Islam’s Hijab: A Liberating Statement for Women?

Islamic Hijab banner from Women's March

Is this banner featuring Islam’s hijab a bold statement of freedom and progress? Or a grim emblem of rape culture? Read what the Quran actually says about women, then decide.

Let me be perfectly clear: I don’t hate or fear individual Muslims. I feel profound compassion for Muslim refugees around the world. I pray for them and I donate to organizations that aid them. And I don’t believe every follower of Islam is a terrorist.

Further, I don’t have any issue with a Muslim woman who chooses to wear a hijab in observance of her faith. Few things are as dear to me as the freedom of religion we all enjoy in our nation.

But I do have grave concerns with the Quran and with the cruel, repressive system known as Shari’a Law, which the Quran commands Muslims to observe. And worse, to force on others.

I’m writing this to plead with my non-Muslim sisters. I see this banner featured as if it were some kind of bold statement of liberation and progress.

How can we not see this for what it is: a grim emblem of a real “rape culture”?

We have worked so hard for the rights we enjoy. Why in the world would anyone hold up this hijab image that glorifies a system that traps hundreds of millions of women in the Muslim world in a culture of bondage they did not choose and cannot escape?

When you raise this banner, here’s what you’re saluting.

Ten Things the Quran Actually Says Out Loud

  1. Men are better than women
    Quran (2:228)“and the men are a degree above them”
  2. Because men are better than women, men are in charge of women
    Quran (4:34)“Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other….
    “In charge” is interpreted in the most extreme manner possible. These women cannot make their own life decisions or even leave their homes without a male relative as a chaperone.
  3. Men are encouraged to beat their wives to prevent disobedience
    Quran (4:34) – “As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them.”
  4. Marital rape is permissible. A wife is property, like a field.
    Quran (2:223)“Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will…” “Tilth” is also translated “place of cultivation.” Wives (multiple) are likened to a field for cultivation and are to be “plowed” at will.
  5. Keeping captives and slave girls as sex slaves is also permitted.
    Quran (4:24)And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands… [i.e. captives taken in war].
    See also Suras 4:3; 23:5-6; 33:50; 70:22-30, all of which permit male slave-owners to have sex with their slave-girls.

    “He said that raping me is his prayer to Allah. I said to him, ‘What you’re doing to me is wrong, and it will not bring you closer to Allah.’ And he said, ‘No, it’s allowed. It’s halal,’ ” – Fifteen-year-old “F,” a Yazidi interviewed for a New York Times article. She was freed by Kurdish smugglers after nine months of sexual enslavement. ISIS holds thousands of sex slaves.

    Yaziki Girls at Islam Slave Market

    On the left, Ashley Judd decries the injustice of having to pay sales tax on tampons. On the right, Yazidi girls for sale in a slave market. Imprisoning and raping these “infidel” is perfectly permissible under Islam. Where is the “Women’s March” for them?

  6. A man may have up to four wives.
    Quran (4:3)“Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four”
  7. A woman’s testimony in court is worth half as much as a man’s. And worth nothing if not corroborated by a man.
    Quran (2:282) – (Court testimony) “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.”
    Other Islamic writings make it clear that this provision is because women’s intelligence is deficient. (Sahih Bukhari (6:301)“[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’ They replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence.’)
    In practice this provision prevents most rapes from being prosecuted.

    Asia Bibi paints a pitiful picture in her ghost-written book of the dozens of women imprisoned with her in Islamic Pakistan. Many were rape victims jailed for “immorality” when they were found pregnant out of wedlock. The victim rather than the perpetrator was punished. And most of these young women will never see their babies again, as the illegitimate child will generally be killed.

