Women are mistreated in Islam
Debate Rounds (3)
I think the trouble lies with a number of factors here. Firstly, I will not as a devout Muslim, claim that all problems we face are due to Western society and the media in general, and I won't hide away from saying, the ignorance is not just from non Muslims, but Muslim too. Many of the translations of the Holy Text are either unjustified, incorrect or simply misleading and do not do justice to the beautiful Arabic words.
In regard to women, many people use the verse in the Qur'an which apparently says 'men are superior to women' - 4:34. But after hearing the rulings of scholars of the Arabic language, the verse actually means 'Men have more responsibility over women'. Now here is a classic example of us Muslims ourselves failing to know the responses to arguments against out peaceful religion. Now in terms of the verse, responsibility must be distinguished from equality. Just because the responsibility is different does not mean the equality is not existent as the Qur'an also says 'men are garments for women, and women are garments for men', where both genders are put in the same boat. So when people argue that all the prophets are male and thus Islam is against women, it must be acknowledged that Islam gives men more responsibility, not rights.
Furthermore, a fault of the media unfortunately, is that it takes the act and intent of a small group of individuals who unfortunately hold governments in Saudi Arabia, to be the view of Muslims in general. What bothers me the most is how the whole of Islam can be painted with a single stroke based on the actions of selfish individuals who advocate that their actions are Islamic. What needs to be acknowledged is that Islam is pure - how do we know, from the example of the Holy Qur'an and the Prophet. Many say that these means are outdated and we should see what Islam is today rather than what it was 1400 years ago.. but here is the reality. We believe the Qur'an always applies, Allah knew what the world would be like today and the Qur'an does apply now. Also, even though Islam is being hijacked today, the pure Islam can only, and I mean only, be showcased by the prophet and his family. So even if so called Muslims are mistreating women, this does not mean Islam is the reason behind it. So Saudi Arabia banning women from driving, voting, even walking without a male Mahram, are not Islamic teachings necessarily at all. They are just actions of a small minority of Muslims.
There's a verse often used to prove men are allowed to beat their wives in a last resort. However again, ignorance has led to the translation somewhat lacking depth. The word used in the verse to allegedly mean 'beat' has also been used in the Qur'an to mean the following to pick a few:
-to get out
And many more.
So when quoting the Qur'an, the verse should be examined with more care.
Furthermore, I'd like to completely reverse the argument now and advocate the ideology which many people fail to address, and that is the fact that Islam actually honours women. When men go for the pilgrimage of Makkah, they circulate the holy house of God with an intention which is 'An - Nisaa'. This means 'the women'. So, it is a man's obligation to bless their wives and the women in their lives every time they visit God. If they fail to do so, according to a major shia cleric, the man's wife becomes unlawful for him. Furthermore, the Prophet put a lot of emphasis on the role of the mother, so much so that he said 'Heaven is under the foot of the mother'. So here we are shown that mothers are in fact the route to Heaven. Furthermore, the prophet has said that the only factor which in the eyes of God differentiates humankind is piety, not race, gender, social standing or wealth. So that is something to take into account.
Now in terms of the Hijaab. Many people think Hijaab is the black cloth a women wears over her head, and I don't blame people for thinking this because the term is misused in all societies. In reality, Hijaab translates to Modesty. And the manner in which women are taught to express this modesty is through covering the most of their bodies and hair. However, to prove that Islam is not favourable towards men, we are also obligated to carry out Hijaab, modesty, and this is something widely ignored by both Muslims and non Muslims. In Islam, men are also not allowed to expose too much body, but the main Hijaab prescribed is to 'lower your gaze' where men are not allowed to stare at the opposite gender. This is also Hijaab, so Hijaab is not a means of lowering women's status, rather it is a means of lowering all of the Muslims pride, in attempt to stay modest.
I'd like to try keep this debate very civilised, many debates start turning into hatred and ignorance. I am however trying to address the fault of not just non Muslims, but Muslims too, in the misconceptions surrounding Islam, a pure, peaceful but in today's world, hijacked, religion.
I'd appreciate a thorough reading of my points and a nice response, as I am genuinely curious of people's opinions and would like to remove such a hideous accusation and misinterpretation regarding my pure religion. Thanks.
