I received a text containing an interesting website. psychologytoday.com. I came across several great articles and I was compelled to write about one in particular. The Mystery of the Veil, by Jaime Booth Cundy sparked this post.
In the article, Cundy discusses a new Belgium law which bans the covering of one’s face in public. Clearly, the law is designed to prevent Muslim women form wearing their traditional headdress, the Niqab and Burqa. The proponents of the law claim they are attempting to improve women’s rights, but I agree with Cundy, who suggests there is no difference between forcing a woman to wear a headdress and forbidding a woman from wearing one. It should be the woman’s right to decide whether or not she wants to wear a headdress.
The article is interesting and Cundy makes some great points. (I suggest googling the title and reading the article.) It is funny what happens when humans use religious texts to promote their own views. Islam is actually an extremely peaceful and tolerant religion, but the world perception is completely opposite because of a few extremists and a fundamental misinterpretation of the text. The true Muslim has a duty to follow in the tradition of the Prophet. (Obviously, I don’t believe in the Qur’an or the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad, but I know enough about the faith to voice an opinion.)
Mohammad considered women his equals; the downgraded role of women in Islam is the result of the Caliphs (leaders) who followed the prophet. Mohammad’s wives did not wear the veil until after he died. The veil was actually part of the Christian tradition; it was a sign of being a member of the upper-class, and was not required by the religion. The Qur’an commands people to dress moderately, not veiled. Some conservative man made the decision to force women to wear the coverings in public, based on his interpretation and the tradition was passed to future generations.
The Prophet’s wives were allowed to participate in the religious discussions; they were active and respected members of the faith. (Yeah, I said wives. You didn’t think a guy would be given the title of God’s Prophet and not use it to have more than one woman, did you?) Polygamy is technically allowed in Islam, but men must treat each wife equally, which is impossible, so it is unusual to find a Muslim man with more than one wife. (There is an interesting documentary named Women of Islam, I suggest people view it!) The belief in Islam is, men are responsible for providing for the family, but the interpretation was determined by men who lived in a misogynistic society. It is interesting to note that the first written copies of the Qur’an were given to the wives of Mohammad after his death in 632CE.
Professor Leila Ahmad is an educated woman who is leading the movement to provide a current interpretation of the Qur’an. The hope is that Muslim women will be given more rights in the Islamic world. She probably won’t be able to make the changes which she desires, but there is hope that a young lady who follows in her footsteps will be able to remove the negative aspects from the religion. The women of Islam enjoyed greater freedoms until the Caliphs, who followed Mohammed, changed the tradition and forced women to become second class citizens. One of the Prophet’s wives, Aisha actually led Muslims in battle after Mohammad died. There is no sexism in the Qur’an; the sexism comes from the male interpretations.
Before we judge a woman wearing a Muslim headdress and feel sorry for her, we need to keep in mind that, “We may not understand why, we can point out that according to our interpretation of the Qur’an it does not say that a woman must remain covered, but yet there are women in the world that believe that they should be fully covered, and they make the choice to do so. What are we saying to these women if we tell them that they are brainwashed, or that they are misinterpreting their own religion? Are we not telling them that they aren’t intelligent enough, or free enough, to make their own decisions?” –Cundy.
The problem with religion is the fact that people become insane. The faith becomes more important than their family members. “What the HELL is an Honor killing?” For those who are unfamiliar with the practice, honor killings occur when one member of a family decides to kill another family member who he feels has dishonored the family name. This usually occurs when a father or brother kills a female form the family who cheats on her husband or has premarital sex. Honor killings are usually unreported and unpunished. (There are places in the world where the practice is widely accepted and encouraged.) Nothing says honor like killing your daughter! Honor killings have nothing to do with Islam; they are the result of misinterpretation of the text.
There are many horrible examples of honor killings, but I will only mention one which I found particularly disturbing:
“Kifaya Husayn, a 16-year-old Jordanian girl, was lashed to a chair by her 32-year-old brother. He gave her a drink of water and told her to recite an Islamic prayer. Then he slashed her throat. Immediately afterward, he ran out into the street, waving the bloody knife and crying, ‘I have killed my sister to cleanse my honor.’ Kifaya’s crime? She was raped by another brother, a 21-year-old man. Her judge and jury? Her own uncles, who convinced her eldest brother that Kifaya was too much of a disgrace to the family’s honor to be allowed to live. The murderer was sentenced to fifteen years, but the sentence was subsequently reduced to seven and a half years, an extremely severe penalty by Jordanian standards.”
A new phenomenon, which is a direct result of the honor killings, is vaginal rejuvenation surgery. “What the heck is that?” This is when a woman pays a plastic surgeon to restore her hymen. (Now that’s what I call a born again virgin!) Women from the Middle East travel to the United States in search of a better education; while here, they have premarital sex, a result of assimilating into our “superior” culture. These women pay to restore their hymen so when they return to their homes, their husbands will not be able to discover the truth about their sexual pasts. In some cultures, the mother-in-law will examine the woman to see if she is worthy enough to marry her son. If a daughter is returned to her father because she was deemed to be impure, the father will usually kill her. Honorably of course!
Although I do not believe in any religion, I think it is important to make a clear distinction between the true heart of a religion before we make judgments. Islam is a tolerant, peaceful, pro-woman religion; it’s the men who changed the original teachings of the prophet in order to take control. The next time you hear someone say, “I don’t like Islam because women are mistreated.” You’ll understand that the mistreatment of women is not a part of the actual religion.
From the point of view of someone who does not practice religion, I can only ascertain that the goal of most religions is to separate. We may view the honor killings as an extreme practice, but we must not forget that religion causes Christian fathers to disown their unmarried pregnant daughters, which I consider a lesser form of honor killing.
Knowledge and understanding are the keys to change! Not Barack Obama, “he is a long-legged Mack Daddy!” (YouTube ‘Barack Obama is a Mack Daddy’…I love those videos! Pastor Manning is insane! RELIGION IS AWESOME!)
For tomorrow’s post, I will discuss another article from the website which I found truly enlightening!