The amazing Biblical treatment of women
by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)
Christian missionaries often accuse Islam of mistreating women. They claim that the Qur’an and the Sunnah teach that women are inferior and that this particular sex is oppressed by Allah and his Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Na’udhubillah. In this article we will be comparing and contrasting the Biblical teachings on women versus those in Islam as found in the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Women presented as inferior at the very beginning
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:12-13)
We see in the above that women are punished with a three-fold curse. Firstly, she is cursed with the pains of child birth. Secondly, she is cursed with having her desire for her husband and thirdly, she is cursed with bing RULED by the husband. The word rule here is mashal which means ‘to have dominion over’. It’s the same word found in Judges 8:22 where Gideon is given rule over Israel. Further more, if you read the passage you will see that the punishment for women is mentioned first and then only the man’s. And if yu look critically you will be able to notice that the punishments are not even out. In fact, for the man instead of him getting cursed, the ground gets it! Genesis 3:17 says, “cursed is the ground because of you(Adam/man)”. What did the ground do to deserve getting cursed for Adam’s fault?
The Qur’an narrates a better picture than that presented in Genesis.
“But the Shaitan made them both fall from it, and caused them to depart from that (state) in which they were; and We said: Get forth, some of you being the enemies of others, and there is for you in the earth an abode and a provision for a time. Then Adam received (some) words from his Lord, so He turned to him mercifully; surely He is Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.” (2: 36-37)
“But the Shaitan made an evil suggestion to them that he might make manifest to them what had been hidden from them of their evil inclinations, and he said: Your Lord has not forbidden you this tree except that you may not both become two angels or that you may (not) become of the immortals. And he swore to them both: Most surely I am a sincere adviser to you. Then he caused them to fall by deceit; so when they tasted of the tree, their evil inclinations became manifest to them, and they both began to cover themselves with the leaves of the garden; and their Lord called out to them: Did I not forbid you both from that tree and say to you that the Shaitan is your open enemy? They said: Our Lord! We have been unjust to ourselves, and if Thou forgive us not, and have (not) mercy on us, we shall certainly be of the losers. He said: Get forth, some of you, the enemies of others, and there is for you in the earth an abode and a provision for a time.” (7:20-24)
Notice that in the Qur’anic narrative the woman is not singled out to carry the blame or most of the blame. Which is kinder upon the woman? Ask yourselves that question.
In the Bible the woman is singled out and more blame is given to her. This is seen in verse 12 of Genesis 3 where Adam makes Eve as a scapegoat, “And the man said, the woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” Here we see that Adam does not own up to his mistake according to Genesis, but instead lays the blame on Eve. But, even more than that he actually BLAMED God when he said, “whom YOU GAVE to be with me”. Yet, even then the woman gets punished more than the man as shown in Genesis 3:16, “To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”
In fact, this singling Eve, the mother of women out as the culprit is emphasised in the New Testament in Timothy 2:14-15,
“And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”
This mysogenistic attitude of the Bible towards women is refuted in the Qur’an.
“But the Shaitan made an evil suggestion to him; he said: O Adam! Shall I guide you to the tree of immortality and a kingdom which decays not? Then they both ate of it, so their evil inclinations became manifest to them, and they both began to cover themselves with leaves of the garden, and Adam disobeyed his Lord, so his life became evil (to him). Then his Lord chose him, so He turned to him and guided (him). ” (20:120-122)
Women must be punished after a good deed
Please read this analogy carefully. Let us say that a robber breaks into your house. You are alerted to this and a fight between you and the robber ensues. The assailant is quite strong so you find it hard to overpower him. Your wife hears the commotion and runs to your rescue. She swings her hand and punches the assailant’s private part to weaken him as that’s the best part to weaken any man. As a result of your wife’s heroic stunt the robber is overpowered and escapes. You are saved and so is your family. After the ordeal an authority arrives at your doorstep and gives you this notice, “Your wife just saved you. Now chop off her hand immediately and shw no mercy.” What will you do to such an impertinent person? What would you think of such an order? Here’s what we find in the Bible,
“When men fight together one with another, and the wife of the one come near to rescue her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and stretch out her hand, and seize him by his secret parts then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.” (Deuteronomy 25:11-12)
CHOP OFF HER HAND AND SHOW NO PITY! Where is da love?
You will never find such a morbid law anywhere in the Qur’an or Sunnah. In fact, the Qur’an stresses equality in punishment when it comes to breaking the law e.g. 24:2
A divorcee must die alone without a husband or a family
The Bibles teaches that if a woman is divorced and a man marries her, he would be committing ADULTERY! Adultery is a sin punishable by death according to the Torah. No decent man who adheres to the teachings of the Bible would go against its clear commandments and commit adultery. As a result of this such poor women will be left untouched and to rot away alone with no husbands EVER!
“Whosoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery”. (Matthew 5:32)
This Biblical predicament is reconciled by the Qur’an in 2:229-230.
“Divorce may be (pronounced) twice, then keep (them) in good fellowship or let (them) go with kindness; and it is not lawful for you to take any part of what you have given them, unless both fear that they cannot keep within the limits of Allah; then if you fear that they cannot keep within the limits of Allah, there is no blame on them for what she gives up to become free thereby. These are the limits of Allah, so do not exceed them and whoever exceeds the limits of Allah these it is that are the unjust. So if he divorces her she shall not be lawful to him afterwards until she marries another husband; then if he divorces her there is no blame on them both if they return to each other (by marriage), if they think that they can keep within the limits of Allah, and these are the limits of Allah which He makes clear for a people who know. “
Kick out your ex-wife quickly
“When a man has taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he has found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorce, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” (Deuteronomy 24:1)
So, after marrying a woman and you’ve found her unsatisfactory because of some uncleanness in her just give her a bill of divorce and kick her out!
What an amazing law, don’t you agree?
The Qur’an teaches that men do not have the right at all to kick their divorced wives out of their homes and leave her homeless without shelter.
“O Prophet! when you divorce women, divorce them for~ their prescribed time, and calculate the number of the days prescribed, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, your Lord. Do not drive them out of their houses, nor should they themselves go forth, unless they commit an open indecency; and these are the limits of Allah, and whoever goes beyond the limits of Allah, he indeed does injustice to his own soul. You do not know that Allah may after that bring about reunion.” (65:1)
“And among His signs is this: That He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect.” (30:21)
The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. taught,
“The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives.” (Ibn-Hanbal, hadith 7396)
There can be no inheritance for widows and sisters!
“Further, you shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter. ‘If he has no daughter, then you shall give his inheritance to his brothers. ‘If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. ‘If his father has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his nearest relative in his own family, and he shall possess it; and it shall be a statutory ordinance to the sons of Israel, just as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Numbers 27:8-11)
From the passage we can deduce the following,
1. daughters do not inherit if there are sons. Only if there are sons then they may inherit.
2. If there are neither sons nor daughters then the inheritance will be given to the deceased brothers. The sisters will get nothing.
3. Widows or sisters of the man will get nothing.
The Qur’an saves the women and says,
“Men shall have a portion of what the parents and the near relatives leave, and women shall have a portion of what the parents and the near relatives leave, whether there is little or much of it; a stated portion.” (4:7) See also the verses that follow. Thus in Islam women are automatically guaranteed inheritance.
Rape victims are commanded to be married to their rapists!
“If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.” (Deuteronomy 22:28-29)
Can you possibly imagine getting raped and then made to marry the dog who did it to you and never be able to be free of him as long as he lives? It even involves a transaction of 50 shekels! A small payment to the father for the misery that the woman will have to endure her whole life married to her rapist! This is lunacy of the highest order!
The Qur’an refutes this horrible idea clearly.
“O you who believe! it is not lawful for you that you should take women as heritage against (their) will, and do not straighten them in order that you may take part of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of manifest indecency, and treat them kindly; then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it.” (4:19)
We have a sahih hadith from Aishah r.a. who narrates from the Prophet s.a.w. that, “It is essential to have the consent of a woman(for marriage).” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, volume 9, Book 86, Hadith 101)
Men are cleaner and worth more than women!
The Bible teaches that if a woman gives birth to a boy she goes through a period of ritual uncleanness for 40 days, however, if it’s a girl then she has to go through a period of 80 days(double the period) of UNCLEANNESS! What does this imply if not that women are unclean and causes uncleanness more than men?
“When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. ‘On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days.” (Leviticus 12:1-5)
This idea that women are worth less than man is seen in the following passage also,
“‘If your valuation is of the male from twenty years even to sixty years old, then your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary.’Or if it is a female, then your valuation shall be thirty shekels.”
For a male child he would be counted with the value of 50 shekels and the woman will be valued at 30 shekels which is 20 less than the former. Who’s superior and more valuable?
