Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When Islam discusses the deficiencies of women...

Sheik al-Zindani explains why women can't talk and remember at the same time

The following is taken from an answering-christianity.com article by a "recent convert" to Islam, "Karim", wherein the author makes a valiant attempt to explain away the infamous Bukhari sahih ahadith which seems to tell us that the Prophet thought women were less intellectually capable than men: (Mohammed asked some women, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half that of a man?" The women said, "yes," He said,"This is because of the deficiency of the woman's mind. " Vol. 3:826 Mohammed to women: "I have not seen any one more deficient in intelligence and religion than you*." Vol. 2:541)

Let's see how poor old "Karim" tries to defend the indefensible...
When Islam discusses the deficiencies of women, it is neither insulting them nor belittling them. Note to self: Must try this with Mrs Spinoza - "Darling, when I'm discussing your deficiencies, I'm not belittling you. It's evidently your paltry intellect which leads you to misunderstand me..." Some men, unfortunately, do precisely that when they quote the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that women "have a deficiency in their intellect and their religion". They take these words out of context as a means of oppressing women and putting them down. Really?  Who'd have thought it? The Prophet (peace be upon him) meant something quite different. Oh? Do go on...He said: "I have never seen among those who have a deficiency in their intellect and their religion anyone more capable than women of swaying the intellect of the most determined of men." He is actually asserting here the power of women to influence men and sway their opinion. This is one of the distinctions that women, in their natures, have. Yes - but he is ALSO saying that women are a group characterised by their deficient intellects. Now who could POSSIBLY find offence in that? 
He then went on to define precisely what he meant by these deficiencies. Listen, Muhammad old chap, as Mrs S says - when you're in a hole, just stop digging! In the remainder of the hadîth, some women asked him: "O Messenger of Allah, what is this deficiency in our intelligence and religion?" What a pity the hadith doesn't report the tone of the question of these long-suffering women .."Oh Messenger of Allah - do tell us why we're so stupid, won't you?" He replied: "Isn't it that a woman's testimony as a witness is half of the testimony of man?" They said: "Yes." He said: "This, then, is the deficiency in her intelligence. Q: Why is a woman's testimony worth half of that of a man? A: Because she is deficient in intellect Q: How do we know a woman is deficient in intellect? A: Because her testimony is worth half that of a man. Isn't it true that when she is in her menses, she leaves off prayers and fasting?" They said: "Yes." "Yes"?? Sisters! Come on for f*ck's sake! "Yes"?!? Is that all you can manage? "Must be your time of the month, dear!" "Oh- thank you for pointing that out. Thank goodness I have a clever, intellectual man in the house to remind me of these things." Jeez! He said: "This is the deficiency in her religion."
The Prophet, peace be upon him, simply used this phrase “deficient in mind and religion” to alert them to what he wanted to say to them. Er - as opposed to using words to confuse them, perhaps? The Prophet, peace be upon him, frequently uses such a method, inserting some words that may not be relevant to the point he wants to stress, so that they serve to attract the attention of his audience. OMG, girls! - he WAS using words to confuse you!
And what about the hadith which says Muhammad saw that the majority of those dwelling in Hell were women? This should be good...How are you going to argue your way out of this one, "Karim"?
To start with, the Hadith does not say that most women are in hell. It says that the majority of hell dwellers are women, which simply signifies that more women fail in this worldly test than men. And you think that's somehow BETTER?! Then the Prophet, peace be upon him, points out their failure, which I'm sure went down REALLY well...which is not based on denying God. Rather, it is denying kindness, particularly in marital situations. Here's the spade...there's the hole - we'll just leave you to it, oh Prophet. The Prophet, peace be upon him, has pointed this out in more than one Hadith, warning women against grumbling and frequent complaints. I do the same, Muhammad - but do they listen? Do they? No! They just carry on moaning and whingeing and complaining and...she's standing behind me, isn't she...He is also warning them here against denying kindness by their husbands, highlighting a failing that is often expressed in denying past kindness.
Now all this patronising drivel may seem risible to those of us lucky enough to live without the hegemony of a ridiculous, medieval, clerical diktat. And indeed ridicule is often the only weapon we have to combat the evil of such hateful misogyny. But at the risk of sounding trite - remember that there are influential people, like Sheik al-Zindani in the video, at the heart of Islam who still regard it as acceptable to say (for example) that women are incapable of talking and remembering at the same time. And they use Muhammad's sayings and actions as reported in the ahadith (such as the ones above) to spread their obnoxious beliefs.  


