Is Islam a Wife-Beating Religion?

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The Wash Post yesterday carried two provocative pieces about women's status in Islam. In "How I Came To Love the Veil," Yvonne Ridley, a British journalist who was captured by the Taliban while going undercover in a burqa, explains why she ended up converting to Islam a few years after her captivity. She claims that the violence against women endemic in Muslim countries "have nothing to do with Islam"; rather the violence and subjugation stem from independent "cultural issues and customs." Western male critics "go on about veils, child brides, female circumcision, honor killings and forced marriages, and they wrongly blame Islam for all this—their arrogance surpassed only by their ignorance."

Ridley argues that Islam is really the theological equivalent of The Traveling Sisterhood of the Ya-Ya Pants, a tight-fitting vehicle for empowerment and liberation: "A careful reading of the Koran shows that just about everything that Western feminists fought for in the 1970s was available to Muslim women 1,400 years ago."

Ridley then undercuts her close-reading argument (let's forget for the moment that "careful readings" often have nothing to do with how religion is practiced):

As for how Muslim men are allowed to beat their wives—it's simply not true. Critics of Islam will quote random Koranic verses or hadith, but usually out of context. If a man does raise a finger against his wife, he is not allowed to leave a mark on her body, which is the Koran's way of saying, "Don't beat your wife, stupid."

More here.

In another Post piece, "Clothes Aren't the Issue," Asra Q. Nomani, who born a Muslim in India and raised in West Virginia, begs to differ. She talks about the large following among imams for "a literal reading of the 34th verse of the fourth chapter of the Koran, An-Nisa , or Women. '[A]nd (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them,' reads one widely accepted translation."

Verse 4:34 retains a strong following, even among many who say that women must be treated as equals under Islam. Indeed, Muslim scholars and leaders have long been doing what I call "the 4:34 dance"—they reject outright violence against women but accept a level of aggression that fits contemporary definitions of domestic violence….

Last October, I listened to an online audio sermon by an American Muslim preacher, Sheik Yusuf Estes, who was scheduled to speak at West Virginia University as a guest of the Muslim Student Association. He soon moved to the subject of disobedient wives, and his recommendations mirrored the literal reading of 4:34. First, "tell them." Second, "leave the bed." Finally: "Roll up a newspaper and give her a crack. Or take a yardstick, something like this, and you can hit."

Nomani's case (full thing here) doesn't directly rebut Ridley's that larger cultural issues may be in play here (though Ridley's dream of a protofeminist paradise in Islam's earliest days is a real groaner, as is her unwillingness to deal with the inter-related nature of religious and cultural life under, say, the Taliban). It's useful to put such sentiments in historical perspective. Well into the 20th century in the West, wife beating, if not exactly condoned, was tolerated in a way that's unimaginable today (think of the scene played for laughs, say, in The Quiet Man, where an Old Irish nag offers up a thick branch to John Wayne to beat Maureen O'Hara with).

Arguably, Islam predominates in societies that haven't embraced equal rights for women (or, for that matter, representative democracy in general) and that's the real problem, even if the Koran lends clear sanction to the physical abuse of women. From the point of view of those on the receiving end of widespread violence, that distinction may not be that important.

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  1. well as my father used to say,

    “spare the rod, spoil the wife”

  2. “A careful reading of the Koran shows that ____________.”
    Anything you damn well want it to show.

  3. Is this another veiled threat?

  4. I think it’s very simple regarding this Yvonne Ridley broad. She is so blinded by her hatred of the West, that she would join anything that is its antithesis.

    “Cthulu hates Tony Blair and George Bush? Hell, sign me up! All praise to the Dark Dreamer!!”

    Self-loathing is such a corruptive thing, both to an individual and to a culture. Hatred towards oneself, and to one’s way of life, is an especially perverted form of egotism. Ironic this twit accuses others of being “ignorant and arrogant”.

  5. Or it could be a really severe case of the Stockholm Syndrome.

    Having talked with a number of guys from the relatively tolerant UAE, they appear to spout a lot of the “beatings are A-OK” rhetoric.

  6. If a man does raise a finger against his wife, he is not allowed to leave a mark on her body, which is the Koran’s way of saying, “Don’t beat your wife, stupid.”

    No, it’s the Koran’s way of saying, “Make sure all the injuries are internal.”

  7. I think it’s perfectly natural for children to be rebellious, and even spiteful towards their way of life, because it works out issues of self-identity. But usually, as we mature, we find a balance.

    I find it interesting how the hard-left is a perpetual kindergarten of idiots who refuse to grow the fuck up.

  8. If, as my experiences corroborates, 90% of what Westerners attribute to Islam because the overwhelming majority of Muslims attribute it to Islam, who’s the more ignorant and arrogant? The ones who takes their word for it or the ones who don’t know their own religion?

  9. It should be noted that translations of Quran 4:34 differ significantly. Although the Daewood translation, probably the most widespread of English versions, does say “beat,” the majority of other translations do not, nor do they indicate physical violence. I do not know if that is because they are more accurate or because those translations are infected with political correctness. One of the annotated translations explicitly addresses the issue, and uses as one of its principal reasons for rejecting the more troubling translation is that Mohammed would surely never have recommended anything like that(!) In fairness to Mohammed, however, his advice was probably more civilized than the usual practice of his time — at least he would warn them first.

