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Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun on "Women in the Bible - Part II"

By Abdullah Smith

[Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V] [Part VI]

 

 

 

HE WROTE:

Numbers 30 is quoted by Muslims to show that since a father or a husband can cancel a woman’s oath then this somehow means that women are inferior or that they cannot conduct business, because no one would trust them. Is this really what the text is saying? Not at all:

"Moses said to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded. When a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. Or when a woman vows a vow to the LORD, and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father's house, in her youth, and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself, and says nothing to her; then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if her father expresses disapproval to her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself, shall stand; and the LORD will forgive her, because her father opposed her. And if she is married to a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, and her husband hears of it, and says nothing to her on the day that he hears; then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he expresses disapproval, then he shall make void her vow which was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips, by which she bound herself; and the LORD will forgive her. But any vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, anything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her. And if she vowed in her husband's house, or bound herself by a pledge with an oath, and her husband heard of it, and said nothing to her, and did not oppose her; then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she bound herself shall stand. But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning her pledge of herself, shall not stand: her husband has made them void, and the LORD will forgive her. Any vow and any binding oath to afflict herself, her husband may establish, or her husband may make void. But if her husband says nothing to her from day to day, then he establishes all her vows, or all her pledges, that are upon her; he has established them, because he said nothing to her on the day that he heard of them. But if he makes them null and void after he has heard of them, then he shall bear her iniquity.’" Numbers 30:1-15

Several things to note from the text. First, as we saw in the first article God has designed it that man would be the head of a woman without this implying that one is inferior in essence to the other. Please see the first part for the details.

 

RESPONSE:

See my rebuttals to part one: [Part I] [Part II] [Part III] [Part IV] [Part V] [Part VI] [Part VII] [Part VIII]

The Bible contains a law that brings a wife under the rule of her husband, it means the husband is superior to the wife because the Hebrew word is always used in a political context (Deu.1:13, 2Chron. 7:18, Neh. 3:12). In fact, the Bible places a double curse upon woman, the pangs of childbirth and the enslavement to her husband (Gen 3:16). The Holy Quran is completely free of harsh penalties and curses. There is no such curse placed on Adam and Eve, the Quran is superior because they were forgiven (2:37, 7:23), whereas the Bible says they were cursed.

 

HE WROTE:

Second, the prohibition only applies to virgins and married women, not to widows or divorcees. In light of this, the reason for this prohibition should be obvious; a virgin or married woman comes under the headship of either the father or the husband. As such, making a vow or a pledge is a very serious issue with God, one that he doesn’t take lightly:

"Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool's voice with many words. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it; for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake; why should God be angry at your voice, and destroy the work of your hands?" Ecclesiastes 5:2-6

Therefore, a woman who is under the authority and headship of the male figure is taking on a very serious responsibility that may bring grave consequences that not only affects her, but will affect her head as well. This is why God required the permission of either her father or husband since this would act as a precautionary measure allowing the head to know of the vows being made by the woman and whether he approves of it or not.

Seen in this light, God’s command is actually an act of mercy for women, as well as the household, since a woman’s vow can be nullified and made void if her head doesn’t agree to it without this bringing her under God’s judgment, whereas a man’s vow must be carried through and he cannot renege on it.

 

RESPONSE:

Shamoun indicates that woman are too weak, that is why he quotes Ecclesiastes, to show that God takes oaths very seriously, the woman is under the headship of her husband or father because she is too feeble to make oaths, (because it may “affect her head”) the oath is broken if the male figure disproves of it.

Let us see what the book of Ecclesiastes really says about woman:

I find more bitter THAN DEATH the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a TRAP and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare. Look," says the Teacher, "this is what I have discovered: "Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things- while I was still searching but not finding— I found one upright man among a thousand, but NOT ONE upright woman among them all. (Ecclesiastes, 7:26-28)

The book of Ecclesiastes disparages woman. This explains why the male has the power to nullify the woman’s oaths (Num 30)! The reason why the male has the power to nullify the woman’s oath is because they are inferior, as the passage shows.

The Bible says God broke His oath and deceived people

Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived (nasha) this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; whereas the sword reacheth unto the soul. Jeremiah 4:10, [1]

Then I said, "Ah, Sovereign LORD, how completely you have deceived (nasha) this people and Jerusalem by saying, 'You will have peace,' when the sword is at our throats." (Jeremiah 4:10, NIV)

But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed. Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown by casting it to the ground. (Psalms 89:38-39)

"How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. (Hosea 11:8)

So the LORD relented. "This will not happen," the LORD said. (Amos 7:3)

If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. (Jeremiah 18:8, KJV)

The Bible records that God was allured by Satan to do evil:

Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited (cuwth) me against him to ruin him without any reason." (Job 2:3)

Cuwth means...

