Critical Analysis: Women in Islam
Narrated Abu Huraira:The Prophet said, "A matron should not be given in marriage except after consulting her; and a virgin should not be given in marriage except after her permission." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! How can we know her permission?" He said, "Her silence (indicates her permission)."
Irshad Manji, "The Trouble with Islam: A Muslim's Call for Reform in her Faith", wrote:
Narrated Abdullah ibn AbuDhubab:Iyas ibn Abdullah ibn AbuDhubab reported the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) as saying: Do not beat Allah's handmaidens, but when Umar came to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) and said: Women have become emboldened towards their husbands, he (the Prophet) gave permission to beat them. Then many women came round the family of the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) complaining against their husbands. So the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: Many women have gone round Muhammad's family complaining against their husbands. They are not the best among you.
Ibn Warraq also has some quotes in his chapter on women in "Why I am not a Muslim" p. 299
On another occasion he said, "Adopt positions opposite those of women. There is great merit in such opposition." And again, "Impose nudity on women because clothes are one reason for leaving the house, to attend marriages and to appear in public for ceremonies and parties. When a woman goes out frequently she risks meeting another man and finding him attractive even if he is less attractive than her husband; for she is attracted and distracted by anything she does not possess".The antifeminist sayings of Ali (600-661), the Prophet's cousin and the fourth caliph are famous:
"You should never ask a woman her advice because her advice is worthless. Hide them so that they cannot see other men!... Do not spend too much time in their company for they will lead you to your downfall!" "Men, never ever obey your women. Never let them advise you on any matter concerning your daily life. If you let them advise you they will squander all your possessions and disobey all your orders and desires. ... And finally to a man teaching a woman to write: "Do not add evil to unhappiness."
It will be appropriate to end this introduction… from the famous and much revered philosopher al-Ghazali (1058-1111), whom Professor Montgomery Watt describes as the greatest Muslim after Muhammad. In his "The Revival Of The Religious Sciences" Ghazali defines the woman's role:"She should stay at home and get on with her spinning, she should not go out often, she must not be well-informed, nor must she be communicative with her neighbors and only visit them when absolutely necessary; she should take care of her husband and respect him in his presence and his absence and seek to satisfy him in everything; she must not cheat on him nor extort money from him; she must not leave her house without his permission and if given his permission she must leave surreptitiously. She should put on old clothes and take deserted streets and alleys, avoid markets, and make sure that a stranger does not hear her voice or recognize her; she must not speak to a friend of her husband even in need
Men get twice the inheritance as women
In the case of 2:282, ideally one should get two male witnesses. However, if this is not possible, then having one man and two women are acceptable. In no case, is it acceptable to rely on female witnesses without a male witness. (The verse also refers to the scribe and borrower as “him”.)
Staying at home
[33.33] And stay in your houses and do not display your finery like the displaying of the ignorance of yore; and keep up prayer, and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Apostl. Allah only desires to keep away the uncleanness from youe, O people of the House! and to purify you a (thorough) purifying
33:33 commands Muhammad’s wives to stay in their houses. It raises the question that if his wives were so wonderful, wouldn’t they be able to contribute more to society if they weren’t confined to their home. More importantly, since Muslimahs are supposed to pray, give charity, obey Allah and His apostle (as indicated in 33:33) and that the lives of Muhammad’s wives can serve as an example to all women, some Muslims argue that women should stay inside. This argument becomes stronger if her husband commands her to stay at home as she should not disobey her husband.
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:The Prophet said, "A woman should not travel except with a Dhu-Mahram (her husband or a man with whom that woman cannot marry at all according to the Islamic Jurisprudence), and no man may visit her except in the presence of a Dhu-Mahram." A man got up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! I intend to go to such and such an army and my wife wants to perform Hajj." The Prophet said (to him), "Go along with her (to Hajj)."
Narrated 'Aisha:The Prophet said to his wives, "You are allowed to go out to answer the call of nature. "
Jan Goodwin in the “Price of Honor: Muslim Women lift the veil of silence on the Islamic world" page 56 (chapter 3: Pakistan one step forward two steps back), 1995 writes:
Under this custom, which is still practiced in conservative regions of Pakistan and particularly in the provinces of Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier, it is said that a woman should go out only three times in her life: the first time, when she is born; the second, when she is married and taken to her husband's home; and the third time, when she dies and is taken to be buried. And on the occasions when she does goes out, she is expected to wear a burqa veil, a tentlike garment that covers her from head to toe, shrouding her completely except for her feet. The only opening is a small embroidered grill at eye level, through which she is destined to view the world in blurred glimpses.
The burqa is stifling in Pakistan's extreme summer heat. Everyday errands, even going out for groceries, are undertaken by the males in the family. This confinement is frequently carried out to such extremes that women suffer from a host of ailments caused by lack of physical exercise and exposure to sunlight. There is a high incidence of osteomalacia, a softening of the bones, in Muslim countries where women are completely veiled. The lack of sunlight reaching the skin also contributes to conditions such as eczema and to ulcers.The segregation of women is taken so seriously that many houses in Pakistan are surrounded with eight-to ten-foot-high purdah walls. All rooms face inward, with windows on the ground floor either built close to the ceiling or with frosted glass to ensure that the women who live there are never seen by passing male guests or tradesmen. In the Northwest Frontier Province, it is illegal to build a house with windows that overlook the windows or garden of another house. In addition to these precautions, Muslim homes also have one room set aside for guests, which usually has direct outside access to further ensure that unrelated male visitors will not catch a glimpse of women living there.
Quran’s Chapter on Women
Chapter 4 of the Quran is the chapter on women. The Quran uses the term "you" or "your" to refer to the male reader. The word "you(r)" in the verses below are masculine, as when Allah created Arabic, there were no gender neutral terms for "you". Based on the context, "you" refers to males.
"You" must refer to males.
You are males, they are females.
Your women, means that women are possessions of men. The four witnesses must be men.
[4.23] Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters and your sisters and your paternal aunts and your maternal aunts and brothers' daughters and sisters' daughters and your mothers that have suckled you and your foster-sisters and mothers of your wives and your step-daughters who are in your guardianship, (born) of your wives to whom you have gone in, but if you have not gone in to them, there is no blame on you (in marrying them), and the wives of your sons who are of your own loins and that you should have two sisters together, except what has already passed; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
Some traditionalists argue that men and women are different so they require different laws and roles. However, people of different age groups, occupations, fitness levels, health categories, etc. are different, so why just focus on gender-based differences? Also, in whatever ways one believes that men are different from women, there will be many exceptional cases. For example, assume you feel that men should get a larger inheritance because men financially support a family. Suppose one’s daughter supports her spouse and family while one’s son relies on his wife to support him. Who should get a larger inheritance?