The Quran places men and women on equal foundation before Allah and each other.
Women have equal rights under Islamic law.
The Quran says that men and women will be judged by Allah. This does not mean that they have equal rights and roles, or that they are judged by the same standards.
The Quran gives Muslim men permission to beat their wives for disobedience, but nowhere does it order love in marriage (although it does say that “love” exists). The verses plainly say that husbands are “a degree above” their wives. The Hadith says that women are intellectually inferior, and that they comprise the majority of Hell’s occupants.
Under Islamic law, a man may divorce his wife at his choosing. If he does this twice, then wishes to remarry her, she must first have sex with another man. Men are exempt from such degradation.
Muslim women are not free to marry whom they please as Muslim men are. Their husband may also bring other wives (and slaves) into the marriage bed. And she must be sexually available to him at any time (as a field ready to be “tilled,” according to the holy book of Islam).
Neither do Muslim women inherit property in equal portion to males. This is somewhat ironic given that Islam owes its existence to the wealth of Muhammad’s first wife, which would not otherwise have been inherited by her given that she had two brothers and her first husband had three sons.
A woman’s testimony in court is considered to be worth only half that of a man’s, according to the Quran. Unlike a man, she must also cover her head – and often her face.
If a woman wants to prove that she was raped, then there must be four male witnesses to corroborate her account (according to strict Sharia). Otherwise she can be jailed or stoned to death for confessing to “adultery.”
Given all of this, it is quite a stretch to say that men and women have “equality under Islam” based on obscure theological analogies or comparisons. This is an entirely new ploy designed for modern tastes, and it disagrees sharply with the reality of Islamic law and history.
#1 What Does Islam Teach About…Veils and Covering
Does Islam require women to cover themselves?
Yes. There is some disagreement as to whether the face should be veiled, but almost all scholars agree that a woman’s hair should be covered. The covering of cloth is supposed to keep the sexual appetites of passing men at bay when women travel outside the home. This might even save a woman’s life, since she is usually assumed to bear the responsibility of unlawful sexual encounters and thus subject to stoning.
Quran (33:59) – “Tell thy wives and thy daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks close round them…”
Quran (24:31) – “And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known.” The woman is not only supposed to cover herself, except with relatives, but to look down, so as to avoid making eye-contact with men.
Quran (33:55) – “It shall be no crime in them as to their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their woman, or the slaves which their right hands possess, if they speak to them unveiled” A woman may present herself without a veil only to family and slaves.
Hadith and Sira
Sahih Bukhari (6:321) – Muhammad is asked whether it is right for a young woman to leave her house without a veil. He replies, “She should cover herself with the veil of her companion.”
Sahih Bukhari (60:282) – After Muhammad issued the command (Quran 24:31) for women to cover themselves, the women responded by tearing up sheets to cover their faces.
Abu Dawud (32:4092) – The Apostle of Allah… said: “O Asma’, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands” This was narrated by Aisha.
Abu Dawud (2:641) – The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Allah does not accept the prayer of a woman who has reached puberty unless she wears a veil.
Sahih Bukhari (52:250) – [The Prophet said] “It is not permissible for a man to be alone with a woman, and no lady should travel except with a Muhram (i.e. her husband or a person whom she cannot marry in any case for ever; e.g. her father, brother, etc.).” – Neither is a woman allowed to travel by herself.
Sahih Bukhari (8:395): Narrated Umar: “My Lord agreed with me in three things: -1. I said, “O Allah’s Messenger, I wish we took the station of Abraham as our praying place (for some of our prayers). So came the Divine Inspiration: And take you (people) the station of Abraham as a place of prayer (for some of your prayers e.g. two rak`at of Tawaf of Ka`ba)”. (2.125) -2. And as regards the (verse of) the veiling of the women, I said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! I wish you ordered your wives to cover themselves from the men because good and bad ones talk to them.’ So the verse of the veiling of the women was revealed. -3. Once the wives of the Prophet made a united front against the Prophet and I said to them, ‘It may be if he (the Prophet) divorced you, (all) that his Lord (Allah) will give him instead of you wives better than you.’ So this verse (the same as I had said) was revealed.” An interesting hadith reveals that Umar was the source of the verse on veils and that “Allah” followed with a concurring verse. Early Muslims were not known for their skepticism.
