The Law Within Islam

The role of women in the Islamic world is an interesting – and possibly critical – one in many ways. I’m currently reading an excellent history: “The Middle East On The Eve Of Modernity: Aleppo In The Eighteenth Century” by Abraham Marcus.

Marcus devotes a lot of the book to the domestic economy of Aleppo – an important trading city in the 18th Century – and explores (among many, many other things) the roles of women, which were wider than I had presumed.

In the modern Middle East, the question of the role of women remains a central one, and one that many think will unlock a path to an Islam that can live within itself. Blogger Ali Eteraz has emailed me a few times to point me at his blog, Eteraz, and after reading it for a while, it’s one that I’ll highly recommend.He has a post up citing a recent oped in Pakistan concerning the potential changes in Pakistani law concerning women and testimony (attention is mostly paid by the media to issues of rape) and there was a kernel of the oped that was too important not to pull up and try and show around.

The essence of the fundamentalist argument is that Islamic law is a specialized science, decipherable only to people who spent many years of study in the subject. The experience of ordinary people, particularly the ordinarily pious or the ordinarily impious person, is irrelevant. What counts is what the truly pious think.

There are two problems with this approach. The first is that piety, especially when it comes to women’s issues, often turns out to be a riotous blend of ignorance and prejudice garnished with a fig leaf of morality. The second is that it excludes anybody who is not a certified and recognised Islamic scholar from having any say as to what law should be.

[emphasis added]

This is a point made in passing that rang like a bell for me as I read it. The foundation of Western society is the notion that the power of the state – codified in the law – is subject at some level to the will and opinion of the common citizen.

A world where that view of Islamic jurisprudence was dominant would be a world where I’d sleep far better at night. Read the whole thing, as well as Ali’s entire post (hell, read and bookmark his entire blog…).

We’re hammering ourselves against a wall, and it’s painful. But cracks and daylight are appearing. Slowly, too slowly, but they are there.

32 thoughts on “The Law Within Islam”

  1. Laws only go so far, then we have to depend on the decency of individuals.

    An American woman with an abusive husband isn’t that much better off than a Pakistani woman with an abusive husband…

  2. An American woman with an abusive husband isn’t that much better off than a Pakistani woman with an abusive husband…

    Time for monkyboy to go to school. (For it seems that he is not that much better off than the Pakistani women whose families will not allow them to go to school.)

    1. An American woman has a chance to avoid an abusive marriage by refusing to marry her abusive boyfriend. Many Pakistani women, especially from rural areas, are forced into arranged marriages.

    2. An American woman can get a divorce. Pakistani women can get one only with official permission, and outside of the Punjab or Sindh the answer is no, so don’t even ask.

    3. An American woman can seek help from authorities, shelters, support groups. A Pakistani woman can seek help from Allah by committing suicide.

    4. American women can seek help from their families. Pakistani women are expected to cut all ties with their families when they marry. Traditional Muslim men do not take crap from in-laws.

    5. Pakistani women are subjected to rape, forced prostitution, slave labor, burning with fire or acid, beating, and honor killing. There is little or no legal protection or punishment for these crimes. On the contrary, women are lucky to escape being stoned by the local government if their husband accuses them of adultery.

    6. Education is an important factor in avoiding and escaping domestic abuse, and Pakistani women have no right to education.

    And so on and so on and so on … here endeth the lesson.

  3. I can’t believe I left out the most important part of the lesson:

    7. American women can choose to live in an area where they can own a gun. (God created men and women, but Samuel Colt made them equal.) .45 ACP ammunition has such a profound civilizing effect, it’s hard to believe the Romans got along without it.

  4. Monkyboy, online handles like yours are supposed to be amusing, not descriptive. Nor is this the first time you’ve said something jaw-droppingly moronic that reveals zero understanding of the subjects you opine on.

    Glen’s responses, on the other hand, are highly useful as a reminder of many things that are great about the West and America in particular, and how far we’ve come. I commend him for treating your comment with more seriousness than it deserves, for the benefit of the rest of the reading audience.

  5. Glen — I’m in awe of that logical smackdown.

    Monkei — I’ll only add that in Pakistan and other Muslim nations honor killing is held to be proper and right; akin to Slavery in the ante-bellum South or the Final Solution in Germany.

    In Western Countries it’s held to be shameful, as is death by stoning for “adultery,” female genital mutilation, forced marriages, etc.

    More reason that Muslims cannot survive in modern society. If you wish to understand Jihad and Muslim terror, look no further than how Muslims treat women.