  1. 'inserting some words that may not be relevant to the point he wants to stress, so that they serve to attract the attention of his audience.'

    As get-out clauses go, that one takes some beating!

  2. In what way is al-Zindani "at the heart of Islam"?

    1. In the sense that he was instrumental in setting up the Commission on Scientific Signs (which, along with Bucaille, basically set in train the whole shameful miracle seeking business responsible for so many gullible Westerners converting)and co-wrote the infamous 3rd Edition of Moore's book on embryology.
      He is basically Mr. "Rational Islam"...

  3. You don't even know the half of it when it comes to the women-bashing. What you have highlighted here is mild compared to what there is out there regarding women. Again, as with most of the "issues" these things are to be found in the hadith more so than the Quran (although the Quran does put a female testimony and inheritance as half of a man's): the rest is mainly hadith issues (N:B: hadith & what we today know as sharia law came 200 years after Mohammed)

    There are also things like FGM which are found in none of the texts but are still regarded as Islamic practice (by some muslims and non muslims alike) which just does not make any sense AT ALL.

    there are also massive contradictions in all of the text: women are equal, not they're not, yes they are, no they're not: treat them well, beat them, but treat them well, but beat them and so on and so forth.

    Its really very mixed up: can only describe it as identity crisis - if you treat women bad, thats OK as far as the religion is concerned, and if you treat them well, thats ok as far as the religion is concerned. So - its anybody's guess what is going on with the whole female issues.

    1. This is what my Muslim convert friend has to say on the issue of FGM (after I challenged him on it):
      "Female circumcision is meant to involve a cut in the covering of the clitoris, and it is optional not obligatory. Caliph Umar and several traditional scholars insisted that if it is to be done then the cut should be a slight one. Several modern scholars have passed fatwas prohibiting the severe forms of female circumcision as equivalent to mutilation. If some people cut too deep then that’s a lack of knowledge or an error of interpretation, not an error in the religious guidance. Different interpretations exist as to the purpose. I heard one hadith which indicates that it produces a enhancing effect for the woman during adulthood, others say that it moderates sexual desires."
      I was speechless when received this and I still am.

    2. Regarding female circumcision
      In the case of women, it serves a useful purpose which is to reduce desire. This is seeking perfection, not removing something harmful.
      Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 1/133-134
      This is the view of Imam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him). Ibn Quddamah said in al-Mughni (1/115): As for circumcision, it is obligatory for men and it is good in the case of woman, but it is not obligatory for them. Link: http://islamqa.info/en/ref/9412/insulting%20the%20prophet


      Have you seen it? Have you seen villagers hold down a young girl and cut off the most sensitive part of her with a blunt and rusty knife, causing injuries severe enough that she might bleed to death and then stick her labia together with a needle and thread? Probably you haven't seen it, otherwise there is no way a sane human being would ever see any benefit in this.

      There is no benefit to FGM whatsoever, and there is no need to take such actions to "reduce female desire": estrogen does this all by itself, as does pregnancy, labour, childbirth, and being treated like crap by men. High sex drive is linked to levels of TESTOSTERONE: the male hormone.

      If you query the sex drive of women: just ask a married man and he will tell you there really is no need at all to chop off parts of her vagina to reduce her desire, and if a man requires 4 wives to satisfy him, surely he would be better off with one woman with a lot of desire rather than 4 with none.

      And it is not seeking perfection at all - are you saying God make an error when he made genitalia? FGM kills women. They mutiliate them PAINFULLY, they stitch up their labia (and then later, when that woman is having a child) they sustain life-threatening injuries and have severe pain and problems, more infections, more illnesses and earlier deaths.

