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Books and Documents

Books and Documents

His diary notings carry fascinating insights into cultural, political, and economic aspects of contemporary life. They also reveal his own view on several global issues of tremendous significance.

What was the status of women in the Arab world of those times? While commenting on his celebration of Id in Mecca on March 12, he says he found Arab women in Western attire, while the young were roaming without the veil. Another interesting account is the role muallims (guides) played in making Hajj arrangements — he found them irresponsible and exploitative. This is documented during his visit to Medina. He writes: “May my countrymen have the foresight to stay clear of those muallims who are not present in Mecca during the time of the Hajj and leave their clients to fend for themselves!”-- Shaikh Mujibur Rehman

 

Reviewing The Compassionate Revolution: Radical Politics and Buddhism By David Edwards, David Cromwell says that the book’s message is perhaps counter-intuitive, but a compelling one. Compassion - not anger, facts, action or even protest - should be central to the effective struggle for freedom and democracy.

He quotes David Edwards: The Buddhist principle of unconditional generosity, which seems so outlandish from a conventional perspective, makes perfect sense in the context of dissent. ... It is a counter-intuitive message perhaps, but a compelling one. Compassion - not anger, facts, action or even protest - should be central to the effective struggle for freedom and democracy. The compassionate way might initially strike us as incredibly difficult, but it is at least possible, and therefore preferable to the impossible attempt to achieve a compassionate society through violence and hatred.

 

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. --Editor

It is fitting to review the whole situation. Everybody was agreed that the Ahrar were a subversive force. They were opposed to the creation of Pakistan and even Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar thinks that they were anxious to “rehabilitate” themselves. In 1950 and again in 1952, Mr. Anwar Ali, then D. I.-G, (C. I. D.) strongly recommended that they should be declared an unlawful body. Mr. Qurban Ali Khan wrote very strong and prophitic notes on the possible consequences of neglect. One lawlessness breeds another. One damn thing leads to another. But whenever there was a conference, either they were persuaded to change their strong views, or official decorum restrained them from protesting. Mr. Daultana, therefore, says that everybody agreed with whatever decision we find on the files, and the officers concerned have not contradicted him. We ought to hold, therefore, that the responsibility was joint, though we feel differently. Further, we feel that the Ahrar were treated as members of the family and the Ahmadis as strangers. The Ahrar behaved like the child whom his father threatens with punishment for beating a stranger, but, who, knowing that he will not be punished, beats the stranger again. Then, out of sheer embarrassment, since other people are watching, his father does strike him—but gently.

 

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. -- Editor

This naturally led to the following question by Mr. Yaqub Ali Khan:

Q.—“Then where is your grievance against the military which you have emphasised in your written statement?”.

A.—“They created an impression that they would not do any shooting, because their officers permitted themselves to be garlanded on some occasions when the police was being abused and insulted by the display of private parts.”

This garlanding has already been discussed . That was rather early during the operations and the G. O. C. administered a warning. Needless to say, it was unbecoming, and although an “abusive” situation is not necessarily a critical situation, such an impression should not have been created. This single instance of want of decorum does not, however, carry us any further with the District Magistrate’s complaint to the Inspector-General that the army had not carried out specific orders given by the magistrates. It was perhaps on the basis of what the Inspector-General had learnt from the District Magistrate that he Mr. Anwar Ali’s interpretation contradicts Hafiz Abdul Majid.

Next: Whether Martial Law Could Be Avoided.

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

The District Magistrate said that he had excluded the walled city from the order of 2nd March “because there was no likelihood of disturbance there. There was not the remotest chance of that”. At least, after the murder of Sayyed Firdaus Shah (D. S. P.), a superlative should have been used with restraint. When reminded of that, he said that on the evening of the 4th March he did feel necessary to “include” the walled city and that he passed a curfew order accordingly. Then, when we saw the curfew order, and found that it excluded the area surrounded by the Circular Road, we asked him if the curfew order included the city. He replied, ignoring his previous answer: “I was not advised to impose curfew within the city walls”. Consequently, the entire statement about the remoteness or otherwise of the chance of disturbance collapses. Next he said that the reason why he had excluded the walled city was not that it could not be enforced, but because he was not moved by the police. When, however, he was confronted with the statement of the Senior Superintendent of Police that the walled city was excluded because the Inspector-General thought it might not be possible to enforce the order in that area, he said that was the correct position. Consequently, whatever be the correct position, we cannot rely for it on the District Magistrate.

