Islamic Laws and Women:Why Reinterpretation is Needed

This is an intelligently argued article sent to us by Miss Kiran Rizvi. She rightly argues that laws are eventually an outcome of the peculiar circumstances of the prevalent time period. Therefore laws have to be judged in the context of those circumstances. This way of  looking at the laws also makes it essential to rethink the current interpretation which is rooted in those times. Miss Kiran’s  argument is that the spirit of Islam itself provides justification for reinterpretation  of the laws, particularly those which pertain to women.

by Kiran Rizvi

Contrary to the popular belief Islam neither favors nor victimizes women. What I mean by this is that Islam doesn’t go out of its way to hurt or protect women because of their special status in the society. The current interpretation of Islamic laws is more consistent with the circumstances and laws prevalent in the 7th century Arabia. Therefore it affords the same treatment of compassion to ALL members of the society which are disadvantaged, such as slaves, orphans, women and seniors. However no special treatment is given to women outside the general category of the ‘disadvantaged’.

Feminists believe that Islamic laws are barbaric and demeaning to women. They site divorce laws, rape laws, bearing witness, wife-beating, unfair distribution of property and lack of autonomy to make decisions etc. to make their case. They are correct and incorrect at the same time. Islamic laws are a combination of tribal laws as they existed (and were well accepted in the society at the time) and some modifications brought out by Islam to steer these laws in favor of those who ended up holding the short end of the stick. It is not the “Islamic” portion of the tribal laws that is barbaric, but the “tribal” portion of the Islamic law! And yes, it is very hard to distinguish one from the other.

Islamists, on the other hand try to prove that Islam is partial to women. They argue that Islam mandates men to earn, relieving women of this burden; lets women keep their wealth but use their husband’s wealth at will; gives exalted status to mothers; discourages divorces; prohibits female infanticide; gives right to own property and other such concessions as afforded by women in an ideal Islamic society. These examples are of Islamic ‘guidelines’ and not the ‘laws’, and therefore up for interpretation. The problem we have is that because Islam appears to “endorse” the tribal laws, Islamists feel they have to defend the tribal laws in the name of Islam.

So why does Islam ‘endorse’ tribal laws? Well it doesn’t really endorse or reject these laws, it inherits them. Islam was not born in a cultural vacuum. Everything about Islam reflects the culture, beliefs and practices of 7th century Arabia. Back when humans were a commodity, slavery was common, and survival of the fittest was the word on the dunes (as there were no streets in towns.) Laws that were created to regulate such a society will, of course, appear harsh, barbaric and demeaning to societies that have evolved (for better or for worse) and are quite different from the tribal societies of 7th century Arabia.

Take the example of slavery. Just because Islam did not outright prohibit slavery in all shapes and forms, doesn’t mean it endorses it either! Had Islam banned slavery outright, there would be a civil war among tribes (as in America, a thousand years later) because the society built on the concept of slavery would cease to function. What Islam realizes is that WHATEVER laws society has to keep it functional, should be IMPROVED so that they are as humane as possible without dismantling the fabric of society. If slaves are needed to keep the plantations, well, at least they should be treated humanely, fed well and given a fair chance to freedom by paying for themselves etc.

Similarly just because Islam asks men to take care of women, make their decisions for them and keep them under strict surveillance (the grounds for wife-beating), may not mean that Islam endorses total control of men over women. It can be argued that such guidelines were to ensure the well-being of women in the society they lived in. In a tribal society, women needed men and men needed the tribe to protect them. This hierarchy of protection ensured the safety of every member of the society. A man without a tribe was as unprotected as a woman without a man. The tribal council, judiciary and financial matters were settled by men, if women didn’t have a male representative they were cheated out of their rights. Women existed in the society in association with a male figure. Therefore women who had no male family members had to marry to keep their protection.

Widows, therefore, were encouraged to re-marry and young girls were married off in a hurry to powerful males, to guarantee their future protection. However, in today’s society the concept of protection has changed from that of 7th century Arabia. Governments are required to protect all citizens regardless of their gender or age. There are no grounds for men controlling the will and property of women. The argument would be that Islam did not mean to subdue women; it only meant to protect them. And all these changes can be brought without labeling them as ‘un-Islamic’. Women should be able to make their own decisions, travel alone, live alone and should be able to exist in the society without having any male associations. If a woman does not feel safe travelling without a man, then the debate should be on how to make it safer for her, rather than how to find a suitable man to accompany her on her journey!

Arguing for literal interpretation and practice of Islam is as flawed as arguing that keeping slaves is required by Islam. Can one argue that one needs to keep slaves, so they can be freed to atone for one’s sins? Obviously no one will buy this reverse logic in this day and age. Why do we, then, buy the reverse logic that women need to be controlled by men because they are incapable of taking care of themselves? Obviously it is not the lack of faith in their capability but the makeup of the society that lead Islam to set the guidelines that it did, back in the 7thcentury. Quran explicitly says that two women constitute as one witness in the matters of financial agreements. Is it to give women at least SOME say, who otherwise wouldn’t have ANY right to bear witness in such matters, or to demean the female intellect? The decision is ours. By upholding the literal laws of Quran, we would be confirming that the level of awareness, education, morality, sense of justice and rational decision making of the entire Muslim Ummah has not improved in 1500 years. All of these being the very goal of Islam!!!!

By giving us examples on how to slowly introduce the concept of justice and fair dealing in the tribal laws of Arabia, Islam has not given us rigid laws, but a golden principle. The true spirit of Islam, therefore, is not to follow the ISLAMIC LAWS written by the letter, but to improve the existing laws of each society along the ISLAMIC PRINCIPLES of justice.

126 Comments

Filed under Islam, Justice, Pakistan, Society, Women

126 responses to “Islamic Laws and Women:Why Reinterpretation is Needed

  1. Raza

    This is a very intelligently written article and makes excellent and thought provoking points. It asserts that true spirit of religion is progressive and without following that spirit, religion will be functionally ineffective and time trapped.

    This is something which ultra conservatives need to learn. Miss Kiran Rizvi has made a very convincing and thought provoking case here.

  2. Fantastic article! I heartily concur. It pains me to see “laws” enacted or enforced which so clearly go against the Quran. So glad you wrote this! Thank you.

  3. Pingback: That was then, this is now. « Reflections on the Straight Path

  4. KR

    @Krishnan: Depending on budget restraints and cost of rebuilding, one has to settle with simple renovations…indeed that is how most religions were born and that is the only way they can survive!

  5. lota6177

    Cyrus the great 600 BC or 576 BC – December[5][6] 530 BC whose empire streched from most of Southwest Asia and much of Central Asia, from Egypt and the Hellespont in the west to the Indus River in the east, created the largest empire the world had yet seen. He gave religious freedom to his subjects, abolished slavery, gave equal rights and pay to men and women who were his subjects. Please dont repeat this nonsense if prophet abolished slavery their would have been civil war. Slavery was abolished a 1000 year before islam and sky did not fall.

  6. Raza Raja

    Slavery was abolished 1000 years before Islam. I wonder what was it doing in USA as late as 1850s.
    And why cyrus is the only example you could come up with. Any ways the point of Miss Kiran Rizvi’s article is not slavery but the fact that laws need to be reinterpretated when ground realities and times change

  7. lota6177

    @RAZA RAJA
    Cyrus the great abolished Slavery, enforced equality between men and women, had equal pay for men and women and gave religious freedom to his subjects. There are also other examples of his descendants who carried on with his reform in his kingdom. You are wondering what it was doing in USA as late as 1850s? If you close your mouth and start reading maybe you will find an answer for this question. EDITED (Kindly refrain form getting personal Mr lota6177. If you do not have a valid point, hurling personal comments will not strengthen your stance. Thanks)

  8. Raza Raja

    Dear lota, my point was perhaps misunderstood by you. Miss Kiran’s article’s reference to slavery is in entirely different context.
    Any how considering your rather immature and rude nature, I will not debate it with you.

    Regards

    Raza

  9. @Raza Raja

    Thank you for refraining from further comment on an obvious trouble-maker with no agenda but to make trouble. I agree with your original post, that this is a delightfully different article, and poses questions which will be rewarding to address.

    We don’t need religion-oriented trolling here. I hope lota6177 keeps his views for Chowk.

  10. Raza

    @ Vajra

    Thanks and I wish all commentators show the same level of maturity which has become your hallmark

    Regards

    Raza Habib Raja

  11. The difficulty in reinterpreting the Quran is in the fact that the Quran is regraded as the true word of God. Consider verse 4:34 which allows beating of the wife under certain circumstances. The message is so clearly stated in plain Arabic that no matter how progressive the scholar is he cannot hide the harsh reality of God allowing wife beating.
    (Edited)

  12. KR

    @Rabbit: That is why I brought up this point in the first place. IT IS CLEARLY stated in Quran to beat the wife under certain circumstances. The argument is that if Quran is to be taken literally, wife-beating should be allowed…but if the SPIRIT of Quran rather than its WORDS are taken then it is not allowed to beat anyone under any circumstances.
    Argument is that Quran/Islam wants Muslims (and humanity) to progress morally, spiritually etc. Either Muslims have not progressed hence we should continue to use 7th century laws, or they have progressed and we can abandon them even if they are WRITTEN IN QURAN.

  13. simply61

    What the author argues is plain common sense.Having lived in Gulf for a long time and seen the present day Arab societies from close it seems, to me,that much of what is taken at face value as Islam and/or Islamic practices are actually just the social/cultural practices of the Arabs(even the dress..Abaya,niqaab etc).Considering that Islam stopped being the sole preserve of the Arabs way back in 7th-8th centuries the need to reinterpret is obvious.
    But 1500 years of the two being seen as one has established the status quo.Islam=Arab way of life.It will take an unusually brave and visionary leader to try and disentangle the two without the conservative(vested) elements branding the exercise as un -Islamic.
    Generally speaking the male population is less likely to be enthusiasticabout such a debate and change as it strikes directly at their position of total control over their womenfolk.
    Congratulations to the author for atleast articulating the need for reinterpretation.

  14. Momin

    KR
    SO you mean we shall not take what is written in Qur’an but what we “think” it shall be ..
    so your judging Islam with Modern Morality …
    and you are going to change the Quran ?

    But dont you know that Quran says very clearly that it is not required to be interpreted and it is written in very simple language

    the Qur’an, on repeated occasions reiterates its claim to be a clear
    book( 5 :1 5) easy to understand (44:58, 54:22, 54:32, 54:40) explained in detail
    (6:114), conveyed clearly, (5:16, 10:15) with no doubt in it (2:1), withclear
    ordinances,(98:3), of divine nature, (10:37) and full of wisdom (36:2).

  15. Momin

    By the way KR
    The SPIRIT of Quran is very subjective .
    you are not taking what is written but what you “think” there shall be .
    in that case what stops Mr Taliban to inserts his thinking ??? and then there will be millions of thinking , every one writing his own Qur’an.
    that’s Blasphemy my dear friend .
    Beware specially where you live , Pakistan

  16. I would take the human mind any day over both the SPIRIT and WORDS of the Quran. The human mind tells me that it is not ok for a man to beat his wife.
    There are so many terrible things on women in the Quran that are simply hard to overlook. So as long as Muslims believe that the Quran is the true word of God no progress will be made.

  17. AA Khalid

    But the Quran emphasizes itself the need for interpretation, the Quran does claim to be a clear book, which is easy to understand in terms of the grammatical structure and presentation of the Arabic language.

    However, meaning and intepretation is different from simply understanding the linguistic structure of the language. Meaning involves values, presumptions and assumptions of the reader and the holistic make up of the text. The need for a human being to interpret the Quran is very clear, read this narration:

    . In one such report members of the Khawarij accused ‘Ali of accepting the judgment and dominion (hakimiyya) of human beings instead of abiding by the dominion of God’s law. Upon hearing of this accusation, ‘Ali called upon the people to gather around him and brought a large copy of the Qur’an. ‘Ali touched the Qur’an while instructing it to speak to the people and inform them about God’s law. Surprised, the people gathered around ‘Ali exclaimed, “What are you doing? The Qur’an cannot speak, for it is not a human being!” Upon hearing this, ‘Ali exclaimed that this was exactly his point. The Qur’an, ‘Ali explained, is but ink and paper, and it does not speak for itself. Instead, it is human beings who give effect to it according to their limited personal judgments and opinions

    (Source – Muhammad b. ‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Shawkani, Nayl al-Awtar Sharh Muntaqa al-Akhbar (Cairo: Dar al-Hadith, n.d.), 7:166; Shihab al-Din Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari bi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1993), 14:303)

    Elsewhere:

    Ali ibn Abi Talib RA, fourth caliph and son-in-law of the Prophet: “this is the Qur’an, written in straight lines, between two boards [of its binding]; it does
    not speak with a tongue; it needs interpreters and interpreters are people.”

    The notion here is that the presence of an infallible Revelation does not suspend the activity of human agency and human reasoning. Human reasoning is still needed to comprehend the Quran, hence the Quranic concept of aql (reason).

    To quote Abdullah Saeed aswell (pg 107, Interpreting the Quran)
    ”For instance, in the case of verse Q.2:2 (dhålika al-kitåbu lå rayba f⁄hi), those who are familiar with Arabic can understand the basic meaning of eachword and the literal meaning of the sentence. This can be readily translated into English as, ‘This is the book; there is no doubt about it’, which is approximately its literal meaning. If one were dealing with this text in purely linguistic terms, this would be sufficient, but this does not tell us much about the overall purpose or meaning of the sentence. ”’

    Meaning is different from clear linguistic structures and language.

