A Reply to Dr. Jamal Badawi and Others

By Samuel Green

While it needs to be acknowledged that atrocities have been committed against women overseas in the name of Islam, it also needs to be acknowledged that such practices have no basis in the religion itself. More than 1400 years ago Islam afforded women rights comparable to those in our contemporary international human rights documents. It is not Islam but other factors, notably cultural practices alien to the religion itself, which are the cause of the mistreatment of women. (Sydney Morning Herald, "Grim picture of sharia hides its useful aspects", Ghena Krayem and Haisam Farache, February 18, 2008)

Statements such as these are now common in our media. They assure us that the harsh treatment of women in Islamic countries is the result of the culture and not of the religion of Islam.

There are also Islamic authors, like Dr. Jamal Badawi, who write articles and booklets that promote Islam's teaching on women. They claim that Islam brings light into the world and leads humanity out of ignorance, especially in the area of the treatment of women. They also seek to attack and discredit what the Bible teaches and show that Islam is superior to Christianity.

My main criticism with these Islamic authors is that they are selective with the material they quote from the Qur'an and Hadith. They are happy to quote some parts of the Qur'an and Hadith when these books speak favourably about women, but avoid quoting the harsher statements. In this article I am NOT trying to present a summary of all that the Qur'an and Hadith teach about women. (I believe that some of this teaching is helpful.) Instead I am presenting the references that many Islamic authors deliberately avoid when they write their books about the place of women in Islam.


Muhammad beat his wives.

... He (Muhammad) struck me (Aisha) on the chest which caused me pain ... (Muslim: bk. 4, no. 2127)

Muhammad's companions also beat his wives and other women.

... (Umar) found the Prophet sitting sad and silent with his wives around him. ... (Umar) decided to say something which would make the Prophet laugh, so he said, "Messenger of God, I wish you had seen the daughter of Kharija when she asked me for extra money and I got up and slapped her on the neck." God's messenger laughed and said, "They are around me as you see asking for extra money." Abu Bakr then got up, went to A'isha and slapped her on the neck, and Umar did the same to Hafsa. (Mishkat Al-Masabih: vol. 2, p. 690; Muslim: bk. 9, no. 3506, Siddiqui)

Narrated Aisha: A necklace of mine was lost at Al-Baida' and we were on our way to Medina. The Prophet made his camel kneel down and dismounted and laid his head on my lap and slept. Abu Bakr came to me and hit me violently on the chest and said, "You have detained the people because of a necklace." ... (Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 132, Khan)

Muhammad's companions beat their own wives.

Iyas b. Abdullah reported God's messenger as saying, "Do not beat God's handmaidens;" but when `Umar came to God's messenger and said, "The women have become emboldened towards their husbands," he gave licence to beat them. Then many women went round God's messenger's family complaining of their husbands, and he said, "Many women have gone around complaining of their husbands. Those are not the best among you." Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, and Darimi transmitted it. (Mishkat Al-Masabih: vol. 2, p. 692)

In the Qur'an Muhammad commanded that beating was part of the process for controlling a rebellious wife.

And those (wives) you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. (Qur'an 4:34, Arberry)

`Umar reported the Prophet as saying, "A man will not be asked about why he beat his wife." Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah transmitted it. (Mishkat Al-Masabih: vol. 2, p. 693)

A woman has the right not to be hit in the face.

Hakim b. Mu`awiya al-Qushairi quoted his father as telling that he asked, "Messenger of God, what right can any wife demand of her husband?" He replied, "That you should give her food to eat, clothe her when you clothe yourself, not strike her on the face, and do not revile her or seperate from her except in the house." Ahmad, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah transmitted it. (Mishkat Al-Masabih: vol. 2, p. 691)

The husband's right to beat his wife is Shariah law in every school of Islam.

appendix on beat Here is every other use of the word in the imperative 2:60, 2:73, 4:34, 7:160, 8:12, 18:32, 18:45, 20:77, 26:63, 36:13, 38:44 Volume 6, Book 60, Number 466: Narrated Abdullah bin Zama: That he heard the Prophet delivering a sermon, and he mentioned the shecamel and the one who hamstrung it. Allah's Apostle recited:-- 'When, the most wicked man among them went forth (to hamstrung the she-camel).' (91.12.) Then he said, "A tough man whose equal was rare and who enjoyed the protection of his people, like Abi Zama went forth to (hamstrung) it." The Prophet then mentioned about the women (in his sermon). "It is not wise for anyone of you to lash his wife like a slave, for he might sleep with her the same evening." Then he advised them not to laugh when somebody breaks wind and said, "Why should anybody laugh at what he himself does?"


The Qur'an, speaking figuratively about sex, says of women:
Women are your fields: go, then, into your fields whence you please. (Qur'an 2:223, Dawood)

Muhammad gave strong warnings to women who would not accommodate their husband's or master's desire.

