What were the central aspects of the religious and social life of the ottoman empire? How did women fare in these aspects of ottoman life?
The position of women is often defined by the religious beliefs of a particular group, and the dominance of Islam in the Ottoman Empire shaped the life chances of women at this particular time and in this geographical area. The Ottoman Empire clearly was patriarchal at its heart, and this lead to the suppression of the rights of women and their being treated as "inferior" to men.
Post two is correct in saying that the Ottoman empire allowed other religions, but he fails to point out that was only half of the story. Christian and Jews were considered second class citizens. The right that Muslims enjoyed by the state were not given to Christians and Jews. For instance, Jew and Christians were not allowed to testify against Muslim in court. Also Jews and Christians were not allowed to carry weapons. Also the Ottoman empire did not look favorably on polytheists. In view of this, there was limited religious freedom.
Islam was, of course, the religion of the empire, but it was not the only one. The Ottomans allowed various major religious groups to form their own communities. This was one of the most important religious and social aspects of the empire -- it was multi-cultural and multi-religious.