  8. Children (usually young women) may be killed without penalty to prevent dishonoring their family.
    Quran (18:65-81) – The story, not found in any Jewish or Christian source, goes that Moses came across a man with “special knowledge” who did things that didn’t seem to make sense, but the justification is explained later. The man murders a youth for no apparent reason. He states later that it was feared that the boy would “grieve” his parents by “disobedience and ingratitude.” The young man was killed so that Allah could provide them a “better” son. [Note: This parable along with verse 58:22 is used to justify honor killing in Shari’a. All punishment is eliminated for a parent or grandparent who kills their own offspring.]
  9. Unbelievers are to be destroyed without mercy.
    Quran (8:12)“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” The targets of violence are identified in the next verse as those who “defy and disobey Allah.” Muslim apologists claim that the 100+ jihad verses in the Quran refer to a spiritual struggle. Clearly not here. Nor is this statement about a defensive action. These verses were narrated shortly after a raid provoked by Muhammad.
  10. Does this all sound a bit different from the way Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour explains Islam and Shari’a? Well, here’s the final fact. The Quran sanctions deception as a tactic for Muslims who live under the authority of infidels.
    Quran (3:28) – “Let believers not take for friends and allies infidels instead of believers. Whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah—unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions.” In other words, it’s acceptable to pretend to be friendly and on the same page with infidels if you must do so to guard your interests. Regarding this verse, the Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir (1301-1373) wrote: “Whoever at any time or place fears their [infidels’] evil, may protect himself through outward show.”

 

More on the Status of Women in Islam

Here are some additional statements from an article on TheReligionofPeace.com:

“A woman’s heaven is beneath her husband’s feet.”– Traditional Islamic saying

“Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden.”
– Respected Islamic commentary (Tafsir al-Qurtubi)

“She should not go out often, she must not be well-informed;… She should be clean and ready to satisfy her husband’s sexual needs at any moment.” – Revered Islamic scholar, al-Ghazali [Ibn Warraq]

“The Christian religion does not differentiate between women and men, but it confirms their perfect equality: it gives them an equal share in inheritance, it bans divorce, and it bans polygamy.”
– An Egyptian cleric, slamming Christianity on a TV talk show.

“Our religion has defined a position for women (in society): motherhood.”
– Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2014

Homa Darabi was a talented physician who took her own life by setting herself on fire in a public protest against the oppression of women in Islamic Iran. She did this after a 16-year-old girl was shot to death for wearing lipstick. In the book, Why We Left Islam, her sister includes a direct quote from one of the country’s leading clerics:

“The specific task of women in this society is to marry and bear children. They will be discouraged from entering legislative, judicial, or whatever careers which may require decision-making, as women lack the intellectual ability and discerning judgment required for these careers.”

Modern day cleric Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini has called for a return of the slave markets, where Muslim men can order concubines. In this man’s ideal world,

“…when I want a sex-slave, I go to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her.”

At best, Islam “elevates” the status of a woman to somewhere between that of a camel and a man.

Why would anyone think for a second about giving up the relative equality and security Western women enjoy for a nightmare scenario of degradation and repression?

Honestly, I can’t fathom it. But I can offer a couple of observations.

  • Jesus warned us that one of the key characteristics of the last days would be deception. Matt 24:3-4: “…The disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you….’ “
  • Jesus also told us that those who reject Him will be easy prey for false leaders. John 5:43: “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.”

But Doesn’t the Bible Also Demean Women?

I do have some thoughts on that! In fact this has turned into a three-part series comparing the Bible’s teaching on women to the Quran’s. If you’re interested, you’ll find the second and third posts here:

A wealth of additional (horrific) information on the realities of life under Islam can be found here.

The hijab: a bold statement of liberation and progress?
Or grim emblem of a real “rape culture”?

You decide.

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11 Comments

  1. Bobbie Flecken says:

    We need more articles like this one. Getting the truth out take repetition. Thank you

  2. Helaine says:

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  3. Beth says:

    Interesting post. I haven’t actually read the Q’ran, so don’t know the context for the verses above, and I’m always hesitant about proof texting a religious document that’s thousands of years old, or being literal in interpreting ancient guidelines. After all, the Bible (which I have read) has passages that support the same conclusions as you make above:

    * A rapist can purchase his victim: “If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.” Deuteronomy 22:28-29
    * A woman who has sex before marriage should be murdered: “If, however the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death.” Deuteronomy 22:20-21.
    * Virgins can be kidnapped as spoils of war: “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.” Numbers 31:17-18
    * A woman can’t make a promise without the witness of a man: Numbers 30:1-6

    Solomon, the wisest of Jewish kings, kept a harem of sex slaves captured or traded from other kingdoms.

    Both the Old and the New Testament support the existence of slavery with guidelines for how slaves should be treated.

