Women in Islam: An exegesis - Part 2
20 Nov, 2005
Women are downright inferior!
Islamists often write prolix essays showing the merciful and glorious treatment of women under Islam. If you have read one of this extremely lengthy rhetoric with mind-boggling logic, you have read them all. Because they are all written in almost the same format, so much so that sometimes you may wonder whether all these essays are written by the same writer or not. Their pens are absolutely fluent in describing the half-truth and twisted, convoluted logics. However, they will never tell the true status of women in 'real Islam.' Here I am citing a few examples from the roots of Islam, that is, Qur'an and hadith.
Women witness is half of men...2:282
This is a very well known fact in Islam. Even if a woman is the Prime Minister of an Islamic Paradise she is still inferior to the dumbest of men when it comes to legal matters. Her evidence by herself is never acceptable in an Islamic court of law. It is because of her deficiency in intelligence and lack of memory. What a disgrace to women and their ability of judgment! What happens if a woman becomes a judge? I really do not know the answer. Not only that a single woman's evidence is unacceptable in an Islamic court, but also the women witnesses are completely unacceptable in Sharia where Hudud punishments are involved such as adultery, apostasy, theft-etc. This means that if a woman is raped her evidence or the evidence of any other women (even though there were thousands of women who witnessed the very act with their own eyes) will not be accepted unless four adult Muslim men give evidence that they saw the actual act of fornication with their own eyes. What a justice! I think even a Kangaroo court is better than this type of Islamic court. Now, let us hear from the Qur'an. This verse is very lengthy, in fact, the longest verse in the Qur'an. Therefore, I shall quote only the relevant part.
YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions involving future obligations in a fixed period of time, reduce them to writing Let a scribe write down faithfully as between the parties: let not the scribe refuse to write: as Allah Has taught him, so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate, but let him fear His Lord Allah, and not diminish aught of what he owes. If they party liable is mentally deficient, or weak, or unable Himself to dictate, Let his guardian dictate faithfully, and get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her.
This verse is nothing but a slap on the face literally to every woman in this world. In today's world, we have women in almost every profession, even in the tough professions like Law, Medicine, Engineering, Education, Professor, even Astronaut. If we go by 'real Islam,' then all those professional ladies who are not only highly qualified, but also superbly capable of managing the affairs of a company or even a nation are simply lacking in intelligence (read stupid). It's a small wonder that we see the most of the wretched women in Islamic paradises.
Could it be that I probably made some mistake in commenting on verse 2:282? Could it be that there may be some divine/secret reason for sending down verse 2:282 that only God knows? May be, God really did not mean to insult the women. May be our interpretation is all wrong. If you are thinking in this fashion, then perish that thought. See Shahih Bukhari confirms women's lack of intelligence in the very words of Muhammad.
Majority of women are in hell...( Shahih Bukhari 1.6.301)
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o 'Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle ?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."
This hadith not only confirms what I wrote previously, but also goes one-step further in saying that hell is the abode for most of the women in hereafter. Why should it be so? The reason is also explained in this hadith.
Are you still appalled? No, not yet? Look at this hadith.
Women are like animals and slaves.
Women, slaves and camels are same; must seek Allah's refuge from all these...(Sunaan Abu Dawud 11.2155)
Book 11, Number 2155:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-'As:
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: If one of you marries a woman or buys a slave, he should say: "O Allah, I ask Thee for the good in her, and in the disposition Thou hast given her; I take refuge in Thee from the evil in her, and in the disposition Thou hast given her." When he buys a camel, he should take hold of the top of its hump and say the same kind of thing.
Here is another insult to women. In the following hadith a woman is as impure as a dog and a monkey. In fact, there is a very little difference between the treatment of a dog and a woman if we really go deeper to get the latent meaning of this pernicious hadith. What words do we have to use to express our disgust? What would be the feeling of a modern, educated, working, respectable lady reading this authentic hadith?
A prayer is annulled by a passing woman, dog and a monkey...( Shahih Bukhari 1.9.490)
The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, "Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people)." I said, "You have made us (i.e. women) dogs. I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in my bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I would slip away. for I disliked to face him."
All women have natural menstruation cycle. This is completely normal and almost 100% women are fully at ease with this natural phenomenon. It is not something for which a woman has to see a doctor every time she has her period unless there are complications. However, Islam is different. What the world thinks as simple and natural phenomenon, Islam thinks otherwise. It considers menstruation as a pestilence. Here is yet another the verse from the Qur'an.
Menstruation is a disease...2:222
PICKTHAL: They question thee (O Muhammad) concerning menstruation. Say: It is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not in unto them till they are cleansed. And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah hath enjoined upon you. Truly Allah loveth those who turn unto Him, and loveth those who have a care for cleanness.