    Furthermore, the very existence of the exegetical tradition in Islam (tafsir) is indicative of the fact that multiplicity in interpretation exists. There are certain limits, but there is scope for diversity. As long as the interpreter adopts and believes in the fundamentals of religion, their substantiated views should be regarded as potentially valid and to be taken seriously. Radicals and extremist interpretations are null and void because they go against the principle of the sanctity of life clearly stated in the Quran and the Maqasid Al Sharia.

    After all who can dare to say they know for sure 100% what the meaning of the Quran is when Q 3:7, says that ultimately speaking the meaning of the Quran is known by God alone.

    The classical paradigm of Quranic interpretation was that it is up to God to reveal his Revelation and to deliver it clearly, but it is up to human reason to understand it, and to ponder over it. Why does the Quran say after all to ponder overs its ”signs” (ayats). Why does the Quran say this is a book ”for those with understanding”?

    Understanding after all is a prequisite to meaning. Furthermore many Islamic jurists such as Al Shatibi elaborated on the notion of the ”Silence of the Law Giver”, where the Quran is silent on some issues such as politics and economics. This silence means human reason is called upon to elaborate paradigms independent of the text.

    AbdolKarim Soroush, prominent religious intellectual writes (Liberal Islam, pg 245, 251):

    The text does not stand alone, it does not carry its own meaning on its shoulders, it needs to be situated in a context, it is theory-laden, its interpretation is in flux, and presuppositions are as actively at work here as elsewhere in the field of
    understanding. Religious texts are no exception. Therefore their interpretation is subject to expansion and contraction according to the assumptions preceding them and/or the questions enquiring them .…We look at revelation in the mirror of interpretation, much as a devout scientist
    looks at creation in the mirror of nature … [so that] the way for religious democracy and the transcendental unity of religions, which are predicated on religious pluralism, will have been paved.”

  18. Raza

    @ A A khalid

    That was a brilliant answer.

  19. J.Krishnan

    Are Raza and Khalid a “pat each other’s back” team?

    Muslims BELIEVE this and that about the kuran. The kuran CLAIMS this and that about itself. All that is not automatically objective truth. This self-deceit has become compulsion in islamic societies. No one dares to be honest. The honest person will be killed or terrorized so that he has to flee.

    The huge number of confllicts, many bloody ones and long term, among muslims are a proof that self-deceit only makes matters worse.

  20. J.Krishnan

    Kuran is an absolutist-finalist book from the 7th century. Way back they got stuck in their own self-glorification. Over the years totalitarianism and imperialism have resulted from it. Let us reject this dictatorship/encroachment of the 7th century upon the 21st century and of the arabs upon the non-arabs and of bribery and terror upon democracy, freedom of expression and progress. Few muslims have the intelligence to understand this and fewer still have the courage to speak out. (First show some basic intelligence of not talking like a typical racist. This article was about reformation of religion and all you are ranting here is totally counter productive. Do not try to disguise your naked hate under attractive terms like democracy etc.)

  21. AA Khalid

    Momin:

    The message of Islam, in its declaration of faith, five pillars of Islam, the ahkham al sharia have always stayed constant and universal. This is the core of the faith, the central beliefs which remain constant, read Al Ghazali’s works on this subject.

    Religion is first of all a spiritual experience, in relation to the Almighty, accompanied with certain existential doctrine. In this respect the message is universal.

    However, in the realm of politics, economics and other facets of human life. The role of the Quran and prophetic tradition as been of guidance, which means orientation towards a certain set of values. The expression these values take in practical humanely construcuted paradigms of politics, economics, or legal jurisprudence naturally is in flux.

    Iqbal writes in his Reconstruction, ”The main purpose of the Qur’«n is to awaken in man the higher consciousness of his manifold relations
    with God and the universe”.

    He continues commentating on the Quran:

    ”‘Hast thou not seen how thy Lord lengthens out the shadow? Had He pleased He had made it motionless.

    But We made the sun to be its guide; then draw it in unto Us with easy in drawing’ (25:45-46).

    ‘Can they not look up to the clouds, how they are created; and to the Heaven how it is upraised; and to the mountains how they are rooted, and to the earth how it is outspread?’ (88:17-20).

    ‘And among His signs are the creation of the Heavens and of the earth, and your variety of tongues and colours. Herein truly are signs for all men’ (30:22).

    No doubt, the immediate purpose of the Qur’«n in this reflective observation of Nature is to awaken in man the consciousness of that of which Nature is regarded a symbol”

    Finally, Iqbal’s conception of Islam as a dynamic culture giving force which requires consistent interpretation (after quoting from the Quran in great depth) concludes with:

    The ultimate spiritual basis of all life, as conceived by Islam, is eternal and reveals itself in variety and change. A society based on such a conception of Reality must reconcile, in its life, the categories of permanence and change. It must possess
    eternal principles to regulate its collective life, for the eternal gives us a foothold in the world of perpetual change. But eternal principles when they are understood to exclude all possibilities of change which, according to the Qur’«n, is one of the greatest ‘signs’ of God, tend to immobilize what is essentially mobile in its nature….What then is the principle of movement in the structure of Islam? This is known as Ijtihad.”’

    Reconciling eternal precepts, and over-arching and general principles of guidance with practical paradigms in human life with the aid of human agency and human reason is inevitable. But the crucial existential beliefs of Islam remain utterly constant.

    The meaning of perfection in religion does not mean faith act as a subsitute for human deliberation, science and technology. Your superficial citations reveal a shallow understanding of a long and diverse exegetical tradition. The Quran consistently asks human reason to ponder over creation, the Quran asks the reader to ponder over the diversity of mankind (a fact attested to in 49:13) repeatedly. Pluralism is endorsed (in Q5:48).

  22. @AA Khalid
    “Your superficial citations reveal a shallow understanding of a long and diverse exegetical tradition. The Quran consistently asks human reason to ponder over creation, the Quran asks the reader to ponder over the diversity of mankind (a fact attested to in 49:13) repeatedly. Pluralism is endorsed (in Q5:48).”

    Would you agree then on striking out the few verses of the Quran that has no spiritual value but are instead used as pretext to abuse and demean women? I fail to see any spiritual/abstract/philosophical value behind verse 4:34 taken in any context you wish. To me it stands as a clear proof that this book deemed holy is a creation of man.

  23. AA Khalid

    @ Rabbit

    No. If you go to the website Women Living Under Muslim Laws, see the work of Leila Ahmed, Asma Barlas and other women religious intellectuals and scholars, the hermeneutical strategies devised mean that 4:34 does not become an issue.

    Just see the reforms Morocco brought in (called the Mudawana reforms), where women’s rights were implemented and was praised by human rights activists and scholars. The reforms brought in had justification from Islamic normative texts (Quran and prophetic hadith), every reform including domestic abuse was justified from either a verse from the Quran or authenticated hadith. This is the example of the fruits of religious re-interpretation, and it can be done without offending religious sensibilities.

  24. @AA Khalid

    This is were we differ. I don’t believe you can bring on reform without offending sensibilities.

    For every enlightened scholar there will be a thousand fundamentalist scholars who interpret the Quran literally. I don’t blame them. Sometimes the messages of abuse against women are conveyed in the Quran in a very plain and simple manner that all elaborate attempts for reinterpretation by “enlightened” scholars seem wishy washy.

  25. Raj (the other one)

    [Edited – regurgitated BS. If you want to post here, at least take the trouble of doing the most trivial googling instead of spamming with rubbish.]

  26. @Raj (the other one)

    I guess these quotes are essential to answering the ever long question of why we’re here🙂

  27. Raj (the other one)

    I tried to post here a list of all those verses of the Qu’ran which are pertinent for Women.

    They were deleted by the moderator.

    Considering that it was text from the Qu’ran, perhaps it should be considered blasphemous.

    There is a site, which categorizes the verses in the Bible, Qu’ran, Book of Mormon. It is called

    skepticsannotatedbible dot com

    I believe it is a site moderated by skeptics or atheists. I don’t know.

    Look under Qu’ran — Women.

    Have fun

  28. AA Khalid

    @ Rabbit

    I disagree in the mainstream classical tradition of interpretation of Islam, scholars such as Fakhr Al Din Razi, al-Zamakhsharī , Al Tabari, Ibn Rushd and many others elaborated interpretations which meant 4:34 was not an outstanding issue. Physical contact is not implied in the Arabic grammar of the verse at all, indeed Al Razi a mainstream classical scholar insists upon this.

    Furthermore, Muhammad Abdel Haleem, prominent scholar trained in the classical sciences aswell as modern paradigms of textual analysis has argued in his book, ”Understanding the Qur’an: themes and style”, from the commentaries of previous classical scholars that 4:34 does not mean physical contact, or a justification for domestic abuse, citing the example of the hadith and opinions of other jurists.

    In the end I think the key is to encourage Muslim women to openly approach the Quranic text, to stop the male dominated epistemological structure of traditional scholarship.

  29. AA Khalid

    Indeed in the Islamic tradition, the Zahiri school of though which emerged in the medieval period (Zahiris emphasized a literalist reading of the Quran), died out leaving the four main schools of canonical law in Sunni Islam.

    The Zahiris were unpopular and denounced by most scholars. Ibn Khaldun in his work famously rebuffed this literalist school of thought.

    In all religious traditions, ”literalism”, as a modus operandi is seen as heretical by most scholars and commentators of religious texts, rather than mainstream.

    For instance Protestant fundamentalism emerged in the 19th to 20th century, and the more puritanical strains of Islamic thought emerged after the 18th century with the rise of the Wahabbi movement. This seems to imply these movements are not born out of the organic traditions of religious thought, but as a reactionary groups to the phenomenon of modernity.

  30. NAS

    Raj (the other one) – interpretation of a religious text probably depends more on the desired outcome of the interpreter and less on the actual words of the text.

    My stand on any text that can be interpreted in a large number of different and even non-overlapping ways, is that the text probably does not have much intrinsic meaning. The intrinsic meaning that exists probably lies within the overlap of the competing interpretations. However, the text is valued because each generation of each society is able to inscribe its values on the text, but also to claim that the text is the source of their values.

    Therefore, unless you want to become an insider of Quranic hermeneutics, you are better off cataloging the competing interpretations rather than the raw text. As far as you are concerned as an outsider, there is no one “correct” interpretation, there are only the dominant and sub-dominant interpretations, and the historical and perhaps now-extinct ones.

    —–
    For example:

    If I believe the NY Times about Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, he had a very different interpretation of things from the standard Jamaat-i-Islami discourse:

    “Augustus Richard Norton, of Boston University, a Shiite expert, said this about Fadlallah, whom he knew: “He argued that women should have equal opportunities to men and be well educated. He even argued that women have a right to hit their husband back because it was not appropriate for a spouse to be beaten by their husbands. He was not afraid to speak about sexuality, and he even once gave [a mosque sermon] about sexual urges and female masturbation. It was common to find young people who followed his writings all over the region.”

    “Michael Tomasky, the editor of “Democracy: A Journal of Ideas,” pointed out an essay by the liberal secular Shiite Lebanese journalist Hanin Ghaddar — on the Web site Now Lebanon — recalling how Fadlallah intervened with her conservative father to allow her to live alone in Beirut, telling her father in a letter that he “had no right to tell me what to do, as I was an independent and sane and adult woman.” ”

    ——
    Where did Fadlallah’s ideas come from? What extra scholarship does he have that (pick your scholar that disagrees) does not?

  31. Raj (the other one)

    Personally I feel that one should first understand, what are one’s inclinations – spiritual, ideological; what is one’s value system, and then shop around for a faith which embodies that value system more than any other, and if one doesn’t find a suitable religion or ideology than one can still have an ideology or faith with only one follower.

    THAT is the essence of FREEDOM.

    Trying to mold an established belief system, trying to desperately find reinterpretations, where none seems likely, IMHO is a futile mission, for it pushes the individual to be in conflict with himself. That is raping one’s own soul.

    If somebody feels attracted to Islam, then that is fine, then there is no reason to be ashamed of being a Muslim and one should be proud of it. Then one should follow the Islamic injunctions in both letter and spirit. Cherry picking Islam, an established religion, is simply wrong.

  32. NSA

    ^^^^
    Established by whom?

    Look up “Christoph Luxenberg” . CL approaches the Quran from philology. He finds the heavenly virgins promised the faithful should really be white grapes.

    The point is not to argue whether he is correct or wrong. Simply imagine him to be right for an instant, and in that instant, contemplate 1400 years of Islamic warriors looking for victory in battle or maidens in heaven. It is what people believe. The text is relevant only to the extent it changes the belief.

    Quote:

    In section fifteen, Luxenberg treats the virgins of paradise and in section sixteen the youths of paradise. Sura 44:54 is the starting point for the discussion. Bell translates this as “We will join to them dark, wide-eyed (maidens).”

    In suras 44:54 and 52:20, Luxenberg argues that instead of the singular cīn the plural cuyun should be read, referring to the grapes on the vine. Elsewhere the Qur’ān compares the grapes to “pearls,” and so they must be white grapes, which is not apparent from the text at first glance. Luxenberg then offers two variants of this expression. The first reading renders the phrase “white, crystal (clear grapes),” the second, and the one Luxenberg adopts, is “white (grapes), (like) jewels (of crystal).” The restored verse then reads “We will let them (the blessed in Paradise) be refreshed with white (grapes), (like) jewels (of crystal).”

