FAQ (Frequently Argued Qualm) against Islam #1

This is the first of a series of FAQs that I’d like to dedicate to the bloggers I’ve been discussing with in the recent past. I have already touched upon some of these in the discussions and posts, so please excuse any repetition, but as I keep hearing similar responses (as if mass culturing has been taking place in the online world), I thought it’d be easier if I just put them all in one place for all to see. Once again, honest debate welcomes discussion.

1. Women don’t have equal rights in Islam as men make the rules.Men don’t make the rules in Islam and neither do women. From the Islamic perspective, the rules have been revealed to human beings via the Messenger of God (Prophet Mohammed) and all rules come from God. Some apply to men, some to women and some to both. There are rights of parents, rights of children, rights of families, rights of neighbours, rights of non-Muslims amongst many other rights for other categories of people.

The common misconception is that just because women have to conform to certain rules whilst men don’t, the rules must have come from man. It is understandable that non-Muslims make this assumption, as throughout history women have been oppressed by men. However, just because some rules are different for men and women, doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that they come from man. It just means there are different rules. If men did make the rules, then ALL the rules would have been in favour of the man, and there would be no rights at all for women or rules imposed on men. An honest study would reveal there are many rights for women in Islam.

I’m sure those who wish to attack can find evidences in Islam where men are allowed to do certain things that women can’t. But before you are tempted do that, please bear in mind the point I am trying to make: if men made the rules, why did they give some rights to women? and why did they make somethings obligatory upon themselves?

The trouble in understanding this also stems from the west measuring the woman’s status by using man as a yardstick (aka equality). Whatever the man is able to do, the woman should be able to do too, period. Feminists have been struggling to get the same rights as men throughout history. In Islam, women don’t chase after the rights of the man for status and nor do they submit to man. They submit to what they believe is God’s law and their rights are given to them by Him, not man. It is also based on an understanding that men and women have been created differently and therefore require different rights catering for their respective characteristics and needs.

It’s also worth considering that the simple concept of equality doesn’t necessarily provide solutions. For instance: which parent must give up their job to stay at home to look after the kids? When a woman wishes to have an abortion who’s right is greater: the mother’s, the father’s or the child’s? In case of divorce, who has custody of the children? Islam provides answers on all these circumstances and other complex scenarios where the simple ‘equality’ equation doesn’t.

Finally, if non-Muslims are still not convinced that Islam did not come from man, they should note that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are happy to take these rules as fair and just, including the vast majority of Muslim women. Why are people in the west bent on imposing what they regard as ‘equal rights of women’, upon the Muslim world?

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20 responses to “FAQ (Frequently Argued Qualm) against Islam #1”

  1. honestpoet says :

    I think one could argue that man made the rules but had to concede some rights to women because women would have risen up in defiance if not accorded at least enough to make their lives somewhat tolerable. Men have to sleep sometime, you know.

  2. honestdebate says :

    hi honestpoet,

    i was waiting for this response. wondering who would come out with it first.

    to that one could argue: so why did man impose some rules upon himself and women? why did he prohibit himself from some acts?

  3. honestpoet says :

    For the same reason. Men (and some men know this better than others, and those are the ones writing the rules, usually) have to behave well enough to be able to live with each other, and for women to be able to tolerate them well enough not to set their beds on fire.

  4. honestdebate says :

    interesting, but not convincing enough for me.

    nevertheless not crucial. if you want to believe that islam came from men, you should be able to prove it did. secondly, muslims accept the rules are from God and are happy to accept them. They shouldn’t be forced into accepting secular values. i hope we can agree on that more important note. as if you believed Islam was not from a man, you’d probably become Muslim! as a non-believer, I accept it’s not your belief, but Muslims should be allowed to live by Islam if that’s what they believe in.

  5. honestpoet says :

    I couldn’t agree more. I just made a post the other day about how the Turkish secularists don’t get it, in which I observed that it’s about freedom, about unity in diversity. You can’t ban head-scarves any more than you can demand them.

    I am a secularist myself, but that means only that I feel that religion has no place in government, not that I want all religion eradicated. For some, it works. For others, it’s toxic, and people should be free to choose.

