This is not easy at the moment, and I blame both the Mufti for being such a fool, and the media for pumping up our reactions. And yes, I would hope young Muslims roundly ignore what he has to say on the subject of women, and much else besides, homosexuality not least. What qualifications do I have for any opinions on the subject? 1) I have been dealing with Muslim students for several years, and whenever I could I have tried to engage them in dialogue and discourage any and every manifestation of extremism. That also involves listening. Here is one example and here is another. 2) I have read the Qu’ran (which, much to the chagrin, indeed horror, of devout Muslims I regard as a human book, with good and bad bits in it, and a product of its time and place like any other book) and I have read more about Islam than most people I know. 3) I live around the corner from a mosque in an area dominated by Lebanese restaurants and halal Bangladeshi ones. 4) I have a number of adult friends and acquaintances who are Muslim but perfectly sane. 5) One of my cousins is married to a Lebanese Muslim.
I have said a lot on the subject in various places. See, for example, 183 posts, and a very unambiguous post on my Books and Ideas site called Renegade Eye: MANIFESTO: Together facing the new totalitarianism. I commend especially Islam has about 1.3 billion followers worldwide, written after a particularly nasty argument in a pub!
See also from an American site Islam and Women:
Islam condemns all forms of violence against women. The basic Islamic premise of equality between women and men cannot be achieved so long as violence against women persists.
In pre-Islamic Arabia violence against women began at birth in the form of female infanticide. Islam prohibited the practice of female infanticide. Not only did the Quran prohibit this practice, it also mocks those who view the birth of a girl child with contempt. (Quran 16:58-59)…
Rape, unfortunately, remains a common form of violence against women. In addition, the woman is often blamed for being the victim of rape. Islam views rape as a violent crime against the victim, against society, and against God. The perpetrator has committed a crime and hence is morally and legally responsible. The victim is an unwilling partner in the sex act and thus bears neither blame nor stigma. To either ostracize or condemn the victim because she was compelled to engage in sexual intercourse is against the laws of Islam as the victim was an unwilling, and therefore, a blameless participant.
That makes much more sense to me than anything Hilaly said.
Nothing I have said on this blog condones the Mufti’s remarks, just in case that wasn’t clear. I did point to parallel thoughts in the wilder Christian fundies, and they are easy to find, but I made it quite clear that these and the remarks Hilaly made about women were outrageous patriarchal nonsense. Or I thought I did. Deus Lo Vult seems to have missed that. So far as the Sheikh’s remarks are used by some of the more antisocial youth in his community to justify vilifying girls and women who do not conform to their parochial ideas as “sluts” so far do I agree with Deus Lo Vult that Hilaly should be censured. It is also true to say that most of what Hilaly has said up to Sunday (when I am adding this) has just dug his grave deeper. Now I really do hope his community sacks him. And no, I am not calling Deus Lo Vult a racist, just asking him to keep thinking; whether he agrees with me is beside the point, as long as he concedes I am not Hilaly’s number one fan. Far from it. I am keeping the link to his site open (unless he requests otherwise) as he has often been very entertaining, even if we do not agree on everything.
And another thing: see Harper’s has published those cartoons…. I support what is there.
I have just read The Kashmiri Nomad on this — the guy who gave us that excellent animation of Near Eastern history not long ago. The Nomad is the most devout Muslim in my list of links on the right, and would be worried by much I have said in this post so far. Some would even see him as an “Islamist”. Indeed I often disagree with him, but respect him also. Read what he has to say, agree with it or not. In part:
The purpose of this post is not in anyway to defend Al-Hilali in his actions or statements. I wish to have a look in this post at the reaction from the media and the establishment to the words of Al-Hilali…
The first example is that of Pope Benedict XVI in an air of debate and open dialogue he reiterated comments from a Byzantine Emperor regarding Islam and the manner in which it was spread, which according to him was namely by the sword. Muslims were outraged by this statement. In defense of the Pope were the “western media” in all its forms, the western establishment (governments and politicians) and the western peoples. They all retorted in unison that in a democracy people have an absolute right to say what they like to whom they like whenever they like. Muslims were told to stop bleating like sheep and to get over it! Islam is not so “precious” that it is above criticism,accusation and debate.
In the second example we have Taj al-Din Al-Hilali and his comments that likened women that did not wear a hijab to a piece of meat. In this example neither did the western media nor the establishment (politicians) pronounce their support for the right of Mr. Al-Hilali to insult. In fact Mr.Howard the Australian Prime Minister is demanding that the Al-Hilal be sacked otherwise there will be consequences for the Muslim community in Australia. No one is heard telling the Australian non-Muslim population to “get over it” they are only words. No one is telling the Australian non-Muslim population to stop bleating like sheep their outrage at al-Hilali’s comments. No one is telling the Australian non-Muslim population that western women are not as so “precious” to be above criticism,accusation and debate. I wonder why none of these sentiments are forthcoming in the second example?
Just to reiterate for you the reader I do not support the sentiments of al-Hilali. Rape is a terrible crime, there can be no excuse or justification for it and I do not wish it upon anyone. The purpose of this post is not to defend al-Hilali’s sentiments it is however the expose the hypocrisy with which some wish to deal with Muslims. In the words of a great American James H. Shott what is good for the western goose is good for the Islamic gander. If Pope Benedict XVI has a right to insult and question Islam does Al-Hilali not also have a right to insult and question the ways of western women? Why is there is a difference in the response from the media and the powers that be?