by Hugh Fitzgerald
Imam Qari Asim has had some thoughts on the occasion of “International Women’s Day”:
International Women’s Day is an incredibly important date, which should act as a reminder that we must live its values on every other day of the year. This year, more than ever, men have a responsibility to take part in the conversation, and have a responsibility to do what they can to further women’s rights. It is not women’s responsibility alone.
I am often asked about women’s role in Islam. The reality is that women are an integral part of both Islam and Britain alike. The Quran regards men and women as equals in the sight of God. It’s time, then, that we champion the success of Muslim women such as Malala Yousafzai, Mishal Husain and Nadiya Hussain, who are throwing [sic for ‘shining’] a positive spotlight on the contribution that Muslim women make to British society and who give young girls up and down the country and around the world someone to look up to.
Islam grants women, as it does men, fundamental rights to life, property, and opinion, and has done so for more than 14 centuries. However, it cannot be denied that despite this, they’ve had to fight for equality every step of the way. Men have sought control over their finances, opinions and fundamental rights to life, but “Time’s Up” on those controls; it’s time for a cultural shift.
Women are an “integral part of both Islam and Britain?” Well, yes, I suppose it is nice to have the obvious expressed, in the theatre of the absurd that is Islamic apologetics. But what’s this about the Qur’an regarding “men and women as equals”? If that is so, why does a daughter inherit half of what a son inherits? Why is a woman’s testimony worth only half that of a man? Why does a husband have the right to “beat” a disobedient wife, but a wife has no such right to “beat” her husband? Why does a Muslim man have a right to as many as four wives, while a Muslim woman can only have one husband? Why can a Muslim man divorce his wife merely by uttering the triple-talaq, while a wife must go through a complicated procedure, not always successful, to divorce her husband? Neither the Qur’an nor the Hadith treat women and men as “equals in the sight of God,” and Imam Qari Asim knows this perfectly well, but devoutly hopes you don’t and never will.
And what “fundamental rights to life, property, and opinion” is he talking about? Where is this “fundamental right to life” expressed anywhere in the Qur’an? Of course, Kuffars, men and women, have no such right: “kill the Infidel wherever you find him” the Qur’an commands in several places. But where is the verse — youth wants to know — that gives Muslim women, or men, the right to life? As to “property,” a woman does have a “fundamental right” in Islam to own and dispose of her own property (but must get her husband’s permission if she wishes to give more than one-third of what she possesses to charity). However, a woman” has no “right” to inherit equally with a man. As to the “fundamental right” of a woman to her opinion, there is no way to prevent her from having an opinion, but what counts is whether or not she has a right to express her opinion. And what good is having an opinion if you are forbidden from expressing it? In Islam, neither men nor women have a right to express an opinion that calls any part of Islam into question, or that is judged to be blasphemous. Free speech is not desirable, much less recognized as a right, in Islam.
I’ll never fully understand the fight that women experience daily. I do, however, recognise that fight and see suffering in society as well as in the Muslim community that I know needs to be stopped. From domestic violence to honour-based violence, being denied access to certain mosques, or having headscarves ripped off by an ignorant member of the public, it’s time for women to be treated equally and with dignity.
Notice how Imam Qari Asim does not explain that some forms of “domestic violence” can be justified in Islam: a “disobedient” wife can be beaten. Nor does he explain that the “honor-based violence” actually includes “honor-killings” or homicide, where a Muslim male kills a female in the family for “dishonoring” it and in some Muslim lands, goes either unpunished or receives an absurdly light punishment. Reasons that have been given to justify such murders include: refusing to enter an arranged marriage; being in a relationship that is disapproved by their family; having sex outside marriage; becoming the victim of rape; dressing in ways which are deemed inappropriate; engaging in non-heterosexual relations; renouncing a faith.
Sadly, we have seen some sickening instances in the news of some British Muslims and those of Pakistani heritage disproportionately involved in the localised grooming of vulnerable girls. Their actions are as horrifying as those exploiting my religion in their fight for Isis. None of these actions represent Islam, and they do not represent our communities or society. Any regressive demands – whether it be forced marriage, honour killing or social and economic exclusion – voiced in the name of Islam must not be tolerated.
