Comparing “Wife Beating” in Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam

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Islam is the main target these days for accusations of misogyny and women hate. And truth be told, Islam does advocate for the authority of men in society and in the family. Islam is patriarchal.

But much of these attacks on Islam are coming from Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists. The problem is, people today are ignorant about the reality of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. You will find Hindus and Christians online, for example, who can cite every so-called misogynistic verse in the Quran or hadith in Sahih Bukhari. But those same Hindus and Christians don’t know the most basic things about their own religious scriptures.

First, let’s get some facts straight. All premodern societies are patriarchal. All premodern religious traditions are patriarchal. As such, premodern religious traditions usually hold that men have greater religious authority than women. Also, men have an obligation to protect and provide for their families. They are also given authority over their families. This includes a qualified right to physically discipline wives and children under particular circumstances. In all these premodern religions, religious authority and familial authority are interconnected. This is because the husband is responsible for providing his family with religious guidance and ensuring that his family abides by religious teachings.

RELATED: [WATCH] Is There “WIFE BEATING” in Islam? UNAPOLOGETIC Answer

Islam

Before getting to the other religions, let’s just briefly discuss Islam. Of course, everyone knows that Islam endorses a patriarchal social order. Although women are encouraged to acquire religious knowledge, men are supposed to hold positions of religious leadership. This is why in Islam, it is only men who can be imams who lead prayers and give Friday sermons. Only men can become judges, and politically, only men can become caliph. Also, men are given authority over their family. There are many hadith that teach this, but the most famous text on this issue is Qur’an 4:34, which reads:

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them [lightly]. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

Ibn Kathir provides the following commentary on this verse. He states:

“(Strike them) means, if advice and ignoring her in the bed do not produce the desired results, you are allowed to discipline the wife, without severe beating.”

In a hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim, the Prophet ﷺ said:

“Fear Allah regarding women, for they are your assistants. You have the right on them that they do not allow any person whom you dislike to step on your mat. However, if they do that, you are allowed to discipline them lightly. They have a right on you that you provide them with their provision and clothes, in a reasonable manner.”

Ibn `Abbas and several others said that the Ayah refers to striking that is not violent. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that it means, striking that is not severe.[1]

So, these texts are widely known and circulated in non-Muslim circles by those who want to attack Islam and make it look like a backwards and barbaric religion. But what is less well-known is that other religious traditions also endorse a patriarchal social order as well as wife beating that far exceeds anything found in orthodox Islam.

Judaism

Let’s start with Judaism. Judaism’s key scriptural texts are the Hebrew Bible and the Talmud.

Premodern Judaism teaches that men should rule over women in all areas of society. This means that the role of religious authority or rabbi is reserved for men only.

Only men can be rabbis because Jewish scripture places heavy restrictions on female religious education. For example, women are not allowed to be taught the Talmud. According to the Talmud, this is because women are deficient in intelligence, which will cause them to misinterpret the Talmud and distort Jewish religious doctrine. The Talmud itself prohibits female study of the Jewish scriptures. In Sotah 21b, we read:

“Rabbi Eliezer says: Anyone who teaches his daughter Torah is teaching her promiscuity. The Gemara asks: Could it enter your mind to say that teaching one’s daughter Torah is actually teaching her promiscuity? Rather, say: It is considered as if he taught her promiscuity.”

This prohibition is further explained by prominent rabbis like Maimonides. Maimonides says that, “A female in all species is more defective than the male.”[2]

Maimonides explains how this applies to the prohibition on women studying the Talmud, which is also known as the Oral Torah. Maimonides states:

“A woman, who studied the Torah, has a reward for it; but her reward is not like that of a man, as she was not commanded [. . .] And even though she has a reward for it, the Sages commanded that a man shall not teach his daughter the Torah (M. Sotah 3,3); because most women have no set mind to being taught and they turn the words of the Law into nonsense due to their poor intelligence. The Sages stated: “If one teaches his daughter the Torah, it is as if he taught her lasciviousness!” [ibid.] With reference to what are these words said? With reference to the Oral Torah. But with reference to the Written Torah, he ought not to teach her before the fact, though if he has taught her he is not as if he teaches her lasciviousness..”[3]

According to Judaism, men also have authority over women in the household. The Hebrew Bible is quite clear that women are to be ruled over by men. In Genesis 3:16, God says the following to women:

“I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

The Hebrew Bible also refers to the husband as “ba’al” which means lord and owner. This term implies that the husband is lord and owner of his wife.[4]

Because the husband has authority over the wife according to the Hebrew Bible, he is entitled to physically discipline her. The general opinion of the rabbis is that a man may beat his wife if the situation calls for it.

