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Sunday 23 July 2017

Opinion

Islam And Women - A Historical Perspective

Paul Zanetti Sunday 19 February 2017



(cartoon: Bill Leak)


There’s been a lot of open discussion this week about Islam being ‘the most feminist of all religions’, according to the taxpayer funded Islamic activist, Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

To understand Islam and its treatment of women, one needs only to source the founder of the faith.

Mohammed, the self-proclaimed prophet of Allah, was a charismatic individual, born in 570AD in the Middle East town of Mecca, to the nobility known as the Quraysh.

One of the gods of the Quraysh was Allah, believed by many to be the moon god, (Allah is also the Islamic god, which explains the crescent moon at the top of mosques, and branded on Islamic flags)

Religion was the predominant business for the multi-cultural, tolerant and multi-religious society of the Quraysh. There were various Pagan religions, including Idol worship and ancestor worship and even a few Christians and Jews.

New religions were not only tolerated but welcomed. Religion was a business model. The more religions in Mecca, the better. A sort of religious ‘auto-alley’. The town’s leaders encouraged outsiders to come to Mecca to pray and pay.

Mohammed’s father died before he was born, and his mother died when he was five. He was then raised by his grandfather. When his grandfather died, Mohammed was looked after by a kindly, protective uncle, Abu Talib, a powerful member of the Quraysh.

Trading with other tribes was another source of revenue for the economy of Mecca.

As a young man, Mohammed was hired by a wealthy widow, Khadija, who traded with the largely Christian Syria. Mohammed’s job was to manage the caravans and to do deals with the Syrians. Mohammed was an excellent and confident deal maker, making a lot of money for Khadija, who he married and with whom he had four daughters and two sons.

When he was around forty, it seemed that Mohammed had decided trading was not the future he wanted for himself. There was more money and power in religion. The wealthiest and most powerful leaders were those who ran the religions. 

Mohammed began to take long retreats to consider his future life. 

These retreats included praying and performing religious practices of the Quraysh. One day he returned to Mecca to claim he had been visited by the Angel Gabriel, who had shown him Scriptures, telling Mohammed to recite these Scriptures to his followers.

It is these teachings which formed the very first texts of the early Quran.

Mohammed’s first convert to his new religion of Islam (meaning ‘submission’) was his supportive wife, Khadija, followed by his adopted son and other family members.

Periodically, as he preached, he gained more followers outside his family. The more he preached, the more followers he attracted. The more followers he gained, the more confident he became.

His new religion was openly welcomed by the tolerant town leaders, not least because Islam was influenced by, and rooted in, Christianity and Judaism, the Abrahamic religions (for example, halal food is a plagiarised adoption of kosher food and Muslims originally prayed towards Jerusalem).

The problem for Mohammed’s new religion was that as a business model (which is essentially what any organised religion is), it wasn’t sufficiently distinguishable from the already-established Abrahamic religions.

Imagine today if a new cola company came along to challenge Coke and Pepsi. You might look at the ads, even taste it, but if it is basically not distinctly different from the incumbents in the market, the new product is unlikely to gain any traction - or converts.

Marketing professionals will advise the development of 'product differentiation’, or to create a ‘value proposition’ - a catchy tagline or slogan that instantly conveys a new message.

E.g. Coca Cola; ’The Real Thing’ and ‘Open Happiness’’. 

Pepsi: ‘Come Alive’. ’The Pepsi Generation’. ‘Taste the Difference’.

Nike; ‘Just do it’.

Apple, ‘Think Different’.

McDonald’s, ‘You Deserve A Break Today’. ‘I’m lovin’ it’.

Hungry Jacks, ‘The Burgers Are Better At Hungry Jacks’.

Mohammed was a charismatic preacher, but not strong (yet) on the marketing side. 

At first, he taught forgiveness and tolerance, similar to the established religions. This lack of differentiation was a frustrating problem. So he became more forceful, proclaiming his religion as the only true religion, and himself as the final prophet of Allah.

But he went a few steps further in this religiously tolerant town.

He insulted the Christians by stating that Jesus was not the son of God, but a Muslim prophet. To add insult, he claimed the ancestors of all the other religions were all burning in hell because they were not Muslim, going so far as to tell the other religious leaders that they, too, would burn in hell as Islam was the only true religion.