  6. I understand the problems woman face in Pakistan, joe.

    I think you are underestimating the problems woman have in America. Despite legal protections, several American woman are murdered by abusive husbands every single day and thousands more are assaulted.

    And if Roe v Wade is overturned…well, Pakistan will have nothing on America.

  7. “And if Roe v Wade is overturned…well, Pakistan will have nothing on America.”

    er… show me a woman in America who has been stoned to death for having premarital sex.

    Prom night, Freshman week, Spring Break, etc. would all carry the death penalty.
    ________________________________

    One thing I must specify about Pakistan is that it is a continuum. The closer you get to the Indian border, the more moderate less fanatical Pakistanis are. The further you get from the Indian border, the more jihad-oriented they are.

    Indian-ness still exists within some Pakistanis.

  8. monky,

    That would be about 750 killings a year. Out of a population of 300 million that is .00025% roughly. Or double that if you count only women.

    The difference is that in America such crimes are vigorously prosecuted. In Pakistan and elsewhere in the moslem world not so much or not at all.

    You mistake events for norms. And here I thought the lefties were supposed to be the great cultural experts.

  9. I’m pro-choice and that statement (#7) is ridiciculous. In fact, its so bad that I can only assume that it was said by a pro-lifer to discredit the opposing view.

  10. Cold comfort for a murdered woman that her attacker is prosecuted, M.

    As abusive behavior is frequently triggered in men when their wives becomes pregnant…abortion laws and abuse are connected.

    I believe we now have laws on the books that pregnant women trying to cross a state line will be arrested and delivered back home…

  11. No use in arguing with Monkey. He “Knows” with religious belief that America=bad, Pakistan=good.

    Pakistanis want to KILL a woman who appeared in a bikini in the Miss World contest representing Pakistan. Honor killings are held to moral, and let’s be honest Monkey doesn’t have a problem with them. He doesn’t have a problem with Iran hanging teenage girls for being raped, or stoning to death women for the same crime. He’s OK like all other Liberals. That Pakistan has laws mandating rapes of women to “avenge” “honor” is something he’s fine with.

    Because his religion tells him America=bad, and Muslims=good.

    I mean America is not perfect. Far better to destroy it. “Life is a mistake that must be erased.”

    Sheesh Libs are like the villains from Chronicles of Riddick.

  12. The behavior of Monkeyboy and Jihadis can be explained as follows :

    In nature, predators prey on the weak, defective, etc. to filter them out of the gene pool. Since humanity no longer has natural predators, nature had to create a mechanism by which certain members of humanity take actions to week THEMSELVES out of the gene pool. Nature thus programmed them to act as vehicles for the disposal of waste matter generated from the Darwinian process. Therefore, we have some humans who support suicide bombing, genital mutilation, gay marriage, partial-birth abortion, etc. or who oppose measures that would save their own lives, like the Patriot Act. Some humans are just programmed to self-destruct, and the new ‘survival of the fittest’ involves fighting off the destruction that these individuals try to impose on us.

    This is a fascinating example of how nature has adapted Darwinian natural selection to be self-induced.

  13. M. Simon,

    Careful, you are trying to use numbers with a leftist (please don’t call them ‘liberals’). If leftists understood numbers, they would not be leftists.

  14. “I believe we now have laws on the books that pregnant women trying to cross a state line will be arrested and delivered back home…”

    Are these pregnant women minors who are being transported without their parents’ permission — i.e., girls whom the law would view as having been kidnapped?

  15. monkyboy,

    You have hit on something which is part of my day job. Joe was entirely correct in stating:

    “… you’ve said something jaw-droppingly moronic that reveals zero understanding of the subjects you opine on.”

  16. I’m sorry if I fail to see how a woman’s family being able to have her arrested and dragged home so she can be forced to bear a child she doesn’t want shouldn’t be considered barbaric.

    Maybe you guys could put away your straw men construction kits and explain it to me with reason?

  17. I see that my lessons are wasted on monkyboy, but I’m going to bill him for them anyway.

    Cold comfort for a murdered woman that her attacker is prosecuted, M.

    In case you missed the last 3000 years of civilization, human societies subscribe to the theory that people are less likely to be murdered in countries where murder is against the law.

    I agree that this does not help a woman who is already face to face with an attacker, which is why you need to review lesson #7, above.

    It’s a tragedy when a human being has to die, even when he is a scumbag gunned down in legitimate self-defense. By your logic, however, his death is an insignificant event: There is no difference between a can of tuna and a man with a 9mm bullet in his brain, as both are equally dead.

    I believe we now have laws on the books that pregnant women trying to cross a state line will be arrested and delivered back home…

    Who the hell is we? Where do you live, in a freaking Twilight Zone episode? In the real United States, we have an important concept we call “no prior restraint”.

