A review of Cruel and Usual Punishment. By Nonie Darwish.

Thomas Nelson, 2008. (Available in Australia at Koorong Books)

Nonie Darwish knows a fair amount about Islam. She was an Egyptian Muslim for the first 30 years of her life. Then she fled to America and she is now a Christian. She has told her story earlier, in her 2007 volume, Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror.

In this book she continues her important story, but she does so by highlighting two crucial themes: what sharia law means, and how women are treated in Islam. In 270 pages she spells out in chilling detail what the implications are of Islamic law, and how the West must be very careful indeed about the spread of sharia.

The first half of this important book looks at how women are treated in the world of sharia. The treatment of women in Islam alone should serve as a warning for anyone who thinks sharia is compatible with Western democracy and freedom.

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Consider marriage. Muslim women are prohibited under sharia from marrying non-Muslim men. But Muslim men can marry Christian or Jewish women. And the sharia marriage contract “is essentially a document granting sexual intercourse rights to the male and giving him total control over his four wives”.

There are even temporary marriages purely for the purposes of sexual pleasure for the male, called mutaa, or pleasure marriage. This “marriage” can last as little as an hour. Then there is misyar, or traveller’s marriage, which is “designed to accommodate the male sexual appetite while travelling”.

Divorce is of course also all one way traffic in Islam. Men can divorce their wives instantly, simply by saying “I divorce you” three times. A Muslim woman cannot initiate a divorce. In custody cases, children after the age of seven (or sometimes nine) belong to the father.

And a male can beat his wife and sexually abandon her. Under sharia a husband deserves total submission and gratitude. As one revered Muslim scholar, Imam Ghazali has said, “Marriage is a form of slavery. The woman is man’s slave, and her duty therefore is absolute obedience”.

Polygamy is also the right of Muslim men. But even more abhorrent is the practice of sexual gratification with children. There is no legal age for marriage under sharia. Thus the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, for example, said in an official statement, “A man can quench his sexual lusts with a child as young as a baby.”

Of course Muhammad himself had a six-year-old wife, whom he consummated relations with when she was just nine. And Islamic leaders argue that his life serves as an example and pattern for all Muslims. This is all codified in surah 65:4 in the Koran.

There are plenty of other misogynist elements to sharia law. Women adulterers are to be stoned to death; girls who fornicate are to be flogged; a woman’s testimony in a court of law is only worth half that of a man’s; women cannot be in the company of men who are not her relatives; female genital mutilation is rife; a Muslim wife needs her husband’s permission to travel; and so on.

Then there is the issue of honour killing. While there is no sharia law that expressly gives men the right to kill their women to protect their family honour, there are existing laws which protect men who do commit such killings. Indeed, sharia states that a killer of an apostate, a robber or an adulterer cannot be punished for murder.

In the rest of the book Darwish looks at life “behind the Muslim curtain” – what life is like for non-Muslims under sharia law. Non-Muslims are treated almost as poorly as women in Muslim-majority countries. Jews and Christians are under dhimmitude, or second-class citizenship. Darwish chronicles the many ways in which non-Muslims are oppressed, discriminated against, and denied basic human rights.

And ordinary Muslims who dare to think independently of sharia are also subject to tremendous opposition and oppression. Criticism of Islam is of course punishable by death. Muhammad himself ordered the killing of those who dared to criticise him.

All the various schools of Islam agree that blasphemy or criticism of Islam is a capital offence. And Muslim imams do not expect to be questioned or challenged in any way. In such a world there is “no intellectual honesty, no dialogue, and no respect”.

Muslim preachers regard Westerners and Jews as the embodiment of evil, the personification of Satan. Therefore they can be cursed, deceived and killed. Indeed, according to sharia, lying and deception are obligatory at times when dealing with the enemies of Islam. This is part of the overall jihad being waged against infidels.

After reading so much detail about what sharia teaches and commands, one is left overwhelmed. As Darwish says, “The West should be clear on the nature of Sharia. It is nothing more than legal tyranny, a terminal disease that destroys the healthy functioning of society where everything is sacrificed for the sake of total control”.