His growing confidence, aggression and religious intolerance put out the noses of the local leaders.

Attempts to pacify and mediate with Mohammed proved unsuccessful, so the leaders hatched a plot to kill him to restore harmony in the community.

Mohammed heard about the plot and escaped to Medina with around 150 followers, thirteen years after he founded Islam. 

Medina was a town made up of five tribes - three Jewish and two Arab. There was often conflict between the Jews and Arabs. The new outsider with a considerable following was thought of as an independent arbiter. Mohammed was appointed the religious mediator.

This powerful position allowed him to leverage his status, establish his own Sharia law (which discriminated between Muslims and non-Muslims), consolidate his power, build a mosque, grow his number of wives, and to divide the word into two - the Land of Islam (Dar al Islam) which is the ‘Ummah’, or community of Muslims, and the Land of War (Dar al Harb) the unconquered non-Muslim areas. 

The Dar al Harb was to be in a permanent state of conquest either by war (jihad) or by any subversive means (today we see a modern example via the recent invention of Halal Certification on most of our food which raises money for Islamic food certifiers which then is funnelled to Islamic ‘charities’ and Islamic causes, such as schools, mosques and indirectly to proscribed terrorist organisations - confirmed by government agencies and independent media reports). 

As his power grew Mohammed decided to wipe out the competing businesses (religions). Five years after being welcomed as a refugee into Medina, Mohammed effectively wiped out the Jews, a prescribed mission to all Muslims to this day.

Medina became a base and a launching pad for the growing Islamic army. They raided surrounding towns, robbing their treasuries, killing and beheading males. Women were commonly taken for sex slaves as the spoils of victory while establishing Islam through force of the sword. This was quite the opposite of the tolerance, love, peace and forgiveness taught by the founder of Christianity.

It is this singular adoption of force of violence (jihad) that has worked its way through Africa, Europe in the Middle Ages until Islam's defeat from a defensive Christian army from Rome, but relentlessly continues to drive Christianity out of the Middle East today, has taken root in Africa and is now making its way again through Europe via Islam inspired terrorist attacks, with the assistance of Germany's Angela Merkel. Other western countries are also in Islam's cross hairs in the quest to establish a global Islamic caliphate.

Mohammed had found his ‘value proposition’ and ‘point of differentiation’ with other religions. Islam’s war, jihad, bigotry, terror, sex slaves, beheadings and intolerance were a superior force for growth over the competing Christian teachings of peace, love, forgiveness and tolerance. 

Muslims were taught to never take Christians and Jews (‘People of the Book’) as friends.

Much of the success of Islam relied on the element of surprise on unsuspecting tribes and towns, using the power of jihadists who were promised untold rewards and riches if they died and killed for Allah.

Muslims who did not take up the command to kill and die for Allah would be shunned by the Islamic god. Those who did not adhere to the strict commands of Allah as conveyed by Mohammed were ‘apostates’ to be killed and to forever burn in hell.

Mohammed’s brilliance was in his opportunistic exploitation of man’s fear, greed and lust.

To obey him, was to obey Allah (for great rewards).

By obeying him, great riches were ensured in the afterlife - wealth and sex (a paradise with more pleasures than any Muslim could imagine in this worthless earthly life). This world meant nothing, except to submit to Allah. 

Mohammed devised a perfect system to manipulate weaker, uneducated men to kill and to die for him (jihad) by infusing religion into political and military conquest, ensuring his own meteoric rise to untold wealth and power, until he became the King of all Arabia. 

Non-Muslim women were taken as sex slaves, for the pleasures of Muslim men, as their rewards for success in battle. Sex slaves could also be traded.

Every vice in Christianity was permissible if it benefitted Muslim men, and therefore Islam.

To terrorise, kill and torture are not just acceptable in Islam, but commanded as religious obligations for Allah. 

Women in Islam were, and still are, subservient to men.

Mohammed married Aisha at age 6 and consummated the marriage at age 9. This is well documented by Islamic scholars.

To understand the prescribed dominance of males over women in Islam, it’s essential to view the motives of the founder of Islam, a warlord keenly observant of any perceived threat to his own personal ambition for power and wealth.