1. Everything I say in this debate does not reflect my personal stance on Islam or on any other issue. It is only written for the sake of this debate.
2. I am not qualified to talk about Islam. I understand that there are so many people who spend years and years studying Islam or any other religion for that matter. As a 21-year old I do not have sufficient formal or informal knowledge of theology or of the jurisprudence of Islam to be an authoritative figure of this matter.
3. This debate should not be on whether Islam is a true religion or whether the Quran is a source from God. If you find yourself feeling conflicted, please refrain from voting. If you do wish to vote, please only judge on the basis of the arguments in this debate only and not on some outside knowledge or personal feelings.
4. I will just be arguing on the basis that the Quran REALLY IS THE WORD OF GOD since this debate is not about whether or not the Quran is an authentic source from God.
5. If at any time I feel this debate has become too heated or if it is starting to invoke hatred and negativity, I will forfeit the round because I do not want this to turn into a place to rant about your personal feelings on Islam, Christianity or any other religion.
I will argue that women ARE MISTREATED in Islam.
My opponent starts off by saying that the title of this debate is a common misconception. He then acknowledges that Muslims themselves are responsible for much of the problems facing the Muslim world. To illustrate this point, he claims that many interpretations of the Holy Text (which I will assume to mean the Quran) do not do justice to the Arabic words in which the Quran was originally sent down from God. An example of this being a verse from the Quran which many people are confused about because it seems to disempower woman by stating that men are higher than women when in fact the correct definition is that men have more responsibilities. In fact, there is another verse which shows how men and women are directly equal and the parable used is that they are garments for one other. The fact that there isn't a single female prophet also does not mean that women are less superior than men.
Now, I will begin. My stand is that even if women are equal to men in the Quran, the condition of women in the Muslim world does not reflect this. And that is truly the root of the problem. As my opponent has mentioned that Muslims themselves are responsible for many of the conditions of the Muslim world, they are also very much responsible for the way they treat their women.
When we talk about the Muslim world, immediately images of Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, basically the Middle East countries come to mind. Yes, there are other Muslims living all over the world but we have to admit that these countries are the primary SYMBOLS of Islam since these are the countries where Islam first started. To say that women are equal to men is a hard thing to do when in Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to even drive. They just only recently been given the rights to vote in a few states of Saudi Arabia. In Afghanistan under strict Islamic rule, women cannot even have an education. In some parts of conservative Bangladesh, you should not even have a conversation with a woman if you are a man.
My opponent, later on, claims that this is just the action of a minority of Muslims or there are not pure Islamic teachings.
To me, this is a weak thing to say. How will people know what the true teachings are if the people who are the SYMBOLS of the religion don't seem very capable of showing the true teachings of Islam?
It seems that every time a state or country wants to implement strict Sharia (Islamic) rule, somehow women will the first to suffer. In the very least, they will be pressured to wear the hijab and if they don't they are seen as rebellious and even sinful. A woman is expected to stay at home, be a good housewife, just care for the kids because that's the ultimate importance of their life, etc. If you try to live a professional life, they will look at you sadly and say something like this is not the job for women.
If the correct teachings of Islam were truly implemented, this would not happen. On what little I have read, when the Prophet was alive, women were teachers, even the men went to the wife of the prophet to ask about some things on Islam they were not sure about. Women participated in holy wars alongside the men. Women travelled the world to teach about Islam. It was perfectly ok for women to be in public in bazaars etc alongside men as long as they were not doing any indecent actions. Women were uplifted and were not seen as a source of shame for the family unlike in other societies in the world.
To me, the hijab is not an issue. In Christianity even, women used to have to cover themselves. Much of the fabric of the West is built on the values from Christianity. On the subject of modesty, women used to cover much more of their bodies than is considered normal now. I do think we live in a hypersexual society because men are not, as my opponent mentions lowering the gaze and our standards of how we should dress have become so low, we are confused on what modesty even means, that being almost naked in bikinis and underwear is perfectly normal. So yeah, I don't think the hijab is an issue as long as women are not forced to wear them and they do so out of their own will.
