Saturday, 15 August 2009

"Abusing Women and Islam"

Mona Eltahawy claims that there is no sanction in Islam for the various “crimes” (her quote marks) such as women wearing trousers, having sex outside marriage and drinking alcohol (“Abusing Women and Islam”, IHT August 15-16).  She is wrong on all counts.
The standard manual of Islamic jurisprudence, the Umdat al Salik  is the accepted authority of all Sunni schools of Islamic, Sharia law (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali).  It is certified, inter alia, by Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, co-sponsor of Obama’s recent speech to Muslims and the chief centre of Islamic learning in the Sunni world.
Of women wearing trousers, it says: “The Prophet cursed men who wear women’s clothing and women who wear men’s.” (p28.1.3).
Of sex outside marriage: “If the offender is someone with the capacity to remain chaste, then he or she is stoned to death”. (o12.2).  If the offender does not have the capacity to remain chaste, the penalty is reduced to 100 lashes.  So that's ok then...
Of drinking alcohol:  “the penalty for drinking is to be scourged forty stripes…. It may be administered with a whip…”. (o16.3)
To claim that there is no punishment in the Koran or the Hadith for drinking alcohol, without mentioning punishments in the Sharia, is rather like referring to the Bible and not Common Law and claiming, for example, that there’s no mention of insider trading in the Bible.  The Sunni men carrying out the punishments Ms Eltahawy rightly deplores are simply applying crystal-clear Islamic law.  To be outraged is right.  To direct the outrage at other than Islamic law itself, and especially at the “international community”, is futile. 
Ms Eltahawy would do well to read works by another Egyptian woman Nonie Darwish, for they are rather more insightful on these issues than the usual pabulum about the “justice and compassion “in the “religion of peace”.