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"Tell the believing
men to lower their gaze and guard their chastity; that is purer for them.
And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their chastity, and not to make a display of their beauty except what is apparent, and let them cast a cover over their bosoms....And turn to Allah (God) altogether, O believers, in order that you might succeed (The Holy Quran 24: 30-31)."
The Liberated Woman:
We see some common characteristics in modern urban culture concerning what is required of men and women: Open chest shirts for the female, a neck-tie for the male. Belly exposed shirts for the female, in-going shirts for the male. Men's dress patronizes opaque clothing where as feminine clothes are transparent. Modern society labels a man as improperly dressed when not in full suit but women are celebrated if they keep their legs uncovered.
The society that condemns the exhibition of male physical curves and labels them as "perversion" provides "artificial aides" to under developed areas of the female.
Everyone has heard the term, 'unwed mother' but you hardly ever hear about the 'unwed father'. The fashion world, usually controlled by males aims to create instability in the female mind. She is taught that "wearing the least" is something that builds "status".
She is taught to hate her own body. The form of her eye-lashes and brows, the style of her walking and speech, the color of her lips, nails and cheek are all given an artificial look. She also hates the natural trend of her hair. In such a society, "hair fashion designers" make big money. Where men balance themselves on a three inch base heel of the shoes, the woman is expected to balance herself on a half a centimeter heel. This creates a medical abnormality called Lordosis in medicine. Males make big money, displaying
female nakedness in their respectable trades like cabarets, strip bars, fashion shows, commercial advertising (Do I want the Mustang or the sexy blonde in the advertisement?), nude paintings and magazines and now internet web pages.
The modern urban culture does not only show the above but it also shows: Alarming statistics with manifold percentage increase every year of single parents, children with no fathers, broken families, sex crimes., divorce, suicide and drug use among teens, asylums for unclaimed children, homes for unwanted parents, clinics for delinquent
youth and neurotic adults. Recent estimates suggest that up to 80% of U.S society displays some form or the other of psychological symptoms, and that up to 25% have psychological problems serious enough to interfere with their day to day living.
WOMEN IN WESTERN RELIGION:
Christianity the major religion that shaped western thought presents women as subordinate to men. Men according to the Bible are the owners of women, just like an animal is owned. Exodus 20:17 which states the famous tenth commandment, lumps a wife together with his servants, animals and house. A man could sell his daughter as a slave (Exodus 21:7-11) or give her in marriage to whomsoever he chose.
This subordination of women to men in the Bible, which shaped western thought on the issue is made clearer in Leviticus 12:1-8: After the birth of a male child, a woman is ritually impure for seven days, however after the birth of a female child she is ritually impure for fourteen days according to the law of the Bible.
1 Corinthians 14:34-35 of the New Testament of the Bible states: "As in all Churches of the saints, the woman should be subordinate as even the law says...for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church."
1 Timothy 2:11 states: "Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men. She is to keep silent, for Adam was formed first then Eve, and Adam was not deceived but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor."
1 Corinthians 11:6 says: " For if a woman will not veil herself then she should cut off her hair, but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil...for man was not created from woman but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman but woman for man."
The above do not require interpretation, they are clear on how Christianity and Judaism view women. Let us now look at Eastern religion
HINDUISM AND WOMEN:
In Hindu religious literature by far, the most effective weapon used by the Gods to corrupt virtuous mortals is a woman. Usually a seductive celestial nymph but sometimes just woman, the root of all evil in the ascetic oriented view of the orthodox Hindu (Baldick, Radice, Jones 36).
The Mahabharata states, " I will tell you my son, how Brahama created wanton women and for what purpose, for there is nothing more evil than women... The Lord Grandfather, learning what was in the hearts of the Gods, created wanton women by a magic ritual in order to delude mankind.. (13.40.3-10)"
CHINESE RELIGIOUS CONCEPTS AND WOMEN:
The Yin and the Yang is a concept quite familiar even in the west especially in merchandise. In their mythical theory of how the universe operates, Chinese philosophers invented the concept of the Yin and Yang. The universe they concluded is understood to be a balance of the Yin (evil or negative) and the Yang (good or positive).
When asked to further describe Yin (evil), the explanation comes:" The Yin is the negative
force in nature. It is seen in darkness, coolness, FEMALENESS, dampness, the earth, moon and the shadows. The Yang (good) is the positive force in nature. It is seen in lightness, warmness, MALENESS, dryness and the sun. (Hopfe 207)."