Sadly, these things are not being implemented well in the Muslim world. When did women start to become a symbol for sin? Ok, ISIS and Boko Haram are creations of the CIA to find an excuse to fight the Muslim world.
But as my opponent has already mentioned, are Muslims going to blame outside influences for failure to show the world about Islam? Seems like a weak excuse. As Iraq states, Muslims have a responsibility to rise higher to show the world what they are made of. For this, I have to say that women are MISTREATED in Islam. Yes, they may be uplifted in the Quran, but so long as the Muslim countries do not implement this, then women are still mistreated.
The very definition of "mistreat" means to be treated unfairly anyway. In this case, in many countries, it is my opinion that they are not being treated to the standard which is prescribed in the Holy Text.
If you asked me whether or not women are being mistreated in the West, I would probably say YES too. Women are often almost always defined by their sexual and physical attractiveness. Well, I guess the world is flawed in so many ways.
And somehow, no matter in which culture and which country, it is always harder for women. No matter what they do, they are always judged. That is my personal opinion.
No offense intended and over to my opponent. :)
The first line of your argument is something I absolutely, entirely agree with, and I'm sure many other Muslims will also agree in that 'if women are equal to men in the Qur'an, the condition in the Muslim world does not reflect this'. I also agree that this is the true root of the problems surrounding women. But going back to the title of the debate, 'Women are mistreated in Islam', we need to understand that Muslims around the world do not necessarily represent Islam in its entirety, and therefore it cannot be said that if Muslims do this, it show that Islam teaches it. Much like how the KKK were Christians, but I am confident and certain that the Bible does not advocate such behaviour; these men therefore are merely setting a bad name for their religions.
Now let me clarify the part of my argument suggesting that Muslims are also at fault. Here I mean that ignorance is the greatest problem, and ignorance is not just of non Muslims, but Muslims too. The key being ignorance, not Muslim or not Muslim.
In terms of the idea that places like Saudi Arabia become the focal point when one discusses Islam is a true, yet unfortunate reality. It is heartbreaking for Muslims to acknowledge that the small minority I speak about in my first argument, hold governments in areas such as Saudi Arabia. These small minorities have power which needs to be brought down as they are misusing it to treat different people unjustly. An example is the recent execution of Sheikh Nimr, a scholar who was killed for openly speaking out against the Saudi government. For those who are unaware, due to this execution, Iranians protested outside the embassy in Tehran, and in response, Saudi cut off all relations with Iran. If Saudi are a symbol of Islam today as you insinuated, then this beheading and hasty response should also be something representative of Islam. However breaking and severing relations in this way is highly condemned in the Qur'an:
"And those who break the Covenant of Allaah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allaah has commanded to be joined (i.e., they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives), and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse (i.e., they will be far away from Allaah"s Mercy); And for them is the unhappy (evil) home (i.e., Hell)."
And killing a fellow Muslim is also most punishable: "killing one believer is equivalent to killing the whole of mankind".
Based on this, I'll revert to my first point of this argument, that the actions of people who claim to be Muslim, do not at all represent the religion of Islam. And therefore, when we see that women are not allowed to drive and have very little rights to vote, let us say that this injustice is due to Saudi Arabians, not Muslims, and even if Muslims were at fault, not Islam.
I will touch back on a topic I introduced in argument 1, to once again address your concern that 'These countries (Muslim world) are the primary SYMBOLS of Islam... ' The only primary symbol of Islam however, is the prophet Muhammad. This is because the Qur'an comes in two forms, Qur'an as in the book we all know of, as well as Qur'an An Natiq - the speaking Qur'an. And this speaking Qur'an is the holy prophet, who is the living manifestation of the Qur'an, so if we want a true symbol of the religion, we should look toward him alongside the word of God. And the word of God is "Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are equals of one another." - Holy Qur'an.
Now to address your next point which describes the weakness of one of my arguments. I'd argue that calling an argument weak with no counter argument, but just a 2 line response itself is weak, but I will address your points nonetheless. I have already suggested that these people are not symbols of Islam like you said, however we can agree on the fact that they should be. In fact, all Muslims should be the symbol of Islam and should be able to showcase the teachings of the religion and it is simply upsetting that many cannot. But, there is a very large amount of people who do strive to do so. And that is the aim of any true believer, to be symbol of the peaceful religion. However, often people in places of power abuse this status.
