Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Riffat Hassan on Women in the Quran and Women in Muslim Societies

So, as I must've mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I love, love, LOVE Riffat Hassan's views on Islam, Muslims, and women. I've a tonnn of questions to ask her, and I wish she'd reply to my congratulatory e-mail already (yeah, I told her how much I admire her and how HAPPY I am that we have Muslim women like her existing), but those will wait until I get a better hold of her, ka khairee.

In the mean time, lemme just share an excerpt from one of her writings I found online. It's from "Are Human Rights Compatible with Islam?" and cover women's rights as well (of course :D). She said it all so well that I don't need to revise it or put it in my own words. I'll paste here only certain parts of the essay, though, the parts that, in this blog post, start with ** and end with **. Interested individuals should visit the link provided to read the rest.

Note: I'm particularly interested in women's rights, under Islam, in terms of divorce and child custody. Consider what Dr. Riffat has to say about these two.

Pasting from the link

** Muslim men never tire of repeating that Islam has given more rights to women than has any other religion. Certainly, if by "Islam" is meant "Qur'anic Islam" the rights that it has given to women are, indeed, impressive....**

I LOVE this part:

**[T]he Qur'an[,] because of its protective attitude toward all downtrodden and oppressed classes of people, appears to be weighted in many ways in favor of women, many of its women-related teachings have been used in patriarchal Muslim societies against, rather than for, women. Muslim societies, in general, appear to be far more concerned with trying to control women's bodies and sexuality than with their human rights. Many Muslims when they speak of human rights, either do not speak of women's rights at all,[52] or are mainly concerned with how a women's chastity may be protected[53]. (They are apparently not worried about protecting men's chastity). **

Then she gives examples of Muslim women's oppression and discrimination in Muslim societies. (I did NOT know that "one of the most common crimes in a number of Muslim countries (e.g., in Pakistan) is the murder of women by their husbands."!!!)

**Even though so much Qur'anic legislation is aimed at protecting the rights of women in the context of marriage[54] women cannot claim equality with their husbands. The husband, in fact, is regarded as his wife's gateway to heaven or hell and the arbiter of her final destiny. That such an idea can exist within the framework of Islam - which, in theory, rejects the idea of there being any intermediary between a believer and God - represents both a profound irony and a great tragedy.**

On Divorce:

**Although the Qur'an presents the idea of what we today call a "no-fault" divorce and does not make any adverse judgements about divorce [55], Muslim societies have made divorce extremely difficult for women, both legally and through social penalties. **

See, I always wondered why the hell it is that we have this pathetic form of divorce called "triple divorce" (you know, the god-husband/husband-god goes, "Talaq, talaq, talaq" and the woman is divorced). Gosh. Only to finally discover that it was during the reign of Umar did it become acceptable. This was a common practice in pre-Islamic Arabia, and it's pitiful that just because Umar legalized it during his reign (and hence afterwards), it became an "Islamic" thing! Talk about Arab influence on the entire Muslim world.

On Child Custody:

**Although the Qur'an states clearly that the divorced parents of a minor child must decide by mutual consultation how the child is to be raised and that they must not use the child to hurt or exploit each other[56], in most Muslim societies, women are deprived both of their sons (generally at age 7) and their daughters (generally at age 12). It is difficult to imagine an act of greater cruelty than depriving a mother of her children simply because she is divorced.**

Unfortunately, though, that's what our Four Sunni scholars tell us to do during divorce. (I'll explain this in detail in another post, ka khairee, no worries. I've a lot to say on the subject.)

On Polygamy:

**Although polygamy was intended by the Qur'an to be for the protection of orphans and widows[57], in practice Muslims have made it the Sword of Damocles which keeps women under constant threat.**

YESSS!!! I long to write on polygamy in the Quran (I've found some seriously shocking things that our classical scholars have said about polygamy ... and a constant reading of the verse on polygamy has also made me realize something that I absolutely long to share in a blog entry some time, but heck, if I could only find some time to do that!

