The hypocrisy of Fadela Amara

The *Guardian* today has an [interview with French-Algerian "feminist" Fadela Amara](http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,1822079,00.html). Here is described the second of two incidents which were influential in this woman’s career, which took place in October 2002:

>French women may indeed have some rights, says 42-year-old Amara, but women in France’s poorer banlieues or suburbs – the French equivalent of inner-city ghettos – aren’t included. It was in a typical suburb, neglected and stuffed with unemployed, angry young men, mostly from immigrant families, that … a young thug called Nono, furious over being dissed by another local caid or hard-man, poured lighter fuel over his rival’s 17-year-old girlfriend Sohane Benziane, a vivacious young beurette (French woman of Arab descent), and set fire to her. She burned to death.


Amara accuses French feminists, who admittedly “had fought hard in the 1970s to win rights for women” (such as abortion, political parity and the right to choose one’s partner), had forgotten women in the ghetto:

>French feminism, she thinks, has shirked the “social question”. They’ve never addressed the basics, like the right to wear a skirt and not get raped. Or like teaching young people about sex and love and boundaries, which NPNS did with its “respect guide”, initially distributed for free, then sold for one euro. It spent months in France’s bestseller list.

She also pulled her organisation “Ni Putes Ni Soumises” (neither slags nor submissives) out of the National Committee of Women because of their supposed cultural relativism, because they (or some of them) refused to object to things like FGM because it was “tradition”. She claims to be a practising Muslim and is supposedly proud of her religion, but does not wear the *hijab* and does not support the right of other women to wear it either:

>Amara’s speech is strewn with fighting terminology: she talks of her combat and her battles. She is also certain about what she’s defending: a secular republic that allows for equality of the sexes. Anyone who obstructs that “is my enemy”. That includes, notably, Islamists. Amara is a practising Muslim, and proud of her religion, but she’s fierce in her condemnation of “political Islam”, which arrived in the suburbs in the 1990s, preached “by self-appointed imams in basements where nobody could see them.” Unlike Amara’s Islam, which “leads to the freedom of the individual”, she says this version advocates archaic traditions such as the subjugation of women and the wearing of headscarves.

She accuses French feminists of denying immigrant women the rights they themselves enjoy, but one right French women, and men of immigrant stock, enjoy is the right to be educated in their normal clothing. This is a right they have denied Muslim girls: that of receiving the education they are entitled to while wearing the clothing mandated by Islam, based on what was normal in the Muslim world until it was over-run by the colonials – principally, in the case of the countries the French Muslim immigrants came from, the French themselves.

All of which shows Amara’s “feminism” to be the sham that it is. Amara, and others like her, believe in women’s rights only for women like them, and they campaign against every form of oppression of women except the one they themselves perpetrate. Of course, rape and the evil and misogynistic gangster culture described in the article are both serious issues, but they have been dealt with elsewhere by taking on the men, and without attacking religious women who are not the people responsible for it. Experience in the English-speaking world shows that *hijab* in itself need not be a barrier to education and advancement in the world and that women who do not wear it (as with women here in the UK who wear *shalwar-kameez* without *hijab*); it is only become a barrier in countries like France where haters have made it into one.

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  • Bikhair aka Taqiyyah

    Yusuf,

    I dont know why we dont have these kinds of problems in the states when it comes to the hijab. Though I dont know how many Muslimahs go to public school, I doubt that any of them have banned the hijab for the reasons mentioned above.

    It is a bit disingenous to talk about womens right except the one right she should otherwise have to wear hijab.

    This isnt at all contradictory to people who hate Islam because they accuse it of taking away womens right, while they too have no problem taking away of womens right if it is in the name of secularism.

    Anyway someone needs to bash those thugs over the head. It is really a shame how far people have gone away from Islam.

  • Old Pickler

    Depends what you mean by hijab. If you’re talking about a headscarf in the school uniform colours, who could object? If you’re talking about an all-enveloping tent, forget it.

    On the wider point, it is true that feminists often excuse sexism practised by non-Western cultures – not just Muslim but others too. Either human righs apply to all or they don’t.

  • George Carty

    On the wider point, it is true that feminists often excuse sexism practised by non-Western cultures – not just Muslim but others too. Either human rights apply to all or they don’t.

    Perhaps because as for many others of left-wing persuasion, they put anti-imperialism first and their purported ideology second.