    Paul’s letters in the New Testament repeatedly say that women should be subservient, silent, and obedient to men, because men exist to service God, but women exist to serve men: “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” 1 Corinthians 11.

    I’m not arguing that most Christians today actually believe these things. And so I can’t logically believe that most women who wear a headscarf (going back to the initial idea in your post) believe the antiquated rules for tribal living in their holy book, either. The Muslims I know describe Shar’ia the way that Christians describe their Scripture, as a guiding personal text that’s never “forced” on anyone, especially those of other faiths. (That doesn’t deny that there are fundamentalist and extremist sects of Islam that hold their antiquated texts too closely. But those are no more representative of the whole than the fundamentalist sects of Christianity.)

    As for the banner, the message on it is about overcoming the fear of the Other. Because a woman in a headscarf is no more a threat to me, personally, or to my country, that’s supposedly built on freedom of religion, than a woman not wearing a headscarf.

    • Hi, Beth! Thank you for your very articulate comments, and for the sincerity of the convictions I’m sure lies behind them. Let me clarify that I have *no* issue with a Muslim woman choosing to wear a hijab in accordance with her faith. Very few things are dearer to me than the freedom of religion our nation affords. What I have a problem with is our failing to acknowledge that hundreds of millions of women in the Muslim world are trapped in a religious system they are *not* free to choose.

      Clearly I am no Quranic expert! However, I have studied this a good deal while researching a book, which is why I am more than a little passionate about the subject of Sharia law and its impact on women.

      You raise a number of points and it will take me a couple of days to address them all. For the moment, I will leave you with some thoughts on whether there is freedom to choose for Muslims, from a man with much richer credentials, Ravi Zecharias. (It’s all interesting, but the freedom of choice part is toward the end.)
      https://youtu.be/AWsW8KCdDBg

      Thanks again for your comments! I hope to respond further on Monday. 🙂

    • Beth, thanks again for provoking some thinking on my part! I’m going to let my further thoughts form the basis of my next blog post. So… bear with me… 🙂
      Best regards, Linda

      • Beth says:

        Thanks for your replies, and your graciousness. I’m working things out as I write, as well, and never claim to have all the answers. (Well, not in this. 🙂 But here’s where I’m coming from: after 30+ years deeply enmeshed in the Christian Church, both personally and professionally, I’ve spent the past few in a place where most of my day-to-day interactions are with people who not only identify as atheist, but they have no faith background or cultural context (never grew up in church, never heard the stories, etc.)

        And often, their interpretation of what Christianity is about reflects the extremes. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what the Bible says/condemns, and I hear a lot of hot-button quotes from fringe Christians. (People who don’t know who Pat Robertson is know that he said that God sent the Haiti earthquake to punish sinners.) I’ve found myself trying to explain why LDS is different than evangelical Christian is different than Catholic. I’ve had to try to explain Noah’s ark as something other than genocide. I’ve explained that there are Christians who are pro-choice, and LGBT, and even (gasp) Democrats, and also why many of them are not. And most of all, that being evangelical doesn’t mean that a person hates anyone who isn’t evangelical.

        All of this has made me really look hard at what I believe and how I talk about it, and I love the conversations. But it’s also made me think about whether, as an outsider, I’m over-simplifying other religions, or seeing only their extremes. If smart, well-meaning, educated Americans who don’t live within the walls of Christianity don’t understand the diversity and best intentions of it, how can I, as a total outsider, truly claim to represent what someone else’s faith stands for?

        I’m slowly learning how to listen more than I talk. (Okay, maybe not in context of this discussion.) And that means listening to those who are current believers, not those who are disaffected. After all, the most biting perspectives on Christianity come from those who left the Church.

        Okay, again I’ve rambled on. Like I said, I’m still working all of this out, and I’m grateful for a place to do it. I’m looking forward to your post.

        • Beth, I think we’re both very invested in making the world a better place and ministering to the oppressed and downtrodden. We just have different views on how to go about that!

        • Hi, Beth! Well, it took a while but the post is finally up! Ummm… at least the first part is. It seems it’s going to turn into a series. :-/
          Thanks again for your perspectives. I’m hoping you’ll continue to give them to me. 🙂
          Best regards, Linda

Comments are closed.

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