You also said that every state and country wants to implement strict sharia law. However, another misconception which I will touch on briefly, is the fact that sharia law is not a set book or precalculated compilation of rules. Sharia law varies as it is a set of rules which will be decided based on the Qur'an, the Hadith (sayings of the prophet and his holy progeny) and scholars during that time. So, if a scholar says that a woman should be staying at home, that is the interpretation of the scholars. However, the idea that scholars have also got a say by interpreting the Qur'an and hadith to come up with rules and laws, means that they can evaluate whether this would work in certain circumstances and in this era. Therefore, when the Qur'an has a story that homosexuals were stoned to death, this does not mean that sharia law will necessarily encompass this punishment as the story refers to a certain situation and period in history.
Now whilst I feel the above is extremely important in such a debate, I'd like spend the rest of my argument more specifically looking at women. The role of a woman PRIMARILY in islam, is to create and raise a family. It is there job to ensure the safety and correct upbringing of the children. Similarly, a man's PRIMARY role is to provide money for the family and ensure the financial status of the family is in order, it is also a man's job to fight in wars when applicable. However, this does not mean that the man or the woman is restricted to these roles, much like how a woman is permitted to earn a living, a man is allowed to assist the upbringing of a child. They must share responsibility. We see this when both Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali would help their wives in the house. However the ultimate responsibility is the man's in terms of looking after the family. I agree in that some Muslims do not represent this entirely, such as Boko Haram, and it also seems normal for Muslim women not to earn their own livings in places like Saudi Arabia. 1) rules are different for each country depending on the law of the land, even if a Muslim disagrees with the law, so long as it doesn't contradict the Qur'an, they must follow the law of the land. 2) it is unfortunate that women are undervalued by some people but reverting back to the question, this does not mean Islam is unjust toward women as they are not symbols of Islam.
So women are not just tied to the kitchen sink in Islam, they do have more freedom than that as shown by the Prophet. He stopped the burying of female children in Arabia. He introduced female inheritance. Islam allowed women to earn, and that earning would not need to be shared with the family, all of a woman's income can be used in whatever way. Before Islam, women all across the globe were deprived of inheritance and were themselves considered property to be inherited by men. Islam gave women the right to own property and inherit from relatives, which was a revolutionary concept in the seventh century. Whether a woman is a wife, mother, sister, or daughter, she receives a certain share of her deceased relative"s property. This share depends on her degree of relationship to the deceased and the number of heirs. While many societies around the world denied women inheritance, Islam assured women this right, illustrating the universal justice of Islam"s divine law.
A woman is not then made to obey her husband as it seems in Saudi Arabia, she is permitted to refuse a marriage proposal and divorce at any stage too.
Your opinion shows your decency and open mindedness where you say that Muslims are not treating women to the standard in the Holy text. This is my argument, that Islam does not prescribe injustice to women, but some people, either because they think they are true but have in reality been deviated, or simply due to ignorance and to satisfy their own hidden agendas. I also really appreciate your acknowledgement that the west do not value women enough, in fact, Islam brought about womanly rights and female inheritance laws well before our 'developed countries'. I will give you a story about how women should be approached by Muslims. An old man was trying to close the shutter of his shop but was too weak to do so due to his age and frail state. A young muscly man walked by and he closed the shop for the old man. Thereafter, a young pretty woman walked by and the young man stated at her while the older man immediately lowered his gaze. If considering an Islamic point of view truly, the stronger man would not be the young muscly guy, but it'd be the one who was able to lower his gaze and deny his desires from overcoming him.
This is because women should not be treated as objects which can be used to satisfy ones desires, and also it shows that a man should carry out modesty, our looks should not matter, our spiritual aesthetic matters more.
However, the backbone of my argument is that some Muslims have misinterpreted Islam and unfortunately, those Muslims happen to hold governments and status' of power and therefore, we should differentiate the actions of these Muslims to that of Islam. And if we want to do this differentiation, we must compare these horrible individuals to the purest version of Islam, the Prophet and the closest we can get to that status today, is the true scholars, ie Sayyed Ayatullah Sistani and other major scholars like these.
