Sydney Muslim Speaks Out - Slams Gender Inequality
No you have not read a misprint. A Sydney Muslim, Irfan Yusuf, who often speaks out in defence of Islam, has written an article, which will surprise many readers. He has expressed lament about the appalling treatment of women in Islam. Perhaps this is a new venture for him in speaking out what the evidence of his eyes cannot deny. Perhaps Australia has had some influence on him. It is interesting that his article has been published in a left of centre Australian Catholic magazine ‘Eureka’, which has a caring, sharing, feel-good agenda most of the time.
Under the heading ‘Collective Oppression’ Yusuf states:
What happens when the oppression is collective? What happens when communities oppress themselves? And do so in the name of establishing God's law? (source)
He then says that many imams insist that Islam gives rights and advocates the good treatment to women. He has heard it all, he says, from childhood. And then he asks
That might be the case in textbooks of theology and sacred law. But what is the current reality on the ground? (source)
Something is rotten in the state of Islam. Perhaps not in the sacred texts nor even in the vast legal tradition. Muslims can debate among themselves whether the source of the problem lies in the religion itself. But the reality is beyond debate. (source)Of course, we would take issue with his view ‘Perhaps not in the sacred texts nor even in the vast legal tradition’. On this site we have quote copiously from Islamic texts showing the gender apartheid embedded within Islam. The evidence IS there in the sacred writings condoning and supporting such maltreatment. However what is of interest here is not that the comment itself is made [which one would expect of a public Muslim persona], but the following comment:
But the reality is beyond debate. (source)As I read this I wondered if a few sentences on, Bush or the CIA would be held responsible – but no – Yusuf sticks to his theme and berates the appalling treatment of women in Islamic countries. He decries the rottenness ‘in many of the 58 states’ that make up the organisation of Islamic Conference. He even calls it ‘a cruel sickness of absurd and oppressive gender-based practices’ and declares that these attitudes are poisoning the lives of men and women in Muslim societies.
If you haven not already fallen off your chair, lunged out for the whisky bottle or fainted by now, it is more interesting that he gives some evidence for his case. He describes an honour killing of a young woman, Rand Abdel-Qader in Basra on 16 March this year. She was murdered by her father, a government employee who worked in Iraq's Health Department. The reason? She had developed feelings for one of the British soldiers in Iraq. Yusuf says – and it could be a member of AIM speaking.
What was her crime? This young student at Basra University had worked as a volunteer with displaced Iraqi families. Over a period of some four months, and after a few short conversations, the young woman had become infatuated with a 22-year-old British soldier. That's it. She had feelings. Her father came to know of this. He saw her talking to the British soldier in public. He dug a makeshift grave. He murdered his own daughter. His sons joined in, spilling the blood of their own sister, their own flesh and blood. (source)
Is Yusuf becoming a romantic in his old age? Working as a lawyer in Australia, he would be exposed to a number of situations and of course, to Australian law. At some point the evident maltreatment of women within his own society would have become crystal clear and would have forced some response from him. But he needn’t have expressed his dismay publicly. But then, having a public persona in the Muslim world, he is probably fairly immune from attack – although it will be interesting to see what other Muslims say in agreement or disagreement with him. His comment shows the influence of western evidence based thinking which goes back all the way to the Greek philosophers. Irfan hears the imams’ statements – then sees the evidence to the contrary – and judges for himself on the available evidence. This is the basis of western thinking in its ideal form. Fearless facing of the facts. Perhaps there has been an environmental and cultural influence – and the pressure of the societal gender attitudes played their part in forcing him to recognise reality. The next step of course would be to recognise the evidence within the Islamic texts that state clearly that women are not in the same league as men, not to mention non-Muslims. Should we send him the address of the Faith Freedom site?
Whatever the reason – whether some gradual influence of Australian society, Australian law, even AIM, the genuine expression of horror can only be a good sign. It is a fundmantally human response to injustice. The two things to watch out for in the immediate future are – will Yusuf ever make a connection with this violence and the Islamic texts? And will other Muslims express support for this stance and condemn Islamic violence towards women?