Talq b. `Ali reported God's messenger as saying, "When a man calls his wife to satisfy his desire she must go to him even if she is occupied at the oven." Tirmidhi transmitted it. (Mishkat Al-Masabih: vol. 2, p. 691)

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (p.) said, "if a man invites his wife to sleep with him an she refuses to come to him, then angels send their curses on her till morning." (Bukhari: vol. 7, bk. 62, no. 121, Khan)


Lo! those who kept their duty will be in a place secure amid gardens and water-springs, attired in silk and silk embroidery, facing one another. Even so (it will be). And we shall wed them unto fair ones with wide, lovely eyes. (Qur'an 44:51-54, Pickthall)

Surely for the godfearing awaits a place of security, gardens and vineyards and maidens with swelling breasts, like of age, and a cup overflowing. (Qur'an 78:31-33, Arberry)

Perfectly We formed them, perfect, and We made them spotless virgins, chastely amorous, like of age for the Companions of the Right. (Qur'an 56:34-35, Arberry)

Anas reported the Prophet as saying, "In paradise the believer will be given such and such power to conduct sexual intercourse." He was asked whether we would be capable of that and replied that he would be given the capacity of a hundred men. Tirmidhi transmitted it. (Mishkat Al-Masabih: vol. 3, p. 1200)

It has recently been fashionable in some circles to say that the Qur'an does not promise Muslim men virgin women in paradise. Instead it is argued that the word for "spotless virgin/maiden" should be translated as "white raisins". However, just reading these verses in context shows that this is a false translation, for white raisins do not have swelling breasts or are chastely amorous, and you certainly cannot marry raisins. The inescapable truth is that Muhammad claimed that Allah will reward Muslim men with virgin women in paradise. This is part of the way that Islam thinks about women.

Koran 78:31 As for the righteous, they shall surely triumph. Theirs shall be gardens and vineyards, and high-bosomed virgins for companions: a truly overflowing cup. Koran 37:40-48 …They will sit with bashful, dark-eyed virgins, as chaste as the sheltered eggs of ostriches. Koran 44:51-55 …Yes and We shall wed them to dark-eyed houris. (beautiful virgins) Koran 52:17-20 …They shall recline on couches ranged in rows. To dark-eyed houris (virgins) we shall wed them… Koran 55:56-57 In them will be bashful virgins neither man nor Jinn will have touched before. Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny ?” Koran 55:57-58 Virgins as fair as corals and rubies. Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny ?” Koran 56:7-40 …We created the houris (the beautiful women) and made them virgins, loving companions for those on the right hand.. ” Koran 55:70-77 “In each there shall be virgins chaste and fair… Dark eyed virgins sheltered in their tents whom neither man nor Jin will have touched before.. Volume 6, Book 60, Number 402: Narrated Abdullah bin Qais: Allah's Apostle said, "In Paradise there is a pavilion made of a single hollow pearl sixty miles wide, in each corner of which there are wives who will not see those in the other corners; and the believers will visit and enjoy them. And there are two gardens, the utensils and contents of which are made of silver; and two other gardens, the utensils and contents of which are made of so-and-so (i.e. gold) and nothing will prevent the people staying in the Garden of Eden from seeing their Lord except the curtain of Majesty over His Face."


Muhammad's sunnah (practice) was polygamy, the Qur'an instructs about polygamy, there are Muslim leaders in the West who want polygamy, Islam is a polygamist religion, and the Qur'an promises Muslim men many virgins in heaven. From beginning to end, Islam is a polygamous religion.

The Muslim male is allowed multiple wives and an unlimited number of slave girls:

And those (men) who preserve their chastity Save with their wives and those whom their right hands possess, for thus they are not blameworthy. (Qur'an 70:29-30, Pickthall)

However, while Muhammad had many wives and slaves girls, and taught this in the Qur'an, he would only allow his son-in-law, Ali, to have one wife. Why? Because Ali was married to Muhammad's daughter, Fatima.

Narrated Al-Miswar bin Makhrama: I heard Allah's Apostle who was on the pulpit, saying, "Banu Hisham bin Al-Mughira have requested me to allow them to marry their daughter to Ali bin Abu Talib, but I don't give permission, and will not give permission unless 'Ali bin Abi Talib divorces my daughter in order to marry their daughter, because Fatima is a part of my body, and I hate what she hates to see, and what hurts her, hurts me." (Bukhari: vol. 7, bk. 62, no. 157, Khan)

What hypocrisy!

Polygamy is fundamentally different to monogamy. In a monogamous marriage the man and women both promise to be sexually faithful to each other and to bind themselves to each other alone. However, in a polygamous marriage only the woman is bound to the man and must be sexually faithful to him. The man is free to keep looking for other women. Polygamy completely changes the way a man thinks about women and what it means to be faithful to them.

