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Islam’s View of Women
Victor M. Eskew
A. “At some point every religion, especially one that purports to encompass a complete way of life and system of government, has to be called to account for the kind of life it offers the people in the lands where it predominates” (Inside Islam, Miller & Kenedi, ed., “Women in Islam,” Geraldine Brooks).
B. There are at least three things that influence the treatment of women in Islam.
1. The Qur’an and other sources of Islamic teaching
2. The society in which the women live
3. The background and temperament of the man a Muslim woman marries
C. There are passages in the Qur’an that teach men to treat their women properly. “Consort with them in kindness” (Sura 4:19).
D. Other teachings, however, often take precedence over the teachings of the Qur’an concerning kindness toward women. Let’s look at some of these.
I. MEN ARE, BY CREATION, SUPERIOR TO WOMAN
A. Sura 4:34 – Men are superior to women on account of the qualities with which God has gifted the one above the other, and on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them…”
II. WOMEN ARE DEFICIENT IN INTELLIGENCE, RELIGION, GRATITUDE TOWARD MEN AND LEGAL TESTIMONY
A. Razi commenting on Sura 4:11: “…Man is more perfect than the women in creation, and intelligence, and in the religious sphere, such as suitability to be a judge, and a leader in worship. Also, the testimony of a man is twice that of a woman…”
B. Razi commenting on Sura 30:31: “…women are not charged with many commands as we are charged, because the woman is weak, silly, in one sense she is like a child, and no commands are laid upon a child…”
C. Hadith: “Women are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and good (charitable) deeds done to them.”
III. WOMAN ARE SOMETIMES DESCRIBED AS ANIMALS, TOYS, AND LAND
A. Muhammad: “The women is a toy, whoever takes her let him take care for her.”
B. “Eminent Muslim thinker Hadi Sabzevori…wrote: ‘That Sadr Ad-Deen Shirazi classifies women as animals is a delicate allusion to the fact that women, due to the deficiency in their intelligence and understanding of intricacies, [etc.,] are truly and justly among the brute animals.”
C. Land: “Your women are a tilth (a field) for you to cultivate so go to your tilth as you will” (Sura 2:223).
IV. WOMEN ARE A THING TO BE ASHAMED OF
A. “The woman is ‘awrah. When she goes outside (the house), the devil welcomes her” (Hadith).
1. “awrah, a thing that delights the devil
2. Women are even discouraged from going outside, even to pray in the mosque.
B. When they do go out, they are to wear the veil in order to protect the chastity of the men who might see her. (Sura 24:31)
V. THE WOMAN’S OBEDIENCE TO HER HUSBAND IS HER KEY TO PARADISE
A. Hadith: “…Whosoever female dies while her husband is pleased with her, will enter Paradise.” The prophet once said to a woman: “Watch how you treat your husband for he is your Paradise and your Hell.”
VI. FOR DISOBEDIENCE, MEN ARE PERMITTED TO BEAT THEIR WIVES
A. Sura 4:34 – Men have authority over the women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient….As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, Supreme.”
B. The conclusion of one major study states:
“In review of the actual teachings of the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira, Islam is rightly criticized….It will be shown from the Qur’an, Sira, and other Islamic writings that this ‘Islamic’ wife beating is physical and painful….You cannot separate the issue of wife beating apart from the context of her inferior position in the marriage relationship” (answering-islam.org, “Wife Beating in Islam”).
C. “The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences has determined that over 90 percent of Pakistani wives have been struck, beaten, or abused sexually – for offences on the order of cooking an unsatisfactory meal. Others were punished for failing to give birth to a male child” (PIG, 70).
VII. IN EARTHLY LIFE MEN ARE PERMITTED MULTIPLE WIVES, AND SEXUAL RIGHTS TO SLAVE GIRLS
A. Sura 4:3 – If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four, but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly [with multiple wives], then only one, or [a captive] that your right hands possess…”
B. If a man purchases a slave girl, the purchase contract includes his right to have sex with her….This contract is primarily to own her and secondarily to enjoy her sexually (Fast Facts on Islam, Ankerberg & Weldon, 59).
VIII. IN PARADISE, MEN WILL ENJOY SEX WITH PERFECT WOMEN, BUT WOMEN ARE GIVEN NO ASSURANCE OF ONE MAN IN PARADISE
A. “A Hadith makes the number seventy-two. Seventy females are specifically created, and two are human females. His earthly wife may be included among his ‘huris’” (Fast Facts, 59).
B. Rafiqul-Haqq and Newton conclude: “The above descriptions are literal, and the relationship between men and their ‘huris’ are physical, and not only spiritual…Once again the man has all the advantages and pleasures, while the woman must be perpetually used for his purposes. His is the pleasure – hers the disturbance, in this world and the next” (Fast Facts, 59).
IX. IN MARRIAGE, THE WOMAN’S STATUS LIES SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THAT OF A “FREE” WOMAN AND A SLAVE
A. Muslim scholar Ghazali: “The most satisfying and final word on the matter is that marriage is a form of slavery (riq). The woman is the man’s slave and her duty therefore is absolute obedience to the husband in all that he asks of her person” (Fast Facts, 60).
