The female role has been constructed throughout history. Historically in Islamic societies, women's role has been within the home which has limited and created obstacles for female leaders. During the time of the Prophet Mohammad and throughout the early and per-Islamic period, women were given a great sense of freedom and power. The wives of Prophet Muhammad referred to as the Mothers of the Believers were considered the ideal way for women in islam to behave. Many of his wives and women within the early Islamic period were widely important in different leadership areas.
Khadija Bint Khuwaylid was not only economically successful prior to her marriage to Prophet Muhammad but is also considered the first convert to islam, aiding the Prophet during the revelations and the tumultuous history of the early Islamic period. The Prophet allowed women to take on these powerful leadership positions, however after his death the role of women in society became dictated by an onslaught of Hadiths and interpretations of Qur'an verses from a male dominated and patriarchal society.
Overall women became regulated to positions within the household, becoming protected through seclusion, with men dictating the major decisions of their lives. Therefore, a separate movement for the rights and freedoms of females in islam began to stir in the early 20th century. The movement for women as political leaders in modern-day Islamic society was spearheaded by these modern day activists for gender equality. However the progress of this movement varies in different Arab countries and within different sectors of islam, as new interpretations shape the gender construction for women in Islamic societies.
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