Muhammad and Women

Tonight, I sat down to brainstorm on my next blog post, when the thought occurred to me that I hadn’t yet covered the history of Muhammad and his impact on women’s rights. A quick Google search yielded just the result I needed.

According to PBS.org and their article entitled “Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet”, Muhammad did much to improve the lives of women and girls. I’ll grant, he did end the practice of female infanticide, but that’s really about it.

During his ministry, he taught that the testimony of a woman was worth half that of a man because they’re unreliable, that women could only inherit half of what their male relatives could because the men must spend money to support them, that women are stupid and immoral and that women would make up the majority of people inhabiting Hell.

Among his teachings can be found “revelations” that encouraged polygamy, domestic violence, the rape of captives and slaves, pedophilia, spousal dishonesty, adultery, prostitution and a religiously inspired form of hatred for women never before seen. It was so bad, Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha, said, “I have never seen any women suffer as much as the believing women.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 5825)

Overall, I found the article well-written, though full of the usual Taqiyya-laced language that one sees among those who still believe the lies about Muhammad. I suppose I should be thankful that they didn’t stop with that one article; there are linked articles relating to violence and Jihad, other religions, America, the Jews of Medina and even the Qur’an.

My intent is to address each article in its own separate post. I want to give each one the attention it deserves, while avoiding the subjection of my readers to a 3,000 page treatise. You’re all welcome.

Female Infanticide

This will likely be the only point where I will ever have anything positive to say about Muhammad. The assertion that he outlawed the practice of female infanticide is absolutely true.

The Arab world Muhammad was born into was one that wasn’t very kind to females, especially babies. It was common practice, especially in times of struggle, to simply kill a girl child by burying her alive.

Qur’an 81:8-9 says, “And when the girl (who was) buried alive is asked for what sin she was killed.” This was very important because it wasn’t unheard of for baby girls to be killed right after birth. Muhammad not only put a stop to that, he forbade all infanticide. (Qur’an 6:151)

Dr. Zakir Naik, a well-known Muslim apologist, mentions in his article, “Islam and Female Infanticide” that “Islam prohibits infanticide or killing of female infants. This is considered a serious crime of murder.” The article in question is actually a condemnation of the still ongoing practice that can be found in India, in which people are choosing abortion, to avoid having girls. He’s speaking out against it, and I wish him luck in that endeavor.

The Testimony of a Woman

“…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- so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her…” -Qur’an 2:282

Imagine being in a situation where you’re asked to stand up in court, but your words only bear half the weight of others, because you’re already assumed to be mentally deficient. That’s the basic thrust of that verse, as no one thinks to consider the idea that men could ever be mistaken.

According to Muhammad, a woman’s testimony is worth half because women are mentally deficient. (Sahih al-Bukhari 2658) In other words, he firmly believed women were just too stupid to be considered reliable. I suppose he would later get to spend some time mulling over that position, as he slowly died from poison given him by a Jewish woman.

Women’s Inheritance Rights

To be sure, women are declared to be equal to men before Allah, but that’s on the Day of Resurrection. Here, in this plane of existence, that’s far from the case. “Allah commands you as regards to your children’s (inheritance); to the male, a portion equal to that of two females.” -Qur’an 4:11

In other words, women are only allowed to inherit half of what’s given their male relatives. To illustrate, imagine that a wealthy man is lying on his deathbed. Upon his death, the land he owns will be divided between between his children.

Now, we’ll go with the hypothetical amount of 500 acres of land to be divided up between 4 sons and a daughter. At best, the daughter gains ownership of 50 acres, while her brothers gain ownership of 100 acres apiece. Presumably the remaining 50 acres will go to their mother(s).

In that situation, each male child walks away with twice as much as his mother or sister. Does that in any way seem equitable? It doesn’t to me, either.

Immorality and Stupidity

According to Islamic sources, Muhammad made clear that women are both immoral and stupid. He tells a group of women that they need to make extra effort to gain forgiveness from Allah, because he had a vision in which most of the inhabitants of Hell were women. (Sahih abu Muslim 142, Sahih al-Bukhari 1052) His reasoning? Because women lack common sense and are unable to complete prayers and fasting while on their menses.