  10. I agree with Nick; it doesn’t matter whether the Koran supports or condemns wife beating; it’s a common and accepted practice in Muslim countries and there is virtually no effort to correct that problem. Whether this is cultural or religious is a distinction without a difference to the victims. If the Brit wants to burnish the image of her chosen faith, she needs to found Halal shelters for Muslimas who get beaten. She might also start an effective organization to stop honor killings and such.

  11. If a man does raise a finger against his wife, he is not allowed to leave a mark on her body, which is the Koran’s way of saying, “Don’t beat your wife, stupid.”

    The motto of my boarding house at school was ‘The Stomach doesn’t bruise’. We never got round to translating it into Latin.

    Good times those misty school years. Good times.

  12. “Yvonne Ridley…is so blinded by her hatred of the West, that she would join anything that is its antithesis.”
    Maybe she just hates men so much so that she sees female empowerment everywhere.

  13. Recent converts to a cause are always the fiercest apologists.

  14. “it doesn’t matter whether the Koran supports or condemns wife beating; it’s a common and accepted practice in Muslim countries and there is virtually no effort to correct that problem.”

    Actually, Karen, there are vibrant feminist movements in many Muslims countries – specifically Muslim feminist movements, that refuse to give an inch on the religious legitimacy of their cause, and which use Muslim arguments and references to Koran to make their case.

    Since this is happening in societies in which adherence to Islam and the Koran are considered necessary conditions of a movement’s legitimacy, it’s probably not very helpful to tell these women, and the people they are trying ton convince, that their efforts are futile, and that women’s rights are incompatible with the teachings of the Koran.

    Teasing out the difference between religion and culture in this area is a very important part of changing the status of women on those socieities.

  15. joe,

    They are vibrant movements in that they exist in often extraordinary settings. Your overstatement dulls your argument.

    It’s neither as nasty as Karen says, nor as rosy as you imply. The fact remains that, when pressed, most men in Muslim countries (with the possible exception of Iran, if you ask the man in the street with no clerical acolytes watching) default to the rhetoric and behavior which is consistent with allowing beatings.

    It stems from a very complicated religious and cultural idea that boils down to any question of the faith is nullified by the notion that Islam is (no-shit) perfect and the Qu’ran is the perfect explanation of Islam.

    This same notion is what allows Muslims (particularly in Saudi Arabia) to cross the causeway into Bahrain and turn instantly into imbibing, lecherous, man-sluts while still dressed as devout Muslims (and be PROUD of it) and upon return, be considered as no less devout. See, as long as they can make their hajj, all is forgiven.

    Remember, Allah cannot see into Bahrain.

  16. “A careful reading of the Koran shows that ____________.”
    Anything you damn well want it to show.

    To be fair, the Christian Bible suffers from the same problem. Americans quoted scripture to oppose abolitionists in the ninteenth century, and suffragists in the twentieth century.

    My theory is that religious texts are used as mirrors. The believer notices and hi-lights the passages that echo his or her pre-existing beliefs, and tends to downplay parts that contradict those beliefs. Anecdotally, I’ve never run into someone who encountered a passage in their Book of choice and said, “Huh. Looks like I’ve been wrong all my life.”

    It really makes me wonder why we even bother having the texts in the first place.

  17. The Qur’an is amazingly progressive…for something published in the 600s AD. The past 1400 years have seen a great deal of progress.

    Nevertheless, Lamar is right–you can read anything into Islam, or any religion.

    Most of the objectionable Islamic practices come from culture rather than religion. Most could be found in medieval Christendom. The problem is that the Islamic world is still culturally unmodern, not that they have one particular religion or another.

  18. Teasing out the difference between religion and culture in this area is a very important part of changing the status of women on those socieities.

    Perhaps, but I have to say that I’m not sure that many devout Muslims see much difference between religion and culture. If the Koran/imam says yea, then it is so, in the cultural sphere and elsewhere, and if the the Koran/imam says nay, then it is not so, in the cultural sphere and elsewhere.

    Most importantly, there doesn’t seem to be any area of society where all too many imams fear to tread. I don’t think you fully comprehend just how totalistic Islam can be, and is in many places.

    Unlike in liberal (post-)Christian Western societies, I’m not sure that there is a non-religious aspect to life in many Muslim societies.

  19. Would anyone else (women accepted) agree to lose a testicle to never hear another thing about Islam again?

  20. “It’s useful to put such sentiments in historical perspective. Well into the 20th century in the West, wife beating, if not exactly condoned, was tolerated in a way that’s unimaginable today (think of the scene played for laughs, say, in The Quiet Man, where an Old Irish nag offers up a thick branch to John Wayne to beat Maureen O’Hara with).”

    not quite the same thing, but I found quite amazing the scene in “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” where the rape of the Sabines is glorified in song

  21. Yes, it is significant how the Qur’an treats women in contrast to many Muslim societies. Ideologues use evidence of misogyny in Muslim countries to fan flames of hatred of Islam. For what it’s worth, not only does the Qur’an give women a much fairer shake than the Old Testament, but it also treats them much better than Rolling Stones lyrics.

    R C Dean,

    Your intimate knowledge of all things Islamic is quite impressive. You must have been raised in an Islamic country, yes?
    No? You weren’t? Hmm, how suprising.

  22. highnumber,

    The question is, if a religion’s adherents almost universally say that their holy book condones their evil acts, does it matter any more what that book truly says?

  23. The point, Rimfax, is that the religion’s adherents do not “almost universally” say that. And that the ones who do say that are not speaking for their religion, but rather their upbringing.
    I’ve always hated the saying “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” To me this means “loudmouths and a**holes get the most attention.”

