Hypocrisy, Islam and Women

11 01 2008

I really feel I have to write this down, and I can only be glad that only four people have visited my blog.

So, after reading a post by another blogger I lay awake at night. What is wrong? It is hypocrisy: one of the most disturbing and angering concepts for me. I just have to write something about it. How is it possible when Islam has so many sunnahs and excellent provisions for women, ensuring their freedom of choice, work, maintenance, etc. that they are treated so contradictory? Well, just as happens in other religions, the words get twisted. Only the ones in power can twist the words. That means, in a patriarchal society: men. Men have too much power at this moment in time and space. ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS

Sorry, some men. Because I’m going to vent my spleen, I want to make it clear that I like men, and want one of my own, but there are a great many unworthy ones roaming about, and they are the ones I’m talking about in the rest of this post when I write ”men”.

I give, for the sake of the argument, a list here which is by no means definitive, you can call a hiijab covering up, or insist on a Niqab as well. For the purpose of the argument, and because I’m writing this post as a response to the post of a Saudi woman, we’ll take the complete niqab. So here are a couple of rules, as I understand it so far.

  1. Islam considers women to be jewels, to be cared for and protected.
  2. To protect everybody from the temptations of Shaytan, women are required to cover-up, in saudi that means abaya and niqab, by law, weather you want to or not.
  3. Men are the protectors and maintainers of women.

So:

  1. Excellent.
  2. No, doesn’t work; re. all the stories of harassment I’ve been reading recently, even of women who have children with them. And although you get credit for being modest, Allah doesn’t give credit for deeds that are forced, or engaged in for ulterior motives. So, all women walk around covered in layers of black cloth, in one of the hottest countries in the world. Pfff, luckily women are regarded as precious jewels, and are highly regarded for their suffering. This also makes the men treat them with respect. Oh, no, I go completely astray! Men harass women, put all sorts of restraining rules up, which make it impossible to do some shopping, get a job, or get the children to school. (as is their right according to Islam) And if they are audacious enough to actually dó their jobs as wives and mothers, they are considered and treated by some men as outlaws and nobody cares if they are worried, scared or unhappy. Every aspect here seems hypocrisy
  3. Excellent, but: there seem to be an awful lot of hypocrites about who go for harassing and bothering women, instead of caring for and protecting them. Would be great though, if that one was actually kept.

So it’s all much of the same thing, and completely contradictory to religion. Yet not much is being done about it. And I find it very strange. There is one extenuating circumstance for the men: the concept of ”segregation” is taken to incredible extremes, like nowhere else on the planet, and its effects are apparently equally extreme. So who’s to blame? Officially, naturally, the women! Because, just as everywhere else on the planet, women are the source of all that’s evil. Its just their fault for being women.

I’ll be very shocking now: I think it’s the men. Why is it so necessary to dress so modest? Because men are apparently unable to control themselves otherwise. Oh, no, even when dressed more modestly than seems humanly possible, they still can’t control themselves. Why is it that I hear from some women that they like wearing abaya and niqab (in western countries)? because they are finally seen as a person, and not being assessed, and goggled at anymore. (by men) So it seems that men are incapable of ”normal” behaviour, but it’s women who have to suffer for it.

And here we come to what is now an old story, but it is a poignant one, and one that’s been roaming my mind a long time. It’s ” The Girl of Qatif ” Now, this story has been on many media, and one hears different versions. As I was barely capable of leaving the couch at that time I’ve seen and read most versions, and I’m going to give my interpretation of the Truth, the Official Version (with comments) and; by the grace of Boundless Imagination: How it could have played out in a truly devout Islamic country.

The story 1

Girl, 18 years old. Is engaged. Former friend has a photograph of her, and won’t let her have it back unless in person. (now I take it that it doesn’t have to be very shocking at all, I suppose a portrait would already be something you’d want back) So, meeting in front of busy mall, in car. Seven man with knives abduct the two, rape them and dump them. Later they also start bragging about their exploits. Year later rumours spread, Girl is married or about to. Husband asks, girl tells horrible event. Husband angry, they engage really cool lawyer, and sue. Not for actual rape: to late, no proof. Judges, especially one, predisposed. Give comparatively small sentences to the bastards, and big sentence to victims. (because they were not allowed to have met, as opposite sexes. It appears that this comparatively small offence is regarded just as almost as heavy a crime as gang-rape and sodomy) As an added torture and punishment, girl is treated during trial as criminal and is faced with attackers, and has to endure their abuse too. The criminals are not stopped by the judges. Husband, girl and lawyer appeal, and speak to media. Big mistake. Sentence is doubled for girl, lawyer argued with the judge (how dare he!!!) and gets licence revoked. Big media-hype, in the west, but also (for a change, according to bloggers ) in KSA itself. At the beginning of Hajj King pardons girl, more debate, but at least girl doesn’t get to spend one year in prison, and 200 lashes. (Picture I’ve seen show no Q’urans under arms but big men wholeheartedly doing their jobs to the utmost of their power. More hypocrisy)