Whenever this verse is cited as anti-feminine and derogatory to women, our Islamic brothers get very defensive. They would twist and turn, and beat around the bush by saying that this verse is really meant to protect women during her period by warning people that it is a difficult time for women. How merciful! See how great Islam is! No science could discover that menstruation is a disease, but look at Islam. It is truly great. It can discover which no science or medicine could find! Let me ask our Islamic brothers a simple question. If menstruation is a disease, then why do we not ask the women to see a doctor? Why should the women be ostracised during her period? Sex during period is not advisable, although medical evidence shows that it is ok. This simple fact does not need any intervention from the almighty God through His mighty Qur'an. Even the primitive people had the knowledge of this natural periodic cycle of women and knew how to tackle it without insulting and ostracising women. Why did Muhammad do that? It was all based on the old Jewish/Zoroastrian practice of segregating women to a secluded place during her period. Muhammad did not have the guts to completely reform this discriminatory treatment of women but maintained that age-old tradition.
Here is a hadith that further confirms the gross insult (and gross miscarriage of justice too!) to women due to her physical makeup and biology. Please note that this hadith restricts a woman from doing her religious obligations because of her natural biological phenomenon. If we go by this hadith, then I wonder how would a workingwoman manage to go to work during her period.
Menstruation is a defect in women for they cannot fast and pray during their periods... (Shahih Bukhari 3.31.172)
Volume 3, Book 31, Number 172:
Narrated Abu Said:
The Prophet said, "Isn't it true that a woman does not pray and does not fast on menstruating? And that is the defect (a loss) in her religion."
In today's world, there are a few countries ruled by women including Bangladesh. This is what Islam has to say about a nation being ruled by women.
People ruled by a woman will never be successful...(Shahih Bukhari 5.59.709)
Narrated Abu Bakra:
During the days (of the battle) of Al-Jamal, Allah benefited me with a word I had heard from Allah's Apostle after I had been about to join the Companions of Al-Jamal (i.e. the camel) and fight along with them. When Allah's Apostle was informed that the Persians had crowned the daughter of Khosrau as their ruler, he said, "Such people as ruled by a lady will never be successful."
Imam Ghazali is one of the greatest Islamic scholars of all times. Some Muslims would even say that his position is next to Muhammad. This 'great' Islamist was one the most anti-woman scholar I had ever read. Here are a few 'gems' from this greatest of all Islamists. I wonder how is it possible for a woman to be more pious than a man is when both Qur'an and ahadith find so many faults in her and relegate her position in society to that of a slave and an animal. To make sure that a woman is inferior to a man and she is always below him Imam Ghazali categorically advises Muslims not to marry rich women forgetting the fact the founder of Islam (Muhammad) himself married one of the richest lady in Arabia (Khadija) and without her immense wealth Muhammad could never have been what he dreamed of. Talk about double standard in Islam! Why does Imam Ghazali have to prescribe such a marital prescription? A prescription for disaster, may I add? He knew the power of money and wealth. He knew that a rich lady would never accept the degrading treatment of hers in the hands of her husband; she will simply desert her man if ever any man dares to dehumanise her. Nevertheless, the gross sexism of Islam must prevail. Therefore, he had no choice but to recommend marrying poor women, for, their financial dependence on men will ensure their inferiority and servitude. Here are the quotes from Ghazali' famous book.
Women should be beneath men on four things (Ref: 7.Vol II p373)
And someone else remarked: " A wife should be beneath her husband in four things or else she will despise him: age, height, wealth and lineage. She should be better than him in four others: beauty, manners, character and scrupulousness in matters of religion."
Do not marry a rich woman, marry a poor woman (Ibid, p373)
Someone once said: "The man who marries a rich woman will find five things in her, an expensive dowry, a delayed wedding, a lack of service, constant expense and an inability to divorce her should he wish to do so, because of his fear of losing her money. The case of poor woman, however, is quite the opposite."
The matter of inheritance in Islam is quite a lengthy issue and it is downright contentious too!. It is not an appropriate matter to be discussed in this essay, which is solely devoted to women related issues. However, let us not forget the unfairness of Islam towards women on this matter. Women get only half that men get. Many Islamists justify this rule by saying that a woman does not contribute anything to the creation of a family wealth. All the money she gets is for hers to keep. They also contend that other religions gave no rights of inheritance to women. Islam was/is the only religion that gave women some rights of inheritance. The first argument can be countered by the reasoning that the man who inherits something from his relatives also did not put an effort to the creation of wealth of the relative concerned. So, a man or a woman inheritor is in the same footing. So, why shouldn't they have equal share in inheritance? The second argument is simply not relevant in today's world. No other religion follows their age-old/antiquated inheritance rules any more. Most of them follow the secular rules. It is only the Islam that still persists on keeping this gross unfair inheritance rules.
Rules on inheritance women get half of men: (Note as per Shah Waliullah these verses abrogate 2:180)...4:11-12
YUSUFALI: Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children's (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases ('s) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Al-wise.
Abul Kasem is an Bengali ex-Muslim and academic. He has contributed in Leaving Islam - Apostates Speak Out and Beyond Jihad - Critical Voices from Inside and Why We Left Islam.. He has also written extensively on Islam in various websites and is the author of five e-Books: A Complete Guide to Allah, Root of Terrorism ala Islamic Style, Sex and Sexuality in Islam, Who Authored the Quran? and Women in Islam. Mr. Kasem leaves in Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.