    Of the several related examples in sections 15.2 – 15.9, Luxenberg follows the virgins of paradise through the Qur’ān. In section 15.2, Luxenberg observes that azwaj, “spouses,” also can mean “species, kinds” (suras 2:25, 3:15, and 4:57). The latter reading makes more sense “therein also are all kinds of pure (fruits).” Luxenberg links to the misunderstanding of sura 44:54 zawwaj, “join, marry.” The misinterpretation of one verse spills over into the related thematic content of another. The other sections are also well-argued. Of special interest are the discussions in sections 15.5 – 15.6 of suras 55:56 and 55:70, 72, 74, respectively, which state, referring to the virgins of paradise “whom deflowered before them has neither man nor jinn.” Instead, these are the grapes of paradise “that neither man nor jinn have defiled.” Luxenberg points out that sura 55:72 evidences another Qur’ānic parallel to Ephraem, who writes that the vines of paradise abound in “hanging grapes.”10

    [34] Section sixteen follows this investigation as it points to a similar misreading of paradise’s grapes as youths, Arabic wildun. Sura 76:19 “Round amongst them go boys of perpetual youth, whom when one see, he thinks them pearls unstrung” (sura 16.1, citing Bell’s translation). Wildun is a genuinely Arabic word, but it is used in a sense which is borrowed from Syriac yaldā. Youths like pearls is somewhat suspicious, especially given that “pearls” are a metaphor for the grapes of paradise from the previous section. Luxenberg uncovered that Syriac has the expression yaldā dagpettā, “child of the vine,” appearing in the Peshitta: Matthew 26:29, Mark 14:25, and Luke 22:18, in which Christ foreshadows his death and resurrection: “I will not drink of this child of the vine (yaldā dagpettā) until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of my Father.” Here it is the juice of the grape that is the “child.” Entries in the Arabic-Syriac lexica for each of yaldā and gpettā give in addition to “child” and “vine” “fruit” and “wine,” respectively. Luxenberg gives further evidence from suras 37:45, 43:71, and 76:15 that Ephraem the Syrian’s depiction of the grapes of paradise is behind the original Qur’ānic text.

  33. Dastagir

    Aamina : A young Indian girl married to an old Arab. She was rescued thanks to the Women’s Organisations in India. It was a commendable job.

    However, I am very upset with the Women’s Rights Organisations, for their selective amnesia. What they did for Aamina was commendable., but they have shown TOTAL NEGLIGENCE (and criminal negligence) when the victim is a Hindu !

    Yes : I am talking about Radhaben Modi. Used and abused by her husband, Narendra Damodardas Modi for 3 yrs., and then left on the street to fend for herself ! Radhaben is working as an Ayah., in a school 150 kms from Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

    Why isnt the world talking about Radhaben’s sorrow and plight ? Why is the whole system silent. Why no plays / poems / cover stories / songs / written on Radhaben Modi.

    I wish Women’s Organisations show Radhaben half the sympathy they showed for Aamina. Isnt Radhaben a human ? So why this deafening silence ? Hayn ???

  34. Mustafa Shaban

    @AA Khalid: Amazing responses and answers! Slap on the face to all narrow minded people who accept the media sensationalised image of Islam. The wisdom of Hazrat Ali (A.S) and many other Islamic figures like Allama Iqbal and others is unmatchable.

  35. YLH

    AA Khalid,

    What do you make of Zaid Hamid and his interpretation of Islam?

    I ask for the benefit of Mustafa Shaban who is slapping everyone the face.

  36. AA Khalid

    Hamid belongs to the generation of reactionaries who take regressive anti-intellectual approach. Political convenience dictate their interpretations, they have no regard for the complexities, subtleties or challenges that the Islamic discourses bring.

    Hamid has no interest in the social sciences, philosophical inquiry or literary theory which I think are necessary intellectual tools to interpret the faith today. What are his intellectual tools and approaches? Nothing but crass political demagoguery. His interpretation is a crass and crude amalgamation of confusion and delusion.

    He confuses Islam, primarily a religious and spiritual experience for a comprehensive political ideology which is dangerous and simply wrong.

    Faith does not pretend to offer solutions to all our problems, utopianism is the furthest thing from the spirit of faith. Faith is about deepening our contemplation and reflection on complex issues. As Iqbal has said the Quran is about awakening the consciousness of man, to instigate reason and to deepen contemplation.

    A famous contemporary exegete of the Quran, Maulana Wahiduddin Khan in his commentary Tazkirul Quran maintains that the main themes of the Qur’an, clearly set forth peace and closeness to God.

    ”To enable the reader to discover God at a purely intellectual level, the Qur’an emphasizes tawassum, tadabbur, and tafakkur – reflection, thinking and contemplation on the signs of God throughout the world.”

    A similar conclusion can be grasped from Professor Rahman’s book the ”Major Themes of the Quran”.

    The problem with fundamentalists is not that they are too traditionalist, the problem is that they have no regard for the scholastic traditions of Islam, which is why they can insert their political self satisfying agendas. Does he engage with Al Ghazali or Ibn Rushd? No.

    Critical traditionalism is the best way, to engage with the organic canons of religious tradition whilst being able to fully criticise and improve.

  37. Momin

    so let me ask , is this for the change in Quran or in support of Quran

    Secondly you haven’t answered my initial question , Quran says I am easy to understand and dont need interpretation, Mr Khalid says no Quran needs interpretation because Mr X and Mr Y Says so. So whom shall I believe.

  38. Momin

    In Al-Hijr (Qur’an 15:9) Allah declared that the Qur’an is his revelation and he promised to preserve it and protect it from corruption.

    In An-Nahl (Qur’an 16:103), Al-Dokhan (Qur’an 44:58) and Al-Qamar (Qur’an 54:22, 32, 40), it is emphasized that the Qur’an was revealed in straight forward, easy to understand, and pure Arabic.

    so MR Khalid you have told me that Mr X and Mr Y Says so .. but whats the reason that quran needs a third person to be understood .why cant a person who can read Arabic can understand it ?
    So you mean all humans are not capable of understanding ? even when they are literate ?
    Do they need to be a Muslim to understand ?

  39. AA Khalid

    Momin you are clutching at straws:

    ”dont need interpretation”’

    The Quran has no verse implying this at all, on the contrary it asks the reader to ponder overs its verses.

    Understanding in terms of linguistic structures and form (in the context of literary theory) is different from meaning. These are basic issues in the logic and philosophy of language.

    I am a Muslim, and likewise accept the authority of the Quran as the Word of God.

    Understanding in the Quranic sense means to grasp the lucid and eloquence of the Arabic, discovering its meaning is a different issue. The earliest Muslim commentators accepted this distinction, from at Tabari to the modern commentators today. There really isn’t any issue about this.

  40. Momin

    so what will be interpretation of the verse on wife beating ?

  41. Momin

    Qur’an was revealed in straight forward, “easy to understand,”

    that mean it doesn’t need interpretation ?

  42. @ Momin

    I agree with you.

    I understand that AA Khalid is very knowledgeable and eloquent and has presented a good case. However, the bottom line is that the Quran is supposed to be the word of God. Ambiguity, contradictions, and being grossly misinterpreted are human (not Godly) traits.

    I am educated enough, Arabic is my native language and I can tell for sure that verse 4:34 allows the beating of wives. All explanations by so called enlightened scholars are wishy-washy (and believe me I researched this extensively). There are numerous other inexcusable verses most notably 53:19-53:22 were God gets due to the claim that he has daughters (as opposed to sons). If these enlightened scholars are serious about fixing this mess they can find a way in which parts of the Quranic text are removed. Sooner later this s bound to happen.

  43. Momin

    Dear Rabbit

    This Effort is not for reforming the Qur’an but basically justifying it .
    Qur’an is word of God is Perception of Muslims and question of faith not logic .

    Every Aspect of human life including Faith has to obey humanity and ethics .

  44. Amna

    I’ll never understand why some ppl comment on a subject, in this case Quran, without proper research.

    Should they not first study Quran and learn its stance on certain issues before attributing them to islam?

    >>They site divorce laws, rape laws, bearing witness, wife-beating, unfair distribution of property and lack of autonomy to make decisions etc. >>

    Arguing for literal interpretation and practice of Islam is as flawed as arguing that keeping slaves is required by Islam. Can one argue that one needs to keep slaves, so they can be freed to atone for one’s sins?

    Quran explicitly says that two women constitute as one witness in the matters of financial agreements. Is it to give women at least SOME say, who otherwise wouldn’t have ANY right to bear witness in such matters, or to demean the female intellect? The decision is ours. >>

    this qualifies as “hearsay” not as “research”. Clearly the author has no idea about the view point of Quran over above state issues. the title should be “Why self study of Quran is required” instead of “Why Reinterpretation is Needed” because the on;y solution to not fall prey to rumors is to have first hand knowledge.

  45. @Amna

    Your response is typical in blaming people’s misunderstanding of the Quran instead of admitting that something is terribly wrong with a text that can be so easily misunderstood… as if God the omnipotent cannot express himself clearly.

    I did study the Quran so my claims are not based on rumors but on my personal research. This research led me to find something far more troubling than teh issues you described. I discussed this at length here:

    http://al-tanwir.blogspot.com/2010/01/god-goes-out-of-his-way-to-demean-women.html

    I would be very interested in your opinion.

  46. skarlok

    @ rabbit
    The type of men that beat there wives do not really need any religious justification to beat their wives, they will do it no matter what. So the idea that the Quran is responsible for bad treatment of wives is unjust. Did those people who claim they beat their wives because the Quran permits it forget all those other verses in the Quran and all the hadees of the Prophet that advise just and benevolent treatment of wives. Yes the Holy Quran has allowed this in circumstances of blatant disobedience such as maybe sexual promiscuity where chastising the wive is to bring about reform, and even that is the last recourse after the previous punishments mentioned in the verse meet no success. Not everyone is so high minded as you rabbit. There are many women in this world who are of very low standards and ideals, I believe this verse applies to them. But that doesn’t mean this is the best course of action to take, The Holy Prophet added that if it really comes down to it and you have to chastise your wife then it should not be in a way that leaves a mark on her body (Tirmidhi). The holy Prophet has also said that the husbands who beat there wives are not the best among men (kathir). On another occasion the Holy Prophet has said “The best among you is he who treats his wive best..”(tirmidhi). The verse under discussion should be understood in the light of the commentary that Muhammad himself has given. You should also read the next 2 verses so you can fully understand the scenario and the preferred state of mind that God wants his followers to adopt.

  47. Momin

    Dear Amna
    “two women constitute as one witness ” Is it to give women at least SOME say, who otherwise wouldn’t have ANY right to bear witness in such matters

    This Means that one Man is equal to two women . Please remember if Quran is perfect book for perfect world then God shall make a perfect world and not imperfect world from imperfect world .
    Also Please Note that Quran itself says that it is simple to understand .

    Dear Skarlok

    This debate is not about People who beat their wives but about the Book which justifies their action , like you are doing , so you are saying that it is allowed to beat your wife if she has done something wrong , tell me my friend what if the man does something wrong do wives have right to beat their husband too ??

  48. @Amna

    “Quran explicitly says that two women constitute as one witness in the matters of financial agreements. Is it to give women at least SOME say, who otherwise wouldn’t have ANY right to bear witness in such matters, or to demean the female intellect? ”

    I disagree. Why either 1/2 a say or no say? Why not an equal say in financial matters?
    For the record, Arab women had better status in society prior to Islam. We know that Khadija was a successful merchant and Muhammad worked for her. Why do you approve of Khadija (the business owner) having 1/2 the voice of a man. Is it because Islam looked down upon women?

  49. Amna

    @ rabbit and momin

    You both need to read the relevant verse first.

  50. Humane

    understanding history is not as easy as it sounds. If Arab women had better status in society prior to Islam them how do you explain the fact that many girls were buried alive because fathers did not want daughters in pre-Islam Arabia…….

    Khadija inherited her father’s running business and political powers. She belonged to a powerful aristocratic Quraish family explains why she was able to carry out business in the first place . The fact that Khadija carried on her business activities after her marriage to Mohammad explains Islam’s position on women.
    This also answers all those mullahs who claim to represent Islam but in fact are promoting their demonic interests.

  51. Momin

    Dear Amna

    Kindly enlighten us with those verse .

  52. Momin

    Dear Humane

    We are not judging History, nor the Society in pre Islam Arabia . We are judging the Word of God which is suppose to make the world Perfect . Word of God is Universal , it shall fit in the ancient times as well as modern Times .
    what you are saying is that quran was improvement over Pre Islam Society but doesnt fit in the Ethics of modern times .

  53. Amna

    If you are not even aware of the verse then why did u bother to comment on it?

    i had deduced

    2:282 O you who believe, when you contract a debt for a fixed time, write it down. And let a scribe write it down between you with fairness; nor should the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write. And let him who owes the debt dictate, and he should observe his duty to Allah, his Lord, and not diminish anything from it. But if he who owes the debt is unsound in understanding or weak, or (if) he is not able to dictate himself, let his guardian dictate with fairness. These words form the basis of the guardian and ward law, as they point out when a guardian may be appointed for one who is not able to manage his own property. The word which I have translated as weak really signifies one too young (i.e. a minor) or one too old (Bd). Thus a guardian may be appointed not only when the owner is a minor, but also when his understanding is not sound on account of age or any other reason And call to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the one may remind the other. And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned. And be not averse to writing it whether it is small or large along with the time of its falling due. This is more equitable in the sight of Allah and makes testimony surer and the best way to keep away from doubts.

