Religious law failing women


by Sunny
14th February, 2008 at 5:32 pm    

Pragna Patel from Southall Black Sisters has an eloquent article on CiF today about the Archbishop debate, saying that religious law has consistently failed women.

“Such accommodation [of religious law] is problematic because in many instances it would necessarily involve shoring up patriarchal and caste power, resulting in the violation of fundamental human rights, especially the right of choice and autonomy for women and girls in particular,” she says. I agree with that. She adds: “Our experience shows that what many eventually want the most, is the right to opt out of those aspects of their religion and culture that they consider oppressive, without fear of repercussions.”

I agree with this too. As I said earlier, I don’t necessarily agree with the Archbishop because he also assumes the conflict between bias against women inherent in current interpretations of sharia civil law and this country’s equality laws will be easily resolved. It probably won’t, especially if the government consults on people like Sheikh al-Qaradawi. That said, there have been similar cases involving the Jewish Orthodox Beth Din too, so it is very likely that extending the jurisdiction of religious courts will disadvantage women.

So rather than the stupid uproar asking for ABC’s head, questions arise:
1) Should we abolish religious arbitration in civil cases entirely, as Canada did?
2) Should the govt interfere to ensure religious courts don’t conflict with laws?
3) Should there be independent bodies monitor prejudice against women?

Or what? And can we not have the usual hysteria in the discussion please about hand-chopping and stoning and whether any progressive are crying out for it.

Update: Ooops, turns out Muslims and Jews have been working together in this area. Cue horror!


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  1. marvin — on 14th February, 2008 at 6:16 pm  

    1) The fairest option for everyone. It’s a clear statement in the confidence of our values of equality, freedom, and fair justice.

    People often wonder why American Muslims are so much better integrated. We know why – because they are proud to be American, to own the American identity. We need to take a leaf out of their book.

  2. Don — on 14th February, 2008 at 6:17 pm  

    ‘…the usual hysteria … about hand-chopping and stoning…’

    Yeah, and it would also be nice if we could avoid accusations of orientalist fantasies of rescuing dusky damsels whenever someone who happens to be a white male expresses concern over these issues.

    Option #1. I’m against that level of compulsion. I would like to see these tribunals reduced in number and authority, not by fiat but by people choosing not to surrender key decisions to a man/men whose only credential is prolonged study of ancient text intended for another time and place.

    Option #2. There should certainly be a measure of over-view. There are sure to be some highly-charged arguments, but let them be had. It is important that a religious tribunal which is not found to be in conflict with the law cannot then claim (implicitly or explicitly) that it thereby has some kind of judicial imprimatur.

    Option #3. Where would you find people accepted as independent by both sides?

  3. marvin — on 14th February, 2008 at 6:21 pm  

    I like the comment by jonah12

    At last. This article has been a long time coming. I understand why many CiF writers wanted to bash the right-wing press for its latest outbreak of Islamophobia, but in doing so they seemed happy to overlook the undeniable threat to women’s rights that sharia poses.

  4. Sid — on 14th February, 2008 at 6:38 pm  

    I don’t necessarily agree with the Archbishop because he also assumes the conflict between bias against women inherent in current interpretations of sharia civil law and this country’s equality laws will be easily resolved. It probably won’t, especially if the government consults on people like Sheikh al-Qaradawi.

    This is a non-sequitur. The anti-woman bias in the sharia will not be resolved if the government suddenly stops consulting with people like Qaradawi. The bias will remain irrespective of who the government consults with, as this has nothing to do with the inherent indisputabitilty of Islamic law which is considered immutable by muslims in general. Even if they are largely ignored

    Most Muslims in this country hold bank accounts, for example, in spite of banks being institutions of rida (usury), and that is an excellent example of pragmaism overriding divine law. Unless and until muslims themselves discover themselves that sharia should be adaptable, it will remain frozen and alien to all, especially muslims.

  5. Sid — on 14th February, 2008 at 7:03 pm  

    Sorry, riba not rida.

  6. Kulvinder — on 14th February, 2008 at 7:27 pm  

    #1 No. It isn’t the business of the law to interfere in those sorts of matters. It would be virtually impossible in England anyway; you’d have to restructure the entire country and side step the CoE.

    #2 Assuming this is in the context of the arbitration ‘courts’; the police already investigate any criminal activity and certainly don’t defer any invetigative authority to anyone. The Mail tried to get the shariah bandwagon rolling with stories about somali shariah ‘courts’ operating in the uk, but the police flatly denied that.

    Obviously there will be instances where attempts are made at ‘community justice’ – not just amongst the immigrant population – the various paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland still administer ‘punishment beatings’ and the ‘hang em, flog em’ brigade that rose up against paedophiles at the behest of the NOTW were little more than a lynch mob. The important point is that in every case the people who try to impose their own authority are quickly brought to justice themselves.

    This has never been an issue over sovereignty.

    #3 If i set up a set up a cult/religion/following that views women/homosexuals/ginger people as being inherently inferior and treats them unequally with respect to how it treats its other members, but allows any of those people to join or leave by their own choice; then i don’t see why its necessary for the rest of society to ‘monitor’ our activities.

    As a case in point how would any law deal with this? Those people (women included) have a particular view of sex and females that isn’t shared by the rest of us. As long as they want to be there and as long as they aren’t prevented from leaving why is it any of our business what they do?

  7. Kulvinder — on 14th February, 2008 at 7:30 pm  

    We know why – because they are proud to be American, to own the American identity

    All they do is wave their flag at every living thing. But you are quite right they do own the american identity.

  8. Don — on 14th February, 2008 at 8:08 pm  

    Kulvinder,

    Agree with #1 and #2. Not so sure about #3. The example you have is entertaining, but there is an obligation to protect the vulnerable from exploitation. Besides, a successful cult or religion will have a second generation, at which point you have people who cannot be said to have given meaningful consent to being treated as chattel.

    Bunch of fruit-loops in Darlington dragging each other round on leads is a personal choice. Once children enter the equation I think ‘monitoring’ is a bare minimum.

  9. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 9:01 pm  

    Well, I’d predict this could be the longest ever thread on PP.

    I think everyone is entitled to respect. And not in a gun wielding sort of way.

    I am actually with Leon, on another thread, about getting fairly well, well, bored with this all being about Muslims.

    Because it frankly is not. It is all about Muslim men.

    There. I’ve said it.

    I frankly cannot understand why any intelligent woman would have the slightest time for any fundamentalist whatsoever. Whether she was a Catholic, Protestant, Atheist or Jain.

    We have Sid suggesting here that:

    This is a non-sequitur. The anti-woman bias in the sharia will not be resolved if the government suddenly stops consulting with people like Qaradawi. The bias will remain irrespective of who the government consults with, as this has nothing to do with the inherent indisputabitilty of Islamic law which is considered immutable by muslims in general. Even if they are largely ignored

    Why, Sid, should any woman that was being treated as a piece of shit, give a damn?

    Why should anyone think that that comment was worth a fuck? ‘Cause it wasn’t.

    And it exposes you as the problem, not the solution, doesn’t it?

    If Muslim women are not willing to take some degree of responsibility for their own religion, and, perhaps get a handle on the likes of the sexist Sid. If Muslim women subscribe to Sid’s pacification ideas, then ,frankly, nothing much will change.

    Sid, “Inherent indisputability”, you are having a laugh?

  10. septicisle — on 14th February, 2008 at 9:23 pm  

    1. No
    2. No
    3. That’s why we’ve got the Equality and Human Rights Commission, isn’t it?

    I’m with Douglas.

  11. Sid — on 14th February, 2008 at 9:34 pm  

    Why should anyone think that that comment was worth a fuck? ‘Cause it wasn’t.

    Douglas, I’m stating it as it is, not prescribing how it should be. How are you actually reading what I wrote in my comment? After half a bottle of Famous Grouse?

    Do you understand that muslims consider the immutability of the sharia and how resistant they are to revision of any kind? A quick comparative theology lesson for you might be in order. You might understand what I mean then by “Inherent indisputability” – not well disposed to debate. Not me – the sharia.

    Do you really believe, like Sunny, that sharia will suddenly become a beacon of secualar liberalism overnight within the entire muslim world because the Labour party of England stop inviting Qaradawi for milky tea and cream horns? I can’t believe Sunny wrote that.

    Reread my comment before you shoot your load, Doug.

  12. Sunny — on 14th February, 2008 at 10:23 pm  

    Do you really believe, like Sunny, that sharia will suddenly become a beacon of secualar liberalism overnight within the entire muslim world because the Labour party of England stop inviting Qaradawi for milky tea and cream horns? I can’t believe Sunny wrote that.

    Easy now boys, no need for the claws to come out. I didn’t say sharia will suddenly become all liberal tomorrow, but there is space for re-intepretation as there is in all cases. I have religious friends who are quite liberal. It’s not a contradiction.

    Hey, the Sikh Rehat Maryada (code of conduct) is pretty stupid in parts – claiming that Sikhs cannot marry those of other religions. This is not limited to Islam. Religion can be reformed. Just takes strategic planning. In my view.

  13. Kulvinder — on 14th February, 2008 at 10:36 pm  

    Besides, a successful cult or religion will have a second generation, at which point you have people who cannot be said to have given meaningful consent to being treated as chattel.

    By that logic you may as well suspect every person born into any system of thought.

  14. Don — on 14th February, 2008 at 11:02 pm  

    Don’t you?

  15. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 11:08 pm  

    Sid,

    You are really getting up my goat.

    Either you subscribe to genuine equality for women,or you and I can continue to argue about what precise sort of a tit you are. The latter case would suggest that you are only interested in a captive audience.

    Reread my comment, sonny. You are the one who is shooting his load.

  16. douglas clark — on 14th February, 2008 at 11:23 pm  

    I am petty angry at you Sid, I thought you were better than that. Indeed thought we had common cause on a lot of issues. Perhaps I was wrong…

  17. Leon — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:00 am  

    See the other reason why I’m growing increasingly bored of Islam/Muslim topics on here and generally is that’s there’s generally nothing new to say. Nothing get’s resolved; we all just get het up about it and clear minded folk end up falling out with each other…

  18. Sid — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:03 am  

    Douglas, its very simple. You have taken my comment and misunderstood it not a just a little, but through a full 180 degrees. I am the one who has been arguing for the complete reduction of sharia all along and declared the ABC’s position untenable. You on the other hand minced your words and regarded Williams as being unduly attacked. And now you’re blaming me of not subscribing to genuine equality of women.

  19. soru — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:03 am  

    dc, pretty sure you have the wrong end of the stick re: Sid.

    There are two different and, theoretically, independant points:

    1. what the law is.
    2. what you call the law, what tradition you claim it comes from.

    If I understand him, I agree with him. Unlike the archbishop, he doesn’t think you can take current UK/Euro law, and successfully rebrand it as shari’ah-compliant without making major, and undesirable, changes.

    Look at it this way: despite a budget of literally billions, the Saudi royal family, Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Medina, horseriding arab warriors, hasn’t had all that much success with the ‘islam is whatever I pay someone to say it is’ approach.

    I really can’t see a bunch of Guardian-reading civil servants with a budget of fifty quid and a paperback copy of the Qu’ran kicking off a thorough reinterpretation of the religion that causes sincere believers to be unable to see any meaning of the written words that doesn’t clash with the ECHR.

    Probably 3 or 4 generations of full-time scholars could do it, but until then calling some acceptable level of law by the name shari’ah will be about as successful as McDonalds rebranding itself as a maker of luxury vegetarian diet food. Marketing can do a lot, but there has to be some basic connection between the product and the message. Otherwise all you do is split your customers between those who hate diets and vegetables, and those who are happy to point out a big mac isn’t a good low calorie vegetarian meal.

    Proof: noone has yet put on sale a shari’ah-compliant whisky.

  20. Sid — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:28 am  

    thanks soru. cheers.
    *raises a glass of Al-kuhl, single malt*

  21. Kulvinder — on 15th February, 2008 at 2:19 am  

    Don’t you?

    …well ok yeah. :)

  22. Desi Italiana — on 15th February, 2008 at 5:04 am  

    THREADJACKING ALERT:

    Douglas and Sid:

    I’m laughing at how personally you two are taking each other’s comments. It’s funny how we feel indignant, insulted, or offended via blogs. And I certainly feel this way often times, too.

    When and if I am ever in London, we should all meet up, so that we can actually meet the person IN PERSON, and thus have a face to attach to all commentators and have a REAL reason to take things personally. Only favor I ask of you: do not offer me any drinks; you will regret it.

    I also love Sid.

  23. Sid — on 15th February, 2008 at 8:15 am  

    I also love Douglas but not when he’s trying to score an own goal with my ball sack.

  24. douglas clark — on 15th February, 2008 at 9:18 am  

    OK,

    *Grins somewhat sheepishly*

    Sid, sorry.

    I was just getting a bit worked up about what I do see as something quite odd about women generally – that they subscribe to frankly sexist religions – and then I read your comment.

    On re-reading it, I did get the wrong end of the stick.

    I agree with what you say about me. I do not think that I have been consistent in what I advocate. I am an atheist, I am also a liberal. It is sometimes kind of hard to reconcile these two point of view.

    Which I have sometimes worked out on here.

    But the aggressive way I commented was uncalled for.

    And I love you too, in a manly, shucks, punch on the shoulder, ouch! that hurt, kind of a way.

    *Sorry*

  25. Justforfun — on 15th February, 2008 at 9:50 am  

    I am an atheist, I am also a liberal. It is sometimes kind of hard to reconcile these two point of view.

    but surely easier than being religious and liberal :-)

    God tends to cloud our thinking, or he does mine. I now keep him locked firmly in a little box in my head and only let him out when we’re alone and out in the countryside; when we have long conversations about his plans to make the world a better place. Of course nothing ever comes of these plans but the intention is there – I do think he is sincere but then I hear the BBC and I’am not so sure.

    Justforfun

  26. Sofia — on 15th February, 2008 at 10:33 am  

    of course religious law if failing women..but i would want to say it is more the interpretation and enactment of it…i’ve had my brush with the shariah council a long time ago and frankly they put me off their “council” for life…if they are to move into the 21st century, then they need to change and actually understand the communitIES, they are serving…and when it comes to women who are vulnerable, a bit of compassion would not go amiss..maybe they need lessons in this. It makes me laugh that for communities that are still struggling to ALLOW WOMEN to access mosques WHICH IS THEIR GOD GIVEN RIGHT..we are now talking about shariah “councils”…i have said it important to explore this especially in cases of marriage and divorce, but it is a bit rich of these men (cuz let’s face it they’re the ones running the show), to be self appointed to positions that could affect others’ lives and yet we know eff all about them, who they are, where they’re from. It also makes me mad as hell that when it comes to British law, us muslims go on and on about our rights but when it comes to these back street shariah councils SUDDENLY our standards slip..

  27. Sid — on 15th February, 2008 at 10:48 am  

    Douglas, no need to apologise. You got the wrong end of the stick, it happens, I do it all the time. :D

    But shame on writers here on PP who attempt to ban commenters because the writer’s views are questioned perfectly sensibly by the commenter. As is going on another current thread here on PP.

  28. sonia — on 15th February, 2008 at 11:54 am  

    Well said Sid in no. 4. that is the fundamental issue:

    Unless and until muslims themselves discover themselves that sharia should be adaptable, it will remain frozen and alien to all, especially muslims.

    given also- the level of misinformation out there, its going to be a difficult one to tango with.

    Sofia, it’s interesting what you say – naturally since “God” is not around to ‘implement’ “his” divine law for us, ALL discussions around religious law – are naturally – going to be about human interpretation, and enactment, of what is called ‘Gods’ Law. I feel this is precisely the difficulty in approaching any discussion about religious law – many people feel their beliefs are being challenged, and that people are insulting ‘God’ ( or their religion in the broader sense) Perhaps we can agree that it is only the human practice we are talking about, ( clearly some of us are going to disagree about divine origin etc. so im sure we can agree to leave that bit out, while we talk about the problems surrounding these “laws” and then maybe we can all move on to a proper look and discussion.

  29. Leon — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:00 pm  

    But shame on writers here on PP who attempt to ban commenters because the writer’s views are questioned perfectly sensibly by the commenter. As is going on another current thread here on PP.

    What?

  30. sonia — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:01 pm  

    and good point Sofia –

    It also makes me mad as hell that when it comes to British law, us muslims go on and on about our rights but when it comes to these back street shariah councils SUDDENLY our standards slip..

    perhaps if more of us women had been challenging the religious leaders, (and the fact that orthodoxy KEEPS MEN these leadership positions) instead of letting them get away with it for centuries, we wouldn’t be in this position now. Something very important to think about. (*Though what makes me really mad is how the matriarchs and mothers have been contributing to keeping up this for centuries)

    Personally i feel the discussion should be more about how religious law is failing women, because i think there are many women who do not agree in the first place, and that screws it up for people who do think religious law is failing women, because too many people assume if even one woman doesn’t think so, the rest of us are making unreasonable demands.

  31. marvin — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:07 pm  

    A thought tank has produced a report specifically to back up a point made in my first comment :P

    The UK’s security is at risk because of a national loss of self-confidence, a leading defence think tank says.

    The Royal United Services Institute says Britain has become a “soft touch” because of divisions over its national aims, values and political identity.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7246085.stm

  32. marvin — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:08 pm  

    But maybe you wont take that report for granted, coming from the Sensationalist, right-wing tabloid-esque BBC :)

  33. Sofia — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:10 pm  

    Sonia your points taken…there are as you know certain criteria for interpretation…having said this, I am at a loss to understand why these stupid “councils” don’t have women scholars..since the majority of their cases are to do with marital dispute…if you look at islamic history there have been many female scholars who were able to give a different point of view…I do agree with you sonia about having proper debate, without the fear of certain groups/individuals creating an uproar..this will only happen when our communities decide to grow up.
    Also, it should be up to individuals whether or not they want to use Islam to govern their lives. We should not assume that we are all the same. This whole conversation about civil aspects of shariah becoming more mainstream, can only happen when Muslim communities sort out the general treatment of women, till then it’s hypocritical and frankly a fucking waste of time.

  34. sonia — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:21 pm  

    Soru – 19 – good one!

    “If Muslim women are not willing to take some degree of responsibility for their own religion,” well there’s the big problem – as a female in a family mostly consisting of other females – all of whom are very much Muslim -i can say that on a minute practical day to day level there’s a lot of peer pressure going around to make sure we all ‘stick’ to the rules. Pah.

  35. cjcjc — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:22 pm  

    marvin – according to Sunny the BBC is right wing!!

  36. sonia — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:50 pm  

    this whole conversation about civil aspects of shariah becoming more mainstream, can only happen when Muslim communities sort out the general treatment of women, till then it’s hypocritical and frankly a fucking waste of time.

    quite. well said. which is why any female scholars do not have an easy time of it, and have to be incredibly brave people. Yes there have been female scholars in history – but as far as i know ( which isn’t very much admittedly) they were confined to teaching other women, and the amount of influence they had on traditional institutions and the wider body of male scholars is highly debatable, and given the social reality of women, is that surprising? The reality is and has been that – as you say – so many women are still fighting for their right to enter a Mosque! And being taken seriously, given we are ‘objects of fitnah’ to too many of our male co-religionists, and there are so many other barriers to equal participation of women. I am not talking about England here, but the wider issues involved in Muslim orthodoxy across the world. Even if you are a scholar with credentials stamped by God – or Al-Azhar – ( where of course women are segregated, and are not allowed to study in certain faculties, like – classes in Islamic Da’wa – for instance, interesting, though they are allowed into the Islamic and Arabic Studies faculty) there is significant resistance on the part of the male Ulema, and ordinary men, and shockingly, even ordinary women. It would require the Sharia Council here to go against mainstream opinion with their colleagues elsewhere – do we think they have such progressive ideals/desires? We have only to look at the fuss that was generated when Amina Wadud challenged male orthodoxy and led men and women in prayer in 2005 – Al-Qaradawi denounced her, as did many people, despite Amina – learned person she is – who pointed to evidence in the texts that there had been such examples in history. There was a lot of disagreement, with many male scholars suggesting that actually in history women had only led other women, so leading a mixed congregation was not acceptable. And so on and so forth. There is a huge body of male opinion one would have to wade against. So what we are talking about is the social legitimacy of female scholars – and until and unless these attitudes change – and other laws hampering them – the orthodoxy is not going to take women seriously, this is a very deeply ingrained prejudice. And verses in the Quran saying the testimony of 2 females is equivalent to one male only shores this up, there is always this to fall back onto, for the misogynists of this world, failing everything else. And too many women out there ‘simpering’ and saying ‘why! leave it up to the women! we are silly creatures subject to our hormones and plus we wouldn’t be able to come in when we have our periods and everyone would know!’ This is how ridiculous it all is. You cannot get away from bodily functions and it will be used against you.

    This is the existing reality of the Islamic scholarly world, and I very much doubt the Sharia Council here is any different. So it is hardly surprising they are not going to take on women scholars.

    So yes, there are major changes needed and frankly i don’t see too much will to make changes. And equally frankly, this us/them nonsense is making it downright impossible, you say anything now and everyone says ‘oh no don’t give THEM fuel, WE must stick together’. Outrageous.

  37. sonia — on 15th February, 2008 at 12:54 pm  

    ..i meant ..”..leave it up to the men!

  38. Sid — on 15th February, 2008 at 1:01 pm  

    So yes, there are major changes needed and frankly i don’t see too much will to make changes. And equally frankly, this us/them nonsense is making it downright impossible, you say anything now and everyone says ‘oh no don’t give THEM fuel, WE must stick together’. Outrageous.

    great points Sofia and Sonia.
    I think one way forward is if non-Arab muslims stop paying deference to Arab scholars, stop regarding them as our spiritual superiors. When really they are the biggest bunch of reactionary, hypocritical wankstains muslims have handed over the unconditional right of Quranic interpretation to.

  39. Ravi Naik — on 15th February, 2008 at 1:12 pm  

    I have to say this thread has been very informative, specially with Sonia and Sofia’s contributions. Well done.

  40. Sofia — on 15th February, 2008 at 2:51 pm  

    regarding the whole testimony thing…I’ve read that the interpretation of this does not mean a woman’s testimony is half of a man’s…i was trying to find the link…

  41. sonia — on 15th February, 2008 at 3:24 pm  

    i look forward to seeing your link. But that is what classical fiqh assumes.

    people should really read what ali eteraz writes on this topic.

  42. sonia — on 15th February, 2008 at 3:27 pm  

    thanks ravi..

  43. Sid — on 15th February, 2008 at 3:31 pm  

    I just read Master Eteraz’s comments earlier today, and yeah, agree with his opinions in their entirety.

  44. Saqib — on 16th February, 2008 at 9:47 pm  

    Sid:

    ‘I just read Master Eteraz’s comments earlier today, and yeah, agree with his opinions in their entirety.’

    See Sid, you and ‘Master’ Ali do have much in common.

  45. Saqib — on 16th February, 2008 at 9:59 pm  

    Sid:

    ‘Do you understand that muslims consider the immutaal bility of the sharia and how resistant they are to revision of any kind? A quick comparative theology lesson for you might be in order. You might understand what I mean then by “Inherent indisputability” – not well disposed to debate. Not me – the sharia.’

    I think you have made a very valid point here. However it is not ‘revision’ per se where there is resistence, for shariah is about dealing with real life issues, hence it is an evolving system which guides back to the ideals of Islam.

    Rather, the resistance is with regards to those aspects of shariah which are ‘fixed’ through explicit evidence from the Qur’an and hadeeth, followed by the consensus of the early generations and later scholars. I believe the vast majority of Muslims have this type of thought deeply embedded into their consciousness, though it does, at times lack real rigor.

  46. Saqib — on 16th February, 2008 at 10:11 pm  

    Sonia:

    ‘We have only to look at the fuss that was generated when Amina Wadud challenged male orthodoxy and led men and women in prayer in 2005..’

    I think Sonia, with the greatest of respect this was a different issue of Female scholars. Amina Wadud’s actions were based on weak reasonings and even more dubious evidence. Even a layman could pick this up.

    Hence to use her as an example of barriers facing Female scholars is not very accurate. I would also suggest, that it is a lack of orthodoxy which is denying women the, as Sofia put it, God given right to enter the mosques.

    In fact, one of the greatest scholars of Islam is the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) wife Aisha, who played a key part in the formulation of orthodoxy.

  47. Saqib — on 16th February, 2008 at 10:40 pm  

    Sofia:

    ‘It also makes me mad as hell that when it comes to British law, us muslims go on and on about our rights but when it comes to these back street shariah councils SUDDENLY our standards slip..

    I don’t see the two as being necessarily mutually dependent upon each other. The Muslim community is still very young in the UK, and over the last 20 years we have witnessed a very real Islamic revival amongst the younger generation.

    I know Sunny and I disagree on this point, but this revival is not due to the identity politics of cop the early 90s community leaders, but a recurring theme within Islamic history whenever the community has either stagnated or become lax.

    Anyway, with this revival many new initiatives, which I do believe have grass-roots Muslim support (though not government) are trying to uplift the community. The main problem within the community is a lack of knowledge of Islam rooted in the original sources. This is important not just for potential scholars, but for the layman as well.

    However, any weaknesses in the community, and there are plenty, does not mean we should fatalistically accept unequal or unjust treatment in wider society.

    If it was always about getting one’s own house in order first, before we address wider issues, well, I don’t think any of us would ever address issues of public concern, well I wouldn’t for sure.

    I do however share, perhaps your wider sentiments about a lop-sided with regards to ‘rights’ and not enough on responsibilities and duties.

  48. sonia — on 16th February, 2008 at 11:46 pm  

    The vitriol that was seen the Amina Wadud case makes it a highly pertinent example indeed Saqib, at least in my humble opinion. And directly relevant was the treatment of her as a female, and attitudes towards females, Qaradawi denounced her on the basis of ‘oh we men will be/might be turned on if there is a woman is leading the prayer’ – i’m sorry – but that is taking it to the ridiculous extreme. When people come up with rebuttals like that, debate on the finer points of theology is forced to take a back seat. I’m sorry, but i can see too easily a situation in the Sharia council where some female scholar has somehow miraculously been appointed, but on some disagreement on some technical aspect, the male scholars, say ‘Fatema, we’re sorry, we can’t really debate in your presence, we are turned on by your figure, you should really go somewhere else. What is the woman to do? My point is that it seems pretty enshrined as a social reality that the more pious a person is, the more convinced a woman is an ‘object of desire’ to be avoided and kept in as circumspect conditions as possible. The fitnah factor was used as a reason – by Qaradawi – on why women shouldn’t lead men in prayer – how many other ‘leadership’ examples/situations is it going to be used in? Ridiculous. That’s what needs major reform – how women participate in the public sphere. The barriers for centuries have been the ‘oh the women will turn us on’ excuse. Outrageous. It seems the men are the ones who cannot control themselves! If so, they should certainly not be in positions of leadership.

  49. sonia — on 16th February, 2008 at 11:56 pm  

    should be..”the more convinced they are that a woman is an object of desire..”

  50. Saqib — on 17th February, 2008 at 2:59 pm  

    Sonia:

    ‘The vitriol that was seen the Amina Wadud case makes it a highly pertinent example indeed Saqib, at least in my humble opinion. And directly relevant was the treatment of her as a female, and attitudes towards females, Qaradawi denounced her on the basis of ‘oh we men will be/might be turned on if there is a woman is leading the prayer’

    Well we will have to disagree Sonia, as the reason why Amina Wudud was denounced wasn’t because of ‘fitna’, rather due to her pseudo-scholarship. It is a well-known maxim in Fiqh that in matters of worship (ibaadat) there has to be specific evidence for a matter, whereas in matters pertaining to society (mu’amulaat) everything is permissible unless there is specific evidence to the contrary. Since what Wudud did was in reality an act of worship, she could not provide any shred of evidence, instead relying on rather weak reasoning that would have made Osama bin Laden proud.

    In fact all scholars and students of knowledge took a rather dim view of her actions, including females.

    Now if Qaradawi did mention the issue of fitna (and I take your word for it, as i don’t normally follow Shaikh Qaradawi) then this would have been a tertiary issue, a subsidiary which may act as a rationale in the divine scheme of things, however which was not used in making a judgement of her views and subsequent actions. The issue of modesty (haya) is from Islam and does cover social interaction between men and women, however not at the expense of practicality. You will find many of the major companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) sought advice from Aisha and other female scholars, whilst the early Caliphs dealt with many issues directly which were female specific, particularly sexuality…oh and there was no taboo.

    Hence i think the suggestion that the more ‘pious’ someone is the more they are likely think of women as an object of desire as inaccurate, for Islam has a very open view on sex and sexuality. In fact i find such a statement rather ironic, for we live in a society where the idea that a women is an ‘object of desire’ is sadly prevalent. In fact I remember the other week when i went to get my hair cut, the otherwise friendly assistant was talking about the girls he had ‘banged’, well the crudest terms possible; being met be agreement by others in the queue. I wonder how the girls would have felt.

    However Sonia, I do think you have a point in regards to some of the attitudes within Muslim communities to fitna, or as one brother called it ‘fitna phobia’. I think that this is due to people bringing their own reasoning and thinking into matters, which run counter to Islam in both spirit and law, especially from among Muslims from the sub-continent, where there is an issue in not giving women prayer space, even though the Qur’an, the hadeeth, and the early, ‘orthodox’ generations clearly did.

    The basic point is Sonia, and i have read your other posts since last year (although i didn’t reply) just because if we have more female scholars it would not lead to the type of rulings which you may desire in line with a progressive mindset. For example, I don’t see accommodation for the views of an academic like Dr. Ghazalah Anwar (http://shorno.net/2007/02/18/eye-on-backbiting-muslims/)

    when it comes to her views on the permissibility of homosexuality, for it is again based on the same pitfalls which Amina Wudud based her views. In fact it is revisionism of the worst kind, for while in Christianity, there is dispute about the method of textual criticism in mainstream thought, this is not the case in Islam, hence why we often hear the call for an Islamic reformation, which is anachronistic. Anachronistic for the Reformation was about taking away tradition with a focus of scripture, whereas that has always been the focus of Islamic scholarship, with tradition simply their to inform understanding.

  51. Saqib — on 17th February, 2008 at 3:16 pm  

    Sonia:

    ‘It seems the men are the ones who cannot control themselves! If so, they should certainly not be in positions of leadership.’

    Guess what Sonia, the last democratic president in the US certainly couldn’t control himself, however rather than him being relinquished of his position, his popularity, in many quarters actually increased. This was because, as i am sure you are aware, people felt he was more genuine, giving into the temptations which have become the norm in society.

    With the greatest of respect Sonia, I don’t think Muslim men and women need to be lectured about not being able to control themselves from a society that considers this as normal, with the resultant problems this creates, mainly for women and children.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7244701.stm

    In fact, the report outlines that:

    ‘The majority of perpetrators are known to the victim
    97% of callers to Rape Crisis Lines knew their assailant prior to the assault’

    This is unacceptable in my book, yet i would suggest is a corollary in a society which although provides sexual liberation to both men and women, cannot prevent such occurances from harming women.

    Perhaps it’s Islam’s rather honest look at social relations between men and women which concerns you Sonia, however until you provide a model to the contrary, Islam’s social model will continue.

  52. sonia — on 17th February, 2008 at 6:26 pm  

    yes Saqib, with the greatest respect back, “With the greatest of respect Sonia, I don’t think Muslim men and women need to be lectured about not being able to control themselves from a society..”

    i’m not sure what ‘society’ you think I am from -however, the simple point is the ‘lecturing’ about not being able to control themselves – is coming from certain men who claim to be religious authority. I think its hilarious that most men put up with such lectures and such denigration of their honour, personally had i been born a Muslim male instead of being ‘born’ a Muslim female, i would have had plenty to say to the likes to Qaradawi and his ilk, “speak for your yourself” type statements. It is a gross insult to any man to suggest he cannot control himself. But alas, that is what you will find many a Muslim mullah going around and doing – insulting all the rest of the Muslim men.

  53. sonia — on 17th February, 2008 at 6:36 pm  

    As for ‘Islam’s honest look’, interestingly, it has most certainly not been successful at generating an “honest” society, whatever else it may have done. If anything, it is quite the opposite. If you had grown up and lived in a muslim-majority country, you’d know that actually, there are really not many differences in the way people behave ( this business about the so-called ‘corrupt’ and ‘liberal’ west) – with other countries, except for one rather important difference – it is all done in ‘secret’ – what honesty eh. We all grow up perfecting the pathological lying technique. Everything under ‘wraps’ – oh! and what does that encourage? “Respectability” yes, and a huge obsession with appearances and this so-called respectability. Perhaps you are an innocent and have no idea of what actually goes on – You sound like you have ‘pure’ motives. But perhaps a lesson in real life in – say- Pakistan, Ban gladesh, Kuwait -etc is something you need to go and get. Take a good close look at the ‘success’ of ‘Islam’s social model.

    Religious influences – generally tend to lead to an obsession with the ‘surface respectability’ – like Victorian prudery-or example. What lies beneath, is quite another matter.

  54. sonia — on 17th February, 2008 at 6:39 pm  

    But of course, some people can’t handle such realities, I apologise Saqib, if it is too much for you to take, we wouldn’t want to shatter your illusions about ‘pure Islamic societies’ would we.

  55. Saqib — on 17th February, 2008 at 6:48 pm  

    Sonia:

    ‘But of course, some people can’t handle such realities, I apologise Saqib, if it is too much for you to take, we wouldn’t want to shatter your illusions about ‘pure Islamic societies’ would we.’

    No need to apologise Sonia, i like your robust style of debate, although we do differ over a number of issues. I would suggest however that much of what you have said is a false extrapolation of my comments, for I did not claim that Muslims Societies were perfect, in fact i did say:

    ‘However Sonia, I do think you have a point in regards to some of the attitudes within Muslim communities to fitna, or as one brother called it ‘fitna phobia’.

  56. sonia — on 17th February, 2008 at 6:52 pm  

    This woman puts it well ( written after a run-in with a Sheikh about her father’s condolence event in a hall attached to a mosque)

    The argument that women ‘distract’ men from any spiritual endeavours or any other endeavour for that matter and that they arouse sexual urges rests on a completely wrong understanding of what it means to be human. This line of reasoning rests on the fallacy that men are too weak and merely seeing women lets them be overcome by an irresistible uncontrollable sexual urge which makes them forget anything and everything else, never mind the location or situation, in our case here honouring a decent and good man on his last journey. By such lopsided reasoning they imply that men are incapable of taking any moral responsibility for their behaviour and hence women must be invisible and hidden away and prevented from participating in the simplest of services just to allow men to keep their control. What does this say about men’s ability to take full responsibility for themselves and others? On what understanding of human nature are these silly arguments based?

    This is what women have to put up with, ridiculous isn’t it?

  57. sonia — on 17th February, 2008 at 6:54 pm  

    so what we are effectively dependent on – is narrow-minded Mullahs changing their minds/ or more progressive Mullahs taking control.

  58. Saqib — on 17th February, 2008 at 7:11 pm  

    Sonia:
    i’m not sure what ’society’ you think I am from however, the simple point is the ‘lecturing’ about not being able to control themselves – is coming from certain men who claim to be religious authority.’

    Actually the point stands Sonia, as it was in reference statements

    ‘the male scholars, say ‘Fatema, we’re sorry, we can’t really debate in your presence, we are turned on by your figure’ and

    ‘It seems the men are the ones who cannot control themselves! If so, they should certainly not be in positions of leadership.’

    The fact you have chosen to ignore the component parts of my arguments is interesting.