  • http://www.pickledpolitics.com Sunny

    Yusuf – now you’re just looking for an excuse to cuss the girl and shut her down because of how the Guardian chose to report her views.

    Maybe she is a bit more nuanced than that. Maybe she’s seen too many girls in France forced to wear the hijab rather than wear it out of choice, and hence is opposed to how it’s practiced.

    Either way, you seem to have this fear of Muslim feminists and seem to look for an excuse to call them a sham.

  • http://www.blogistan.co.uk/blog/ Yusuf Smith

    Sunny: her feminism is a sham because it seeks to help some women and not others. She talks of individual freedom, meaning *her* right to do whatever she likes, yet demands that other women do the same (ie. what *she* likes). Individuals who make life choices she, and others like her, despise are not deemed worthy of that freedom. Given that it’s overwhelmingly women who are forced to give up their normal dress or lose their right to an education their parents pay for in their taxes, her claim to be a feminist looks a bit hollow. Yes, some girls are forced to wear it (probably less than she claims), but they still get their schooling, for what it’s worth, particularly now that the rights of girls who chose to wear the scarf have been cancelled for their benefit.

  • http://leninology.blogspot.com lenin

    Sunny’s comments would be more impressive if he wasn’t endorsing Islamophobic crusades, such as that by Observer hack Martin Bright.

    Anyone who is a feminist can’t consider that the state has the right to determine what a female might wear.

    Of course, patriarchical families are a problem, but the *right* to wear a hijab is something any serious feminist ought to endorse.

  • Shamil

    There seem’s to be a point that everyone is missing here.

    If as some claim parents don’t have the right to force their children to wear hijab then what right do parents have to force their children to do anything?

    The focus on the hijab would seem to be purely based on an anti-islam bias not on a wide ranging social view.What do parents have the right to enforce on their children and where are these rights enshrined. This seems to be a legal grey area.

  • http://www.pickledpolitics.com Sunny

    Yusuf – There is no context to that one sentence so it is hard to understand her stance completely.

    She could be against girls being forced to wear headscarves. Or she may see adolescent girls (as is quite popular in London) wearing hijabs as problematic. Or she may see the hijab as a way for a male to assert his power.

    The point about the hijab is this. I fully accept that it is a woman’s right to wear it, if she feels she wants to dress more modestly.

    But I there is a thin line here. I don’t support the idea, which underpins some of the thinking behind the hijab, that it is the woman’s responsibility to hide her modesty from the sex-crazed men, rather than a man’s responsibility to control his urges.

    If the idea is to control sexual feelings, then why is the onus on the woman rather than the man? Why isn’t the man forced to wear something like what they put around a horse’s eyes in the sub-continent to make sure they can only look straight.

    You also say:
    She talks of individual freedom, meaning her right to do whatever she likes, yet demands that other women do the same

    Well, she can only campaign. She cannot physically force anyone. So I don’t see what’s your point.

    Lenin, lenin. You poor, naive boy. Word of advice: stick to de-constructing imperialist narratives and standing up for worker’s rights please.

    Don’t try this “Sunny is supporting Islamophobic people” bullshit with me. Funny I’m supposed to be Islamophobic but I still get more Muslim commenters than you and hang around them every day. Maybe I’m fooling everyone through some grand trick. Or maybe you should stick to what you know about.

    And you don’t do yourself any favours by licking the balls of the people (SWP) who blamed India for the Mumbai blasts.

  • http://leninology.blogspot.com lenin

    Sunny, if you’re going to attempt condescension (and you might as well, it’s all part of growing up), a bit of accuracy would be refreshing. I do not ‘lick the balls’ of those who blamed India for the Mumbai blasts. The SWP (of which I am a member, in case you have missed this salient and well-advertised point) said that the *Indian government* had made Indian civilians a target. This much is so obvious that only the deliberately purblind could miss it. Far from paddling scrotal sacs, I *myself* hold the Indian government co-responsible for the Mumbai blasts in the sense that its actions have made Indian civilians a target. In much the same way, I hold Blair co-responsible for the 7/7 blasts.

    Now, you are supporting Islamophobic people when you puff preposterous witch-hunts by Islamophobic racists. (Martin Bright is a self-confessed Islamophobe since, as he explained, there is much to fear). You can brag, if you like, that “some of my best friends is Islamix, innit”, but you should, if you’re serious about anti-imperialism, know better than to puff this ridiculous nonsense and even if you had a direct line to every Muslim in the country it would insulate you from criticism on this point.

