What is Jihad
Article follows my comments;
The issues of Jihad, Use of Voilence, Apostasy, Blasphemy, Women and
Conversions are addressed in this article.
I dropped the idea of highlighting a few sentences, as it turned out to be half
of the article, 5 pages out of 10. However, I am pleased to place at least a
few samplers of the quality of his writing;
- all violence done in the name of Jihad is murder, mass murder or terrorism
and this is one of the worst crimes that any Muslim can commit. Therefore, it
is easy to see that those engaging in wrongful violence in the name of Jihad
have in fact acted contrary to the very concept and dictates of Jihad as
prescribed by God throughout the Qur'an.
- The first mistake was casting the historians’ recorded news, that is facts,
of the early Muslim battles in religious tones and the second mistake was
casting all subsequent battles of Muslims into the exclusive scenery of
religious Jihad. This second mistake by far has been the more egregious in its
ability to mislead.
- Historically there have been many kinds of battles that have not been
religious Jihad, such as civil, national and regional wars
- Wars fought for secular, economic or political reasons and goals are more
easily terminated on terms that can be acceptable, even if disliked, to the
warring sides unlike religious wars whose devotees seek vindication and
protection of their faith, values and way of life.
- young Muslims today think not only that all past wars were true religious
Jihad but that current wars that have nothing to do with any religion are also
- Most wars do not meet the high conditions of Jihad. In authentic Jihad there
can be absolutely no killing of any prisoners and noncombatants; there can be
no use of poisonous weapons; there shall be no atrocities, such as any
mutilation of people and animals, committed in conquered lands; there shall be
no raping, pillaging and razing; there shall be no wanton despoliation of
natural resources and necessary killing must only be done humanely. Therefore,
in true Jihad the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons as well as
the use of cluster and smart bombs and white phosphorus, is anathema because it
flies in the face of several rules of engagement.
- To put it in stark terms, I would ask the suicide bomber why he or she
believes that he or she loves Islam when the intended action will only bring
fear and hatred of Islam to the religion and the community.
- In addition, he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm wills he do
to God; and God will reward those who are grateful.By relying on some of the
Hadiths, or prophetic traditions, and interpreting some of the Quran’s verses
stating that Islam is the last, complete revelation by God for mankind, they
argue that God will accept no faith but Islam and so therefore a Muslim has no
right to convert from the one true, last religion. This cha0uvinistic outlook
is very prevalent in other religions, such as evangelical Christianity which
believes it has the only true beliefs that will give mankind eternal life with
God in Heaven.
- The Quran`s teachings about women were enormously progressive in their
original historical context. Women's legal and financial rights and equality
with men saw dramatic advances over pre-Islamic social norms. Westerners not
knowing this, see, instead, restrictive social traditions that are given the
cover of religion being very harshly enforced by impassioned religious leaders
in that society. This Western view is worsened dramatically and intentionally
by some Western propagandists, such as but certainly not limited to very
influential, high profile evangelical leaders, who denigrate Islam, the Prophet
Mohammed (PBUH) and the Quran, for instance, by calling the Prophet a terrorist
and the Quran the work of the Devil.
- I should like to add here that while Islam does allow divorce, the Prophet
Mohammed (PBUH) strongly disliked divorce unless the difference or problems
between the spouses were genuinely irreconcilable.
Enjoy reading, it is enlightening. Article courtesy - Newsweek/Wpost.
1. What is Jihad?
Jihad is an Arabic word that means, very broadly, striving hard or exerting
oneself to the best one’s power and ability to behave in the way God, or in
Arabic “Allah”, has set forth for mankind. This behavior has two aspects:
personal and communal interaction. The Quran, which Muslims believe is God
speaking directly and with completion to mankind, is divided into sura or
chapters that are, in turn, subdivided into aiya or verses. The Quran
frequently urges Muslims to strive hard in different aiya that address
different circumstances that we face in life, be it in daily, routine life or
in unusual, tumultuous and extreme times, such as we are living in today.