  24. For what it’s worth, not only does the Qur’an give women a much fairer shake than the Old Testament, but it also treats them much better than Rolling Stones lyrics.

    But are there any Islamic countries that give their women the Barry White treatment?

  25. Here’s what I love:

    All the defenders of the faith, so to speak, compare Islam’s progressive attitude towards women to other attitudes that were contemporary at the time.

    That would be all well and good if we were talking about a historical strain of Islam that had died out centuries ago, replaced with a reformed version that wasn’t anathema to all things modern.

    But guess what? It isn’t.

    Islam’s more virulent strains are still alive and kicking, as well as their antique views on women’s rights.

    So far as I’m concerned, that means that their cultural views regarding the rights of women need to be compared to modern views on the rights of women.

    Guess what grade Islam gets when you compare it to a modern, progressive democracy like the United States or nearly any European nation:

    F+, motherbitches.

  26. Has the USA ever elected a female President?

  27. Has the USA ever elected a female President?

    Yes. Clinton.

  28. As Karen pointed out, wife-beating is only one symptom of Islamic misogyny. There are the ‘honor’ killings, restrictions on movement, and inequalities in the divorce laws.

    Whether the Koran is worse or better than the Bible or any other religious text in this matter is moot. It is the cultural and social aspect that are unacceptable. The religious texts are excuses, not reasons.

    The teachings of Mohammed were progressive* for their time, but our concepts of personal liberty have moved beyond that.

    *So far as I am aware, Mohammed’s prohibition “Thou shalt not enslave a Muslim.” was the first restriction on slavery in any culture. [A restriction only – he did not prohibit the enslavement of non-Muslims.]

  29. Hey, highnumber: Has Saudi Arabia elected any woman to any national office, ever? Are women in Saudi Arabia allowed to walk outside without male escorts yet, without being harrassed by the mutaween? Are girls allowed to leave burning buildings without wearing abayas yet (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1874471.stm)? No? Oh.

    And before you play that old, tired “you weren’t raised there” card, I wasn’t, but I’ve visited, and anyone who regards the treatment of women in that country as comparable to the treatment of women in the United States or Europe doesn’t deserve a hearing in this forum, or any other.

  30. Well into the 20th century in the West, wife beating, if not exactly condoned, was tolerated in a way that’s unimaginable today

    Can’t speak about interpretations of the Koran. I admit that I’m woefully ignorant as to its nuances. There exists, after all, a huge language barrier.
    As to the above quote, if I remember correctly, wife beating was never even inexactly condoned. The difference between then and now lies in the huge expansion of the demand of societal = government intervention in what used to be viewed as private matters. A true cultural change.
    Non-intervention does not equal condonation.
    Absent any valid numbers, do we really know that wife-beating is an accepted, wide-spread practice in Islamic countries, based on Islamic belief?

  31. Hey, what’s a little wife beating when you’re a member of a barbaric death cult?

    Has the USA ever elected a female President?
    Oh, my, that awkward ‘n’ shameful conundrum sure proves that the US is a country of hypocritical bumpkins!
    /sarcasm

  32. Has the USA ever elected a female President?

    As a woman, I think I’m much better off in the USA than in Pakistan, despite the fact that the Pakistanis once had a female head of state but the US never has. Somehow, when a Pakistani woman is murdered in an honor killing, I doubt her final thought is “Think how much worse I’d have it if my country hadn’t elected Bhutto into office many years ago!”

  33. “Hey, what’s a little wife beating when you’re a member of a barbaric death cult?”

    now now, leave the christians out of this.

  34. “do we really know that wife-beating is an accepted, wide-spread practice in Islamic countries, based on Islamic belief?”

    No, but we do know that wife-beating [or actually violence against any intimate partner] is an accepted, wide-spread practice world-wide…regardless of the dominant religion.

    http://www.who.int/gender/violence/en/

    Those here in the US should clean up their own house before pointing fingers at the flaws in other societies…

    From the CDC
    “Nearly 5.3 million intimate partner victimizations occur among U.S. women ages 18 and older each year. This violence results in nearly 2.0 million injuries and nearly 1,300 deaths.”

  35. I just stumbled over a good interview on the Internet.

    Clive James talking to PJ O’Rourke a week after September 11th.

    http://www.clivejames.com/player/video.cfm?L1ID=Video&L2ID=Talking%20in%20the%20Library&L3ID=Series%202&VRN=12&pipe=64

  36. Those here in the US should clean up their own house before pointing fingers at the flaws in other societies…

    This is an interesting point and is actually alluded to in the interview I just referenced. Funnily enough, the Koran does not contain any passage, at any point, that could be considered an equivalent to ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone’.

  37. I would recommend this book by Robert Spencer on this subject (and others) of women in Islam. Mohammad and his followers as far as I can tell are even more mysogynistic than the Catholic Church post-9th century.

    As far as Yvonne Ridley she is a leading member of the anti-Jew/pro-Islamist RESPECT who love George Galloway & Ken Livingston so much. The fact anyone is giving her an outlet and seeing her rants as an authority on anything is ludicrous.

  38. Aresen,

    De jure and de facto restrictions on in-group enslavement were fairly common in societies prior to the rise of Islam. Indeed, in a lot of, well, let us call them tribal cultures, slaves were exclusively captured from other tribes (keeping them for a long time and then hunting and killing them was in part a way to deal with social conflict within the tribe, etc.).

