Children and The Koran
Confounding Little Girls
33:53 O believers do not enter the houses of the Prophet, unless you are invited to a meal, without awaiting the hour; but if you are invited, then enter; but when you have eaten, disperse, without lingering for idle talk. That is vexing to the Prophet who might be wary of you, but Allah is not wary of the truth. If you ask them (the wives of the Prophet) for an object, ask them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and theirs. You should never hurt the Messenger of Allah, nor take his wives in marriage after him. That is truly abominable in the sight of Allah.
The Koran was revealed by a jealous middle-aged man who not only kept his wives out of sight—“If you ask them for an object, ask them from behind a curtain” —but would control their lives from beyond the grave. The niqab, the face-covering veil, is a believing woman’s portable blind and her way of keeping within God’s injunction to only have dealings with men other than her husband “from behind a curtain” when out in public.
For Muslim women, having sex with a man other than their husband is flirting with a gruesome death and spending an eternity on fire in the depths of Allah’s Hell. God’s warning to men about taking “his [Muhammad’s] wives in marriage after him,” some of whom were still teenagers when he died at the age of 63, meant the wives he left behind would never experience being intimate with a man again.
God’s spokesman had fourteen official wives. For twenty-three years he was married to one woman, Khadijah. After her death, Muhammad did not marry again until he was past fifty. His next wife was again a widow. He then married Aisha, the nine-year-old daughter of his good friend and close collaborator, Abu Bakr.
The barely nineteen-year-old Hafsa would become wife number four while Muhammad was fifty-four. Over the next nine years, God’s spokesman would marry again ten times, if you count the beautiful Rayhanah, a widow of Banu Qurayzah, the doomed Jewish tribe mentioned in the Foreword, whom Muhammad selected as part of his share of the booty. Virgil Gheorghiu, in La vie de Mahomet, 1962, writes that Rayhanah only agreed to become Muhammad’s concubine, considering it unseemly to accept his marriage proposal after he had just ordered the beheading of the men of her tribe, including her husband and her father.
After the battle of the Trench [Rayhanah was] marched into the courtyard with the several hundred other women and their children to be claimed as a reward by the Muslim soldiers, while the Qurayzah men were led away to be executed.
Tamam Kahn, Untold - A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad, Monkfish Book Publishing, 2010
All of Muhammad’s young wives were reputed to be women of exceptional beauty. His last wife was, depending on what you read, between thirty and thirty-nine years his junior; his second-to-last wife was forty-seven years younger. Then, of course, there were the slave girls he got as his reward but did not marry.
God admitted that His spokesperson had difficulty getting the younger females he had accumulated to behave like mature married women. Muhammad’s reputation was everything. These young women not only talked among themselves but also pranked the old man. He could not be seen to be unable to control his wives or for his private life to become public knowledge. Thank goodness God was watching when His spokesman divulged that he had eaten some honey to a teenaged acquisition who then betrayed his confidence by telling another not much older wife. Allah wasted no time in telling His cherished mouthpiece some of what he had seen and heard.
66:3 And when the Prophet confided to one of his wives a certain matter (his eating of honey); and she divulged it, and Allah disclosed it to him too, He made known part of it, but withheld the other part. Then, when he told her about it, she said: “Who told you this?” He said: “The All-Knowing, All-Informed told me.”
God suspected a conspiracy against His spokesperson. To nip the rebellion in the bud, He quickly sent down another revelation warning the two women of the formidable force allied against them: God himself, most of the believers and all the angels, including the mighty Gabriel, supported their husband.
66:4 If you two (the two wives of the Prophet) repent onto Allah, then your hearts will have certainly inclined; but if you band together against him, then Allah is his Master. Gabriel, the righteous among the believers and the angels thereupon are his supporters, too.
This had to be about more than one wife divulging to another that their husband-in-common had eaten some honey for Allah to put His prestige on the line, throwing in everything but the kitchen sink to force Aisha and Hafsa to keep quiet. Then came the really big threat: divorce. Should their husband decide on that course of action, God would give him, in exchange, better wives:
66:5 Perhaps, his Lord will, if he divorces you, give him in exchange wives better than you, submissive, believing, obedient, penitent, devout, fasting, either previously married or virgins.
Allah never tires of stating the obvious if you don’t abide by His instructions.
66:6 O believers, guard yourselves and your families against a Fire whose fuel is people and stones; its overseers are harsh, terrible angels who do not disobey what Allah commands, but will do what they are commanded.
It may not have been the risk of ending up on Allah’s barbecue that persuaded the girls to be more discreet, but rather the threat of divorce. Little girls are made aware from their first reading of the Koran, and in their prayers from that time onward, what Aisha and Hafsa already knew about divorce: it must be avoided at any cost. If that means submitting to whatever is demanded of them by the enforcers of God’s Decrees concerning them that is their husbands, so be it, otherwise risk destitution in this life and an even worse fate in the next.