Therefore, the central question that is important in this regard is what kind of
striving God is requiring Muslims to make. Most of the Islamic scholars, called
Ulma, for the past fifteen centuries believe that Muslims should strive hard to
attain their nearness to God by struggling to overcome bad desires or
weaknesses of character, especially if acquired and to the extent possible if
genetic. Muslims are reminded that they must adhere, or strive hard to adhere,
to all the standards in Islam; they cannot “cherry pick’, no matter what the
circumstances. They are to participate in the defense of the Muslim community
when attacked by enemy forces that are intent and directed towards the
destruction of the faith and the community of Islam.
2. Under what conditions does Islam sanction the use of violence?
It is crucial to understand, especially in today’s war on terrorism, which some
high profile, influential people construe only in terms of Islamo-fascism or
other emotive artifice against Islam, that there is no mention, let alone
urging, in the Quran for individual Muslims to start or actively participate in
military action or in any physical violence against an enemy of Islam, actual
or alleged, without a clear declaration from the highest, relevant political
authority first. That is why you see political and religious leaders questioning
and challenging the authority of those calling for “Jihad” today. Without this
initial, properly authorized, declaration of Jihad, all violence done in the
name of Jihad is murder, mass murder or terrorism and this is one of the worst
crimes that any Muslim can commit. Therefore, it is easy to see that those
engaging in wrongful violence in the name of Jihad have in fact acted contrary
to the very concept and dictates of Jihad as prescribed by God throughout the
Qur'an. In addition, I should like to point out that preemptive war for regime
change is strictly forbidden.
It is also clear that true, or properly declared, Jihad strictly forbids
Muslims, whether as individuals or collectively as a political identity, to
wage war against non-Muslims simply because of their religious belief. True
Jihad is only waged against those, Muslim or not, who are actively engaged in
the destruction of the faith and the community of Islam and the force to be
used to counteract or neutralize that destructive action has to be, must only
be, of the kind or relevance and to the minimum degree appropriate to succeed
without engaging in “overkill”.
Therefore, within this context of Jihad, the question arises how the definition
came to be construed broadly to mean the kind of fighting that we see globally
today rather than the very limited, self-defensive action against clearly
identified, active enemies. The answer has historical roots. Some historians
have wrongly understood the definition of Jihad that was applied to the first battles
that the founding Muslims were forced to fight for survival in the advent of
Islam. Also some jurists tried to find justification in those battles for
subsequent fighting by utilizing comparisons and verses in the Quran to make
Muslims feel confident in themselves as warriors and confident in the purpose
and view of the battle. It was to assure the warriors that their fighting,
their killing and dying, and those battles were religiously correct. How did
the jurists do this convincingly? First, they relied on the historians’
narratives and second, they gave every aspect of life a religious cover and
meaning due to the influences and in keeping with the culture and times of the
However, there are two inherent flaws in this approach, which essentially
reduces, renders and transforms persuasion from unbiased, intellectual
curiosity and analysis of objective facts to unquestioning, subjective
propaganda. The first mistake was casting the historians’ recorded news, that
is facts, of the early Muslim battles in religious tones and the second mistake
was casting all subsequent battles of Muslims into the exclusive scenery of
religious Jihad. This second mistake by far has been the more egregious in its
ability to mislead.
It is undeniable that the first Muslim battles were fought out of necessity and
in self-defense for the very existence of Islam, for the first Muslims to
practice their new faith and for the establishment and preservation of the
founding Islamic community. The long-established communities saw the new
Islamic faith and community as life threatening for many reasons, not least of
which was economic since it abolished slavery and treated women as equals with
legal rights. As there was no other reason for and goal than self-preservation
in these initial battles, it is illogical to cast this existential religious
character to some or all subsequent battles because it falsely conveys an
inherent quality of religion and the magnified consequence of religious
annihilation to them. This can be particularly persuasive to those with passion
but with little to no comprehensive knowledge or objective understanding of
history or religion for they can be easily manipulated by propaganda.
