Monday, 30 September 2013

Women in the Koran: a statistical analysis

Earlier I looked at what Islam says about women in the Classic Manual of Islamic Jurisprudence (Umdat al-Salik).
But I keep hearing in the media that Islam is not misogynist, that Muhammad and his Koran marked a liberation for women.
So I thought I'd do a statistical take, looking just at the Koran this time. (*)
My own analysis was to do a search of "women" in Koran online translations.  I chose the translation by orthodox Muslim Yusuf Ali.
The result are in PDF and Excel.
I classified the verses with the word "women" in them into three categories: P = Positive, N = Negative and O = Neutral
Of course there's my bias in making the decisions on which category each verse should be placed. I've tried to avoid my bias by being rather generous to the "Positives" and only classifying a verse as "Negative" when it's abundantly clear that the verse is a definite negative for women in Islam.

The results are:


It seems hardly necessary to point out the obvious: that those who claim the Koran offered or offers liberation for women are not supported by the evidence.

The main negatives are:
  • Menstruating women have an "illness" and should be avoided (2.222)
  • Women are "tilth": their men can take them whenever they wish (2.223)
  • Women are inferior to men (2.228)
  • Men may freely lie to their wives (2.235)
  • Women's testimony is worth only half that of a man's (2.282)
  • A woman's inheritance is only half a man's (4.11)
  • A charge of Rape requires at least four male witnesses (4.15)
  • Men can be polygamous with up to four wives. (4.3)
  • Women are unclean (4.43, 5.6)
  • Women must be virgins at time of marriage (5.5)
  • Women must be veiled (24.31, 33.59).  People often claim that veils are not mandated in the Koran.  24.31 is pretty clear: And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments...; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women... And 33.59: O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e.screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed.[Hilali-Khan translation]
  • Female slaves, or captives may be freely used sexually (33.5).  [Note that some Muslims consider infidel (kuffar) women to be in the same category as slaves or captives]
  • Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims (60.1)

(*) There's another article on Women in the Koran here. And my post "Sharia: what does it say about women".
(**) There are more verses in the Koran that have "women" in them, but many are duplicates, which I've not counted.