Next: Liaison with the Troops

 

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. -– Editor

28th February 1953—A procession of five or six thousand persons formed outside Delhi Gate and marched to the Civil Secretariat, uttering anti-Government, antipolice and anti-Ahmadi slogans. They kept us engaged for half an hour or more and were dispersed with difficulty. The whole day small processions were coming and created a problem for the administration. Small bands of the Ahrar were joined by the riff-raff, forcing reluctant shopkeepers to close their shops. In one of the bigger processions, as the mobs surged towards the Charing Cross, shops on the Mall were closed, traffic came to a standstill and law-abiding citizens shut themselves up in houses and shops. This mob consisted mostly of the riff-raff and hooligans, though, as I have said in my written statement, they had a “high tone of religious sentiment”, by which I meant that they were shouting the kalma and the takbir.

Next: Misleading statements by District Magistrate.

 

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

Kh. Nazim-ud-Din discussed the subject with Mr. Daultana on or about the 4th August. Says Kh. Nazim-ud-Din: “I told him Dr. Qureshi thought that Mir Nur Ahmad had been supplying material to various papers in support of the movement. I pointed out that while the Pakistan Times, the lmroze, the Nawa-i-Waqt and the C. &. M. Gazette were silent, the Government-controlled papers, particularly the Zamindar, were fanning the agitation. He said that Urdu papers depended for circulation on a popular subject and it was difficult to stop them, but that his object was to control the vigilance of the campaign in the papers by advice. I told him the best way of tackling the situation was to prevent the papers from fanning the agitation and that he was the only person who could do so as these papers depended on him for patronage”.

Next: The Final Phase

Photo: Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani

 

The author hides behind a smokescreen to weave together a quickie novelette that at best deserves the Bad Sex Award, for the tantric sex romps of its Hindutva- loving protagonist, Andrew Luyt, a foreign correspondent posted in India whose character is a gross misrepresentation of Tully’s long stay in India.

MacLithon too has an intriguing and suspiciously familiar author- bio: he describes himself as a foreign correspondent who holds the profound belief that India should have pride in its Hindu base. He claims to have interviewed six Indian prime ministers and dodged bullets on the India- Pakistan border. And, like Tully, he lives in Delhi with his partner. -- Neha Tara Mehta

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

“How long will the names of ‘prophet’, ‘promised Messiah’, ‘Ahmad’ and ‘Muhammad’ be dinned into our ears in this country in respect of an adulterer, drunkard, goonda, badmash, forger, liar and Dajjal, and how long will the pure and chaste mothers of the Ummat be allowed to turn in their graves, restless with shame, for a woman who is the disgrace of humanity?” (The reference is apparently to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his wife).

Next: The role of the newspapers in the campaign

Photo: Ahmadiyya Baitul Mujeeb Mosque, Monrovia - Liberia

 

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

On 24th July 1952, the D. I. G. informed Government that mock funerals of the Foreign Minister had been taken out at several places in the province and that this constituted an offence under section 23, Public Safety Act. The Home Secretary said that the Safety Act should not be used, but that the Chief Minister might talk to the Ahrar leaders to abide by the undertaking, as parleys with them at a lower level had proved futile. The Chief Minister signed the note on 30th July. In his statement in Court, he said he took no action because he agreed with the Home Secretary. But the Home Secretary, when he discouraged the Safety Act, was apparently thinking of section 3, by which a person is detained without trial. Section 23, however, is on the same footing as any section of the Penal Code, and if Mr. Daultana agreed with him because Mr. Daultana also had section 3 in mind, then it is very fortunate indeed for the law-breakers that both the Chief Minister and the Home Secretary had the same conception of section 23 as they had of section 3. But even Mr. Daultana admitted that in 1952 there were ninety persons detained under the Safety Act and that none of them was a political detenu.

Next: The Decision Of 24th December 1952

Photo: Ahmadiyya Central Mosque in Ilaro, Nigeria

 

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

On 20th May 1952, Mr. Anwar Ali wrote an exhaustive note recapitulating Ahrar doings and their effect since 1950. They may be summarised as follows:

(1) At Okara, in October 1950, Ahmadi preachers were waylaid and their faces blackened. (This, it must be conceded, was the result of “aggressive sectarianism”.) A school-master was killed.

(2) At Pindi, about the same time, an Ahmadi was killed, though the immediate cause had no reference to religious differences.

(3) At Sialkot, in January 1951, the Ahrar broke up an Ahmadi meeting.

(4) At Chak Jhumra, in February, a son of M. Ismatullah, an Ahmadi, was stabbed on the railway station by Ahrar workers.

(5) At Gujranwala, in March, an Ahmadi shopkeeper was attacked, but the police saved him.

(6) In April at Lyallpur following a threat by Ghulam Nabi Janbaz, an Ahmadi shopkeeper was attacked.

