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Anwar: sincere apologies

Reader comment on item: Is Allah God?
in response to reader comment: To AbdelRuhman

Submitted by Abdul Rahman Reijerink (Australia), Jul 5, 2006 at 11:55

Dear Anwar,

dispite our remaining deep differences, I am glad that we can get back onto a civilised track in our relations, this is the spirit of God at work.

I apologise deeply for the lateness of my reply, some to or three weeks but I have been heavily committed to my studies and family obligations. No disrespect was intended.

You pose some interesting questions, some I must admit I just can't answer adequately.

I suspect our standards of beauty are actually quite similar, what differs is how we view the texts and interpretations of Islam.

You are right to an extent when you talk about trying to make Islam more like Christianity. Jesus as, was undoubtably the most peaceful and merciful of all the prophets. Mohammad saws walked the middle way, which involved more hardness and adherence to the law than for Jesus as.

It is difficult to do justice to all your claims/questions. However, i refute your allegations that the Qur'an is riddled with hate and violence and therefore Islam itself. This is a valid point of view given both some traditional and modern interpretations of texts, but it does not describe the limits of scholarly understandings. What is propagated by people creating a political ideology of hatred out of Islam and non-muslims who believe that the ideologues have the true and only legitimate understanding if texts does not actually define how most muslims view most of the sources, although I admit traditionalists do fall into this as well.

If we view the Qur'anic injunctions that applied in a specific context as the limiting extent and total description of womens rights then yes, Islam oppresses women in the modern era. However, if we understand that revelations and ahadith made in a specific context can teach us general principles to apply in any given context we come to a new understanding of what Islam teaches, we do not just have to mimic the behaviour of the past, but understand what it brought. So yes, women getting limited inheritance rights was a liberation for women in that time. Up untill then they were property! Applied in the same way today it is oppression. But it had a context, women only had to spend on themselves, with increased inheritance for the males came the responsibility to look after the women, this was still a patriarchal society afterall. The lesson then is that greater inheritance goes to those who have the responsibility to care for others upkeep. This is quite complex, but I believe the essential point is clear. (ie seeing the rules as a definitive injunction for all times rather than as a source of principle on how to derive laws).

For polygyny, we can look at similar arguments. The Qur'an quite clearly paints a monogamous relationship between two people as the ideal. look at the ayat on creation. Nor is patriarchal language used in the Qur'anic tale of creation (or elsewhere for that matter), see Asma Barlas and Amina Wadud for more detail. this may even indicate the permissibility of stable commited homosexual relationships, the issue being comittment and support, not necessarily childbearing and therefore heterosexuality. controversial yes, but this is controversial in Christianity too. I believe that it is a distinct possibility.

The furphy (sorry this is an Australian colloquialism, but I love it, context should make its meaning evident, if not google away) surrounding wife beating although valid in that violence towards women is unacceptable, is a furphy none the less. A faithful reading of scriptures does not permit violence towards women. See Abou El Fadl and Barlas.

I do not consider hijab as compulsory, that being said my wife does wear one and I expect my daughter probably will too. If we view veiling as the taking sexual possession over a woman and therfore extending a patriarchal protection as well, as some scholars claim then yes it is oppression. If it is acted upon in the belief that women themselves are a fitnah or tribulation and that men need to be protected by covering women, like in some countries then yes it is oppresive. If we see it as a protection of women from the hostile and imperialistic male gaze (just walk down any street or sit at any railway station to see proof of this aggresive act) that a woman does of her own choice then it is not oppression. It can serve to remove (or at least reduce) sex from the equation in women's professional lives, so that women can be seen for the active aprticipants that they are and not just a bit of fluff to take advantage of or ogle but otherwise ignore. My wife certainly feels more protected from men by wearing it. How liberating is the social pressure many "western" women and even children now feel to constantly seem sexually appealing to any man who happens to see them, as evidenced by fashions and attitudes to body image, even being so perverse as to infiltrate infants clothing with "sexy" cuts. As a typical Aussie male I am no prude, but our culture is essentially a child molesting one the way we worship beauty through teenage models. If wearing a scarf makes a woman feel protected from this then I am all in favour of her choice. Australian model, Shappelle Corby understood this when she adopted the veil while in prison in largely Buddhist and Christian Bali while on trial for drugs charges, she did it to stay sexually safe in a hostile prison environment, not as many claimed as some appeal to the (christian) judges. Good on her.

Sorry, its getting late, must go. (translation "how much longer are you going to be"... she who must be obeyed)

Any further questions please respond, I am truly gald that we can keep this civil.

Please, I do not try to convert you, it is not why I am here, please show me the same respect. further, God's religion/s need no defence, so I do not do so, what I seek here is understanding between the noblest of God's creatures, so that we may come together and root out the scourge in our midst. united we stand divided we will fall or at least suffer more.

In the peace of God,

Abdul Rahman.

Submitting....

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