ‘Amr bn Hind, should we become servants to your king?

Be wary of threatening us; when did we become your mothers special servant?

This incident is beautifully narrated by Ufnun al-Taghlabi in a poem with which he mocked ‘Amr bn Hind and his mother while at the same time commending ‘Amr bn Kulthum. He says

لعمرك ما عمرو بن هند وقد دعا # لتخدم ليلى أمه بموفق
فقام ابن كلثوم إلى السيف مصلتا # فأمسك من ندمانه بالمخنّق
وجلّله عمرو على الرأس ضربة # بذى شطب صافى الحديدة رونق

Upon your life! What became of ‘Amr bn Hind, who wanted Layla to server his mother.

Thereupon Ibn Kulthum rose with his shining blade; and grabbed his companion by the throat.

He dealt him a blow on the head, with a pure steel with a sharp edge.

Some women of the Pre-Islamic days seemed to accept the epithet of weaker sex for women. Reproaching her kinsmen, Umm ‘Amr bint Waqdan snare at them when they were contemplating a diyya i.e. blood money for the murderers of her brother:

إن أنتم لم تطلبوا بأخيكم # فذروا السلاح ووحّشوا بالأبرق
وخذوا المكاحل والمجاسد والبسوا # نقب النساء فبئس رهط المرهق

If you won’t take vengeance for your kinsman, discard your weapons and seek asylum in Abraq.

Put on Kohl in your eyes and wear multi-coloured clothes, wear the wrappers of women; evil indeed is the humiliated party.

In the above lines, Umm ‘Amr tacitly agrees that while bravery and chivalry are the forte of men, women attach more importance to adorning themselves. She therefore urges them by saying that if they could not rise like men to avenge their brother’s death, they should move away from the centres of valiant deeds into some remote area where they would be free to engage in petty womanish activities.


From the foregoing, it can be seen that idea of women in the pre-Islamic literature is neither wholly patriarchal nor matriarchal. In its idealization of womanhood, we have a picture that puts man and woman on an equal ground while at the same recognizing their differences. Hence, the assertion by Amamah bint Harith that her daughter’s husband had become a guardian over her.

She, however, pointed it out that reciprocity of affection and respect should be their watchword. It is this, the feminist movements lost sight of when they continue to clamour for equal responsibilities. There are fundamental differences in the physiological make-up of men and women. In intellectual prowess, man cannot claim superiority over woman because of mere biological considerations, but in physical and social responsibilities, the biological make-up has to come into play. Reflecting on this, Alexis Carrel, the French Nobel Laureate says: “Ignorance of these fundamental facts has led promoters of feminism to believe that both sexes should have the same responsibilities”.

The simple declaration “women have been created for men and men for women” is thus enough to draw our attention to the fact that despite our individuality, there is a meeting point. Each sex should, therefore, develop its potentials to the fullest but with the understanding that efforts are supposed to be contemporary and not conflicting. Neither of the sexes could stay without the other, this was the dream of the pre-Islamic men of letters even if it was not perfectly achieved in the social life of the time.

Notes and References

  • L.T. Ludocivi, The Final Inequality, (London: Hazell Watson and Viney, 1965), p.28.
  • Ruby R. Leavitt, Women in other Cultures, in V. Gornick and B.K. Moran (ed), Woman in Sexist Society, (Mentor Books, 1972), p.394.
  • I.G. Ismail et al, Al-Adab al-cArabi, (Iraqi Wizarat al-Tarbiyah, 1974), p.24.
  • A. Rahim, Islamic History, (Lagos: Islamic Publications Bureau, 4th Edition, 1992), p.7.
  • Stevie Davies, Idea of Woman in Renaissance Literature, (Great Britain: Harvester Press, 1995), p.1.
  • Leavitt, op.cit., p.393.
  • J. Hawkes and L. Wolley, Prehistory and the Beginning of Civilization, (New York: Happer and Row, 1963), p.265.
  • Leavitt, op.cit., p.394.
  • Ibid.
  • E.E.Evans Pritchard, The Position of Woman in Primitive Societies, (New York: The Free Press, 1965), p.39.
  • A.A. Maududi, Status of Women in Islam, (Delhi: Markazi Maktaba Islami, 1940), p.9.
  • Ibid, p.10.
  • Ibid.p.10
  • Ludocivi, op.cit., p.44.
  • Ibid.
  • Ibid, p.45.
  • In Greek mythology, Zeus was the father of the gods and men, and most powerful of the immortals. He was pre Hellenic and was worshipped as the sky deity. He was also the highest civic god and protector of political freedom. The Romans identified him with Jupiter, the father of the gods in Roman classical pantheon. Among the Babylonians, Marduk occupied a similar position.
  • Ludocivi, op.cit., p.46
  • Ibid.
  • Ibid, p.47
  • Ibid.
  • According to the practice of the time, a man pays the bride-price while a woman pays the dowry to the man. This practice is sacred because the money amassed from it is used to fulfil one of the obligations to Venus, the goddess of love and fertility.
  • Adonis was the son of Inyras, king of Cyprus and was renowned for his beauty. Aphrodite the goddess of beauty fell in love with him. His death is commemorated in Syria.
  • Stevie Davies, op.cit, p.2.
  • Raphael Patai (ed), Women in the Modern World, (New York: The Free Press, 1967), p.3.
  • The feminine mystique of Betty Freidan, first, published in 1970, stirred controversy in the English speaking world while Badinter’s “Mother Love” a translation of her French work, Lamoure en plus was published in 1981 and had the reputation of being a rabblerouser more than any other feminist work in France.
  • Margaret Mead, Male and Female, (New York: William Morrow & Co, 1949), pp.301-302.
  • Leavitt, op.cit, p.396.
  • Ibid, p.400.
  • Raphael Patai, op.cit, p.315.
  • Rahim, op.cit, p.7.
  • P.K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, (New York: Macmillan Company, 1951), p.89.
  • Ismail et al, op.cit, p.23.


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