Women in Islam
21 August 2010
You would have to be comatose to not realize the tremendous difference between how women are treated in Muslim cultures compared to how women are treated in "Christian" cultures. While proponents of Islam speak glowingly of the great benefits and freedoms women have under Islam, unfortunately the actual facts (pesky little things, aren't they!) do not support their assertions.
There are numerous sources in books and on Web pages where you can find details of the lamentable circumstances of Islamic women. I will take some quotes from the highly recommended book I reviewed previously, The Sword of the Prophet: Islam – History, Theology, Impact on the World by Dr. Serge Trifkovic:
The status of women in Islam is comparable to that of the human rights in Cuba: theoretically exalted if you subscribe to the theory, utterly deplorable in practice, and impolite to discuss frankly in the enlightened Western circles. Second-hand apologetics and propaganda notwithstanding, the original sources for "true" Islam — the Quran and Hadith — speak for themselves. They provide ample and detailed evidence on Islamic ideology, theory, and subsequent Shari'a practice regarding the role and rights of women. This practice is in force through much of the Islamic world today. The Quran is unambiguous:
Muhammad has stated that most of those who enter hell are women, not men. According to al-Bukhari, the prophet saw Hell, and the majority of its dwellers were women, because "they are not thankful to their husbands." The disobedient wives are to be admonished at first, refused sexual favors next, and finally beaten, albeit "lightly" (see Surah 4:34). Azhar University [the chief center of Arabic literature and Sunni Islamic learning in the world] scholars concur:Two books that I reviewed previously each have an entire chapter dedicated to the abuses of women in Islam. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran both by Robert Spencer, document the widespread Islamic practices of easy divorce, temporary wives, child marriage, polygamy, wife-beating, stoning adulterers, hijab and the burqa, female circumcision, and more.
If admonishing and sexual desertion fail to bring forth results and the woman is of a cold and stubborn type, the Qur'an bestows on man the right to straighten her out by way of punishment and beating, provided he does not break her bones nor shed blood. Many a wife belongs to the querulous type and requires this sort of punishment to bring her to her senses!Physical violence against one's wife, far from being a crime punishable by law, remains divinely ordained and practically advised in modern Islam. Muslim propagators in the West "explain" that the Islamic teaching and practice on admonishing and beating wives and withdrawing sexual favors from them is in line with the latest achievements of clinical psychology. It is apparently not only correct, but positively beneficial to them because "women's rebelliousness is a medical condition."
The Law of Inheritance dictates that a son gets double the inheritance of a daughter; and in Islamic court a man's witness is worth twice that of a woman's (see Surah 2:282). Al-Ghazali, still revered as one of the greatest Muslim scholars of all time, states that Allah has punished women in eighteen ways, including physical functions and divinely ordained handicaps: lesser share in inheritances, liability for divorce but inability to initiate divorce, seclusion, exclusion from many religious rituals and ceremonies, and disqualification for positions as rules and judges. In the Hadith, the fire-worshipper, the Jew, and the pig are listed alongside the woman as things that corrupt prayer.
the Quran-based law that mandated this punishment. The fact that the woman, Zafran Bibi, was raped was of no consequence. The woman had accused her brother-in-law of raping her and this was a confession to her crime of "having intercourse outside of marriage."
A mortal man is elevated to an almost divine plane when the destiny of his wife is at stake: her disobedience to him is unlawful, while her obedience is the key to eternal bliss. Small wonder then that, in Muhammad's view, it is a noble sacrifice for men to share his life with women, creatures utterly deficient in mind, religion, and gratitude, and unable to repay the favor. Ali, Muhammad's devoted son-in-law and the fourth caliph, said that women are evil, and worse still, a necessary evil. In short, the woman is not a worthy and equal companion of man.
One of Muhammad's widows, his favorite, A'isha, complained to the caliphs and companions: "You have put us on the same level with a donkey and a dog." Her words were prompted by Muhammad's verdict that if a man's prayer was disrupted by the passing of a donkey, a dog, or a woman in front of him, his prayer was not acceptable, and he had to perform ablution again and repeat his prayer.
In Islam, divorce is undesirable but lawful and easy to obtain. The husband can divorce his wife by simply saying so three times, but a woman cannot divorce her husband unless she has his permission to do so. The Quran sanctions polygamy: "...marry women of your choice, two or three or four" (see Surah 4:3). Tedium of matrimony or simple carnal desire for another woman necessitates divorcing one to marry the other if the family budget could not accommodate both. If multi-matrimonial bliss provides insufficient diversity, Muslim men are free to have sex with their slave girls to their heart's content. Modern Islamic scholars argue for the practice of polygamy on scriptural grounds as well as for practical reasons.
The institution of temporary, contractual marriage — degrading to women no less than to the institution of "marriage" — was proclaimed lawful by Muhammad "for three nights" or more. By approving polygamy or temporary "marriage", Islam denies the value of true marriage, based on exclusive, devoted love and rooted in the natural (and scriptural) notion of family. Monogamy alone gives recognition, status, and value to a woman, as well as to the husband and their offspring.
In a polygamist society there is no centralized family nucleus. There are many children, and every group of children rotates not around the father but around the mother. When a Muslim man takes another woman, she does not live with the former wife and her husband but in another house or tent, and there she raises her children. The husband may visit her once a week or once a month. If she is out of favor, her children will seldom meet, let alone play with, their father. In the polygamist society, the father is perceived as an absence. Instead of the father figure essential to normal development, there is a void, from Ishmael to Muhammad to Bin Laden, one of fifteen children by one of ten wives.
Bernard Lewis has warned, it also entrusts the other half's crucial early years of upbringing to undereducated and downtrodden mothers. The idea of "love" is removed from those men's understanding of sexuality, which is too often reduced to hurting others by violence. Gross mutilation of little girls, known as clitorectomy and rampant in Muslim Africa, and to a lesser extent in Arabia, is the direct result of a culture that deems female orgasm as indecent and threatening, because it implies mutuality. It reflects a gigantic rupture that Islam develops between men and women, where no harmony, affection, or equality is allowed to exist.
Islam challenges Christian marriage in principle and in practice, and Muslim teaching on marriage and the family, though conservative about "patriarchy," undermines the traditional Western concept of matrimony. Paradoxically, Islam thus comes close to the contemporary, post-Christian ideology that relativizes "marriage" and "family."
Furthermore, you won't want to miss these three books (which I have reviewed on this Web site) by former-Muslim women who left Islam, since they have experienced what it means to be a woman in Islam firsthand: