Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Inequality of Women in the Koran (Quran)

Imagine if some legislator proposed adding the following provisions for the treatment of women into the laws of your community:

* men are the superior protectors of women and so women must be devoutly obedient
* a man can beat his woman if she is causing him trouble
* a man can force a captured woman to marry him, even if she is already married,
* or even if he is already married, since he can marry up to four wives
* women only get half the inheritance of men
* a woman's testimony is worth only half a man's
* a woman is a source of filth that men must be purified from
* if women are guilty of lewd behavior, they can be locked up until they die
* women must be covered up in public and can't go out alone

Based on such legislative proposals, you would immediately recognize the legislator as horribly intolerant of women's rights, being in fact intent upon establishing the complete subjugation of women.

But in Muslim eyes, that legislator is not a local councilman, not a state representative, not even an august Senator. That law-giver is almighty God himself, whose eternal, perfect, and unalterable commands for the treatment of women are given in the Koran.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation concerning Islam. Luckily, we are able to read the Koran for ourselves. Every now and then I get a female student in class who seems dead-set on defending how women are treated in Islam.

I find it particularly amusing when they say all the mistreatment of women by Muslims is due to cultural factors, not religious ones, since Muhammad elevated the position of women in society and the Koran teaches of tolerance and equality with the wife. I don't know where it speaks of tolerance and equality, but I do know that it says:

men are the superior protectors of women and so women should be devoutly obedient (4:34), you can beat your woman if she is causing you trouble (4:34), you can force a captured woman to marry you, even if she was previously married (4:24), or even if you were previously married, since you can marry up to four wives (4:3), and that women only get half the inheritance of men (4:11), a woman's testimony is worth only half a man's (2:282), a woman is a source of filth that men must be purified from (4:43), that if they are guilty of lewd behavior, you can lock them up until they die (4:15), and that women are forced to be covered in public (24:31 and 33:59).

You don't have to believe me, you can look up the passages yourself, at

I honestly wonder why this is difficult for people to understand. Am I the one on crazy pills?


Anonymous said...

Here's a thought:

Women were equal to nothing in those times. So if a prophet were to come up and say "Hey everyone, men and women are equal," would it not be possible that they'd be completely ignored?

So maybe saying a women's word being worth half of a man's was an important step towards the progression of society in that time.

But, living in modern society, I can see where you're coming from and feel a lot of these laws are obsolete.

Keep reading about religion though, you may stumble upon something amazing ;)

Justin Halter said...

You hear that argument a lot, that Muhammad improved the status of women. I am not sure. After all, wasn't his first wife a rich business owner? Non-Muslim women were also noted for traveling alone and uncovered, those were Muhammad's innovations.

There would be no problem at all if Muslims didn't view the Koran as the eternal and irrevocable word of God. Any Muslim who questions these teachings is guilty of blasphemy, which is punishable by death. Kind of hard to update the religion when any reform leads to a death sentence.

Anonymous said...

and you wonder why Islam gets misunderstood...its because you guys and other like minded individuals think you know our religion after reading just a few verses of the Quran...

in reply to the original post...basically you are using the same tools extremists and terrorists are using...they interpret the religion based on one or a few verses (the verse of the sword is justified by terrorists to commit acts of terror and wanton violence) without looking at the historical context in which the verse was revealed, and how the verse relates to other religous texts such as the Quran and the hadith sayings..

i will post a few links in reply to the verses stated in the original post..

with regards to men being protectors of women -

with regards to wife beating -

with regards to slavery and the rights of slave women -

with regards to inheritance -

with regards to woman's testimony -

with regards to filth - I have no link here but I'll offer my own explanation. Basically what verse 4:34 says is one cannot offer prayers without cleansing one's body after sexual intercourse.

Anonymous said...

Basically what verse 4:34 says is, a man cannot offer prayers without cleansing his body after sexual intercourse with a woman.

Naheed Muqeetulla said...

As a muslim girl, the perceptions and questions regarding the circumscription of women’s rights in Islam always haunted me. I refused to believe that we were granted lesser rights and privileges than our male counterparts and were considered “inferior” to them. But, I started to look more closely into the issue and to examine the justifications for these oppressions. What I came to realize was that most of the provisions regarding women were not only defensible, but even reasonable, considering the circumstances that existed at the time when they were dictated. It was a time when incest, prostitution and lewd behavior was the order of the day. Women were either sex workers or were constantly cheating on their husbands! Illegitimate children, STDs and lack of commitment to one man were rampant observations. A lot of women lacked shame, principles and standards. Hence, it became necessary to control and alleviate such lewd and often detrimental activities.
Furthermore, as far as the rights of women were concerned, before the advent of Islam, women’s rights were greatly circumscribed, particularly with regard to inheritance, marriage and divorce. They were neither allowed to own property after marriage, nor distribute it the way they willed. The Quran laid down provisions allowing them to not only hold, but also inherit and allocate property, in accordance with certain stipulations, compiled for their benefit. Before the Quran, they were refrained from being a party in their own marriage contracts, which were agreements between their husbands and the bride’s parents. Moreover, the dowry received from the husband went to the wife’s family, instead of her. Islam was also the one of the first religions to confer upon women the right to divorce her husband, if she so wished. Thus, Islamic tenets, in fact, prohibited women from performing lewd acts, which would ultimately be damaging to themselves, assuaged the injustices against women and revolutionized women’s position in society, as it existed during that time.
However. it is imperative to stay abreast with the current times. Certain stipualtions are now outdated. Hence, instead of questioning the Quran, we must consider its principles in context with the conditions existing today and use our own intelligence to judge what is moral, just, reasonable and what is otherwise.