Story 2

(This story was put out by officials, after the hue and cry, to discredit the girl) (I can hardly get myself to write this)

Girl is very depraved, and has longstanding illicit affair, and wants to retrieve indecent photographs from former illicit lover. Meets him at the mall, steps in his car. Instead of getting her pictures, they suddenly find themselves on a lonely road where they are found in a state of undress being immoral. Seven upright guys just happen to pass along, see them and can’t help themselves, but commit multiple rape. (somehow this is quite righteous) The man gets raped too. (Ehh, isn’t that sodomy? I had the impression that was very bad indeed????) So naturally the judges couldn’t have passed any other sentence as they did, everything honky-dory. No, as if it wasn’t already bad enough this abandoned woman thinks she should bring these shining lights of Islamic rectitude to the court! Luckily the enlightened judge remedies this by torturing stricken woman with the close proximity and insults and threats of the seven righteous men. But no matter, he’s punishing this lady for her crimes, and everything finished. Or is it? The pesky lawyer actually has the audacity to do his job and appeal? And speak to the press? And all these foreign unbelievers start to have ridiculous demands? Let’s quickly put out some badly manufactured lies about the girl so everybody must acknowledge that ”She got what she deserved!” All sentences are increased and the abandoned woman’s isn’t revoked, but doubled. The lawyers’ licence is revoked: Justice has been served!

Story 3

And now we enter the Realms of Imagination, this is how I imagined the story would have gone if Qatif had been a city in a truly Islamic country:

Once upon a time, there was a girl who lived in a country which was truly Islamic. The people followed the example of the prophet (pbuh) and kept to the five pillars of Islam.
This girl now had met a boy at school, and they had become friends. Everybody went to school, as teaching and learning are pleasing to Allah. And as the prophet (pbuh) taught both men and women; boys and girls had to learn as much as they could. The girl had given the boy a photograph but as she was now engaged to be married she wanted it back. She was sorry that she had given him the photograph, and didn’t want him to keep it. He for some reason, (we can imagine a couple but they’re not very nice ones) told her he’d only give it back if she agreed to meet with him. She didn’t want to do that, but she wanted him to give back her photo, so she met him in a public place, in front of a mall. Perhaps the former friend had gossiped about his plans, we don’t know, but for some reason, seven very evil men, possessed by Shaytan, knew they were there and abducted them, threatening them with knives, and raped them.

The girl went home, everybody noticed at once something was very wrong, and she told about her horrible ordeal. She was taken immediately to the hospital, where she was examined and cared for. A psychiatrist, specialising in the traumatic experience of rape was assigned to help her. The police went out and arrested the criminals and put them in jail. Her fiancee was enraged at the horrible crime committed on his fiancee and hired a very good lawyer. The case was brought to trial as soon as possible. The heinous crime was reported in the media.

The whole country was incensed at this terrible crime. You see, in this country women were regarded as precious pearls, and it was every man’s religious duty, and delight, to look after women, protect them, and see that they were happy and unharmed. In this country a beautiful women could walk around on her own, with a purse of gold, without ever being robbed or harassed. Now the whole population rose very early the next morning to make d’ua for the girls recovery, before morning prayer. With so many people and the angels in heaven saying d’ua for her, she started to feel a bit better. Before and during the trial she was treated with the utmost regard so as not to make her suffer more. Her testimony was taken in a private room and taped for the trial, so that she would not have to stand in the courtroom with the criminals. The judges were incensed! Luckily the Sharia was very clear: multiple rape on one of their precious and esteemed women, and sodomy on a young man. All rapist were sentenced to death. The judge omitted to give the two young people a reprimand for their careless behaviour: in light of the terrible things they had been through that would have been ridiculous.

Notice that two men, the husband, and the lawyer, are mega-cool hero’s from whichever viewpoint you tell the story.

Pity there are only two of them.

”The believers, men and women, are protectors of one another; they enjoy what is right and forbid what is wrong.”

The prophet (pbuh) said:”The best of you is the one who is best towards his wife, and I am the best of you towards my wifes”


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4 responses

13 01 2008
Aliyah

Assalaamu alaykum Aafke, I’m sorry to hear about you lying awake at night thinking about this matter (or maybe you meant it figuratively).

I think the problem lies not in ‘men’ per se but in a general non-compliance with Islam. Culture has been superimposed onto Islam whereby most ‘Islamic societies’ have reverted to their jahil bad ways and habits, learned new bad habits from other societies and otherwise twist Islam.