  6. honestpoet says :

    I would disagree, however, that it’s my place to prove that God didn’t make the rules. Carl Sagan said it well: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. To assert that a supernatural being wrote a book is a pretty extraordinary claim.

  7. honestdebate says :

    hi honestpoet,

    from the Muslim perspective, all messengers were given miracles – miracles are things that defy nature – ie, supenatural. Yes it is a pretty extraordinary claim but then so were stories of Moses and Isa (Jesus).

    the way the baby is formed inside tme mother’s womb is described in the quran – when then was clearly no ultra sound. The Quran, brought by Mohammed, is in a distinctly different style to his language at the time – sometimes the Quran was revealed during his speech – and people recognised the distinct style. Of course people can suggest that he made it up, but for 23 years maintaining these two styles is quite extraordinary as well, given that some revelations reveal knowledge of science that Mohammed an illiterate could not have known. He also had a reputation for being the honest one, before Islam. These are historical facts proven in history, not simply belief. the quran is in a distinct style, it does have info about science, Mohammed did exist, and he spread the message for 23 years, the quran is a physical proof.

    the language ofthe quran was also different to the language of the poets at the time. Poetry was a very important part of the culture then, and the poets were challenged to come up with even one verse similar to that of the quran and they couldn’t. about 1500 years since its revelation, not a word has been changed. this is also a fact.

    honest debate

  8. honestdebate says :

    honestpoet, i can’t see your blog address anywhere. wanted to visit your blog if you’ve got one.

    honest debate

  9. honestpoet says :

    HD, you can find my blog by clicking on my user-name. I’d welcome your participation there. While I’m an agnostic regarding physical materialism, and I’m an atheist regarding a personal deity, I welcome civil discourse with believers. There’s a Christian pastor, Monte, who is a regular friend there. (He’s also very friendly to Muslims and does his best at his blog to encourage Christians to disregard the media bias against Islam and to understand that they do not have a realistic idea of what the majority of Muslims around the world believe or feel.)

    I’ve heard the linguistic arguments for the divine inspiration of the Koran before. As a poet, I don’t find them credible (it’s clear that Mohammed was a poet, but I’m not sure that proves anything beyond that simple fact). The arguments based on science don’t work for me, either, because they don’t include the mistakes to be found there. If it were truly divinely inspired, there would be zero mistakes.

    Of course it does have less of them than the Bible, but I don’t read that book, either, or think it is anything but a collection of stories with suspect origins that has been edited and translated with an eye on securing and retaining political power.

  10. honestdebate says :

    will have a look, hp,

    it’s not necessary to be a Muslim to appreciate Islam. Many non-Muslims did in the past. i’m not interested in converting people. by now, most people on the online world have had exposure to the same arguments and if they believed they would have.

    for me, it’s about finding a way forward that is just.

    honest debate

  11. honestpoet says :

    I have a lot of respect for Islam. Rumi is one of my favorite poets and I have read his *Mathnawi* through more than once. At one time, in my 20s, I used to use it as an oracle, much like people here use the Bible, by opening it at random when I felt the need for a little guidance.

    I would have a lot of hope for the world if I felt that most Muslims actually grasped the message of Islam, which I feel is not far from the message of the Gospels (which most Christians also fail to grasp).

  12. honestdebate says :

    I think you’ll find that it is the political aspect of Islam that proves problematic for many. The true message of Islam is realised through it’s practical implementation – an idea that has been labelled as extreme.

    Muslim voices are frequently silenced and some muslims have not grasped the message as a result.

    i respect christians, jews and people of any other faith. and i do so because islam teaches me to.

    my main concern is the inustices around us. the poverty, hunger, inequalities between the rich and poor, national interests that lead to further injustices and discrimination, the social and moral decline and many more. A solution for these must be sought.

    it may sound cheesy, but ‘if we tolerate this, then our children will be next’.

  13. honestpoet says :

    Absolutely! (I’m glad that you respect people of other faiths, but what about people who practice no faith, but have their own idiosyncratic spiritual lives? We are humans, too.)

    Social justice, I believe, is actually the core message of all religions, though they’ve been manipulated by the men in power since the beginning. It’s also the core message of Secular Humanism.

