What the Quran Says About Women

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When I share my testimony about how I was a cultural Muslim for 35 years before Christ found me, I am inevitably asked about women in Islam. I knew no different than what many say on the internet. I was taught from an early age that Mohammad did indeed exalt women, that “paradise is found beneath a mother’s feet,” and that his wives held prominent roles in his life. I was told that he saved women from the brutal Arabian culture that demeaned women and that I should be so thankful that I was born a Muslim woman.

When you Google the topic of Women in the Koran (also called Quran), you will get all kinds of different results. Many are justifications from Muslim scholars that tell you that Islam is indeed means peace (no, it means “to submit to the will of Allah”), that the verses in the Quran have been hijacked by the media to explain different things and I also found several articles that said something along the lines of “…if you only would read the Quran, you would know the truth about how much Prophet Mohammad exalted women.”

It never occurred to me to question any of this. I happily accepted these statements, I am inevitably asked about women in Islam. I knew no different than what many say on the internet. I was taught from an early age that Mohammad did indeed exalt women, that “paradise is found beneath a mother’s feet” as fact and often repeated them to others who dared to think that I was oppressed. I laughed at them! What utter nonsense! I never wore a hijab or a burqa, never saw my mom do that either. Now, granted, we spent most of our lives traveling from country to country and lived in Pakistan. Pakistan is lenient on women covering their faces. In big cities, no women I knew ever wore the veil.

As a Muslim who moved to the US, I held on to these opinions that now became facts in my mind. I never read the Quran, never thought to look up the statements to test their validity… until I became a Christian. When I accepted Christ, I truly felt like the scales fell off my eyes. The Bible says in Romans 3:10-12 ” As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” I was not seeking God. I was perfectly comfortable in my own opinions. The thirst for truth and knowledge drove me to check the validity of claims made in my previous life. What I found deeply disturbed me…

Most cultural Muslims know that they ought to read the Quran. Every Muslim’s home will have a copy of the Quran (I was given one when I got married). It is to be placed on the highest shelf in the home and is to be regarded with great care. Many Muslims (especially women) are ignorant of the fact that there is another book that Muslims use to understand the revelations given to Mohammad in the Quran. When Mohammad was given his revelations (or recitations = Quran = to recite), they were jotted down on random things – a piece of animal bone or skin, leaves, parchment (if they were lucky enough to have some on hand). They were later compiled as the Quran.

The other book is also a collection and is called the Hadith. The Hadith contains the traditions that Muslims use around the world. The best known is Sahih-Al-Bukhari, but there are two others in use as well. The Hadith was not mentioned in our home, nor did we have a copy of it. Women are pretty much kept ignorant of the fact that it exists as it is used primarily by men (although I have met Muslim men who don’t know anything about the Hadith either) and the Muslim leaders.

So… where to find the Hadith? That’s the beauty of technology today! You can easily get the Hadith online. So, I started with the chapter that gave me the most issues when I was a grown Muslim adult, who started reading the Quran after the events of 9/11… Surah Al/An-Nisa (“The Women”). The chapter has some disturbing things in it, such as you can beat your wife if she gets out of hand (Surah An-Nisa 4:34) as well as how many women you can marry (Surah An-Nisa 4:24-25). When I started to read the chapter, I thought I would get instructions on how to be a better Muslim woman. Instead, I found a “how to” manual written for men. The information got even worse and more explicit as I delved into the Hadith.

There is instruction in the Hadith that says how old a woman should be before you can consummate the marriage (tradition = 9 years old & menstruating, for this was the age of Aisha the favorite wife of Mohammad).  In addition, there is explicit sexual direction for men who want to use slave women for their own pleasure.

It’s disgusting and it gets deeper the more you look.

For me, it’s difficult to not have hard feelings about the treatment of women and how Muslims want to portray the religion as wonderful, emancipating, etc. There are half-truths buried deep in there, such as Mohammad did allow women to own property (the Arabian rules did not allow for that before) but that decree never made it to the Quran. The Quran does speak (Surah 81:8-9) against the common practice of female infanticide (women would bury their girl babies in the sand so they didn’t have to provide for them). There are a few things that help to ease the pain, but the evidence from the Quran and the Hadith point towards women not having an equal voice, an equal footing, nor an equality in the sight of God. Here’s an excellent article titled “Top 10 rules in the Quran that Oppress Women.” Another site with some disturbing videos (warning!) is Free Thought Nation.

