Social System of Islam- Women in Judaeo-Christian & Muslim Scriptures II

Summary of 7.12 “Women in Judaeo-Christian and Muslim Scriptures I”

First of all, we compared the attitude towards women as reflected in the Old Testament with the Quran.’ We compared three major areas.’ One, the creation of Adam and Eve and the responsibility for the first sin.’ According to the Bible the woman is blamed because she tempted Adam.’ In the Quran it is Satan who tempted both of them and thus both of them were equally responsible.’ The blame is not thrown on the woman’s shoulder.’ The second area of comparison of the attitude towards childbirth and pregnancy.’ We compared Genesis 3 and Leviticus 12 in the Bible which shows that pregnancy and childbirth is a punishment for women for committing the first sin.’ We compared this with the Quran which has no such notion.’ Actually, in the Quran childbirth and pregnancy is regarded as Jihad, kurh, something heroic and praiseworthy.’ The third point, focused on the treatment of women during their natural monthly cycle and postnatal period.’ We found in Leviticus 12 and 15 in the Bible we find that women at this time should be kept away from and not touched.’ For example, if a person sits on a place she was sitting on the person must to take a bath and wash their clothes.’ In Islam there is no such notion.’ Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that one can have a normal relationship with women during this period except for matrimonial relations.’ Islam does not regard this natural function as spiritual pollution.’ The Prophet said ‘The believer can never be polluted’ in the spiritual sense.

7.13′ Women in Judaeo-Christian and Muslim Scriptures II

Host:’ In the incidence of rape how is the victim to be treated?

Jamal Badawi

First we will refer to the Bible and then we will refer to the Quran.’ In the book of Detronemy in chapter 22 it gives a detailed description as to what happened in two cases.’ In verses 23-24 it says ‘If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;’ Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbor’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.” In the same chapter in verse 28-29 it says ‘If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;’ Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.’

The position of Islamic Law on this issue is quite different.’ In Islam a woman who is raped is regarded as a victim and her failure to shout or cry does not constitute grounds for stoning her to death.’ The woman in this case is regarded with compassion as a victim of the aggression of someone else.’ The punishment of a rapist in Islamic law is not a payment of silver to the girl’s father, but the punishment is much greater and could be capital punishment.’ In Islam the man is not required to marry the girl because a rapist would not be fit enough to marry a chaste woman.’ It is kind of like a reward for the rapist if he can rape a woman and then she would be required to marry him, which is more of an award to him rather than a punishment.’ In the Quran in chapter 24 it indicates that a person should not marry an unchaste person (a rapist would be considered an unchaste person).

Host:’ What are the positions of the scriptures in the case of a husband accusing his wife of adultery?

Jamal Badawi:

In the Book of Numbers 5:12-28 it describes this case in detail.’ It says that if a husband is motivated by jealousy and entertains any suspicion about his wife then he should take her to the priest and it describes the detailed rituals.’ For example it says that the priest takes bitter water and recites a curse on it and threatens the woman that if she is going to lie that her thighs will rot and her belly will swell.’ The priest threatens her and if she does not confess he gives her the bitter water and offers certain sacrifices and if she is truthful nothing will happen to her and if she is lying her thighs will rot and her belly will swell.’ The attitude here is to assume guilt in the woman until she is proven innocent instead of innocent till proven guilty.

In the case of Islamic law is is found in the Quran in chapter 24 it says that if a husband accuses his wife of committing adultery all that he has to do is give a statement that he witnessed it and swear five times that he is truthful.’ The woman is assumed innocent till proven otherwise.’ The woman can make a rebuttal and swear five times that he is lying.’ Even if the judge suspects that she is lying the mere fact that she swears five times against her husband that she is innocent it makes her innocent.’ The only thing that can happen after this is to separate them because their relationship after that would probably be senseless.’ There is no punishment for her, as it is her word against his.’ This is only in the case where the husband actually saw his wife commit adultery or had clear evidence of it.’ This is only the case in marital relationships.’ It is totally forbidden for a person to make this kind of accusation against a woman that is not his wife, without producing three other witnesses (accepted in the society for their piety and fairness and not known to lie).’ If he fails to come up with these witnesses the person who made the accusation is punished (with a minimum of eighty lashes even if he was truthful).’ The idea behind this is to preserve the reputation of woman and to prevent this hap hazard type of accusation and to establish the principle is innocent until proven otherwise.

Host:’ How is marriage viewed?

Jamal Badawi:

In the Dictionary of the Bible it says that ‘The practically universal type of marriage was the Baal type, where the wife passed under the dominion of her lord.’ Genesis 3:16.” This verse says that after Eve committed the first sin God told her that she would suffer in childbirth and then that her husband will rule over her.’ In Encyclopedia Biblica edited by Cheyne it describes the nature of the marital contract and specifically the consent of the girl who is being married ‘The girl’s consent is unnecessary and the need for it is nowhere suggested in the law.’ Ordinary human affection would no doubt lead the parents, generally, to allow their daughters some voice in the matter.” Then he quotes Genesis 24:58 which talks about the marriage of Rebecca and how there was some consultation regarding the matter.’ Then he goes on ‘The arrangement of the marriage and especially about Mohair belongs to the province of the father or guardian.” He again refers to Genesis 24, 29 and 34.’ In other words it basically says that in Judaic law according to Encyclopedia Biblica it was not required that the girl agrees to marry her future husband.’ In the Encyclopedia Biblica it says about betrothal ‘To betroth a wife to oneself or eras meant simply to acquire possession of her by payment of purchase money.’ The betrothed is a girl for whom the purchase money has been paid.” It goes on later on the matter of divorce ‘The woman being man’s property, his right to divorce her follows as a matter of course.’

