More on the Mufti

The radical comments by Islamic Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali have not only generated lots of controversy within Australia, but have caused quite a stir around the globe as well. Many international commentators have been discussing the Mufti’s remarks that women are primarily to blame for rape.

One such commentator is Robert Spencer. Writing in Human Events online, Nov 02, 2006, he notes as I and others have, that his remarks were not all that dissimilar to traditional Islamic views.

Lest the reader forget, this is in part what Hilali said about rape: “[It is] 90 percent the woman’s responsibility….If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street, on the pavement, in a garden, in a park, or in the backyard, without a cover and the cats eat it, then whose fault will it be, the cats, or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the disaster….If the woman is in her boudoir, in her house and if she’s wearing the veil and if she shows modesty, disasters don’t happen.”

Spencer notes that it is “surprising that Al-Hilali’s remarks generated any uproar at all. After all, the idea that a woman is responsible if she is raped did not originate with him, and this was not the first time it has been enunciated in the West. One notorious example occurred in September 2004 in Denmark, when the mufti Shahid Mehdi of the Islamic Cultural Center in Copenhagen said on the Danish television program ‘Talk to Gode’ that women who venture outside without a hijab are ‘asking for rape’.”

And there have been many defenders of the Sheikh. “Australian Muslim moderate leader Tanveer Ahmed acknowledged that ‘what Hilali says is consistent with a strict, conservative interpretation of Islam….As long as Muslims view their religion as sitting above history and culture – with the Koran as the literal word of God, which in their view makes Islam undebatable – there will always be Hilalis who can point to certain texts and argue for a social and legal structure consistent with 7th-century Arabia….This is a man who knows the Koran in intimate detail and his views are consistent with a strict reading of the Muslim holy book’.”

Yet some might argue that these are just the comments of Muslim extremists. But what if their views coincide with the teachings and practices of the founder of Islam? Indeed, they are “consistent with the example of Muhammad, Islam’s prophet, as I show in my book The Truth About Muhammad. The Koran tells men: ‘And all married women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives) whom your right hands possess’ (4:24) – that is, slave girls who are considered the spoils of war. All too often in Western countries, particularly in Europe’s restive Muslim enclaves, young Muslim men have understood this as permitting the rape of non-Muslim women who venture out uncovered – in accord with Shahid Mehdi’s statement.”

Such views are part and parcel of Islamic history and tradition: “What’s more, in traditional Islamic law rape cannot be established except by the testimony of four male witnesses who saw the act, as stipulated by Koran 24:4 and 24:13. Consequently, it is even today virtually impossible to prove rape in lands that follow the dictates of the Sharia. Unscrupulous men can commit rape with impunity: as long as they deny the charge and there are no witnesses, they get off scot-free, because the victim’s account is inadmissible. Even worse, if a woman accuses a man of rape, she may end up incriminating herself. If the required male witnesses can’t be found, the victim’s charge of rape becomes an admission of adultery. That accounts for the grim fact that as many as seventy-five percent of the women in prison in Pakistan are, in fact, behind bars for the crime of being a victim of rape.”

Concludes Spencer, “In light of all this, al-Hilali’s remarks should not be surprising – but they should cause concern. For they illustrate the fact that the clash of civilizations isn’t just taking place where the warriors of jihad are fighting today. It is right at home, in Western countries where our deeply-held cultural values are being subjected to an increasingly forthright and assertive challenge. If we do not defend them now, it is those who agree with Sheikh al-Hilali who will determine the mores of the future.”

[729 words]

2 Replies to “More on the Mufti”

  1. It is awful that women are considered the ones at fault in the case of a rape, and have been imprisoned for this!

    However, although Hilali’s views are at odds with what is right I do not think that the media has any right to say that he should not be able to excercise his religious leadership. It is odd to me that anyone should think they have the right to tell a group of people who their religious leaders should be. Surely only that group has the right to say who will be their leader, unless the leader is commiting criminal actions that can be prosecuted. It amazes me how secular people often think they have the right to critique and advise upon who should have religious leadership.

    I know this is not to do with the specifics of your article, but I’ve just been thinking about this aspect of the issue. As you have pointed out, the teachings Hilali propounded are based upon the Koran. It is sad that more people do not realise the truth about what Islam teaches. Thank you for sharing this truth.

    Sherrin Ward

  2. Hi Sherrin Sorry for being so long in responding to this issue, but I have only just started corresponding.
    The problem that arises from any ‘religious leader’ is that they are given, by their followers, authority over communal issues because of their position.
    People think that this person hears directly from god and as such give their word greater credibility than it deserves.
    The mufti is actually telling all the young men present that it is OK to inflict rape upon any woman they desire and it is, by god’s word, the woman’s fault.
    I agree that it is not the media’s role to tell any people group who their religious leader should be but surely the community in general has the right to object to edicts given by this said leader when they are totally opposed to our culture, rights and world view.
    What surprises me is the lack of objection originating from feminist groups; surely this a violation of women’s rights.
    Jim Sturla

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