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With all this bad news. I want to share the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel. The Bible starts out with Genesis and showing equality in the way God created both male and female in His image (Genesis 5:1-2)Genesis 5:1-2). Jesus addresses women throughout the Gospels. He spoke directly to the Samaritan Woman at the Well (John 4), healing the bleeding woman in the Gospel of Matthew and calling her “daughter” – not half of a man, not unclean, not worth her testimony, but “daughter.”

May we remember that God created us equal, that we were made in His divine image and that we are created to love one another as He has loved us. Amen.

 

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Doormat

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But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also ~Matthew 5:39

Such hard words to live by! It seems like lately, there is a sign on my face that says “Please be rude to me.” All I want to do is be rude right back and why not? There is a smug satisfaction in it! Makes me feel so good that I was able to “one up” someone’s nasty little remark. Yet, when I give in to my desire to be snarky, I have a small voice telling me that wasn’t very Christ-like. Takes all the joy out of it and I am instantly corrected.

Here’s the thing… there is scripture after scripture that tells those who truly belong to Christ that we are to be like Him. In fact, the term “Christian” means “belonging to Christ” as in slave ownership. The term was first used as “Christianos” in Acts 11:26 in Antioch “and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

So, if you are a Christian what are you supposed to do? Be a doormat and just let people walk all over you?

Not an easy question to answer because we insist on wanting control over EVERYTHING in our life. I find myself saying “I’m not ready to submit to this or that right now,” or “I don’t really care for this person and I am definitely better than them,” or even “I can’t make that sacrifice right now because no one is really watching to see what a great person I am!”

What if God actually has that in His plan for you? What if He is trying to teach you something about yourself and you are getting in your own way of spiritual development? Case in point: Our son got into trouble in High School about a week ago. This is the same thing he got pulled into the Vice Principal’s office last year in January. So a year later, my husband & I are dealing with the same thing. We realized very quickly that our punishment for him last time was not painful enough. This time, we are both sticking to our guns: no car, no phone, no video games. In fact, we have confiscated all of these things.

Yesterday, he wanted to take the car for something and he asked us. When something is painful, we tend to remember it more. It causes us to be disciplined and straightened out. Riding the bus in high school can be pretty humiliating and tough. He basically told us that he did not want that (and personally, I cannot blame him) and thought he should be able to drive now. We reminded him that the choice to disrespect & not obey our rules his own… not ours. Every choice comes with a consequence.

His dilemma got me thinking about God the Father and my response to Him. Do I deal with inconveniences for a few days as a martyr and then go back to tell Him “Hey… that’s just too much for me to bear!”? The honest answer is “yes.” The complaining adds more to my own fleshly desire to stay in my comfort zone and do something that I don’t want to do. It’s beneath my dignity.

Jesus took the beatings and punishment to the point of death and put aside His dignity. What on earth could make me feel that something was now beneath my own dignity? His life was poured out – literally! Why is it that if I am feeling discomfort for a few minutes, I have to go and complain or take offense to another? Why don’t I just suck it up and take it? That’s what the verse above is saying “Suck it up and take it. In fact, turn the other cheek so they can slap you again!” That is the cost of following the ONE and His path will bring you greater peace.

Why does turning the other cheek bring peace? The person who is doing the slapping will get tired of no response from you. They will move on to bigger and better things (for that’s how it goes). No reaction = no fun. Peace also comes from praying for your enemies. Sounds completely contradictory, but when we pray for those who are against us, it is our own self that is changing and bending towards God’s will. This is again, contrary to what our own flesh wants.

The Bible reminds us “I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” 1 Corinthians 15:50. May those be sobering words for us to remember when we want to get our own way, when we want to say that remark that’s on the tip of our tongue or when we want to be the king or queen of our castle.

Do this instead: stop for a few seconds, take a deep breath and breathe in the Holy Spirit. Let His peace that passes all understanding flow through you. Then, turn the other cheek and choose the eternal life that God gives you.