Moderator's note: Mukto-mona is pleased to announce that Dr Younus Shaikh, a renowned rationalist and founder-President of the Pakistan based organization 'Enlightenment' who was in the prison under sentence of death for blasphemy and then released in January 2004, sent the following article for Mukto-mona members.
Readers may remember that Mukto-mona had conducted an international campaign with IHEU, Rationalist International and with Bangladeshi intellectuals, Rationalists and humanists and other Human Rights activists to ensure the release of Dr. Shaikh. More related news for the new members :
Islam and the Woman
Dr. Younus Shaikh
Before the advent of Islam, the pagan Arab women generally enjoyed a respectable status in society; many of them Khadija- the first wife of the prophet of Islam, had the right to engage in business and choose or dismiss their husbands in a matrilineal fashion; they took part in most activities of war and peace including public worship. In female oriented Arab paganism, goddesses had special status; in Mecca, the female goddess Al-Uzza, in Taif the goddess Al-Lat and in Medina the goddess Manat were the most popular deities, and their statues were most revered while the statue of the stern Allah was almost neglected.
Arab pagan poetry was mostly concerned with the beauty and grace of their women, and the glory of their tribal values in peace and war. And it was only in one predator tribe of Mecca that the evil custom of burying alive of the daughters prevailed. It was highly unusual for a man of pre-Islamic Arab society to have more than one wife in his house; and it is quite certain that polygamy was introduced and encouraged by the prophet after the revelation of Islam.
Women were to produce as many Muslims as possible. This Ultimately resulted in the degradation in the status of the married woman in the Islamic society. Whereas the pre-Islamic Arab custom allowed many looser forms of marriage on the matrilineal and matri-local tradition that gave the woman freedom and liberty as full human being, however the artificial rules of Islamic nikah reduced marriage to mere sexual and social slavery.
The prophet of Islam, before prophet-hood, opposed the burying alive of the newborn daughters; he was eager to work for a woman and gladly married a divorced woman. The early Islam continued with most of the pre-Islam tribal traditions; there were for examples no hijabs or veils for women of Madina; and at a later date only the nine wives of prophets were restricted in their social intercourse as their home was constantly full of visitors, however the prophet’s women sex-slaves were not restricted in any such manners.
Indeed, the semi-transparent half-face- veil (hijab) was actually a very old custom originating in the Assyrian times, a status symbol and a mark of social distinction for the free women. The pre-Islamic pagan Arab woman of the cities often wore the fashionable semi-transparent half-face veil but the tribal women never did. Later, Islam added measures for“ the preservation of modesty F or women”-like casting down their eyes in public, concealing their breasts and jewellery and the likes. However, these restrictions were later extended by the followers of the prophet far beyond his original intentions as expressed in Koran, and remained more or less a permanent fixture of Muslim life thereafter. Later on, however, the insecurity of early Islam gradually added to the exclusion of women, and 100 years later, by the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Haroon ur Rashid, women became merely sexual toys and breeding machines; and as married women they were merely maidservants- mere man’s social appendages. Moreover, as female sex-slaves, women were freely bought and sold in open markets of all Islamic countries, and loaned, rented or bestowed as gifts to friends. The prophet himself bestowed women sex-slaves to his favorites. There was no limit to the number of slaves one could own; one of the companions of prophet Hazrat Zubair Ibn ul Arvan, for example, had had 1000 men-slaves and 1000 women sex-slaves. Islam took the woman as the land tilled by the man where he spilled his seeds.
The prophet himself took part or guided nearly 100 wars or raids or attacks for plunder. After him, his followers continued the offence. The fierce Islamic tribal Bedouins with centuries long experience of ruthless and cruel tribal warfare proved to be the worthwhile shock troops of Islam. After Iraq, Syria fell to the Islamic Empire in 634 CE. Despite surrenders, great massacres took place at many places; thousands of men were slaughtered and women and children sold into slavery; monasteries were ransacked, monks and villagers were slain and nuns were raped. After the conquest of Egypt, many of its towns were put to sword and their entire population wiped out. Great massacres also occurred in Cyprus and North Africa.
The Roman province of Iraq, the Syrian province of Iran, and the conquered Iran brought hundreds of thousands of men-slaves, women sex-slaves, and the vast fertile lands of these once mighty and civilized countries where the women had been held in high respect e.g. the Manichaecian Iraq, the Pharonic Egypt and North African Civilizations.
As in Egypt and Iran, wherever the conquering Islamic Bedouins armies went, they destroyed the local civilizations cultures, imposed their Islamic tribal medievalism recklessly murdering men and degrading women to perpetual sexual slavery. In short, the Islamic tribal Bedouins and barbarians did the same to the surrounding higher civilizations what the Roman barbarians did to the highly civilized ancient Greeks. Meanwhile the Islamic Bedouins continued to raid and abduct the European women for Islamic slave markets during all these Islamic centuries. The conquest of Syria forced the conversion of thousands of Christian priests to Islam, who changed their religion but not their profession: they became the stern anti-feminine Islamic mullahs and not only continued their religious magic and rituals but also continued the essentially Christian medievalism under Islam. In short, as a result of these conquests, destructions and imposition of Islamic tribal medievalism, societies under the Islamic Empire went further than any other in their total exclusion of women from political power and social influence. Islamic legislation went far beyond anything the prophet had originally dreamed of in his tribal religiosity in cheating women of their rightful place in society and in matters of inheritance. Where originally the Koran gave women the right if inheritance, the Islamic mullah invented the legalized institution of Waqf- the religious foundation, to exclude the daughters and their descendents from inheritance. Though the Koran does give the right of inheritance to women, she continued to be a minor; usually uneducated needing a guardian in father, husband or the son. Indeed, the status of women in Islam is theoretically exalted but utterly deplorable in practice.
Multiplying number of harems (residing place for the female sex-slaves), finally institutionalized under Caliph Al-Walid II, emphasized the inevitable degradation of womanhood under Islam. Haroon ur Rashid, the Islamic Caliph (ruler) had 2000 female sex-slaves, Caliph Mutwakkal had 4000 female sex-slaves; and every mullah, official or soldier of Islamic state had some men-slaves and women sex-slaves belonging to the conquered civilization nations.
Not being allowed to learn, experience or think for herself, it is no wonder that there are hardly very few outstanding women in 1600 years of Islamic history, and those who by chance or by the force of the ancient pre-Islamic customs came into light or in the corridors of power were sooner or later eliminated on the orders of some pious and religious Islamic mullah.. Indeed, Islam’s violent anti-feminism have been as nefarious as Christianity’s burning of hundreds of thousands European women as witches in 15th, 16th and 17th century. The female hating instruments of the Islamic Empire, the mullahs and the Caliphs, continued to promote degradation of women under the formal and sordid Islamic legal code of Shariah, the final seal on the complete subjection of the female element. The modern history of Islam is merely the continuation of the Islamic tribal medievalism, only the technology , phraseology and the façade is modern.
(to be continued)