1) to incite, allure, instigate, entice

a) (Hiphil)

1) to incite (to a request)

2) to allure, lure

3) to instigate (bad sense)

 
Source: http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/words/5/1145124452-6142.html 

 


HE WROTE:

The Holy Bible is unlike the Quran in this area, since Allah allows Muslims a free pass for breaking their oaths:

God will not take you to task for a slip in your oaths; but He will take you to task for what your hearts have earned; and God is All-forgiving, All-clement. S. 2:225 Arberry

Those who forswear their wives must wait four months; then, if they change their mind, lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. S. 2:226 Pickthall

God will not take you to task for a slip in your oaths; but He will take you to task for such bonds as you have made by oaths, whereof the expiation is to feed ten poor persons with the average of the food you serve to your families, or to clothe them, or to set free a slave; or if any finds not the means, let him fast for three days. That is the expiation of your oaths when you have sworn; but keep your oaths. So God makes clear to you His signs; haply you will be thankful. S. 5:89 Arberry

Clearly Allah, unlike Yahweh, is giving Muslims a licence to make oaths without requiring them to actually fulfill them. Muhammad exemplified this nonchalant attitude towards breaking oaths:

Narrated Zahdam:
Once we were in the house of Abu Musa who presented a meal containing cooked chicken. A man from the tribe of Bani Taim Allah with red complexion as if he were from the Byzantine war prisoners, was present. Abu Musa invited him to share the meal but he (apologised) saying. "I saw chickens eating dirty things and so I have had a strong aversion to eating them, and have taken an oath that I will not eat chickens." Abu Musa said, "Come along, I will tell you about this matter (i.e. how to cancel one's oath). I went to the Prophet in the company of a group of Al-Ashariyin, asked him to provide us with means of conveyance. He said, ‘By Allah, I will not provide you with any means of conveyance and I have nothing to make you ride on.’ Then some camels as booty were brought to Allah's Apostle and he asked for us saying. ‘Where are the group of Al-Ash’ariyun?’ Then he ordered that we should be given five camels with white humps. When we set out we said, ‘What have we done? We will never be blessed (with what we have been given).’ So, we returned to the Prophet and said, ‘We asked you to provide us with means of conveyance, but you took an oath that you would not provide us with any means of conveyance. Did you forget (your oath when you gave us the camels)?’ He replied. ‘I have not provided you with means of conveyance but Allah has provided you with it, and by Allah, Allah willing, if ever I take an oath to do something, and later on I find that it is more beneficial to do something different, I will do the thing which is better, and give expiation for my oath.’" (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Number 361)

Muhammad’s attitude is only a reflection of his god’s since the Quran gave Muhammad this licence:

Allah hath made lawful for you (Muslims) absolution from your oaths (of such a kind), and Allah is your Protector. He is the Knower, the Wise. S. 66:2 Pickthall

Thus, Allah was in the business of helping Muhammad (and other Muslims) violate his(their) oaths!

 

RESPONSE:

We need to understand the Hadith in light of the other Hadith which condemn someone who breaks his word. 

"The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise and when he is entrusted he betrays the trust." (Bukhari and Muslim)

You also have to understand the context of the Hadith. The reason why the Prophet gave the oath in the first place was because he did not have the means of providing the individual with any means of conveyance. However, then the Prophet did have the means after the war booty came and therefore the whole situation changed and therefore gave the means of conveyance to the people. This was for the benefit of everyone. 

There are similar hadith regarding this issue and here is the commentary on them.......

The essence of all these Hadith is that if one comes to realize that, after taking an oath, his oath was wrong, then he must break the oaths. For instance, if one has taken an oath that he will drink alcohol, it will be obligatory for him to break his oath. Or if one takes an oath to not to do a thing which is desirable, or taken an oath to do something which is not desirable, then it will be desirable for him to break the oath. Similarly, if one takes an oath to not to do something permissible then the act of breaking the oath will also come in the category of permissible. 

The expiation of an oath is necessary. This can be done by means of feeding ten poor persons, or by providing clothes to a similar number of persons, or by setting a slave free. If one does not have the capacity to do any of the three acts, then he should observe fast for three days.

(Riyad-us-Saliheen, Commentary of Hadith no. 1716,1717 and 1718, p1273)

So the Hadith needs to be understood properly. This does not give anyone the right to break an agreement between himself and another person. 

