Dr. Nawal Al-Sa’dawi
She has spoken courageously for years, and now she has done it again:
MEMRI reports that “the Egyptian author Dr. Nawal Al-Sa’dawi, known for her fervent Arab-nationalism and feminism, gave a comprehensive interview to the liberal Arabic website www.elaph.com on September 20, 2003.”
“Al-Sa’dawi called for amending the Egyptian constitution and eliminating the article that declares Islam to be the official state religion, ‘because we have among us Copts, and because religion is a matter between man and God and no one has the right to impose his faith, his God and his rituals on others. Therefore, I am one of the die-hard opponents of a religious state, because our God should not be involved in politics in any fashion.”
The interviewer responded to Al-Sa’dawi with typical whitewash: “However, the Copts lived happily and in paramount fairness under the wings of Islam.”
Al-Sa’dawi replied: “We are the sons of one homeland, and we are partners in it, so that no one has to live ‘under the wings’ of anyone else.”
“As for the ‘Islamic culture,’ Al-Sa’dawi said that it was ‘part of a general culture based on Christianity, Judaism, and the Pharaoh’s heritage. There is no pure culture, but an intertwined relationship among the cultures. I am against differentiating between a Western culture and an Eastern culture. . . .
“Al-Sa’dawi disagreed with the interviewer’s opinion that, within the democratic process, Islamic groups have the right to try to establish their rule. She said: ‘They don’t have such rights. They are blood-spilling criminals. They included my name and the names of other respected intellectuals and dedicated people in death-lists. If we were to review all their crimes, we would have realized that they were too many to count. If your ideas are different than mine, this is not a reason to kill me“¦ We should distance our God from politics”¦ You can worship the God who satisfies you and fulfills your interests, but you should not impose Him on me or the state, because all the citizens in the state are equal”¦ Why should I, as a woman, be less of a citizen than a man just because the official state religion is Islam? Why does a man marry four wives, and I cannot [marry four husbands]? This is humiliating”¦”
But then Al-Sa’dawi says: –¦How is it possible that a man marries four women? This is moral corruption and an offense to the Koran and Islam.”
I don’t know how she can say that in light of the Qur’an’s permission to men to “marry women of your choice, two or three or four” (Sura 4:3).
“‘But, the Prophet was married to nine wives,’ commented the interviewer.
“‘Why do you compare yourself to the Prophet?’ answered Al-Sa’dawi. ‘He did not tell you that you have to do what he did. There is an important Hadith [oral tradition] that says that one of his wives found him, during her night, in another woman’s bed and said to him: “My night, in my bed Messenger of Allah!!!” and he answered her after this scolding: “Shut up and don’t mention it, I will not do it again,” because a prophet and a messenger should be an example of fairness. If the Prophet — who was a human being, erred sometimes and was fair at other times — did make a mistake, why do you want me to follow his errors? I will say it again that man, because of his moral corruption, selects what suits him from Islam”¦”
Unfortunately, Al-Sa’dawi is doing the same thing, since there is no indication that the Prophet ever regarded his multiple marriages as one of his mistakes.
In any case, the response from Egyptian clerics to Al-Sa’dawi’s remarks was less than kind. “The Egyptian Islamic weekly Al-Haqiqa asked several senior Egyptian clerics to respond to Al-Sa’dawi. The responses can be categorized into two groups. One group maintained — as stated by Dr. Muhammad Al-Sayid Al-Glind, head of the Islamic Philosophy Department at Dar Al-‘Uloum (Cairo), that ‘the best way to silence this woman is not to respond to her, so that she does not get published.'”
“Dr. Rif’at Fawzi, a professor of jurisprudence at the University of Um Al-Qura, said: ‘If we allow killing Al-Sa’dawi [as a punishment for “heresy”] we would be committing the same mistake that we did with Salman [Rushdie], who would not have been marketable and whose book “The Satanic Verses” had no value, but when the Fatwa to kill him was issued, he became famous and his book was widely marketed in the world and was translated to many languages. It is better to ignore Al-Sa’dawi.’
I know that tactic well! I believe they may have picked up this one from the Western media!
“However, others maintained that Al-Sa’dawi should be punished. Dr. Abd Al-Mun’im Al-Berri, former head of ‘The Front of Al-Azhar Clerics,’ explained that ‘we should ask her to repent within three days, but if she persists with these ideas, she should be punished according to what the Islamic Shari’a [religious law] determined for those who abandon Islam. The ruler, meaning the head of state or government, should carry out the punishment.’ Sheikh Mustafa Al-Azhari explained that the punishment for anyone who fights Allah and His Prophet is execution, crucifixion, the amputation of opposite limbs or banishment from earth.”
Al-Azhar, of course, is the leading, most influential Islamic institution in the world. Al-Azhari’s answer strictly follows the tenets of Islamic law. (Thanks to Ali Dashti and Diego.)