Mohammed used religion to exercise his will over all his followers and enemies. Women were considered a threat to his end goal.

History showed that rifts amongst men were caused by jealousy over women. It was critical to Mohammed’s success for the containment of any power, sexual or other, that women may have over men. This meant disempowering women, including their sexual allure.  

Helen of Troy and Cleopatra were two of history’s women who caused divisions, rifts and war, and eventually defeat of men, due to their beauty and power. 

It is this combination of beauty and power that Mohammed needed to dismantle. Women had to be kept covered, placed behind a veil. His fighters had to be kept untempted and undistracted.

Mohammed's business model also needed growth.

To achieve this he used women to breed more followers. Women were (and still are) used as  breeding machines to produce new consumers of his religion.

Fecundity (producing an abundance of offspring) is therefore encouraged. The role of Muslim women as incubators is to outgrow non-Muslim communities through higher birth rates.

Allah’s law was devised to keep women weak; dependent on Muslim men. This was but one part of Mohammed’s supremely brilliant business model, which ensured him his eventual success.

Devout Muslim males who emulate Mohammed, still embrace these practices of power over women.

Mohammed kept women in their place by ridiculing them, as ‘lacking in intelligence’.

From Islamic teachings

Sahih Bukhari

Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301

While on his way to pray, Mohammed passed a group of women and he said, “ladies, give to charities and donate money to the unfortunate, because I have witnessed that most of the people in hell are women."

They asked, “Why is that?” He answered, “You swear too much, and you show no gratitude to your husbands. I have never come across anyone more lacking in intelligence, or ignorant of their religion than women. A careful and intelligent man could be misled by many of you.”

They responded, “What exactly are we lacking in intelligence or faith?”

Mohammed said, “Is it not true that the testimony of one man is the equal to the testimony of two women?”

After they affirmed that this was true, Mohammed said, “That illustrates that women are lacking in intelligence. Is it not also true that women may not pray nor fast during their menstrual cycle?”

They said that this was also true. Mohammed then said, “That illustrates that women are lacking in their religion.”

There is no question that Mohammed had a very low opinion of women. By today’s Western standards, we would describe his view of women as ‘misogynistic’.

Muslim men are commanded to follow the example of Mohammed.

According to Sharia Law:

Husbands may beat their wives for disobedience.

(Quran 4:34) “Men are in charge of women by right of what Allah has given one over the other. So righteous women are devoutly obedient. But those wives from whom you fear arrogance - first advise them; then if they persist, forsake them in bed; and finally, strike them”.

A woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man in court.

(Quran 2:282) “And bring to witness two witnesses from among your men. And if there are not two men available, then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses.”

A woman inherits half as much as a man.

(Quran 4.11, 4.12) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females”

A woman may not refuse sexual access to her husband unless she is medically incapable or menstruating.

(Quran 2:223) “Your women are a tillage for you; so come unto your tillage as you wish”

Women have less right to child custody in a divorce. (Musnad Ahmad, Sunan Abî Dâwûd, and Mustadrak al-Hâkim)

Men may marry multiple women without being obliged to inform either the new bride, or his existing wives.

(Quran 4:3) "With respect to marrying widows, if you are afraid of not being able to maintain justice with her children, marry another woman of your choice or two or three or four (who have no children)."

The fourth Caliph Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law and cousin, said just a few years after the death of Mohammed,

"The entire woman is an evil. And what is worse is that it is a necessary evil."

One of the Islamic world’s most authoritative commentaries on the teachings of the Quran Tafsir al-Qurtubi (Vol. 17, p. 172), states,

“Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden.”

Prominent Islamic scholar, al-Ghazali, who has been called 'the greatest Muslim after Muhammed,' 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 neighbours 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."

But according to the Islamic activist, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Sharia law is only about ‘praying 5 times a day’ and Islam is ‘the most feminist religion’.

If online comments are any guide, Abdel-Mageid is now widely perceived as a lampoonable fool, a clown, figure of fun, but more seriously, by creating a false narrative of fake Islamic news, has damaged the rights of females of Islam who need a better advocate.

Recommended reading: The Story of Mohammed – Islam Unveiled by Harry Richardson: https://www.amazon.com.au/Story-Mohammed-Islam-Unveiled-ebook/dp/B00H91HMPY