    The point which pessimists are tend to suggest that taking of (two women and one man) witnesses could mean “valuing their word as half of that of men” but they find it hard to discern that it could also mean Quran ensured double participation of women as compared to male participation in legal and social affairs of the society.

    The case stated in above verse is about having a witness or witnesses when a guardian is sealing the legal contract at behalf of a person who is unsound in understanding or weak. The point which is overlooked here is a witness or witnesses are only asked to bear witness of a deal to ensure that guardian dictates the terms with fairness. Their role is more like of the legal advisors. This is not the case where witnesses are called upon to testify against someone or their testimonies are collected about some incident. In this scenario some may take liberty to suggest that calling of two female witnesses vs. a male witness results in giving less credibility to a woman’s testimony. This DEfINITELY not the case in the verse under discussion. Since at this point witnesses are not required to give their testimonies thus “valuing of one’s word as half of that of men” is out of the question.

    In addition to this it should be noted that guardian and scribe could be a male or female, no specific gender is mentioned. For instance it isn’t advised that if one can’t choose a guardian and a scribe from among men then one man and two women guardians should be taken. If Allah has really meant to establish any such law then a distinction should be made in selection of the guardian and the scribe too which we supposedly observe in the case of witnesses later. A guardian’s position, who has taken the responsibility to pay the debt, is as sensitive as, if not more than, the position of a witness whose job is to make sure no injustice is done to the person who is unsound in understanding or weak. This is enough to shut those up who suggest that Quran “values women’s word as half of that of men.”

    It is necessary to comment on the significance of Arabic term “shahid or shuhda” which is translated as “witness or witnesses”.

    Shahid – meaning one who gives information of what he has witnessed, or one who knows and declares what he knows, or one possessing much knowledge (Arabic English Lexicon by Edward William Lane) – Shahid also means an imam or a leader.

    The bearers of witness are the persons who carry knowledge to others, bearing testimony to its truth in their own person.

    The understanding of Arabic term clearly negates the remotest possibility that any tom, dick and harry could be called in to witness the contract. Those who are called in are those who possess much knowledge of their profession or duty. In above verse this Arabic term should be used with the context of verse. Context of the verse supports that those who are called in should be considered the legal advisors because they are required to bear witness to the truth of their knowledge regarding their profession in their own person.

    As far as the question of one’s forgetfulness is concerned it should be noted that this is a written legal document. Witnesses\legal advisors are only required to scrutinize that the guardian has done his or her job with fairness. They will attest the contract and it is now in official record. If any of the terms and conditions isn’t met (with the time of its falling due) then one can acquire the copy of the contract from the official record for further proceedings. The legal advisors or witnesses in whose presence the contract was sealed may be called upon to clarify their attestation of the document, if required. (And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned). One may ask if the whole process is dependent on one’s memory then what is the use of this official record keeping and what is the status of this legal document? It doesn’t make any sense that in the presence of legal document (the best way to keep away from doubts) anyone would need to depend on the memory of witnesses or legal advisors etc at any point.

    Witnesses or the legal advisors don’t need to memorize the contract’s clauses either because professional witnesses or legal advisors are required to keep the record. For the sake of argument if any one of them has the slightest doubt that he\she could forget about what they have borne witness to – they have the option to keep a copy of it as a reminder for future use easily. Hence weak memory of both genders is also not in question in the questioned verse. However it doesn’t make any sense at all that those, who are witnessing the contract at behalf of the one who is unsound in understanding or weak, are also unsound in understanding or weak too.

    On this footing we can attempt to interpret the words of verse which are taken out of context by the so-called critics of Islam. We can’t overlook the subject of the verse i.e. to ensure that guardian would dictate the terms in presences of a witness or witnesses with fairness.

    … And call to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, …

    The word used is wa-stashhidû, which means ‘call to witness’ or ‘ask a person to be a witness’. The choice is from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses.

    According to my understanding One person will attest this legal contract, after making sure that none of its clauses violate any of the rights of the person who is unsound in understanding or weak, from among the team of two male legal advisors but if there are not two of them available then a team of one male and two female legal advisors. The choice is given for the convenience of those who seek legal assistance and they are free to choose one from among those whom they choose to be witnesses. That person could either be a male of female who would attest the contract after consultation with his or her colleagues.

    This relaxation in choice is also in favour of the witnesses because And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned. This responsibility would bind them, to a certain period of time agreed upon in the contract, to make sure that all clauses of the contract are met on time of their falling due. In this scenario one can’t ignore the specific needs of a woman and hence the distinction should be made to give her relief. One can’t ignore the fact that Quran has not ignored the needs and rights of any member of the society. The selection of the words is so precise that no matter how hard we try we can’t find any flaw in them.

  54. Amna

    The Position of Official Witness
    Ibn Khaldun

    This is a religious position depending on the office of judge and connected with court practice. The men who hold it give testimony – with judge’s permission – for or against people’s (claims). They serve as witness when testimony is to be taken, testify during a lawsuit, and fill in the registers which record the rights, possessions, and debts of people and other legal transactions.

    We have mentioned ‘the judge’s permission’ because people may have become confused, and then only the judge knows who is reliable and who is not. Thus, in a way, he gives permission to those of whose probity he is sure, so that people’s affairs and transactions will be properly safeguarded.

    The prerequisite governing this position is the incumbent’s possession of the quality of probity according to the religious la, his freedom from unreliability. Furthermore, he must be able to fill in the (court) records and make out contracts in the right form and proper order and correctly, (observing) the conditions and stipulations governing them from the point of view of the religious law. Thus, he must have such knowledge of jurisprudence as is necessary for the purpose. Because of these conditions and the experience and practice required, (the office) came to be restricted to persons of probity. Probity came to be (considered) the particular quality of person who exercise this function. But this is not so. Probity is one of the prerequisite qualifying them for office.

    The judge must examine their conditions and look into their ways of life, to make sure that they fulfill the condition of probity. He must not neglect to do so, because it is his duty to safeguard the rights of the people. The responsibility for everything rests with him, and he is accountable for the outcome.

    Once (official witnesses) have been shown clearly to be qualified for the position, they become more generally useful (to the judges). (They can be used) to find out about the reliability of other men whose probity is not known to the judges, because of the large size of cities and their confused conditions. In assessing the reliability of (the evidence), they usually count upon these professional witnesses. In every city, they have their own shops and benches where they always sit, so that people who have transactions to make can engage them to function as witnesses and register the (testimony) in writing.

    The term ‘probity’ (‘adalah) thus came to be used both for the position whose significance has just been explained and for ‘probity (reliability)’ as required by the religious law, which is used paired with ‘unreliability’. The two are the same, but still, they are different.

    The Muqaddimah – page 177-178

  55. Amna

    mullahs (who learn theory from hearsay) should avoid this subject its beyond their reasoning skills and knowledge.

  56. Momin

    Dear Amna

    We were talking about Wife beating verse , you dont need to cut and paste something which is not relevant to this discussion

  57. Amna

    are u suffering from memory loss?

    Momin
    July 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm
    Dear Amna
    “two women constitute as one witness ” Is it to give women at least SOME say, who otherwise wouldn’t have ANY right to bear witness in such matters

    This Means that one Man is equal to two women . Please remember if Quran is perfect book for perfect world then God shall make a perfect world and not imperfect world from imperfect world .
    Also Please Note that Quran itself says that it is simple to understand .

  58. skarlok

    @Momin
    “We are judging the Word of God which is suppose to make the world Perfect .”
    dear momin

    obviously your understanding of perfection is the correct understanding. Maybe you should give God some lessons on what it means to be perfect.

  59. mubarak

    @ amna
    your exposition of the verse is truly enlightening and educational. thanks for that post.

  60. skarlok

    @ rabbit

    “tell me my friend what if the man does something wrong do wives have right to beat their husband too ??”

    My question to you is

    1) What would your reaction be if you wife repeatedly cheats on you?
    2)if you have a wife, please ask her what her reaction would be if you repeatedly cheat on her.

    The Holy Quran along with the The holy prophet expect the best behavior and utmost respect and benevolence between husbands and wives. That is the actual point the Holy Quran stresses which you chose to ignore. However it is actually a testament to the Holy Quran that it realizes the unidealistic nature of life and teaches us possible ways to bring about reform. I have already explained that the verse about punishing the wive should be understood in the light of the commentary the Holy Prophet himself has given.

  61. KR

    Aamna…that was a long winded answer for something that should be ‘simple and easy to understand’. I commend your passion to try and manipulate the clear words in Quran so they conform to the modern understanding but there are gaping holes in your theory. The fact that “witnesses” are to “err” and have to be reminded by each other clearly means that are not ‘legal advisors’ (advisors don’t err and remind each other). Also the gender of the noun used for other scribe etc. is male.
    Now…some scholars have tried to run around this ayat and give the most convoluted meaning that can be extracted, but most have come up with ‘simple’ explanations…In my article I am arguing that we need not manipulate the WORDS to get the meaning we want because some words are beyond explanation..such as beating of the wife NO MATTER HOW HORRIDLY SHE BEHAVES!!! It is not the physical abuse that matters but the idea that she can be chastised by her husband but husband cannot be chastised by her (or her male relatives)…
    If we look at the “intentions” of all Islamic laws, which I believe is JUSTICE, then we can create laws that are JUST in today’s society…they will be unjust for yesterday’s society and maybe tomorrow’s society but we live in the present.

  62. tilsim1

    @ KR

    What you say makes sense to me. However, the dogma is that the law is for all time. This feature has to be addressed and the explanation convincing for this construct to work. Thanks though for a very thoughtful piece. Many muslims struggle (if they are honest to themselves) with these aspects of the good religion in the context of the underlying intent of justice. It certainly helps to get different views.

  63. skarlok

    @KR

    “It is not the physical abuse that matters but the idea that she can be chastised by her husband but husband cannot be chastised by her (or her male relatives)…”

    This may require research but the Holy Quran hasn’t stated that husbands cannot be chastised for their wrong deeds.

  64. Momin

    Dear Skarlok

    if you have something to debate on please go ahead and rebutt my point .

  65. @Sharlok
    “What would your reaction be if you wife repeatedly cheats on you?”

    I know what would my reaction not be. I would certainly not beat her. The idea that you should beat you wife for cheating confirms that you think of women more like cattle.

    @Amna
    your very long explanation of the testimony verse did not explain why two women are equal to one man. The only hint of an explanation was your mention of “one can’t ignore the specific needs of a woman and hence the distinction should be made to give her relief” which does not sound very convincing… or at least I didn’t get what you are aiming at here.

    In the Quran there’s a troubling trend of repeatedly regarding women as lesser than men. I would refer your to verses 53:19-53:22 where it is plainly stated that women are lesser than men. I discussed verses 53:19-53:22 in my Blog. They are specially important because they cannot be explained in terms of social and cultural habits of Arabs at the time.

  66. HC

    @Amna… where r u? we r waiting for u in afghanistan.

  67. Amna

    @mubarak

    Thanks. Ibn Khaldun (12 or 13 century well known Jurist) understanding of official witnesses helped me further to see that work of an official witness and its availibility could affact a woman’s homelife. If men can have two shares in property because of their duties towards family then why married women should not be compensated in their work life as well because of their duty as mothers. why they are expected to work like men (i do not mean working like maids at their husband’s place as it is expected in Pakistan).

    @ others

    Allah has not differentiated between men and women – dictinction is only made when the subject is about their duties and rights.

    Consult Ibn Khaldun’s explanation of “official witness”. Judges appoint “official witnesses” based on “some merit”. the verse in question does not speak of “valuing one’s word half”. whoever is up to merit will be recommended as “official witness” by the judge

    there is no comparison of one gender’s intellect or morals with the other in the verse. i have no idea that on what basis mullahs demand male gender superiority over female gender by using the verse in question. they only show disrespect to Allah by uttering such nonsense.

    I wonder how mullahs have concluded that taking of two women as witnesses could mean one man is equal to two women? Why it can’t mean that “quota” for women in legal affairs is double than men?

    fact of the matter is – quote “The word used is wa-stashhidû, which means ‘call to witness’ or ‘ask a person to be a witness’. In this case only one person bears witness, which is clear from the words “if one of the two errs”. This means that the word of a woman has the same weight as the word of a man.”

    So, at the time of testimony only two witnesses are required. If two men are not found, then one man and two women will suffice of which only one woman will bear witness – Two woman are called in the first place because if one of the women is incapacitated then the other must take her place; so the word of a woman has the same weight as the word of a man.”

    some interpret the term ‘err’ as “incapacitated” as well.

    another opinion – “I like to return to the point that the testimony of a man and a woman have the same weight. When you read the Qur’an verses 24:6 and 24:8, you will see that in case of accusation of adultery (which is of course much more serious than some business transaction; marriage is at stake), the husband has to testify fives times and that the wife has to testify also fives times (and not ten times). [see: 24:6-11]”

    Above verse should silent those who think a woman’s testimony is less credible. how rdiculous.

    the verse 2:282 is certainly not about giving of testimony but witnessing of a contract. big difference!

    another dogma – wife beating

    quote – As for those women on whose part ye fear rebellion (nushuz), admonish them and banish them to beds apart, (and last) beat (adriboo) them. Then, if they obey you, seek not a way against them.