On Niqab/Hijab/Modesty (my personal favorite ... k, one of them):

**Although the purpose of the Qur'anic legislation dealing with women's dress and conduct[58], was to make it safe for women to go about their daily business (since they have the right to engage in gainful activity as witnessed by Surah 4: An-Nisa' :32 without fear of sexual harassment or molestation, Muslim societies have put many of them behind veils and shrouds and locked doors on the pretext of protecting their chastity, forgetting that according to the Qur'an[59], confinement to their homes was not a normal way of life for chaste women but a punishment for "unchastity".**

On Husband-Wife Relationships:

**The Qur'anic description of man and woman in marriage: "They are your garments/ And you are their garments" (Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 187) implies closeness, mutuality, and equality. However, Muslim culture has reduced many, if not most, women to the position of puppets on a string, to slave-like creatures whose only purpose in life is to cater to the needs and pleasures of men. Not only this, it has also had the audacity and the arrogance to deny women direct access to God. It is one of Islam's cardinal beliefs that each person -man or woman- is responsible and accountable for his or her individual actions. How, then, can the husband become the wife's gateway to heaven or hell?**

Gosh, TELL me about it. :S

But then again, if (authentic) hadiths tell us that women can go to heaven only if their husbands were "pleased" with them at the time of their death or if they obeyed their husbands, then who are we to argue?

Oh, no, we'll argue all right. I recently read the MOST AMMMMMMMMMMMMMAYZING book on Islam and women EVER: Speaking in God's Name by Khaled Abu el-Fadl. OMGOMGOMGOMG!! In my letter to him, I told him how I've pretty much highlighted EVERY other sentence in the book 'cause it was just THAT important and worth-remembering. Ahhhhhhhh... every Muslim, especially female, should read that book.

Yeah, so in this book, he discusses all those hadith that are SO demeaning to women that they pretty much dehumanize us beautiful women. And this hadith of wife's prostration to her husband is one of them, another being her spending her life to please her husband, especially sexually. Gosh, it's sick.
But more on that later, ka khairee :) (I know, I know, I keep promising all these things and then you don't get to see them till perhaps years later, but hey, give me time, man. I'm getting busier and busier by day. Ka khair wee, soon!)

k, lemme end this here for now. Will continue it, though, for sure.

In peace!


  1. The day you stop a scorpion from biting you I will tell you a secrete of how a man will start treating men as you want them to be.

    p.s. you don't teach scorpion not to bite but you do safety measures.

  2. Yes, you don't teach a scorpion not to bite you; you do safety measures.

    Similarly, you teach men what Islam *really* teaches so that they don't use it against you, thinking that you're too dumb to realize it yourself. No? ;) You don't tell them they're wrong; you simply remind them what the Quran says--or what certain readings of the Quran say.

  3. (Now, of course, if that's not what you meant, PLEASE correct me. 'Cause, mind you, I don't have an easy time understanding what other people say sometimes :p)

  4. My point was men by nature are (well most are) lustful,have superiority complex(its thier nature same as scorpian have a nature to bite) , also for anyone to respect women , understand them they dont need islam or meaning of qura'n by someone.all you need is commen sense but at the same time i feel you r expecting a lot from men which they r not capable of.I will give a an example a women walking in tight dress showing her curves will b objectify a man will admire her physical attributes( again he will bite) so u dont put a scorpian on ur hand tell him how harmful it is for u) u as human with more brain and understanding do preventive measure.

    Sign in kay day nasham was kho arif yama

  5. Actually, Arif, that's not true ;) That men are "by nature" lustful. We've MADE them like that, and we make them BELIEVE they are -- and so we make the WOMEN believe that the only way men can avoid molesting girls is if the girls cover their bodies from head to toe. I'm not calling for girls to be naked - not at all. But I'm calling for men to practice modesty as well and to STOP using women as representatives of Islamic identity.

    You do know that this whole nonsense of making women cover from head to toe (or even just the head) to prevent them for being molested is an idea that the Jamat-e-Islam tried to promote, right? Wait, not just TRIED to promote but they actually succeeded in universalizing this sick perspective, man. (I'm reading a book called "The Islamist: Why I Became an Islamic Fundamentalist, What I Saw, and Why I Left" by Ed Husain (Muhammed Husain). You should consider reading it to get a better grasp of what I'm tryina say.)

    Now, as for this whole talk of which woman will a man molest or desire, one all covered and another one not, again, that's just a way to keep women as covered as possible. Why should the woman have to cover as much, especially when she doesn't want to?