  39. “I agree with Nick; it doesn’t matter whether the Koran supports or condemns wife beating; it’s a common and accepted practice in Muslim countries and there is virtually no effort to correct that problem. ”

    correct. and the important corollary to this is that the muslim religious leaders SUPPORT these practices.

    So, it’s the dominant behavior in majority muslim countries, and it is supported by the purely muslim-run government and religious authorities.

    so, arguing that it is not part of islam is as absurd as this “religion of peace” nonsense

    this isn’t about a bunch of semiotics majors deconstructing the koran. it’s about islam – AS PRACTICED

  40. “I agree with Nick; it doesn’t matter whether the Koran supports or condemns wife beating; it’s a common and accepted practice in Muslim countries and there is virtually no effort to correct that problem. ”

    correct. and the important corollary to this is that the muslim religious leaders SUPPORT these practices.

    So, it’s the dominant behavior in majority muslim countries, and it is supported by the purely muslim-run government and religious authorities.

    so, arguing that it is not part of islam is as absurd as this “religion of peace” nonsense

    this isn’t about a bunch of semiotics majors deconstructing the koran. it’s about islam – AS PRACTICED.

    And of course deluded feminists will ignore the evidence. Doing otherwise would be to lend support to the racist, heterosexist, heteronormative, male chauvinist, white capitalist, imperialist western insect fascist government

    which of course you can’t do

  41. Whit,

    Your point sounds good on its face but lack important empirical support.

    Can you provide some evidence that it is not just based on your own impression of the situation. Do you have some numbers on the difference in rates of violence in Muslim vs. Non-muslim countries. Do you have evidence that muslim-run governments are not putting forth an effort to correct the problem (can you cite examples of countries that do not have laws on the books, show that prosecutions are not undertaken?). Sharia law strictly forbids honor killings, and domestic violence. Do you have evidence that areas practicing sharia law ignore this? I think this kind of information is difficult to come by. But maybe you are tapped into a source I have not seen. Which religious leaders support these practices? Please be specific and give us the context in which their support was expressed.

    Please enlighten us about how Islam works AS PRACTICED.

    If you can provide a citation, review, or something with greater evidence base than anecdote I will take your point more seriously.

  42. When I became a manager I swung a small raise for the hardest working but quietest member of my number team. A Pakistani coworker came up to me later and complained that I was wasting company resources because she was just a woman and couldn?t leave because she needed the job to support her kids.

    He?d said (and still says) other things which I assume were just badly translated, but keeping money from ?the woman? has really stuck in my mind.

    It sucks when one of the few members you know of a minority group confirms the stereotypes of that group.

  43. As someone who doesn’t believe in a deity of any stripe, I’m having trouble figuring out the difference between “religion” and “culture”.

    Could someone explain it to me?

  44. The Koran and the Bible are echo chambers. They amplify prejudices.
    Good people don’t need works of scripture. And in them, bad people find succor and support.
    Think of every struggle in our country to really live up to the Declaration of Indepence and the Constitution; slavery, women’s suffrage, Jim Crow, the ongoing effort to treat gay people as equals, all have been fought by bible quoting fools.
    Now, the scriture quoting fools always lose. Just like they’ll lose in the Middle East.
    Eventually.
    But what damage will be wrought until they finally and completely lose? What weapons of mass destruction will be lobbed? What of our freedoms will be quashed?
    Will they join hands? Our fools and their fools? They’re closer to each other than they like to think. Our current “conflict” is really the hatred of small differences.

  45. get real, mainstream man. These are (largely) closed societies.

    In many, under Sharia, a woman can’t even win a conviction for RAPE without three male witnesses.

    Do you honestly believed that statistical crime analysis from these totalitarian religious regimes can provide valid comparative data?

    I mean seriously.

    If you want to be an apologist for genital mutilation, rape, domestic violence, etc. feel free.

    I will give you an analogy if it helps. Prior to the dissolution of the USSR, few would believe that the worst serial killer (arguably) in history was operating within their borders. Crime statistics certainly wouldn’t have revealed it.

    Get real. Get thee to memri.org and listen to what they say.

    Or i have another challenge. Dress up two women in bikinis and have them walk down the streets of a city in a majority muslim country. Let’s see what happens.

    Even better, let them be holding bibles, wearing yamulkes, and have big metal crosses around their necks.

    Let’s see how the religion of peace responds.

  46. “Think of every struggle in our country to really live up to the Declaration of Indepence and the Constitution; slavery, women’s suffrage, Jim Crow, the ongoing effort to treat gay people as equals, all have been fought by bible quoting fools. ”

    except that in your moronic, ahistorical analysis you seem to forget, ignore, or be ignorant of the fact that many of the leaders (and in many cases – THE leadership) behind the women’s suffrage movement, the anti-slavery movement etc. were religious bible quoting fools e.g. martin luther king.

    what an utterly absurd analysis. no study of the civil rights movement could fail to realize the dominance of religious leaders amongst the strongest proponents.

  47. jaybird,

    Scholars have spent their entire lives answering that question, and people still disagree.

  48. MSM, are the fairly regular media reports on women being mistreated in Islamic countries merely anedotes? Are you requiring that everyone be armed with a study to discuss any issue?