      Male circumcision acts like a vaccine: it prevents penis illness later on in life, and it is often the solution to penis complaints in men: with circumcised men having less penis related problems and illnesses than their uncircumcised counterparts over a lifetime. FGM is the opposite - circumcised females get more sick, die more, suffer more pain and get more infections than their uncircumcised counterparts.

    4. @Spinoza - your friend is in big trouble if he is thinking like this Spinoza, and there is no wonder you are in a rage over it. Whilst I find much of your targeting rather entertaining and funny (mainly because I have been on this journey myself), only as someone "on the inside" rather than like you who is looking on from the outside of the Muslim community.

      The truth of the matter is that there are a LOT of Muslim people, scholars, thinkers, leaders etc who disagree with FGM and campaign against it, and work hard against it etc etc. In fact, most of the arguments you outline here in your blog have Muslim supporters and thinkers who are working hard all day every day to try and make changes and make things better: practicing, believing Muslims who agree and disagree like non-muslims.

      The danger with your friend is that he has got to a stage of non-thinking where he is simply accepting whatever information he is being given. He has submitted his thought process to other people -and this is the trap that a lot of people fall into - and actually, extreme, sudden religiosity like that is often a symptom of mental illness - because it is not sanity to stop thinking and it is anti-evolutionary in fact and goes against the nature of survival.

      He is a dodo now. Lost. Running straight off a cliff into a sea of misery and darkness. If you want to bring him out of it - you wont do it by going after the iEra and people like that. You will only do it by stimulating real, deep thought which will require the assistance of reading and research.

      Does he call himself Shia or Sunni? If yes, challenge him - ask him why he calls himself that, when it is clearly prohibited in the Quran to divide yourself into Sects. It will create a split, a gap in his psyche that he can only fill by reading and learning, and as he reads and learns, that gap will widen and widen until his brain comes back out of that fog.

    5. @ ANON, "seeking perfection"??? How can this possibly be the case, when plucking the eyebrows is banned because it is changing the creation of Allah. Are you saying that perfecting the genitalia is a lesser change than plucking the eyebrows.

      Have you even thought about this at all or are you just quoting different scholars who support different things, whilst never for a second considering the bigger picture and noting the clear clashing of principles in all of these arguments?

      You either CAN CHANGE the creation of Allah - and in doing so, admit that the creation needs changing, or you CANT. The principle is the same - the creation is the creation. You cannot accept the genitalia as part of the creation and reject the eyebrow, and you cannot reject the eyebrow and accept the genitalia.

      Or are you saying that every single part of the body has a different set of rules? Because there is not a single verse of the Quran that states any of this - no mention of eyebrows, or body hair, or beard or vagina.

    6. Hi Jasmine - thanks for your comments.
      You're right that my anger stems from frustration with seeing a close friend being hoodwinked and brainwashed. Brainwashed may sound too strong a term, but how else does one explain a western educated, sensitive and kind individual apparently accepting FGM (however minor?) How else does one explain an intelligent man basing his conversion upon the "miracles" of embryology, isostasy etc etc.
      I'm of course aware that there are a huge number (possibly the majority? I don't know...) of Muslims feel the same way as you and I would never seek to question the faith of such people. (Actually that's a bit disingenuous - I will always question faith in the same way that believers will question my atheism)
      You suggest that I will never convince my friend by going after the idiots at iERA. I would agree except that, like so many western converts, his "belief" seems to be based largely upon their claims.

    7. It is brainwashed if he is not thinking for himself anymore. Its one thing to believe in God, another to follow a particular ethos, ideology or religion and a COMPLETELY OTHER thing to abandon your own thought process in favor of another's and without question, especially if submitting to another thought process means that you are not even looking into things for yourself.

      I remember going through a stage in my life where I got very "deep" into Islam and in doing so, became very entrenched in the community, and in being entrenched: was exposed to some things that just did not sit well with me.My response was to read and research and find some "proof" that these things I was not happy about, were really things that the religion requires of me, or something else.