  • aicha

    Men are required to lower their gaze in front of women and vice versa but there are plenty of people who don’t play by the rules abd hijab provides that measure of privacy of which the woman is being deprived. I’m not suggesting that this is the only reason for hijab, the full wisdom lies only with Allah.

  • Thersites

    “Anyone who is a feminist can’t consider that the state has the right to determine what a female might wear.”
    Not even a leninist or muslim or leninist/muslim state?

    “If as some claim parents don’t have the right to force their children to wear hijab then what right do parents have to force their children to do anything?”
    The problem is, Shamil, that some muslims claim the right to force “their” women to wear hijab regardless of their age, and that if women do not wear hijab they are behaving in a way that justifies rape and assault.

  • http://arrihlah.blogspot.com dawud

    the problem is also that without worrying about muslims forcing hijab on girls, you might worry about childporn in England and the USA – something considerably more severe?

    news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1880354.stm

    that there are miserable muslims who think they can force hijab on their children is sad, but their numbers are low – what say you about those who force themselves on children? care to blame that on Islam?

  • http://www.pickledpolitics.com Sunny

    Lenin, your hilarious attempt at moral equivalence should be admired.

    You maybe unclear on Indian history, so allow me to give you a little primer.

    India has never declared war on another country over territory or to “impose democracy”, and thus killed thousands of innocent civilians.

    It has gone to war with Pakistan over Kashmir, but that was only the miltary. One of those times it helped liberate Bangladesh from the death and destruction being inflicted upon them.

    So the comparison to 7/7 and Iraq/Afghanistan is woefully stupid.

    Secondly, it’s not even been established that it was the Kashmiri jehadis who did this. Do you know something the GOI doesn’t? Do your pals from the SWP get some secret information that makes them confident this attack was in retaliation for India’s non-existent imperialist adventures abroad.

    Your lack of knowledge astounds me.

    Lastly, let us assume it is about Kashmir. I have never shied away from criticism of the Indian army there and their activities.

    But let’s be very clear on one point my leninist friend, the local “freedom fighters” are not your cuddly Stop the War types.

    You completely ignore the thousands upon thousands of Hindu Kashmiris who have been driven from the area. You ignore the regular slaughter of Hindus and Sikhs by those “freedom fighters” in Kashmir.

    You ignore that these bastards are like the Taliban in their treatment of women, throwing acid in their faces for not covering up.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1484145.stm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1487395.stm
    http://www.atimes.com/ind-pak/DC07Df01.html

    And you reckon you stand up against opression and for women’s rights?

    the Pak govt, not willing to negotiate over Kashmir, or win conventional wars, has engaged in a war by proxy, by arming militant groups that make life for everyone in Kashmir hell.

    Occasionally they also “fight against imperialism” by blowing up innocent people (so far this year) in New Delhi, Varanasi and now Mumbai.

    Learn some history before you start lecturing others.

    Or just stick to western politics. At least you have some semblance of credibility there. Though you’re losing it rapidly.

    You can brag, if you like, that “some of my best friends is Islamix, innit”, but you should,

    No, I make that point to say Muslims are a lot more clever than you give them credit. Many can have intelligent conversations and understand the broader point of the documentary – of the MCB’s unrepresentativeness.

    But knowing you and your buddy Faisal Bodi, I bet you seem them as Uncle Toms. Trying growing up yourself too.

  • http://www.pickledpolitics.com Sunny

    To add on the Kashmir situation: I accept the Indian side in trying to maintain peace in its own state has made mistakes, as has Pakistan. I would rather the region be made autonomous and be jointly governed as a way to better relations between the two countries.

    When you start coming out with tripe like the Indian govt is to blame for what happened in Mumbai, then you and your SWP chums have really lost the plot.

  • Bikhair aka Taqiyyah

    Thersite,

    “The problem is, Shamil, that some muslims claim the right to force “their” women to wear hijab regardless of their age, and that if women do not wear hijab they are behaving in a way that justifies rape and assault.”

    Actually that isnt the problem. The problem is that some people support the state forcing women not to wear it. They or Amara arent suggesting that all women be banned from wearing it to protect them from being assaulted for choosing not to wear it.