  49. Whit:

    Your apparent condemnation of wife-beating is admirable and I agree with it.
    However, I doubt that you really have hard evidence how wide-spread it really is in Islamic cultures. I would bet you that there are huge differences between, say, Ankara, Anatolia, both in Turkey and Pakistan.
    What is part of a religion is not necessarily what the majority practises. The media’s and politicians’ tendency to spin extreme examples into trends into everyday fact is well known.
    To make an issue into a cause for intervention raises problems that one better have a firm grip on beforehand. Iraq is an example how not to do it.

    However, we do have hard evidence of most cruel, inhuman punishment under Islamic law. Stonings of women in Iran for example. (I’m not going to link to the video I saw part of recently. It is too horrible to contemplate.) Still doesn’t mean that the majority of Iranian men beat women.
    The people that advocate and perpetrate that kind of thing are beyond contempt. But again, does not happen in all Islamic countries.
    The real issue I have is that those Moslems that abhor those practices don’t seem to be able or willing to rise up. We are told they are in the majority. They are just as complicit as the Germans were during Hitler’s time.
    Group loyalty rules supreme. We call that trailer-trash mentality around here.

  50. The arguements on the winning side of all our struggles were based, ultimately, on secular words.
    We’re all created equal, and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    Yes, MLK and others were religious. They may have found in their echo chamber support. Just like the losers did.
    But the strength of their side came from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Not the superstitions of desert nomads two millenia prior.

  51. I see that positioning everything vile found in Muslim countries as being unique to Islam is still in fashion.

    Jennifer,
    Yes, you are better off as a woman in the US than you would be in Pakistan particularly if you were in the poor majority immersed in a relatively isolated, traditional culture.

    It is also true that your chances of reaching womanhood in Pakistan are slightly better than those of your Hindu counterpart across the border who, as a female infant, may be deemed undesirable and killed straight away. Or, having reached adulthood, blamed for some misfortune in the village and killed as a witch (although this can happen to a man too). Or, having been widowed, are shunted off to a widows’ home to be more or less shunned by your family, friends and society. Or, you may be one of the particularly unlucky few who are still forced to immolate themselves on their husbands’ funeral pyres.

    Your chances of being sold off by your parents into child prostitution are much better in Buddhist Southeast Asia than Muslim Pakistan.

    All these things are technically against the law (except the widows’ homes) but they are still practiced in areas where community leaders quietly nod and gov’t officials look the other way.

    Interesting that nobody is bashing traditional Hindu or Thai culture.

  52. Hang on. If these societies are so closed, then how the hell do they end up being anywhere from 50%-85% expatriates of all stripes and faiths?

    To make the incredibly simple argument that “they” are “closed” is…incredibly simple.

    As a general statement, when you argue with a Muslim – especially when he’s in his home country – any tough question that arises about contradictions, hypocracies, or inconvenient problems regarding Islam is met universally with “well, Islam is perfect”. It is the great equalizer and final argument in their eyes.

    The difference between this and the largely secular societies of the West is that, while many Westerners may say this same sort of thing, the Muslim believes and acts on it (when in their own country) at a much, much higher rate.

  53. Let me be perfectly clear that I do not believe women are treated better in general in Islamic countries than in the good ol’ US of A, but we still do face prejudice against females here. Religious people here also use their holy books to justify mistreatment of women. If I had a daughter, of course I would rather that she were raised in our society.
    That being said, many Westerners refuse to acknowledge their blinding prejudice against all things Islam. If you wish to attack religion as a whole, fine. People have committed many heinous acts with the blessings of religious leaders. Muslims are no different.
    And another thing (I’m feeling like a cranky old man), if I hear one more time that “If there are moderate Muslims, why don’t we hear them condemning this or that?”, I think I’m going to buy that high-powered rifle with a scope and climb a clock tower. Why don’t you listen when they speak? I read the letters-to-the-editor page of the paper one day, there is a letter from a group of Muslims calling for an end to some violence or brutal practice, and the very next day there will be a letter from some genius asking why we never hear from Muslims condemning such-and-such. Wake up already! If you are really interested in whether there are moderate peace loving Muslims, start with the American Islamic Congress.

  54. lol

    my APPARENT condemnation…

    “Your apparent condemnation of wife-beating is admirable and I agree with it.”

    I stopped reading at that point. Such language belies yer agenda.

  55. “I see that positioning everything vile found in Muslim countries as being unique to Islam is still in fashion.”

    really? who said that in this thread?

    where?

  56. If, ten years ago, anyone had told me that today there would be serious discussion about whether women should walk around in public with bags over their heads, I would have written them off as kooks.

  57. nice hedge.
    “Let me be perfectly clear that I do not believe women are treated better in general in Islamic countries than in the good ol’ US of A, but we still do face prejudice against females here…”

    that’s not perfectly clear at all. It leaves out the obvious corollary.

    Do you or do you not believe that “women are treated WORSE in general in islamic countries that the good ol’ US of A?”

    i don’t believe for a second that you have not considered that. but you left it out.

    hmmm

  58. As an American libertarian, let me say this: I personally believe that Muslim societies mostly turn out to be repressive shitholes for both men and women, based on what I’ve read and observed. I deplore much about Islam. All of which is simply none of my damn business, as long as they don’t try to bring that crapola here with them. No Sharia in the USA.

  59. “except that in your moronic, ahistorical analysis you seem to forget, ignore, or be ignorant of the fact that many of the leaders (and in many cases – THE leadership) behind the women’s suffrage movement, the anti-slavery movement etc. were religious bible quoting fools e.g. martin luther king.”:

    Sort of like how the leaders of the women’s rights movements in Muslim countries are religious, Koran-quoting fools.