      What I found was that indeed, most of the practices that are common place are not actually in the Quran but are to be found elsewhere. I found Muslims more quickly and able to quote hadith than Quran (with the majority reciting the actual Quran in Arabic language, not able to understand, and the Hadith being taught in English - obviously much easier to understand). And actually, rather than consult books which require the approval of publishers before they are published, many young Muslims rely on Google to find answers to their questions and any crackpot with a computer can run a website, and say whatever the hell they like. If readers are too lazy to investigate for themselves, (which they are), why should they bother about accuracy or truth?

      It did not surprise, shock or raise any questions to the community I was in when I asked them: does it not bother you that you understand all of the hadith 100%, but the Quran you only read in Arabic - able to read aloud and make the sounds but not able to understand?

      They appeared to have no worry, concern or issue around this, but this is how it is.

      In Mosque sermons, this is what they do: they read a hadith in English, explain it to the congregation and have a sermon. Then, everyone stands for prayer - which is done in Arabic, (Quranic Arabic, not the Arabic they speak today - although allegedly very similar): and of that Arabic verses, only about 1% of the congregation actually understands what is being said. They could just as easily be chanting "smack me on the bum and call me george" as they could be chanting "god is great" - seriously: only very few of them understand.

      I know I dont have to point out the significance of this to you Spinoza, and you are probably spotting all of the problems in this already - but this, sadly, is the way that it is. Its the way that it is here in the UK, in Pakistan, In Bangladesh, in Somalia and all of the other countries, and what you should note is that most of the Islamic problems come from countries where Arabic is not their main language, meaning that the teaching of the Quran and hadith relies on translation (wherein much of the original message, is I am sure, lost) and where the translator chooses which words to use to translate and to explain the meaning of something.

      I did a little test, and you can do this also if you speak another language. I translated some terms for my grandparents and had them explain back to me what I was saying - and 9 times out of 10 the meaning was lost, changed, amended and altered. For example, in Turkish (for I am turkish) to call someone a donkey is one of the most awful insults imaginable - worse than the american "ass", and worse than english see-you-en-tea - really, really REALLY bad. But in english - no big deal. Now, thats just a single word, crossed from one culture to another, from one time to another. Imagine now, what is happening with religious teaching en masse in many different countries: relying on translation and explanation to survive....

      I have to stop there because I could write an essay on the subject. I really could.

    8. er - all the problems are where Arabic is not the first language? I'd say there are some pretty big problems even where Arabic IS the first language.
      I don't think one can blame Islam's problems on misinterpretation of the text.

    9. @ Anon - no of course not - and thats not what I was trying to communicate, so apologies if that was implied...

      What I was trying to say (I will try again, only more clearly this time I hope): is that where Arabic is not the first language, you see more inexplicable evils than you do is the Arabic speaking Muslim world. I am not blaming all problems on interpretation - I am just saying that in countries where they rely on translation to understand: there are a great deal more problems.

      Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Somalia (which in my view, are the hotbeds of problematic practices: they are the countries with a lot of first cousin marriage, child marriage, FGM, radicalism and so on and so forth) are such examples of Muslim countries where Arabic is not the main language.

      Closely followed by that are countries like Morocco who speak Arabic but a different dialect / version mixed in with French, along with Tunisia and Algeria. These three counties speak different types of Arabic. You see less incest and child marriage, very rarely FGM and so on and so forth...

      The countries that speak Arabic-Arabic are Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Libya - mostly no-women's rights in these countries.

    10. Hi Jasmine - I'm trying to find the verse in the Qur'an which says that those who recite the Qur'an without understanding it are even more blessed (or words to that effect)than those who recite and do.
      Any ideas from anyone?

    11. Sounds like a Hadith to me

    12. Ah - I think you may be right.

  4. Mr. "Rational Islam" indeed. Has it occurred to anyone here that 'rational' followed by the name of any religion is an oxymoron? Just like 'scientific miracles'.

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