by Patrick D. O’Brien
Clarity & Resolve*
October 28, 2005
* Cross-posted with permission
A consortium of women from the Islamic world are callling for a “gender jihad” to promote equality and rights for the other half of Islam’s population. I wish them all the best, but their primary obstruction in such an endeavor is the immovable literalism that Islam has been beset with since its inception.
Organiser Abdennur Prado Pavon says the struggle for gender equality in Islamic countries involves refuting chauvinist interpretations of Muslim teachings.
The congress is in Spain, organisers say, because they want their message to reach the growing number of Muslim women in Europe.
Around 300 delegates are looking at women’s rights in the Islamic world.
Mr Prado [Why is this Congress organized by a man? —ed.], of the Catalan Islamic board, believes a common misconception in the West is that women’s liberation is not possible in Muslim societies.
Here’s the thing: Of course it’s possible—if a society is willing to separate church (or mosque) and state. Even if these cool ladies can manage to effect some sort of reform by which they can bypass the patently misogynistic tenets of the still literally interpreted Quran, until the totalitarian theocracy which Islam aspires to is eradicated, they will continue to run into the well-fortified wall of orthodoxy.
Islamic Feminism argues that the inferior legal and social status of women in Muslim countries is a result of misogynistic distortions of the teachings in the Koran.
Organisers say they want more collaboration with western feminists but say non-Muslim feminists need to challenge their anti-Islamic stereotypes.
Enlightened and freedom-minded Westerners will continue to hold anti-Islamic views until such a time that a sizeable amount of Muslims can decisively say that the Quran is not necessarily the inerrant and immutable word of God. Sadly, I see little hope for the chances of this happening. Not in my lifetime, at least. At the core of the Islamic faith is the belief that the Quran is God’s perfect, uncreated word as revealed to Muhammad.
Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme. —Quran 4:34