    Not one of you Muslim-haters can mount even a theoretical rebuttal to this point? Figures.

    Lemme guess: oh, boo hoo, joe called me hater, just because I referred to 1 billion people I’ve never laid eyes on as “a barbaric death cult.”

  60. I am not sure this is “none of our damn business”

    When South Africa was still in Apartheid State, was it “none of our damn business” either?

    If you can say yes, I will give you an A for consistency at least.

  61. whit,

    How dense are you?
    Of course, if women are generally treated better here, then they are generally treated more poorly in the Islamic countries. I thought the people here would be smart enough to understand that with =out stating it. It was not a hedge. I overestimated you. I am sorry. It will not happen again.

  62. who here is a “muslim hater?”

    “Not one of you Muslim-haters can mount even a theoretical rebuttal to this point?”

    I see you are already playing the hate-speech and “your just a bigot” card cause you have no facts or reason to rely on.

    sad. but typical

  63. I’m kind of wondering who joe is applying this “Muslim-hater” thing to, as well.

  64. “How dense are you? ”
    read on … you are the one who is dense.

    “Of course, if women are generally treated better here, then they are generally treated more poorly in the Islamic countries. I thought the people here would be smart enough to understand that with =out stating it. It was not a hedge. I overestimated you. I am sorry. It will not happen again”

    exce[pt you didn’t SAY they were treated better here.

    This is what u said. cited for posterity.

    “Let me be perfectly clear that I do not believe women are treated better in general in Islamic countries than in the good ol’ US of A, but we still do face prejudice against females here. Religious people here also use their holy books to justify mistreatment of women. If I had a daughter, of course I would rather that she were raised in our society. ”

    Nowhere do u say that women are treated better here.

    At most, you say you would rather your daughter were raised in our society.

    Sorry, that aint the same thing.

    Read your first sentence. That’s called a hedge.

  65. Reason has left the building. Please check another thread.

  66. Whit,

    So I guess your answer is that you do not have any way to know the facts on the ground. Check. That is what I have found. So your argument that we should base our discussion on Islam AS PRACTICED ignores the fact that you don’t have any information about how it is practiced on a broad scale, with any detail, differently depending on region, country, city.

    “If you want to be an apologist for genital mutilation, rape, domestic violence, etc. feel free.”

    Yeah that’s what I was doing…funny how you dismiss someone else on this thread for “such language”

    Stuartl,

    I am not requiring anything. But Whit stated his assertion as if it were based on more than mere opinion. He posited that we should base our discussion on facts. He then failed to provide any. He has defended his failure based on the fact that not only does he not know the facts, but that the facts can not be known. This brings us back to people stating their opinions. Nothing wrong with that, but it is important to recognize that they are subjective (Whit’s included).

    Domestic violence is a huge problem on your own block, in your own town, in your own country (no matter where you live). Start there and don’t worry about whether or not those “other” people are even worse than “us.”

    If you ask “Is Islam a wife-beating religion?” and only have opinions to offer, you are not really going to get very far in answering the question.

    I think it is.
    I think it isn’t
    No he’s right, it is.
    No it’s not.
    Is so.
    Is not.

    Yadda yadda yadda…

  67. “Sort of like how the leaders of the women’s rights movements in Muslim countries are religious, Koran-quoting fools”

    except that these countries are RUN by religious leaders (Some officially, and some semi-officially), who do NOT support women’s rights.

    Yes, there are naysayers.

  68. yadda yadda…

    You’re just a racists.
    No I am not, your just playing the hate card.
    No I am not you bigot.
    You’re the bigot.
    No you’re the bigot…

    And on, and on.

  69. Erm…the UAE’s leaders certainly support women’s rights. Maybe not at the level and rate that we would consider “enlightened”, but that blanket statement is pure bullshit.

  70. Is hiding from common knowledge now a type of debating trick?

    Try googling Muslim Honor Killings to see how common they are and how well they are covered in the media.

    MSM, you remind me of slavery apologists back in the 1850s. Or the three monkeys.

    Personally, I applaud ChrisO’s stance.

  71. Whit, huh???

    Don’t like my language? A bit old-fashioned perhaps?
    And what exactly do you think is my “agenda”??
    Uh, excuse me, I forgot, you stopped reading….

  72. “except that these countries are RUN by religious leaders (Some officially, and some semi-officially), who do NOT support women’s rights.”

    From the GOP platform:
    “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment?s protections
    apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that
    right against those who perform abortions.”

  73. “So I guess your answer is that you do not have any way to know the facts on the ground. Check.”

    bull. i can go to memri.org and see what they say on their public television (and private ones) shows.

    I can speak to my neighbor (from Iran).

    I can read reports from people who used to live there.

    etc.

    you don’t want to face uncomfortable truths, and that is sad. and everybody who recognizes reality is a ‘hater’

  74. “Domestic violence is a huge problem on your own block, in your own town, in your own country (no matter where you live). Start there and don’t worry about whether or not those “other” people are even worse than “us.” ”

    moral relativism 101. There was a murder in my town. Hence, I should not worry about state sponsored murder in Rwanda, Darfur, or anywhere else.

    Sorry. injustice is injustice. You want use to ignore muslim state sponsored injustice. It aint gonna happen. Not here. We got rid of slavery a couple of centuries ago. Care to guess which religion/culture still embraces it in several locations?

  75. Realist,

    Try googling honor killings without the Muslim qualifier. You may be surprised with what you find.

