CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Women and Islam

Feb 22, 2008

The unfortunate remarks made by the Archbishop of Canterbury recently were fairly widely condemned, and rightly so. However, there were some individuals who sought to defend his comments. Even a few Christians have sought to put a good spin on his controversial proposals.

One Christian leader here in Australia has come out strongly defending the Archbishop, and has sought to argue that Islam isn’t all that bad a religion. He even suggested that women are treated very well in Islam. While one can beg to differ with this leader about his other remarks, this final comment really needs to be addressed.

Is it in fact the case that Muslim women fare quite well? This leader certainly thought so, and to cement his point, he featured a quote from two Muslim leaders telling us how good Muslim women have it. With all due respect, that is about as sensible as quoting a Nazi to say how good Jews had it in the Third Reich. One will have to do a better job than that to make the case for how women fare under Islam.

So what are the facts? We can look at several areas here: the life and example of the Prophet Muhammad, the teachings of the Koran, and the sayings of the hadiths (the collected accounts of the words and deeds of the Prophet), and the situation today. Consider the example of Muhammad and what Islam teaches about his life. He started out fairly strict in terms of sexual morality. And he was faithful to his first wife for 25 years. But after she died, he became polygamous, and had as many as 13 wives. He left nine living widows when he died.

One wife was the six-year-old daughter offered to him by an admirer. He did not consummate this marriage however till she was nine years old. What Muslims call marriage others might call paedophilia. Another of his wives was already married at the time, and her husband was Muhammad’s adopted son. Islamic law forbids a man from marrying his son’s wives.

Never mind. It seems that Muhammad did a number of things which he forbade his followers from doing. He had numerous special privileges accorded to him and sanctioned by the Koran, including being able to have more than four wives.

Polygamy of course is enjoined in the Koran, with Sura 4:3 speaking about men being able to take up to four wives. That practice continues to this day, both in Muslim countries, and countries with Muslim minorities.

Then there is the matter of sex slaves. In addition to his many wives, Muhammad had no problems with even more sexual encounters. Women who had been taken prisoner were used as sex objects to satisfy his cravings. Surah 33:50-52 offers justification for taking sex slaves. And Muhammad did not have to marry them to enjoy fulfilling his lusts.

Other Muslim men could also have sex slaves. If Muhammad had given a man a sex slave, and he wanted her to become his wife, then there were stipulations for that in the Koran as well (Sura 4:25).

The Koran and hadiths

There is plenty of documentation from these two sources to show how poorly women are considered in Islam. Take just a few of many examples. Men are regarded as superior to women and this hierarchy must be maintained (Sura 2:228; 4:34; 2:223, etc.).

Women are likened to a field, to be used by the man in any way he likes (Sura 2:223). Sur 2:282 makes it clear that the testimony of a man is worth that of two women. Muhammad taught that the reason for this was because of the “deficiency of the woman’s mind”.

Muhammad said that in hell the majority of the population would be female. A number of times the hadiths make this claim. He also made it clear that the husband was superior to the wife (consider Sura 4:34, eg.). Men were allowed to punish their wives if so desired.

In Islam, a man can divorce his wife for any reason. He can do so simply by saying three times, “I divorce you”. A woman on the other hand usually cannot initiate a divorce, and cannot refuse a husband if he wants to divorce her. And in matters of inheritance rights, male children receive double the share that female children receive.

The hadiths make it clear that men can beat their wives for simply complaining. Domestic servitude is the main lot of the Muslim wife. A Muslim wife is meant to please her husband in all things, stay at home, and obey him implicitly. Plenty of hadiths can be cited here. Take just one as an example: “Better for a man to be splashed by a pig than for him to brush against the elbow of a woman not permitted him”.

The wearing of the veil is another practice which keeps women in a state of second-class citizenship. It is a symbol of servitude. Coupled with the injunctions to stay at home and to walk behind her husband in public, the command for Muslim women to be covered – and usually totally covered – is part of the Islamic subjugation of women.