    Anyway, as I said Sonia Islam has a very honest take on sexuality, and how one is to channel their, well ‘sexual energies.’ By the way, i have never heard, or read a scholar who is of the opinion that a Man will sexually expole at the sight of a women, which seems the general thrust of your points. Can we have this backed up by a scholar?

    Rather, as the great scholar, Imam Al Ghazzali said’

    ‘If the first inward thought is not warded off, it will generate a desire, then the desire will generate a wish, and the wish will generate an intention, and the intention will generate the action, and the action will result in ruin and divine wrath.’

    Problems stem from the heart, jealously, gluttony, hatred, – treat the heart, you prevent issues growing. However you don’t seem to have grasped these nuances.

    Clearly, we can see in the UK, that sexual promiscuity,
    infidelity has become a norm, in fact a basis for jokes, which does not say a lot for presumably the model you would want Muslim societies to adopt. Hence I reiterate, Muslim men and women do not need to be lectured.

  59. Saqib — on 17th February, 2008 at 7:14 pm  

    Sonia:

    ‘This is what women have to put up with, ridiculous isn’t it?’

    Oh, so women are not considered as sexual objects in modern day Britain…obviously you have never heard of page 3 and the ‘melons’ of the day (oh, and they don’t refer to fruits darling!)

  60. Saqib — on 17th February, 2008 at 7:20 pm  

    Sonia:

    As for ‘Islam’s honest look’, interestingly, it has most certainly not been successful at generating an “honest” society, whatever else it may have done.’

    Wow, that is a rather sweeping statement Sonia, particularly if it is based on your few years of living in Muslim majority countries. Now if everything was as clear-cut as you suggest, with things being done behind closed doors, do you think we would be having debates in Britain today about Muslims not integrating, living ‘parallel lives’ for surely, they can do these things here openly, in fact by pretending not to do those things, they actually create more problems, by not fitting in.

    Islam’s social model is still intact, i would suggest Sonia.

  61. Sid — on 17th February, 2008 at 7:27 pm  

    I think you have made a very valid point here. However it is not ‘revision’ per se where there is resistence, for shariah is about dealing with real life issues, hence it is an evolving system which guides back to the ideals of Islam.

    Yes, Saqib the sharia can be thought of ‘evolving’ but certainly not because it has been mandated by some standards body. If it can be thought of evolving, it is actually being adapted in spite of itself.

    This ‘evolution’ can be both negative and positive. In South Asia, the sharia has “evolved” by no longer being cnsulted in matters of inheritance law because it obviously falls short of current social attitudes. This is a good thing. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive or appear in public without full hijab, this too is an extra-judicial “evolution”, which is obviously a bad thing.

  62. Sid — on 17th February, 2008 at 7:48 pm  

    The second evolution, the one in Saudi, known as Wahabbism, can be regarded as a reformation analogous to the Protestant reformation. Not all reformations are desirable.

  63. sonia — on 17th February, 2008 at 10:32 pm  

    “on your few years of living in Muslim majority countries”

    erm – no “not a few years” – that’s actually where i’ve come from! its funny you mistake me for a ‘westerner’ i’ve spent the better part of my life in ‘muslim majority’ countries, i am a ‘foreigner’ here in britain. don’t know why you assume everyone on Pickled Politics is british.

  64. Saqib — on 17th February, 2008 at 11:06 pm  

    Sonia:

    Actually I do know you have spent a long time in different countries, however I consider you to be young, so I classified the years as being only a few!

    Anyway you must be British by now, have you not received the passport?

  65. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2008 at 1:44 am  

    Saqib,

    This is quite amusing. Saqib meet Sonia, Sonia meet Saqib!

    Watch, as the feminist and the patriairchalist go head to head! Watch as Saqib pulls out more and more obscure stuff! Watch as he loses the plot!

    {Saqib, may your religion inform you. I think of you as a friend, but when you are unable to see women as equals, within your religion, which ought to be pretty well axiomatic, then, I have to doubt your sincerity elsewhere. And don’t give me that sister shit!}

    It seems to me that the Vicar of Dibley is unlikely to inspire anyone, err me, to sexual ecstacy. I find it hard to believe that most women, leading a faith, would.

    I have some, short, experiences of women conducting funeral services. I thought she did as good a job as any male could have. I regret the complete failure to fancy her.

    It is for that reason, and that alone, that I think that you have a frankly sexist attitude. Women are as capable as men.

    And daft, medieval men, ought to get their heads around that.

    You, Saqib, are not medieval, but you are coming across as a person who has had a Western education and has chosen to see it through a looking glass. Which, is obviously your right.

    It is obviously also my right to call you up on it.

  66. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 3:29 am  

    yes a sweeping statement indeed, and one pretty easy to substantiate, unless one literally lives in la-la land or is a complete innocent. Or chooses to bury their head in the sand. ( not suprising, given the amount of sordid reality out there) but of course not many people would dare to refer to it openly given the great lengths society goes to appear ‘respectable’ and keep this stuff hidden. the brick lane hooha shock horror! about reading a piece of fiction about one of their women having an affair – is a good example of the kind of reactions that ensure everyone keeps everything a big secret.

    in any case. its hardly for me to go on about this here, most people i think know what i am alluding to. The reason I brought it up was because Saqib mentioned “honesty”. There is a strong element of hypocrisy – that is the problem, and frankly, yes i think repression only makes it much worse and sordid, and undercover – nothing ‘honest’ there. Catholic priests and little boys, and all that sort of thing.

  67. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2008 at 7:04 am  

    Sonia,

    If you did not ‘go on about it here’, then the likes of Saqib would be unchallenged.

    I happen to think that he is no idiot, but I also happen to think that he actually deserves to be confronted on his sexist attitudes. It will probably make him a better person.

    You go girl!

    Saqib has nothing but his male supremacist attitudes, supported allegedly by a holy book. Where have I seen that before!

    Oh, yeah, you pointed it out, Catholic Priests!

    Equality of rights, it seems to me, are best addressed independently of what Saqib suggests. In fact, what Saqib suggests should be the counter arguement to sanity.

    This is, I would think, the problem. Saqib probably honestly believes what he says. He probably honestly believes that we should all live according to what he says.

    I have, as probably as prescriptive agenda as Saqib, just not the same one right enough.

    Equality.

    Except he can call someone ‘sister’ and disagree with them.

    If I said ‘daughter’ to you, would you not be a bit riled?

    I think of you as a younger person, whom I quite like, but ‘daughter’, no.

    So, ‘sister’ seems to me to fall into the same category. Condescending, even.

    Still, condescension, sexism, what’s not to like?

    Quite a lot, I’d have thought.

    And whoever brought Preview back, I love you!

  68. null — on 18th February, 2008 at 8:17 am  

    The fact is that ulama recognize what the problem is with people like Sonia .
    They are spiritually sick and like many sick people do not realize that they are suffering from spiritual illnesses of the heart .
    They like many others remain in denial of thier illness

  69. Desi Italiana — on 18th February, 2008 at 9:21 am  

    Douglas:

    Off the bat, I am jumping into the convo, so sorry I haven’t read all of the comments, but this caught my eye–

    “I do see as something quite odd about women generally – that they subscribe to *frankly sexist religions*”

    When you say “sexist religions”– it makes it seem like you are implying that there are then NOT sexist religions.

    From my understanding, the Koran gave women more then what they had in pre-Islamic Arabia. Also, note that in the Bible, Evil Eve is the root of sin for all of humanity (more or less) which is missing from the Koran. I’m certainly not saying that in the Koran, women are not depicted as second class citizens, but I think that most religions have done that (just read the Bhagvad Gita As It Is, translation by Swami Prabhupad, Holy Book of ISKON– atrocious passages on how women are presumably stupid like children and must be disciplined and controlled so as to not “pollute” society by “mixing” with the “wrong” caste, thereby knocking down the caste system and thus wreaking havoc on the social and religious order, blah blah blah. You get the picture).

  70. Desi Italiana — on 18th February, 2008 at 9:23 am  

    ““I do see as something quite odd about women generally – that they subscribe to *frankly sexist religions*”

    So to expand, I think that religion itself has sexist aspects.

    But now I am wondering how the Buddhist and Jain doctrines are like w/r/t women’s place. Oftentimes, we have an Abrahamic-centric viewpoint and throw in Hinduism for a good “balance” measure.

  71. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2008 at 9:40 am  

    Desi @ 69,

    Sure. I have no arguement with what you said. You said this:

    So to expand, I think that religion itself has sexist aspects.

    Well, fuck me, that has been my point all along, has it not?

  72. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 10:19 am  

    Sonia:

    ‘yes a sweeping statement indeed, and one pretty easy to substantiate, unless one literally lives in la-la land or is a complete innocent.’

    Not really Sonia, you have had time to substantiate your points and you haven’t. The basic gist of your point is that Muslim society is all about double standards, which if it was the case would become all apparent with All/MOST Muslims’ coming out in the open in Britain. We can see instead, much evidence to the contrary, (with the supposed ‘radicalization of Muslims) hence the strawman argument has been blown away.