Islamic law (Sharia) requires women to cover themselves. The practical application in modern Muslim countries varies with a combination of individual and social taste. The Taliban require full burqas (covering everything, including a mesh for the eyes), while the more secular governments of Turkey and Tunisia once banned headscarves in public buildings (the bans have since been lifted following the Islamist ascension).
The head covering is interpreted as a symbol of male domination by most critics and by many Muslim women, who fight for the right to dress as they please. A 21-year-old named Katia Bengana became the first casualty of the renewed Islamist terror campaign in Algeria after refusing to cover her hair. She defended her choice even while the gun was pointed at her head.
Some apologists insist that the veil is not mandated by the religion, although they do not have anything within the sacred texts to counter the passages in which Muhammad instructed its use. In fact, verse 24:60 says that the veil is optional only for unmarried women too old to have children.
CAIR’s Jamal Badawi, often held up as a moderate scholar, insists that the hijab is “a command of Allah to Muslim women” and it should be “the duty of the state” to enforce it.
Some women do wear the hijab by choice, but it is impossible to say what percentage, since the pressure to cover one’s head can either be subtle or pronounced. In 2011, an imam at a supposedly moderate mosque in Sammamish, Washington claimed that Muslim wives wear the hijab because they want to, but then stated that they may be “punished” if they refuse. In Pakistan, uncovered women are routinely attacked with acid. In Iran, Basij fundamentalists have raped and killed dress code violators.
Clerics, such as Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, have said that unveiled victims of public rape invited their attackers: “If I came across a rape crime – kidnap and violation of honour – I would discipline the man and order that the woman be arrested and jailed for life.’ Why would you do this, Rafihi? He says because if she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn’t have snatched it… If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street, on the pavement, in a garden, in a park or in the backyard, without a cover and the cats eat it, is it the fault of the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.”
In responding to a 2014 anti-hijab demonstration by women, an Iranian activist bluntly said that “it is a man’s right to benefit from what he loves. When a man forces himself onto a woman because she is “showing off her beauty”, this [should not] be considered rape.”
In keeping with this theme, Muslim rapists in the West have been known to credit their motivation to the victim’s choice of dress (one such example being from Australia in 2011). It is somewhat obvious that many women rely on the veil for for protection against unwanted male attention. Even non-Muslim residents and Western visitors to the Islamic world often find it necessary to cover themselves so as to avoid the harassment of Muslim men on the street.
In 2014, a cleric suggested that babies be put into burqas to protect them against molestation. (Condemning the child molesters did eventually occur to him as an afterthought).
Veils and burqas are becoming more common in Muslim countries with the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism. In the West, they are gradually becoming a chic statement of political protest or a symbol of religious distinction.
Palestinian suicide bomber, Zeynab Abu Salam…
she knew how to keep a tight hijab.
#2 What Does Islam Teach About… A Woman’s Worth
Does Islam teach that a woman is worth less than a man?
Absolutely. The only debatable point is by what degree.
Quran (4:11) – (Inheritance) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females” (see also verse 4:176). In Islam, sexism is mathematically established.
Quran (2:282) – (Court testimony) “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.” Muslim apologists offer creative explanations to explain why Allah felt that a man’s testimony in court should be valued twice as highly as a woman’s, but studies consistently show that women are actually less likely to tell lies than men, meaning that they make more reliable witnesses.
Quran (2:228) – “and the men are a degree above them [women]”
Quran (5:6) – “And if ye are unclean, purify yourselves. And if ye are sick or on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have had contact with women, and ye find not water, then go to clean, high ground and rub your faces and your hands with some of it” Men are to rub dirt on their hands, if there is no water to purify them, following casual contact with a woman (such as shaking hands).