    I’d like to see a way in the future for us to achieve social justice, to remove power from the hands of the super-rich, without violence. I see glimmerings of that possibility via the internet: with the rapid transmission of information and the possibilities for the sort of dialog we’re having here between people whom in the past have been set against each other, there must be a peaceful path to a just future. Because I really do believe in my heart that all humans are the same, deep down, man, woman, eastern, western, of whatever faith or no faith. We all hope, we all fear, we all long to be loved.

  14. honestdebate says :

    oh yes, forgot, people who practice no faith as well. belief is personal and you can’t force people into it. it’s forbidden in islam to force people into belief.

    have you read my first post? it’s a bit immature as it was my first one, but the aim was to reveal some truths about human beings’ ‘self-interest’ that drives them to bias.

    may be of interest to you.

    honest debate.

  15. honestpoet says :

    I think there is a way out of the conflict between self-interest and the rights of others, and that’s to get out of the mindset that sees everything as a zero-sum game. I believe that we can feed everyone with what we have, if we manage things correctly. My prosperity doesn’t have to mean anyone else’s hunger. If everyone worked creatively to find solutions to our problems, we could have a near Utopia on this planet which is actually a place full of Providence. Instead, we are encouraged to imagine that there must always be poor, hungry people. The men in power want us to believe this. It makes the middle class work that much harder to ensure that they don’t fall to that level. And it’s the middle class that make the rich richer.

    Freedom can mean many things. It doesn’t have to lead to selfishness. Freedom is what allows creativity, and creativity is the way to a better future.

  16. honestdebate says :

    the trouble is one man’s freedom is another man’s slavery more often than not. the vast majority of people feel they’re not rich enough to give a share of their wealth regularly to abolish poverty, especially if it meant dropping their own standards of living.

    there’s a saying of of the propeht, ‘if the son of adam had a mountain of gold, he’d want another’.

    you’re absolutely right it is about the distribution of wealth, however most people aren’t willing to give their wealth up for the sake of others, as no one would for them. we are in a system of ‘every man for himself’.

    islam imposes a 2.5% levy on all savings of Muslims that are to be distributed to people who fall into 8 categories defined in the Quran, including those in are in debt. this sum has to be paid annually and the distribution is the responsibility of the state.

    at the moment, people aren’t interested in distributing the wealth. the rich get richer and don’t want to miss out in the competition. you need money to make money and can quite easily mulitiply your money without lifting a finger.

    ‘interest’ is also forbidden in Islamic economics. people aren’t allowed to make money over lending or saving. hoarding large chunks of land is forbidden, if you have land you have to use it, either by building or cultivating. natural resources are the property of the collective people and the people should benefit from them. it should not be privatised for the benefit of a few who have taken claim to it, when it isn’t their right to do so.

    all of these and much more detailed economic principles exist in islam, which i truly believe has the potential to abolish poverty and bring some fairness into this modern world. it did in the past too, i don’t know if you’re familiar with incidents where it was reported that the ruler announced the distribution of the money (those who fall in the 8 categories) adn there was no one there to collect it. there are also some wonderful examples of how the rulers dealt with famine etc.

    compare that to the fat gold plated palaces that are scattered all around the Muslim world, whilst people are literally starving to death.

    the trouble with leaving freedom forces to solve this problem is that the tide tends to flow in the opposite direction, as a true solution would require one heck of an incentive to get the masses to sacrifice – and then you’ve got the problem of possible corruption in human beings executing your master plan (if that makes sense).

    anyway, chatting to you is a breath of fresh air and makes a change from people who do a U -Turn the minute i mention the word ‘islam’. at least you’re not ruling it out before considering it.

    honest debate.

  17. honestpoet says :

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I’m an eclectic: I believe in taking an open-minded look at everything and extracting that which is of value, leaving behind that which is not. All systems have their strong points and their weak points. Cultural creativity, the way toward a just future, demands that we all do so.

    Communism was a nice idea that’s never actually been put into practice, because of the corruption and greed of the party officials, who ended up taking the wealth and distributing it into their own pockets.