    Your homework assignment is to get a clue and bring it to class.

  18. #12 Monky,

    Well my cultural expert let me make this simple. Where crimes are vigorously prosecuted they happen at a lower rate.

    You are saying that if there are murders in a country there is no difference between a rate of 1 per 100,000 and 500 per 100,000.

    That sir is absurd.

    Perfection we have not. However, I can tell the difference between better and worse.

  19. I’m afraid the tinyurl link seems to have died. Do you have another link to the law in question?

    If we’re talking about minors — I’m still not sure that we are, or aren’t — then the issue falls on one of our culture’s grey areas. Individuals attain the maturity to make serious decisions at different points, but the law has to set bright lines that are clear, and which apply to everyone equally (cf. 14th Amendment).

    That, doubtless, leads to injustice in particular cases — indeed, quite possibly in every particular case. All the same, I’m not sure there’s another way to go about it.

    Now, if you’re talking about adults, that’s another question.

  20. Sorry, my bad Grim, I forget thomas only has temp links..

    Check out H. R. 748

    Yes, it concerns minors, but aren’t many of the abuses of Pakistani woman against minors?

    I really don’t see the difference between parents forcing their 14 year old into a marriage and parents forcing a 14 year old to have a child she doesn’t want.

    M.Simon,

    Are you saying America has a low murder rate?

    I was under the impression that America has a rather high murder rate.

    Cases where woman are the victims of Muslim honor killing make international headlines…that implies they are infrequent.

  21. I can only assume that monkyboy is talking about minors, which brings up another difference between Pakistan and America.

    In America, girls who run away from home are usually taken back home by the authorities. Unless they have been abused at home, in which case an impressive array of legal and social services are theirs for the asking. If they are forcibly abducted, the entire republic stirs its limbs. The entire apparatus of the law, from local to federal, will be notified of the abduction, which will probably be a major national news story within 24 hours.

    A girl who runs away from home in Pakistan, unless she comes from an influential family, will disappear into the forced prostitution system, or be sold at one of the slave markets that operate openly in tribal areas of the country. Along the way she will be repeatedly raped, since it is essentially legal to rape a girl that does not “belong” to someone.

    A girl in Pakistan who accountably becomes pregnant? The traditional punishment for that is death, even if the girl was raped. The sentence is carried out by her own family.

    It doesn’t take a subtle mind to grasp the basic differences here.

  22. Hehe, Glen,

    No…I am talking about minors in certain states (guess which) being forced by their parents to give birth to a child against their will.

    Nothing subtle about it.

  23. Let me see if I’ve got this straight …

    Some US states have laws mandating the return of runaway female minors to their families.

    Therefore, “An American woman with an abusive husband isn’t that much better off than a Pakistani woman with an abusive husband.”

    Are you on drugs?

  24. “I really don’t see the difference between parents forcing their 14 year old into a marriage and parents forcing a 14 year old to have a child she doesn’t want.”

    That’s because you’re an idiot.

    Honor Killings by Muslims is so common only the most horrendous cases make the headlines. And some of the crimes are so horrendous they do exactly that.

    This really just shows why I am an EX Democrat. Seriously. America is hardly perfect, but it’s far better than the Muslim hell-holes Monkey extols. What Monkey is really at is he hates America and wants it to die. To be replaced by anything, even the Caliphate.

  25. No…I am talking about minors in certain states (guess which) being forced by their parents to give birth to a child against their will.

    I’m sure you would be equally appalled by a minor who is forced to have an abortion. Neither scenario is a happy one, and this is a typical example of conflicting rights – which only occurs in societies where people have rights to begin with.

    You surely see the difference between that, and a girl who is KILLED by her family because she was the victim of a rape? That’s a Sharia Abortion – you both go. You see the difference, right?

    Right? Right?

  26. Why are you guys bothering to feed the troll?

    You cannot have a rational discussion or debate with someone whose entire mental framework is built around political correctness, moral equivalency and the notion that the root cause of all problems in the world is the United States.

    There is no reasoning with this mindset, because there is *no* evil that cannot be rationalized, justified or nuanced away. None.

    I used to think you could get through to these people too — then I read Bruce Bawer’s “While Europe Slept” and my eyes were finally (fully) opened to the sheer depth of willfull denial it takes to buy into liberal / social democratic thinking. If 9/11, Madrid, London, Bali, Beslan, the Paris riots and the Iraq “insurgency” couldn’t wake these people up to cold, hard reality… I mean, what makes you think you can?

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