  • Thersites

    I’d say it’s a pretty big problem myself, BaT. Rather bigger than the dress choices of muslim women actually. The state does not force women not to wear head wear except in particular circumstances when they are interacting with and in a secular state. The reason Amara objects to it is actually because ‘young suburban men said – and believed – “that all women are whores except my mother”.’ and that ‘the subjugation of women and the wearing of headscarves’ is intimately bound together in the eyes of these men- someone not wearing a headscarf is a ‘pute’ and deserves what happens to them.

  • http://arrihlah.blogspot.com dawud

    Thersites;

    are you arguing that she is factually representing a) what the young men think? (which is possible, but requires massive generalization, but might be an acceptable generalization from the ‘muslim’ men she deals with daily)

    b) that what she is suggesting (“all women are whores, except my mother”) is the idea amongst muslim men in general? [which would be far more offensive, as it would be you who would need to prove your point]

    I could just as easily argue that the prevalence of porn and porn-related attitudes amongst the youth in the West [a $2 billion dollar industry in the US], the child-porn industry [recently the UK and USA have been focused on by Net child-porn rings] or the
    “bitches and hos” attitudes from rap music, meant that Western and youth culture had far worse, not to mention mercenary, attitudes towards women and children as sexual objects.

    But you’re not really interested in real debate and dialogue, are you?

  • Shamil

    all women are whores, except my mother

    Isn’t that a freudian thing?

  • Thersites

    “are you arguing that she is factually representing a) what the young men think? (which is possible, but requires massive generalization, but might be an acceptable generalization from the ‘muslim’ men she deals with daily)”

    If you had read the article itself, you would notice that Ms Asmara thinks this is a common attitude among young men on the Freench estates. She gives cases which appear to confirm her opinion.

    “b) that what she is suggesting (“all women are whores, except my mother”) is the idea amongst muslim men in general? [which would be far more offensive, as it would be you who would need to prove your point]”
    Not just muslim men, actually. When Erich von Stroheim expressed the view that all women were whores the film magnate Louis B. Mayer attacked him screaming “Not mothers! You can’t say that about mothers!” Given the attitude inculcated in muslims to muslims and others and in muslim men to women it could well be the case- especially as the only way that the men Ms Asmara comes across have no-one else to effectively despise except the wrong sort of women- that the potential for just that attitude is inherent in islam and in the psychology of all muslim men.

    “I could just as easily argue that the prevalence of porn and porn-related attitudes amongst the youth in the West [a $2 billion dollar industry in the US], the child-porn industry [recently the UK and USA have been focused on by Net child-porn rings] or the “bitches and hos” attitudes from rap music, meant that Western and youth culture had far worse, not to mention mercenary, attitudes towards women and children as sexual objects.”

    Certainly those are interesting and worrying trends. However, as it seems that the muslim- especially arab- countries are the ones with the highest rates of access to sex sites on the internet I don’t think that this is a peculiarly “western” problem. Indeed, where the western attitude seems to turn towards pornography as a rational career choice with no moral involvement, the effect on muslims might be to intensify the division between “good” “soumises” who do what muslim men require of them and “bad” “putes” who deserve everything that happens to them and are “asking for it”. The important difference in western attitudes is between adults, who may make their own choices and must accept responsibility for them, and children, who are not in a position to do so. Given the muslim view that everyone must obey god, that women are- and should be- dependent on men [the infamous sura 4, if you notice, is a sort of maintenance manual on how muslim men should treat "their" women] because they are allegedly weaker and the assumption that girls can be married off at an age that- in western eyes- still makes them children, I would not be surprised if there is a higher rate of access to child pornography among muslims too.

    “But you’re not really interested in real debate and dialogue, are you?”

    I am very interested in a full and frank exchange of views. However, I doubt if there are some valid points about the historical muslim attitude to women, children and sexuality that it would be possible to make on this and other muslim sites.

  • http://arrihlah.blogspot.com dawud

    [the infamous sura 4, if you notice, is a sort of maintenance manual on how muslim men should treat "their" women]

    you are a sophisticated reader, no doubt, and could provide evidence? To which I would add the verses immediately prior and after to that verse, providing what’s called ‘context’ to us people who use english to convey meaning.