    The key to the problem is the mistranslation of the two key words ‘nushuz’ and ‘adriboo’. Some of the possible meanings for both the words, according to the lexicon are given below. Again, the appropriate meaning will depend on the context of the verse.

    Nushuz: Animosity, hostility, rebellion, ill-treatment, discord, violation of marital duties on the part of either husband or wife.

    Adriboo (root Daraba): to beat, to strike, to hit, to separate, to part etc.

    In the context of the above verse the most appropriate meaning for nushuz is ‘marital discord’ (ill-will, animosity etc), and that for ‘adriboo’ is ‘to separate’ or ‘to part’. Otherwise it is inviting the likelihood of a divorce without any reconciliation procedure and this will contravene the Qur’anic guidance as shown in verse 4:35 below. The separation could be temporary or permanent depending on the reconciliation procedure, and this fits in very well with the divorce procedure outlined in the Qur’an (see 8.5). Therefore the more accurate translation of the above verse would be:

    Surah al Nisa 4:34 As for those women whose animosity or ill-will you have reason to fear, then leave them alone in bed, and then separate; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek a way against them.

    The verse following the above verse gives further weight to the above translation.

    Surah al Nisa 4:35 And if ye fear a breach between them twain (the man and the wife), appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they desire amendment Allah will make them of one mind. Lo! Allah is ever knower, Aware.

    An added weight to the meanings outlined above is given by verse (4:128) quoted below, where in the case of a man the same word nushuz is used, but it is translated as ‘ill-treatment’ as against ‘rebellion’ in the case of a woman in verse 4:34. Also as the ill-treatment is from the husband, a process of reconciliation is encouraged!

    Surah al Nisa 4:128

    If a wife fears ill-treatment (nushuz) or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves; and such settlement is best.

    This obviously is a double standard and the only way to reconcile the meanings of the two verses, in the contexts they are being used, is to accept the meaning of adriboo as: ‘to separate’ or to ‘part’. In this connection I would like to refer the reader to an excellent article from which I quote:

    Qur’anic commentators and translators experience problems with the term Adribu in the Qur’an not just in this verse but in others, as it is used in different contexts in ways which appear ambiguous and open to widely different translations into English. ‘Daraba’ can be translated in more than a hundred different ways.

    The translation of Adribu as ‘to strike’ in this particular verse (4:34) is founded upon nothing more than:

    (i) The authority of hadiths (Abu Daud 2141 and Mishkat Al-Masabih 0276) that this is what Adribu means in this context.

    (ii) The prejudices and environment of the early commentators of the Qur’an which led them to assume that ‘to strike’, given the overall context of the verse, is the most likely interpretation of the many possible interpretations of Adribu.

    >>

    Prophet’s own practice negate this – he too separation from his wives when they demanded wordly riches – if he had understood the verse to “correct” their behaviour by beating them then he should have done that. Unfortunaltely some followers of islam prefer the influence of “animal” in them. they dun tame or subdue it using God’s word.

  68. Momin

    Qur’an (2:228) – “and the men are a degree above them [women]”

    Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: ……… I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you…….” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “(Q-2.282) Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence……………(Sahih Bukhari).

  69. skarlok

    @rabbit

    “I know what would my reaction not be. I would certainly not beat her. The idea that you should beat you wife for cheating confirms that you think of women more like cattle.”

    dear rabbit you have not answered my question. I didn’t ask what your response wouldn’t be. I am trying to learn what the “perfect” response would be according to you. Also, you have made an assumption about me that I would beat my wife. I am simply trying to learn different people’s approach to what the solution should be. After critisizing something an alternative solution should be presented as well so we can analyze which solution is better.

  70. skarlok

    @ rabbit
    by the way I would also not beat my wife.

  71. @sharlok

    When couples have problems due to extramarital affairs or any other reason they usually: talk, seek therapy, forgive, separate, etc. It really depends on the specific situation.

    Beating (violence) however is considered a crime in all developed countries. I also don’t think that beating deters an adult person from committing cheating. Unfortunately Arabs/Muslims are used and accepting of violence. Kids are beaten at home and school. Wives are beaten by husbands. Men are beaten by figures of authority (policemen, military men, etc). I expect the Quran (divine word of God) to know better….

  72. Amna

    Qur’an (2:228) – “and the men are a degree above them [women]”

    why do u take verses out of context?

    2:228 And the divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three courses. And it is not lawful for them to conceal that which Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation. And women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and men are a degree above them. And Allah is Mighty, Wise.

    There is comparison of rights in this verse – this verse also fails to establish the “superiority of men either in morals or intellect” over women as well.

    …And their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation. And women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and men are a degree above them.

    Father is bound to financially support his children until they attain maturity and he is also bound to support his wife (divorced one) for 2 years after delivery in case of male child and more than 2 years in case of female child.

    men’s duties a degree above women. i do agree.


    Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: ……… I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you…….” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “(Q-2.282) Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence……………(Sahih Bukhari).”

    u did not give exact reference of hadith.

    The Prophet said that women
    totally dominate men of intellect and possessors of hearts, But ignorant men dominate women,
    for they are shackled by the ferocity of animals.

  73. Momin

    Dear Amna

    You are inserting lot of words to justify something which is not there . Duties ??? where is duties mentioned there ?? it just says men are degree above women .
    Also Please note that men are not bound to wait for three months women are. doesn’t that make it injustice?
    Quran in Sura 4:34 says:

    Men are managers of the affairs of women because Allah has made the one superior to the other. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 329)

    Sura 2:282:
    Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

    The Prophet said, “Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?” The women said, “Yes.” He said, “This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.” (Bukhari,

  74. Ata Elahi

    It is an interesting article by Miss Kiran. I hope we start discussing our touchy issues, without hurting anyone, So people can move on to 21st century, without losing so may wonderful teachings of Islam.

  75. Amna

    >>You are inserting lot of words to justify something which is not there . Duties ??? where is duties mentioned there ?? it just says men are degree above women .>>

    1. One is entiltled to certain rights because of their
    duties.

    2. The verse declares that men and women have same rights and then these words are added “men are a degree above them” – they are above them in matter of their rights – not because of their morals or intellect.

    3. In this case if a woman insists on divorce then man is the loser not the woman because according to Islamic law she and her child will be entitled to get financial support. He will not lose his family but he will have to provide for their basic needs too. He won’t be able to start a new family if he can’t financially support them.

    it would be better for the sake of child’s welfare that he\she gets a chance to live with their father “And their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation”.

    >>Also Please note that men are not bound to wait for three months women are. doesn’t that make it injustice?>>

    irrelevant

    >>
    Quran in Sura 4:34 says:

    Men are managers of the affairs of women because Allah has made the one superior to the other. (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 329)>>

    Men are the maintainers of woman, with what Allah has made of them to excel others, and with what they spend out of their property (4:34).

    This is for married women. This verse entitles them to get financial support from their husband “with what they spend out of their property”.

    It is these extra responsibilities that give man a degree over woman in some economic aspects. It is not a higher degree in humanity or in character. Nor is it a dominance of one over the other or suppression of one by the other.

    It would be better that you first understand the context of verse and then speak about it. After marriage a woman has to live in her husband’s house and he has to “maintain” her in his home accoridng to his means.

    Let Allah be the sole authority or Let Hima lone dominate or Be Superior because he won’t do injustice to anyone. Human should avoid such aspirations.

  76. Bin Ismail

    The verses of the Quran, in relation to women, should be examined in the broader perspective. Essentially, we are dealing with two issues here:

    1. Rights of women
    2. Answerability of women

    With respect to the rights of women, the Quran states in lucid terms that they enjoy equal as well as similar rights as men. God says: “…and they (women) have rights similar and equal to those (of men) in equity…” [Quran 2:228]. The Quran proceeds to say, in the same verse: “…and men have a degree of advantage over them (women)…” [Quran 2:228]. In another verse God explains the rationale of this “darajah” or degree of advantage that men have been granted over women. God says: “…men are appointed guardians over women on account of that, in respect of which, Allah has made some of them excel others due to the fact that they spend of their wealth…” [Quran 4:34]. In this verse, the Arabic term used is “qawwaamoon” which some translators have inappropriately translated as “superiors”, whereas by any standards, “guardians” would be closest to the real meaning. The reason for men having been placed as guardians is stated as “due to the fact that they spend of their wealth” – which means to say that the Quran places the responsibility of serving as the breadwinner on man of the house. Obviously, this relationship comes to exist only within the domain of the family – not between male and female per se. This does not mean to say that the Quran in any way discourages women from pursuing a profession. It only means that within the domain of the family, the burden of managerial “answerability” has been placed on men. For the woman, earning is her sweet choice. For the man it is a responsibility for which he is answerable to God. Thus the guardianship awarded to men is linked to their answerability and their answerability is on account of their guardianship. As far as individual fundamental rights of the genders are concerned, they remain both equal and similar [Quran 2:228].

    Regarding the verse about two women witnesses [2:282], we must not forget that this relates to domestic financial loans, not to female finance professionals. Actually, if you study the verse more carefully you will appreciate that in principle, only one woman replaces one man as a witness. The second woman’s involvement is conditional to the woman witness admittedly forgetting. Thus the second woman is more of a back-up. Essentially, here again, the answerability of the woman has been thus halved, in the event of a memory lapse.

    The Quran is not only open to interpretations, it invites interpretations. Undoubtedly medieval interpretations need to be replaced with those that serve the needs of our age. Moreover, we do not have to necessarily throw a fit each time we come across a new interpretation.

  77. mubarak

    Thanks for your exposition on some of these matters. I’ve also felt the Quran says [Quran 2:228] that men have a “daraja” over women due to their physical structures being different from women. After all, we don’t we women boxers compete with men boxers, or women athletes with men athletes in general at the professional level.

    I would like to know you comments on the verse regarding men being allowed to chastise their wives and if the vice versa is allowed?
    This may allow us to clear up some of the confusion between skarlok and rabbit. After all domestic violence against women is truly a very lowly act in my opinion, does the Quran really endorse such a thing?

  78. Bin Ismail

    @mubarak (July 26, 2010 at 3:57 am)

    “…..After all, why don’t women boxers compete with men boxers…..”

    Just wondering. If you tossed this question to a maulana, he would perhaps have replied that men should indeed have boxing matches with women, so that they can fulfill the commandment of “fadriboo hunna” [4:34], which of course all maulvis, given the choice, would love to translate as “beat the hell out of them”.

    Actually whenever the task of translation is assigned to the literalists, they invariably come up with the most wonderful ideas. If a literalist were to read, leave aside translate, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, when he would arrive at “…Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…”, he would be imagining people physically lending their auditory organs, by detaching them from the sides of their heads. If a person overhears me, for instance, saying, “the mullahs ride my nerves” and infers that my entire nervous system is studded with mullahs, one mullah per neuron, and each straddled on a nerve cell of mine, this person could safely be categorized as a literalist.

    The expression “fadriboo hunna” [4:34] could be translated as “strike them”, “chastise them”, “reprimand them”, “part with them” or even “explain to them”. The term “darb al amsaal” refers to “elaborately explaining by means of examples”. Let us not forget that the root word “darb” means strike as well as explain.

    The issue needs to be examined in its entirety. Muhammad who termed women “qawaareer” meaning glassware, could not possibly have ever translated “fadriboo hunna” as beat them. He, most definitely would have understood this expression as meaning either “part with them” or “offer them counsel”.

    Regards.

  79. Amna

    …And call to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the one may remind the other. And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned. And be not averse to writing it whether it is small or large along with the time of its falling due. This is more equitable in the sight of Allah and makes testimony surer and the best way to keep away from doubts.

    memory lapse is out of question since this is a written document (makes testimony surer and the best way to keep away from doubts).

    English term ‘witness’ can’t be a substitute of arabic term. eg You may be the bearers of witness to the people and (that) the Messenger may be a bearer of witness to you

    it is clear that duty of prophet is not only to deliver the message but to stand as authority (witness) that people do not misinterpret religion.

    It is more likely that “so that if one of the two errs, the one may remind the other” the two witnesses are the guardian (who has to implement terms by bearing witness to them) and the one who has to make sure that guardian dictates the terms fairly and implement them.

    it is required that there is a check on guardian and should be reminded if s\he errs.

    4:5 And make not over your property, which Allah has made a (means of) support for you, to the weak of understanding, and maintain them out of it, and clothe them and give them a good education.

    4:6 And test the orphans until they reach the age of marriage. Then if you find in them maturity of intellect, make over to them their property, and consume it not extravagantly and hastily against their growing up. And whoever is rich, let him abstain, and whoever is poor let him consume reasonably. And when you make over to them their property, call witnesses in their presence. And Allah is enough as a Reckoner.

    one has to keep in mind all the relevant verses on this subject. this speaks of the duties of guardian and witnesses.

    >>And when you make over to them their property, call witnesses in their presence. And Allah is enough as a Reckoner

    it would be convenient if witnesses’ comfort is taken into consideration if their duties can prolong for a long time of period.

  80. rationlist

    Why did “god” do the foolishness of choosing to talk in a language that has so many ambiguities in it?

    bin ismail wrote: “Let us not forget that the root word “darb” means strike as well as explain.”

    A language wherein two such opposite meanings are made to sit on the same root – such a language is not suited for divine talk.

    If A wants to communicate with B then the two must first agree on a common, clear, unambiguous, mutually comprehensible language and definitions of words to be used.