Historically there have been many kinds of battles that have not been religious
Jihad, such as civil, national and regional wars.
Wars fought for secular, economic or political reasons and goals are more
easily terminated on terms that can be acceptable, even if disliked, to the
warring sides unlike religious wars whose devotees seek vindication and
protection of their faith, values and way of life. Further, exclusivity of
eternal salvation and life is a common belief to devotees of particular faiths,
especially those that include a proselytizing component, so that losing in war
for these devotees includes a tacit admission that their faith is inferior to
the conqueror’s or that their faith will be vanquished by the conqueror.
Therefore, when the West defines the war on global terrorism as a war on
qualified Islam, such as Islamo-fascism, which is a highly charged, emotive but
intellectually vacuous term, the West casts a genuine cause that is acceptable
to all rational civilizations into a religious cause of questionable purpose
So based on these earlier jurists’ misleading interpretations and coupled with
the West’s depictions of the war on global terrorism in these charged religious
terms, young Muslims today think not only that all past wars were true
religious Jihad but that current wars that have nothing to do with any religion
are also religious Jihad.
So it is clear that Jihad is not a war of aggression or preemption to conquer
and occupy foreign lands, to possess and exploit the natural resources,
property, lives and futures of others, be they Muslim or non Muslim. To
reiterate, individuals can only battle in genuine Jihad after the proper
declaration from the highest, appropriate government authority. If it is a
religious battle, it must be existential for the religion, for the right to
worship and for the Islamic community.
Those acts commonly considered terrorist actions are an abomination to Islam
and strictly forbidden in true Jihad. Most wars do not meet the high conditions
of Jihad. In authentic Jihad there can be absolutely no killing of any
prisoners and noncombatants; there can be no use of poisonous weapons; there
shall be no atrocities, such as any mutilation of people and animals, committed
in conquered lands; there shall be no raping, pillaging and razing; there shall
be no wanton despoliation of natural resources and necessary killing must only
be done humanely. Therefore, in true Jihad the use of chemical, biological and
nuclear weapons as well as the use of cluster and smart bombs and white
phosphorus, is anathema because it flies in the face of several rules of
Applying these strict and absolute preconditions and conditions of true Jihad
to the fighting today, it is hard, if not impossible, to consider this fighting
Jihad. Nevertheless, such mandatory prerequisites have not prevented horrors
from being perpetrated in the very name of Jihad and of Islam to the great
sorrow of many millions of Muslims. While I do not find in Islam or in rational
thinking any justification that excuses those who engage in atrocities, no matter
what their avowed religious affiliation or expressed motivations may be, it is
also true that not sufficient, objective analysis has been taken to rationalize
their motivation in order to counteract their terrorism.
3. What would you tell suicide bombers who invoke Islam to justify their
Suicide bombers are first and foremost people, not lifeless weapons like
cluster bombs or killing machines like armed airships, so before telling them
anything I would listen to them, their life story, their motivation, their
goals, their reasoning and how they reconcile their intended action not only to
achieve their goals but to stay within Islam and true Jihad. This point is very
important because a suicide bomber in Afghanistan may have a very different life
story, goals and motivation from a suicide bomber in the Occupied Territories.
Further there is a difference between targets: dying in fighting legitimately
against enemy soldiers actively engaged in destroying Islam, the freedom of
Muslims to practice Islam and the Islamic community is totally different from
dying to kill unarmed, innocent civilians who are neither part of or
sympathetic to but under the occupation of an active enemy force. After
listening to the suicide bomber, I would discuss in an atmosphere of “a level
playing ground” the difference between true Jihad and war for political or
other secular reasons. We would discuss, in keeping with Islamic principles of
warfare, alternative and appropriate means as well as the relevant degree of
force, if indeed any is necessary, to directly combat successfully the actual
or perceived threat after it has been defined accurately and fully.