    You know, solid argument – that doesn’t rest on Fadela Amara’s perceptions, but on those ‘facts’ we call ‘evidence’. You’ve heard of an ‘argument’, no? It involves something other than insinuating that all muslim men, including those of us born and raised in the West, think that women “are allegedly weaker and [assume] that girls can be married off at an age that- in western eyes”. I’m sure you can defend the absoluteness of that statement, because as opposed to my pointing to facts, you have what? “Google statistics”?

    Please get your facts and arguments together, and get about proving the menace of muslim men.

  • Bikhair aka Taqiyyah

    Thersite,

    Thats the dumbest crap you have written in a while.

    “Given the muslim view that everyone must obey god, that women are- and should be- dependent on men [the infamous sura 4, if you notice, is a sort of maintenance manual on how muslim men should treat "their" women] because they are allegedly weaker and the assumption that girls can be married off at an age that- in western eyes- still makes them children, I would not be surprised if there is a higher rate of access to child pornography among muslims too.”

    Let me get this straight. You theorize that because Muslims are allowed to marry very young girls, than there is a higher incidence of the consumption of child pornography in Muslim countries? One question, what is the average age that girls/women are married in Muslim countries? Not when they can be married but generally when they are married. Now if it so happens that generally girls/women marry at 15 or 16, 18 or 19, young by Western standards but not children, can you assume that there is a high incidence of what people generally understand as child pornorgraphy?

    What exactly is the Islamic attitude toward women, children, and sexuality. Dont confuse Muslim with Islam.

    “However, as it seems that the muslim- especially arab- countries are the ones with the highest rates of access to sex sites on the internet I don’t think that this is a peculiarly “western” problem.”

    The distinction should be along the lines of which society perpetuates the idea that looking at sex sites are ok. No one denies that there are perverts and sinners in every society but some perversions arent even perversions in some societies. Consider that what is considered tame sexuality on T.V. today is by some peoples’ standards quite pornographic. Porn Lite you can find millions of people watching on evening television. It is steadily becoming more risque.

    “…psychology of all muslim men.”

    Are you for real?

  • Thersites

    Take a look at Sura 4, Dawud. It is addressed to “you” and is advice on how “you” should ensure “your women” should behave. What assumptions underlie that? What attitudes to “their” women would it inculcate in its listeners? Sura 4 itself says that men are superior in strength, have rights over women and assumes that men have the right to arrange “their” women’s marriages.

    Why the objection to Google statistics, Dawud? All statistics must be examined carefully and statistics for sexual offences and sexual attitudes are notoriously untrustworthy. However, google does not supply statistics itself but gives sites where you may examine and consider the statistics for yourself. Why should statistics be disregarded merely because they derive from google rather than another search-engine?

    In this case it is not merely Ms Asmara but alleged French muslim community leaders which agree about the threatment of women in the banlieus. The alleged French muslim community leaders have different explanations, of course, involving the improper and unislamic behaviour concerned, but they agree that the problem exists and is widespread.

  • Thersites

    “You theorize that because Muslims are allowed to marry very young girls, than there is a higher incidence of the consumption of child pornography in Muslim countries? ”
    No, BaT. I theorise that because muslims are allowed to marry and have sex with very young girls and because there is a higher rate of access to pornographic websites in Arab countries I would not be surprised if there is a higher rate of access to child pornography among muslims too.

    “What exactly is the Islamic attitude toward women, children, and sexuality. Dont confuse Muslim with Islam. ”
    What is the difference between muslim and islam then? Are you saying that the behaviour of muslims is completely unrelated to islam, that the latter has no effect on the former? The muslim attitude, following logically from the quranic claims about women and children, is that men have and ought to have power over them. The example of Aisha [no doubt this section will vanish, but it goes in for the sake of completeness] is taken by muslim legislators, and muslims too probably, as justifying marriage to and sex with young girls and would affect the attitudes of muslim men to young girls as well as women.

    “The distinction should be along the lines of which society perpetuates the idea that looking at sex sites are ok.”
    So, it’s not so bad to sin more often, as long as you feel guilty for sinning afterwards?
    The question of what, precisely is a perversion is a matter of taste. Anything but brief sexual encounters for the purpose of procreation might be justifiably be thought of as a “perversion” . If it isn’t a perversion in a society it isn’t a perversion. Some societies do not kiss as a form of sexual behaviour: are we to take it then that kissing is a perversion? The only important question- unless you believe god says otherwise- is whether it does direct harm to other people than voluntary adult participants. If not, it is merely a matter of taste.

