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Women, in light of the Quran

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The commandments of the Quran in respect of inheritance of property are very complex. But as back as in 7th century Arabia, Allah in Quran gave share of property to females in respect of inheritance. Quran 4:11 reveals “Allah commands you regarding your children: the share of the male will be twice that of the female”. This right to property of Muslim females (women) was really spectacular for that age.

Quran 4:15 reveals: “As for those of your women who are guilty of immoral sexual intercourse, call upon four from amongst you to bear witness against them. And if four men do bear witness, confine those women to their houses until either death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them.”

A closer look into the verse gives some astonishing facts about the revelation from Allah. The content and message of the verse are misogynist, as these do not talk of similar punishment to men for similar offences.

The impossibility of finding four witnesses for such a private and intimate act is overlooked in the revelation. Moreover, to settle personal scores with any woman, a man with help from other three men can implicate her falsely and end her life in a miserable manner.

Death punishment for women in such a cruel way is grossly against their Human Rights. It is not clear what will happen if two or three witnesses are found. Why is Allah not sure about his “opens some way”? This is very strange. If the verse is ‘preliminary’ in nature, as claimed by many scholars, the Quran is silent about this claim.

Quran 24:2 however, gives a comparatively milder punishment for immoral sexual intercourse. The verse stipulates public flogging of hundred lashes to both the offenders (man and woman). But Quran 24:13 continues to stick to four witnesses.

The absurdity of ‘four witnesses’ has done gross injustice to woman-victim of rape, as it is almost impossible to get so many eye witnesses. In the process, the raped woman is punished for making false accusation or the incident is suppressed.

Quran 33:59 reveals “O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments (Jilbab) over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known and not molested. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”

In this verse women have been shown in poor light with the risk of being molested in public. Women have been reduced to weak sex-objects before men. Use of Jilbab is mandated for the women in the verse, as a dress code, for identification of Muslim women. The verse strangely protects only Muslim women, while exposing non-Muslim women to be molested by Muslim men. This mind-set of Muslim men towards non-Muslim women has not changed in the last 1400 years.

Jilbab is an Arabic term for a long, loose outer garment, which is worn by both men and women. Over the centuries, besides Jilbab, Muslim women started using other types of clothing in forms of Burqa, Niqab, Hijab, Chador, Khimar or Abaya for keeping them safe from public molestation. Strangely enough, many Muslim women today find themselves ‘liberated’ within Burqa.

Today some Muslim women strictly use Jilbab or its other variants, while many Muslim women do not use any such dress code and move freely in public. Some Muslim women activists even say that use or not use of Jilbab or its variants by Muslim women is a ‘personal choice’. But the Quran does not give any such option to Muslim women. Today those who use Jilbab, give numerous Islamic justifications like those who don’t use it. The situation, vis-à-vis the Quran, has become very confusing now.

Quran 4:34 reveals “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.”

The above verse is also misogynist and epitome of patriarchy. It not only makes Muslim women subjects of Muslim men, Allah in the verse even commands Muslim men to beat their women (wives and sex-slaves) if they show arrogance.

In Quran 4:3 Allah allows polygamy. The genesis of polygamy could be the availability of more unmarried women/girls against a smaller number of males of marriageable age, in the early Muslim community, due to death of males in the battles. But polygamy still continues among many Muslims. At least in India, Muslim clerics keep on vehemently supporting polygamy in the name of Islam. Polygamy is against the principle of treating women equally with men.

In Quran 4:24 Allah permits Muslim males to have sex with the captive women, who are captured as war booty. In other words, Allah permits sex-slavery. Such sex slaves were always Kafir women later converted to Islam. Thus, the contempt for Kafir women and their sexual exploitation remains an important part of Islamic identity even today. As Quranic commandments are to be followed by all the Muslims for all times to come, deviation from Quranic teaching or humanizing many contentious verses are not permitted in Islam.

Subjugation of women by men was commonplace in most of the early societies in the world. In the ancient Hindu text Manusmriti, it is written: “Her father protects her in childhood, her husband protects her in youth and her sons protect her in old age; a woman is never fit for independence”. But today, Hindus have left such bad attitudes and practices towards women far behind. Hindus can now publicly disown this text of Manusmriti.

All non-Muslim societies have evolved in past centuries and women are now considered equal to men in honour, dignity, liberty and freedom. However, Muslim society cannot openly disown anti-women Quranic verses mentioned above and some of them have remained mentally as they were 1400 years back. For the vast majority of Muslims, it has become a “Catch-22” situation. Whatever equal honour, dignity, liberty and freedom some Muslim women are enjoying today, in India and in the West have come from the influence of evolved Kafir communities.

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About the author: Jadabeswar Bhattacharjee served in the Government of India and retired as Higher Administrative Grade Officer after 35 years of service. After retirement from the service, he developed interest in writing on contentious issues and topics. His published books are (1) Politically incorrect Point of View, (2) Politics, Bong and Faith, (3) The Alternative Narrative, (4) The West Bengal Saga and (5) Political Islam and India.

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