Islam responses to main criticisms

On women condition

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  • The women position in early Islam should be taken as example
  • The women condition in Islam could be improved in some countries
  • Beating is allowed if light and if it leaves no mark


The women position in early Islam should be taken as example.

Lois Lamya Al-Faruqi in her study ‘Women, Muslim Society and Islam’ said: “(The woman) position in early Islam was really an exemplary one, one that should be studied and known by every woman as well as every liberationist in the twentieth century–in America as well as in the Muslim World. The Muslim woman, if she is true to the principles of her religion, has lessons in equality to teach the Westerner, and her descendants in the East have to learn anew the role demanded of them by their religion. Orientalists and orientals zealous for modernization should cease to put the blame on Islam, a blame which instead deserves to fall on their own ignorance of the faith and on the political and social decline which their nations suffered in the past.’


The women condition in Islam could be improved in some countries.

Umm Salah (Zaynab Mansour Ansari) said on August 18, 2005: “I believe that it is time that Muslim women reclaim their rights from within Islam. I humbly suggest that our scholars be more aware of the sensitivity of women’s issues. The Progressive Muslims raise some important points, and while we may not accept their philosophy, we do ourselves a disservice by dismissing legitimate concerns that affect Muslim women today.”

Amina Wadud, Islamic Studies Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University said:

‘During the Abbasid period, when Islam’s foundations were developed, leading scholars and thinkers were exclusively male. They had no experience with revelation first hand, had not known the Prophet directly and were sometimes influenced by intellectual and moral cultures antithetical to Islam.

In particular, they moved away from the Qur’an’s ethical codes for female autonomy to advocate instead women’s subservience, silence and seclusion. If women’s agency was taken into consideration it was with regard to service to men, family and community. Women came to be discussed in law in the same terms as material objects and possessions. (This is today reflected in Pakistan’s rape laws which treat the offense as one of theft of male private property with no consideration for the woman’s rights).

Not until the post-colonial 20th century would Muslim women re-emerge as active participants in all areas of Islamic public, political, economic, intellectual, social, cultural and spiritual affairs.

Today Muslim women are striving for greater inclusiveness in many diverse ways, not all of them in agreement with each other.’


Beating is allowed if light and if it leaves no mark

Referring to the Qur’an verse on beating wives, Abdullah Rahim, in his article  “Understading the verse of ‘beating women’ in the Qur’an” (31 August 2011) said:

“Men by nature and by their obligation to be financially responsible are the guardians of their wives and heads of the family. The wife may disagree and as it happens, can even occasionally disobey her husband. However if the wife’s disobedience to her husband means rejecting the authority that the husband has been given by the Almighty, then this will be a serious problem as it can easily break the structure and the sanctity of the family. In this case the Qur’an has given (not an instruction but an) advice that could easily fit with the socio cultural norms of the Arab society of the time. According to this advice, the husband is allowed to beat her wife in the above condition, if admonishing her and leaving her bed does not work. The Prophet (pbuh) has advised Muslims that the beating should be light and should not leave a mark. In fact the beating should not be to satisfy the anger, it is merely a gesture of disapproval and dissatisfaction. This is a one off solution that should either result in peace or should be followed by the next major step that is involving closed ones to help.”

You may read more on the above author defense of the Qur’an verse here.