Islam is polygamous and monogamous Some say that the polygamy was only for a certain situation of too many women but paradise has polygamy. Muslims men use the promise of polygamy to entice men to embrace Islam polygamy - find verse on do not deny what Allah has not lawful. 66:1 A man is allowed to have other women and Muslim men know that they are allowed this. Muhammad never stopped looking for new wives. Any attractive woman he took. (Hadiths from Ibn Sa'd about Muhammad liking women and perfume) He is a bad example for us. Polygamy is a man's right in Islam, 33:50, 66:1 Polygamy is natural; women want one man and men want many. But do women want their man to have many? None of Muhammad's wives expected Muhammad to be faithful to them alone. Many Muslims may choose not to practice polygamy but the Qur'an and Sunnah do teach it. 66:1 says that you not deny what Allah has made lawful and in the context this refers to polygamy. This does not honour women. Muhammad does honour women by doing this, this is not good guidance Volume 7, Book 62, Number 7: Narrated Said bin Jubair: Ibn 'Abbas asked me, "Are you married?" I replied, "No." He said, "Marry, for the best person of this (Muslim) nation (i.e., Muhammad) of all other Muslims, had the largest number of wives."


Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: When I got married, Allah's Apostle said to me, "What type of lady have you married?" I replied, "I have married a matron' He said, "Why, don't you have a liking for the virgins and for fondling them?" Jabir also said: Allah's Apostle said, "Why didn't you marry a young girl so that you might play with her and she with you?' (Bukhari: vol. 7, bk. 62, no. 17, Khan)

This is a very disturbing statement by Muhammad. Don't just ignore it or make excuses for him; it is Muhammad himself who says that he has a preference for young girls. And this is what he did when he was 52 years old.

Narrated Hisham's father: Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married 'Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old. (Bukhari: vol. 5, bk. 58, no. 236, Khan)

You may say that Muhammad's sexual relationship with a 9 year old girl when he was 52 was just part of the culture of that time. It may have been part of the culture, but this is not the reason that Muhammad gives. He said it was Allah who revealed and justified this relationship:

Narrated 'Aisha: That the Prophet said to her, "You have been shown to me twice in my dream. I saw you pictured on a piece of silk and some-one said (to me). 'This is your wife.' When I uncovered the picture, I saw that it was yours. I said, 'If this is from Allah, it will be done." (Bukhari: vol. 5, bk. 58, no. 235, Khan)

Muhammad actions are more than just cultural; they are believed to be the revelation of the perfect Muslim life; they are the basis of Islamic law and attitude to marriage. This is why Imam Bukhari included them in his collection. This was the character of Muhammad and part of the way that orthodox Islam treats women.

Surah 2:228,child bride


Bukhari: Volume 9, Book 86, Number 100: Narrated Abu Haraira: Allah's Apostle said, "A lady slave should not be given in marriage until she is consulted, and a virgin should not be given in marriage until her permission is granted." The people said, "How will she express her permission?" The Prophet said, "By keeping silent (when asked her consent)." Some people said, "If a man, by playing a trick, presents two false witnesses before the judge to testify that he has married a matron with her consent and the judge confirms his marriage, and the husband is sure that he has never married her (before), then such a marriage will be considered as a legal one and he may live with her as husband." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bukhari: Volume 9, Book 86, Number 101: Narrated 'Aisha: Allah's Apostle said, "It is essential to have the consent of a virgin (for the marriage). I said, "A virgin feels shy." The Prophet; said, "Her silence means her consent." Some people said, "If a man falls in love with an orphan slave girl or a virgin and she refuses (him) and then he makes a trick by bringing two false witnesses to testify that he has married her, and then she attains the age of puberty and agrees to marry him and the judge accepts the false witness and the husband knows that the witnesses were false ones, he may consummate his marriage."




Volume 6, Book 60, Number 139: Narrated Abdullah: We used to participate in the holy wars carried on by the Prophet and we had no women (wives) with us. So we said (to the Prophet ). "Shall we castrate ourselves?" But the Prophet forbade us to do that and thenceforth he allowed us to marry a woman (temporarily) by giving her even a garment, and then he recited: "O you who believe! Do not make unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you." find other hadiths saying not to do it. How is this different from prostitution. Is the West really decadent or just honest.


The Qur'an never mentions circumcision. The practice of male or female circumcision comes from the Hadith, Shariah and the consensus of Islamic communities.

The Hadith

Narrated Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah: A woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said to her: Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband. (Abu-Dawud: bk. 41, no. 5251, Hasan)

The Shariah

The following reference to Shariah comes from Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller - A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law. This book comes with the approval al-Azhar University.

Arabic TextAs translated in the book What the Arabic actually says
e4.3 Circumcision is obligatory (O: for both men and women. For men is consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. bazr) of the clitoris (n: not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert). (A: Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna, while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.) (p. 59) Circumcision is obligatory (for every male and female) by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the clitoris (this is called khufaad).