  81. rationlist

    How much time people are wasting on old worn-out languages that have no solutions for our problems of today.

    They waste their time and energy on these languages and the so-called god’s instructions in them and then come home and produce children like rabbits (because that is the only activity that they can then perform – their brain is so dead and stultified) and then complain that their problems are getting worse.

  82. What I see here is an attempt by some to convince themselves that “idrubuhunna” does not mean “beat them”. However, explanations provided so far are weak at best. The whole argument sounds like a smart lawyer trying to defend a clearly guilty client. I see the follwoing problems with your explanation:
    – The fact that you need to write long articles to explain something as simple as “you are not allowed to beat your wife” indicates that the verse itself is not very clear. Otherwise it would not be an issue of debate. And this is a shortcoming of what is supposed to be a divine text.
    – Irrespective of your interpretation, one can argue that it does not matter what God really meant in this verse. What really matters is what his followers think he meant.
    – This is not the only verse which is the subject of debate. Somehow it seems that whenever God is referring to women there is controversy. Is he always not properly explaining himself when it comes to women or is it something else? What about verses 53:19-53:22 where God clearly states that having females as daughters as opposed to males is unfair? What is the explanation here?

  83. rationlist

    to rabbit

    when I wrote producing children like rabbits then I certainly did not mean you!!!

    But, as every honest person can see, the whole god-concept of this old arabic book is a humbug leading men and women to disaster. Your intelligent comment shows this clearly.

    What god is this who can’t talk clearly to the people of the 21st century? Do we need such a god in the present times? Just look at the confusions, endless-meaningless debates, linguistic shows, waste of time, violence, arrogance and oppression in the name of god etc. that he is causing. But some are so intimidated or made crooked in their beliefs by this god-concept that they will rather go down the drain and pull many along with them than accept that the whole show is bizzarely atrocious.

    “After my death I want to be gurarateed a place in some god’s heaven” – this motivation is proving to be a source and cause of much hypocrisy and crookedness.

  84. Bin Ismail

    @ Amna (July 26, 2010 at 7:55 pm)

    “…..It is more likely that “so that if one of the two errs, the one may remind the other”…..”

    A memory lapse does not at all suggest amnesia. It simply suggests forgetting something, which of course is perfectly human. Moreover, when you use the expression “remind”, you imply naturally that there is a memory lapse in question. Only the “forgotten” is reminded.

    @rabbit

    “….. Otherwise it would not be an issue of debate. And this is a shortcoming of what is supposed to be a divine text…..”

    Notes of dissent written by judges who are members of a larger panel, do not suggest that there was an inherent “shortcoming” in the language or text of the written law. It simply suggests that there was a difference of opinion in interpreting it.

    @rationlist

    1.”…..Why did “god” do the foolishness of choosing to talk in a language that has so many ambiguities in it?…..”

    The ambiguity itself can be due to the foolishness, prejudice or haste of the person attempting to judge the Word of God.

    2.”…..A language wherein two such opposite meanings are made to sit on the same root – such a language is not suited for divine talk…..”

    Herein lies the test for man’s intelligence and serious mindedness and search for truth.

    3.”…..If A wants to communicate with B then the two must first agree on a common, clear, unambiguous, mutually comprehensible language and definitions of words to be used…..”

    If both are equal in station. When the Creator and Master chooses to speak to His creation and servants, He makes the choices.

    4.”…..the whole god-concept of this old arabic book is a humbug…..”

    Humbug mentalities are know to hold everyone and everything but themselves as humbug.

    5.”…..What god is this who can’t talk clearly to the people of the 21st century?…..”

    God has spoken to man from the days of Adam, and will continue to address man till the end of days. Clarity is a permanent attribute of His Word. Skepticism, on the other hand, has been an attribute exhibited by man.

  85. Abhi

    “God has spoken to man from the days of Adam, and will continue to address man till the end of days. ”

    I thought the 700 AD hotline was the final and ultimate one. Anybody who questions this is not a true Muslim.

  86. skarlok

    @bin ismail
    Please remember that rationlist is an all-knowing being and knows everything about the collective psychology of human society, God should just follow his dictates.

  87. skarlok

    @Abhi
    “I thought the 700 AD hotline was the final and ultimate one. Anybody who questions this is not a true Muslim.”

    Yes the mulla’s phone got disconnected after 700 AD and they didn’t bother to reconnect.

  88. Amna

    @ Bin ismail

    “A memory lapse does not at all suggest amnesia. It simply suggests forgetting something, which of course is perfectly human. Moreover, when you use the expression “remind”, you imply naturally that there is a memory lapse in question. Only the “forgotten” is reminded.”

    There is a verse which speaks of quality of believers and of their qualities is that they enjoin good.

    One stands in need of reminding because of different state of minds as result of one’s circumstances, men and women alike. 5 times prayer is a reminder too that one should not forget the purpose i.e to serve Allah.

    it seems like that guardian is more in need of reminding than others.

    two women’s memory(its abilities) is not in question at all because they do not need to memorise the legal document as it is in written form.

  89. Bin Ismail

    @Amna

    One stands in need of being reminded because:

    1. one is liable to forget
    2. one is liable to lose sight of something
    3. one is liable to be oblivious

    If you happened to have gone through my earlier post, I’ve offered an explanation that the role of the second female witness is essentially that of a “back-up”, who would become operational only in case of need, and whose purpose is basically to minimize the accountability of the female witness by 50%.

    The point that you’ve raised, does indeed make a lot of sense, that the idea of having two females in lieu of one male is to double women’s involvement in these matters. Very rational and well argued, I must say.

  90. Amna

    yes i have read your posts. I do understand your points. thanks.

    i was asked – “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?”

    i agree with thise view “At least, the above are not words of Quran. Hence the reader is at more liberty to accept, reject, imply, deduce and contextualize the “intelligent” side of these opinions.”

    i searched on internet and could not find better translation except.

    >>Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301:
    Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

    Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o ‘Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.”

    Volume 2, Book 24, Number 541:
    Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri

    On ‘Id ul Fitr or ‘Id ul Adha Allah’s Apostle (p.b.u.h) went out to the Musalla. After finishing the prayer, he delivered the sermon and ordered the people to give alms. He said, “O people! Give alms.” Then he went towards the women and said. “O women! Give alms, for I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-Fire were you (women).” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is the reason for it?” He replied, “O women! You curse frequently, and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. O women, some of you can lead a cautious wise man astray.” Then he left. And when he reached his house, Zainab, the wife of Ibn Masud, came and asked permission to enter It was said, “O Allah’s Apostle! It is Zainab.” He asked, ‘Which Zainab?” The reply was that she was the wife of Ibn Mas’ub. He said, “Yes, allow her to enter.” And she was admitted. Then she said, “O Prophet of Allah! Today you ordered people to give alms and I had an ornament and intended to give it as alms, but Ibn Masud said that he and his children deserved it more than anybody else.” The Prophet replied, “Ibn Masud had spoken the truth. Your husband and your children had more right to it than anybody else.”

    >>

    Usually interpreters neglect the basics and complicate the issue. I do not know if it is the best translation of the hadith but if we can still try to understand it. We have to bear in mind that we can’t be compared with an audience which was educated by prophet and had the required knowledge to understand his words. We have to be clear of certain concepts and use of vocabulary (meanings of giving alms, religion, zawj etc) before interpreting them in other languages.

    >> Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. >>

    General understanding of these words which is prevalent that majority of women will be in hell or prophet might have encouraged giving of alms for fear of ending in hell is wrong.

    One is asked to be charitable for the love of Allah only. Quran encourages doing of good for the sake of nourishing and development of his own faculties (Taking of Allah’s colour). Once that understanding is attained then making a choice between what is beneficial for self (source of food for soul) and harmful for self (misuse of abilities which leads to grieving and fear) is easy.

    Hell is conceived by many a place of torture but it is a condition which one suffers for loss of his spiritual health. It is conditional and curable if one changes his course.

    I read that >>In another prophecy, after referring to chastisement it is stated at the end:
    Why should Allah chastise you if you are grateful and believe? (The Holy Quran, 4:147).
    That is, what purpose will it serve God to chastise you if you become grateful and believing? In this prophecy it is meant to convey that the chastisement to come will be averted by gratefulness and faith.>> Does God hear man’s prayers? By Mirza Ghulam Ahamd.>>

    “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).”

    These words can be reconciled with his 2nd argument only if we interpret them as – O women (women also stands for weak conscience\carnal soul) – Give Alms (nourish your faculties and use them properly for your and others’ welfare) – as I have seen that majority of hell-fire (lack or misuse of faculties) were you (women) (those under influence of carnal soul).

    If hell fire is not avertable or he for sure knew that majority of women will end in hell fire he would not need to mention the remedy i.e. Give alms.

    Literal meanings can’t be reconciled with >> they asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. >> because prophet has already stated the reason why majority of women are in hell – it is because they do not give alms. There was no need for his audience to further inquire “They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle?”

    It seems that charity of money is not in question but charity of one’s abilities\character is in question.
    His reply was – You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you

    This is not general address to all women. It is an address to particular women who are guilty of that behaviour. He would not address them like that if he was not aware of their practice personally. It is not likely that he was assuming all women (nature varies) have such personality traits. He was specifically speaking of married women.

    One characteristic of prophet which is spoken in Quran is – that if your manners were rough they would not have gathered around u (paraphrasing).

    He may be pointing out to them that these two things cursing and ungratefulness can cause ill feeling and destroy family life. If one can’t see what one’s choices can lead to then that person is definitely deficient in intelligence (which helps one to see the consequences) and religion (which makes one morally and socially better person).

    If we take cursing and ungratefulness of carnal soul (one characteristic of devil is hopelessness) to Divine soul, which is breathed in us all – then it is easy to interpret these words – rebellion of carnal soul against divine soul makes one deficient in intelligence and religion. (Such ppl are called worse than animals in Quran).

    >>A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.”>>

    According to Quran’s law no one is responsible for others’ actions.

    If he meant that discord between couples can affect one emotionally then it is acceptable.

    It is also acceptable that carnal soul can led some of us astray.

    >>The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative.>>

    I do not understand this argument – it is already mentioned by him that “cursing and being ungrateful to husbands” makes him think that they r deficient in intelligence and religion – why would they need further explanation? Like he already told them that through his prophetic vision he saw that majority of women in hell and they could escape by giving alms – why women need to ask him again “why is it so”.

    This is not an intelligent dialogue or we need better and authentic translation.

    I agree with this view ” We can’t construct general principles contrary to the teachings of the Quran on the basis of such reports.”

  91. rationalist

    bin ismail’s defence of his god-concept leads to a fascist society in the name of god. The one who questions is devilized, ridiculed, humiliated. A god who approves of such methods (as displayed by bin ismail) in his justification will end up supporting and strengthening a fascist society.

    The point is: if A communicates with B and B is confused about it then it is largely or basically A’s mistake. No point ridiculing B in order to flatter A.

    Since we know that a muslim is not allowed to question the kuran, hence any dialogue with muslims on this issue is a waste of effort. Thus fascism becomes stronger in muslim societies top to bottom and bottom to top. People like bin ismail, even (or especially) with their pious airs, carry a big guilt in this process. Islamic arguments convince those who have decided to be dumb. Those who reject being reduced to a dumb level have to endure the wrath of the fascist bosses in muslim societies. I know this from personal experience. And this fascism hides itself, whenever convenient or necessary, under piety.

  92. Bin Ismail

    @ rationlist

    Speaking hypothetically, yes, in the A-B dialogue, B could be confused. Agreed. Again, speaking hypothetically, B could also be biased and prejudiced. In that case, too, I believe you would agree with me, that B would not be willing to understand.

  93. rationalist

    To bin ismail

    This matter of B being biased or unwilling to understand (vis-a-vis A) etc. is possible in interhuman relationships. God – your arab god – does not have this excuse at his disposal. If the one who is supposed to play the god-role cannot convince or causes confusions leading to conflicts then why blame the one playing the human-being-role?

    You are repeatedly committing the blunder of using human excuses to justify your arab god. I think god does not (or should not) need that. In fact you are making your god into a ridiculous figure by forwarding human excuses (excuses which may have some weight if used by human beings) for defending your god’s faults and failures.

    As regards fascism – it has a very subtle method of capturing a society or a religion or a family or a human mind, sometimes in a very harmless-looking or pious-sounding fashion. I wish that you make yourself aware of these subtelities. The developments in arab-religion-based societies are alarming.

  94. Dastagir

    Yasser Latif Hamdani / Kiran Rizvi / Amna… : i have a suggestion. You guys write wonderfully. I will draw a rough-sketch (outline). You refine the thought-process.

    Point # 1. Islam gave freedom to women 1400 yrs ago. The maximum freedom possible. A daughter’s share in her father’s estate. UK gave women equal rights., just a century ago. 2 centuries ago, there was a market (like the Bakra Mandi or Cattle Market) in Italy where women were sold openly, as cattle ! In US, the blacks got the right to vote., a few decades back… .So this is just to refresh the memory… before people generalise with sweeping statements (without solid scholarship… unfortunately).

    Point # 2. However the literal translations, have made life difficult for muslim girls. PURDAH and BURQA have nothing to do with Islam. The Burqa as we know today., is of Turkish Origin (originally for Turkish ROYALTY !). The peasant-woman never observed Purdah over the past 14 centuries., working with her husband in the fields. An average muslim like HAKKU (and not Raja Saheb Ali Mohammed Khan of Mahmudabad or Nawab Ismail Khan of Rampur); have always been close to the “heart” of Islam ! So what is meant by Purdah ? Purdah = Modest Dressing. Decent Dressing. So if you ask me, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi observes “Purdah” perfectly ! Then what is non-purdah : Rakhi Sawant. Thats it.

