Inequality And Injustice For Women Under Islamic Law
Turkey announced on Saturday that it has pulled out from a landmark European treaty protecting women from violence.
In a move that will please Muslim conservatives, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s overnight decree annulling Turkey’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention — a human rights treaty of the Council of Europe signed on May 11, 2011, to combat domestic violence against women — is a blow to women’s human rights.
Hundreds of women gathered in Istanbul to protest against the move, more so since violence against women has soared during Erdoğan’s tenure; they argue that this is due to his support for traditional Islamic conservative values and impunity for perpetrators before the law.
A coalition of women’s groups said: “It is obvious this withdrawal will empower murderers, abusers and rapists of women.”
Erdoğan’s decision should not come as a surprise as his Islamist-leaning government has sought to recast Turkey into a country where the hakimiyyat Allah (Allah’s authority) prevails — last July he converted the Church of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
Inequality of Muslim Women in Daily Life
According to Islamic tenets, both men and women are considered equals:
- And their Lord responded to them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another.” — Sura 3, 195
- Anyone who works righteousness, male or female, while believing, we will surely grant them a happy life in this world, and we will surely pay them their full recompense for their righteous works. —Sura 16, 97
Yet if we were to scrutinize their roles in real life, one can easily observe that there is discrimination. A salient example is the forced wearing of the hijab.
The wearing of the hijab was instituted by the Prophet Muhammad in the early days of Islam. Within about one hundred years of his death, the institution of veiling and seclusion had been spread all over the Middle East. One and a half centuries after his death, the system was fully established.
As explained by Azam Kamguian, its primary reason is to control a woman’s sexuality:
“Veiling internalizes the Islamic notion in women that they belong to an inferior sex, and that they are sex objects. It teaches them to limit their physical movements and their free behavior. Veiling is a powerful tool to institutionalize women’s segregation and to implement a system of sexual apartheid. It signifies the subjugation and servitude of women based on Islamic doctrine and Quranic teachings.”
Inequality Spelled Out in the Quran and Hadiths
The subjugation of women is a strict application of Quranic and hadith verses— something that many Muslims refuse to acknowledge — that call for the degradation of women, such as:
- “They questioned thee [Muhammad] concerning menstruation, Say it is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not unto them till they are cleansed.” —Sura 2, 222
- “Your women are a tilt for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilt as ye will, and send (good deeds) before you for your souls, and fear Allah, and know that ye will (one day) meet Him. Give glad tidings to believers, [Muhammad].” —Sura 2, 223
- “Men, your wives are your tillage. Go into your tillage any way you want.” —Sura 2, 228
- “As to those women On whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share beds, (and Last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance): For God is Most High, Great (above you all).” —Sura 4, 34
- The Prophet said: “I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful.” It was asked: “Do they disbelieve in Allah?” (or are they ungrateful to Allah?) He replied: “They are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good (charitable deeds) done to them.” — Sahih al-Bukhari 1, 28
As many politically-correct Western and Eastern apologists for Islam repeatedly tell us that what is happening to women in Muslim countries is not in line with authentic Islam — keep in mind that Turkey became a secular state in 1924 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk when he abolished the caliphate. Sharia laws, especially those that touch on the status of women, are the most cruel and inhumane. Therefore, given Erdoğan’s jingoist Islamic bent, it was only a matter of time before he would apply the most cunning aspects of what Muslims hold as divine revelation with regard to women.
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University. He is also author of Islam: Religion of Peace? – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.