Framing the argument purely in Islam, on the assumption that the suicide bomber
is a Muslim, for not all suicide bombers are Muslim, we would start in
agreement on the most fundamental basis: that the soul is not ours to destroy;
our soul belongs only to God and it is our duty to nourish and preserve it from
harm. From there I would go to the next step of mutual agreement. The Quran
states explicitly and very clearly that Allah commands each Muslim to uphold
Justice and to do good deeds, saying ‘surely Allah loves those who do well to
others’. If necessary, we would return to these two grounding principles of
mutual agreement whenever necessary but the discussion or debate would then
embark using the whole Quran and the true Hadiths as well as the Islamic
principles and historical facts, circumstances and justifications of warfare.
We would engage in critical debate and intellectual curiosity. The point in the
approach and substance would be to make the suicide bomber come to his or her
own conclusion through Socratic questioning and logical reasoning that the
action he or she contemplated is absolutely forbidden in Islam. For someone to
become a suicide bomber, as it is generally perceived, the person first had to
be indoctrinated or brainwashed as well as feel hopeless in resolving the
threat or making things better outside of his or her suicide. Therefore, what
and the manner of what I would say to the suicide bomber would have the goal of
undoing the brainwashing and preventing any subsequent brainwashing through
actual knowledge and personal conviction; by substituting reasoning for emotion
and control for helplessness. My purpose would be to convert the suicide bomber
from an enemy into an ally who could talk to and persuade others from becoming
suicide bombers. Two mistakes the American government has made and continues to
make is converting friends and allies into enemies and not making enemies or
potential enemies into allies.
Ideally, the suicide bomber would through the discussion convince himself or
herself that in the Qur'an violence, as defined in the Islamic tradition, is
absolutely prohibited outside true Jihad whether undertaken by an individual or
by a political or alleged religious entity. The suicide bomber would understand
with conviction that Islam does not accept the justifications voiced today by
terrorists and that wrongful violence becomes a complete abomination when it
associated with Islamic slogans or justifications.
The concept of Jihad is complex for it permits defensive war for reasons
totally outside of protecting Islam, the right to worship and the Islamic
community. However, the same rules of engagement apply. So while the suicide
bomber may defend his or her action by arguing this aspect of Jihad as well as
buttressing this Islamic right with the complementary and equivalent right
under international law to fight against illegal occupation and state terrorism
by a harsh occupying force, I would hope to convince the suicide bomber that
unless the preconditions and conditions of Jihad are met, violence that is
outside Quranic correctness is terrorism.
I believe that we are in a very dangerous situation right now because there is
too much high profile, vociferous confusion in linking suicide bombing and
violence to Islam, as a religion, without the necessary understanding of the
religion being given the same opportunity and prominent airing. Indeed many who
publicly state their confusion between hearing that Islam is a moderate
religion that advocates peace but that its practitioners are extremists or
terrorists only compound the problem by implying that what they hear is false
propaganda. The linkage of violence, suicide bombing and terrorism with Islam
serves the goals of both the so-called Islamic, since I do not consider them
Muslim, terrorists who want their actions to be considered Islamic and others
who know little to nothing of Islam but have their reasons for instilling
global fear of Islam through highly emotive, imprecise and false rhetoric. I
would ask a true Muslim who intends to be a suicide bomber why he or she would
want to help the forces against Islam rather than work for the good of Islam by
explaining the truth about the religion. To put it in stark terms, I would ask
the suicide bomber why he or she believes that he or she loves Islam when the
intended action will only bring fear and hatred of Islam to the religion and
QUESTIONS ON APOSTASY: How does Islam define apostasy? Is it permissible for a
Muslim to convert to another faith? How can laws against apostasy and blasphemy
be reconciled with the Quranic injunction of “no compulsion in religion”?
How does Islam define apostasy?