    Of course there is much wrong within Muslim society, and certainly I wouldn’t disagree that there are problems which you have mentioned. However to characterize that as ‘institutional is far fetched and crude…if a Muslim said that about the big bad West he/she would be lampooned, and rightly so.

    So the point comes back again full circle, unless and until you provide an alternative social model, Muslim men and women do not need to be lectured.

    Of course, and i have noticed your unwillingness, perhaps informed through personal experiences, to appreciate the nuances in my discussion

  73. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 10:22 am  

    Desi Italiana:

    Apologies I did not respond to your points on the other thread, rather like you I will have to be dipping in and out from here, especially next the few months.

  74. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 10:30 am  

    Desi Italiana:

    ‘From my understanding, the Koran gave women more then what they had in pre-Islamic Arabia.’

    Well Desi, people will always give you their own opinions which will be tainted by bias, including my own. I say that as some academics have argued the converse! Confusing eh…

    Best thing is to read around yourself and read the portions of the text, like the Koran and then make an informed judgement.

  75. Mariam — on 18th February, 2008 at 10:32 am  

    From my understanding, the Koran gave women more then what they had in pre-Islamic Arabia

    Your understanding is flawed.

    Pre Islam, women could run businesses, be queens and command armies.

    Post Islam, women were relegated to house wives, concubines and were never to be seen leading armies or tribes.

  76. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 10:37 am  

    Douglas:

    ‘{Saqib, may your religion inform you. I think of you as a friend, but when you are unable to see women as equals, within your religion, which ought to be pretty well axiomatic, then, I have to doubt your sincerity elsewhere. And don’t give me that sister shit!}

    I certainly hope you don’t doubt my sincerity Douglas, for sure my ideas and opinions are for real, perhaps they are not coherent, perhaps i am misguided, perhaps many of them need challenging (hence why i come onto PP, instead of burying my head in the sand) and maybe i might be convinced otherwise. However the one constant I hope I have is sincerity in my views and opinions.

  77. Mariam — on 18th February, 2008 at 10:38 am  

    In addition, Islamic law stipulate that a Muslim women can not interact with unrelated men without the company of either their brother, father or husband.

    Thus making it difficult to enter the work place.

    Contrast this to pre-Islamic Arabia where even Khadija, Muhamed’s first wife, ran a business. Funny how the verses condemning women to the home were ‘revelaed’ after she died.

  78. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 10:43 am  

    Mariam:

    ‘Your understanding is flawed.

    Pre Islam, women could run businesses, be queens and command armies.

    Post Islam, women were relegated to house wives, concubines and were never to be seen leading armies or tribes.’

    See Desi!

    I think Mariam may well have read the works of, i think an Egyptian American feminist called Aisha…something. I read her book, I think nearly a decade ago. She also adds for good measure that women had greater sexual freedom, which is true, however that was truer for both men and women. I would contest much of those points, however as i said best thing is to do ones own research.

  79. Mariam — on 18th February, 2008 at 10:50 am  

    I think Mariam may well have read the works of,

    Maybe I read a whole host of sources and came to a logical conclusion.

    Or do you think that simply because I hold an opinion contrary to yours that I must have been indoctrinated by Arab feminism?

    saqib, you seem like a nice enough fellow, but you really are embarrassing yourself here.

  80. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 10:55 am  

    yep Desi, i’d say all religions are sexist.

    actually, for a ‘nuanced’ view on how Islam did change things for women in Arabia, this is a good link. The truth appears to be that for some women, things were worse, and for others, things were better. ( so Marian does have a point) the reason appears to be that in pre-Islamic Arabia, some tribes gave more freedom to their women,(and indeed were matriarchal to some extent) than other tribes, who were your standard oppressive patriarchal types. Apparently Muhammad ‘homogenized’ the situation – so – some people would have less freedom, some more.

    However, standards have changed, and the ‘relativity’ argument is simply not good enough. If God sent down these religions, are we to think then that God simply hasn’t high enough standards? that “He” works on cultural relativism basis? Or not as high as those of feminists for example?

    Subjective views, Saqib, are not ‘proofs’ to be substantiated. It would be as well if more religious people worked that one out.

  81. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 10:59 am  

    Mariam:

    ‘Or do you think that simply because I hold an opinion contrary to yours that I must have been indoctrinated by Arab feminism?’

    Well not really, but I do know the some of what you have rehearsed has very similar trends of thought with Dr. Aisha, and because it was, certainly for the time a seminal work (which shifted thinking.)

    As for your sources, please share them with me, i would be happy to review them.

    ‘saqib, you seem like a nice enough fellow, but you really are embarrassing yourself here.’

    Well, okay, if you say so.

  82. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:02 am  

    Sonia:

    There was no link in that post, please resend.

    ‘Subjective views, Saqib, are not ‘proofs’ to be substantiated. It would be as well if more religious people worked that one out.’

    ‘Apparently Muhammad ‘homogenized’ the situation – so – some people would have less freedom, some more.’

    Is this not itself a rather subjective view itself Sonia?

  83. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:05 am  

    sorry – didn’t get the link in:

    http://achelois.wordpress.com/2008/02/17/status-of-women-in-islam-a-historical-perspective-redux/

    Achelois is a brilliant writer and a fervent believer, and very honest and critical. i learned a lot through interacting on her blog, she doesn’t shy of questioning the problem areas of religion, like so many other pious people, (who would have you think there are none)
    It was on her blog that I first found out about sex slavery “<a href=”http://achelois.wordpress.com/2007/01/28/concubines-in-islam/”concubinage” in islam as well – (which was the critical turning point for me, i.e. on the way out) Can you believe i knew nothing about that until then? Big eye-opener indeed. Religious law was definitely failing those women.

  84. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:06 am  

    sorry my tags weren’t closed – second link here:

    http://achelois.wordpress.com/2007/01/28/concubines-in-islam/

  85. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:09 am  

    obviously Saqib, that was my point. I think that’s pretty obvious is it not? :-) At the end of the day, everything i say, is my reality, my knowledge based on my reading of the world around me. I have stated clearly that these are all my opinions based on my experiences.

    I’m not the one (:-) who went around saying I know God was speaking to me and that God wants x and the rest of you are wrong..and you must believe i am the Messenger!! perhaps if Muhammad had thought, hang on a sec, maybe that iS JUST my voice speaking, perhaps this is MY subjective reality, instead of objective GOD given truth, well who knows eh?

  86. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:12 am  

    but what a clever idea, really, I sometimes think i should invent a new Messenger, after all, if i set up shop as the new Messiah, why Saqib, when you – or anyone else, would kindly disagree with me, i would simply say, but that’s blasphemy! you have the freedom to follow me, but actually if you don’t, you’ll go to hell. And that’s pretty good way to garner dissent, isn’t it.

  87. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:13 am  

    to NOT garner dissent..of course..

  88. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:13 am  

    Sonia:

    However, standards have changed, and the ‘relativity’ argument is simply not good enough. If God sent down these religions, are we to think then that God simply hasn’t high enough standards? that “He” works on cultural relativism basis? Or not as high as those of feminists for example?’

    Fair point, however, if it is the case that standards have changed and improved, it could also be true that in other aspects standards may well have fallen. And perhaps these to aspects are linked, and cannot be separated as easily as you may think. Yes, at an individual level there is more freedom in law and politics, but the reality of society at times means that social forces constrain those freedoms and create conditions which many would consider at odds with, if you like, the ‘good life.’

  89. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:23 am  

    Sonia:

    ‘I’m not the one (:-) who went around saying I know God was speaking to me and that God wants x and the rest of you are wrong..and you must believe i am the Messenger!! perhaps if Muhammad had thought, hang on a sec, maybe that iS JUST my voice speaking, perhaps this is MY subjective reality, instead of objective GOD given truth, well who knows eh?’

    It’s funny, i was going to write in my last post about your views on the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) but clicked on ‘preview’ and read this quote. I long thought that this was your view, but preferred you to make it.

    Obviously the main difference between you and I then Sonia is if we do believe if the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)did receive revelation as he claimed, for all subsequent arguments we have about reform, women, sexuality and the like are predicated upon this. If i did agree with you on the former point, then I would almost certainly agree with you on the component parts of the argument.

    However I don’t.

  90. Mariam — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:26 am  

    saqib

    Sources are any good Arab history books and the Quran and the Ahadiths, with the essential ingredients being common sense and logical thinking – something that you are clearly lacking in.

    Pre-Islam: women worked (eg Khadija) and women were monarchs (eg Sheba).

    Post-Islam: women relegated to the home and not a single woman Caliph is to be found.

    Ipso facto; women’s rights took a battering with the dawn of Islam.

  91. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:26 am  

    Sonia:

    ‘but what a clever idea, really, I sometimes think i should invent a new Messenger, after all, if i set up shop as the new Messiah, why Saqib, when you – or anyone else, would kindly disagree with me, i would simply say, but that’s blasphemy! you have the freedom to follow me, but actually if you don’t, you’ll go to hell. And that’s pretty good way to garner dissent, isn’t it.’

    Well Sonia, many people have claimed prophethood, however they have been vanquished empty in the annuls of history. It is not an easy thing to do.