It is interesting to notice how this translator has softened the Arabic to make it more acceptable to a Western reader. However, the fact remains that female circumcision is Shariah law for several of the main Sunni schools.

Female circumcision is practiced in many Islamic countries, for example, Egpyt, Sudan, Iraq and Somalia.

He made it a law that they be circumcised and the women, too, and he ordered them not to keep the Sabbath and not to be baptized. Add the hadith about circumcision from bukhari and show how it does not specify men or women and that women have to do what they can. compare to Bible which says only male.


The head covering is so that women cannot be recognised. Find verse and hadith. No public identity. Muslim 3425


The Qur'an says that the testimony of a woman is not equal to that of a man. It says that the testimony of two women is required to be equal to the testimony of one man.
Call in two male witnesses from among you, but if two men cannot be found, then one man and two women whom you judge fit to act as witnesses. (Qur'an 2:282, Dawood)

Why is it that the testimony of a woman is only worth half that of a man? Muhammad explains in the following hadith.

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: The Prophet said, "Isn't the witness of a women equal to half that of a man?" The women said "yes". He said "This is because of the deficiency of the women's mind." (Bukhari: vol. 3, bk. 48, no. 826, Khan)
Volume 9, Book 88, Number 219: Narrated Abu Bakra: During the battle of Al-Jamal, Allah benefited me with a Word (I heard from the Prophet). When the Prophet heard the news that the people of the Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their Queen (ruler), he said, "Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler."


Volume 6, Book 60, Number 408: Narrated Alqama: 'Abdullah (bin Masud) said. "Allah curses those ladies who practice tattooing and those who get themselves tattooed, and those ladies who remove the hair from their faces and those who make artificial spaces between their teeth in order to look more beautiful whereby they change Allah's creation." His saying reached a lady from Bani Asd called Um Yaqub who came (to Abdullah) and said, "I have come to know that you have cursed such-and-such (ladies)?" He replied, "Why should I not curse these whom Allah's Apostle has cursed and who are (cursed) in Allah's Book!" Um Yaqub said, "I have read the whole Quran, but I did not find in it what you say." He said, "Verily, if you have read it (i.e. the Quran), you have found it. Didn't you read: 'And whatsoever the Apostle gives you take it and whatsoever he forbids you, you abstain (from it). (59.7) She replied, "Yes, I did," He said, "Verily, Allah's Apostle forbade such things." "She said, "But I see your wife doing these things?" He said, "Go and watch her." She went and watched her but could not see anything in support of her statement. On that he said, "If my wife was as you thought, I would not keep her in my company." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Volume 6, Book 60, Number 409: Narrated Abdullah (bin Mus'ud): Allah's Apostle has cursed the lady who uses false hair.


O ye who believe! Draw not near unto prayer when ye are drunken, till ye know that which ye utter, nor when ye are polluted, save when journeying upon the road, till ye have bathed. And if ye be ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have touched women, and ye find not water, then go to high clean soil and rub your faces and your hands (therewith). Lo! Allah is Benign, Forgiving. 4:43


Ibn Abbas reported that Allah's Messenger said: I had a chance to look into paradise and I found that majority of the people was poor and I looked into the Fire and there I found the majority constituted by women. (Muslim: bk. 36, no. 6596-6601, Siddiqui)

(Muhammad) passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He 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. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion." (Bukhari: vol. 1, bk. 6, no. 301, Khan)


Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The woman is like a rib; if you try to straighten her, she will break. So if you want to get benefit from her, do so while she still has some crookedness." (Bukhari: vol. 7, bk. 62, no. 113, Khan)


Has Islam brought light into the world and lead humanity out of ignorance regarding women? Is the harsh treatment of women in Islamic countries just a matter of culture and not religion? In order to answer these questions you must consider all of what the Qur'an and Hadith teach and not just a select few verses. Dr. Badawi, and Islamic writers like him, only tell half the truth. They select references which make Islam appear attractive. The references I have presented are the other half of what Islam teaches. This teaching becomes important to Muslim leaders not when they are promoting Islam but when they are in power.

Conclusion - It is not hard to find out what the Qur had say. Therefore why do Muslims say this is the culture not book? Muslims are in denial about what the qu The culture is very often much better than the religion. Most Muslim men treat their wives better than the guidance of the Qur'an and Hadith.


The Place of Women in Pure Islam by P. Newton.


Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller - A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law (Translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller) Maryland, U.S.A.: Amana Publications, 1994.

Mishkat Al-Masabih, Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1981, (translated by James Robson).

Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari (translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan).

Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, Sahih Muslim (translated by Abdul Hamid Siddique).

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Copyright © Samuel Green 2005.
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