    Common knowledge is often wrong.

    You’re a realist. Can you give me the source for your realistic belief that there is more of a problem with domestic violence in Muslim countries than there is in non-Muslim countries? I am perfectly willing to believe it is true. I just haven’t seen any empirical support for the assertion.

  76. “Or i have another challenge. Dress up two women in bikinis and have them walk down the streets of a city in a majority Muslim country. Let’s see what happens.”

    Roughly the same thing that would happen in India or even the Orthodox neighborhoods of Israel. (On my first trip to Israel, Palestinians stabbing Israelis at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem shared the headlines with Hassidim who tried to stone an Israeli girl walking through their neighborhood in a short skirt. They also attacked the cop who came to her aid).

    “Even better, let them be holding bibles, wearing yamulkes, and have big metal crosses around their necks.”

    Holding bibles and wearing crosses is OK. I lived in Egypt and Jordan, traveled extensively in Syria and Israel, got into Saddam’s Iraq through a bureaucratic loophole for a few days, and honeymooned in Turkey.

    Christians carry bibles and most of those who are not even religious still wear crosses. I have run across a few of the remaining Jews in these places outside of Israel but I don’t recall yarmulkes or not.

    Now, if you’re talking about a blatant attempt at provocation, yes, in the Muslim and non-Muslim parts from Morocco to the Burmese border, there’s a good chance someone will get some physically violent. (Except the Christian areas, where they may just think you’re odd.) As you slip into East Asia things settle down but people there are very reserved in general and don’t have strong associations with Christianity and Judaism either way.

  77. Domestic violence isn’t even thought of as domestic violence in many muslim circles. It is simply spousal discipline.

  78. The UAE has a number of Christian churches (and yes, SCHOOLS!) that one is perfectly free to worship at, should you be of that faith.

  79. good post, patrick

  80. Whit,

    memri.org provides documentation that there is a problem with domestic violence in Muslim countries. That is not in dispute. The dispute is whether there is a relatively greater problem in Muslim countries that results from their Muslimness…this requires a source of information that compares across groups. This is what would constitute evidence in this discussion (I won’t even suggest that you would need to control for other cultural factors, although that would be important in the long run).

    There must be some source that you are using that make you feel as certain in your position as you appear to be. I would like to know what they are.

    I can talk to my Iranian neighbor, or my friend that was married to an Iranian and get a different story from those your neighbor gives you. Who is right? I can talk to my friends mother who lived in Saudi Arabia for 20 years. Is her opinion worth more than yours? What about Patrick D’s?

  81. Your intimate knowledge of all things Islamic is quite impressive. You must have been raised in an Islamic country, yes?
    No? You weren’t? Hmm, how suprising.

    Well, highnumber, I offered a few observations, easily confirmed by anyone who has the inclination to use both hands when operating a computer, about how difficult it is to put a fence “Islam the religion” and the culture of a nation dominated by Islam.

    I applaud your many counterexamples. Certainly food for thought.

  82. Nope, I can’t tell you which culture is worse, only that there is plenty of independent proof of Muslim honor killings and your denial of this common knowledge makes the rest of your arguments specious.

  83. “The dispute is whether there is a relatively greater problem in Muslim countries that results from their Muslimness”

    relatively greater compared to some countries, relatively less compared to others. and in many cases, a system of law that does not bring perpetrators to justice – specifically in instances of rape.

  84. Realist,

    Sorry, when did I deny Muslim honor killings?

    I denied that honor killings were exclusively an Islamic problem.

  85. I’m not sure anyone really asserted that honor killings were exclusively Islamic. It may have been what some of the commenters were thinking, but I don’t remember ever seeing such an assertion in print here.

  86. Whit,

    “relatively greater compared to some countries, relatively less compared to others. and in many cases, a system of law that does not bring perpetrators to justice – specifically in instances of rape.”

    Which countries?
    I would particularly like to know which countries (you say there are many cases) do not prosecute instances of rape as a matter of policy or practice.

    Hint: look up honor killings on Wikipedia. They list countries which have legal exceptions for honor killings. The list is one country long: Jordan.

    There are other countries that allow for legal exceptions when a spouse is killed when caught in the act of adultery…Syria, Morrocco, Haiti… countries that recently changed those laws… Brazil, Columbia, Turkey.

    It would be nice to see a similar list for rape. Is this (hypothetical) list where you are getting the facts that allow you to assert that there are many cases?

    This relates to policy, of course. It does not address practice… which is what you are attempting to base your arguments on.

  87. Who is a Muslim hater, whit?

    Well, I’d say the authorsof the following comment qualifies:

    “Hey, what’s a little wife beating when you’re a member of a barbaric death cult?”

    BTW, whit, I offered as evidence the existence of growing feminist movements in majority-Islamic countries, movements of devout Muslims who argue from the teachings of the Koran, and you STILL haven’t managed to come up with a rebuttal. As I said, all you’ve been able to manage, between your anti-Muslim harrangues, has been “Wah wah wah, joe called me a hater.”

  88. R C Dean,

    Iraq was a secular Islamic country, as is Turkey.
    There are many other examples, especially if you look at southeast Asia. I did not list examples in my response to you, because it is more significant that people in countries ruled by Islamic countries do lead lives outside their mosques. It is rather difficult to give anything other than anecdotal evidence. Perhaps I could suggest that you read some literature by authors from Islamic countries. I admit that I have a woeful memory of what I should recommend, but I have read a few novels and short stories by Egyptian, Persian, and Afghani writers that made it clear that despite living in a strict religious society, they led their lives as they wished, rather than according to the dictates of their Imam. It is all too similar to reading writings of Westerners who live in strict religious communities.