First of all a woman or wife in Islam is not regarded as a possession of the husband.’ Second, the consent of the girl for the marriage is regarded as a necessity and is one of the conditions for the validity of the marital contract!’ Third, the money that is given by the husband to be to the wife to be is regarded as a gift not purchase money.’ The Quran uses the term mihla which means gift in (4:4).’ The matter of divorce has nothing to do with property rights but is a matter of possible of incompatibility.’ A traditional Israelite prayer that is said in the morning by males ‘Thank you oh Lord for not creating me a woman.” There is no parallel to this attitude or prayer at all in Islam.

Host:’ Where does the New Testaments fall in with these comparisons?

Jamal Badawi:

I think it is useful to refer to the Old Testament because after all it is part of the Bible and part of the heritage of the New Testament.’ Many disciples and writers of the Gospel refer to the Old Testament at least in terms of the prophecies about the advent and life of Prophet Jesus (PBUH).’ Why is the Old Testament a good resource for that point and not for other things?’ I realize of course that some people believe that the Judaic Law is no longer applicable.’ But even this matter is disputable because Jesus (PBUH) himself said in Matthew 5:17 ‘Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” In any case it is a useful background that we can use in an academic approach and review of how women were treated in ancient civilization and previous religions so that we may compare it with the change and reform Islam suggested.’ We will find that these attitudes were carried over even after Jesus (PBUH) through Paul.

Host:’ What is the position and nature of women as perceived by Jesus and the New Testament?

Jamal Badawi:

There is a big difference between what Jesus himself taught and how things were interpreted after him (not only on matters of women but also in matters of belief).’ The position of Jesus (PBUH) himself was not negative at all towards women.’ In all honesty I am not familiar with any statement in the New Testament quoting Jesus to have expressed the type of attitude that predominated in the Old Testament.’ In more than one Gospel Jesus is quoted as rejecting the notion of eternal sin and as such women do not have to carry this responsibility.’ Indeed we find that he expressed views that are a little different from the Old Testament.’ For example in John 16 he talks about the woman being pregnant and giving birth to a child but he does not refer to it as atonement for original sin.’ He simply says that when labor pains start a woman feels anguished and sorry but as soon as she gives’ birth she feels happy again.’ There is nothing here that can be construed as negative feelings towards women.’ One should remember that among the followers of Jesus (PBUH) were women (none of them were of the twelve disciples but they were well known and accepted by him and some of them were witnesses to important events in his life).’ He definitely had an honorable position towards women.

Host:’ Did the disciples of Jesus uphold the same views as Jesus?

Jamal Badawi:

Not all of them upheld it but the predominant attitude was that of Paul who had the greatest influence on later Christianity.’ If we look at Peter 3, we see that even though Peter asks women to be submissive to men he also asks men to be compassionate towards women.’ This does not totally reflect a negative attitude towards women.’ Paul, however, had a drastically different attitude towards women.’ His views not only on the question of women but on matters of belief (divinity of Christ) had greater influence on historical Christianity than the words of Jesus (PBUH).’ If we look at the New Testament which is composed of 27 books total and we find that more than half (14 books) are written by Paul.’ There are more of the words of Paul than those of Jesus in the Bible.’ This is why many consider Paul to be the second founder of Christianity.’ One of the interesting quotations from Paul in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 Paul says ‘Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.’ But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.’ For Adam was first formed, then Eve.’ And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.’ Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” A second quotation that shows his attitude in 1 Corinthian 11:3 when he says ‘But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” Later on in verse 7-8 he says ‘For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.’ For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.” In other words he regards man as the image and glory of God and woman is not the glory of God but of man.’ The attitude that he held lead him to practice celibacy and even to invite others to practice to do so and some historians say that he was never married.’ A similar attitude is found in 2 Corinthian 11:3 where he repeats the whole myth of the serpent beguiling Eve.’ It is quite interesting for a man like Paul, who was never married, to make so many pronouncements about women.’ His attitude was quite different from those of Jesus.

Host:’ How can one reconcile this attitude towards women with the veneration of Mary?

Jamal Badawi:

Mary (PBUH) was definitely an acceptation because in the view of some theologians she is regarded as the mother of God (this is not the Islamic view).’ This veneration went so far as to consider her to be above human level.’ Some of statues in some European cathedrals show Mary standing and holding the whole world in one hand and her son, Jesus, in the other hand.’ We discussed in the eleventh program of this series how the god mother existed in ancient civilizations.’ The case of Mary was definitely an exception just like the past when they worshiped goddesses but still the overall attitude towards women was not good.

Host:’ Is there any indication that the view of women that was put forth by Paul continued to influence the position of the church throughout history?

Jamal Badawi:

There are many indications of this.’ For example, we find that Lakey the historian who speaks of ‘These fierce incentives which form so conspicuous and so grotesque a portion of the writings of the Fathers.” Then he continues ‘Woman was represented as the door of hell, as the mother of all human ills that she should be ashamed at the very thought that she is a woman, he should live in continual penance on account of the curse she has brought upon the world.’ She should be ashamed of her dress for it is the memorial of her fall.’ She should be especially ashamed of her beauty for it is the most potent instrument of the devil.” St. Augustine talked about similar things and that man alone is the image of God, and that women alone can’t be an image of God.’ St. Chrysostom also said similar things.’ Perhaps one of the most scratching attacks on women was by St. Terterian who said ‘Do you 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 unseals of the forbidden tree.’ You are the first deserters 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 desertion is death, even the son of God had to die.” The attitudes seem to have persisted, not towards the attitude of Jesus, towards the teachings of Paul which opposed the views of Jesus (PBUH) towards women.

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