(7) At Samundri, in May, an Ahmadi mosque was burnt down.

(8) In November, at Lyallpur again, an Ahmadi meeting was broken up, resulting in casualties on both sides.

(9) In the same month, at Multan, the Ahrar tried to break up an Ahmadi meeting.

(10) In March 1952, at Sargodha, an Ahrar procession was taken out in defiance of a ban. We have already noticed it.

(11) In April 1952, at Rawalpindi, a youth got up in a meeting and urged people to kill Chaudhri Zafarullah Khan.

(12) In the same month, at Gujranwala, two mock funerals of Chaudhri Muhammad Zafarullah Khan were taken out with the accompaniment of a humiliating chorus—“Zafarullah puttur chor da; Na’ra maro zor da”.

(13) In May 1951, at Lyallpur, Sayyad Ataullah Shah Bukhari promised large-scale demonstrations.

(14) According to a letter intercepted by the C. I. D., paradise was promised to whosoever should kill the Foreign Minister.

Next: Assurance by the Ahrar on 19th July, 1952

Photo: Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosque, Mangoase, Ghana

 

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

Meanwhile an Ahrar agency reprinted an obscure pamphlet entitled Ash-Shahab originally written by Maulana Shabir Ahmad Usmani, the “Archbishop” of Pakistan, apparently with the author’s permission. This pamphlet justified the stoning to death of two Ahmadis by the Afghan Government many years ago. In June I950, Mr. Anwar Ali noted that “for obvious reasons” it was not advisable to ban the pamphlet, but that Master Taj-ud-Din and other leaders should be warned. The Chief Secretary (Hafiz Abdul Majid), the Chief Adviser and the Governor agreed and the Governor also observed that since previous warnings had not proved effective, they should be told that if they did not desist from these activities, Government would be forced to take action

Next: The Ahrar workers are out to sabotage safety and peace

 

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

Straight and sincere as he is in his religious convictions, he held the ulama in deep veneration. He was also conscious of the great influence the ulama had come to exert on the affairs of the country. Their high position was implicit in the Objectives Resolution, and some of them who had associated themselves with the movement were members of the Ta’limat-i-Islami Board, attached to the Constituent Assembly. A head-on clash with them was, therefore, unthinkable. Of course he could have accepted or promised his personal support to the demands. In that case there would have been no fuss, except possibly when the matter came up before the Constituent Assembly. Disturbances in that event there would have been none, and Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din would have been a popular hero in Pakistan. The Ahmadis were a small community and could not have possibly offered any resistance or created any disorder. There might have been some stir in international circles over Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan’s removal but the populace of Pakistan would have acclaimed the step.

Next: Attitude of pro-League papers.

Photo: Baitul Islam Mosque, Ontario - Canada

 

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

His own belief was that if ninety per cent of the Ulama agree that a believer in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a kafir, or that he should be stoned to death, he would bow his head to the decision. But the fatwa of kufr does not necessarily turn a community into a non-Muslim minority. The basis of the Demands has, therefore, no connection with the demand for an Islamic state. Fatwas of kufr have been quite a feature of Islam since the Four Caliphs, but they have never resulted in the denial of civic rights to the individuals or classes against whom the decree was made. This is very comforting indeed, in a state where fatwas are likely to become as necessary as guns and butter. The last remark is our own.

Next: Kh. Nazim-ud-Din’s regard for Ulama.

Photo: London Road Mosque

 

The subject of The Good Jesus... is this ‘presumption’ and the bowdlerisation of a humanist philosophy. Written in a startlingly spare style, Pullman points to Scottish folktales and ballads as a model. He’s clear about his atheism. “I hope my characters deal with a strong moral compass. But the physical, the natural has an incredible beauty.  I don’t need religion; I find ‘it’ in the material world,” says the writer who grew up as a Christian but describes himself now as a “cultural Christian”....

One realises after closing this slim book that Pullman has written a novella about organised lying and its power structure. Through two blokes. -- Indrajit Hazra

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

The Gujranwala and Sargodha contraventions of the order under section 144 were very apt illustrations of the manner in which religion was being exploited for political purposes. At Sargodha a regular public meeting had been held in a mosque on a Friday at 10 o’clock, and nothing more was needed than a challenge to the organisers of that meeting to show that Juma prayers could be said at 10 o’clock, with the name of the President of the meeting and the list of speakers having been previously and formally announced. The same had been the case in Gujranwala. This meeting also had been announced by posters and loudspeakers on the preceding day by the Ahrar; it had been stated in these announcements that Ahrar leaders whose names were mentioned were coming from different places to address the gathering. The meeting was again announced by a person while the khatib was delivering the Khutba, and it was actually held after Juma prayers were over. If any effort had been made by the leaders of the Muslim League to expose these tactics of the Ahrar, we have not the slightest doubt that people would have revised their attitude and understood and appreciated the Government’s view.

