Islam and women..

I heard a chilling program on BBC about a Jordanian man who stabbed his daughter to death because she was seeing a Christian guy. Apparently, these ‘honour killings’ as they call them are common in Jordan and the man was never even tried. Why does the public allow this to happen?And what about the sharia law that calls for the stoning of a woman who commits adultery while the man requires three witnesses of good reputation to convict him?Or the fact that they are forced to cover themselves from head to toe like that? Does Islam discriminate against women or am i reading things wrong here?Once again, i have no problem with Islam as a religion but i just feel some aspects of it are really unfair.

As with many religions, the practices you describe are cultural practices that are rationalized by religion. The Koran does not say women must cover themselves from head to toe in black, and in many Islamic cultures women do not do that. But in Saudi Arabia and the Talaban’s Afghanistan they claim they do this for religious purposes. Religion is sometimes used as an excuse to exercise control.

From what I’ve read of Islam (which, I grant, is not a lot) I’ve gotten the impression that “woman” (in the general sense) is held in high regard, as a sort of holy mother. As a result there are rules that women must not transgress without damaging the image of "woman. As a result of that idea, combined with the cultural practices such as the wearing of a burkha, some Islamic men have rationalized that any woman not obeying the rules to the letter is not a “good” or “true” woman and so must be punished severely, and quite often, die.

Of course, I may be completely backwards on this.

Honour killings are not that common in Jordan, but they are also not that rare, unfortunately. They are not legal, and the government has tried to bring in stricter legislation, but as I understand it, honour killers usually get much more lenient treatment that your common-a-garden every day murder. As Cooking notes, they are really cultural rather than religious.

Honour killings also occur in Pakistan. Again, they’re illegal, but it doesn’t stop it happening. There have also been a few cases in the UK among the immigrant population.

When you look at the issue of women in Islam, you need to look at individual countries, and rights and treatment there. Some are clearly, clearly mediaeval in their treatment of women. But it should not be forgotten that as late as the 1950s in the UK, women were still put in mental institutions by relatives for sex outside marriage, or pregnancy. Not often, but it happened.

The point is that women’s rights are an extremely new, and often fragile thing. During some centuries in some Islamic cultures, women got a better deal than their Christian counterparts. Certain financial provisions for women are written into the heart of Islam in the way they aren’t at all in Christianity (as far as I understand it). At the time, some of the prophet Mohammed’s teachings were regarded as extremely progressive, rather like some of Jesus’s teachings.

Saudi Arabia’s wahabinism (sp?) and Afghanistan’s taliban are two horrific distortions of Islam - I don’t think it’s fair to use the term “extreme”, because I know some very devout and fundamentalist Muslims that still abhor the taliban’s actions - and they regard it as a perversion (or most kindly, a misinterpretation) of their religion.

Sharia law is still a contentious issue even (and especially) in the more secularised Islamic countries.

I remember in '91, Time magazine had an issue dedicated to the women’s movement. They had a small blurb about honor killings in Brazil where a man could justify killing his wife/girlfriend/finacee just because he thought she was cheating on him. There was a growing movement in Brazil to repeal the lenient laws that often acquitted these men. I don’t know if they were ever successful.

Anyway, just to illustrate that honor killings have more to do with culture than with religion.