THE The Holy Quran AND WOMEN:
"And among God's signs is this: He created for you mates from amongst yourselves (males as mates for females and vice versa) that you might find tranquillity and peace in them. And he has put love and kindness among you. Herein surely are signs for those who reflect (The Holy Quran 30:21)."
Surprisingly egalitarian in its approach, the The Holy Quran doesn't agree with men being owners of women like the Bible, neither does it agree with women being created for or from men like the Bible nor does it say that women cannot teach or have authority over men. The The Holy Quran also dispels the common myth among religions in general that, a woman is evil by nature and has been created to deceive mankind. The purpose, says that The Holy Quran,
of mates is that tranquillity and peace emerges through the natural instinct of love and kindness among mates.
People who analyze the The Holy Quran however sometimes feel different about many of its verses which to them suggest that the The Holy Quran is in some way putting down women. These verses are a handful and given the nature of this chapter we can go in depth with them.
The verse in the The Holy Quran that causes trouble to most liberals and is misused by evangelical Christians is: "Men are the protectors (Qawamoon) of women, because God has given preference to some over others. and because men spend of their property on women. So good women are obedient, guarding even unnoticed that what Allah (God) has
asked them to guard. As for those from whom you fear rebellion in this (i.e guarding their chastity in your absence), i) talk to them, ii)leave them alone in their beds, iii)beat them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against them..(The Holy Quran 4:34)."
The verse in question is quite clear if we don't jump to hasty conclusions. Men have been given the duty to protect and support women. God has given preference to one gender over another in certain duties. Men have been given preference in being the providers of women and women are given preference in caring for a child. Even if divorce
separates a man from his wife, he has to seek her help in caring for the child or another female if the mother agrees (The Holy Quran 2:233). Men are told to spend of their property on women and not ask the woman for anything even if she happens to be rich.
Now to the controversial part. The verse asks women to guard even when unnoticed, that
which God has asked them to guard. If we have read the The Holy Quran carefully, we wont have trouble in determining that God specifically asks women and men to "guard" their chastity (The Holy Quran 24:30-31). To the women who cheat on their husbands, the The Holy Quran gives a three step, braking mechanism to hasty divorce or worse still capital punishment for adultery.
Step one, the husband should talk to the wife and try to resolve it. Usually, given human emotions step one would normally be shouting and cursing and maybe even hitting. Around one to two million women in the U.S are severally battered each year. One to two thousand of them die. Rather unfortunate and avoidable if a braking mechanism
exists for people exercising their emotions. Contrary to this, the The Holy Quran suggests that talk
be the first option.
Step 2, the The Holy Quran recommends that marital relations be temporarily stopped between the couple, if cheating persists even after a talk. This would give the woman further opportunity to consider if she'd rather separate from the man and provide for herself after divorce or if she'd rather stay in the current marriage.
Step 3, the The Holy Quran says beat them to stop it. If the woman doesn't want to end the current marriage and also doesn't want to put an end to her cheating episodes, the The Holy Quran suggests that the husband beat her, for her own benefit. This is very liberal. The woman on her own would be under financial hardship and so she wants to use the current marriage relationship. However she also doesn't want to quit cheating on her husband. People, men or women normally aren't so liberal so as to keep the marriage and accept that the other party remain cheating. Something has to be done to make the relationship compatible, after
both talking and temporarily halting marital relationship hasn't worked. However, in all sincerity, I can state confidently that step 3 will never arrive since both the man and the woman are free to end the relationship during the course of step 1 and step 2.
The The Holy Quran by making beating step 3 is actually controlling human emotions of hitting, which usually come before talking and reasoning. It makes it virtually impossible that a man going through 1 and 2 will resort to 3 also and not break the marriage before.
The The Holy Quran is concerned to the utmost about women's rights. Human society has usually
not given equal opportunity to women, even today in the west. The The Holy Quran wants to protect women in a harsh society and at the same time change men's "control-oriented" minds to one that is more reasonable. The method the The Holy Quran uses is more result oriented than dogmatic, where both parties are dealt with equitably and with justice.
This attitude of the The Holy Quran to protect women in an economically harsh environment is seen in many places throughout the book. For example, men married to women who then become guilty of lesbianism or bi-sexuality are told not to throw the women out of their homes but to keep them there till some way is found (The Holy Quran 24:3).
