Friday, 16 January 2004

Secularists Pretending to Be Islamic Jurists

(Note: While I have kept the original date on this post, it is heavily redacted from the original in order to better reflect my withdrawal from apologetics.)

I am so upset about the many accusations that Islam stands against women's rights.

A blog writer assumes that if Islamic Law is instituted, he would be able to marry four wives, dump one whenever he wanted, and marry an 11-year-old virgin. In every single one of these assumptions, he has ignored the very thing that he has attacking - Islamic Law.

He could indeed have four wives. This is likely the most unpopular provision in Islamic law. Many aspects of Islamic family law with regard to polygamy are troublesome, especially the fact that, unless a woman has inserted a protective clause in her marriage contract, a man can marry another wife without consulting her or asking her permission. Polygamy is also abused extensively.

Technically, a man is required to provide for every single one of his wives equally. He is also not allowed to live at a level that is in any way above theirs. In addition, each of the wives has the right to request her own house. Some men do this. Too many don't. Of course, having your own house doesn't ease the pain of being stuck in a marriage to a man who has legally shacked up with another women without saying a word to you.

It is, however, expensive. The expenses don't stop with housing, either. The man also needs to be prepared to pay his wives for doing housework, since in Islamic law a wife cannot be compelled to do the household chores. Children would add to his financial woes. Not only is he fully responsible for providing for children, he could also pay out more money to his wives for nursing babies.

Again, however, no amount of money can make up for the emotional pain of dishonesty and the fact that one's husband chose not to keep his zipper zipped.

Men cannot necessarily always divorce whenever they want. Some schools of thought do allow for this. However, not all accommodate men's whims so easily. Under Shia Islam in particular, Islamic law is set up so strictly that a man would practically have to get the permission of his society in order to get a divorce. He needs to watch the timing: he cannot divorce a wife if it is the wrong time of the month. He has to declare the statement properly or have a shaykh declare it for him. There are many shaykhs who are willing to sign off on any divorce for any reason. However, not all are like that. There are a number of them who require a real reason. It would be necessary, then, to know where to go for your insta-divorce. In addition to all of that, he needs to acquire three reliable witnesses who would consent to sitting as witness for his statements of divorce. Again, not everyone is amenable to facilitating an insta-divorce.

Eleven-year-old virgins require their fathers' permission to get married, according to Islamic law. While we do have far too many unscrupulous men who see their daughters as sources of gold (or camels, or cattle, or sheep), they are difficult to find in Western society. And today's boys should be forewarned: it is a growing custom to teach schoolchildren karate. Your "wife" could divest you of your testicles. Come to think of it, I would help her.

ADDENDUM Sunday 12 January 2014:
Islamic laws regarding marriage were established at a time when society wasn't required to care for orphans and single women. In fact, in today's world with corrupt or collapsing governments and entrenched misogynistic patriarchy, the societal default is still that women rely on men for their maintenance. We might not find favour in that, but I think that it is necessary to acknowledge such conditions. Islamic law was developed to address this societal baseline. In many cases, it was also intended to be adaptive. See, for example, the (almost unwilling) admissions of the flexibility of Islamic jurisprudence to allow for circumstances which arise, particularly in the modern West, in A New Perspective: Women in Islam. Sayyid Qazwini upholds a traditionalist view of Islamic jurisprudence while often pointing out how it can be adapted to accommodate various situations. In addition, a somewhat recent method of interpreting and applying Islamic source texts towards jurisprudence has emerged in which one understands Islam as paving the way for reform: a "moral tragectory." It is referenced briefly in Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics, and Family Law Arbitration as a way of understanding Islam's intent to be the eventual abolition of polygamy. The moral trajectory theory is also explained by Dr Adis Duderija in his "A Case Study of Patriarchy and Slavery" (summarised here).

Regardless of which perspective one uses when viewing these issues, the fact is that Islam was revealed and developed in order to protect vulnerable people. Its intent was not to take advantage of and abuse them.

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