Was Abu Hamid Al Ghazali misogynist
Equality in Islam?
Again and again, however, Islam apologists claim in television programs and articles that women and men have equal rights in Islam.
Sometimes they go as far as Khola Maryam Hübsch, for example, and state that Mohammed was the first feminist. In the following I would first like to quote a famous passage from the Koran, namely Sura 4:34, which immediately refutes the corresponding absurd claims that Sharia Islam knows something like equality between the sexes. The translation comes from Rudi Paret, who is considered by experts to be the best translation of the Koran into German.
“Men are above (qauwāmūn ʿalā) women because God has distinguished them (by nature before them) and because of the expenses they have made of their fortune (as a morning gift for women?). And righteous women are humbly devoted to (God) and pay attention to what is hidden from (outsiders) because God is careful (i.e., because God is concerned that it should not be made public). And if you fear that (any) women will revolt, then admonish them, avoid them in the marriage bed and beat them (wa-dribu-hunna)! If they obey you (then again), then do (further) nothing against them! God is exalted and great. "
In the first part of this passage from the Koran, the superiority of men over women is clearly established. On the one hand, this is literally there and, furthermore, this interpretation also corresponds to the opinion of tradition. Furthermore - and this is most important - this is the practiced reality in the Islamic world, which is completely obvious to all people who are able to think objectively. The end of the above-cited passage from the Koran provides - as you can read there - a man's right to punish his wife. There is a cascade of three levels, which certain Muslims perceive as a kind of achievement. First the woman should be admonished and not immediately beaten. Then there is sex deprivation, which must be an enormous punishment, especially for those Muslim women who have to live in marriage without their own consent. Only then, when even that has not worked, should it be beaten. By the way, there are rules for this. You don't just hit your wife the way you want! The Sharia gives useful tips, as these two ladies from Australia present in this film with a lot of detailed knowledge. Other films on YouTube say similar things about it. The man should hit with a small stick, with a cloth or the flat of his hand, but not with his fist and, above all, never with the intention of hurting himself (because one (s) should not destroy his “property”, after all, is a gift of God).
After knowing this passage from the Koran, it cannot really be said that women and men have equal rights in Islam. This contradicts the clear wording of the Quran and claims are nothing more than Taqiya to defend Islam from criticism from "infidels" unless the person who utters such nonsense actually has no idea about Islam. In any case, such statements should not be taken seriously. Anyone who wants to speak of equality in view of this passage from the Koran certainly does not have the same understanding of what is normally understood by this term. Anyone who spreads such nonsense as that Mohammed was the first feminist like Khola Maryam Hübsch in the article linked above does not really differ from Kellyanne Conways with her "Alternative facts ".
To make it even clearer why, according to Islamic ideas, women are subordinate to men, I would like to remove the Nasihat al Muluk Quoting (Guide to Kings) the “great” Islamic thinker al-Ghazali. So that the meaning and the status of this al-Ghazali in Islam can be classified by the readers, here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry about this “philosopher”:
“Abū Hāmid Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Ghazālī, also Alghazāli for short (Arabic أبو حامد محمد بن محمد الغزالي, DMG Abū Ḥāmid Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-Ġazzālī; Persian ابو حامد محمد غزالی; Latin Algazel; born in 1058 in Tūs near Mashhad; died on December 19, 1111, with the honorable surname Huddschat al-Islām, was a Persian Islamic theologian, philosopher and mystic. Ghazali is still one of the most important religious thinkers of Islam. (...) While on the one hand he is held responsible for the downfall of philosophy in the Islamic East (in contrast to Islamic Spain, where it flourished), on the other hand it brought about a revival of theology. "
In other words, the work represents Nasihat al Muluk something similar to Il Principe (The Prince) of Machiavelli in the west, al-Ghazali playing a role similar to that of the great thinker of the Renaissance in the Islamic world. In any case, this al-Ghazali is so significant that four of his works have been included in the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works, and in all fairness I have to admit that Nasihat al Muluk not one of them. There is also a chapter on women in this book, which sets out the perfect nature of kings and their advisors through aphorisms and anecdotes. The chapter is called "Women and their good and bad sides". By the way, the book can be read in English here. The chapter on women begins on page 158 and the passage that I will quote below with my own translation is on pages 164 and 165. I can only encourage my readers to read at least this one chapter.