The The Holy Quran has given some duty preference to men over women and some to women over men. This was mentioned briefly before. However, this doesn't mean that the The Holy Quran forbids women from earning their livelihood if they have no man to support them. The Holy Quran 4:22 for example states that for men is what they earn and for women what they
earn and that both men and women should seek God's bounty collectively.
Around two hundred years back, women had no property rights in Europe. Islam has given them such since the start. Property rights in Islam, given the nature of the various relationships that men and women fit under, are surprisingly egalitarian. When a man marries a woman, he has to give a substantial part of his property (according to his means) to the woman as a "marriage gift (Mahar)," stated as a man's duty unto God (The Holy Quran 4:24).
A woman doesn't have to give anything to a man even if she is rich. It is for this reason primarily that the The Holy Quran asks that out of a parents property the son get twice that of the daughter (The Holy Quran 4:11). It is expected that the daughter would marry and get a man's property as marriage gift and not have to worry about providing for herself, as it's the man's duty to provide for her. The son on the other hand would Islamically be expected not only to provide for his potential wife but also give a major part of his property to her as
This however, is not discrimination among the genders. There are specific reasons why the son get twice that of the daughter. When the conditions are different, the The Holy Quran suggests that both male and female get the same amount. For example out of a son's wealth both the father (male) and the mother (female) get equal shares if the deceased had a son.
" O believers. When you contract a debt for a given fixed term, record it in writing...and call to witnesses from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not present then one man and two women of such as you approve as witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other admonishes her (The Holy Quran 2:82)."
This particular statement in the The Holy Quran has been abused by both faithful believers and attackers from all camps. It is presented by them in a generalized form with a concluding statement that Islam considers women's testimony to be half that of men.
The above verse does not talk about testimony in general but only presents one case basically involving financial transactions. It doesn't state any generalization of women's testimony being half that of men, or that two women will equal one man. If interpretation is sought, then a positive one would be that the The Holy Quran wants to protect women from being unfairly influenced or pressurized by men. As support for the woman another woman is
supplemented, so that if one errs the other reminds her.
Not to put down women in any way, but statistics show that women are more difficult as witnesses in courts of law and have been found more guilty of perjury than men. The The Holy Quran recognizes this difference in men and women, be it social or biological and corrects for it to support the woman from being manipulated. The end purpose is justice which shouldn't offend any reasonable person.
In different circumstances however, one woman's testimony is given more weight than one man's testimony in the The Holy Quran, as it can override it. This case would be when a man (husband) accuses a woman (his wife) of cheating in a relationship but has no witness except his own testimony, which is against her testimony (The Holy Quran 24:6-9).
We read above that the Bible recommends that women veil themselves or shave off their hair. Contrary to what Muslim practice has been for many centuries, the The Holy Quran doesn't ask women to cover themselves from head to toe.
The The Holy Quran suggests that both men and women dress modestly and guard their chastity. In the verse dealing with washing of the exposed parts, the The Holy Quran hints at what can be left exposed by both men and women (The Holy Quran 5:6): Face and head, arms up to the elbows, feet to the ankles. Other than this the The Holy Quran suggests that women put a covering on their chest (bosom) over the regular clothing they wear and not make a wanton display
of their beauty (The Holy Quran 24:30-31). This does not fit in any way the picture of a woman wearing a chadoor covered from head to toe. It would more closely resemble a picture of a woman wearing a shirt and pants which do not deliberately reveal her body, with a scarf over her chest (bosom).
The The Holy Quran by giving women a right to initiate divorce is truly revolutionary. The New Testament, in the supposed words of Jesus, makes divorce an offense similar to adultery, permissible only when the woman has cheated on the husband (Matthew 5:32). The Old Testament states that only a man can initiate divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1).
The The Holy Quran, contrary to that states: "...if you both fear that you wont be able to keep within the
boundaries of God in marriage, there is no harm if SHE ransom herself..." The ransom
would of course be the return of the initial property that the man gave her when she got married to him.
It is a common misconception that Islam offers a quick divorce. If the man says :"I divorce you," three times to the woman the marriage is nullified, according to popular rumor. This is not true. The The Holy Quran offers an elaborate braking system for divorce. A system which is so advanced for its time that it is now being suggested in England to stop careless "quick" divorce which creates a burden on both the adults and children in
The The Holy Quran's method of divorce is simple yet very functional. If mind is set on divorce, a divorce statement is written and pronounced in the presence of witnesses (The Holy Quran 65:2). Then there is a three month break in which both parties stay together as husband and wife, so that time be given to reconsider (The Holy Quran 2:228). After the three month period, if the man initiated the divorce, he can either take the wife back, if she wants to remain in the marriage, or part. If he takes her back he can initiate divorce only once more in his life with the same woman.