As to grooming gangs, look at how he puts it: Pakistanis are “disproportionately involved.” No, not disproportionately — it is only Pakistanis (or as he delicately puts it, “those of Pakistani heritage”) who have been involved. Then he describes “localized” grooming; the adjective is meant to dishonestly suggest that the grooming goes on in only in a few places, but the grooming gangs are known to have operated all over England, and some claim that it may have involved possibly as many as one million victims. Rotherham, with at least 1400 victims, is the one we have heard about the most, but it is not an isolated example.
Then there is the exculpation of Islam: the grooming gangs are just like members of ISIS, for both “[exploit] my religion.” He adds, just to drive the absurd point home, that “none of these actions represent Islam.” But they do, for in Islam, Infidel women are fair game for Muslim men; they can be treated as “those slaves whom the right hand possesses.” The Pakistani predators allowed themselves to believe that their actions, victimizing only Infidel women, were justified in Islam.
I refuse to stand by and remain silent while extremist narratives dictate that Islam oppresses women. White supremacist groups like the English Defence League only fuel Islamophobia by claiming that the actions of a few represent the whole of Islam. Sexual offenders bring nothing but shame on their religion, their families and communities. We need to be robust in always calling out who the criminal is, whether it be a far-right individual or a member of the Muslim community, and work to protect and stand up for women.
It’s not “extremist narratives” — from Islamophobes — that “dictate that Islam oppresses women.” It’s the Qur’an, that declares a woman’s testimony worth half that of a man; that a woman can only inherit half the property that a male relative inherits; that permits polygamy and triple-talaq divorce for the man. The Qur’an tells Believers that “Men are managers of the affairs of women because Allah has made the one superior to the other.” It is in a hadith of Bukhari (6:301) that we learn the reason why a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man: “[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence.”
More nonsense, and more false equivalence. The English Defense League is not a “white supremacist group,” no matter how often it is described as such; its main mission is to warn about the stealth jihad, and especially the demographic danger Muslims pose in the U.K. The imam says that “we must be robust in calling out who the criminal is, whether it be a far-right individual or a member of the Muslim community.” How many acts of industrial-strength criminality, akin to the mass rapes in many parts of Britain by members of the grooming gangs, with possibly a million victims, have “far-right individuals” taken part in? Five? One? None?
Focusing on someone’s race or religion when calling them out for doing something illegal detracts from the real issue. The real issue is exploitation of vulnerable people.
But the “real issue” of the grooming gangs of England is not the “exploitation of vulnerable people.” That’s far too bland and misleading a description. In the first place, there is the sheer scope of the crimes of these gangs. In the town of Rotherham, at least 1400 girls were made victims of grooming gangs of Pakistanis. And it bears repeating: all over Great Britain, it has been estimated that a million girls may have been victims. This is not just the “exploitation of vulnerable people”; the word “exploitation” does not do justice to the immensity of the crimes. It was the sheer horror of those crimes that caused people to at first disbelieve the reports. Policy analyst George Igler has noted that “when you encounter an issue that is just so unbelievable, just so outside your frame of reference and understanding, the immediate human reaction is just one to not believe it at all.” The grooming went like this: A girl would be picked up, sometimes outside her children’s home (if she was a ward of the state) or at school (if she hadn’t yet dropped out of school) by so-called “romeos” — young Muslim men well-versed in the arts of the pick-up and of sweet-talk. They would make the girls feel important; they were given gifts and drugs. They were being groomed to be drug-addicted sex slaves. Then came the gang rapes. They were threatened with death if they tried to flee.
And George Igler said that “the thing you have to understand about this rape of children is it’s not just sexual abuse. It is unspeakable levels of violence, victims being raped with knives, victims being raped with bottles, victims having their tongues nailed to tables. These are sometimes girls who are picked up from a children’s home on a Friday, are being raped during the course of a weekend by hundreds of men and returned with bleeding groins back to the children’s’ home on a Monday morning and they [the authorities] don’t do anything about it at all.”…None of this is adequately conveyed by the imam’s phrase about the “exploitation of vulnerable people.”