    Just about anything can be, “by some peoples’ standards quite pornographic”. Whole societies- pagan Rome as a society, for example, would be considered by the standards of most people today quite pornographic.

    “”…psychology of all muslim men.”

    Are you for real?”

    Perfectly real, BaT. As ” the potential for just that attitude [violent hostility to women who do not behave in a properly muslim way] is inherent in islam and in the psychology of all muslim men.” The quran teaches them that they are superior to nonmuslims and that muslim men ought to maintain muslim women and make sure they behave properly and when they find themselves in a world where people pay no attention to truths that they have been brought up to believe absolutely it isn’t surprising that they get a bit annoyed and react accordingly.

  • Old Pickler

    if you’re serious about anti-imperialism…

    How can anybody be serious about that?

    A surprising amount of sense has crept into the debates here in my absence.

  • http://arrihlah.blogspot.com dawud

    Qur’an references, Thersites:

    004.034
    YUSUFALI: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).

    Surah 4: women are stronger than men? there’s a suggestion of beating?

    Seems to me you’re taking a verse, and reading it precisely in the way that some (not all) muslims do, misogynistically.

    The statement of the Qur’an that men are given more strength than women would seem to be borne out by biology and the fact that the world’s armies and strongmen are… men. And given that the hadith of the Prophet, narrated by Aishah, says that he never beat any one of them… “The best amongst you are those who are best to their families, and I am the best amongst you to my family.”

    Please do write and tell us what you think of muslims without referencing Islam’s texts, the Qur’an and hadith: scholarship might not be an important thing in the op-ed world you preach in, but muslims tend to take texts more seriously.

  • http://arrihlah.blogspot.com dawud

    as posted at higher-criticism.blogspot.com – an interesting early debate between muslim scholars with reference to the discussion above.

    It is reported that al-Baqir remarked to him, “Are you the one who changes the deen of my grandfather and his hadiths by analogy?” Abu Hanifa replied, “I seek refuge with Allah!”

    Muhammad (al-Baqir) said, “You have changed it. Abu Hanifa said, “Sit in your place as is your right until I sit by my right. I respect you as your grandfather, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was respected by his Companions when he was alive.” He sat.

    Then Abu Hanifa knelt before him and said, “I will present you with three things to answer. Who is weaker: a man of woman?”

    “A woman,” he (al-Baqir) replied. Abu Hanifa then asked; “What is the share of a woman?”

    “A man has two shares and a woman one,” he replied. Abu Hanifa said, “This is the statement of your grandfather. If I had changed the deen of your grandfather, by analogy a man would have one share and a woman two because the woman is weaker than the man.”

    Then he asked, “Which is better: the prayer or fasting?” “The prayer,” al-Baqir replied. He said, “This is the statement of your grandfather. If I had changed the deen of your grandfather, my analogy would be that, because the prayer is better, when a woman is free of menstruation she should be commanded to make up the prayer and not make up the fast.”

    Then he asked, “Which is more impure: urine or sperm?” “Urine is more impure,” he replied. He said, “If I had changed the deen of your grandfather by analogy, I would have ordered a ghusl for urine and wudu’ for sperm. I seek refuge with Allah from changing the deen of your grandfather by analogy.” Muhammad rose and embraced him and kissed his face to honour him.

    [source: The Four Imams, by Muhammad Abu Zahra]

  • Thersites

    004.034 YUSUFALI: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).

    Surah 4: women are stronger than men? there’s a suggestion of beating? ”

    “A suggestion of beating”? Permission- advice- perhaps even an order- to beat. The later “suggestion” is that it be only a light beating. It’s also an absolute statement Not, as it should more accurately be: “On average men tend to be stronger than women and for socioecononimic reasons tend to earn more money.” but “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means.”

    “Seems to me you’re taking a verse, and reading it precisely in the way that some (not all) muslims do, misogynistically. ”
    Or the way many muslims do- as meaning exactly what it says.

    “The statement of the Qur’an that men are given more strength than women would seem to be borne out by biology and the fact that the world’s armies and strongmen are… men.” Can a strongman or a milkman be anything else? Not all the world’s armies either. So, again, a comparative statement is made an absolute.

