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  • ivanildotrindade 8:25 pm on April 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: afghan women, Afghanistan, gender equality in islam, koran on women, Quran, Taliban   

    Women in Muslim Countries 

    And there rose a man who prohibited the infanticide of unwanted baby girls who used to be buried alive for the simple “crime” of being female. He declared a sacred duty to educate girls, contrary to the practices of the time, and he even dared to say (gasp!) that women were entitled to sexual pleasure. All of this in 7th century Arabia where women were at best a prized possession and more normally a nuisance.

    You would think that a period of enlightenment would ensue after this remarkable innovator left the scene, but the fact is, after Muhammad’s death, a period of darkness fell over women in the community of believers he started, and the remnant of those dark shadows are still with us today. Part of the problem was Muhammad himself, as he enshrined in the Koran laws that are clearly unfavorable to women. Here are some examples:

    1. The Koran gives daughters only half the inheritance of sons;

    2. The Koran decrees that a woman’s testimony in court, at least when it comes to financial matters, is worth only half that of a man;

    3. Under Shari’a or Muslim law, compensation for the murder of women is only half the going rate for men;

    4. Women can only have one spouse while men are permitted four;

    5. The tragedy is that many of these religious codes are incorporated into civil law. In Pakistan, for example, the law says that in order for a woman to prove rape, four adult males of “impeccable” reputation have to witness the penetration.

    There are other examples of repression against women that claims, legitimately or illegitimately, Islamic laws as justification, the chief one being the case of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait, and even the relative moderate Jordan and Egypt also have varying degrees of repression.

    The situation has been so grave through the centuries that Riffat Hassan, professor of religious studies at the University of Louisville, in an article on TIME, states, “The way Islam has been practiced in most Muslim societies for centuries has left millions of Muslim women with battered bodies, minds and souls.”

    Indeed it is patently clear that in countries where progress has been made, this was only possible due to the rejection of religious precepts. And conservative clerics have fought every step of the way against such changes. Such was the case with Turkey, the most secularized of all Muslim countries, and to a certain extent also in Egypt, Indonesia and Malaysia, where religious laws had to be set aside in order for women to achieve even a degree of freedom they already experience in some other countries.

    On Friday I will write about some of the progress that has been made regarding women in Muslim countries.

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

    • Julie 7:50 am on April 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Would you mind adding a link for WordPress blogs (for reblogging)? Pretty please?

    • Cristina E. Garcia 10:52 pm on March 14, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Actually, Islam and the Prophet did much to empower women. It gave women rights that women in the West didn’t get until much later. In the case of inheritance laws, you have to take into consideration the context. At that time, women depended on men to take care of them, that is why men got more; also, the money a man got he HAD to spend it on his family and whatever they needed whereas a woman didn’t have to spend her money — if she decided to contribute it was considered a charity.

      Even though Islam allows polygyny, the Prophet stressed that if one could not treat every wife equally, then it was best to stay with one. This was a measure to help more women, remember this was a time when women depended on men for income and to take care of them.

      I don’t know about the law in Pakistan, but it must stem from the verse in the Qur’an 24:4 which states that in order for someone to be accused of adultery, they must have 4 eye witnesses of good reputation. This was to safeguard women from people trying to tarnish their reputations. Also, it makes proving adultery nearly impossible unless the couple is into exhibitionism.

      As the comic at the top of the page demonstrates, it is really the male elite of a society that oppresses women. Islam is no worse than Christianity or Judaism, yet its often pegged as the oppressor of women. Any religion can be used to manipulate the masses.

      If you talk to any Muslim woman, she’d tell you right away that she does not feel oppressed. Take a look at Azizah Magazine to see all the empowered women speaking for their religion. Also, there are many Muslim feminists you might be interested in reading about such as Fatima Mernissi and Amina Wadud. Before anything, I think you should read about the religion and then explore the islamic feminist dialogue. I suggest The Everything Understanding Islam Book (http://www.amazon.com/The-Everything-Understanding-Islam-Book/dp/1598698672).


      • ivanildotrindade 9:26 pm on March 29, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        thanks for your comment. it is well reasoned. i have read the aforementioned book and found it very informative. i have also read professor barnard lewis’ book, “what went wrong,” which i also highly recommend. i am not going to argue with you on the topic of how women in islamic countries on the whole feel because it is virtually impossible to know, but i do find it at least curious that it is only now that women are being allowed to drive, for example, in some islamic countries. i also don’t know how to explain some of the more conservative practices about “honor killings,” etc. i am glad to see that some women groups speak vehemently against that, but i would like to see that level of freedom to permeate more broadly into the general culture of some of these more conservative countries. thanks again for your good commentary.

  • ivanildotrindade 7:20 pm on April 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , muslims, Old Testament, Quran, wife-beating,   

    Is Wife-beating in the Koran? 

    This week I address several issues related to women and Islam. My purpose is to state facts not interpret them; to clarify, not defend or attack anyone. Today I want to answer this question: is wife-beating present in the Koran?

    The answer to this question is an unmistakable YES. Just like parts of the Old Testament are embarrassing to some Christians, this admission also troubles some Muslims. The responses, as expected, usually fall into four categories: a) ignore that it is there; b) explain it away by attributing a different meaning to the text; c) acknowledge that it is there but soften its blow; d) admit it and try to defend it in today’s world (a not so enviable task).

    Now to the text in question: “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. 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.” (Dawood’s translation of Sura (chapter) 4:34).

    In this text Muhammad gives two reasons why men are “superior” to women: because God made them so and because money made them so! He goes on to say that the signs of a virtuous woman are her obedience to her husband and her adherence to modest dressing. Finally, he gives a three-step approach to dealing with a wife suspected of “disobedience”: a) verbal rebuke; b) sexual deprivation (which for some women might be no punishment at all!) and c) physical punishment (“beating”).

    For those who try to make “disobedience” only refer to adultery or other immoral acts, the majority of Muslim scholars agree that the best translation is “disobedience.” Also, the whole context deals with obedience vs. disobedience. For those who want to say that “beating” means something other than beating, like making a verbal pronouncement, for example, this does not explain the three-step process, each step being a little “harsher” than the previous one. A verbal pronouncement would be the same as a verbal rebuke. Again, most scholars translate the word as “beating” and that is how that word is translated the vast majority of times it appears in the Koran.

    Later, silly notions such as “beating” them with a big toothpick or a folded handkerchief arose, no doubt to try to make the whole idea more palatable to westerners. No matter, the fact remains that even though Muhammad in other occasions admonished husbands not to treat their wives too harshly, even though he defended the rights of women to divorce and own property, even though he went to great pains himself to please his multiple wives, by letting that slip into the Koran, he gave comfort to the men who were already up to no good when it came to their views of women. The rest is history and it is not a pretty one.

    I am giving you the facts. Pure and simple. Tomorrow: Was Muhammad a wife-beater?

    Ivanildo C. Trindade

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