I have purposely repeated the idea of deviated Muslims vs Islam to instill the fact that Muslims should be, but aren't symbols of Islam necessarily.
No offence intended and over to you
You have gone to great lengths in providing evidences of how women are uplifted especially when you consider the degradation women used to endure before the Quran was revealed, so much so that the status of women are at par with men. The only way I see I can counter this is either:
a) Arguing that the rules set for women in Islam is unsuitable for this day and age;
b) Arguing that the Quran was not really sent down by God and therefore written by people who have limited knowledge of what rulings to set
Sadly, I feel that I will not be doing this. Even if I did, this debate will never end and it will go on and on because I do think there is a limitation to what we think is "right" and "wrong". The definitions of morality and of what should and should not be is a wide spectrum and I will not be going down this road. Anyway, I have said that I will take the stand that the Quran really IS the word of God and therefore, all teachings inside are for the good of humanity even if we cannot see those benefits yet.
The thing is the title of this debate is "Women are MISTREATED in Islam". It is not "Women are equal to men in Islam" or "Women are uplifted in Islam" or "Women have more dignity in Islam as opposed to other religions". If these were the titles of this debate then you have probably already won. CASE CLOSED.
The thing is when the word "mistreated" is used it signifies that there is a certain benchmark that has to be achieved. Clearly, I have defined the topic as to mean that women in the ISLAMIC WORLD are not treated to that level of dignity as prescribed in the HOLY TEXT. And here is where I think the problem is. You are arguing on the wisdom of the Holy Text but that is not what I am arguing about.
To me, you absolutely have to look at the condition of the women in Muslim countries. If you just argue only about the wisdom of the rulings for women in the Quran, then how in the world are you going to compare that with anything?
Go back to the word "mistreated". Against what benchmark do you judge women to be mistreated? If you ignore the situation in Muslim countries and only look at what the Quran prescribes, then I think that there is no benchmark for you to say whether they are mistreated or not.
When the Quran was revealed, people could see that it's teachings were beautiful because the condition of their women did not yet achieve the standards prescribed in the Holy Book and using some judgement they could see how beautiful those teachings were. Only then were they able to say "oh, women in our society have been MISTREATED all this while." You need to have that benchmark to compare against.
You also made a factual error when you said Iran protesters protested in front of the embassy. They did not just protest. They crashed into the place and lighted it up. I hope you are not selectively describing things because that seems to be another problem among religions. Selectively interpreting what they want to interpret to benefit themselves.
I am sorry if I am being extremely inadequate in my arguments. I think you expected this to be a very high-level theology debate with arguments about morality and so on.
You say that if we should not judge Islam based on acts of people in the so called Muslim world, what can we base Islam on? I completely sympathise with this view however as a Muslim I can say that after much research I do not have any doubt about Islamic treatment of women. And therefore the cure for such doubt is research. Comparing the acts of Boko Haram to the acts of Prophet Muhammad. Finding the disparity between such actions with that of the Holy Qur'an. I will give you an example. I know someone, an adult in her 50s who went through some experience in her youth where she acquired the opinion that Islam mistreats women. She held this view for very long and it started getting stronger and stronger due to what's going on in the 'Muslim world' today. However now her view is in fact very sympathetic towards Muslims and Islam in that she read the full Qur'an, back to front, and found how different this was to her own beliefs and she now even feels guilty in regard to her generalisation of Muslims. So what my counter would be is that the only thing which can be used to find true Islam, is the Lord and his Messenger. And this can be established through research.
If the question was do some Muslims mistreat women, it'd be safe to say that yes, people who claim to act Islamically do mistreat their wives for one of two reasons
-they have an honest misinterpretation of Allah's rules
-they want to abuse the responsibility which Allah granted men in the Qur'an; "Men have more responsibility than women".
Unfortunately, the more common of the two is the latter. And this is yet another unfortunate reality but I'd like you to bear in mind that this is not just happening now, since the time Islam was created, there were groups of people who have misinterpreted Islam and wrongfully acted with the name of Islam. This is also in regard to women as they were being buried alive. But Islam is in fact the institution which stopped this mistreatment.
