Islam musings

July 16, 2007

There is a postcard on Post Secrets that is very true for me. Despite everything, I still love and respect my mother, even though we clash far too often.

There there are other women whom I admire, who are partially the reason why I get up in the morning and am proud to say that I’m a woman. They are part of the reason why I NEVER regretted being a woman. More importantly, they debunk the myth that women are merely fillers to men; they prove that not only can they stand equal to men, but that they are their own people, their own identity.

One of them is this courageous soul. I remember being outraged by the case when I was in college, and my joy that the woman, Amina, was acquitted. What I didn’t know was that she had been defended by another woman. In places where the Syariah court rules, it’s not very often that a woman is defended by another woman and she’s acquitted. But this perception also outlines another problem in Muslim-led, Syariah-based countries; that they are only allowed to defend themselves by men. This leads to most people accusing the Syariah court of gender bias, especially when it comes to cases that pits a woman’s word against a man. A man is considered to be superior to a woman, and she gets left by the roadside. Case in point? Hauwa Ibrahim, Nigeria’s first female lawyer who defended Amina successfully, still had to get a man to be her mouthpiece. Is there a problem speaking to women directly, judges?

There are many who say that this is because a man’s responsibility is greater than a woman’s, therefore it is only fitting that they should be given more responsibility. I don’t have an issue with that. If the laws of your religion say that, that’s fine with me. What I DO have a problem with is the interpretation and twisting of the law that does not allow recourse to the women. What I do have a problem with is the decision to take the law literally, rather than the spirit of it, which would enable more women to seek recourse in the Syariah courts rather than choosing to abandon Islam. What I have an issue with is the many times a woman gets sidelined because she’s not a Muslim. She gets sidelined because she’s a woman, although Muslim.

Is this unfair?
Yes.

Is this in the Spirit of Islam, the so-called Great Belief? (bear in mind that I’m speaking from the perspective of a non-believer)
No.

I may not believe in Islam per se (I have a distaste right now for most organised religions) but I believe it outlines the basic principles of living well in this day and age, no matter your religion. According to one translation of the infamous “Four men must testify to the rape,” I would like to ask a simple question:

Are we talking literally, four men have to be there to watch the girl being raped? Or is it that they are character witnesses who are there to defend the young woman?

I’m not bashing Islam, far from it. I just want a greater understanding of it. I live in this country too, remember?

5 Responses to “Islam musings”

  1. Edmund said

    Literally, from what I’ve heard. That’s Islam for you all right.

    Oh, and expect less Malay friends in Malaysia. The religion is all they have for their sense of security.

    Geminianeyes: That’s the funny thing, you see. I’ve read in PAS articles that appeared in the Sun that the 4 men are character witnesses. If I’m not wrong, that’s what Sisters in Islam say as well. Yet most of these other countries seem to take it literally. So what gives?

  2. Edmund said

    Hmm, vague. If I’m not suppose to take it literally about them having 4 men as witnesses to the rape,how exactly the amount of 4 person (male/female) actually matters?

    Geminianeyes: They’re supposed to be character witnesses, to say that the girl did not berzina with the guy, therefore saying that the guy had raped her, rather than her having premarital sex.

  3. Edmund said

    Oh, so the amount of 4 men strengthens the credibility of their statements to defend or to accuse the raped. But I still can’t see how is it fair this is to women, especially if they’re really raped.

    Geminianeyes: If you take into account the circumstances in which the Law was originally drafted then it makes sense. In this day and age, of course it doesn’t.

  4. Tiara said

    Yeah, it’s important to see the context of the law. What’s the story of the Surah it’s in? Why was that rule brought up? We can’t just take sentences in isolation. Having the 4 men be character witnesses make sense, because if they were at the rape, it would have been their responsibility to ensure the rape doesn’t happen!

    Geminianeyes: The rule came from people accusing Aisha, Prophet Muhammad’s wife, of adultery. 3 witnesses spoke of her adultery, thereby Muhammad (or so I’ve read) says that there has to be 4 witnesses. Interestingly enough, the Surah this is from, surahs 4.15 and 4.24 speak about adultery and nothing about Rape. It would seem that the requirement is more for adultery rather than rape.

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