Allah’s revealed truths pertaining to divorce are said to be an improvement over pre-Islamic laws and traditions. These must have been abysmal for God’s revelations pertaining to the split-up of legally married couples to be considered an improvement where women are concerned. A husband does not need a reason or permission to divorce any of his wives. He simply has to tell her, “I divorce you,” and wait until his soon-to-be ex-wife has experienced three menstrual cycles, then it’s over. For a woman, it is a little more complicated. She can, however, simplify the whole process and remain in God’s good books if she agrees to pay her husband a ransom.
2:229 Divorce may be pronounced twice. Then they (women) are to be retained in a rightful manner or released with kindness. And it is unlawful for you [men] to take back anything of what you have given them, unless both parties fear that they cannot comply with Allah’s Bounds (by obeying His commands). If you fear that they cannot do that, then it is no offence if the woman ransoms herself (pays money to be set free). Those are the bounds set by Allah. Do not transgress them. Those who transgress the bounds set by Allah are the wrongdoers.
Once being informed by her husband that they are no longer husband and wife, a divorced woman is expected to leave the family home after experiencing her third menstrual cycle. Her former husband can allow her to stay longer if he wishes, as long as it is not for ulterior motives, for example to obtain a larger ransom.
2:231 If you divorce [your] women and they reach the end of their [waiting] period, retain them in an honourable manner or release them in an honourable manner. Do not, however, retain them for the sake of causing them harm and in order to commit aggression (by forcing them to ransom themselves, or by retaining them for a longer period). Whoever does that shall do wrong to himself. Do not make a mockery of Allah’s Revelations; and remember the Grace Allah has bestowed upon you, and the Book (the Koran) and the wisdom He has revealed to you in order to admonish you. Fear Allah and know that He knows everything.
God recommends that divorced women be provided with an affordable provision. Don’t assume that this is like alimony; it is usually for no more than a year, and they may have to pay for this sustenance depending on your interpretation of “affordable provision.”
2:241 Divorce women should be provided with an affordable provision. This is incumbent on the righteous.
2:242 Thus Allah makes clear to you His Revelations, so that you may understand.
If you have never touched a lawfully wedded spouse, you can send her away on a moment’s notice as long as it is done in an honourable way.
33:49 O believers, if you marry believing women then divorce them, before touching them, you owe them no fixed term to reckon. So make provision for them and set them free in an honourable way.
Six of the fourteen revealed truths pertaining to divorce can be found in an aptly titled surah.
In the Name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful
65:1 O Prophet, if you divorce your women, divorce them when they have completed their menstrual period. Calculate the period and fear Allah your Lord. Do not drive them out of their homes, and let them not go out, unless they have committed a manifest foul act. Those are the bounds of Allah. He who transgresses the bounds of Allah has surely wronged himself. You do not know, Allah may perhaps bring about something new after that.
If the divorce leaves the divorcer inconvenienced in any way and he has followed Allah's instructions to the letter, God will right the situation. As to the divorcee, she is on her own, unless her former husband decides to keep her in some other capacity.
65:2 Then, when they have reached their term, retain them honourably or part with them honourably, calling two just witnesses from among yourselves. Administer the witnessing to Allah Himself. By that is exhorted whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day. He who fears Allah, He will grant him a way out;
65:3 And He will provide for him from sources he could never conceive. He who puts his trust in Allah, Allah will be sufficient unto him. Allah shall attain His goal. Allah has meted out a measure for everything.
How long should you retain a woman or a girl who is not menstruating, such as a child bride, or one who is pregnant?
65:4 As for those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, if you are in doubt, then their term shall be three months; and those too who have not menstruated yet. As to those women with child, their term shall be upon delivering their burden. He who fears Allah, Allah will grant him relief in his affair.
65:5 That is Allah’s Command, which He has sent down to you; and he who fears Allah, He will acquit him of his sins and amplify his reward.
A wife can be disposed of without further ado except in the case of a spouse pregnant with her soon-to-be ex-husband’s child. In this instance, her husband has the option of paying her a wage to suckle his newborn or finding someone else if they can’t come to an agreement.
65:6 Put them up where you are lodged, according to your means, and do not badger them so as to make life difficult for them. If they are with child, support them until they deliver their burden; and if they suckle for you, then pay them their wages. Confer with each other honourably; but if you are at odds, let another woman suckle him.
God is unclear, apart from that ransom thing, as to how a believing woman can get a divorce if she doesn’t have the money to buy her freedom and her husband won’t let her go, unless there is something in it for him.
