Women and the Koran
Women and What It Means To Be Civilized
Women of Islam
The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilization. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between rationality and barbarity. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on one hand and the violation of these rights on the other. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings …
Wafa Sultan, outspoken Syrian-American woman during a debate broadcast on Al-jazeera.
Males are using women’s ignorance of the Koran against them. This has to change starting with women because it is believing women who transmit this misogynous male interpretation of the Koran from generation to generation.
Asma Lamrabet, hematologist, author and Muslim activist during an interview on Radio-Canada (my translation).
If women are being treated less then equitably in societies and households around the world which accept the Koran as God’s words and the Prophet as their guide, which of the two sexes is most responsible for the propagation of values that, according to Wafa Sultan, reduce women to the equivalent of a beast of burden?
Perhaps, not surprisingly, it is women, with women like Wafa Sultan and Asma Lamrabet being the exception.
The biggest obstacle for Muslim women to bettering their lot in life has not been men but other women. It is mostly opposition from their own sex that has made the struggle for equality with Muslim men so difficult.
This opposition takes two forms. In the West it is Muslim women who act as apologists for Allah and His Messenger's low opinion of their sex. In societies dominated by the Koran, it is the mothers. It is mainly mothers who are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that Muslim women remain inferior and are accepting of this inferior status that makes them completely dependent on the men who “own” them; men to whom the Koran grants dictatorial powers over every facet of their lives including their sex life.
In traditional Islamic societies it is the mother who is responsible for the upbringing of sons until they reach the age of seven or so, and daughters until they have reached puberty.
As explained by Bernard Lewis in his book What Went Wrong, published just after the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York; “… it is these downtrodden, mainly illiterate mothers that are entrusted with the crucial early years of the upbringing of the other half.”
The traditions of Islam that condemn believing women to a subservient mostly miserable existence – apart from the clerics and teachers who drill the content of the Koran into a child’s mind – are largely sustained and transmitted, from generation to generation, by other women.
Not only are mothers largely responsible for Muslim men’s superior, condescending attitude towards women, they are also responsible for raising their daughters into accepting their inferior almost slave-like status as being the natural order of things. Like other neat little god-made constructs of Islam, it is to be admired if only for the ingenuous way Allah and His Messenger manoeuvre Muslim women into being an enemy of their sex.
While the poor, “downtrodden, mainly illiterate mothers” found in societies where the Koran rules may be excused for their role in ensuring that their daughters will always be inferior to men, what is the excuse of Muslim women in the West who know better, or who should know better?
Whether they do so out of conviction, or have been pressed into service by their father, husband or brother, it is women in the West in general, and in Canada in particular, who have become spokespersons for the voice and face of so-called moderate, modern Islam. A modern view that still maintains that the Koran is the literal Word of God, and that Allah’s and His Messenger’s questionable views on everything from women to murdering those who would leave the faith, are beyond reproach. The latest manifestation of this self-defeating phenomenon in Canada was during the so-called “cartoon protest.”
It was mainly Muslim women, acting as spokespersons for the Canadian Islamic community, who appeared on television, with stern Muslim men looking on, and demanded that those who dared to publish mostly innocent caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad be prosecuted.
It is women such as these who perpetuate the myth of the Prophet’s infallibility; conferring god-like immunity to an extraordinary, but still fallible human being.
This newfound public role for Muslim women in the West is in sharp contrast to the other public affirmation of Koranic values; the now regular television broadcast. You will not find many women here. Only in extraordinary circumstances are women allowed to preach to the faithful, for example, the audience is exclusively female and a male cannot be found.
Muslim women in the West who simply parrot Allah’s and His Messenger's male-centered, misogynous point of view, have abrogated their responsibility to elevate the debate in favour of equality for their sex. They are selling out their sisters in Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia … by promoting in a society that considers them equal, a prejudiced view of women that, if widely accepted, would reduce their status to that of their sisters living in obscurity in male-dominated societies where the Koran is supreme.
It is also believing women who are largely responsible, not only for the intellectual but physical mutilation of their daughters. The intellectual mutilation begins with the force-feeding of the Koran and Allah's prejudiced opinion that males are superior and more valuable than females. This cerebral mutilation is done mainly to please their god, the physical mutilation out of fear of displeasing the men in their family, their clan or their tribe, who, like Allah and His Messenger are obsessed with virgins.
It is mainly the mother’s responsibility to ensure that her daughters remain virgins until their father can arrange an advantageous marriage to a cousin or another relative. For a daughter to lose her virginity before marriage is to bring disgrace and dishonour to the entire family and reducing her net worth to next to nothing.
The fear of disgracing their families drives many mothers in traditional Islamic societies, mainly in Africa where the practice originated, to have their daughters undergo a procedure called female circumcision. Unlike male circumcision, female circumcision is much more brutal and is not done out of mostly hygienic considerations as it is for males. As explained by Ayaan Hirsi Ali whose grand-mother arranged for her to suffer the procedure.
…Islam demands that your enter marriage as a virgin. The virgin dogma is safeguarded by locking girls up in their homes and sewing their outer labia together. Female circumcision serves two purposes; the clitoris is removed in order to reduce the woman’s sexuality, and the labia are sewn up in order to guarantee her virginity.
Hirsi Ali, The Caged Virgin, p.76.