I’m sure everyone will agree that there is no Islamic utopia on earth. Islam is perfect though Muslims are not. However, if one behaves to the best of ones’ ability in accordance with Islam, many of the problems that result from other’s lack of Islam are solved. Of course, I don’t agree in all Islamic countries (as we have already agreed that there is no Islamic utopia on earth) with some rules and customs. At the end of the day, those rulers, if they are wrong will be answering to Allah; I put my trust in Allah. Even if they are wrong and they are righteous they will receive their single reward for being wrong instead of two for being right. The secular rules (such as ban on women driving) are put in place to avoid fitnah. We all have our opinions on this and other issues but it is my hope that those who made these rules were doing so for the greater good not just to be annoying or worse, misogynist. Because I sat down and thought about it; how annoying would it be a husband to have a nagging wife (or wives) wanting to be driven to see all the relatives or to go shopping or to college but he was the only one to take her/them? LOL, who’s oppressed here – the wife/wives or the poor chaufuer, oops, I mean husband. And that’s on top of his day job, which he must earn in order to support his wife/wives as is his obligation! LOL, I really think women get the better deal. But in all seriousness, when culture overrides Islam we tend to get mistreated women.
While it is true that some (I’m glad you put that in, lol) men like to oppress women, the rules that you listed, such as hijab and non-mixing of men and women, are Islamic. These rules are set by Allah not by men. We then get people’s interpretation, their twist, if you like, on these rules. The extreme for some is to never have women leave their homes to the other where women only have to wear what is considered modest in the society she lives in – where it says clearly in the Qur’an that women must cover their bodies and go out for their needs. What is extreme for one person is moderate for another but what we can agree is Islam itself is moderate as it is between the two kufrs.
The truth will come out (even if only on the Day of Judgment) and I felt much of what you are describing before I read this article: http://www.ahlelbayt.com/articles/current-events/qatif

Unfortunately it is password protected (I’m not sure why) – hopefully it is just temporary as it shed a whole new light on things for me. I hope you’ll remember that the enemies of Islam jumped on this case to suit there own ends which is to discredit and attack Islam. She did not get the (now pardoned) sentence of lashes for being raped or for just being in seclusion with her boyfriend. The ‘rapists’ were not found guilty of rape but only for witnessing her rape and for that they received between five and ten years jail (I can’t remember exactly how long) – amazingly I did not see this in any news or any blogs. That seemed really fishy to me. I have full faith in Allah and the Day of Judgment and that the truth will be known then. May Allah guide us all, amen.

Sad but somewhat true when you say this, “Notice that two men, the husband, and the lawyer, are mega-cool hero’s from whichever viewpoint you tell the story”. While I don’t agree they are heros, nevertheless they are the only ones who seem to come out without smelling of stigma. There are no heroes in this story only sorry participants in an awful event.
At the end of the day only Allah can judge our intentions as He is All-seeing and All-knowing and we all must answer for our own actions to Him.
Sorry if I babbled on a bit and excuse me if it doesn’t make sense as it is really hot here and I feel as if my brain is cooking (or is it already cooked?lol).

Regards,
Aliyah

PS If you haven’t read my reply on my blog yet, of course I knew you are a woman; WM is a he.

13 01 2008
Aafke

Thanks for your comment Aliyah! (especially ith a cooked brain!)
I really did stay awake for a while mulling this over.
I do agree with you on the whole. Except that the whole ”Girl of qatif” episode as viewed in the international press did not give me a solely negative view on ksa. We already have enough negative reporting to give ua a negative impression. The reporting of the horrible thing, on the contrary, made me aware that there is also much of good, and good people in KSA.
The avoiding of Fitnah is offcourse good, but it is, in my opinion, useless to ”force” people to avoid it by complete and hypocrytical segregation. After all: women are driven around now by unrelated male drivers.
And I feel very sorry for those men who. after a long days’ work have to take their wifes to do their business just because they can’t do it themselves.
And what about all the other countries in the world, (islamic countries) They manage to keep Fitnah at bay too don’t they?
You live in Australia I believe, and I fully believe are very ”decent”.
Being forced into ”good behaviour” doesn’t get you credit. Islam has very intelligent rules, and this is clearly mentioned.
Besides the real deterrent to sin is the purity of your hart, and the strenght of your character. Any outside force to make people comply to rightiousness is still fake.
And as God knows our harts, it is still your own morals, strentgh of conviction, and the will to do the right thing that counts.
And I agree with you that if one réally follows the Q’uran, and the example of the prophet (pbuh), further discussion is unnessecary, for then everybody would live rightiously.