For instance, Maimonides states:

“A wife who refuses to perform any kind of work that she is obligated to do, may be compelled to perform it, even by scourging her with a rod.”[5]

Also in Deuteronomy Chapter 25 of the Bible, we read:

“If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.”[6]

What is noteworthy about this Biblical passage is that it gives the husband the authority to chop off his wife’s hand. The plain reading of the verse indicates that no authorities need to get involved. The husband doesn’t have to call the police or go before a judge. Nope, no need for any due process or any formality. He has the authority to chop up his wife himself. And to add salt to the wound, the Bible says, Don’t even show her pity!

RELATED: Brutal: Corporal and Capital Punishment in Judaism

Christianity

Let’s now turn to Christianity. Like Judaism, Christianity endorses the view that men should rule over women in all areas of society.

In Christianity, only men are entitled to be religious authorities. Just as a woman cannot become a rabbi in Judaism, she cannot become a priest according to traditional Christian teaching. Male religious authority is emphasized in the New Testament.

In First Corinthians 11:3, Paul states:

“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ.”[7]

In First Timothy 2:11 through 14, Paul states:

“Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”[8]

Christian scripture also affirms that husbands have authority over wives. This Christian view is based on the Hebrew Bible, or the Old Testament. As noted above, the Hebrew Bible asserts that women are to be ruled over by their husbands.

The New Testament not only affirms that husbands have authority over wives, it also compares the husband to God, asserting that the husband’s authority is like God’s authority.

In the Bible, Paul speaks directly to women:

“Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.”[9]

Similar views are expressed in Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:3-5, and 1 Peter 3:1.

Like other premodern groups, Christians have always understood the husband’s authority as including a qualified right to physically discipline wives. For example, Gratian’s twelfth century canon law text Decretum was highly influential in forming the Christian doctrine on spousal discipline for generations:

“A man may chastise his wife and beat her for her own correction; for she is of his household, and therefore the lord may chastise his own […] so likewise the husband is bound to chastise his wife in moderation […] unless he be a clerk, in which case he may chastise her more severely.” (as cited in Coulton 1II.234)

The Church authority Cherubino of Siena in 1477 wrote his famous text “Rules of Married Life.” In this text, he states:

“When you see your wife commit an offense, don’t rush at her with insults and violent blows…Scold her sharply, bully and terrify her. And if this still doesn’t work…take up a stick and beat her soundly, for it is better to punish the body and correct the soul than to damage the soul and spare the body…then readily beat her, not in rage but out of charity and concern for her soul, so that the beating will redound to your merit and her good.”[10]

Martin Luther shares a similar perspective when he states:

“The rule remains with the husband and the wife is compelled to obey him by God’s command.”[11]

Elsewhere, Luther explains how men are superior to women and how he beats his wife Katie by “boxing her ears,” which means hitting her on the side of her head.

Luther states:

“Women’s rule never did any good. The inferior ought not to glory over the superior, but the superior over the inferior. Katie can rule the servants but not me…when Katie gets saucy she gets nothing but a box on the ear.”[12]

Christians also emphasize that a woman is not entitled to divorce because her husband beats her. For example, John Calvin states:

“We do not find ourselves permitted by the word of God … to advise a woman to leave her husband … even when he beats her.”[13]

Modern Christians, especially Protestants, will predictably push back against this history and claim that the Bible itself does not actually endorse physical discipline of the wife. But this is nothing more than cheap liberal revisionism. The Bible does make it very clear that women are subject to the rule of their husbands, as we saw in Genesis 3:16 as well as the explicit directives of Paul in several separate places in the New Testament.

It was assumed by pre-19th century Christian authorities that this rule of the husband over his wife included the right of the husband to physically discipline her. Gratian makes this assumption explicit when he says, “For she is of his household, and therefore the lord may chastise his own.” The fact that it is his household authorizes the husband to beat his wife according to this logic.