  92. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:29 am  

    Saqib @ 72,

    I’d have thought, reading through this thread, that Sonia had, indeed, made her point. Pretty well.

    You said:

    So the point comes back again full circle, unless and until you provide an alternative

    It is you, sir, that cannot come up with an alternative.

  93. Ravi Naik — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:30 am  

    yep Desi, i’d say all religions are sexist.

    “Pre Islam, women could run businesses, be queens and command armies.”

    Actually, as Desi hinted in #70, I don’t think one should generalise that all religions are sexist, but there is no doubt that Abrahamic-centric religions are. After all, God is seen as a father figure. Is that a feature of all monotheist religions?

    I do agree with Mariam. Pagan (pre-islamic) religions were less sexist, and included several female deities.

  94. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:41 am  

    Mariam:

    ‘saqib

    Sources are any good Arab history books and the Quran and the Ahadiths, with the essential ingredients being common sense and logical thinking – something that you are clearly lacking in’

    And how do you define ‘good history books’ Mariam? Are you really such a simpleton that you believe every word of a book because it is written history? I am saying give me specific book titles, names of authors, which i can compare so i can check THEIR sources, just as you have checked the source materials of Islam i.e. Qur’an and Hadeeth, and made your ‘logical conclusions.’

    Funny, I am still reading history at university, so do have some experience.

    ‘Pre-Islam: women worked (eg Khadija) and women were monarchs (eg Sheba).’

    This was only a one of dear, and that too during the time of Prophet Solimon, many cenruries before Islam, well before Prophet Jesus even. lame point.

    ‘Post-Islam: women relegated to the home and not a single woman Caliph is to be found.

    Ipso facto; women’s rights took a battering with the dawn of Islam.’

    Your logic seems rather impaired, as their are many component arguments like inheritance entitlements, end of female infanticide, end of widespeard prostitution and actually women could still own and run businesses, not just a few wealthy women. Moreover, did it lead to an improvement in womens overall status in society, whereby prostitution and operating in a ‘man’s world may not have given them the stability, security which they actually wanted and required…these are qualitative points.

    Again these are nuanced points, which is why I need specific sources to assess them against your ‘logical conclusions’.

  95. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:43 am  

    Douglas:

    ‘It is you, sir, that cannot come up with an alternative.’

    Not really Douglas, because it is Sonia who is calling for reform, hence my point about her providing an alternative stands well in this context. If it was I who was argument that modern Britain has a huge problem, the yes you would be correct, but this is not the case here.

  96. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:45 am  

    Sonia

    Thanks for the links, i will have a look…perhaps Mariam can also oblige us with some substance.

  97. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:47 am  

    Saqib,

    So, why do you believe in one prophet, viz:

    “Well Sonia, many people have claimed prophethood, however they have been vanquished empty in the annuls of history. It is not an easy thing to do.”

    Which, I assume you to mean the Prophet Muhammed?

    He is as easily rejected as any other prophet, I’d have thought.

    Empty in the annuls of history might be an appropriate and easy place, such as Baal, Odin and the rest of them..

  98. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 11:54 am  

    Douglas:

    My point is while anyone can and people do claim prophethood they get generally ignored.

    As for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), then yes Douglas, people have rejected him, during his time and today. However a lot of people haven’t, moreover from his prophethood a sophisticated culture and civilization sprang, from the beduoin dessert no less, and this was remarkable, as nothing could have been as remote. I don’t believe this can be achieved simply through simple invocation of divine wrath, there must be something more substantive in the message.

  99. douglas clark — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:00 pm  

    Saqib,

    I am really quite fond of you, but when you come up with contrary stuff, well…

    Your logic seems rather impaired, as their are many component arguments like inheritance entitlements, end of female infanticide, end of widespeard prostitution and actually women could still own and run businesses, not just a few wealthy women. Moreover, did it lead to an improvement in womens overall status in society, whereby prostitution and operating in a ‘man’s world may not have given them the stability, security which they actually wanted and required…these are qualitative points.

    I think you are talking shite.

  100. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:00 pm  

    saqib, mate, you’re not doing much substantiating either, and you’ve got some sweeping statements too. i think a lot of people would think that the civilisation and culture that is popularly referred to under ‘the glorious islamic civilisation’ – came from having broken out of the rub al khali and conquered Persia. Khorasan was a long way from Mecca that’s for sure. Certainly this is the basis of ongoing dispute between arabs and iranians…( i daresay if you grew up in the middle east you’d be familiar with this sort of thing, the talk of the ummah unity is of course, just talk) but people who feel their religion makes them a bit of a minority probably aren’t aware? of how irrelevant the fact that someone else is a muslim, when you’re all muslims..you focus on the differences and whose contribution to ‘shared’ history was more ‘glorious’ than the next person. Oh this is fascinating stuff.

  101. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:04 pm  

    “here must be something more substantive in the message.”

    yes why don’t you tell us what that is Saqib? or is it too much to put in one blog comment ;-) You can of course refer us to the Quran and the Hadiths. By the way, have you been following Zia’s Blogging the Quran project on CiF? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that one.

  102. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:08 pm  

    Sonia

    Not really, for Persia was decaying. Anyway Arabic did become the language of learning for nearly a millennium, many scholars from the wider world of Islam accessed writings of other cultures, translated them and built up commentary. They provided new solutions in the field of astronomy, medicine etc and had highly efficient government administration (Arabs are renowned for lack of organisation skills, even till today). I have made these point on PP, and have posted some links on my own blog.

    It is fascinating stuff Sonia, and perhaps we can explore it in much greater detail at a later date.

  103. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:11 pm  

    Sonia:

    yes why don’t you tell us what that is Saqib? or is it too much to put in one blog comment ;-) You can of course refer us to the Quran and the Hadiths. By the way, have you been following Zia’s Blogging the Quran project on CiF? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that one.

    Well Sonia, many people are inquiring about that substantive and doing their own research, and actually even embracing Islam, hence I invite people to form their own judgements in this regard. My point was you can’t simply construct a civilization on a wing and prayer, there must be more to the personality and message of Muhammad (pbuh)

  104. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:14 pm  

    Sonia:

    Sorry, about Zia, I know about it, but don’t follow it. I prefer to focus on scholars and academics works then just odd trivial pursuits. Hence I have read Zia writings on Islam and Post-modernism, and some of his NS articles.

  105. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:17 pm  

    Douglas:

    ‘I am really quite fond of you, but when you come up with contrary stuff, well…’

    I don’t see contradictions, though i could have made the point better and more fluently.

  106. Ravi Naik — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:19 pm  

    It was on her blog that I first found out about sex slavery “<a href=”http://achelois.wordpress.com/2007/01/28/concubines-in-islam/”concubinage” in islam as well – (which was the critical turning point for me, i.e. on the way out)

    Sonia, did you leave your religion because of what happened 1400 years ago?

  107. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:25 pm  

    heh douglas, alas, unless *some people* get turned into a pakistani (passport holding as opposed to just ethnic origin!) labourer in the great country of the custodian of the two holy mosques, (KSA) or a sri lankan maid in the above, ( just two examples, we can come up with many more) sigh, many things will remain brushed under the carpet. Why a country that was the cradle of such a ‘substantive’ message – and seems to not have benefited from this ‘culture and civilisation’, is anyone’s guess.
    yes i daresay my logic is “impaired” – i have heard that one before, when i have suggested that the islamic ‘culture and civilisation’ glorious lot had a miserable history of slavery and sex slavery, and one that we certainly haven’t acknowledged, though we like to point fingers at others with who have also had slavery in their history ( just about everybody else) but no! we’re above such things, we didn’t do nought wrong, our ancestors were glorious and Rightly Guided. So if that’s “logical” frankly i’d rather be “logical” thank you very much.

    You have to give Muhammad something though – the man was not afraid to break with history and his ancestors – unlike so many of his current day followers – sycophantic ‘we will follow our ancestors’ sort of attitudes.

    Of course one of the real issues – is the fact that the common argument that is brought up is ‘well if it were so crap, why are there so many Muslims’. And this is the thing. The real trick is the forcing thorugh centuries of a “family-based” Muslim identity that is darn well difficult to be rid of, and the fact that so many ‘ex-Muslims’ are shadowy figures, ‘Muslim’ to their families. No one really wants to talk about that, do they?

  108. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:26 pm  

    ..i’d rather be ‘illogical’..

  109. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:41 pm  

    Sonia:

    ‘yes i daresay my logic is “impaired”’

    I said that to Mariam not you Sonia.

    ‘Why a country that was the cradle of such a ’substantive’ message – and seems to not have benefited from this ‘culture and civilisation’, is anyone’s guess.

    Come on Sonia, you can do better then that, civilizations, nations, cultures decline and fall. You have to assess the general impact on history. Would you view the entire enlightenment project in the prism of the barbarism it unleashed with violent fascist ideologies, and bloody revolutions, which killed more people then perhaps in known history. No, neither would I. The Enlightenment gave us our modern world, and moreover is considered a source of inspiration. This is not diminshed by the, if you like ‘black spots’.

