The Huffington Post continues its endless PR campaign for Islam.
In reality, Muhammad never “explicitly taught the radical equality of women and men.” The Qur’an taught that men are superior to women and should beat those from whom they “fear disobedience”: “Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.” — Qur’an 4:34
The Qur’an likens a woman to a field (tilth), to be used by a man as he wills: “Your women are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth as you will” — Qur’an 2:223
It declares that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man: “Get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as you choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her” — Qur’an 2:282
It allows men to marry up to four wives, and have sex with slave girls also: “If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly, then only one, or one that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice” — Qur’an 4:3
It rules that a son’s inheritance should be twice the size of that of a daughter: “Allah directs you as regards your children’s inheritance: to the male, a portion equal to that of two females” — Qur’an 4:11
It allows for marriage to pre-pubescent girls, stipulating that Islamic divorce procedures “shall apply to those who have not yet menstruated” — Qur’an 65:4
Islamic law stipulates that a man’s prayer is annulled if a dog or a woman passes in front of him as he is praying. “Narrated ‘Aisha: The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, “Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people).” I said, ‘You have made us (i.e. women) dogs.’ I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in my bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I would slip away. for I disliked to face him.” — Sahih Bukhari 1.9.490
Another hadith depicts Muhammad saying that the majority of the inhabitants of hell are women:
“I looked into Paradise and I saw that the majority of its people were the poor. And I looked into Hell and I saw that the majority of its people are women.” — Sahih Bukhari 3241; Sahih Muslim 2737
When asked about this, he explained:
“I was shown Hell and I have never seen anything more terrifying than it. And I saw that the majority of its people are women.” They said, “Why, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Because of their ingratitude (kufr).” It was said, “Are they ungrateful to Allah?” He said, “They are ungrateful to their companions (husbands) and ungrateful for good treatment. If you are kind to one of them for a lifetime then she sees one (undesirable) thing in you, she will say, ‘I have never had anything good from you.’” — Sahih Bukhari 1052
And in another hadith:
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went out to the musalla (prayer place) on the day of Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Fitr. He passed by the women and said, ‘O women! Give charity, for I have seen that you form the majority of the people of Hell.’ They asked, ‘Why is that, O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied, ‘You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religious commitment than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.’ The women asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what is deficient in our intelligence and religious commitment?’ He said, ‘Is not the testimony of two women equal to the testimony of one man?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Is it not true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religious commitment.’” — Sahih Bukhari 304
“Muhammad Was A Feminist,” by Jim Garrison, Huffington Post, October 28, 2016:
The prophet Muhammad would be appalled by how current Islamic Fundamentalists are treating women under their control. This suppression is done in the name of Islamic Law, known as Sharia. But the current suppression of women is shaped by cultural and history. It has little basis in the Quran and it is certainly not consistent with anything we know about what Muhammad taught or how he treated women. Of all the founders of the great religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Islam and Judaism — Muhammad was easily the most radical and empowering in his treatment of women. Arguably he was history’s first feminist….
Muhammad was fundamentally different. He both explicitly taught the radical equality of women and men as a fundamental tenet of true spirituality, and he took numerous concrete measures to profoundly improve the status and role of women in Arabia during his own lifetime. Muhammad was sensitized to the plight of women because he was born poor and orphaned at a very early age. He was also illiterate. He knew as few did what poverty and social exclusion meant.
Confucius was born into the gentry scholar class of ancient China. Buddha was born a wealthy prince in Nepal. Jesus was born the son of a carpenter with royal lineage and within a tightly knit Jewish community in Palestine. Moses was born into a Hebrew family and raised in the palace of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Muhammad had none of these advantages. Thus while other religious leaders seemed strangely silent about the oppression of women, Muhammad dramatically raised the status of women as a matter of religious conviction and state policy. Consider the following:
During seventh century Arabia, female infanticide was commonplace. Muhammad abolished it. A saying in the Hadith (the collection of sayings of Muhammad) records that Muhammad said that the birth of a girl was a “blessing.” Women in Arabia at that time were essentially considered property and had absolutely no civil rights. Muhammad gave them the right to own property and they were extended very important marital and inheritance rights.
Prior to Muhammad, the dowry paid by a man for his bride was given to her father as part of the contract between the two men. Women had no say in the matter. Muhammad declared that women needed to assent to the marriage and that the dowry should go to the bride, not the father; furthermore, she could keep the dowry even after marriage. The wife did not have to use the dowry for family expenses. That was the responsibility of the man. Women were also given the right to divorce their husbands, something unprecedented at that time. In a divorce, the woman was empowered to take the dowry with her.
Women were extended inheritance rights as well. They were only given half as much as their brothers because the men had more financial responsibilities for family expenses, but with Muhammad, women became inheritors of property and family assets for the first time in Arabia. At the time, this was considered revolutionary.
Muhammad himself was often seen doing “women’s work” around the house and was very attentive to his family. His first marriage to Khadija was monogamous for the entire 15 years they were married, something rare in Arabia at that time. By all accounts, they were deeply in love and Khadija in fact was the first convert to Islam. She encouraged Muhammad from his very first encounter with the angel Gabriel and the recitation of the first suras that were to become the Quran.
After Khadija’s death, Muhammad married 12 wives. One was Aisha, the daughter of his closest friend and ally Abu Baker. The rest were nearly all widows, divorced women, or captives. He preached consistently that it was the responsibility of men to protect those women who had met with misfortune. This was one of the reasons polygamy was encouraged. Even with female infanticide, women in seventh century Arabia far outnumbered men because so many men were killed in the inter-tribal warfare of the day. Several of Muhammad’s wives were poor and destitute and he took them in, along with their children, into his household.
In his Farewell Sermon delivered shortly before he died in 632, Muhammad said to the men, “You have certain rights over women but they have certain rights over you.” Women, he said, are your “partners and helpers.” In one of the sayings of the Hadith, Muhammad says, “The best men are those who are best to their wives.”
His wife Aisha took a leadership role after his death in bringing together the Hadith and another wife played a leading role in gathering together the suras that comprise the Quran. Each of the 114 suras that comprise the Quran with the exception of sura 9 begin with the words Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim. Translated most commonly as “In the Name of God, all compassionate, all merciful,” the deeper meaning of this phrase is “In the Name of the One who births compassion and mercy from the womb.” This invocation of the feminine aspect of Allah is key to an Islamic Renaissance.
Finally, there is nothing in the Quran about women wearing the veil, the Hejab. That was certainly the custom in Arabia at that time and Muhammad’s wives wore the Hejab to designate their special status as “Mothers of the Believers,” but the only thing the Quran says directly is that women should dress “modestly.” Muhammad said the same thing to men. For him, modesty of dress was expressive of modesty of the heart. Muhammad himself, even when he was supreme leader, never wore anything more than simple white woolen attire….