    A completely free capitalism is also failing, largely because companies are cheating: they’re externalizing costs like damage to the environment, fair wages, etc. Free trade is hardly fair trade these days when corporations export their factories to countries where lax labor and environmental laws allow them to do dirty business.

    I’m not Islamophobic largely because I regard just about everything about American culture (my own) with suspicion. I’ve been lied to so many times by my own government and by the media (who is supposed to be a watchdog of the government but has been more of a lapdog of late) that I trust very little of what I’m told by them these days. Don’t get me wrong: I love my country. I think its ideals of democracy and egalitarianism are very important. I’d just like to see us live up to them.

    I’ve also delved deeper into Islam, as part of my own spiritual quest, than most Americans, so I’ve seen the good stuff as well as the more negative aspects that the violent extremists showcase for us. I also understand the difference between what is actually encouraged by Islam and what stems from pre-Islamic tribal tradition.

  18. honestpoet says :

    (It also helps that I’m not Christian.)

  19. MarkCh says :

    Honest debate, I think you need to realize that, for people of different (or no) religions to get along, then we have to all agree on certain rules that take precedence over the rules of God. This is logically required, since the fact that we have different religions means that we disagree on whether God’s rules actually come from God.

    In the West, this idea came about slowly, very much driven by the wars of the Reformation up to the Thirty Years’ War, which devastated much of Europe. The conclusion to these wars was the conclusion that people could go to Hell in their own way, as long as we could find common rules to live together.

  20. honestdebate says :

    i agree with what you’re saying, if i’ve understood it correctly.

    people generally just look to get on with their individual lifes, satisfying their basic needs, put food on the table, have clothes and shelter and other ammenities, get an education, access to health care etc.

    Let’s consider the ‘right of free speech’ in the context of Islam. Is it really that detrimental if Islam does not allow people to insult other people’s faiths? No. Do most people WANT to insult other people’s faiths? No. What sort of people WANT to insult other people? People with political agendas, looking to create divisions or unrest.

    The common misconception is that free speech somehow protects human beings from oppression. I can understand how human beings have come to this conclusion over time. However the simple concept of free speech doesn’t solve problems such as this one about insults. life is more complex, we ALWAYS need boundaries.

    Islam doesn’t claim to have free speech. Going back to the question of most people wanting free speech – from my experience most people support the idea of free speech as they’d like to object if they feel oppressed.

    Well this isn’t a problem in islam either. As mentioned before, it is obligatory upon the Muslims to account the leadership – to ensure checks and balances. Yes, human beings can make mistakes and err, this is why the mechanism for accounting is important. That is not solved by free speech, but by the principle of the right to account.

    Because Islam allows for this human error, this is obligatory upon at least a group of Mulsims (and non Muslims are entitled to this just as much – it’s just not obligatory upon them because as you said, it’s God’s law and they don’t believe in it). This ensures injustices don’t become a habit and mistakes are rectified immediately.

    If mistakes aren’t rectified immediately, the leader is removed. there is no concept of waiting for 4 years for the next general election. The first world war lasted 4 years – a lot of damage can happen in a term of presidency. 4 days are too much if he doesn’t rule by Islam.

    Islam gives non-Muslims the rights. people generally just want to get on with their lives. and non-muslims can.

    if you look into it mark, you may find that the rules that non-Muslims often disagree with, don’t actually affect a whole load of them. Free speech – most people don’t want to offend. if they do want to speak out against oppression or injustice, islam gives them this right.

    they can work (and are not treated unequally or exploited – as is the case with most migrant workers all over the world). they can worship (or not worship) as they wish. They can marry as they wish. they can eat and drink as they wish. But the economy is regulated according to the principles of Islam – no interest, no hoarding, distribution of wealth etc. please read my FAQ #2 for more on this.

    The average non-Muslim that doesn’t want trouble has no problem living under Islam. this happened throughout history, and as it happened most people converted to islam after living under it and seeing its justice – but they werne’t forced to under teh sword. – another distortion of our history – that has yet to receive proof.

    anyway, sorry, very long comment. but thought i’d try and answer your questions. if i haven’t explained it properly, i’m sorry, please don’t hesitate to ask further.

    honest debate.

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