    Point # 3 : Gold Jewelry is “not allowed” (Haraam) for men in Islam. Everyone knows this. What few people know is the fact that GOLD JEWELRY is looked down upon… EVEN FOR WOMEN… in Islamic thought and culture. (The Prophet turned back when he saw his daugher wearing a gold chain). So YLH/ Amna/Kiran… write an article highlighting the fact that Muslims must boycott GOLD JEWELRY. Muslim women must ideally, NOT wear jewelry at all. The amount of money spent on the UGLY Gold., must be spent on Books. How about giving 100 books to a girl (in Dowry / Dahej) instead of 10 tola Gold ?

    A Muslim woman’s Jewelry is her Ilm. Develop this thought. However the desire to look good is basic… so… a make-shift compromise could be : go for FANCY JEWELRY., but for God’s sake., BOYCOTT GOLD silently… It is not sync with 2010. It is very expensive… ugly… and a dead-asset. Muslims must go for books., and knowledge-acquisition. That must be the IN Jewelry for the Muslim girl-child.

    Purdah-Wurdah chhoro.. Physics-Math ki baat karo.

  95. Bin Ismail

    @ rationalist (July 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm)

    Let’s assume, to suit your convenience of course, that God was a declared non-Arab and showed you the shining sun, and told you that this was the sun, and you very expectedly chose to deny it, the manifesting shortcoming would, in my humble opinion, be yours, not God’s.

    @Dastagir (July 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm)

    Your rough-sketch (outline) is hardly wanting in refinement. Very well said indeed.

  96. Amna

    There is a verse – Allah has made subervient to you whatever in heavens and on earth.

    Make best use of spiritual and phsical means provided by Allah. excel in both.

    Gold is one of the blessings and there is no harm in using it.

    it would be better if she could use her own knowledge and reasoning to write her own books. There is no harm in to take benefit of others’ research but dun subject to ur self to that only. Use it in a manner to advance further

    The term khimar is used in Quran whicg does not mean hijab or veil.

  97. rationalist

    to bin ismail

    A non-arab god would talk to me in my own mother-tongue – and not expect me to learn someone else’s ambiguity-filled mother-tongue before he can talk to me.

    The example of the shining sun that you give does not correspond even 1% to what is actually happening in terms of confusions and conflicts due to thes arabic book and relgion in the real world of today.

    I don’t choose to deny anything – as you would like to postulate about me for the convenience of your arguments – but reject only when I recognize that I and others around me are being fooled or misused or intimidated. Denial by choice is what Pakistan does in order to save its face when terror strikes. Honesty by choice would be a better alternative for all. Fooling, misusing or intimidating human beings is especially bad when done in the name of a god (whichever god or god-concept).

  98. Tilsim

    @ Dastagir

    Last time I checked, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. I would love to see the expression on the receiving girl’s face when she gets the latest addition of ‘Nuclear and Particle Physics’ by WSC. Williams. Worthy thought though:)

  99. Amna

    i would like to add

    If a woman (You may be the bearers of witness to the people and (that) the Messenger may be a bearer of witness to you) can bear witness to the legacy of prophet than it is far greater than witness a financial transaction.

    From among those (your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women) whom you choose to be witnesses.

    The choice to appoint witnesses is given to whom?

    I do not think it is given to guardian because if s\he has an ill intention then they can take witnesses of their choice.

    Scribe and witnesses should be those who work for the judge or Islamic courts.

    Judge should appoint witnesses. The written document will then have some legal position in an Islamic society and each party (guardian and the minor) can claim its rights by using it in future.

    Judge has to decide on “availability” of witnesses alone. S\he needs two witnesses either two men or one man and two women.

    That could mean

    1. Two options (either two men or one and two women) are mentioned. It is not stated further that in a condition in which no man is available then would two women suffice as witnesses? Or one man’s availability as witness is a must.

    2. That begs this question – Is the one, who has to choose witnesses, is at liberty to use another option in above state a scenario? Or s\he should wait until one man is available?

    3. What in that scenario if only a male and female are available – then should judge delay the contract until another male and female could be found – so the condition is fulfilled?

    4. I do not think Allah would have wanted it to make it difficult for the judge. We can sort this out if we assume that at least two witnesses or not more than 3 witnesses are required regardless of their genders.

    5. In sets when we make pairs of two sets we do this – Set A – [male1, male2] Set B [male1, female1, female2] – the combination of pairs could be if we have to take at least two in a set and not more than three in a set – combination of two pairs will be [male1 of set A and male1 of set B] (two males), [male1 of set A, Female1 of set B] (one male and one female), [male1 of set A and Female2 of set B] (one male and one female), [male2 of set A and male1 of set B] (two males), [male2 of set A, Female1 of set B] (one male and one female), [male2 of set A and Female2 of set B] (one male and one female) – combination of three pairs will be [male1 of set A, male1 and female1 of set B] (two males and one female), [male1 of set A, Female1 and female2 of set B] (one male and two females), [male1 of set A, male1 and Female2 of set B] (two males and one female) etc

    The options will only be

    Two males
    Two females
    One male and one female
    Two males and one female
    One male and two females

    I think the options can only be workable if the flexibility of choice is given to judge and s\he can choose between minimum availibility of witnesses i.e atleast two and maximum availibility of witnesses i.e three. Judge can deal with any scenario. it can’t work if we bound ourselves with just two options mentioned in verse.

  100. @Dastagir

    “Islam gave freedom to women 1400 yrs ago. The maximum freedom possible.”

    This is one big myth perpetuated by Muslims to justify the harsh Islamic Sharia laws that are unacceptable by any standard. It is well known that the winner gets to write history and so the myth of mistreatment of women and burying of daughters alive in aj-jaheliyyah somehow became an established fact. However, I am not going to dispute whether Islam did indeed free women. I have one point to make. You mentioned how women in western societies did not gain their rights till the last century. This is true. What are important are the laws and moral standards of today not a hundred or a thousand years ago. And today western democracies are ages ahead of Islam when it comes to women rights. Comparing the status of women before and after Islam in the Arab peninsula is no longer a valid excuse. It is time to move on…

  101. An Ahmadi Muslim

    While Islam freed the women from the shackles 1400 years ago, it is time for the Muslim men to free the women from their egotistical, macho chains or control.

  102. An Ahmadi Muslim

    @Dastagir

    Shabaash !! Let’s clone millions of Dastagirs🙂

  103. Bin Ismail

    @ rationalist (July 29, 2010 at 6:48 pm)

    Your unending debate reminds me of Tennyson’s line:

    “But I go on forever.”

  104. skarlok

    “It is well known that the winner gets to write history and so the myth of mistreatment of women and burying of daughters alive in aj-jaheliyyah somehow became an established fact.”

    have you any real justification for not excepting what’s recorded in the history books and the Quran? or you just don’t want to except anything because of your prejudice so you discredit the historians.

  105. skarlok

    “…when I recognize that I and others around me are being fooled or misused or intimidated”

    I don’t think you have recognized that you are being fooled by your own intellect and by the mullahs representation of islamic teachings..

    “I recognize that I and others around me are being fooled or misused or intimidated. Denial by choice is what Pakistan does in order to save its face when terror strikes.”

    Current clergy in power does do those things. Agreed. But this clergy of ours is by no means a standard of Quranic teaching no matter how much they claim they are or how much you use their actions to criticize Islam. Pakistanis are in denial over the hold mullahs have over them. Agreed. We are trying to bring them out of it.

  106. rationalist

    @ bin ismail

    Your unending debate reminds me of Tennyson’s line:

    “But I go on forever.”

    Bin ismail cannot overcome his islam-pasand rut.

  107. rationalist

    to skarlok

    Much good in muslim behaviour is from non-islamic sources. But muslims are forbidden from giving credit to where credit is due. “Everything good comes from islam and islam only and non-islam alone is the source of everything bad” – this indoctrination is imbibed by every muslim child. This causes muslim intellect to become dishonest and stunted.

    Many intelligent and wise non-muslim and non-arab men and women have written better (but not perfect or final) books of knowledge and guidance than this arabic one. Muslims remain in their mental imprisonment and become a nuisance so long they do not or cannot acknowledge this truth openly. It is not just the “current clergy”. It’s the big mass of muslims who are even more guilty of this manipulation and self-comforting dishonesty.

  108. AA Khalid

    Tell me ”rationalist”, are you a proponent of Socratic reason embodied in the Socratic method, or more incline towards Aristotelian logic and reason. Or perhaps a fan of Platonic reason? Are you more fascinated by empiricism, nominalism or philosophical realism?

    What about Cartesian rationalism and indeed the Kantian elaboration of human reason? Let us not forget Spinoza aswell. One also has to ask what is your epistemic framework?

    As to justice, are you more a supporter of Rawlsian justice, or have been won over by communitarian critiques in the works of MacIntyre and Sandel?

    Let us hope you are a serious, ”rationalist”, and hope that you just do not cite ”reason”, and hide your appalling prejudice and stereotyping behind the cloak of reason.

    Very often I find that those who blow their own trumpet, shouting from the roof tops ”reason, reason, reason”, are actually just peddling some superficial reductionist nonsense.

    Very often I find that self proclaimed ”rationalists” cannot last two minutes when confronted with serious questions pertaining to rationalism and its epistemic and ontological problematics.

    Very often I find that people like you with your sort of rhetoric are totally at sea when asked for some serious and substantial discussions on the nature of human rationality (which they so proudly wear on their sleeves but have no clue about).

  109. Bin Ismail

    @rationalist

    1. “…..A non-arab god would talk to me in my own mother-tongue…..”

    Assuming this “non-arab god” was Chinese who chose to reveal his last book in Chinese, and assuming that Chinese is not your mother-tongue, you would have confronted the same predicament.

    If, for instance God wanted to give guidance to the entire human race, there could be two ways of doing this:

    a. God speaks to each and every single human being in the individual’s mother tongue, and thus convey His message to all humans simultaneously.

    b. God speaks to Humanity through a messenger, a messenger who will dutifully convey the message to humanity.

    If the first option is adopted, who would play the role of the Interpreter of the Law, in case of differences emerging among the six billion simultaneous recipients of the Divinely revealed Law? Who would demonstrate through his own conduct, how to act upon the law? Who would establish through his practice that the revealed Law is indeed practicable?

    The purpose of having a prophet, who would obviously speak in his own language, is not confined to conveying a certain message from God. A prophet serves as a guide, judge, interpreter, spiritual father-figure, model and hub of spiritual enlightenment for his age. He manifests, through his own conduct, the attributes of God.

    2. “…..confusions and conflicts due to this arabic book and relgion in the real world of today…..”

    The confusions and conflicts are on account of the mullahs, not the Book itself.

    3. “…..Denial by choice is what Pakistan does in order to save its face when terror strikes…..”

    Just as the US does not represent the creed and conduct of the Christ, Israel does not reflect the creed and conduct of Moses, Sri Lankans are not a manifestation of Buddha, India does not represent the creed and conduct of Krishna, similarly Pakistan does not represent Islam.

    4. “…..Fooling, misusing or intimidating human beings is especially bad when done in the name of a god…..”

    Very true.

    5. “…..Bin ismail cannot overcome his islam-pasand rut…..”

    That’s because I find Islam perfectly rational.

  110. Bin Ismail

    @ Dastagir (July 29, 2010 at 1:36 pm)

    A lot indeed, has to be said and done to promote education among Muslim women. To begin with they have to be emancipated from the maulvi / madrassa education system. Only following that will they be able to absorb both religious and secular knowledge – not otherwise.

    Regarding purdah too, I would like to point out that as long as the purdah of a woman is by her free choice and of her own volition and as long as her concept and form of purdah does not bar her from being a useful member of the society and as long as she does not look down upon those who do not share her views, purdah is perfectly fine and can indeed contribute to a woman’s self-discipline.

    As for gold, the clutches of gold are far less malignant for Muslim women than those of the mullah.

    Regards.

  111. AA Khalid

    ”’A rationalist is one who is sincere and honest and accepts his own limitations also”

    Rubbish, you are conflating moral theory and virtue with epistemological issues. A rationalist can be sincere and honesty but so can other human beings who hold different philosophical positions.

    ”A rationalist is not a perfect human being or claims to be one.”

    Again you are inserting moral homilies when I asked specifically epistemic questions.

    ”A rationalist is non-violent by choice and honest by compulsion.”

    More baloney, pacifism is not a logical extension of rationalism at all. Many liberal theorists argue that war is necessary and hence have extended on the Abrahamic ideas of ”Just war theory”.

    I have never read a more confused and jumbled up series of words which purport to be a series of coherent statements. I asked specific epistemic questions, and you started sermonizing.

    Face it, you do not have a clue about what rationalism entails and what the numerous philosophical issues and positions are. You simply hide behind the label ”rationalist”, using it as a stick when really you do not have the foggiest about the multiple discussions and issues in the many diverse debates to do with human rationality, which stretch across many disciplnes from the argumentations of ”public and civic” reason in politics to social epistemology.

    You confuse issues of moral philosophy with epistemology and cannot tell the difference between several competing social narratives which interlock with the concept of human rationality. You claim

    You homogenize and monopolise human reason ignoring the essentially heterogenous nature of human reason, the many dilemmas and questions about rationality and that religious persons can also be rationalists in the sense they value human reason as a fundamental source of knowledge.