A husband’s wealth remains largely unchanged after a divorce, especially if he gets to keep all or part of the dowry as part of the ransom, the wife’s only means of support after she has been sent packing.
Little girls learning God’s rules regarding their easy disposal if their future husband is unhappy with them will be reminded about what Allah said about their deficiencies in mind and body, e.g., bad memory, menstruation. As if this wasn’t demeaning enough leave it to a god, who chose a merchant as his ultimate spokesman, to quantify their shortcomings in our equivalent of dollars and cents.
Dad Dies – Who Gets What!
Which came first: the divine instructions that led to the seclusion of believing women or those that made it easier for men to accumulate wealth at the expense of believing women? An argument could be made that the first made the second inevitable.
The severe dress code, the denial of an education at least equal to a man’s, and the restrictions placed on women’s freedom of movement in traditional Islamic communities make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for women to work in well-remunerated jobs outside the home. Also, most of the wealth that a female may accumulate, over which her husband or male guardian has almost complete control, must under Allah’s inheritance and property laws, sooner or later—usually sooner—end up in the pockets of her husband, her husband’s brothers, her husband’s parents and her male offspring. The net result is to make women almost totally subservient and beholden to the men who have the means of providing them with everything from the basic necessities of life to simple luxuries.
The following is a revelation pertaining to the disposition of a recently deceased father’s property, the infamous two-for-one verse where God decrees that a sister is only entitled to half the share of a brother.
4:11 Allah commands you, with respect to your children, that the male shall inherit the equivalent of the share of two females. If there be more than two females, then they should receive two-thirds of what he (the deceased father) leaves; but if there is only one female, she is entitled to one-half. To each of his parents, one-sixth of what he leaves, if he has any children; but if he has no children, then his parents will inherit him, the mother receiving one third. But if he has any brothers, then his mother receives one-sixth, after any will he had made or any debt he had incurred [is taken care of]…
The verse ends with God acknowledging that it is difficult to choose who is the better investment, fathers or sons (daughters and mothers are not mentioned) when it comes to the proceeds of an inheritance, and finishes with the usual praise for the rule maker.
4:11 Your fathers and sons – you know not who of them is of greater advantage to you. This is a law from Allah; Allah surely is All-Knowing, Forbearing.
Lest they missed it the first time, God reminds the believers of His two-for-one rule in His instructions on the disposition of an inheritance when the only beneficiaries are brothers and sisters of the deceased.
4:176 [If] they consult you, say: “Allah enjoins you regarding him who dies leaving neither children nor parents. If he leaves a sister; she is entitled to half of what he leaves behind; and he inherits her if she has no children. If he leaves two sisters, they are entitled to two-thirds of what he leaves behind; but if they are brothers and sisters the male will have the equivalent of the share of two females. Allah makes it clear to you lest you go astray. Allah has full knowledge of everything!”
What about the family home? From my reading of the following revelation, the former wives of the dearly departed are allowed to stay in the family home for up to a year before the relatives of the deceased husband move in and they have to move out.
2:240 Those of you who die leaving wives behind should bequeath to them a year’s provision without turning [them] out (from their homes). If however, they leave [their homes], then you (the relatives of the dead) incur no offence for what they do in a rightful way to themselves. Allah is Mighty, Wise.
Little girls will be told that the reason little boys get a bigger share is because God compels them, when they grow up, to spend some of that money looking after them.
4:34 Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made some of them excel the others, and because they spend some of their wealth. Hence righteous women are obedient, guarding the unseen which Allah has guarded. And those of them that you fear might rebel, admonish them and abandon them in their beds and beat them. Should they obey you, do not seek a way of harming them; for Allah is Sublime and Great!
A Vicious Circle
It really is a clever set-up worthy of a god. Making women dependent and beholden to the very men who, on the basis of divine decrees— whether they be about what a woman is entitled to as a result of a divorce or the death of a parent—have legally deprived them of their rightful property, which would have given them the freedom to make their own choices on how they wished to live their lives.
Little girls repeating Allah’s instructions pertaining to divorce and wills as part of their initiation into the Faith are too young to appreciate the inherent injustice. Further, if their indoctrination is thorough and sustained into adulthood, they will never question why a woman, under a system that has made her dependent on men for her wellbeing, is denied her fair share because she is dependent on men for her wellbeing. Of course, if she dares express misgivings, she knows from her reading of the Koran that the Fire will be waiting.
4:13 These are the Ordinances from Allah, and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, He will admit into Gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein forever. That is the great victory!
4:14 But whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and transgresses His bounds, He will admit into the Fire, wherein he shall abide forever, and his will be a demeaning punishment.