None of these weird teachings are to be found anywhere in the Qur’an or Sunnah. Neither men nor women are valued with shekels or dinars or dollars. And the passage about cleanliness and non-cleanliness for male and female children is an instigation against the status of women. The Qur’an teaches,
“O people! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same (kind) and spread from these two, many men and women; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, by Whom you demand one of another (your rights), and (to) the ties of relationship; surely Allah ever watches over you.” (4:1)
“And whoever does good deeds whether male or female and he (or she) is a believer — these shall enter the garden, and they shall not be dealt with a jot unjustly.” (4:124)
“Whoever does good whether male or female and he is a believer, We will most certainly make him live a happy life, and We will most certainly give them their reward for the best of what they did.” (16:97)
The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. taught about daughters that,
“Whosoever supports two daughters till they mature, he and I will come in the day of judgment as this (and he pointed with his two fingers held together).” (Ibn Hanbal, Hadith 2014)
Kill a woman who does not shout out for help if she gets raped
“If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:24)
What if the girl’s mouth was forcibly covered by the man? What if she did yell, but it was not loud enough and peple did not hear? None of these will be considered and she will just be killed. This is a harsh law that makes little sense. The Qur’an rebukes this and says,
“And those who accuse chaste women [of adultery] and then do not produce four witnesses — lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after. And those are the defiantly disobedient. Except for those who repent thereafter and reform, for indeed Allaah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (24:2-5)
Ibn Qudamah in Al-Mughni says,
“If a woman becomes pregnant without having a husband or a master, she may not be punished and, in stead, she should be asked about it, if she claimed that she was coerced into it or that she committed adultery under dubious circumstances, or if she simply does not confess adultery then she will not be punished. This is the saying of Abu Hanifah and al-Shafi’i, because she may be pregnant as a result of a forceful intercourse or dubious circumstances. Punishment will be abandoned in case suspicion exists. It is well known that a woman could become pregnant without committing the real intercourse. The woman may become pregnant if sperm is manually inserted into her vagina. This would explain how a virgin becomes pregnant.”
Selling daughters into slavery is okay!
The Bible gives the green light to the slave trade and says that fathers can trade their daughters into slavery!
“If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her.” (Exodus 21:7-8)
The Qur’an says,
“O you who believe! it is not lawful for you that you should take women as heritage against (their) will, and do not straighten them in order that you may take part of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of manifest indecency, and treat them kindly; then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it.”(4:19)
The birth of a daughter is a LOSS!
“The birth of any daughter is a loss” (Ecclesiasticus 22:3, New Jerusalem Bible)
Though Ecclesiasticus is not accepted by Protetestants it is indeed accepted as canonical by Catholics who number over 1.1 billion of the total 2 billion Christian population.
This is a horrible statement about women that should be rejected. The Qur’an says, “To Allah belongs the dominion ofthe heavens and the earth. He creaes what He wills. He bestows male or female according to His Will,” (42:49)
In the same Ecclesiasticus we find the following statement,
“”No wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman…..Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die” (Ecclesiasticus 25:19,24)
Women must SHUT UP. Women must learn in submission and obedience!
“The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” (1 Corinthian 14:34-35)
“A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:11-12)
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:22)
The word uses there in Greek is the adverb hos which means ‘just as’.
The Biblical passages above show that women have absolutely no right to speak in the churches and definitely no instructing men for the latter’s authority is supreme over women. The last verse shows the total subjugation of women by men just as mankind are subjugated by the Lord.
Such a dastardly notion is not found anywhere in the Qur’an. In fact, the Qur’an alludes to an incident that happened with the Prophet s.a.w. It involved the woman Khaulah bint Tha’labah who not just spoke to the Prophet s.a.w., but even argued with him. The Qur’an says,
“Allah indeed knows the plea of her who pleads with you about her husband and complains to Allah, and Allah knows the contentions of both of you; surely Allah is Hearing, Seeing.” (58:1)
Let us now look at some famous Christian figures throughout history and what they have said regarding women.
“”Do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the Devil’s gateway: You are the unsealer of the forbidden tree: You are the first deserter of the divine law: You are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert even the Son of God had to die.”
Saint Augustine said,
“What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman……I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.”
So, acording to Augustine women is no good except for sex and thereafter produce children!
The church figure who tried to bridge science and religion Saint Tomas Acquinas said,
“As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.”
After seeing such remarks a Protestant may simply discard them on the basis of their background as Catholic theologians. I would remind such Protestants that the FOUNDER of their religion Dr. Martin Luther said,
“If they become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that’s why they are there”
Their remarks are but reflections of the inspiration that they received from the Bibles that clearly teaches the inferiority of women before men and God and degrade them to the level of slaves as we have seen from all those amazing verses. Let us conclude the Biblical mysogenistic an chauvenistic tendencies with the following,
“I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare….while I was still searching but not finding, I found one upright man among a thousand but not one upright woman among them all” (Ecclesiastes 7:26-28).
Let us conclude the beauty of Islam with the words of its Prophet s.a.w. who said regarding mothers without whom there can be no children.
“O Messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good company? The Prophet s.a.w said, Your mother. The man said then who else: The Prophet s.a.w. said, Your mother. The man asked, Then who else? Only then did the Prophet s.a.w. say, Your father.”(Muttafaqun ‘alayh or Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
To quote Dr. Jamal Badawi, ‘if this was the Olympics the mother gets the gold medal, the silver medal and the bronze medal. The father may get a consolation prize.”
Can there be any question that Islam upholds the sacred dignity of women whilst the Bible dump them into the garbage bin?
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