    “And given that the hadith of the Prophet, narrated by Aishah, says that he never beat any one of them…”
    Very kind of him. A decent hypocrisy: Do as I say, not as I do, and- for once- the example is morally superior to the word. “The best amongst you are those who are best to their families, and I am the best amongst you to my family.”
    However, hadith come a long way below the quran as justification, so it’s not much help, is it?

    “Please do write and tell us what you think of muslims without referencing Islam’s texts, the Qur’an and hadith: scholarship might not be an important thing in the op-ed world you preach in, but muslims tend to take texts more seriously.”
    Preach? Come on now. I leave preaching to believers. The reason I cite islamic texts to explain muslims’ behaviour is that muslims use them to justify or explain their behaviour. When they stop I’ll stop. As for scholarship, I make no claim to islamic scholarship. I’ve merely read the quran, which puts me ahead of most muslims.

  • http://arrihlah.blogspot.com dawud

    explicit command, please demonstrate that. Pardons, I can understand arabic, and I know what the meaning of ‘dharaba’ is, and it doesn’t have to do with harsh beatings, but rather might be translated as ‘hit’ – and no, you’re quite wrong about the hadith and the Qur’an – firstly, because the hadith are the source of establishing the Qu’ran (we know what is the Qur’an because we were told it by the Prophet)

    secondly, because the Prophet clearly established the meanings of the legal statements, and his verdicts are legally binding on all muslims. That you are ignorant of this is not surprising, that you advertise that ignorance and claim to tell me how to interpret the Qur’an is arrogance. You may kindly go back to wrapping fish and chips in newspaper, or whatever task your betters find for you.

    You claim that most muslims haven’t read the Qur’an, but use it as justification for their acts. Quite smart, people quoting a book that they haven’t read – and you’re obviously clever enough to use google and quote functions – why don’t you go deeper with your proofs of muslim malignity?

    That there are muslims who justify beating their wives or others is beyond dispute, they are repulsive to me, and denounced by the Prophet (the hadith above, and many others) as well as numerous classical and modern scholars.

    You choose a deviant interpretation and reading, and defend your reading by insisting that it’s the majority view – well, apparently a majority of Americans believe that Iraq played a role in 9/11 and that WMDs have been found there. Do tell, facts are based on democratic votes?

    When I drop by England, perhaps you can make some coffee for me, or run your English flag around – it’s charming how your educational system produces malignant morons who can grammatically parse a sentence but not follow an argument.

  • Thersites

    “explicit command, please demonstrate that. ”
    Well, this is supposedly god in person talking to the human race, not a mere marriage guidance counsellor. If god says “Beat” [or,as the case may be, merely, "Hit"] you’ve got it on very good authority you’re entitled to beat or- if you think there is a difference- hit them. After all, what happens to people who don’t do what god tells them? I think the quran says molten oil comes into it somewhere. Precisely what constitutes moderation, however, or, indeed, if moderation is allowed or encouraged, is not made clear.

    “the hadith are the source of establishing the Qu’ran”
    So, the evidence for what god said is what other people said Mohammed said was what god said.

    Where have I told you how to interpret the quran? I merely pointed out that other muslims interpret the quran in a different way to you and you agree, although it seems you despise them. No doubt the contempt is reciprocated. The fact remains, they are every bit as muslim as you are and their interpretation is every bit as muslim as yours.

    None of the hadith above actually “denounce” muslims who interpret 4:34 as entitling them to beat their wives. They merely show that Mohammed himself did not need to beat his wives to control them. “The best amongst you are those who are best to their families, and I am the best amongst you to my family.” does not actually forbid beating- after all, men are superior in reason so, if they beat, obviously they know best and are doing what is best for their family. Mohammed himself, as he told us, had many qualities others lack, so we cannot all equal him in forbearance.

    where have I “proved”- or even implied- “muslim malignity”? I have merely pointed out what the quran says and what muslims infer from it. If you think that their interpretation is malignant, that is not my fault.
    As many muslims are illiterate and not many muslims understand arabic- let alone quranic arabic- and are discouraged from reading translations, what most muslims know of the quran is what they have heard recited in a mosque and what they have been told it says by someone who says they know what it says. It is perfectly possible to quote a book you haven’t read, actually. Everyone who uses the english language quotes Shakespeare every day without needing to have read him.
    As to whether the interpretation I cite is “deviant” or “majority”, the first is entirely a matter of muslim opinion and there is no reason for me to suppose your interpretation is not actually the deviant one. As for a majority, the best you can come up with is that it might be translated as “hit” rather than “beat” without ever saying why the difference between the two is sufficiently big to count as an interpretation rather than a quibble, so it looks as though a majority of interpreters- including you- read it as permitting salutary discipline to enforce female obedience, doesn’t it?