Only modern Christians, who employ a liberal revisionist reading of the Bible, argue that somehow when the Bible tells wives to submit to the rule of husbands, this implies modern gender equality. If we were to apply this revisionist formula to other instances in the Bible, the results would be obviously ridiculous. For example, consider Romans 13:1-5, attributed to Paul. He says:

“1 All of you must obey the government rulers. Everyone who rules was given the power to rule by God. And all those who rule now were given that power by God. 2 So anyone who is against the government is really against something God has commanded. Those who are against the government bring punishment on themselves. 3 People who do right don’t have to fear the rulers. But those who do wrong must fear them. Do you want to be free from fearing them? Then do only what is right, and they will praise you. 4 Rulers are God’s servants to help you. But if you do wrong, you have reason to be afraid. They have the power to punish, and they will use it. They are God’s servants to punish those who do wrong. 5 So you must obey the government, not just because you might be punished, but because you know it is the right thing to do.”

Paul is explicitly connecting rulership with the power to punish. He says, to disobey the ruler is to disobey God and, therefore, punishment from the ruler is justified. Obviously, Paul understands that, with authority comes the right to physically punish. This, of course, naturally extends to the authority and “rule” of the husband. And this is exactly why premodern Christian authorities understood husbands as having this right and understood it as a right granted directly by the Bible itself.

The connection between authority and the right to physically discipline is also implied or explicitly stated elsewhere in the New Testament regarding slavery and parental authority over children. For example, in Titus 2:9-10, Paul states:

9 Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back,10 not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior.

Also in Ephesians 6:5:

5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ.

Why would slaves be trembling in fear before their masters? In 1 Peter 2:18, we read:

Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh.

So even if a master is harsh, the slave is ordered to obey his authority with “all deference.”

And of course, the Old Testament explicitly (and infamously) gives masters the authority to beat their slaves up to the point of death, in Exodus 21:20-21:

20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

With children as well, the Bible gives fathers the authority (and encouragement) to use physical discipline (see Hebrews 12:5-11 and 1 Timothy 3:4 in the New Testament and Proverbs 23:13-14, 20:30, 13:24 in the Old Testament).

In all these examples, physical discipline and punishment is assumed to be part and parcel of authority and rule, whether it is the authority of the ruler over his subjects, the master over his slave, the father over his sons, or husband over his wife. If we are to believe the modern Christian revisionism the authority of husband over wife is the only place the Bible does not allow physical reproach. But what is the proof of this? In fact, we can challenge all Christian proponents of this interpretation: Show us one pre-modern Christian authority who said the husband does not have the right to physically discipline his wife. This should not be difficult if indeed the modern revisionism is the “correct” reading of the Bible.

Yet, we can predict how Christian apologists will respond. They will first selectively deny the authority of the Old Testament (though they appeal to it in other areas when it suits them). Then they will selectively deny the authority of the Early Church authorities on wife beating, though they appeal to them when it suits them on the specific nature of the Trinity, Christology, the Church’s ban on polygamy, and other matters that are not elaborated explicitly in the New Testament. It is quite difficult for non-Christians to take such hermeneutical inconsistencies seriously.

RELATED: Feminism and the Death of Christianity: A Warning for Muslims

Hinduism

Now let’s look at Hinduism. Like Judaism and Christianity, Hinduism endorses the view that men should rule over women in all areas of life.

Women, along with lower caste Hindus are prohibited from studying the Vedas, which are the core Hindu scriptures. Women and lower caste Hindus are also barred from performing fundamental Hindu rituals.

This is emphasized in the central Hindu legal text Manusmirti. Manusmriti (9.18) reads:

“For women no rite is performed with sacred texts, thus the law is settled; women, who are destitute of strength and destitute of the knowledge of Vedic texts are as impure as falsehood itself; that is a fixed rule.”[14]

The notion that women cannot study the Vedas or perform Hindu religious rites based on the Vedas is affirmed in commentaries on Manusmirti, like that of Medhatithi. Medhatihi also emphasizes general female inferiority, commenting on the phrase “destitute of organs and devoid of sacred texts, women are ‘false’.”