Quran (24:31) – Women are to lower their gaze around men, so they do not look them in the eye.
(To be fair, men are told to do the same thing in the prior verse).
Quran (2:223) – “Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will…”
A man has dominion over his wives’ bodies as he does his land. This verse is overtly sexual. There is some dispute as to whether it is referring to the practice of anal intercourse. If this is what Muhammad meant, then it would appear to contradict what he said in Muslim (8:3365).
Quran (4:3) – (Wife-to-husband ratio) “Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four” Inequality by numbers.
Quran (53:27) – “Those who believe not in the Hereafter, name the angels with female names.” Angels are sublime beings, and would therefore be male.
Quran (4:24) and Quran (33:50) – A man is permitted to take women as sex slaves outside of marriage. Note that the verse distinguishes wives from captives (those whom they right hand possesses).
Hadith and Sira
Bukhari (6:301) – “[Muhammad] 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.'”
Bukhari (6:301) – continued – “[Muhammad said] ‘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.'” Allah has made women deficient in the practice of their religion as well, by giving them menstrual cycles.
Bukhari (2:29) – Women comprise the majority of Hell’s occupants. This is important because the only women in heaven mentioned explicitly by Muhammad are the virgins who serve the sexual desires of men. (A weak Hadith, Kanz al-`ummal, 22:10, even suggests that 99% of women go to Hell).
Bukhari (62:81) – “The Prophet said: “‘The stipulations most entitled to be abided by are those with which you are given the right to enjoy the (women’s) private parts (i.e. the stipulations of the marriage contract).'” In other words, the most important thing a woman brings to marriage is between her legs.
Bukhari (62:58) – A woman presents herself in marriage to Muhammad, but he does not find her attractive, so he “donates” her on the spot to another man.
Muslim (4:1039) – “A’isha said [to Muhammad]: ‘You have made us equal to the dogs and the asses'” These are the words of Muhammad’s favorite wife, complaining of the role assigned to women under Islam.
Abu Dawud (2:704) – “…the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: When one of you prays without a sutrah, a dog, an ass, a pig, a Jew, a Magian, and a woman cut off his prayer, but it will suffice if they pass in front of him at a distance of over a stone’s throw.”
Abu Dawud (2155) – Women are compared to slaves and camels with regard to the “evil” in them.
Ishaq 593 – “As for Ali, he said, ‘Women are plentiful, and you can easily change one for another.'” Ali was raised as a son by Muhammad. He was also the 4th caliph. This comment was made in Muhammad’s presence without a word of rebuke from him.
Ishaq 593 – “From the captives of Hunayn, Allah’s Messenger gave [his son-in-law] Ali a slave girl called Baytab and he gave [future Caliph] Uthman a slave girl called Zaynab and [future Caliph] Umar another.” – Even in this world, Muhammad treated women like party favors, handing out enslaved women to his cronies for sex.
Ibn Ishaq (693) – “Then the apostle sent Sa-d b. Zayd al-Ansari, brother of Abdu’l-Ashal with some of the captive women of Banu Qurayza to Najd and he sold them for horses and weapons.” Muhammad traded captured women for horses.
Al-Tirmidhi 3272 – “When Allah’s Messenger was asked which woman was best he replied, ‘The one who pleases (her husband) when he looks at her, obeys him when he gives a command, and does not go against his wishes regarding her person or property by doing anything of which he disapproves’.”
Tabari VIII:117 – The fate of more captured farm wives, whom the Muslims distributed amongst themselves as sex slaves: “Dihyah had asked the Messenger for Safiyah when the Prophet chose her for himself… the Apostle traded for Safiyah by giving Dihyah her two cousins. The women of Khaybar were distributed among the Muslims.”
Tabari IX:137 – “Allah granted Rayhana of the Qurayza to Muhammad as booty.”
Ishaq 969 – “Lay injunctions on women kindly, for they are prisoners with you having no control of their persons.” – This same text also says that wives may be beaten for “unseemliness”.