Muslim women are forbidden to be a judge, an imam, a head of state, a guardian, to wear makeup or perfume outside the home, to travel alone, to shake a man’s hand, and numerous other things.

And the female rape victim is treated horribly under Islam. Her own testimony is inadmissible, and four male witnesses are required. Most rape victims will not even report the crime, because their testimony will be considered an admission of adultery or fornication.

Finally, men look forward to paradise where women will be their sexual objects. Beautiful nymphets have been created by Allah for the pleasure of faithful Muslim men. Paradise seems to be one long orgy for the men, involving dark-eyed virgins ever ready to please them. No wonder Muhammad could say that there will be no bachelors in Paradise.

Muslim women today

Some might argue that this is all a thing of the past. Not so. Women are still treated abominably in Muslim countries today, and even in Muslim sections of non-Muslim nations. Muslim women have clearly suffered in such places as Saudi Arabia, Iran and the former Taliban-led Afghanistan.

But they are also suffering in many European countries where Muslim populations dwell. There are numerous shelters around Europe packed with Muslim women and children. They are there to escape the beatings and violence of Muslim men. And European prisons are increasingly being filled with these violent Muslim men.

Consider just one figure: Although Muslims account for around six per cent of the Dutch population, Muslim women make up 60 per cent of those in battered women’s shelters. This is a huge problem and getting worse by the day.

“Honour killings” are also a major problem, with many hundreds of Muslim women being killed. This can be for many reasons, including as a “prosecution of adultery”. Family members will often kill their own daughters or wives if suspected of such things. And the male killers usually go unpunished for their murders.

Honour-related violence is also widespread, with one Muslim woman, for example, having hot oil poured into her ears. And suicide rates of young Muslim women in many European countries are much higher than for non-Muslim women.

Think about how women fare under sharia law today. Women who are raped are often seen as the culprit, and made to pay severely. Consider the recent case of a Muslim woman who was the victim of a gang rape. Instead of punishing the rapists, she was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months prison in Saudi Arabia. After an international outcry the punishment was reduced to 100 lashes!

Sadly, there are women in prisons all around the Muslim world who are rape victims, not the culprits. In Pakistan, for example, as many as 75 per cent of the women prisoners are there for the crime of being raped.

Other problems can be mentioned, such as forced marriages, child marriage, and female genital mutilation. The situation is simply not very good for Muslim women. The truth is, sharia law is discriminatory to women and their rights. And yet the Archbishop wanted sharia law to prevail over Muslim marriage and divorce cases, the very area where Muslim women often suffer the most!

One simply has to read a book like Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel to see how women are really treated in Islam. Or consider the book by Phyllis Chesler, The Death of Feminism. Chesler is a Western feminist castigating fellow lefties for not speaking out on the plight of women in Islam.

Conclusion

All this is not to suggest that only Islam mistreats women, or that a Muslim male always will mistreat women. Are there Muslim men who treat their wives kindly, decently and with respect? Of course. There are many – hopefully most. But that is not the issue here. What we are concerned about here is how women are viewed and treated in Islam. Many Muslims may not follow their faith fully in this regard, and that is a good thing. Inconsistent Muslims may treat women well. Consistent Muslims probably do not.

It is the religion itself which is not women-friendly. The mistreatment of Muslim women is not accidental or incidental to Islam; it is not an aberration of Islam; it seems to be part and parcel of the religion. Dedicated Muslims are much more likely to enslave women than liberate them. The problem lies directly with Islam. As a former Muslim puts it, “Islam is the fundamental cause of the repression of Muslim women and remains the major obstacle to the evolution of their position”.

