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Taj: The Prophet's last sermon made Muslim women domestic animals/prisoners of men

Reader comment on item: A Democratic Islam?
in response to reader comment: Yup, really... Plato

Submitted by Plato (India), Jun 18, 2008 at 04:22


Just back from a trip to 'secular Muslim' Turkey, hence the delay in replying.

To keep this reply as short as possible I will restrict my reply to what are not mere quibbling about who women are subservient to if they have no near male relatives, the exact meanings of words etc.

This is part of what I wrote: ‘…So in a Muslim majority country no government will survive that does not rule or at least claim to rule by sharia'.

Note the underlined words.

You also write: ‘First, you'd have to define "true Muslim countries".

I really have no clue to which they are because there as many different opinions as there are opinionated Muslims. It could be Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Afghanistan under the Taliban. What is your preference? (Or was it the endlessly bloody period of the Prophet and his four favourite companions??)

>>She is subservient to her her father, brother, son. The last sermon makes clear what degree Muslim women have: a man's prisoner or an animal. (Ibn Ishaq, Tabari. You can of course throw suspicion on their reports).

Where did you get that from, lol? And what if she has no father, brother, or son? As a matter of fact, a woman is certainly never subservient to a brother and especially son. I am not sure what last sermon you read but the one that Muhammad gave states that women have rights over their husbands, are to be treated kind, and are their husbands' partners:

O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah's trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. <<

My dear Taj I gave you the book reference. Perhaps you do not have them for referring to the last sermon. I will now give you the page number and the editions which form the basis of my comment. You must be aware that Ibn Ishaq and Tabari are about as early as you can get to the prophet and his activities. The others are mostly rehashes of what they wrote or hearsay from people with supposedly perfect memory after more than two centuries of the prophet's demise. You can reject their account of the prophet's life or you can insinuate that they are bad historians. Either way you are left with a phantom for a prophet.

You have in quoting the last sermon, in typical Muslim fashion, truncated the sermon at the point where it appears that the Prophet was some kind of champion of female rights. So let me quote fully the part of the sermon which refers to women for you from both Tabari (The history of Al Tabari, Vol IX, The last years of the Prophet. Published by The State University of New York Press ISBN 0-88706-691-7) page 113:

"Now then , O people, you have a right over your wives and they have a right over you. You have [the right] that they should not cause anyone of whom you dislike to tread your beds, and that they should not commit any open indecency (fahishah). If they do, then God permits you to shut them in separate rooms and to beat them, but not severely. If they abstain from [evil], they have a right to their food and clothing in accordance with custom [bi'l-ma'ruf]. Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals [awan] with you and do not possess anything for themselves. You have taken them only as a trust from God and you have made the enjoyment of their persons lawful by the word of God, so understand and listen to my words….."

Now Ibn Ishaq: The Life of Muhammad, A translation of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah by A Guillaume, Oxford University Press, Printed in Pakistan by Mas Printers, Karachi. ISBN 13: 978-0-19-636033-1, page 651:

"…You have rights over your wives and they have rights over you. You have the right that they should not defile your bed and they should not behave with unseemliness. If they do, God allows you to put them in separate rooms and to beat them but not with severity. If they refrain from these things they have a right to their food and clothing with kindness. Lay injunctions on women kindly, for they are your prisoners with you having no control of their persons. You have taken them only as a trust from God and you have the enjoyment of their persons by the word of God, so understand my words…."

Let us examine the prophet's words, as given by Tabari and Ishaq, in some detail.

Both Tabari and Ishaq report the prophet saying husbands and wives have rights over each other. Then he jumps straight into the Muslim bugaboo, female infidelity.But there is silence about male unfaithfulness. I can see the prophet had a big problem here since he had allowed men to be unseemly and indecent with captured women or their innumerable concubines. The only saving grace is that women only can be beaten without severety and kept in separate rooms. Men can ‘graciously' provide them with food and clothing if they refrain from being ‘unseely' or ‘indecent'. Why do Muslim women put up with such blatant condescension?

Since Muhammad clearly states that they are prisoners/domestic animals (hardly any difference in their social status) what real rights can they possess? Food and clothing and a roof for shelter?? Yes even the most cruel of masters will provided these to protect their possession.

>>….If a woman choose to contribute, she does so at her own whim and volition.<<

Really? Can you write that after what the prophet said about women being men's prisoners/domestic animals?




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