Does the Quran demean women?

An Islamophobic blog wrote the following under the heading, “Top ten Quran quotes all women should know.” I know that you and others have answered such allegations many times, but please comment anyway.

  • A husband has sex with his wife, as a plow goes into a field.2:223 “Your women are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like . . . . (MAS Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford UP, 2004)

That web site caused my anti-virus program to launch into high gear! It is possible that it’s not only trying to spread lies about the Quran, but may also be trying to spread malware.

You need to understand the background of many Islamophobes when it comes to the issue of women. They come across as defending women’s rights, when in fact they are defending their rights to women. The way Western society has evolved affords men to have sex with women they are not committed to by way of legal marriage. This is a dream come true for many men. They have been pursuing this dream for centuries. They finally succeeded when they convinced women that sex without marriage is not a sin if it is by mutual consent between grownups. A majority of Western women, unfortunately, fell for it. The result is what you see everyday of children born out of wedlock, single mothers, abortions, abandoned children, cheating husbands, one-night stands, promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, women treated as sex or display objects, etc. It is a truly sad state of affairs for women who may actually be duped into thinking that they are “liberated.” It is also a sad state of affairs for men who may be feeling in full control, yet their souls are in pain for violating God’s commandments.

It had to happen, because of human nature. That is why we all need God’s guidance to set us straight. The Quran is that guidance. Men who do not want women to listen to the Quran and mend their ways, will undoubtedly attack and try to demean the Quran. Did you know that more than half of new converts to Islam are women? That is what the men are afraid of! Muslim women will not date them.

Why do so many women accept Islam? Didn’t they read the Quran and see that top ten list? Why did the Quran not repulse these women, and on the contrary, attracted them? It’s because the Quran spoke the truth to them. God wants to honor women but most men’s natural impulses eventually will lead to disgracing them. As God clearly said in the holy Quran,

“God wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow lusts want you to swing a great swinging.” (4:27)

Isn’t it profound that God uses the same word that came to identify the “sexual revolution”: swinging?!

With that background well understood, you can now see through the men who claim to “defend women”.

Now, let me address their method. First, they quote a translation, which they pick from many available, because it can be easily assailed. Everybody knows that meanings often suffer through translation. They will not offer other translations that elucidate the meaning better, because they don’t want you to know the original meaning.

The other aspect of translation is that it is highly influenced by the translator’s culture and knowledge of Arabic, and it is also susceptible to the reader’s culture and knowledge of English!

That is why I always advise folks who ask me, to consult several translations before making a conclusion about a verse. This web site is one of many that show multiple translations to help the reader understand the Arabic verse better.

The other point to highlight about their attack method is that they take verses out of context. That’s a well-known pseudo reasoning technique, because it changes the premise. This is known in logic as a red herring.

Other techniques that apply to that blog are scare tactics, appeal to spite and indignation, and quoting common practice as valid reasoning.

That was a necessary foreword. Now, let me reply to the point quoted. Verse 2:223 does NOT say that women are fields to plow. The verse uses tilth as a metaphor for pregnancy. That metaphor has been used by all cultures throughout the ages. To this day, medical clinics that help women get pregnant are called fertility clinics. So, that blogger should start his attack by protesting in front of a fertility clinic demanding they change their name!

  • Husbands are a degree above their wives.2:228 “Wives have the same rights as the husbands have on them in accordance with the generally known principles. Of course, men are a degree above them in status . . .” (Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Meaning of the Qur’an, vol. 1, p. 165)

Notice how he changed the translation source? Now you understand how he operates?

This issue has been answered before in this post. The degree referred to is a degree of responsibility. The Arabic does NOT say “status”. This is consistent with the beginning of the sentence, “And due to them (women) is similar to what is expected of them.”

What should happen when an issue in the family must be decided? Islam teaches that the issue must be discussed between husband and wife, e.g., see verse 2:233. If there is no agreement reached after such discussion, then how would a decision be made? Islam says the man decides. Does that blogger suggest that the woman should decide instead? I doubt it.

Why does Islam make this rule? It is not because men are better than women in decision making, nor because men are better than women in analysis or intelligence. It’s because men have that responsibility from God, while women have other responsibilities. It’s a simple division of labor in order to get the needed work done.

  • A male gets a double share of the inheritance over that of a female.4:11 “The share of the male shall be twice that of a female . . . .” (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 311)

That’s because the male is responsible for the female in Islamic societies. In Islam, a woman never has to work, but she can if she wants to. If she chooses not to work, her financial support is guaranteed. If her husband, father, sons, uncles, etc. cannot support her, the government must!

What about the woman’s own money? She has no obligation to support any men in her family from it. Even if she’s rich! Her dowry, her inheritance, her savings and investments are her property. No one can demand her spend from it if she does not want to. On the other hand, the husband has to support his wife, and the women in his family who need support, from his money.

Do you see now why he inherits double? It is not unfair to women, it’s a responsibility upon men. The blogger did not care to make that clear.

  • A woman’s testimony counts half of a man’s testimony.2:282 “And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her.” (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 205).

Doesn’t the verse explain why? The ruling is contingent upon forgetfulness, which was the norm for most women in financial matters throughout the ages. Up until the 1950s, you heard women in the US say that they “have no head for business.”

That started to change. When a contingency is no longer, so isn’t the ruling. Women with a “head for business” can therefore be witnesses, by themselves, of a debt writing. By the same token, men who have no head for business, and there are many, should not be witnesses to a loan by themselves!

Early Muslims understood this well. When they needed a testimony for an event that women are more familiar with than men, they accepted single testimonies from women. But the blogger would not want you to learn that.

  • A wife may remarry her ex—husband if and only if she marries another man and then this second man divorces her.2:230 “And if the husband divorces his wife (for the third time), she shall not remain his lawful wife after this (absolute) divorce, unless she marries another husband and the second husband divorces her. [In that case] there is no harm if they [the first couple] remarry . . . .” (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 165)

That applies to the husband too, doesn’t it? He cannot remarry his wife except after that protocol takes place, and it may never happen. That teaches him not to be hasty with divorce. Islam wants couples to stay together, but that blogger wants women to be available to all men at all times.

  • Slave—girls are sexual property for their male owners.4:24 “And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands [as prisoners of war] . . .” (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 319).

That was necessary in those times as likewise treatment. Prisoners of war were taken slaves by the enemy. Most men would not accept that humiliation of their women.

Islam was the first religion to take serious steps toward ending slavery. The Quran is clear that prisoners of war must either be ransomed or pardoned (74:4). Freeing a slave is considered one of the top righteous deeds and an expiation of sins (90:11-13).

Islam calls for what should be, but legislates for what is. Legislating for what should be is wishful thinking.

  • A husband may simply get rid of one of his undesirable wives.4:129 “It is not within your power to be perfectly equitable in your treatment with all your wives, even if you wish to be so; therefore, [in order to satisfy the dictates of Divine Law] do not lean towards one wife so as to leave the other in a state of suspense.” (Maududi, vol. 1, p. 381)

The blogger’s statement is a clear straw man argument. He reads into it what it does not say. In fact, it says the opposite! It orders men not to neglect any of their wives and favor one. Where does it say “get rid of”?

You can see that the blogger is running out of plausible, but misconstrued attacks, so now he’s inventing new ones.

The rest of the “top ten” have been answered many times before, so I won’t make this post longer by refuting them when others have done it so well, over and over again.

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