Indeed, say Darwish, Islam is not really a religion as much as it is a system of complete control and social order. It is an intolerant worldview which allows no opposition or questioning. Thus the West should resolutely oppose what she calls “Islamo-Fascism”. We should not tolerate intolerance.

She concludes her book with practical suggestions for the West, including keeping sharia illegal, restricting immigration, and monitoring Muslim clerics on what they are preaching and teaching. And the West must rediscover and celebrate its Judeo-Christian heritage and values, and resist the inroads of secularism.

If it does not, the vacuum caused by secularism will be quickly filled by a totalising Islam which seeks absolute control and the global extension of sharia. The aims of the Islamists are the very opposite of those who champion freedom and democracy. We must choose which system we wish to live under.

Darwish has nicely laid out the implications of life under sharia. It is up to us how we respond.

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27 Replies to “A review of Cruel and Usual Punishment. By Nonie Darwish.”

  1. I’ve been finding myself in a bit of a daze after viewing that footage of the young woman Neda Agha-Soltan murdered on the streets of Tehran. I simply can’t articulate adequately how upsetting it is to even think about it, let alone view it. God declares that life is in the blood and to see it waste away so senselessly… it breaks me just to think about it.

    And yet, we have those who continue to argue that Islam is peaceful and that we can have ‘interfaith’ dialogue and consider sharia law and… I can only wonder, is truth really this irrelevant to so many? Certainly corruption is everywhere, but the level of unrest and lack of basic freedoms in countries that attempt to squash or flat out reject Christianity is surely historically worse. Am I wrong in assuming that a strong Judeo-Christian ethic has been proven to have a good influence on a nation’s civility and development beyond anything else? And if that is so, what does it say about their truth or falsehood? I mean, if the US is so bad, then why aren’t loads of Americans packing bags and heading for Iran or North Korea or China to live a better life and write books about it?

    Mark Rabich

  2. An excellent summary Bill of a lot of core things wrong with Islam – and this article focuses on Islamic women mainly, not even encompassing the other wrongs of Islam.

    I would make a slight addition to one thing you wrote:

    “a woman’s testimony in a court of law is only worth half that of a man’s”.

    From what I’ve read it is actually worse than this. A woman’s testimony is worth half of that of a man’s (4 women = 2 men’s testimony) and there must be at least 1 man’s testimony accompanying hers.

    So for a woman’s testimony to be viable there must be 1 man and 2 women.

    Tristan Ingle, Sydney.

  3. These women do not have any rights at all, it must be intolerable for women born into this belief system and not having the freedom to be able to express their concerns. It is so evident that these Men can be as cruel and unkind as they wish to be, what a sad state of affairs these poor souls have to endure as a Woman.
    Rae Wallace, Devonport

  4. I made a comment last night when out to dinner about Melanie Phillip’s book LONDONISTAN, and the threat of sharia islam. The response – i was howled down, called a bigot, although those doing the shouting did try to stipulate the difference between islamic fundamentalists and normal muslims. I urged them to read the book. wWen i said that phillips was jewish, well that just made things worse. “You always side with the Jews”. Yes and proud of it.
    Wayne Pelling

  5. @ Wayne Pelling.

    Don’t worry. Same thing happens in my family.

    Try and carefully explain that they are making a judgement about “islamic fundamentalists” based on Judeo-Christian values.

    If we judge Islamists against Islamic values as enshrined in Sharia Law, then it is the “fundamentalists” that are actually living their faith correctly, not those who Western culture deems “normal muslims”.

    I also notice a constant deference of responsibility in such arguments, as in “I don’t have to look at the evidence because so-and-so/everyone else knows what I agree with”.

    Still, the alternative to speaking up is trying to ignore it. Apart from personal conscious, you never know who’s going to sit up and listen to what you’ve said!

    Tristan Ingle, Sydney.