Medhatithi explains this further:

“‘Destitute of Organs’—‘Organ’ here stands for strength;—courage, patience, intelligence, energy and so forth are absent in women; that is why they are prone to become over-powered by sinful propensities. Hence it is that they have to be carefully guarded.” ‘Women are false’;—on account of the inconstancy of their character and affections, they are deprecated as being ‘false’”[15]

The Hindu tradition emphasizes that women must always be completely dependent on men and subject to male authority. Like the Christian tradition, the Hindu tradition likens the authority of the husband to that of God. Hindu texts even demand that a wife worships her husband as a god.

Thus, Manusmriti (5.147-156) states:

147. By a girl, by a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house.

148. In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent. […]

151. Him to whom her father may give her, or her brother with the father’s permission, she shall obey as long as he lives, and when he is dead, she must not insult (his memory). […]

155. No sacrifice, no vow, no fast must be performed by women apart (from their husbands); if a wife obeys her husband, she will for that (reason alone) be exalted in heaven.

156. A faithful wife, who desires to dwell (after death) with her husband, must never do anything that might displease him who took her hand, whether he be alive or dead.

Other Hindu scriptures, like the Puranas, also emphasize that the husband is to be worshipped as a god. The wife’s religious duties center on such worship. In this way, the wife should obey her husband, worship his feet, and drink the water in which his feet are washed.

The Skanda Purana states:

33. She should never transgress the words of her husband. This is the vow of women; this is the highest virtue and the holiest of worships…

36. Desirous of taking holy dip in a sacred Tīrtha, she should drink the water with which her husband’s feet are washed. To a woman the husband is superior to Lord Śaṅkara and Lord Viṣṇu.

37. If a woman transgresses the injunction of her husband and performs holy rites, fasts and other observances, she takes away the longevity of her husband. After her death, she falls into a hell…

39. This is said to be the greatest and only sacred observance of women that they should resolve to take their food only after worshipping the feet of their husbands.[16]

Imagine drinking the backwash of your Hindu husband’s feet!

For Hinduism, the husband’s authority gives him the right to physically discipline his wife. Manusmriti prescribes the beating of wives with various objects. t states:

“The wife, the son, the slave, the servant and the uterine brother shall be beaten with a rope or a split bamboo, when they have committed a fault.”

In prescribing physical discipline for wives, Manusmirti affirms views which are common in other texts of Hindu scripture including the Vedas and the Puranas.

Garuda Purana (1.109.31) states that women in general should be beaten with harshness. Indeed, women are compared to drums. A woman is like a drum in that it is in her nature to be beaten. Garuda Purana states:

“Wicked persons, artisans, slaves, defiled ones, drums and women are softened by being beaten; they do not deserve gentle handling.”

Now, what if a Hindu wife refuses to have sex? The Vedas (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 6.4.7) teach the following:

“If she is not willing, he should buy her over; and if she is still unyielding, he should strike her with a stick or with the hand and proceed [i.e., to have sex with her despite her resistance], repeating the following mantra: ‘With power and glory, I take away your glory.’”

The Skanda Purana generally warns a wife against resisting beatings from her husband. If she does resist, she will suffer divine punishment by being reborn in another life as an animal such as a cat. Skanda Purana says:

43. On being struck, if she were to strike him back, she is reborn as a tigress or a cat.[17]

Just like in Christianity, in Hinduism women are prohibited from seeking divorce from their husbands. They’re also banned from remarrying after their husbands die. According to traditional Hinduism, the ideal wife burns herself to death in the sati ritual after her husband dies.

RELATED: Cannibalism and Necrophilia in Traditional Hinduism: The Case of Kali

Buddhism

Finally, let’s look at the supposedly peaceful, egalitarian religion of Buddhism. Buddhism shares the patriarchal belief that men should have authority over women. This applies to religious authority. Within Buddhism, religious authorities are monks. Religious leadership is given to male monks or bhikkhus. Females may become monks (bhikkhunis). However, they are subject to additional regulations and they must be subservient to male monks. Even the highest ranking female monk must submit to the lowest ranked male monk. For example, a woman who has been a monk for decades must submit to a male monk who has only been a monk for a single day. One Buddhist treatise states:

“A nun [i.e., female monk] of one hundred years of age shall perform the correct duties to a monk. She shall, with her hands folded in prayerful attitude, rise to greet him and then bow down to him. This will be done with appropriate words of salutation.”[18]

According to the Buddhist scriptures (such as the Pali Vinaya), initially, the Buddha completely refused to accept women as monks. He said that accepting female monks would cause his teachings to be distorted at a much greater speed. Instead of lasting 1000 years, his teaching would only last 500 years before being distorted simply because of including female monks along with the male monks.[19] As you can tell, the Buddha wasn’t exactly what we would call a feminist.