Tabari Vol 9, Number 1754 – “Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals with you and do not possess anything for themselves.” From Muhammad’s ‘Farewell Sermon’.
The move to paint Islam as a pioneering force in women’s rights is a recent one, corresponding with the efforts of Muslim apologists (not otherwise known for their feminist concerns) and some Western academics prone to interpreting history according to personal preference. In truth, the Islamic religious community has never exhibited an interest in expanding opportunities for women beyond the family role.
The fourth Caliph, who was Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin, said just a few years after the prophet’s death that “The entire woman is an evil. And what is worse is that it is a necessary evil.”
A traditional Islamic saying is that, “A woman’s heaven is beneath her husband’s feet.” One of the world’s most respected Quran commentaries explains that, “Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden.” (Tafsir al-Qurtubi)
The revered Islamic scholar, al-Ghazali, who has been called ‘the greatest Muslim after Muhammad,’ writes that the role of a Muslim woman is to “stay at home and get on with her sewing. She should not go out often, she must not be well-informed, nor must she be communicative with her neighbors and only visit them when absolutely necessary; she should take care of her husband… and seek to satisfy him in everything… Her sole worry should be her virtue… She should be clean and ready to satisfy her husband’s sexual needs at any moment.” [Ibn Warraq]
A Yemeni cleric recently explained in a television broadcast what makes women inferior and unable, say, to serve as good witnesses: “Women are subject to menstruation, when their endurance and mental capacity for concentration are diminished. When a woman witnesses a killing or an accident, she becomes frightened, moves away, and sometimes even faints, and she cannot even watch the incident.”
During a 2012 talk show on an Egyptian television channel, a cleric slammed Christianity – in part for teaching gender equality: “the Christian religion does not differentiate between women and men, but it confirms their perfect equality: it gives them an equal share in inheritance, it bans divorce, and it bans polygamy.”
In 2014, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized that men and women are not equal: “Our religion has defined a position for women (in society): motherhood.”
The many opportunities denied women under Islamic law, from giving equal testimony in court to having the right to exclude other wives from their marital bed, is very clear proof that women are of lesser value then men in Islam. Muslim women are not even free to marry outside the faith without being killed by their own families.
Islamic law also specifies that when a woman is murdered by a man, her family is owed only half as much “blood money” (diya) as they would be if she had been a man. (The life of a non-Muslim is generally assessed at one-third).
Although a man retains custody of his children in the event of his wife’s death, a non-Muslim woman will automatically lose custody of her children in the event of her husband’s death unless she converts to Islam or marries a male relative within his family.
Contemporary Muslims like to counter that Arabs treated women as camels prior to Muhammad.This is somewhat questionable, given that Muhammad’s first wife was a wealthy woman who owned property and ran a successful business prior to ever meeting him. She was even his boss… (although that may have changed after the marriage). Still, it is somewhat telling that Islam’s treatment of women can only be defended by contrasting it to an extremely primitive environment in which women were said to be non-entities.
Homa Darabi was a talented physician who took her own life by setting herself on fire in a public protest against the oppression of women in Islamic Iran. She did this after a 16-year-old girl was shot to death for wearing lipstick. In the book, Why We Left Islam, her sister includes a direct quote from one of the country’s leading clerics:
“The specific task of women in this society is to marry and bear children. They will be discouraged from entering legislative, judicial, or whatever careers which may require decision-making, as women lack the intellectual ability and discerning judgment required for these careers.”
Modern day cleric Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini has called for a return of the slave markets, where Muslim men can order concubines. In this man’s ideal world, “when I want a sex-slave, I go to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her.”
At best, Islam elevates the status of a woman to somewhere between that of a camel and a man.
Muhammad captured women in war and treated them as a tradable commodity. The “immutable, ever-relevant” Quran explicitly permits women to be kept as sex slaves. These are hardly things in which Muslims can take pride.
By Faishal Ahmed (Ex-muslim)