  6. Yes, I’ve had people saying to me that, “of course ordinary Muslims, the majority, are nice, reasonable people” – and naturally, the people who say this kind of thing are white Westerners from a Judeo-Christian background (they are only really telling us about themselves, that they are nice, reasonable, truly-liberal people, just as they fondly assume everyone else is); and: they actually don’t know any Muslims, but give them the benefit of the doubt, they like to think that most Mulsims really are nice, fair, reasonable people just like rhemselves … But the evidence …? It seems to me that even if actual individual Muslims might want to be fair and liberal, the rulership of their religion would not allow it.
    John Thomas

  7. Thank you for this review. It’s on my reading list, though I have some other books to finish first. I just finished the Stoning of Soraya M. this afternoon and recommend it if just for the graphic depiction of what happens in these misogynistic cultures. There are much better books regarding sharia and women– Nonie Darwish’s book might be one of them.

    On the back of the book (stoning of soraya), however, it says “She was sentenced to death by stoning– a punishment officially prohibited by Islam but widely practiced.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Stoning is mentioned in the Koran and the Hadith (many times in the Hadiths). In fact, Muhammad himself took part in at least one that is recorded. It is definitely not “prohibited by Islam”.

    I think the only reason the “The Stoning of Soraya M” has been accepted by the left is because of the misinformation on the back cover of the U.S. edition of the book. The Left can then act as if they care about the innocent female victims of this culture while still insisting Islam is the Religion of Peace, rather than the ideology of death.

    Kendra Mallock, USA

  8. Tristan– I just read your comments and couldn’t agree more.

    When Christians follow the example of Christ, they try to spread love, justice, goodness, freedom, and honesty. When Muslims follow the example of Muhammad, they spread a message of murder, conquest, rape, enslavement, and child marriage. This was Muhammad and Muhammad’s example– the complete opposite to Jesus’ and Jesus’ example.

    A friend once put it this way: To those with Judeo-Christian values, morality is the enhancement of life. . . everything that promotes life or enhances life is considered moral, good and just. Immorality would be anything that tends to impede or destruct life.

    In Islam, morality is the furthering of Islam. Anything that enhances and spreads Islam is considered moral and good. Anything that tends to impede the further of Islam is considered immoral and bad.

    Kendra Mallock, USA

  9. I thought I heard recently that one of the Big Four banks is considering offering no-interest loans in compliance with Sharia. Is this true?

    I don’t mind no-interest loans!! Where do I sign up? But really, what is the Western obsession with dhimmitude?

    Louise Le Mottee

  10. It is true Louise, it is the National Australia Bank. I have no problems as long as it is extended to non-Muslims.
    Wayne Pelling

  11. But they’re not really “no interest loans”, they’re just loans structured in such a manner that the interest is hidden in the repayments. A farce really and simply dhimmitude.

    Ewan McDonald.

  12. “She concludes her book with practical suggestions for the West, including keeping sharia illegal, restricting immigration, and monitoring Muslim clerics on what they are preaching and teaching. And the West must rediscover and celebrate its Judeo-Christian heritage and values, and resist the inroads of secularism.”

    How likely is this? Does she mean rediscover our culture (like candles and chanting) or does she mean rediscover truth?

    I belong the an Australian geological society which regularly reports on its “outreach” arm that works with government to promote geology in the school curriculum. The geological history taught to kids denies the truth of the Bible and gives the idea that Christianity is based on a fairytale, thus setting the kids against the Christian worldview. The secularists are continually building more and more blocks in their anti-God stronghold.

    F. Sherwood Taylor, Curator, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford said on BBC radio in 1949, ‘In England it was geology and the theory of evolution that changed us from a Christian to a pagan nation.’


    Tas Walker

  13. I have to tell you all, I’m from an Arab country originally, & this is an exact description of Islam. Every day that I get up, I thank G-d I made Aliyah to Israel.
    Terry, Eilat – Israel

  14. Here is yet another book outlining what sharia law has in store for the west should Muslims get their way. I find it interesting that the west continues to expose Islam for what it is on the one hand, yet on the other still allow this system to be practiced within our borders.

    Anyone expecting to exercise their culture or religion within Islamic states is in for a surprise when they visit. And those who cry foul when others expose Islam’s hatred for the west and other religions are missing the point; Islam is about control, pure and simple.

    This is one book that hopefully, will not be buried by reactionary “multiculturalists” under the threat of Muslim violence to those who sell it. The west must know what Islam is; total submission to the clerics, mullahs, sheiks, imams and ayatollahs.