Also realize that if someone breaks his oath, then he needs to expiate for it. 

This is a mercy from Allah as people do make oaths mistakenly. Doesn't the Biblical God also allow oaths to be broken? The God of the Bible gave authority to husbands to cancel the oaths of their wives and fathers to cancel the oaths of their daughters (Numbers 30). What does Sam think about that?

Regarding 2:225, the verse is referring to un-intentional oaths, not serious oaths:

 

Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts; and He is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing. (Yusuf Ali, 2:225)

 

Let us quote Mawdudi and Ibn Kathir.

 

This refers to oaths which one utters either through habit or without any intent and purpose. The breach of such vows neither entails expiation nor makes man liable to God’s approach. (Towards Understanding Islam, vol II, p. 174)

 

The Ayah means, `Allah does not punish or hold you accountable for the Laghw (unintentional) vows that you make.' The Laghw vows are unintentional and are just like the habitual statements that the tongue repeats, without really intending them. (Ibn Kathir, online Source)

 

Why would God take foolish oaths seriously? God knows the hearts of all men; He knows whether they are serious or not.

 

Here is the correct translation of 2:226 by Yusuf Ali.

 

For those who take an oath for abstention from their wives, a waiting for four months is ordained; if then they return, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

 

The scholar Ibn Kathir comments:/states:

 

(...then if they return,) meaning, to a normal relationship, having sexual intercourse with the wife. This is the Tafsir of Ibn `Abbas, Masruq, Ash-Sha`bi, Sa`id bin Jubayr and Ibn Jarir. [1]

 

The scholar Mawdudi comments:

 

Some jurists have interpreted this verse to signify that if the spouses break their vows and re-establish sexual relations they will not be liable to any expiation and will be pardoned by God gratuitously. However, the majority of jurists are of the opinion that they are required to expiate. The statement God is Oft-Forgiving and Merciful means that God will accept their expiation and will forgive them for whatever excesses they may have committed against each other (Towards Understanding the Quran, p. 175)

 

There is no blame on the wife, the husband expiates for breaking the vow, and he satisfies the wife at the same time. God forgives the husband and also blesses him for fulfilling the sexual needs of his wife in general. God understands that breaking vows on sexual relations is uncontrollable, because men have a stronger sexual urge than woman. We have quoted several Bible passages where God breaks His oaths.

Let us quote 5:89 by Yusuf Ali

Allah will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths ye have sworn. But keep to your oaths. Thus doth Allah make clear to you His signs, that ye may be grateful.

Humans are fallible creatures; God will never hold us responsible for false oaths. God only takes the oaths that we make seriously. This is what the passage is saying. God does not want perfection, that’s impossible as God created humans weak (4:28). The scholar Mawdudi comments on 5:89

Since some people had taken an oath prohibiting for themselves the things which He had permitted, God laid down this injunction regarding oaths made inadvertently. The injunction makes it unnecessary to feel bound by the terms of inadvertent oaths, and for which one will not be reproached by God. And if a person had deliberately made an oath which entails win he would not abide by his oath and should expiate for it. (Mawdudi, Towards Understanding Islam, vol II, p. 190)

 

HE WROTE:

The foregoing should show how vastly inferior Allah is to Yahweh in terms of holiness and righteousness.

 

RESPONSE:

The Quranic portrait of God is superior to the Bible:


"And God said, let us make a man in our image, after our likeness." Genesis 1:26

"Say He is God, the One and Only God, the Eternal, Absolute. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him!" Qur'an112:1-4

 


"For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He RESTED, and was REFRESHED" Exo. 31:17

 


"We have created the heavens and the earth, and everything between them in six days, and no fatigue touched us. " Qur'an 50:38

 


And GOD saw that the wickedness of man [was] great in the earth, and [that] every imagination of the thoughts of his heart [was] only evil continually.

And the LORD repented that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. Genesis 6:5-6

 

 


"With Him (God) are the keys to all secrets; none knows them except He. He knows everything on land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls without His knowledge. Nor is there a grain in the depths of the soil. Nor is there anything wet or dry, that is not recorded in a profound record. Qur'an 6:59

 


[Psalm 13:1] How long will you forget me, O Lord.

 


He said, "The knowledge thereof is with my Lord in a record. My Lord never errs, nor does He forget. " Quran 20:52



Continuing on with Part VI.

 

 

 

 

Rebuttals, and exposing the lies of the Answering Islam team section.

Rebuttals to Sam Shamoun's Articles section.

Women in Islam and the Bible.

Abdullah Smith's Rebuttals section.


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