If he takes her back the second time, then he has lost his rights to initiate divorce in the same relationship ever again (The Holy Quran 2:229). A woman can buy-out her divorce by surrendering the property that was given her by the husband whenever she thinks the marriage wont work out. All through this process, the The Holy Quran suggest that help be sought
by arbitration (The Holy Quran 4:35), one person from the man's side and one from the woman's. Very modern concepts given the history of the The Holy Quran. Does it not surprise you that people referred to the followers of this book as barbarians?
Concerning divorce, since the man has been providing for the woman, regardless of who initiated the divorce proceedings, the The Holy Quran states : "..and for women are rights equal to the rights against them but men have a degree over them (in the context of divorce)in what is just (2:228)." It is very clear that this verse is stating that there can be no absolute equal laws when conditions on both sides differ. Giving equal laws under unequal
circumstances would be injustice. The The Holy Quran wants equality with justice.
THE The Holy Quran IS VERY RESPONSIVE TO THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN:
"And when you men have divorced women, ...then either retain them in kindness if you reconcile, or part with them in kindness. Do not retain them to harm them so that you
transgress limits. He who does this has wronged himself (The Holy Quran 2:231)."
"O believers! It is not lawful for you to inherit women against their will, nor that
you should put restrictions on them, that you might take what you had given them...
Consort with them in kindness, for if you hate them, it might happen that you hate
something in which God has put much good (The Holy Quran 4:19)."
"Women impure for men impure. And women of purity for men of purity. These
are not affected by what people say. For them is forgiveness and an honorable provision
(The Holy Quran 24:26)."
"...Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of God (among men and women and races
and nationalities) is the one most responsive to the truth (taqwa) (The Holy Quran 49:13)."
"And their Lord has heard them and says: 'I don't let the work of any worker be lost
be they male or female. You both proceed one from the other..(The Holy Quran 3:195)."
" Indeed, men who submit and women who submit, believing men and believing
women, and men who obey and women who obey, and truthful men and truthful women,
and men who persevere and women who persevere, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and men who remember God much and women who remember God much. God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (The Holy Quran 33:35)."
"And the believers men and women are friends one of the other, they enjoin what is
right and forbid what is wrong, and they establish worship and pay the poor due, and they obey God and his messenger. As for these, God will have mercy on them...
(The Holy Quran 9:71)."
Most people may not have any idea on what Islam is or what it stands for but they are all "experts" on the oppressed woman in Islam. After reading the contents of this chapter, it should be evident that:
1. Islam is the only religion that gives equal rights to everyone regardless of race or sex. There is no religious book, not even the constitution of the US, which states explicitly like the The Holy Quran, "And for women are rights equal to the rights against them in justice."
2. The The Holy Quran does not ask women to veil themselves completely from head to toe. Such may be Muslim practice in many parts of the world, but it is not sanctioned by the The Holy Quran. The The Holy Quran merely asks both men and women to dress modestly and not to flout their nakedness. On the other hand, the Bible which many claim western civilization was based on, demands that women wear the veil (1 Corinthians11:6) or risk being shaven.
3. Men and women are of equal human status in the The Holy Quran (The Holy Quran 3:195), however Christian doctrine on which the early American societies were based, had Biblical norms which hold that a woman is subordinate to a man (1 Corinthians 14:34) and are created for man (1 Timothy 2:11)
4. Islam based on the The Holy Quran which is very different to the Islam that Muslim masses believe in, gave women the right to property ownership and a voice in legal testimony centuries before such "revolutionary" ideas were even dreamed of by Europeans and their US counterparts.
5. The The Holy Quran prescribes polygamy only among the oppressed classes of women IF marriage can better their status in society and is just and equitable.
6. Within the text of the The Holy Quran the ignorant practice of female circumcision which many people believe is the norm in Islam, is not even mentioned. It is an innovation in Islam, not something that the The Holy Quran suggested or prescribed. It is not a part of Islam or the The Holy Quran.
7. Islam has never had a problem with women in authority. Even in modern days, Muslim lands have female heads of states. We have yet to see a woman president in the U.S.
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