There is no definition of apostasy, called in Arabic rida, in the Quran but
rather descriptions or incidents although the meaning of the word is well known
as it is used in the Quran. The meaning of rida is turn around, which developed
a similar, negative connotation of harmful betrayal in the Western term,
Is it permissible for a Muslim to convert to another faith?
Aiya 144 of Sura 3, “Al-Imran”, (literally meaning “the family of Mary”)
states:Mohammed (PBUH) is no more than a Messenger and indeed (many) Messengers
have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you turn back on
your heels (as disbelievers)? In addition, he who turns back on his heels, not
the least harm wills he do to God; and God will reward those who are grateful.
This aiya was revealed by God to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) while he was still
alive so it shows that reversion to the original belief or converting to
another religion or belief was foreseen in Islam and addressed. An example of
how Islam, the religion, deals with apostasy and blasphemy is found in a very
early historical event.
Within the first Muslim community led by the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was a man
called Abu Bakre, who was also the Prophet’s father-in-law. Upon the death of
the Prophet, Abu Bakre was elected to be the first caliph, who resided in and
ruled from Medina. Also upon the death of the Prophet, in Najd, central of
Arabia, lived a man called Musaylima who immediately declared himself a
prophet. He urged people to believe in and follow him becoming, within a short
period, a religious leader with a substantial following. While Musaylima kept
to imitate the belief and same practices of Islam, his self-designation as a
prophet was blasphemous because Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was the “seal” of
prophets, meaning that he was the last one. Therefore, Musaylima was a liar and
false prophet. Abu Bakre sent a messenger to Najd from Medina urging Musaylima
to abandon his claim. Musaylima not only refused but also answered Abu Bakre harshly
and put the messenger to death. Upon hearing this news, Abu Bakre sent armies,
one after another. The Muslim army had engaged in a sever wars with fighters
from some tribes of Najd, those wars are known in the Islamic history by the
name of the wars of apostasy.
The intolerance many Westerners see in Islam today derives not from this
application of Islam to conversion but rather other historical events that
presented existential problems to the fledgling Islamic community. Islam had
many enemies and it was the intent of some to infiltrate the community and then
sow sufficient suspicion and dissent to cause physical strife within the
community, hoping it would lead to its demise. These converts to Islam were
false so soon would renounce Islam. Because of the genuine threat to the
community’s continuation, capitol punishment was imposed on Muslim converts,
called “Munafiqoon” or hypocrites. Not only was such a punishment necessary to
safeguard the community from within but it also attempted to insure that anyone
who chose to become a Muslim did so with true intent, respect and commitment to
both the religion and the community. The issues of apostasy and hypocrisy are
very complex, from both the religious and social points of view, and to
compound the matter the issues are so intertwined over the centuries that deep
knowledge is required to separate the issues. Unfortunately many today, whether
they are called religious leaders, experts or not, do not have the sufficient
wisdom to apply the principles correctly. Many intentionally distort what Islam
says or requires for their own purposes and this is true for some Westerners as
much as for some Muslims.
How can laws against apostasy and blasphemy be reconciled with the Quranic
injunction of “no compulsion in religion”?
Quranic law is known as the “Shariya of which there are several different
schools. Because the laws are not monolithic, it is not possible to really
answer this question superficially. Some Islamic jurists have argued that
freedom is granted to all mankind. Therefore, logically, a Muslim can choose
his faith, but these scholars condition this freedom on the convert from Islam
to another religion keeping silent in his practice and speech. In other words,
he is not to proselytize his new faith to the Islamic community in which he
lives. Other jurists completely disagree. By relying on some of the Hadiths, or
prophetic traditions, and interpreting some of the Quran’s verses stating that
Islam is the last, complete revelation by God for mankind, they argue that God
will accept no faith but Islam and so therefore a Muslim has no right to
convert from the one true, last religion. This cha0uvinistic outlook is very
prevalent in other religions, such as evangelical Christianity which believes
it has the only true beliefs that will give mankind eternal life with God in
Blasphemy is unacceptable in all Islamic schools of law. However, some Muslim
countries have created a secular judicial forum to settle civil charges
equivalent to blasphemy so that the accused can be tried outside the religious
judicial system. As in the West, judicial systems have to work for the people
and community they serve. Since religion plays a major role in daily life of
people living in Islamic countries, the law should comply with and serve the
needs of the community. This is no different from what is happening in the
United States with Americans wanting their legal system to change to closer
reflect Christian principles.