Islam and Polygamy

According Qur’an 4:3, a Muslim man is permitted to marry up to four women. (Of course, he had a special dispensation that allowed him as many wives as he wanted, but I’ll be covering that in a separate post regarding the plethora of convenient revelations of Muhammad.)

The stipulation is that he must be able to support them equally, and treat them fairly, though one is left to wonder by which measure they define the term “fairly”, given that the Qur’an not only condones domestic violence, but actually prescribes it.

Domestic Violence

As I mentioned, Muhammad’s favorite wife, Aisha, said, “I have never seen any women suffer as much as the believing women.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 5825) This becomes much more significant when you consider her place in the scheme of things.

One of the names that Aisha bint Abu Bakr is known by is, “The Mother of the Believers”. As such, it’s clear she wasn’t a bit player in Islam. She was the favorite of all of Muhammad’s 11 wives. She was so important that he once said that his revelations came most often while he was with her. (More on that in another post)

Speaking of his revelations, Qur’an 4:34 says, “…But those wives from whom you fear arrogance- first advise them; then if they persist, forsake them in bed; and finally strike them…”

Basically, this verse states that it’s perfectly acceptable for a husband to beat his wife, if he even thinks she’s going to step out of line.

Going further, in Sahih abu Muslim #2127, Aisha narrates that Muhammad hit her in the chest once, because she had followed him one night. In Sahih abu Muslim 3506, Muhammad allowed two of his companions (Abu Bakr and Umar) to hit two of his wives (Aisha and Hafsa). He allowed this because his wives were asking for money. In Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 8, #828, Aisha is narrating an incident in which Abu Bakr (her father) actually punches her.

In Ibn Ishaq’s “Sirat Rasulallah”, Muhammad is quoted as saying, “You have rights over your wives, and they have rights over you. You have the right that they should not defile your bed and that they should not behave with open unseemliness. If they do, Allah allows you to put them in separate rooms and to beat them, but not with severity. If they refrain from these things and obey you, they have right to their food and clothing with kindness. Lay injunctions on women kindly, for they are your wards having no control of their persons.” The truly hilarious part is that the article I’m reviewing actually quotes the first line of this speech, but conveniently ignores the rest of it, in an effort to push the idea that Muhammad was a paragon of feminism.

In that speech, Muhammad is saying that a man has a right to a faithful, respectable and obedient wife; a woman fitting that description has a right to food, clothing and to not be beaten. He’s also saying that women are unable to make decisions about themselves, so the men have the right to control them. You know, this sounds an awful lot like an abusive relationship, doesn’t it?

The Rape of Captives and Slaves

“Also forbidden are women already married, except those captives and slaves whom your right hands already possess.” -Qur’an 4:24

Now, some of you might recognize this verse from my previous posts. For those who don’t,  I’ll explain.

The context for this verse can be found in Sunan abu Dawud 2150, in which Muhammad’s followers were reluctant to rape some of their female captives, because their pagan husbands had survived the battle.

When questioned about it, Muhammad revealed verse 4:24, basically stating that Allah doesn’t recognize their marriages, so they were permitted to do as they wished with them.

Pedophilia 

According to the article, Aisha was six years old when she was betrothed to Muhammad. The article then seeks to minimize the horror of a six year old engaged to be married to a man who was more than 50 years old, by claiming that Muhammad waited until she had entered puberty, before consummating the marriage, as if that would somehow make it better.

Sadly, the truth, as narrated by Aisha herself, is far worse. On the day he chose to consummate, she was merely nine years old, and playing with her dolls. It was her mother who came to take her to her “husband”. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58,Number 234) I don’t know about you,  but I’d rather die than hand one of my little girls off like that.

There’s so much more ground to cover, that it’s apparent I’ll need to write a Part II. Stay tuned, folks.

 

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