Not only did the Buddha institute patriarchy in the monasteries, he is also believed to have required it in marriage and family life. The Buddha very explicitly instructs wives to obey their husbands. He says:

“Train yourselves thus, girls… Active, alert to cherish him [i.e. the husband] always. Not to that man who brings her every joy she offers slight; nor will a good wife move to wrath her husband by some spiteful word; And she reveres all whom her husband honours, for she is wise. Deft, nimble, up betimes, she minds his wealth amid his folk at work and sweetly orders all. A wife like this, who with her husband’s wish and will complies, is born again where lovely devas dwell [i.e. in heaven].”[20]

On the other hand, the Buddha has an extremely negative view of women, seeing them as morally wicked, dangerous, and controlled by lust. The Buddha compares women to poisonous black snakes. He states that, like such snakes, women:

“Are impure, foul-smelling, frightening, dangerous, and they betray friends…They are wrathful, hostile, of virulent venom, double-tongued, and they betray friends…for the most part they are adulterous.”[21]

Quite strong words from the Buddha!

For the Buddha, time spent with women leads to moral destruction, and prevents a person from attaining salvation. According to tradition, the Buddha abandoned his wife, child, and elderly parents – refusing to care for them in order to focus exclusively on attaining an enlightened state of mind. The Buddha strongly encouraged other men also to abandon their wives and families.

In one famous story, the Buddha advises a disciple who still loves his wife and does not want to abandon her. The Buddha states:

“Women are lustful, profligate, vile, and degraded. Why be passion-tossed for a vile woman?”[22]

Now, let’s keep in mind that, in Buddhism, the Buddha is not the only religious authority. Other individuals who have attained enlightenment may acquire supernatural knowledge about the universe. This includes knowledge of proper moral principles or dharma. Premodern Buddhist societies utilized such supernatural knowledge to create Buddhist law. For example, Buddhist legal systems were created in Myanmar, Thailand, Tibet, and Mongolia.[23]

Buddhist legal treatises endorse tons of non-liberal practices that are characteristic of premodern societies, including patriarchal authority and the physical disciplining of wives.

Lets look at the traditional Buddhist treatises from Thailand, which are known as “Thammasat.”

These treatises explicitly endorse practices such as polygamy, slavery, and sex with slaves.[24]

Moreover, the treatises refer to the husband as the “lord” of his wife (chao mia). They also grant the husband the right to punish his wife by beatings and floggings.[25]

Traditional Buddhist legal treatises from Myanmar are known as “Dhammasat.” They parallel the teachings found in treatises from Thailand.

For example, Myanmar’s Buddhist treatises endorse slavery.[26] The treatises also include punishments for illicit sex. A husband who catches another man with his wife, is entitled to execute him. Men who commit adultery with others’ wives are also subjected to supernatural punishment. Hence, they are to be reborn 500 times in hell. Alternatively, their punishment may consist in being reborn as women or hermaphrodites.[27] Nothing could be worse as a punishment than being reborn as a woman, apparently.

Myanmar’s treatises describe a husband as the “lord and master of the wife.”[28]

The treatises grant husbands the right to use physical discipline against their wives. At the same time, such discipline is to be limited to open-handed slaps. One of the treatises reads:

“She [i.e., the wife] should be well admonished and only the open palm of the hand used.”[29]

RELATED: The Traditional Buddhist View of Women: Feminists Beware

Conclusion

To sum up, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism all teach a patriarchal social order where men have authority over women and are allowed to resort to physical means in order to establish that authority. This is true when it comes to religious leadership, marriage, and family life. The bottom line is, people can’t accuse Islam of being patriarchal without also criticizing these other religions. The difference is Muslims are honest about the patriarchal elements within Islam, whereas other religious groups lie about their scriptures and pretend like their religions value things like modern gender equality and liberal definitions of women’s rights. This is all a hoax.