In terms of my factual error, I'm not sure about you, but crashing into the place and lighting it up is a protest, but maybe I did underestimate it in my explanation. Selectively cherry picking information wasn't my intention, as that would make me a hypocrit - that is often what terrorists do when trying to quote the Qur'an, such as the quote 'Kill them wherever you find them' which is used but out of context as this quote applies to a certain circumstance, and it also says 'fight those who fight against you but do not transgress. Sorry if it appeared as though I was doing this foul behaviour. Nonetheless, the points I was trying to make were that of a corrupt Saudi government where they execute people for disagreeing with them, and cut ties with other countries and people.
You have continually stressed the word mistreated within your arguments, and I'd like to make it clear that women in countries ruled by Muslims, are being horribly mistreated. But Islam does not preach such behaviour. I mentioned some examples of how Islam is very contrary to these beliefs and I don't wish to be repetitive and repeat them.
However something I would like to repeat is the fact that Prophet Muhammad was the living embodiment of the Qur'an. Therefore, one must understand the Text according to Prophet Muhammad"s understanding and practice. He told his followers that the best among men is the one who is best in his treatment to his wife and also instructed that "husbands who beat their wives are not the best among men."
I agree that we have to look at Muslims to see what Islam is about, well at least we should be able to do so in an ideal world. However that is not the case for Muslims who are living under corrupt rules and governments. The other nearly 2 billion Muslims around the world strive to be the embodiments of Islam. Most moderate Muslims do not believe in beating their wives and overpowering them. Yes, in an ideal Muslim country, women would not have higher roles than men and in prayers, women are instructed to pray behind men, BUT these differences don't mean they are not equal human beings, they are. Whilst Muslim women shouldn't be mistreated and locked in their homes cleaning all day, they should not have more responsibility than the man. They can still be treated equally in that they can go out and make a living. Such as the wife of the Prophet, Lady Khadija. She was one of the richest people in Saudi Arabia and successful businesswoman, she wasn't at all restricted.
I do not ignore what happens in Muslim countries, I am in fact very vocal about how I absolutely disagree with what's happening. What I feel you should distinguish the difference of is
- ignoring what's happening
- trying to differentiate what's happening to what Islam is about.
So, my very repetitive argument is based on the fact that Muslims women in so called Muslim countries, are being mistreated for sure, but they are not truly acting in the name of the Allah, no matter what they say. I'll link this with groups such as Da'esh. They are not acting in the name of Allah when they execute people like that, even though they claim to be.
Forced marriage is highly highly prohibited in Islam, yet so many people in Saudi, in Nigeria specifically, are being forced to get married and killed upon refusal.
For the voters, from my minimal experience in the 15 years of my life, I have been lead to believe that most people in the West are under the general impression that Islam is unjust to women. But I would stress that people should not base their beliefs solely on what they hear on the news, what is going on around the world, but should rather RESEARCH and find for themselves that maybe Islam is not the root cause of such inequality. Maybe there are hidden agendas. And this way, I believe slowly, this misconception can be wiped out. We should all, Muslims and non Muslims come together and disagree with the way in which certain countries govern, by killing people for simply practicing their right to free speech, by beating and overpowering women and by cutting relations with all countries. Together, as a unit, provided research is done about Islam, everyone can voice their opinions. And even if Saudi can kill one man for doing so, they can't do that to the whole of humanity.
So, when voting, please read this carefully, please research and please differentiate the act of a minority of Muslims to that of Islam in its purest form, the Holy Prophet.
Thanks for this debate. It is one which 10,000 words and 3 rounds is nowhere near enough, but my goal of this debate is not to win or to get recognition, it is merely to show people what Islam teaches against the mistreatment carried out around the world. Thanks also for keeping it civilised, many times a debate becomes too heated, forcing me to withdraw, not necessarily on this site, but in real life too.
Thanks. And I apologise if I offended you in any way.
Enlighten is my account name, so I hope you are enlightened!
Thank you for this debate. And thank you for your extensive arguments and explanation. Hopefully, there are those who will get some benefit from this discussion.
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