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23 Responses to Women and Islam

  • Thanks Bill for a very factual and relevant analysis of the plight of Muslim women.
    I concur entirely with your comments.
    Keep up the good work.
    Gerard Goiran

  • Very precise Bill. Could you please let us know who the Christian leader is?
    Teresa Binder

  • Thanks Teresa

    While he shared his thoughts somewhat publically, I am not sure how fully public it was. So I want to give him the benefit of the doubt here, and give him some time in the hope that he might reconsider his position. But if need be, I will let his name be known.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • The evolutionary humanists will dismiss what you have to say about the Koran and say that at worst it is an irrational ideology, but in the name of multi-culturalism, diversity and inclusion we should absorb polygamy into our society. But the Koran is no mere irrational piece of writing, it possesses a real spiritual force. I would recommend that everyone have a copy close by in order to check out these Suras as more and more of them come out of the woodwork.
    David Skinner, UK

  • Again, thanks for telling it like it is, Bill. One area you did not touch on is what happens in the psyche of some Moslem men as a result of this treatment of women. I offer two illustrations.
    Firstly from Saudi Arabia where a friend was a pathology lab technician in a Riyadh Hospital. Staff in this hospital have women presenting for infertility testing after a time in marriage. They turn out to be still virgins because they have been married off to homosexuals. This is not in isolated cases.
    Secondly from Afghanistan, where an aid worker who worked there for a time and visited my wife and me. She asked us why there were numbers of Afghani boys living with guardians in the west. We did not know but her answer was that the Taliban kidnapped boys and sent them to the front for the use of Taliban soldiers.
    My point is that the oppressive abuse of Islamic women may also have a negative affect on some Islamic men.
    Greg Brien

  • The UK Channel 4 program Dispatches recently aired a program it called Divorce Sharia Style. The program “looks at Britain’s busiest Sharia council to see what this Muslim legal institution offers couples in conflict and to ask whether religious laws should be recognised by the secular British legal system.”

    The full program description is here:
    www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/C/can_you_believe_it/debates/divorce.html

    It can be viewed on YouTube here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vhjo31WCNKI&feature=related

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria.

  • It appears that the article in question, which first appeared in an email list, is now on the author’s website: www.gordonmoyes.com/2008/02/22/stop-blathering-about-sharia-here/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • More evidence that demands a verdict, this time from Anglican Mainstream. What I don’t understand is why the writer feels he should respect Islam, as though there were no conncection between Shariah and the Koran

    www.anglican-mainstream.net/index.php/2008/02/21/eyewitness-sharia-in-nigeria-archbishop-benjamin-kwashi/#more-2868

    David Skinner, UK

  • Wherever Muslims live under Sharia law adulterers are publicly flogged or stoned to death, sometimes before thousands of spectators in public stadiums. There are no rights for women or children, with women genitally mutilated, and beaten in the streets for the slightest infraction. They care nothing for other beliefs, about being fair, have no juries, no free speech. Television and radio are forbidden, music and dance prohibited. It is their way or execution, the death penalty, with no appeal, no delay. You are simply shot in the head where you stand, and your children shot before you. And these practices of the Sharia, once largely confined to the Middle East, even though mostly finished in Afghanistan, are now spreading to other parts of the world.

    Here are the top eleven reasons why Sharia or Islamic law is EVIL for all societies.

    11. SHARIA LAW IS SLAVERY

    10. Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped.

    9. Islam allows husbands to hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives.

    8. Islam allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge—physical eye for physical eye.

    7. Islam commands that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off.

    6. Islam commands that highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated.

    5. Islam commands that homosexuals must be executed.

    4. Islam orders unmarried fornicators to be whipped and adulterers to be stoned to death.
    Fornication:

    3. Islam orders death for Muslim and possible death for non—Muslim critics of Muhammad and the Quran and even sharia itself.

    2. Islam orders apostates to be killed.

    And the number one reason why sharia is bad for all societies . . .

    1. Islam commands offensive and aggressive and unjust jihad.

    Conclusion

    The nightmare must end. Sharia oppresses the citizens of Islamic countries.

    Larry Houle

  • Continue teaching even if you have to repeat the same lessons. Remember that there will always be new students every day. Some day the truth will destroy the evil religion of Islam. More and more the sensible Muslims will convert if they receive a daily dosage of the truth.
    Philip Saenz

  • Muslims accept Jesus as a prophet and he said, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven”. (Mt 22:30).

    This must be inconvenient for the paradise Muhammad promised his followers. How do they get around this? I guess the Christians have corrupted the gospels.