    There are multiple narratives of human rationality, Socratic, metaphysical, Cartesian etc. etc. But you seem to reify ”rationalism”.

    I propose an extremely minimal and humble defintion of rationalism which does not wish to circumvent debate, and that is that rationalism is simply ”any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification”. In this case religious people too can be rationalists.

    After all ”ratio” the latin root of rationalism means simply ”reason”. Ratio is reason, hence its fairly open ended, diverse philosophical position with a myriad of competing schools of thought.

    To simply reduce rationalism as ”anti-religious” and quiet crudely and bizarrely to pacifism and other vague conceptions of ”honesty” (confusing ethics with epistemology) is quiet excruciatingly naive.

    Quiet a confused mind you have there ”rationalist”, conflating basic issues……..

  112. AA Khalid

    ”Rationalist” your crass and crude superficial assertions are appaling and boggling to anyone with a modicum of common sense. You make grand statements dripping with prejudice and bigotry, yet do not care to digress on your thinking whilst clinging onto vague homilies and bare assertions.

    I say you are more of an intellectual xenophobe

    Tell me what is that made you so vigorously ”rationalist” and made you decline empiricism?

    You said that rationalism is this:

    ”It is not about being encyclopedic”

    Well its not about presenting a series of bare assertions either, and being hopelessly confused within your own structures of knowledge……

    You say don’t play with words. Are you joking? The categories and schools of thought I cited denote serious concrete philosophical positions which have a history and thought behind them. Engage with that rather than complaining…..

  113. Bin Ismail

    @ rationalist (July 31, 2010 at 7:50 pm)

    1. “…..If there is only one god then there is no question of inconsistency in what he says how often to how many. No person has to act as interpreter or exemplary for another…..”

    There is indeed no inconsistency in what the One God says. It is because of inherent inconsistencies
    in individual abilities of humans to correctly comprehend a revealed message, that an interpreter is needed. A prophet also plays the role of an exemplar. He acts upon Divine guidance in the best way possible, thus setting the perfect example for others, and also inspiring others by his conduct.

    2. “…..what after the prophet dies? …..”

    Prophets are succeeded by their successors, who carry on their mission. Then there are saints and men of God who also continue the work of the prophet, after him.

    Finally, it is to be borne in mind, that this life is essentially a test. Man’s sincerity in his search for the truth and his commitment to following it, once found, constitutes part of this test.

  114. We can sit and argue about what it means to be a rationalist, but I believe that it is more interesting (and easier) to define irrational thinking or behavior.

    For instance, believing in the ability of a virgin to give birth or of a person to teleport from Mecca to Jerusalem are indicative of irrational thinking. Note how Islam inherited this story of the virgin birth from Christianity, which in turn adopted this story from Pagan beliefs. A rational person could argue that Jesus’s greateness would not be diminished had he not been born to a virgin. An irrational person on the other hand cannot argue against the divinity of the holy books even though it is clear that the act of a virgin homosapien giving birth violates basic natural laws.

    Irrational people can always come up with explanations to satisfy their irrational beliefs. Sticking with the virgin birth example, Justin Martyr, the second-century Christian “Father of the Church” understood how problematic the story was given that several Pagan Gods were also born to virgins. So he claimed that the Devil, who knowing that Christ would subsequently be born of a virgin counterfeited the miracle before it took place to challenge Jesus’s authenticity. To me this sounds like a rubbish explanation, but to billions of faithful Christians (and Muslims) it is an acceptable explanation.

    In my humble opinion it is hard to be rational when you believe that some text is the word of God. I do not claim to be rational at all times, but at least I have the capacity of changing my opinion on a subject if presented with sufficient evidence.

  115. Dastagir

    if you keep hating Prophet Mohammed., it will lead you to a way… and you are entitled to your freedom to hate… but hate with some reason ! Hatred without “Reason” is pathetic… and deplorable., not to use stronger language.

    Mohammed in its essense is nothing but MOHABBAT. It is the Code… the route.. the pathway.. You surrender your ego… the drop loses its existence in the ocean… only to find his true self and full potential. It is not swapping FREEDOMS. It is exploration.. and a larger evolution… As Ghalib says : “Ishrat-e-qatraa hai., Dariyaa mein fanaa ho jaana”.. and at that level., at that macro-level., one’s vision is widened… and one begins to look at things from a higher enlightened dispassionate and detached plane.

    Rationalist : You argue in a childish, hawkish manner. I have crossed the stage of “scoring points and clapping”. That is High School level.

    Hate Islam., and Hate Prophet Mohammed., but with some reason… after reading., thinking, contemplating. Read RSS literature, for sure., but read the other side of the story too. For a moment., halt., and ponder., and reflect.

    Remember : Hate is a consuming passion and destroys its practitioner (in the long term). Prophet Mohammed was sent to this world to inculcate a sense of BALANCE and MODERATION (The Middle Path) in MAN… the HUMAN RACE… The Creation… cuz Middle Path… (no excess on either side) is the hallmark of man. Most difficult to achieve… Its not easy to form a Muslim World-view. You have to slog for years… read thousands of books… It doesnt come on SMS scholarship… or by reading blogs… or spicy (chatpata) RSS yellow-rag journalism.

    You have a long way to go., before you develop a rationalistic “rationale”.

  116. Dastagir

    Show some compassion to a fellow-human.. a fellow sister… Radhaben Modi.. who had been wronged by her husband Narendra Damodardas Modi.. who used and abused her for 3 yrs… and left her literally on the streets. Radhaben is working as an Ayah in a School near Ahmedabad. Isnt she worthy of your attention and compassion ? Show some concern.. and reflect on Radhaben’s plight !

  117. Dastagir

    (Rationalist : I read pakistani newspapers and similar pro-islamic propaganda everyday. That is how I inform myself of islam in reality, in practice, islam’s real performance and results !).

    Ah.. that explains everything !!! So your scholarship base is newspapers.. blogs.. You are still at that level. Hmmn. And thru this route, you try to inform yourself of “islam in reality”.. in practice… and you measure its real performance… and also publish its results (give your expert judgement). You mistake Muslim behaviour (individual behavior) for Islam…. which is a message… for ALL MANKIND including you… only you are shutting the window of intellect (its your choice); out of arrogance. You know in the heart of heart… God’s message resonates in the heart and the soul… but there is a stumbling block. That is your ego. It will encourage you to abuse God… abuse Prophets… abuse Divine Books.. quote out of context… abuse religion… and question God’s word… and ways !

    You have to differentiate between Islam.. the IDEA.. the thought… and Muslims…. who unfortunately today… in 2010.. do not follow Islam at all. Then who follows Islam ? If you ask me… i will tell you.. and let me tell you.. If you want to understand the HEART OF ISLAM.. (if you want to go beyond 2+2 theology.. scoring points in debate.. making potshots)… i suggest you read 20-25 books by Harvard Emirtius Scholar., Late. ANNEMARIE SCHIMMEL (d. 2002/4). Read Schimmel… the books… and then you need not come to write a comment. You will answer your own questions. A new window will open. A new world will open. You will realise your own limitation(s)., and the vastness of the canvas in question. Come out of ignorance into light. Islam is as much yours… as it is mine.. but you are refusing the sunlight.. cuz you say.. .well.. X Y Z accepted it.. and i dont see any LIGHT on their faces. If there is not the light (NOOR) on their faces., its not the fault of Islam. It is the human fault.. flaw.. limitation.. of the recipient. But will you refuse God’s bounty and favour.. simply because those who took it (earlier) are not successful in this world ? You have to judge Islam… by reading about Islam.. yourself. No one will do it for you (outsourcing). It is an inward journey. You have to find it yourself. Ramakrishna Paramahansa observed Islam for 4 months every year. Take that route. Wanna ride to Belur Math ?

    Little knowledge is indeed dangerous. Go for original texts.. solid scholarships.. not rag-tag chat-masala literature. This needs time.. years.. but its worth it. You find yourself.. Its a gamble.. Like to take it., fine. Its your choice.

  118. Bin Ismail

    @ rationalist (August 1, 2010 at 6:10 pm)

    “….. You muslims have invented this trick of equating criticism with hatred and thus try to silence the critic through vilification and intimidation.this trick works on those who are timid or less intelligent…..”

    The “less intelligent” do indeed falter in distinguishing between criticism and disrespect. One does not necessarily have to be disrespectful to personages held in respect by the other side, merely to prove that criticism is being made. Any sustainable discussion and meaningful dialogue would require an expression of respect for those, who are held in respect by the other. It is intelligent to be respectful.

  119. AA Khalid

    @Rabbit

    Your comments are symptomatic of those who see religion and science competing for the same ends but this is a fallacy. See the work of I Barbour, Keith Ward and other philosophers who argue that epistemologically at the very basic level of the structures of knowledge, the methodology science and religion are different disciplnes with different approaches to very different ends.

    If I can also add that religious language is highly symbolic and due to its intense connection with spirituality and mysticism its enigmatic and aswell. Mysticism by no means is a dangerous activity, even Russell an ardent atheistic philosopher admitted the virtues of the mystic experience in his tract ”Mysticism and logic and other essays”.

    Religious experience starts off with, aims at different premises, means and ends.

    The fallacy starts when individuals take the essentially dynamic, symbolic and metaphorical nature of religious language literally. Literalism however as I have shown in my previous posts is regarded as heretical by many mainstream religious traditions and has only become widespread in the 19th and 20th centuries. Why this indeed happened is a separate issue and fascinating debate in its own right.

  120. rationalist

    Kuran is incomprehensible. No use wasting time on that. Kuranic language is faulty/ambiguous. No need to waste time on that old language either.

    Islam is already 1400 years old and hence must be judged by its actual results. And these results are shabby, to say the least.

    The god of islam himself is an abusive god. So also his supreme agent and book. This I know from how muslims behave and what performance they bring forth. All other criteria are humbug so that human beings can be manipulated and misused.

    Reading newspapers published by muslims is the only reliable source of knowledge about real islam. There is a lot of islam-glorification in them – but one learns to see through it.

    I am a rationalist, but somehow I think the idea of kaliyuga as propounded by the hindu brahmans is valid. In kaliyuga lies will win over truth, violence over peace, arrogance over humility – and that explains islam’s victories and triumphant expansionism, imperialism, absolutism etc. neatly.

  121. Bin Ismail

    @rationalist (August 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm)

    It was rather amusing to note that while on one hand you state, “…..Islam is already 1400 years old…..”, you claim on the other, “…..the idea of kaliyuga as propounded by the hindu brahmans is valid…..”.

    I’m sure you’re aware of the age of Hinduism. The idea of “kaliyuga” should approximately be 5000 years old.

  122. skarlok

    @ rabbit

    “An irrational person on the other hand cannot argue against the divinity of the holy books even though it is clear that the act of a virgin homosapien giving birth violates basic natural laws.”

    Of course, you must be a multiple nobel prize winning scientist since you have discovered ALL the “basic” natural laws that exist.

    @rationalist

    “Kuran is incomprehensible. No use wasting time on that. Kuranic language is faulty/ambiguous. No need to waste time on that old language either.”

    It may be to the “less intelligent”, I agree.

    “Reading newspapers published by muslims is the only reliable source of knowledge about real islam. There is a lot of islam-glorification in them – but one learns to see through it.”

    I think you should learn to see through your own prejudice if newspapers is the “only reliable source of knowledge” that you have

    “I am a rationalist, but somehow I think the idea of kaliyuga as propounded by the hindu brahmans is valid. In kaliyuga lies will win over truth, violence over peace, arrogance over humility.”

    Well lets see if your arrogance wins over humility. Also, this belief of yours may make your rationality doubtful.

  123. NSA

    “Now, notwithstanding the assertion in the Koran itself (in Suras 16:103 and 26:195) that the Prophet had proclaimed the Koranic message in “clear Arabic speech”, all Arab, as well as all non-Arab commentators on the Koran have since time immemorial racked their brains over the interpretation of this language. Generations of renowned Koranic scholars have devoted their lives to the meritorious exercise of clarifying the text of the Koran grammatically and semantically, word for word. In spite of all these efforts one would not be far from the truth if one were to estimate the proportion of the Koran that is still considered unexplained today at about a quarter of the text.”

    This is Christophe Luxenberg, in “The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran”.

    He renders Sura 19:97 as

    “We have translated it (the Koran or the Scripture) into your language so that you may proclaim it to the god-fearing…”

    He then writes:

    “With this linguistically clear and sober statement the Koran gives us an unambiguous indication of the language it acknowledges as the language of the Scriptures and which is essential for its conception of itself. With this language, which it for the first time calls “Arabic”, the Koran surely did not intend that language whose norms were established two hundred years later in part by non-Arab grammarians no longer capable of properly understanding the Koranic language. This is the reason for the present attempt to decipher the previous mystery of this language by means of that language, the key to which the Koran delivers us in its clear reference to the original, unadulterated Syro-Aramaic term “Qeryan”.

  124. Bin Ismail

    @ NSA (August 3, 2010 at 7:28 am)

    Take any script, whether Divine or human, and assign the task of its translation to a hundred separate translators. You will get a hundred separate translations. Then interpret each translation and you will get an even higher number of interpretations. This is not a phenomenon unique to the Quran.

  125. Momin

    if every one has its own perception there where is Qur’an ?

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