Does Islam show the way to treat women respectfully?

In a remarkable post written for the Independent, Qasim Rashid, an author and a national spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, says the following about Islam's "glorious" treatment of womankind.  (Let's leave aside the fact that many in Islam treat the Ahmadiyya sect as heretical, for that's an internal fight among Muslims.)  Rashid leaves much out, even in the verses he summarizes.

In a recent internationally broadcast lecture given live before roughly 6,000 Muslim women, the Khalifa of Islam said, "Chapter four, verse two of the Holy Quran…clarifies that women were not created out of the body of a man or from his rib. Rather, the Quran testifies to the fact that men and women were created from a single soul and are of the same kind and species."

Thus, the Quran 4:2 first establishes men and women as equal beings. Chapter 4:20 then forbids men from forcing a woman to act against her will, thereby ensuring women maintain autonomy and self-determination. 

This verse also commands men to consort with women in kindness, forbidding men from so much as thinking ill of their wives. This preempts emotional and mental abuse. Chapter4:35 furthermore prevents violence against women by forcing men to control themselves and never resort to physically harming women – preempting physical abuse. 

The Quran further obliges men to provide for a woman's every financial need, while holding that anything a woman earns is hers alone – preempting financial abuse.

And when it comes to the Islamic concept of Hijab, it is men who are first commanded to never gawk at women, and instead guard their private parts and chastity, regardless of how women choose to dress  – pre-empting sexual abuse.

Where to begin with all the information left out?  (Let's use four orthodox translations side by side).

First, the point about womankind being taken out of the rib is that side by side, mankind and womankind work together in equality.  She is not taken from his head or his foot.

Second, Quran 4:2 is about orphans and their wards treating them fairly, not the relations between mankind and womankind.

Third, Quran 4:20 is about exchanging one wife for another.  When the man does so, he must treat the repudiated wife fairly.  It's hard to imagine wife-exchanging as exemplifying Islam's honoring of women.

Fourth, Quran 4:34, just one verse before 4:35, gives permission to a husband to hit his wife if he follows certain steps first.  So it is impossible to see how 4:35 "prevents violence against women by forcing men to control themselves and never resort to physically harming women –  pre-empting physical abuse."  To my knowledge, Islam is the only world religion that permits wife-beating in its holy book.

Fifth, only Muhammad could claim the right to marry just about anyone he desired: "the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage – a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers" (Quran 33:50). 

Sixth, Muhammad dreamed about a six-year-old girl, Aisha, before he married her at nine years young. 

Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle said (to me), "You were shown to me in a dream. An angel brought you to me, wrapped in a piece of silken cloth, and said to me, 'This is your wife.' I removed the piece of cloth from your face, and there you were. I said to myself. 'If it is from Allah, then it will surely be.'" (Bukhari, Marriage, 007.062.057, with small mechanical adjustments. The parenthetical comments are the translator's. Cf. ibid. 007.062.015)

It's not clear that that passage from the traditions is talking about lust, but dreaming of a girl comes awfully close to this vice.

Rashid is sixteen years too late.  After 9/11, several of us wrote about all these strange and even oppressive verses in the Quran and traditions.  He cannot rehabilitate Islam by referencing its holy book until he announces that much of it has an expiration date back in the seventh century.  He can develop theology from it and even religious rituals, but not cultural customs and laws or Muhammad's dubious example.  

James Arlandson's website is Live as Free People, where he has posted Thirty Sharia LawsTen Shariah Laws that Oppress WomenChristianity is fastest growing religion in world, and Rescuing Noah's ark from the flood of science.

In a remarkable post written for the Independent, Qasim Rashid, an author and a national spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, says the following about Islam's "glorious" treatment of womankind.  (Let's leave aside the fact that many in Islam treat the Ahmadiyya sect as heretical, for that's an internal fight among Muslims.)  Rashid leaves much out, even in the verses he summarizes.

In a recent internationally broadcast lecture given live before roughly 6,000 Muslim women, the Khalifa of Islam said, "Chapter four, verse two of the Holy Quran…clarifies that women were not created out of the body of a man or from his rib. Rather, the Quran testifies to the fact that men and women were created from a single soul and are of the same kind and species."

Thus, the Quran 4:2 first establishes men and women as equal beings. Chapter 4:20 then forbids men from forcing a woman to act against her will, thereby ensuring women maintain autonomy and self-determination. 

This verse also commands men to consort with women in kindness, forbidding men from so much as thinking ill of their wives. This preempts emotional and mental abuse. Chapter4:35 furthermore prevents violence against women by forcing men to control themselves and never resort to physically harming women – preempting physical abuse. 

The Quran further obliges men to provide for a woman's every financial need, while holding that anything a woman earns is hers alone – preempting financial abuse.

And when it comes to the Islamic concept of Hijab, it is men who are first commanded to never gawk at women, and instead guard their private parts and chastity, regardless of how women choose to dress  – pre-empting sexual abuse.

Where to begin with all the information left out?  (Let's use four orthodox translations side by side).

First, the point about womankind being taken out of the rib is that side by side, mankind and womankind work together in equality.  She is not taken from his head or his foot.

Second, Quran 4:2 is about orphans and their wards treating them fairly, not the relations between mankind and womankind.

Third, Quran 4:20 is about exchanging one wife for another.  When the man does so, he must treat the repudiated wife fairly.  It's hard to imagine wife-exchanging as exemplifying Islam's honoring of women.

Fourth, Quran 4:34, just one verse before 4:35, gives permission to a husband to hit his wife if he follows certain steps first.  So it is impossible to see how 4:35 "prevents violence against women by forcing men to control themselves and never resort to physically harming women –  pre-empting physical abuse."  To my knowledge, Islam is the only world religion that permits wife-beating in its holy book.

Fifth, only Muhammad could claim the right to marry just about anyone he desired: "the Prophet desire to ask her in marriage – a privilege for thee only, not for the (rest of) believers" (Quran 33:50). 

Sixth, Muhammad dreamed about a six-year-old girl, Aisha, before he married her at nine years young. 

Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle said (to me), "You were shown to me in a dream. An angel brought you to me, wrapped in a piece of silken cloth, and said to me, 'This is your wife.' I removed the piece of cloth from your face, and there you were. I said to myself. 'If it is from Allah, then it will surely be.'" (Bukhari, Marriage, 007.062.057, with small mechanical adjustments. The parenthetical comments are the translator's. Cf. ibid. 007.062.015)

It's not clear that that passage from the traditions is talking about lust, but dreaming of a girl comes awfully close to this vice.

Rashid is sixteen years too late.  After 9/11, several of us wrote about all these strange and even oppressive verses in the Quran and traditions.  He cannot rehabilitate Islam by referencing its holy book until he announces that much of it has an expiration date back in the seventh century.  He can develop theology from it and even religious rituals, but not cultural customs and laws or Muhammad's dubious example.  

James Arlandson's website is Live as Free People, where he has posted Thirty Sharia LawsTen Shariah Laws that Oppress WomenChristianity is fastest growing religion in world, and Rescuing Noah's ark from the flood of science.