  • http://arrihlah.blogspot.com dawud

    answering a fool with resources and actual texts (something Thersites seems to find difficult):

    The hadith in Muslim states that the Prophet (pbuh) in his Farewell Pilgrimage said: “Lo! My last recommendation to you is that you should treat your women well. Truly they are your helpmates, and you have no right over them beyond that – except if they commit a manifest rebellion. If they do, then refuse to share their beds and hit them without indecent violence. Then, if they obey you, do not show them hostility any longer. Lo! you have a right over your women and they have a right over you. Your right over your women is that they not allow whom you hate to enter your bed nor your house. While their right over them is that you treat them excellently in their garb and provision.”

    Explicitly in the hadith is advice not to bruise one’s wife if one hits her, not to hit her on the face, and to only try to awaken her conscience – followed by the statement by his wife that he never hit them.

    I’m sorry you consider some people’s culture as representing Islam – I don’t describe Orthodox Christianity as abhorrent just because the abuse rate of women is so high in that church – as it certainly is.

    let me add one last hadith in commentary, and a few links, then you can add your thoughts witout referring to the text:
    279. Iyas ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Dhubab reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Do not beat the female slaves of Allah.” Then ‘Umar came to the Prophet and said, “The women have become bold towards their husbands,” and so he made an allowance to beat them. Then many women surrounded the family of the Messenger of Allah to complain about their husbands. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The people of the household of Muhammad have surrounded by many women who are complaining about their husbands. Those men are not among the best of you.”

    SunniPath on ‘Hadith from Riyadh-us-Salihin on Treating Women well’

    http://www.sunnipath.com/Resources/PrintMedia/Hadith/H0004P0034.aspx

    Answering-Christianity (a muslim apologia page) on Qur’anic verse 4:34:

    http://www.answering-christianity.com/karim/noble_quran_4_34.htm

    Please, Thersites, try to maintain some ‘good faith’ by actually reading and responding to the substance of what is written.

  • Thersites

    Do you want- or need- me to bring out the commentators that interpret the whole sura as giving men power over women and claiming men are superior to women- all men over all women- in strength and wisdom? After all, you seem to acquesce in that. It’s merely the use made of that divinely granted power that you disagree about.

    “Lo! My last recommendation to you is that you should treat your women well. Truly they are your helpmates, and you have no right over them beyond that – except if they commit a manifest rebellion.”
    And what is a rebellion except refusal to obey a lawful authority? “If they do, then refuse to share their beds and hit them without indecent violence.” “Indecent violence” still gives quite a bit of leeway to the man’s judgment, however. Decent violence covers a multitude of sins- as does “advice not to bruise one’s wife if one hits her, not to hit her on the face, and to only try to awaken her conscience”. “Then, if they obey you, do not show them hostility any longer.” Which is the purpose- to inculcate obedience to god-given authority.

    The fact remains: sura 4 is addressed to men and says what they are to expect and require of “their” women. It says that men are “superior” to women and have power over them. The fact that an absolute statement like this is unjust and untrue is quite enough to discredit it, without the assorted more-or-less violent interpretations by various muslims.

    “I’m sorry you consider some people’s culture as representing Islam – I don’t describe Orthodox Christianity as abhorrent just because the abuse rate of women is so high in that church – as it certainly is.”
    Why not- except that you’d have to apply the same standards to your own beliefs? If people justify their behaviour from their religion it’s pretty good evidence that their religion permits or encourages such behaviour- muslim or christian.

  • Shamil

    The fact that an absolute statement like this is unjust and untrue is quite enough to discredit it

    Which part is untrue?

  • Nicholas Holliss

    You are missing the point. Secularism in France dates back to 1979. This secularism is extremely important to the French people and one of the fundamental principles of the Republic. In the 1990s, Amara was actually in favour of allowing Muslim girls to wear the head-scarf in schools, because banning the hijab would result in many parents being sent to religious schools. Amara believed that the open French education system would assist in the emancipation of women through teaching these girls about the values of the republic and equality of women. It is only because, in her opinion, the French education system has failed to do this that she advocates that the head-scarf should be banned (as it now is).