Now, to be fair, all these religions also teach men to support and provide for women and to treat women with kindness. Although men have the right to physically discipline wives, such discipline is subject to various limitations and must be justified. That’s the general thing about patriarchy: It’s supposed to be about benevolent authority rather than cruel oppression.

That doesn’t mean that all patriarchal systems are the same, of course. Islam definitely differs with these other religions in significant ways.

For instance, Christianity likens the husband to God, and Hinduism goes a step further by insisting that the husband should be worshipped as a god. This is not acceptable in Islam. Moreover, Christianity and Hinduism lack the precise legal rules of the Sharia, and hence provide the husband with much more authority in matters of physical discipline with less accountability if he oversteps the bounds.

Also, many of the negative statements about women, which are found in other religious scriptures, do not have counterparts in Islam. This is especially true when it comes to Hinduism and Buddhism.

In Hinduism and Judaism, negative statements about women are used to justify barring women from studying scripture. By contrast, in Islam, women are not barred from studying scripture. In fact, a woman reading the Quran receives the same reward as a man for each letter read. This applies to other acts of worship such as prayer, charity, fasting, etc. This is explicit in the Quran in the famous verse of Surat al-Ahzab:

“Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allāh often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” (Surat Al-Ahzab, 35)

In Buddhism, women are called poisonous snakes in order to encourage men to embrace celibacy and abandon their wives. By contrast, in Islam, men and women are both considered of equal spiritual worth in the eyes of God.

“Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another…” (Surat Ali Imran, 195)

In Christianity, there is the concept of original sin, which is completely absent in Islam. Christians blame Eve for succumbing to Satan and causing the descent of herself and Adam from paradise. And furthermore, all women are now punished for Eve’s mistake with the pains of childbirth. Islam has no such message. In Islam, the descent of Adam and his wife was not caused exclusively by his wife, and thus there is no original sin that all women must suffer for. In fact, in the Quran we often find the sentence:

“And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.” (Surat Fatir, 18)

Furthermore, it is praiseworthy to be a loving caring husband. A Muslim husband who treats his wife and family well is rewarded by God. In fact, marriage itself, along with its qualities of affection and mercy among husband and wife, is a sign or miracle of God:

“And one of His signs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves so that you may find tranquility in them. And He has placed between you affection and mercy. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect.” (Surat Ar-Rum, 21)

Now, we do find certain negative statements in Islamic scripture about women, but there are also negative statements exclusively directed towards men. Negative statements about either sex are not necessarily objectionable in and of themselves as long as they are true. The problem is, many views articulated by other religions about women are simply not true.

Now, the adherents of these religions might respond and say, well Christianity and these religions have reformed and gotten rid of these patriarchal and misogynistic teachings; why can’t Muslims do the same?

What this response really means is that all these major religions have all sold out to modern liberalism. All these religions have thrown their traditions and their texts under the bus in order to adopt modern liberal gender norms. And the adherents of these religions are angry that Muslims haven’t followed them down the same path. Basically, Islam is the only religion that has remained true to its tradition. In reality, there is no such thing as Christianity in the modern world. Christianity as it was practiced for centuries is dead. What Christians practice today is not Christianity; it is liberalism with a Christian flavor. And what Hindus practice today is not Hinduism; it is liberalism with a Hindu flavor. Modern Buddhists practice, not Buddhism, and modern Jews practice, not Judaism, but liberalism with a Buddhist or Jewish flavor. It’s all one modern religion… but Muslims are not interested in that religion and are not going to be bullied by these sell outs to leave Islam and follow liberalism with an Islam flavor.

RELATED: The Genius of Islam | Episode 3, The Curse of Polytheism

By the way, what does it say about the validity of a religious tradition that is so willing to adjust and update with the times? Isn’t religion supposed to be about timeless truths and deep supernatural realities that don’t ebb and flow with the latest social conventions? Something for Michaela and her ilk to think about.