The systematic, depraved, monstrously cruel exploitation of underage girls for sex by Muslim men continued for years in Rotherham — and elsewhere in England — without being stopped. The Pakistanis would pass the girls around among themselves, as if they were party favors, or make them available, in some cases, for mass rape by hundreds of fellow Pakistanis over a weekend.
The imam tells us it is wrong to focus “on someone’s race or religion” just because he “has done something illegal,” for he claims that only “detracts” [for “distracts”] from what the writer calls the “real issue.”
But the “real issue” here has everything to do with race and religion. All of the young girls who were sexually brutalized were white, English, and non-Muslim. All of their victimizers, the ones who, sometimes by the dozen, sometimes by the hundreds, would rape their victims, and just for fun, rape them too, with knives, with bottles, and torture them, even nailing their tongues to tables — that’ll teach them not to talk! — were Pakistani Muslims. Those men had been brought up in a culture where they were taught that non-Muslims were the “most vile of creatures” and that Infidel women were especially to be despised for the supposed looseness of their dress and morals. You could do with them what you wished. The rape gangs operated according to Islamic principles. As Robert Spencer has pointed out, “the Qur’an teaches that Infidel women can be lawfully taken for sexual use (cf. its allowance for a man to take ‘captives of the right hand,’ 4:3, 4:24, 23:1-6, 33:50, 70:30).” There are no reports of any Muslim girls being the victims of Muslim grooming gangs; that, of course, wouldn’t be right.
The message I have to [sic] the men in my congregation on International Women’s Day will be to start by thanking the women in your life for the sacrifices they have made – big or small – and take time to recognise what it must be like to be a woman around the world. Women in our communities, whether at work or in a mosque, must be valued and welcomed. British Muslim women are increasingly confronting inequalities and discrimination. A woman’s strength should be celebrated and supported – not abused or silenced.
If British Muslim women are “increasingly” confronting — that is, challenging — inequalities and discrimination, it is because they live in a non-Muslim society where the law does not sanction the “inequalities and discrimination” upheld by Islam. When they first arrive in Great Britain, isolated from the broader British society, living in a Muslim ghetto, Muslim women may not realize quite how different their lot is under British law. Gradually, as they come to understand that law, they are fortified, and readier to challenge their inferior status under Islam. They eventually realize that they do not inherit only half what male relatives do; that their testimony at law is equal to that of a man; that they cannot be divorced by a husband who merely utters the triple-talaq; that they cannot legally be “beaten” even if they are deemed “disobedient,” as can happen in Muslim countries where Qur’an 4:34 is observed. Since polygamy is not allowed in Great Britain, they need not endure the humiliations of being one wife among several. They take their strength from living in the land of the Kuffar, where women by both law and custom are equal to men. They are thus ready to take on the “inequalities and discrimination” that Muslim men still attempt to observe, even living in Great Britain.
Or could our writer the imam possibly mean his readers to understand that the “inequalities and discrimination” to which he refers are those which British Muslim women supposedly endure from the “islamophobic” Kuffar? Just on the off chance that he did, I looked high and low, but could not find online a single instance where a Muslim woman has endured “inequalities and discrimination” at the hands of non-Muslims in Great Britain. What I have found, instead, is a widespread and hypertrophied fear among Infidels of being considered “islamophobic,” or guilty of anti-Muslim “racism,” and they have bent over backwards in Britain to show that they treat Muslims as equals or, if they discriminate, it is in their favor. The authorities, in schools and children’s homes, who did not report the grooming gangs, the police who for so long did not investigate those gangs, were determined not to be called “racists” or “islamophobes,” and so they allowed gangs, made up entirely of Muslim men, to victimize girls. all of whom were white, English, and non-Muslim. For those very reasons, in the eyes of their Muslim tormentors, they deserved the horrific treatment they received. But that, I’m afraid, is not something that imam Qari Asim is in any mood to discuss, not even on International Women’s Day.
First published in Jihad Watch.