Daily Events Top

Does Islam oppress women? A feminist says no

Does Islam oppress women? A feminist says no

It’s hard to believe that a young woman growing up in America’s Deep South would choose to convert to Islam because she is a feminist. With bad news focusing on ISIS’ enslavement and torture of women, Hamas’ use of women and children as human shields, and Boko Haram kidnapping young Christian girls from their schoolyards all with the common quest to implement Sharia Law, Islam just isn’t the religion that comes to mind when I think of women’s rights and equality.

Still, in her CNN op-ed, Islamic feminist Theresa Corbin expressed, “Surprisingly, Islam turned out to be the religion that appealed to my feminist ideals.” She continued, “I came to realize Islam is a world religion that teaches tolerance, justice, and honor and promotes patience, modesty, and balance.”

This feminist’s writings, however, focus on her emotions, as well as Islam’s cultural appeals (which apparently include arranged marriages), and not its faith teachings.

It is the same emotional, reductive argument that recently triggered Ben Affleck and Bill Maher’s fiery debate over whether Islamist conquests of oppression and destruction in the name of the Caliphate are a core tenant of the faith. Essentially, Bill Maher said, “look at the text” and Ben Affleck said, “look at the people.”

Let’s turn to the Qur’an and Hadith to read what Islamic holy text says about women’s equality:

“Your wives are a tilth for you, so go into your tilth when you like, and do good beforehand for yourselves, and be careful (of your duty) to Allah, and know that you will meet Him, and give good news to the believers.” (Qur’an 2:223)

Don’t miss the Qur’an’s instruction for husbands to beat their wives without question:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them refuse to share their beds,beat them; but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means: For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).”  (Qur’an 4:34)

“And take in your hand a green branch and beat her with it, and do not break your oath…” (Qur’an 38:44)

Not exactly the slogans of today’s feminists, eh? It gets worse for women according to the Hadith, which are Islamic writings outside of the Qur’an but of great significance. Women are only as valuable as their procreation and, yet again, men are allowed to beat their wives without question. Consider these Islamic prescriptions:

 “A man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: I have found a woman of rank and beauty, but she does not give birth to children. Should I marry her? He said: No. He came again to him, but he prohibited him. He came to him third time, and he (the Prophet) said: Marry women who are loving and very prolific, for I shall outnumber the peoples by you.” (Abu Dawud 2045)

“…but when Umar came to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) and said: Women have become emboldened towards their husbands, he (the Prophet) gave permission to beat them.” (Abu Dawud 2141)

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife.” (Abu Dawud 2142)

All this evidence raises the question: if you’re not following Islamic holy text, are you truly Islamic? Then again are you really a feminist if you follow a faith where unborn life is valued and marriage is only recognized between a man and woman (or many women in Islam’s case)?

While I interned briefly with a pro-life non-governmental organization (NGO) at the United Nations, my biggest anti-abortion allies were Muslim countries. Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, and Iran all countered the weighty feminist presence at the international level when it came to life and same-sex marriage. No, you’d never find these Muslim delegates reading The Feminine Mystique during break time.

The great thing about religious liberty is that Corbin has the right to try and juxtapose feminism with her Islamic faith, no matter how contradictory. She has that choice because in America she is afforded freedom of conscience. Unfortunately, her sisters in faith living in Islamic states aren’t so liberated.

Chelsen Vicari serves as the Institute on Religion & Democracy’s Evangelical Program Director and is the author of Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel & Damaging the Faith.


Sign Up