In my opinion, it would be beneficial for Muslims to discuss Islamic views on gender with members of other religious traditions. But unfortunately, this is no easy task because non-Muslims systematically conceal or distort the teachings of their religious traditions and instead regurgitate liberal revisionism. Muslims, in contrast, are honest. Our religion is an open book and we invite everyone to consider Islam and even embrace Islam. And as far as multifaith discussion is concerned, we hope other groups can discover some honesty about their own texts and traditions, especially if they want to criticize Islam.

Notes

  1. https://quran.com/4:34/tafsirs/en-tafisr-ibn-kathir
  2. p. 51 in Hannah Kasher. “Maimonides on the Intellects of Women and Gentiles.” In Interpreting Maimonides: Critical Essays, edited by Charles H. Manekin and Daniel Davies, 46-64. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
  3. p. 52 in Hannah Kasher. “Maimonides on the Intellects of Women and Gentiles.” In Interpreting Maimonides: Critical Essays, edited by Charles H. Manekin and Daniel Davies, 46-64. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.
  4. https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/wifebeating-in-jewish-tradition#:~:text=The%20Bible%20delineated%20the%20marriage,sexual)%20use%20of%20the%20property.
  5. (Isshut 21:10)https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/wifebeating-in-jewish-tradition
  6. Deuteronomy 25:11
  7. 1 Corinthians 11:3
  8. 1 Timothy 2:11-14
  9. Ephesians 5:22-24
  10. https://cyber.harvard.edu/vaw00/History.htmlSara McDougall. “Women and Gender in Canon Law.” In Judith Bennett and Ruth Karras (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Women and Gender in Medieval Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013):161-180.
  11. p.34 in Beverly Mayne Kienzle and Nancy Nienhuis. “Battered Women and the Construction of Sanctity.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 17(1)(2001):33-61.
  12. p. 180 in Preserved Smith. The Life and Letters of Martin Luther (Frank Cass & Co. 2006[1911]).
  13. p.34 in Beverly Mayne Kienzle and Nancy Nienhuis. “Battered Women and the Construction of Sanctity.” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 17(1)(2001):33-61.
  14. https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/manusmriti-with-the-commentary-of-medhatithi/d/doc201376.html
  15. https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/manusmriti-with-the-commentary-of-medhatithi/d/doc201376.htmlAlso see: Devi Bhagavata Purana, https://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/db/bk12ch14.htm
  16. Skanda Purana (Book 3, Section 2, Chapter 7: Verses 33-39)https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/the-skanda-purana/d/doc423628.html
  17. https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/the-skanda-purana/d/doc423628.html
  18. https://www.learnreligions.com/buddhism-and-sexism-449757
  19. p. 78 in Frances Wilson “The nun.” In: Diana Paul (ed.) Women in Buddhism (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985).https://www.learnreligions.com/buddhism-and-sexism-449757
  20. Anguttara Nikaya 5:33
  21. Bhikku Bodhi The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: A Complete Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications: 2012) p.830 from Sutta 229-230 in “Book of Fives”
  22. Asatamanta-jataka
  23. M.B. Hooker (ed.). Laws of South-east Asia: Volume I The Premodern Texts (Singapore: Butterworth & Co., 1986).Rebecca French and Mark Nathan (eds.) Buddhism and Law (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014)
  24. p. 173-175 in M.B. Hooker (ed.). Laws of South-east Asia: Volume I The Premodern Texts (Singapore: Butterworth & Co., 1986).
  25. p. 174-177 in M.B. Hooker (ed.). Laws of South-east Asia: Volume I The Premodern Texts (Singapore: Butterworth & Co., 1986).
  26. p. 10-12 in Emanuel Forchhammer. King Wagaru’s Manu Dhammasattham: Text, Translation, and Notes (Rangoon: Superintendent Government Printing Burma, 1892).
  27. p. 9 in Emanuel Forchhammer. King Wagaru’s Manu Dhammasattham: Text, Translation, and Notes (Rangoon: Superintendent Government Printing Burma, 1892).
  28. p.6 in Emanuel Forchhammer. King Wagaru’s Manu Dhammasattham: Text, Translation, and Notes (Rangoon: Superintendent Government Printing Burma, 1892).
  29. p.7 in Emanuel Forchhammer. King Wagaru’s Manu Dhammasattham: Text, Translation, and Notes (Rangoon: Superintendent Government Printing Burma, 1892).
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Maaz Ahmad Khan

Alhamdulillah for Islam