    I might be expecting too much of men by demanding them to lower their gazes AND to be modest like God commands them to be, but I think others are expecting too much of women too when they expect us to cover from head to toe when we might not want to do that.

    We could try be more moderate and even things up a bit, but be perfectly honest and tell me who has to make EVERY effort at "keeping society moral" (Maududi's words -- God I can't stand that guy!!) and who has to do NOTHING. Men have to do nothing. Are you willing to admit that? ;)

  6. I don't agree .. my opinion is they are by nature lustful.

    I might be diverting from the topic but its not the non-muhram who is a threat to women rights.Its the husband, brother ,son and father who crush it.Arif

    p.s. Ed Hussain na rata rayad shu . what is ur view of a muslim woman marrying a non muslim man??

  7. Hmm... can you find some justification for your claim that men are *by nature* lustful? I can find tons for my view (which is that it's all social; we're raised that way). I can post reference to similar perspectives later when I have time, ka khairee.

    My view on Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men? Simple: What's wrong with it? There's NO solid reason for its prohibition, and even the Quran doesn't prohibit it. It does say, however, that marriage to "disbelievers" is not permitted, but it clearly considers Christians and Jews "believers," which means it's okay.

    So for the folks who believe it's haraam for a woman to marry non-Muslim men need to find justification for their stance ... and good reasons.

  8. By the way ... how did "Ed Husain" remind you of that? :D lol

    And what's *your* view on it?

  9. I m not well leqrned as iblees was so i will use common sense , we get rewards for something which is hard to do eg no one will go to jannah coz he used to pee a lot or eat that is in our nature, we r rewarded for something which is against our nature and hard to do like not eating(fasting yet no one is going to jannah for not peeing yes u might go to hospital) ok back to topic i have been told that be keeping my gaze lower i earn some reward means sa chal paakay dhay its not easy

    Coz ed hussain belives u can and no he dont mean jews and chrstians he means non belivers

    also some one who is ashmed of using muhammed as his name is not worth concidering anyway.. He chose to use the last two words of the name.

    Also u completly ignore my point where i stated where u need to shout , dont tell me to lower my gaze tell ur brother to give ur share ( ofcourse by u i dont mean u and by me i dont mean me)

    Anoyher question eg a street or a town full of gay men what shud a women wear

  10. My view none what so ever last time i checked i was not God (nauzubillah) so i have no right to judge . As for me i wud want to marry someone from swat (hint hint lol just kidding) but then i want to fly too :p

  11. QUOTING: "My view none what so ever last time i checked i was not God (nauzubillah) so i have no right to judge ."

    What? You don't have to be God to know Islam and to be able to back up what you say using Islamic soucres ;)

    I'm not interested in what Ed Husain calls himself. THAT, my friend, is judging, as much as you might hate to do it :) (Judging in the sense that you're claiming he is "ashamed" of his identity. Read his works and then you'll see who's really ashamed of what.)

    QUOTING: "Also u completly ignore my point where i stated where u need to shout , dont tell me to lower my gaze tell ur brother to give ur share"

    I didn't say girls should go around naked and men should lower their gazes. I said we need to be moderate in our thinking, and BOTH men and women need to do their part. On the contrary, you say that men are by nature lustful. Where does this leave women?

    And, please, mara, don't go for what you have been TOLD. Go for what *you* learn yourself *using the religion you claim as your own*. I constantly note that far too many Muslims tell us what they've been told and almost NONE can actually justify their beliefs; almost NONE know Islam themselves. Hell, most of the women I know who cover their hair/faces can even read the Quran, let alone understand it!

    About marriage to non-Muslims -- tell me. What do you think of Muslim men marrying non-Muslim women, whether they're Jews or Christians?

    By the way, you should study this matter. It's still debate in Islamic Studies and remains unsettled and inconclusive --since the last 1400 + years. Yes, there actually ARE perfectly legitimate arguments that marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims is allowed *by Islam* becuase we need to remember the contexts of EACH ruling we are presented within Islam.

    Now, if you think you lack knowledge about these matters, then I am not willing to discuss them with you *until* you study them yourself first and can give me a good argument. Sama da? If not, then sorry but I prefer discussions to be two-way; there's nothing to learn in just one-way discussions for me, really.