A bit of ”normal” (yea, that will be a point of discussion) mingling, teaches one to act normally towards the other sex. And when one sees how women can get haraased while going on their lawful business in KSA just now, this unique and total segregation inspires some very weird and unhealthy behaviour.

At the day of judgement all evil people will get their come-uppance, and God knows our harts. But I’m not content to just wait for that. I want the world now to be a good place to live in. I totally dont believe in the christian concept of ” turning the other cheek” I believe in hitting back.
And I really don’t believe God has meant us to sit back and just let things happen and spinelessly wait until the day of judgement.

And now I’m going to read your blog!

15 01 2008
Aliyah

I hope that you’ve managed to get at least some sleep despite this matter weighing heavily on your shoulders *smile*. It’s an age-old issue that likely will never be resolved; well, until Prophet Isa (alayhi salam) returns…

Yes, I do live in Australia and insha’Allah I at least try to be ‘decent’…I agree with you; I do not think one is given credit for being ‘forced’ into good behaviour (or for that matter, bad behaviour). I am ambivalent about enforcing Islamic rules upon non-Muslims however I admit that I do not know what is correct regarding this matter – my nafs tell me to let non-Muslims do as they please (regarding hijab, alcohol, eating during Ramadan). However, I do know that what is haram should not be facilitated (e.g. alcohol is haram for the Muslim and thusly it is haram for the Muslim to help anybody to drink alcohol, to carry it, to buy it & then sell it etc). Therefore, my commonsense would assume that the reason why rules such as hijab is enforced in (some) Muslim countries upon non-Muslims is due to hijab being obligatory upon Muslim women firstly and Muslims are not to facilitate/allow what is not allowed. (Bear in mind that is some other ‘Muslim’ countries, women are NOT allowed to wear hijab in certain places such as schools, universities and government buildings). I understand that non-Muslim women may find hijab restrictive, however they are then free to leave a country that enforces it *shrug* I had this very same conversation with my grandmother (who is a Christian) recently, lol.

Yes, there are many different opinions and varying parameters of what would constitute normal interaction between the sexes according to scholars’ and a layperson’s understanding of the issue. What might be my interpretation is not the interpretation of the next person…Just my little theory but I think the ‘weird and unhealthy’ behaviour stems not so much from segregation but delaying marriage to the mid- to late-twenties. In Islam the only way for man to have lawful intercourse with a woman is if he marries her (or he [somehow] has slavewomen). Where can they vent their ‘normal and healthy’ desires then if marriage comes so late? As men often must pay exorbitant dowries and provide a large walima, they have no choice (unless they are wealthy) but to marry later on in life but in reality, it seems to be wiser to marry earlier. I would think that increased friendship/mixing between men and women (who are not lawfully related) would lead to an increase in harassment of women, zina etc, not a decrease. Harassment of women is of course not the only problem stemming from this; use of pornography and homosexuality is also on the rise. IMHO the solution is marriage at an earlier age and smaller dowries if the women can manage that.

I had wondered whether you are a Muslim or not but when I read one of the last few sentences on your reply to me (above), I thought that you probably are (but I’m still not sure *smile*). I’m referring to not ‘turning the other cheek’…No, Islam is not a religion of turning the other cheek in regards to certain issues. I am with you there. While I agree with you that we shouldn’t just sit back and let (some) things happen (or be apathetic), sometimes there is very little we can do. Allah does not expect us to do that either in some cases (e.g. al-Maa’idah 5:38). We can’t see people’s intention and without knowing the intention behind an action a full judgment cannot be made. A judge can make a ruling based solely on actions derived from the evidence in front of them. As is my understanding, Allah sees all and will judge the intent as well as the actions. The quality of wanting equitable treatment for all and retribution is admirable -qualities I hope I have too. However sometimes it is not possible especially when not all the facts are known and that is where we must have faith and patience; faith in Allah being All-seeing and All-knowing and patience to wait for the time when the wrongdoers will receive their comeuppance.

Phew! Sorry for yet another long comment! I will try not to make them sooo long in future *smile*

Ma’a salaama.

15 01 2008
Aafke

Hum, it is clear that I did’n need to apologise in your blog for long comments. 🙂 You’re pretty good at them too 🙂

I’ll keep it short!!! (or try to)
The point of this post was that I’m so irritated about hypocrisy. And though there is enough of that elsewere, in this instance hypocrasy in KSA and Islam. So not Islam itself, which is very clear. If people would really and honestly try to emulate the prophet(pbuh) than we would have no discussions. As it is not, I don’t think we should wait for: the final judgement, our next existence with God, or the return of Jesus (prophet Isa), but speak out now.

It’s reaaly difficult to keep it short; there are so much interesting discussion points in your post that should each have an answer all of their own!

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