  89. Timon19,

    I did not see an explicit assertion. I just wanted to be clear about the fact that honor killings are a general problem that is not properly limited to discussions of Muslim cultures.

  90. Highnumber,

    I would recommend Naguib Mahfouz

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naguib_Mahfouz

    or, of course, the work of Paul Bowles… who can give you an outsiders view.

  91. Hmm…the movements have gone from “vibrant” to “existant”.

    Sounds consistent with my experience.

  92. Sorry, “existent”.

  93. Thanks, MainstreamMan.

  94. If a man does raise a finger against his wife, he is not allowed to leave a mark on her body, which is the Koran’s way of saying, “Don’t beat your wife, stupid.”

    Not by my careful reading.

    My careful reading interprets this to mean:

    “Ok, if you’re gonna do a rail of blow, and crack the old-lady one, make sure you don’t leave any marks.”

    My parents ‘beat me’ as a kid and never left a mark. Once marks are left, then you’re violating islam.

  95. This is why the mob uses phone books and bars of soap wrapped in towels to the midsection.

  96. Mainstream Man:

    I see what you mean about some debates being prettier than others. Some real snarling here and there along this thread, nobody really vicious, though. Lots of passion, plenty of educated people.

    I get the impression you’re a lawyer.

  97. Buckshot,

    “I get the impression you’re a lawyer.”

    Talk about getting nasty ;^)

    Nope. My brother is a lawyer, however.
    I work in education.

  98. MSM –

    I get your point that there isn’t evidence to prove domestic violence is worse, but isn’t enough anectdotal evidence stating these crimes are not even punished enough?

    I’d rather live in a town of 100 with 2 murderers where police were attempting to stop them than a town of 1000 with only 1 murderer who is allowed free domain.

  99. SixSigma,

    The post is entitled “Is Islam a Wife-Beating Religion?” No, none of us should be comfortable with doemstic violence, but should we blame Islam, or is this a problem in many societies? In other words, does Western prejudice against Islam make the problem seem worse there than in other cultures? An immoral act is an immoral act is an immoral act, but is it part and parcel of Islam?

  100. SixSigma,

    I think there probably is evidence to prove the case one way or the other. I just don’t see it being presented here. The trouble with anectdotal evidence(like that presented at memri.org) being your basis for forming an opinion is that you tend to hear anectdotal evidence that is exceptional rather than ordinary. This results in a biased view of the situation.

    More on the problem here.
    http://www.cuyamaca.edu/bruce.thompson/Fallacies/anecdotal.asp

    or here

    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/volvofal.html

  101. MSM, there certainly are times when anecdotal evidence tends toward the exceptional, but in my case, the anecdotal evidence is contact with a group of Muslim men who tend to be more persuaded by Western values than the bulk of the population around them (military). So when I hear many of them say that they’re cool with any of a number of what we would consider draconian attitudes toward women, I start to wonder.

  102. …and for the purposes of this discussion, “Western values” means at least a surface abhorrence of the type of violence against women we are talking about (knowing full well that there are loads of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do types in any culture).

  103. Timon19,

    Having worked in many poor, rural, dysfunctional communities in the US, I have heard, and witnessed attitudes and behaviors towards women that you would probably consider draconian as well. These were not “do as I say not as I do” types. These were thugs that truly believed it was their duty to keep their women in line using violence, and spoke about it with pride. I would not use that anecdotal evidence to form an opinion about the culture in the US more broadly. When discussing Muslim culture, you are talking not about an individual community or nation, but a diverse set of nations across the world (something like 1.6 billion people). So despite the tendencies of the men you are interacting with, you have not seen a broad enough sample of Muslim culture to make statements about the dominant beliefs or behaviors of Muslim culture writ large.

    My problem with Whit’s statements were that he wanted the discussion here to be based on Islam “as practiced,” which is an admirable goal, but then failed to provide any evidence for how that practice could be determined in such a large and diverse community. When he said “as practiced” he really meant “how I think it is practiced based on my anecdotal evidence.” Not really an improvement. It sounds like your anecdotal evidence is much closer to true, but would still be applicable only to the narrow community with which you have interacted. It would take a different kind of evidence to determine if that community is representative of Muslim Culture more broadly.

  104. This thread is probably long dead, but…

    MSM,

    I think the difference is between your poor, rural, dysfunctional communities in the US and the affluent, priveleged, nothing-better-to-do Arab military community. That said, I think I’ve taken pains to NOT use the anecdotal evidence I cited to form an opinion about Muslim culture broadly. I hope you have noticed that. If you haven’t, maybe I should try harder, or you should try harder to not to confuse me and Whit.

    I know full well what I’m talking about when discussing Muslim culture. My words were “…I start to wonder”, and nothing more. No wholesale condemnation of one-sixth of the world’s population. I’m saying that given what segment of society they represent (more Western, more liberal), it worries me what I hear out of most of them.

    I have problems with what Whit has been saying as well. I’m pretty sure I’ve pointed them out. I’m not sure why you’re ascribing to me sentiments I have clearly avoided.

  105. AS LONG THE MOSLIM LADIES IS CONFORTABLE WITH
    THIS WAY … WHY WE INTERFER.. LET THEM BEAT EACH OTHER

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