“As for the various characteristics that God in heaven has punished women with, here's the matter:
When Eve disobeyed Almighty God and ate the fruit from the tree in Paradise, which he had forbidden her, the Lord, bless him, punished women with 18 things: (i) menstruation; (ii) (the hardships) of childbirth; (iii) mother and father separation and marriage to a stranger; (iv) the pregnancy (by that man); (v) the inability to determine oneself (i.e. paternalism by the man); (vi) have a smaller portion of the inheritance (than men); (vii) the divorce inducibility but the inability to bring proceedings for divorce; (viii) the fact that it is legally permissible for a man to have four wives while women can only have one man; (ix) the fact that they are locked in the house (i.e. "
After this quote I would like to remind you again of Sura 4:34, which I reproduced above, which defines the subordination of women to men. Above, al-Ghazali lists a number of Islamic rules which are unfavorable to women and which are known to devout Muslims because they come from the Koran itself. There are hundreds of other rules that are unfavorable to women found in other Sharia sources, such as the hadiths. Al-Ghazali here focuses exclusively on Koranic content. He understands these disadvantages as God's punishment for serious sin, which not only led to the expulsion from paradise. Rather, God wanted to punish women with various things that are mentioned in the Koran. From this follows their worse position, which can be heard from these lines.
Although the position of women in Islam can be classified as questionable on closer inspection of this list, something considerably more questionable is hidden behind the al-Ghazali quotation. Here the Islamic syllogism becomes clear and in all its glory. This syllogism is ubiquitous in Islam and this core problem is even more serious than Islamic discrimination against women. It works something like this: According to Islamic beliefs, what is in the Koran is the direct word of God and is perfect in every respect. It is so perfect that even Mohammed stands in its shadow. Viewed from this perspective, the word of God is as perfect as a mathematical or physical law of nature, which is given and irrevocable like 1 + 1 = 2. In other words, every thinking in Islam begins under the premise of the truth of the Koranic content, which is like natural laws be valid. Thus, the disadvantages of women, which al-Ghazali has enumerated, are laws of nature, which in summary have a divine and natural law deeper meaning. Of course, this deeper meaning can also be found in Sura 4:34.
Since every argument of a person who follows these premises differs from our way of thinking, there is little hope that one could come to an agreement with such a person on a social or intellectual level. In our European societies, women and men have equal rights and Islamic ideas are diametrically opposed to these values. Our rules and ideas in this context do not come out of the absolute truth of a divine book, the contents of which apply like natural laws. Rather, objectivity and rationalism determine our thinking and acting in every area of life. As civilized people who are endowed with these characteristics, we can - to stick to the example - definitely determine that there are certain differences between women and men that justify different treatment. Pregnant women need special protection when fulfilling their duty to work. There is such a thing as maternity leave for very different, objectively understandable and well-considered reasons. There are objective reasons why compulsory military service is only mandatory for men in most states. In athletic competition, women and men are separated due to different physical strengths. Considerations like those in the Koran or the way in which conclusions are drawn in Islam, as the supposedly “great” Islamic scholar al-Ghazali does, are alien to us in every respect. On the one hand because they are objectively misogynistic and blatantly contradict the idea of equal rights and on the other hand they contain a pattern of thought that is completely unsuitable for a life in Europe. With this degree of absoluteness, state law is also subordinate to the truth of the Koran and every other social rule. Above all, this premise of the truth of the Koran is a hindrance to objective thinking, which is necessary for survival in our society. As I pointed out earlier, this paradigm, hostile to rationalism and objective thinking, is by far the bigger problem in Islam than gender discrimination. It is one of the main reasons why the Islamic world could not develop. Without an emancipation from this absoluteness of the Koran, Muslims will in any case never develop further and also never be able to integrate into Europe.
To answer the question asked at the end: No, Islam did not invent gender equality, nor does it contain anything that speaks for the emancipation of women. A Muslim woman does not even stand on the same level in faith as a Muslim man, although the opposite has been said over and over again. Before God be equal to men and women. That's not true. So the Friday sermon is only a duty for men. If a woman also wishes to follow the sermon, there is no place for her in most mosques. Even in the afterlife, where things are supposed to get so much better for Muslims according to Islamic beliefs, the screaming injustice continues: If a Muslim man becomes a “martyr”, the famous 72 virgins are awarded to him according to Sharia law, who after every sexual intercourse to become virgins again, only to be deflowered again by the same “martyr”. The reward of a good Muslim woman, on the other hand, is that she is allowed to stay with her husband in the afterlife (while the latter is probably enjoying himself with the 72 virgins).
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