    John Nelson

  • Hi Bill,

    “Consider just one figure: Although Muslims account for around six per cent of the Dutch population, Muslim women make up 60 per cent of those in battered women’s shelters. This is a huge problem and getting worse by the day.”

    Could you tell us where this figure comes from. I would like to use it in debates, but then I need to be able to quote the source.

    By the way, I did a little math.
    If you say Muslims are 6% of population, but Muslim women account for 60% of demand for protection then it sounds like a ratio of 10:1 (which is bad enough), but I believe the true representation is worse.

    One should compare the rate of demand by Muslim women and non-Muslim women.
    Muslim women :
    6% of population 60% of demand
    non-Muslim women.
    94% of population 40% of demand
    A simple calculation shows relevant ratio to be not 10:1 but 23.5:1!

    Regards,

    David Cohan

  • Thanks David

    Hirsi Ali is the source of that figure, and it can be found in various place, including: aams.blogspot.com/2005/01/campaign-to-protect-women-from-honor.html

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hardly surprising from Moyes. Years ago, he also strongly supported Ian Plimer, Australian Humanist of the Year, in his jihad against biblical creation, and would never let the targets of his attacks respond in the same area (his radio show).
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Islam is a death cult, all gussied up to look like a religion.

    It manifests itself in many irrational ways.

    The treatment of women inside of Islam can only be described as barbaric.

    Western women’s rights groups could have a major roll in forcing a reformation of Islam and helping the plight of hundreds of millions of women. All they need to do is drop the PC multicultural double talk and critically look at Islam. Then start talking – loudly.

    Bob Smith

  • Great article, but I was a little concerned about the phrasing of one point:

    “Instead of punishing the rapists, she was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months prison in Saudi Arabia.”

    The rapists were actually punished.

    While I agree with the thrust of your article, being casual with the truth like this detracts from its credibility.

    Slevdi Davoteca

  • Bill, could you please give the Sura reference for the wearing of the veil. You did not in the relevant paragraph above.
    I am currently working up a ‘tract’ and the ‘veil’ will be one point of information. Do you know of sources for tracts regarding Islam?
    Ray Robinson, Wollongong

  • Thanks Ray
    Sura 24:31.
    As to tracts, the various Christian mission groups to Islam would have them.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • So the author’s commentary states that “what Muslims call a marriage others might call it paedophilia.” Would brutal Muslim lechers ever call a so-called marriage to a child of nine “paedophilia”? Of course not. Bear in mind that brutal lechers of that caliber would never condemn themselves. And neither would lechers call the “consummation of marriage” with a child of nine “rape.” It takes honest and just people to call this act what it actually is –paedophilia and rape. And what do Muslims call a suicide bomber? In Muslim land, suicide bombers are called “martyrs dying for a worthy cause.” But is it?
    Philip Saenz

  • A very fascinating article about the Hadiths and Women. I see that Turkey is undergoing a new translation of the Hadiths- and they are involving women in this.

    All together interesting. Thank you!

    J. C. Wolfgang Mozart

  • Thanks for the correction Slevdi

    Evidently the 7 rapists who raped the 19-year-old 14 times were sentenced from 6 months to five years in jail. Eventually, after worldwide condemnation, King Abdullah pardoned her.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Im 19 years old and I’ve grown up in a islamic household since birth. I understand that you’ve observed or gotten” testimonies” of some sort from muslim women overseas about how they are being treating but please don’t mix culture with religion. I live in NJ. Study the koran SUNNAH n hadiths closely and literally because your linking there behavior with islam and quotations. Pretty much exaggerating. (also i think that every religion teaches you not to drink smoke and fornicate)
    Asia Goodman, US

  • Thanks Asia

    But it is exactly those three sources you appeal to that I have quoted from. Thus I am not mixing culture and religion as you suggest, but simply appealing to Islam’s most authoritative sources. You seem unhappy with this, but that is a case of shooting the messenger. If you do not like the message – the reality of how women are treated in Islam – then maybe you need to reconsider your commitment to Islam.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

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