Jefferson Educational Society series ends with ‘Women in Islam’ – Redlands News | Team Cansler







Jefferson Educational Society Scholar-in-Residence Baher Ghosheh concludes the Global Summit Series at the University of Redlands with a presentation on “Women in Modern Muslim Societies”.




The four-day Jefferson Educational Society (JES) Global Summit Series, held at the University of Redlands, concluded with Baher Ghosheh’s talk on women in modern Muslim societies, which debunked common misconceptions Americans have about their role and lifestyle.

Each year, the Society, a non-profit organization based in Erie, Pennsylvania, invites speakers from around the world to speak on a wide range of globally important issues as part of the Global Summit Speaker Series.

Ben Speggen, Vice President of JES, opened the event, which was held in person at the U of R and was livestreamed.

“We’ve met so many of you over the course of those four nights and Redlands is a special place,” Speggen said. “I feel very much at home here and that’s because you’ve welcomed us as a community and we’re really grateful to you.”

Sheli Stockton, director of alumni and community relations at U of R, said the series has garnered positive feedback from attendees.

“Learning opportunities like this improve our collective understanding of problems and make us better citizens of our community and the world,” she said.

Krista L. Newkirk, President of the University of Redlands, praised the partnership with JES.

“We have seen the impact of the Jefferson Educational Society and the Global Summit in Erie and are excited to welcome this partnership and program into our community,” she said.

Ghosheh, visiting scholar at JES and professor of Middle Eastern Studies, Cultural and Economic Geography at Edinboro University near Erie, led a fascinating discussion aimed at educating audiences about the perception versus reality that many have about Islam .

“This may come as a shock to many of us,” he said. “The three countries with the largest Muslim majority, Indonesia, Pakistan and Banglesch, have already elected a female president. How many women presidents have we had in this country?”

He explained the difference between Arabs and Muslims, who are often confused. Arabs are people who speak the Arabic language regardless of what religion they practice.

Muslims are people who belong to the religion of Islam. Ghosheh shared that many people in America assume that all Muslim women are forced to cover themselves.

“The Qur’an speaks of modesty in dress for all people, male and female,” he said. “The vast majority of Muslim women dress like us and you in this classroom. We don’t notice them because people have ingrained ideas about how they should look.”

According to the Pew Research Center, Islam is set to become the world’s largest religion by 2060.

“When we think about Islam and Muslim women, we have to think about the many different variables and realities. Some Muslim countries are democracies and others are ruled by dictators who do not allow women to have basic civil rights.”

“The Taliban rule in Afghanistan is the most extreme example and the main source of the negative Islamic perception people have,” he said.

80 percent of women in Afghanistan are illiterate and are not allowed to attend schools.

“I know we have shows like ‘Married at First Sight’ here and it’s an exciting show, but in Afghanistan it’s not an exciting show. It’s the reality.”

Ghosheh said that of the 57 Muslim-majority countries, three have extremely strict rules against Muslim women: Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan.

He shared excerpts from the Koran detailing the role of women in society, which states that they should have the same rights as their peers.

“Islam is a reflection of history and culture,” Ghosheh said. “If we look at what Islam says in the Qur’an about certain social issues, we might be surprised because it goes against the stereotypes that we have here in America.”

Ghsoheh acknowledged the progress being made in the US and abroad, but noted that there is still a long way to go.

“I assume that women will be the dominant gender in politics and business in the future,” he said. “I hope it won’t be long before women are in the majority. If Brazil, Argentina, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan can elect female presidents, so can the United States.”

  • To learn more about the Jefferson Educational Society and its upcoming events: Visit jeserie.org.

Evaluation of the four-day series

Shelli Stockton, director of alumni and community relations at the University of Redlands, s…

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