    By the way slavery was actually gradually abolished in Arabia within a few decades in Arabia following the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) death, though of course you are right, it did continue in other parts. Sometimes this was with regards to prisomers of wars who were later released. I don’t agree with slavery as a concept and would be happy to agree with you that its exploitation by greedy merchants was disgraceful. It would also be true, that European slavery had a distinctly racist character to it, the problems of which are still with us today.

    However Sonia, none of this disproves my point about substantive messages, because that is evidenced and acknowledged by other people. Better to do away with the straw man arguments.

  110. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:44 pm  

    Sonia:

    ‘Of course one of the real issues – is the fact that the common argument that is brought up is ‘well if it were so crap, why are there so many Muslims’. And this is the thing. The real trick is the forcing thorugh centuries of a “family-based” Muslim identity that is darn well difficult to be rid of, and the fact that so many ‘ex-Muslims’ are shadowy figures, ‘Muslim’ to their families. No one really wants to talk about that, do they?’

    Yes, which would also explain why, according to the media and some think tanks younger Muslims are more radical then their parents generation, Islam is in the ascendancy in the Muslim world, and why Islam is actually growing in conversation in Britain and wider in the West. again, there must be something more substantive then just ‘fear’ or family ‘pressure’, especially when so many feel so passionately.

    There you go Sonia, another strawman brought down.

  111. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 12:48 pm  

    Sonia:

    ‘You have to give Muhammad something though – the man was not afraid to break with history and his ancestors – unlike so many of his current day followers – sycophantic ‘we will follow our ancestors’ sort of attitudes.’

    Again, another strawman argument, for many are rejecting their parents rather apologetic understanding of Islam, and are returning to scripture…do you actually keep up to date with the news, or are you solely relying on your out-of-date experiences of living in ‘Muslim majority states’?

  112. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 1:10 pm  

    well ravi do you really want to know? Or was it just a sarcastic question. wELL I’ll tell you anyway. seeing as long multiple commenting is my forte..

    its the principle of the thing, yes, it made a big impact, and it was very important – to me.

    a) it wasn’t “my religion” to leave – it was my “family’s” religion forced on me and had been made to look like a ‘wonderful thing’. I had resisted this for most of my growing up years, and naturally when i found out – a glimmer – that ” the wonderful thing” wasn’t quite so ‘wonderful’ – naturally it was a spark.

    If more people had said about events back then – e.g. ‘ok look that was then, this is now, we know they did wrong’ then probably it would not have had such impact.

    However – as far as i could see – there was the same ‘ostrich head in the sand’ as there was – with everything else that seemed problematic to me about islam. WHich suspiciously – despite being – there – in the history books, in the texts, enshrined in principles of islamic jurisprudence – was not being talked about. Too much dishonesty, – and then – even worse – not many people willing to engage with what i actually found in the Quran and the Hadiths – which were shocking to say the least. And then yes, finding out about the institutionalision of slavery and then pretending ‘it was humane’ was simply the last straw.
    It made me FURIOUS that everyone is fed this ‘glory glory’ business all these years. Oh your Prophet was a good man, well sorry, by the standards I found out about – and my own ethics – sorry, but no he wasn’t – not in my opinion!

    To me, it represented the ‘credentials’ of the men who transmitted the religious narrative down. And the scholars who institutionalised slavery in fiqh used examples from the Sunnah – the life of the Prophet – to do so. If i thought they were dodgy – and that the Prophet wasn’t anywhere near as squeaky clean as he had been made out to be – well then, naturally it had an impact on me. I’m not going to go and trust some fellow who turns out to be dodgier than the dodgiest Mullah around ( and for me – it was a revelation – aha! so this is where the dodgy mullahs’ get their inspiration from) Trusting a bunch of clearly oppressive men didn’t sit well with the rest of my ethics.

    Generally, the family-fed religion paints a picture of ‘pious folk’ which didn’t seem to match up to anything one actually found out about Islam. And let me tell you they keep schtum about all this when they are force feeding you it as a child.

    As a child i had been very angry with what appeared to be unfair bias against women, but had been told ‘oh its just a ‘twist’ REAL islam isn’t like this’, and for some reason, i believed my parents, reserved my ire for the ‘dodgy mullahs’. And God sounded a bit of a prick and frankly i wanted nothing to do with Him, his rules, and Hell. And yes, as it was effectively ‘forced’ on me, like it is forced on everyone else, which i wasn’t happy about, but the spectre of hell meant i didn’t want to think about and stayed away from religion, including the “holy” books. If only i’d had a good look when i was younger, if only i’d known about our actual history, what it actually says in our ‘holy books’ why yes it would have been clear to me from the start that the whole thing was a bit of a masquerade. ( and saved myself a lot of mental abuse) As so the fear factor kept me away for a long time, and then finding out just what our Rightly Guided friends were upto – was indeed the spark.

    So..yes what happened many years ago – was relevant to me, as providing context, within which to evaluate the “message”. I’m not worried people will start going around having sex slaves now – i think it goes to show how much more civilised people are – than some of our “friends” from way back then. And thank goodness for that!

    And can i say, i know some people might be surprised as to why it took so long to offload religion, the great thing about the internet is i know i’m not the only one. being able to communicate with others who have similar issues, has been so liberating. previously, with the kind of ‘communal’ peer pressure, you’d never be able to get away with saying by the way..’so i actually read some really disgusting things about the prophet’.. without being greeted with “Astagfirullah!” Haram Haram! wherever you went. That social pressure is incredible.

    probably more than you wanted to know Ravi, but there you go.

  113. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 1:21 pm  

    yes the islam growing in ascendancy in the West is highly intriguing, and most perplexing to those of us who grew up in the muslim world ( where we are busy escaping from mediaeval tentacles) My personal observations – of british asians – are that there is a lot of identity politicking going on here – a lot of the support for HuT crew in the mid-90s – from people who didn’t even know anything about ‘the Khilafah’ – seemed to stem from ‘ah! that’s my identity! i’m a strong muslim man/good muslim woman, look – i have this glorious history! i don’t have to be ~emasculated~ any more. Fascinating how it was set wihtin such a ‘race-obsessed’ immigrant dialogue.

  114. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 1:23 pm  

    if you read Umar Lee’s blog Saqib, { Jihad of Umar] you’ll also find out many interesting things about the dynamics of conversion to Islam in the USA. Umar is one interesting character – there is a lot of subtext about masculinity and race. Fascinating reading again. But then that’s the great thing about the blogosphere isn’t it Saqib? :-)

  115. sonia — on 18th February, 2008 at 1:25 pm  

    so actually, yes im glad i didnt grow up here, i might not have been able to jettison the religion thing easily in the face of all this us/vs. them business.

  116. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 1:43 pm  

    Sonia:

    ‘if you read Umar Lee’s blog Saqib, { Jihad of Umar] you’ll also find out many interesting things about the dynamics of conversion to Islam in the USA. Umar is one interesting character – there is a lot of subtext about masculinity and race. Fascinating reading again. But then that’s the great thing about the blogosphere isn’t it Saqib? :-)

    I’ve read Umar’s blog, and his excellent piece on the decline of the salafi dawah, which actually mirrors the split amongst salafis in the 90s. This time, i think Sonia, you are actually clutching at straws, as there is nothing in Umar’s very frank, honest and robust blog, which counter’s my points.

    Certainly blogging is fascinating!

  117. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 1:44 pm  

    split amongst salafis in the 90s

    In the UK i meant

  118. Saqib — on 18th February, 2008 at 1:48 pm  

    Sonia:

    ‘Fascinating how it was set wihtin such a ‘race-obsessed’ immigrant dialogue.’

    And even more fascinating why it continues today, and why many of those involved in the 90s are now involved in leading Islamic initiatives in Britain. The sour politics of identity can only last for so long, this phenomena is not abating.

  119. Sofia — on 19th February, 2008 at 10:44 am  

    Douglas – calling someone their sister is not patronising to all women..especially if the woman being addressed understands in what spirit the word is being used. Again, maybe Saqib needs to understand that some women on this may not like it..others like me, really don’t give a toss. But to assume that it is is patronising is patronising in itself.
    Secondly, as a muslim woman, I must say that the discussion above is pretty black and white and again highlights that i could turn the most enlightened thing into something that appears to base and crude…Sonia, i understand your issues with islam and muslim cultures but really sometimes you don’t want to see the other point of view, rather read normative interpretations of things that back up what you already think.

  120. Sofia — on 19th February, 2008 at 10:48 am  

    and i don’t mean that as a dig, but i’m just really frustrated and frankly sick to fucking death that if this religion was such a misogynistic one then why the hell would so many women choose to be muslim…i don’t have to..and before some twat goes on about apostasy, that isn’t the case for all the madhabs..so get that right for a start.

  121. Abu Huriah — on 19th February, 2008 at 10:52 am  

    why the hell would so many women choose to be muslim…

    If George W Bush was really that bad, why did so many people vote him in, twice?

  122. Sofia — on 19th February, 2008 at 10:59 am  

    not that many people did ..idiot

  123. Sofia — on 19th February, 2008 at 11:01 am  

    and frankly if that is the best you can do don’t bother…i really can’t be arsed with nitwits…

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