1. “Aisha, the most beloved of Muhammad’s many wives, admonished women in no uncertain terms: ‘O womenfolk, if you knew the rights that your husbands have over you, every one of you would wipe the dust from her husband’s feet with her face” (PIG, pp. 67-68).
2. “For the first thirty years of my life, I lived as a virtual slave. I was a bird in a cage; a second-class citizen who had to watch what I said even to my close friends. Under Islamic law I had to live in a gender-segregated environment and always be aware that the legal and social penalty for ‘sin’ could end my life. This is what it is to live as a woman under Sharia law” (Cruel and Unsual Punishment, Darwish, p. ix).
B. The name of the marriage contract is: Akd Nikkah. “The literal meaning of ‘nikkah’ is sexual intercourse (Darwish, 31).
1. “The Sharia marriage contract is essentially a document granting sexual intercourse rights to the male and giving him total control over his wife or wives (Darwish, 34).
2. Hadith: “Allah’s Messenger said: ‘If a husband calls his wife to his bed (i.e., to have sexual relations) and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning.”
C. There are three types of marriage:
1. Unfi: typical first marriage acknowledged in public and record in the courts
2. Mutaa: pleasure marriage, temporary marriage contract to sanction a right of pleasure
3. Misyar: traveler’s marriage, accommodates the male’s sexual appetite while traveling
X. DIVORCE IS PREROGATIVE OF THE MAN
A. Divorce is both abhorrent to Allah, and also lawful.
B. Hadith: “The most detestable of lawful things near Allah is divorce.”
C. Hadith: A “man may say to his brother (in Islam), ‘Have a look at either of my wives (and if you wish), I will divorce her for you.’”
1. To carry out the divorce, all a man must do is say: “I divorce you” three times.
2. Sharia places no restraints on a man’s divorcing his wife or wives, and no reason is required.
3. A man can divorce all four of his wives and start the cycle of marriage to four more women over again.
D. …once a Muslim woman has been thrice divorced by the same husband, she must marry and divorce another man before going back to him…” (Politically In-correct Guide to Islam, Spencer, 72).
E. Third party divorces are allowed, even if both the man women desire marriage.
F. A woman can ask for a divorce, but the husband must grant it. Or, she can go to the Sharia courts and pay money to her husband, usually the dowry plus a good sum.
1. She receives a maximum of 3 months support.
2. She may lose her children.
XI. TEMPORARY MARRIAGES
A. This is a practice of shi’ite Islam.
B. “This allows a man to contract a temporary marriage for a few months or even for a few days in order to satisfy his sexual needs” (Islam vs. Christianity, Price, 111-112).
C. “One tradition of Muhammad stipulates that a temporary marriage ‘should last for three nights, and if they like to continue, they can do so, and if they want to separate, they can do so” (Politically Incorrect Guide, 73).
XII. PROOF OF RAPE: FOUR WITNESSES
A. “And in cases of sexual misbehavior, four male witnesses are required. These witnesses must be able to do more than simply testify that an instance of fornication, adultery, or rape happened; they must have seen the act itself” (PIG, 74).
B. This allows men to commit rape at will as long as they deny the charge and there are no witnesses, because the victim’s testimony is not admissible.
C. If the woman charges a man of rape and no witnesses are found, her charge becomes an admission of adultery. NOTE: “…as many as 75 percent of the imprisoned women in Pakistan are, in fact, behind bars for the crime of being a victim of rape” (PIG, 76).
XIII. FEMALE CIRCUMCISION
A. “To Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, the grand sheikh of Al-Ashar, female circumcision is ‘a laudable practice that [does] honor to women’” (PIG, 76).
B. Three types of female circumcision (Gender Equity in Islam: Basic Principles, Jamal Badawi, p. 51).
1. Removal of the hood (or prepuce) of the clitoris
2. Removal of the entire clitoris (clitorectomy) along with part of the labia minora, which is sutured together leaving an opening
3. Removal of the entire clitoris, labia minora, and medial part of the labia majora, which both sides of the female organ stitiched together leaving an opening.
C. “…most authorities agree that female circumcision is designed to diminish a woman’s sexual response, so that she will be less likely to commit adultery” (PIG, 77).
XIV. HONOR KILLINGS
A. If a woman or daughter disgraces the home of a Muslim, the man is allowed to kill the woman.
B. Under Islamic law I had to live in a gender-segregated environment and always be aware that the legal and social penalty for ‘sin’ could end my life” (Cruel and Unsual Punishment, Darwish, p. ix).
A. There are several ways that we might group the above items.
1. The rank of the woman
2. The woman in Muslim marriage
3. The use of the woman by the man
B. The question that women need to ask is: “If Islam becomes the dominate religion in the United States will we be better off?”
C. “As long as men read and believe the Qur’an, women will be despised, second-class citizens, subject to the heartbreak and dehumanization of polygamy, the threat of any easy and capricious divorce, and worse – including beatings, false accusations, and the loss of virtually all of the most basic human freedoms…They are the consequences of regarding the Qur’an as the absolute, eternally valid, and perfect word of Allah. As long as men continue to take the Qur’an at face value, women will be at risk” (PIG, 77).