Islam, a religion oft misinterpreted, has faced a lot of criticism time and again for the various "injustices" against women that it reportedly advocates. This particular 'letter' by Nonie Darwish,(http://wakeupamericansnow.blogspot.com/2009/09/joys-of-muslim-women.html) an Egyptian woman who has embraced the United States and its culture, is yet another thorn in Islam's already tarnished side.
Before I go on to express my views, let me make it clear that this letter has not hurt my religious sentiments, as such. Rather, it has made me question the paranoia of the West, and the extent to which people would go to achieve whatever their goals are, however insane. I have been reading up a few things here and there to know if this is the truth, and if I really follow a faith that is reportedly a champion of such miserable chauvinistic principles.
Why is it that most people, muslims and non- muslims alike, seem to have forgotten that Islam, in its most fundamental form, stands for peace? The cruel bloodshed that goes on in the name of Jihad in the modern day world, carried out by fanatics who claim to be Believers who are carrying out the will of God, is a blight on the religion and its tenets.
Let's look at the letter which prompted me to come out of my self-imposed writer's block with a vengeance. I am no expert on the religion, and I do not claim to know much about it. In fact, I am quite ignorant about Islam. But I do know a few things, and one of them is this- Islam is a moderate religion, which preaches peace and goodwill among mankind. The severity of the religion that most "Believing Muslims" (who beg to be different from the common "practicing" muslims) follow are, if I may put it that way, distortions brought about by Man, and Man here, is not mankind, but the chauvinistic, self- centered, testosterone-high psuedo male, who turns to a few pages from history in order to keep his woman (or women)in check and keep the frail pieces of his ego together along with his worry-frayed nerves.
Nonie Darwish (or her impersonator), however, has transcended levels of sublime stupidity at the very beginning of the letter. Islam, or any other religion that I know of, does not validate the marriage of a one- year old infant to any man, with or without all the gifts he can afford to give, in spite of which unborn children, in many parts of our poverty- stricken world are betrothed to equally unsuspecting 'partners'. There are verses in the Qur'an that speak about the Prophet's (pbuh) wife, Aisha and imply that she was as young as 9 years old when their marriage was consummated. However, as shameful as it may seem, this is a common occurrence the world over. Child marriages are common enough in India, among the tribes of Africa, and even among the Zionists and a few churches in the United States, despite strict laws protecting women and their rights. It is not a consequence of the spread of Islam. Moreover, pedophiles are everywhere, and we do not need a religion to help us have more of those, the world has too many anyway.
What is mentioned in the same paragraph about the dowry is true. In most muslim nations and households, it is considered a shame to take anything from the bride's
family. The man has to go to the bride's house, approach the father (or whoever is in charge of the household), offer gold, money and clothes. They do not take any money from the girl- no dowry, no "gifts" (like Indian muslims take). ((One up,dear feminists.)) This serves two purposes- one, to show that he is financially sound, or getting there, and two, that he is capable of taking care of the girl, and the family that is sure to follow, with his own money. (( Strike two!!))
But hey, they do not pay the money to purchase the girl and use her as a slave. If we are going to look at it that way, then, what do we have to say about the poor Indian girls? They pay the groom, they arrange a wedding, boring a hole the size of a crater in the poor fathers' wallets, and then they serve like drudges in their households, cooking, cleaning and earning their daily bread. Why, they even convert the Ladies' coupe of passenger trains into mini-kitchens on their way back from work!
In most so- called "muslimly- backward" countries, the literacy rate for women is higher than in other developing nations. The kind of freedom they enjoy is amazing. The women, even though in hijab, work in educational institutions, in the government, and other places, (and this is the case even in post-Taliban, Bush-Obama's war strategy plagued Afghanistan), and since their men do not expect them to contribute to keeping the home fires burning, can indulge in all the pleasures their money can buy. These women do not have the harried bedraggled look that their American and other 'progressive' counterparts have. They enjoy more relaxed working hours, have the pleasure of being able to do odd, mundane, boring little things like spending time with their children, cooking for the family, and keeping the house less messy, and more homely. In short, they get to have the whole cake, and eat it too. Not a bad idea, that.
Divorce, of course, is easier to come by for a man. However, if anybody out there tells you that talaq in Islam can be obtained by just saying the word thrice, please laugh in his or her face. Men do have more power over their women, and Islam does say that a woman has to obey her husband, and follow his guiding hand. But women do get divorce, for various reasons, and with time, more women are able to obtain divorce and stay respectably in the same place after divorce.
Rape is something I do not have anything good to say about, because I have not chanced across any reports of people who have been brought to justice when a girl is raped. If, however, the charge is proven without doubt, then the punishment is severe, and, I must say, an eye- opener for other men whose brains follow the law of gravity too strongly.
Divorce, rape and beating are three areas where Islam is 'barbaric'. Again, Islam does not allow a man to beat his wife because she had mistakenly added starch to his shirt or miscalculated the amount of salt in his chicken curry. A man is allowed
to beat his wife in extreme cases, when he thinks she is going astray. Even then, he is not allowed to beat her to pulp, and leave her for the dead. Sadly, this is a common scenario in most Islamic nations.
As far as the question of Jihad goes, Islam is not a clarion call for bloodthirsty hounds to slake their thirst. It does not preach the subjugation or annihilation of disbelievers. An aayah in the Qur'an says,"You follow your faith, I follow mine." In most lines in the Qur'an, the idea that God will reward or punish you for your deeds, and will judge you, as a human being, for the life you lived, is pretty clear. There are verses which belittle relationships with disbelievers, and such like, but the Qur'an does not ask any man to take upon himself the difficult job of annihilating an entire world of people.
What is being done in the name of "jihad" is something that any self- respecting muslim would not associate himself with. And, it is a pretty well- known fact that the West does not tolerate what they do not understand, or anything that threatens to consume them and change their monotonous, worry- free existence. We can attribute the last warning in Nonie's letter to some kind of paranoia, and then again, religious intolerance and racial discrimination are the two least advertised western traits.
The last bit of the letter goes on to prove and reconfirm the paranoia that people in the West are experiencing, and people such as this writer are just feeding on that, like blood-sucking parasites.
Yes, Islam is becoming highly intolerant. More and more educated muslims are
becoming more fanatic in the name of "pursuing the faith", and it is the
younger generation that is increasingly leaning to the violent side of
Islam. So, there are well- educated boys who say they do not want their
wives to earn, to work, etc. They want girls who wear the hijab, and mostly,
they insist on girls covering their faces.
I dread to think of a world where the so- called "religious muslims" will
have an upper hand, because they do not do things in moderation, and they
tend to bend ideas according to their whims and fancies. However, I
think its not just the muslims that have to be stopped, it is this whole quest for power that has to be stopped.
Atheist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew or Human, may your faith keep you, and may your luck keep you safe, from travail, destruction, and war.