    May the west prevail.
    Kaffir and proud.
    RR West

  15. I have taken the liberty of modifying Churchill’s famous speech of 1899 that he made about Islam:

    “How dreadful are the curses which homosexuality lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful Darwinian fatalism. Disgusting and perverted habits, dishonesty, deceit, denial, deconstruction, disorder destabilisation and death exist wherever the followers of Stonewall rule or live. A degraded and strutting sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in in a misogynistic society dominated by homosexuals women become worthless – and are treated merely as carriers of embryos – must delay the final extinction of slavery, bondage and addiction until homosexuality has ceased to be a great power among men.

    “Individual homosexuals may show splendid qualities. Some become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die of Aids. But the influence of the homosexual ideology destroys the social fabric of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, homosexuality is a militant and proselytising faith. It has already spread throughout western European civilisation, raising militants at every step. Nothing can stop it apart from Islam – or the prayer and the mobilisation of Christians out of their middle class ghettos. But tragically this does not appear to be a viable reality.”

    David Skinner, UK

  16. Our path is clear, ‘Please God by following the teachings of Jesus Christ, His son and our saviour’. Encourage others to do likewise.
    Peter Rice

  17. It is sobering to think how women are devalued in the Islamic world. The omission of a Muslim man’s criminal acts against his wife, daughter, sister, mother are dauntingly staggering. They suffer in silence without a voice. It is hard to believe this is happening in our world every moment of every day.
    Janine Leone

  18. Yes, I have lived in a muslim world, converted inocently and married a muslim woman who told me that she was taught that, it is ok to kill all other religions so that islam will spread and it is ok to lie to save yourself and that arabic is the language in heaven. I was dumfounded as I began to learn so many other things that made me sick. I told her that my mother is a christian, that means I should kill my mother just because she is not a muslim!! She told me “yes’. We are divorced since then, cause I knew that I married an animal in female form.
    Jules Michael

  19. After reading these comments, I feel less guilty of having prejudice against Muslims. We meet today at book club to decide a course of action to keep Congress aware.
    Pam Ferris

  20. All a person needs to do is read the Koran for themselves. It’s that simple. See what it says about the rest of humanity, no matter what liberals or politicians say about Islam. The Koran will show you the the whole basis of Islam itself; so read it and then say Islam is a religion of peace!
    The Koran will show you how those who make that claim are deluded or blatant liars. Read the Haddith and check what it says about Mohammed. These Very Islamic writings say he was a paedophile who married a nine-year old girl. Who are we to believe? What Muslims tell us what what they claim are their infallible scriptures tell us? As Islam has taquiya which permits Muslims to lie to infidels–the rest of us–what’s wisest: To listen to what any Muslim claims to us infidels or check what their “infallible” scriptures say?
    Need I say more?
    Martin Horan

  21. I am in the process of reading Nonie Darwish book Cruel and Usual Punishment, I just wish I could give every young woman in the West a copy so that they realize how easily their freedoms and rights could be taken away. All I can say is we must speak out because if we don’t it will be too late.
    Jean McLean

  22. I am trying to get a copy of Cruel and Usual Punishment by Nonie Darwish in the UK.
    Amazon will not send it to the UK.
    How can I get a copy here?
    Eddie King

  23. One thing is forgotten amongst the westerners who believe we can somehow live in harmony with the Islamic following. Islam can be a peaceful following to those who accept the Sharia law, follow the Quran, and abide by the Hadith.

    Basically, anyone and everyone can live in “peace” once they accept and submit to their true position under the Sharia law. So as long as us westerners submit and accept that women will be beaten and raped at the will of “man.”
    As long as us westerners find it acceptable for men to have wives as young as nine (giving the benefit of the doubt between the difference of seven and nine).

    As long as we are willing to accept Mohammed as the only God, ignoring the freedom of religion. As long as we submit to our place and not question Mohammed or his teachings/actions. Then sure, Islam can be the following of peace.

    In other words, if you value freedom of thought, equality amongst men and women, or the freedom of religion, then Islam can not and will not ever be a following of peace.

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