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Women in Islam (to John)

Reader comment on item: Islamophobia?

Submitted by The Scholar (United States), Nov 26, 2005 at 12:49


Let me start by saying that I am starting to enjoy this and I hope you are enjoying it too. Now here are the answers to your questions:

1) Regarding the polygamy issue, if god allowed great prophets like David and Solomon to have multiple wives, then it must be god's knowledge of his creatures that made him decide that, right? Even in the bible, god did not allow women to have multiple husbands. Accordingly, I do not think that this is a question related to Islam in specific! Islam on the other hand, structured polygamy in order to be fair to both sexes.

2) Regarding your question about the ability of science to decide who the father of the baby is, let me stress again that woman's nature and men's nature also play a role in deciding who can have multiple spouses and who can not. But for the sake of argument, take into consideration that History is full of examples of scientific facts that later turned out to be wrong (take the laws of classical physics for example and compare them to the relativity theory of Einstein). I would always take god's word against science when there is a conflict. But I have only reached this conclusion because I have found enough evidence in the Quran that convinced me that it is truly from god, and not just because I like it. Still, do not get me wrong, this does not mean that I do not believe in science, but I tend to trust science when it proves god's words (as it had done repeatedly) but I would not take it to challenge God since it was proven again and again that man's science has boundaries while god's knowledge has not.

3) When you talked about the current equality of human beings you seemed to distant yourself from the Old Testament, which is something I have seen Christians do repeatedly, but I can not fully understand. In Islam, we believe in the Quran, the Bible, the Torah, etc, because we believe that they are God's words (We believe in the original versions of these books because we know that the ones you have were altered).

2:136 Say ye: "We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam)."

I guess it is sufficient to read a verse in the bible that about Ahaziah who at the age of 42 succeeded his father on the throne who died at the age of 40 to know that this book has been altered. If we know without any reasonable doubt that one can not give birth to a child before one is actually born, then how can this be true? To relieve you from the Burdon of looking for an answer, many apologetics seem to have agreed that this is a typing error, so in short the scribers made a mistake while writing this down. Interesting, right? Who knows how many mistakes did they make!

Anyway, it is incomprehensible to me that God for example would order his people to kill a woman who was raped since she did not scream (Deuteronomy 22:23-24) , and decrees that a rebellious son should be stoned (Deuteronomy 21:20-22), and If a women is helping her husband against an assailant and touches the other man's groins by mistake, then her hand should be cut off (Deuteronomy 25:11-12) or that a bastard should not enter the congregation of god till the 10th generation (Deuteronomy 23:2 )! Doesn't all this sound unfair? Has fairness changed over the years and generations? I certainly do not think so! In Islam, god has 99 names that describe all his traits and one of them is "the "Fair". Is it possible that God would order a Bull who kills a man to be stoned (and not just killed) (Exodus 21:28)? Do you think an animal has a legal identity and that it should suffer like this? Wasn't this used in the middle ages as a proof that animals can be tried in court? Have you read about eh trials that were held against cows, dogs, and cats in Europe during these dark ages? On the other side, in Islam, if an animal kills a person, its owner is put in trial and not the poor beast!

I know that god in the bible, wrestles with men, and does not even win (Genesis 32:24-30), makes a decision, feels remorse and then repents (1 Samuel 15:35), and even appears in person and eats with men (Genesis 18:1-8), but Muslims tend to think highly of the one unique God who built everything around us and we trust in his judgment. I guess after learning that the universe has millions of galaxies, and god knows how many trillions and trillions of stars and planets, it is very hard to me to believe that this one God would find it hard to wrestle a man or that he would even do it in the first place or that God would need to create the rainbow in order to remember his covenant (Genesis 9:12-16)!!