    A start would be for you to study Islam's stance on the dress code of both men and women. Of course, by Islam, I mean the interpretations of all sorts of scholars, including the ones I can't stand (like Maududi -- and no, Zakir Naik doesn't even count as a scholar but sure you can read his views if you want, I guess) and the ones I highly respect and admire (like Khaled Abou el-Fadl).

    Make sure to study *different* perspectives and not just ONE. And then make up your own mind and be able to *explain* your argument with justification and logic.

    Once you've done this, let me know and we'll discus dress code, marriage, and other Muslim matters in detail. :)

    Looking forward to it!

  12. One more thing -- you're one of those Muslims who make Islam FAR more difficult than necessary. You said that in order to attain heaven, Muslims must do things against their nature! Your exact quote ges:

    "we r rewarded for something which is against our nature and hard to do like not eating(fasting yet no one is going to jannah for not peeing yes u might go to hospital) ok back to topic i have been told that be keeping my gaze lower i earn some reward means sa chal paakay dhay its not easy"

    Yikes! I completely disagree. You see, Arif (wait, is this Arif? lol), that defeats all logic and reason. That ALSO contradicts the claim that Islam is a reasonable and practical religion. AAAAAAAAND it goes against the Quranic verse in which God tells us, "I want to make things EASY for you, not hard"; there's also a hadith in which the Prophet advises us to make things easy for ourselves and others and NOT difficult.

    For us to have to go against our nature means we have to make things difficult for ourselves.

    So, bro, you need to clarify your stance for me to make sense of it. As far as I'm concerned, Islam is a simple and easy religion; we make it hard ourselves.

  13. P.S. Whatever happened to the hadith that smiling is a form of charity? That removing a stick from another person's path is a form of charity?

    C'mon, now, mara. lol :P

  14. I dont make islam hard .. and I dont judge maray .. i was just saying it wud be good to use full name .. as far as views are concern kana I think God should decide who is doing what .. for me I shud not be harming people , and by harming I dont only mean physically but mentally

    also how can u say these hadith are not by *controversial* abu huraira zaka chay i read somewhere in ur blog chay laka hagha pakay controversial dhay

    lastly I m only a muslim coz i was born one .. kana nor ra pakay na musalmani shhtha aoo na pukhto bas dawa rata kawa ...also za debate na koma i put my point across what i feels from heart. and 99% of the times I know someone will say I m wrong kho maray when was the last time you changed someone point of view.. u might have ma kho na dhay.. aoo arif na yama :P

  15. Yeah, but there's a difference between saying that Ed Husain isn't a good Muslim or isn't PROUD of his Islamic identity and saying "I think it's better for one to use his/her full name," isn't there?

    Quoting you: "as far as views are concern kana I think God should decide who is doing what"

    Sure, no one can deny that. I mean, I've YET to find someone who'd say otherwise. BUT here's the problem: WHO interprets God's laws? Who implements them on earth? Humans do. The problem is in human's understanding of God, their way of interpreting and implementing His laws.

    Quoting you: "also za debate na koma i put my point across what i feels from heart."

    I enjoy debating/discussions on such topics. However, you've to be interested as well. Since you asked me what I think of Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men, I decided to ask what you think as well and to justify your claim using some religious texts. It's perfectly fine NOT to want to "debate" but then also be sure to be knowledgeable about the matter you wanna discuss, kana, mara.

  16. QUOTING: "also how can u say these hadith are not by *controversial* abu huraira zaka chay i read somewhere in ur blog chay laka hagha pakay controversial dhay"

    I don't get this comment. Sanga? Are you asking me to show why Abu Hurairah is a controversial hadith narrator? (He hated women, and that's obvious in most of the hadiths he's narrated about women.) If so, lemme know. I'll give you some hadiths to demonstrate his misogyny.

    Quoting you: "I m only a muslim coz i was born one .. "
    LOL :p This is the case with most Muslims, unfortunately. But, hey, at least you admit it :) Most will say, "No, no, I CHOOOSE Islam. I've STUDIED it AND then chose it!"
    Right, and how many other religions did you study along with it? lol

    So, thanks for admitting it :)


Dare to opine :)

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