QUESTIONS ON WOMEN: What are the rights of women in Islam? How does Islam view
male-female equality? How does this differ from the Western view?
Islam gives women many rights because the Quran clearly states that women are
equal to men although men are given greater obligations to protect women. The
Quran acknowledges the obvious differences between the genders, such as women
being the sole gender to bear children, and their roles in the community. From
a Western perspective, you would find the rights and duties of women in
reference to those of men a combination of “equal but different” but without
the wrongful discrimination, the US Supreme Court found in this concept applied
to racial discrimination and dynamic, complementary equilibrium. With regard to
this second concept the usual analogy is made to pieces of a jigsaw puzzle
fitting together in order to make the fractured picture or, in this case,
society whole, an integrated whole. However, I would add that rather than these
pieces being fixed as they are in a jigsaw puzzle, they are fluid and changing
as well as being fixed because what the Quran states is as relevant today and
in very different societies with their own characteristic and local traditions.
In other words women’s rights and duties in the Quran are universal and to be
expressed or implemented in the “here and now”.
This is purely from a religious point of view and that is the reason you find
some women and men in societies with restrictive traditions limiting the rights
and role of women in their society arguing to be given their rights as stated
in the Quran. For instance, women in the Prophet Mohammed’s community rode
horses; learnt how to swim and swam; actively participated in battles; were
fully educated and according to their ability and learning were respected by
men who sought their advice; owned their own property and were influential and
wealthy business women who ran their own businesses. The Quran forbade in the
absolute the pre-Islamic practice of burying alive the first-born daughter.
Islam forbids slavery. Slavery was not only very prominent in pre-Islamic
society but it was also an economic pillar of society’s financial well-being.
Islam established a system that would allow the abolishment of slavery without
destroying the society economically. Female slaves were treated as property for
their owners to do unto them what they pleased so you can see the Quran first
recognized these women as human beings not as property or chattel and then gave
them rights of equality.
Westerners today become fearful when they see men and women calling for or
demanding women’s fundamental rights guaranteed in the Quran because they do
not know what the Quran, or more correctly God, gives, they do not know how the
Quran’s rights were radical freedoms in the society and at the time of that society
when the Quran was revealed by God. The Quran`s teachings about women were
enormously progressive in their original historical context. Women's legal and
financial rights and equality with men saw dramatic advances over pre-Islamic
social norms. Westerners not knowing this, see, instead, restrictive social
traditions that are given the cover of religion being very harshly enforced by
impassioned religious leaders in that society. This Western view is worsened
dramatically and intentionally by some Western propagandists, such as but
certainly not limited to very influential, high profile evangelical leaders,
who denigrate Islam, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and the Quran, for instance,
by calling the Prophet a terrorist and the Quran the work of the Devil.