4) You introduced the argument that one can judge a tree from its fruit and you apply this argument to Islam and Christianity, but I have a few problems with this argument:
a) This argument is very short sighted. If we would have applied this argument during world war I or World war II, would you have reached the same conclusion you reach today? What if you applied it during the peak of the Islamic civilization, when the Christian world was barbaric and savage compared to our world? In history, there are always periods of weaknesses within any civilization, and the Islamic civilization is passing through one right now as is the Christian one by the way!
b) You assume that today's freedom and prosperity in the west is a tribute to Christianity, while it is actually a tribute to secularism. Historically, the more the west turned away from religion, the more advanced it became (this is a historic fact). Remember the Church's strict stance against science (ex: Galileo).
c) You use the example of Saudi Arabia and the issue of women driving as if this kind of treatment is a Quranic teaching! Actually, many of the early scientists of Hadith (The Prophet's teachings) were women and many of them came from the country that now prohibits women from teaching men (Unlike Christianity, Islam does not prohibit women from teaching men)! Actually, the Wahabi interpretation of Islam (now followed only in Saudi Arabia) was founded in the 1800's and because it was so extreme, Egypt sent an army on behalf of the Ottoman Empire to fight it! The largest and most prominent school of Islamic teaching (in the Sunni world) for the last hundreds of years, has been the "Azhar" university in Cairo and not in Saudi Arabia the birth place of Islam.
d) While you attribute the unjust treatment of women in some Islamic societies to the teachings of Islam, Dr. Alturabi represents all the Muslim scholars when he attributes this treatment to the lack of commitment to Islam in these societies, he says "Weak commitment to religion tends to cultivate unjust and hostile treatment of women." And then adds "Male jealousy is but one aspect of masculine capricious tendencies which only godly men are immune from and which inculcated the myth that women, by nature, suffer from excessive incapacity. Men use that fantasy as an excuse to ban women from active participation in the broad spectrum of human life and to deprive them of experience and training - thereby devitalizing and debilitating them in fact. and finding reason for further ill-treatment and prejudice. These male tendencies and the appending customs and ways are manifest in many societies where male arbitrariness runs amok with no religious or human limitation."

5) You are asking why Islam does not make women responsible for the financial needs of the family if it believes in equality in treatment! You seem to have mistaken the duty of spending and the right to work. In Islam women have the right to work, to inherit, to run businesses, etc. And they also can volunteer to spend on their households if they wish to. God created men and women differently (both physically and psychologically), and then divided responsibilities among men and women and it is women's privilege not to be obliged to maintain their families. On the other hand, men are not responsible for giving birth, or do you also question this?

6) You assumed that since Khadiga was rich, then she must have been the one spending on the household! Do you have any proof of this or this just a speculation? Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) traded with Khadiga's money, and since we know he was quite good at it, then he must have made some good money.

7) You asked about what happened to Prophet Mohamed's (PBUH) money after he left Mekka, all the money and even is house were confiscated by the Meccans. And after he entered Mecca later on, he even had to stay in tent instead of staying in his own property. It is interesting to note though that in spite of the hostility towards him, the Meccans still kept many of their valuable belongings with him (because of his honesty), and after he immigrated to Medina, and instead of taking these things with him he left behind his cousin (Ali Ibn Abi Taleb) to return these them to their owners.

8) Regarding the black stone, this is my reference (from Al-Tirmithi):
Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) also narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "When the Black Stone came down from Paradise, it was whiter than milk, but the sins of the sons of Adam made it black." (At-Tirmidhi)
Again, I have already given references from the bible that clearly say that menstruating women are unclean and anything and anyone they touch becomes unclean too! In Islam, a menstruating women can not pray, fast or read the Quran. Other than this, a menstruating women does not dirty anything or anyone she touches!

9) Regarding God's command for the "creatures" to prostrate to Adam, I do not know the reference you used, but I assume that all creatures should obey their god if he orders them anything. God did not and would not order any being to worship another being! Anyway, the Quran says that god asked the angels to bow to Adam, and they did except for Iblis (Satan). Please find below the reference from the Quran about this:

(2-34) "And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith"

10) You asked why do men worship god, is it out of love or fear! I think it is out of love of god because he created us and gave us all we have, fear from his punishment, and wanting god's rewards. You claimed that there are no examples of love in Quran between God and man, please find a few examples below from the Quran and Sunna:
85:14 "He is The Forgiving, The Loving."
5:54 "Allah will redeem a people whom He loves, and who love Him."

