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Women in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism (to dear Lisa)

Reader comment on item: Islamophobia?

Submitted by The Scholar (United States), Nov 17, 2005 at 12:19

Your claim that Christianity and Judaism brought to women their rights and not Islam is so ridiculous; I just can not let it go without some explanation History has never been objective and always depended on who writes it, but certain facts have already been historically established, and you and can not just ignore them. The issue of women under Islam, Christianity and Judaism is one such item. The issues of violence, and intolerance in the three religions have also been thoroughly covered and I will be providing you with some more examples regarding these issues later.

I view Christianity and Judaism as God's religions and respect them fully (although I do not agree of course that God's teachings have remained unchanged in these two religions up to now). And of course it is not my intention to discredit them in any way, but your ignorance of these religions forces me to show you what you do not know about their teachings. Interpretation of the bible as well as the Quran can lead to different understandings, which is clear from the great variation in how Christians view women now versus the way they viewed them years and centuries ago (although they are reading the same holy book).

Let me start with an example of what Martin Luther (the great reformer) wrote about women (taken from http://www.atheistsunited.org/wordsofwisdom/Hernandez/women.html): "God created Adam Lord of all living creatures, but Eve spoiled it all. Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear children. And if a woman grows weary and, at last, dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing; she is there to do it." [Walker, Barbara, The Womans Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, New York, Harper & Row, 1983, p. 923]
... a great example of how the great Christian reformer viewed women.
Josephine Henry, a leading 19th century suffragist, castigated the churches for their consistently sexist attitudes over the centuries:
"Has the Church ever issued edict that women must have equal rights with men before the canon or civil law? No institution in modern civilization is too tyrannical and so unjust to women as it the Christian Church. It demands everything from her and gives nothing in return. The history of the Church does not contain a single suggestion for the equality of women...Though tyranny and falsehood alone is Christianity able to hold women in subjection." [Walker, Barbara, The Womans Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, New York, Harper & Row, 1983, p. 924]

Referring to the rights of women under Judaism, the following three sections were taken from the Christian Courier (http://www.christiancourier.com/archives/womensRole.htm):
"Though the Jewish opinion of womanhood during the time of Christ needed considerable improvement – a male's morning prayer expressed thanks to God that the petitioner was neither a Gentile, a slave, or a woman – such attitudes were the result of heathen influences. "

"While women were somewhat legally inferior under the law of Moses, practically speaking, wives and mothers in Israel enjoyed the greatest of dignity. Mothers were to be honored (Ex. 20:12) and to rebel against, or show disrespect for one's mother was a most serious offence which could be punished by death (Deut. 21:18ff; 27:16). "

"Though women did not ordinarily inherit property, in a case of a sonless home the daughters might inherit (Num. 27). It was a man's world, but Hebrew law protected woman's person. Rape was punishable. Harlotry was forbidden" (Lewis, 425)."
Besides the sections of the bibles I have included in my previous post, please allow me to add the following ones:
I do not think the next verse needs any explanation. The hierarchy is clear, Christ, then man, then woman. and as Christ is god (or son of god) for you, deserving all the holiness associated with such a status, then women should treat their husbands in the same way, right?

"The head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is man." (I Cor. 11:3)
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord...Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything." (Eph. 5:22-24)

Lisa, please read the following verse, and honestly tell me that Christianity and Judaism gave women more rights to women than did Islam!
"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner." (I Tim. 2:11-14)
The Lord said to Moses, "Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man." (Num. 31:17)
"For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man." (I Cor. 11:8-9)
I guess when we introduce the verses from the Quran you presented before, the image would be much clearer.

You asked a question if we have ever heard of any woman managing her business or hiring men in Islam! The only reason we heard of Khadiga is because she was the Prophet's wife, but the history of Islam does not talk much about businessmen and businesswomen anyway, and coming to think of it, I can not easily remember any businessmen either! But the sure thing is that women under Islam had full control of their properties and were not like the Christian wives who had to relinquish their properties to their husbands!!

The following section is taken as is from "http://www.atheistsunited.org/wordsofwisdom/Hernandez/women.html"
Start Quotation "
By quoting the biblical texts concerning "the proper role of women" theologian, preachers, and husbands were able to convince themselves and women that a woman's inferiority was ordained by God and women have suffered because of this for centuries. Saint Thomas Aquinas, the great Catholic theologian and philosopher stated:
"As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten; for the active power in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness according to the male sex. while the production of women comes from he defect in the active power; or from some material indisposition, or even some external influence, such as that of a south wind, which is moist as the philosopher Aristotle observed." [Clark, Elizabeth, Women and Religion: A Feminist Sourcebook of Christian Thought, New York, Harper & Row, 1977., p. 87]

Things did not change for the better when Martin Luther came along. Luther wrote:
"God created Adam Lord of all living creatures, but Eve spoiled it all. Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear children. And if a woman grows weary and, at last, dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing; she is there to do it." [Walker, Barbara, The Womans Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, New York, Harper & Row, 1983, p. 923]
Saint Augustine declared, "Any woman who acts in such a way that she cannot give birth to as many children as she is capable of, makes herself guilty of that many murders."

Today, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, head of the "Moral Majority", strongly opposes equal rights legislation because it "defies the mandate that the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church." "Furthermore," Falwell states, "I believe that at the foundation of the womens liberation movement there is a core of women who were once bored with life, whose real problems are spiritual problems. These women have never accepted their God-given roles."

The Southern Baptists, the nations largest Protestant denomination, voted at their 1984 convention against the ordination of women, stating they must "preserve a submission that God requires." The resolution cites the Bible in holding that women should not be placed in authority over men in churches "lest confusion reign."

Pope John Paul II forbade women from using birth control or have an abortion even in the case of incest and rape. He instructed women to go back to their traditional roles as "obedient and serving companions to their husbands." The source then continues to explain that at the present time, just as in the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church argues against the ordination of women priests, because a menstruating priestess would "pollute" the alter. [Reuther, Rosemary, Religion and Sexism, New York, 1974, p. 272ff] The Catholic Encyclopedia still declares that women are inferior to the male sex, "both as regards
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