Criticism by Westerners of Islam for preventing women from becoming fully
educated and taking an active role in their society’s well-being, for
preventing women from driving and for other things is, therefore, totally
misplaced. Indeed, people forget the first Muslim woman head of state was
Shajrat Al- Durr of Egypt over 800 years ago. More recently, Benazir Bhutto was
Prime Minister of Pakistan. In addition, there are many prominent women held
high seats in the governments of Malaysia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
Another very common criticism of Islam by Westerners is the inequality to
divorce. Generally speaking, it is harder for women to divorce their husbands
than husbands are their wives. However, what is unknown or unstated by
Westerners is that the contract of marriage allows the woman to list all her
conditions that would be grounds for divorce without lengthy procedural
complications that is a divorce pursuant to the contract. If she marries
unconditionally then she faces legal problems if she wants a divorce not
because of Islam but by social norms. In Islam, women are not to be coerced
into marriage and they are not to be prevented from listing their grounds for
divorce or conditions of marriage in the contract. Men do not have this right
in the contract. I should like to add here that while Islam does allow divorce,
the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) strongly disliked divorce unless the difference or
problems between the spouses were genuinely irreconcilable. This is why a man
must divorce his wife three times before it is final and why he must marry
another woman first if the divorced spouses want to remarry. This process is
mediation and has the same purpose many states in the United States now that is
only since the late twentieth century, require before spouses can divorce.
Westerners point out that Muslim men can marry Christian or Jewish women
without their converting to Islam unlike Muslim women whose fiancés must
convert to Islam before marriage. This distinction has social reasons based upon
several premises. First, divorce is not encouraged and that puts an added
seriousness to marriage and the suitability of prospective spouses. Society
wants the marriage to work and for the unit to be harmonious within society for
everyone’s benefit. Second, society is paternalistic and the husband is head of
his household. The children will bear his family name. Third, it is assumed
that parents will want their children to grown up in their religious community
and become practitioners or believers in the same religion as them. Muslims
consider Islam to be the final and complete religion desired and commanded by
God. It is impossible for a true Muslim parent to teach his or her children to
be believers in a different religion, just as it would be impossible, say of
Billy Graham to have brought his children up Muslim while being an evangelical
Christian preacher. A wife and mother will accept that she teach and/or allow
her children to grow up and become believers in her husband’s religion.
Therefore, it is assumed that a Jewish or Christian wife accepts that her
children will be Muslims. For a Muslim wife of a non-Muslim husband to teach
her children to become believers in a religion other than Islam is impossible.
This religious difference, it is assumed, would cause irreconcilable problems
for the family leading to divorce. As mentioned above, Islam requires that
women be protected and so to protect women from this unpleasant situation,
social tradition requires Muslim women to marry Muslim men.
Islamic tradition and values include a very clear picture of gender roles,
especially within the family. The predominant view is that in order to maintain
family order, the husband or father has the final say in matters of dispute.
From this practice, outsider observers may understand that women in Islam have
no equality with men. This social or domestic practice, however, is not
religious; in fact, it is a pre-Islamic practice or a local custom that you
find in Western homes as well.
From the preceding discussion, it is easy to see that Islam treats women’s
rights well within the scope of contemporary international human rights. I
would like to emphasize that the oppression of women is not an exclusive
Islamic issue or problem. Some Muslim leaders just like those in other
religions have often used or misused their own religion to control social
behavior of women and men in various contexts. The roots of female
subordination in social status and abuse by men as evidenced in numerous
societies today go much deeper and broader than Islam.
However, it is true that many Muslim women do not know their rights in Islam
and there is strong concern in the community to educate women on their rights.
This concern is quite controversial in some segments as it flies in the face of
tradition and control enjoyed by some.
Another concern in the community is the proper and full implementation and
enforcement of women’s Islamic rights through competent social institutions and
fair, correct procedures.
I would like to conclude this question by pointing out that Islamic religious
tradition is rich with stories of Muslim women who are role models, for men and
women of all ages and societies, of faith, courage, leadership and virtue.
Abdullah al-Askar is a Professor of History at King Saud
University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He received his PhD at the University of
California, Los Angeles. His studies and publications focus strongly on the
social transformations of the Saudi people, including Al-Yamama in the Early
Islamic Era, which tracks the early political and geographic development of the
Saudi Peninsula. Dr. Al-Askar has participated in a number of international
conferences geared towards improving dialogue between the Arab and Western
worlds, most recently taking part in the US-Islamic World Forum in Doha.