2:186 "If My 'ibad (worshipers) ask you about Me; (say that) I am very close, answering the caller when he calls on Me."
3:159 "It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him)."
2:143 "For Allah is to all people Most surely full of kindness, Most merciful."
Hadith: "Our Lord descends during the last third of each night to the lower heaven, and says: 'Is there anyone who calls on Me that I may respond to him? Is there anyone who asks Me that I may give unto him? Is there anyone who requests My Forgiveness that I may forgive him?"' (Agreed upon it by al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Hadith: "Indeed, Allah is happier with the repentance of his 'abd (worshipper) than any one of you is with finding his lost riding camel." (Agreed upon it by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
2:195 "And spend of your substance in the cause of Allah, and make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction; but do good; for Allah loveth those who do good."
3:31 Say: "If ye do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."
3:32 Say: "Obey Allah and His Messenger.: But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith."
24:22 "Let them forgive and disregard [the transgressions of others]. Do you not wish that Allah forgive you? Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."
6:54 "When those come to thee who believe in Our signs, Say: "Peace be on you: Your Lord hath inscribed for Himself (the rule of) mercy: verily, if any of you did evil in ignorance, and thereafter repented, and amend (his conduct), lo! He is Oft- forgiving, Most merciful."
9:104 "Know they not that Allah doth accept repentance from His votaries and receives their gifts of charity, and that Allah is verily He, the Oft-Returning, Most merciful?"
15:49 "Tell My servants that I am indeed the Oft-forgiving, Most merciful."
3:76 "Nay.- Those that keep their plighted faith and act aright,-verily Allah loves those who act aright."
3:134 "Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men;- for Allah loves those who do good."
3:146 "How many of the prophets fought (in Allah's way), and with them (fought) Large bands of godly men? but they never lost heart if they met with disaster in Allah's way, nor did they weaken (in will) nor give in. And Allah loves those who are firm and steadfast."
3:148 "And Allah gave them a reward in this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter. For Allah loveth those who do good."
5:93 "On those who believe and do deeds of righteousness there is no blame for what they ate (in the past), when they guard themselves from evil, and believe, and do deeds of righteousness,- (or) again, guard themselves from evil and believe,- (or) again, guard themselves from evil and do good. For Allah loveth those who do good."
9:4 "(But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfill your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loveth the righteous."
9:108 "Never stand thou forth therein. There is a mosque whose foundation was laid from the first day on piety; it is more worthy of the standing forth (for prayer) therein. In it are men who love to be purified; and Allah loveth those who make themselves pure."
19:96 "On those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, will ((Allah)) Most Gracious bestow love."
4:64 "We sent not an apostle, but to be obeyed, in accordance with the will of Allah. If they had only, when they were unjust to themselves, come unto thee and asked Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-returning, Most merciful."
4:96 "Ranks specially bestowed by Him, and Forgiveness and Mercy. For Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most merciful."
4:110 "If any one does evil or wrongs his own soul but afterwards seeks Allah's forgiveness, he will find Allah Oft-forgiving, Most merciful."

5:74 "Why turn they not to Allah, and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft- forgiving, Most merciful."
11) Regarding what people would expect in paradise, some examples were given, but not everything. The west has been fascinated by the fact that the Quran promises those in heaven virgin wives. I honestly do not understand what is wrong with this! Is it because good Christians look down at sex because it is something dirty and low? Well, this is one of the most basic and powerful desires in humans, and if God is to reward human beings, then this is certainly one of the first things that come in mind. Most of the examples about the paradise though in the Quran talk about gardens and rivers and not about women! Women on the other hand are promised paradise just like men, but I do not know of examples of the rewards they will get, except the one example I gave in my last message regarding God building a palace for the wife of the Pharaoh.

a) The following hadith for example does not differentiate between men and women:
Abu Huraira reported Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying that: Allah the Exalted and Glorious, said: I have prepared for My pious servants which no eye has ever seen, and no ear has ever heard, and no human heart has ever perceived but it is testified by the Book of Allah. He then recited:" No soul knows what comfort has been concealed from them, as a reward for what they did". (Saheeh Moslem, xxxii. 17)

In the Quran, God talks about males and females:
3:195 And their Lord hath accepted of them, and answered them: "Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: Ye are members, one of another: Those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My Cause, or fought or been slain,- verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath;- A reward from the presence of Allah, and from His presence is the best of rewards."
These verses of the Quran also does not differentiate between men and women:
18:107 As to those who believe and work righteous deeds, they have, for their entertainment, the Gardens of paradise.
50:35 "There they have all they desire; And there is still more with Us."
b) Looking at God in Paradise:
75:22-23 "Some faces, That Day, will beam (in brightness and beauty), looking toward their Lord."

83:35 "(Relaxing) on couches looking (at their Lord)."

I guess if you look at all this, you can easily understand why Muslims believe in Islam: simply because it is very logical. It equates between people, asks its followers to have good manners, be just, and to do good on earth. It gives us the spiritual strength to proceed through life, and it does not put anybody or any institution between man and God. It tells us that people are not born sinful (like in Christianity), and it tells us that one is responsible for his own deeds and not for somebody else's. It encourages men and women to seek knowledge and to contemplate on god's creation. And although Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) could neither read nor write, the first word in the Quran is the order "read".

And as I said in a previous post, one man can build an empire, but can not build everlasting conviction.

John, I hope I have answered your questions and I hope you have had a nice Thanksgiving.

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