Next: CENTRAL AND PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENTS KHAWAJA NAZIM-UD-DIN v. MR. DAULTANA

Photo: Ahmadiyya Mosque in Haifa

 

Justice M. Munir commission investigated the large-scale riots against the Ahmadya sect in Pakistan in 1953. His report is an eye-opener. It shows that our ulema are not even able to agree on a definition of who a Muslim is. Justice Munir had called heads of all Islamic schools of thought and asked them the definition of a Muslim. No two ulema agreed. It also exposes the pusillanimity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

 “Do not consider the policeman, the thanedar and the Deputy Commissioner as your rulers. Do not be afraid of them and do not care for them.” “Muhammad Ali (the reference is to the present Prime Minister) went to Delhi to find a solution for the Kashmir problem. Well and good. But why did he take his wife ‘ummul-momineen’ with himself? Brothers! his wife must be ‘ummul-momineen’, because he himself is ‘amir-ul-momineen’. Well, ‘ummul-momineen’ went to Delhi. The question involved was of the life and death of 35 lacs of Musalmans, but her little son got a scratch on the thumb and she ran back to Karachi.”

 “Thirty-five lacs of Musalmans are facing death in Kashmir and this man (the reference is again to the present Premier) proclaims himself as the younger brother of Nehru. I would say ‘Be a dog but do not be a younger brother’.” Referring to officers in that speech he said they were all disciples of the British and immoral. They gambled and they drank. “I once mentioned to Mr. Noon, the Chief Minister”, he said, “that the Deputy Commissioner of a district gambles all night and doses during the day in Court. This representative of twelve lacs of people is a gambler and an adulterer. He has a depraved character but is Sahib Bahadur. Nothing was done on this complaint.”

Next: The part played by the Muslim League leaders

Photo: Ahmadiyya Mosque, Nairobi Kenya

 

Songs Of Blood and Sword| Fatima Bhutto

Of all the stories available to human beings, none is as instantly fascinating as that of a powerful family riven down the middle, feuding in public view and throwing the entire world out of shape with its might. This storyline is central to our epics, and is often reprised by contemporary events, especially in feudal societies. In such cases, the testimony of any one participant inevitably turns the story into one of good versus evil—the stakes are too high for it to be anything else, but the thrill of receiving the inside story more than compensates for the lack of detachment in perspective.

Just such a story—long-awaited since the first metaphorical gunshots were fired in recent years—is served up by Songs of Blood and Sword, 28-year-old Fatima Bhutto’s angry and sometimes incoherent retelling of the macabre lives and internecine warrings of the first family of Pakistani politics, the Bhuttos of Sindh. -- Chandrahas Choudhury

Photo: Songs of Blood and Sword: Penguin, 470 pages, Rs699

Almost all Muslim societies have, to one degree or another, deviated from the ideals of Islam with respect to the status of women. These deviations have, for the most part, been in one of two opposite directions. The first direction is more conservative, restrictive, and traditions-oriented, while the second is more liberal and Western-oriented.

The societies that have digressed in the first direction treat women according to the customs and traditions inherited from their forebears. These traditions usually deprive women of many rights granted to them by Islam. Besides, women are treated according to standards far different from those applied to men. This discrimination pervades the life of any female: she is received with less joy at birth than a boy; she is less likely to go to school; she might be deprived any share of her family's inheritance; she is under continuous surveillance in order not to behave immodestly while her brother's immodest acts are tolerated; she might even be killed for committing what her male family members usually boast of doing; she has very little say in family affairs or community interests; she might not have full control over her property and her marriage gifts; and finally as a mother she herself would prefer to produce boys so that she can attain a higher status in her community.

On the other hand, there are Muslim societies (or certain classes within some societies) that have been swept over by the Western culture and way of life. These societies often imitate unthinkingly whatever they receive from the West and usually end up adopting the worst fruits of Western civilization. In these societies, a typical "modern" woman's top priority in life is to enhance her physical beauty. Therefore, she is often obsessed with her body's shape, size, and weight. She tends to care more about her body than her mind and more about her charms than her intellect. Her ability to charm, attract, and excite is more valued in the society than her educational achievements, intellectual pursuits, and social work. -- Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

 

According to Rabbi Dr. Menachem M. Brayer (Professor of Biblical Literature at Yeshiva University) in his book, The Jewish woman in Rabbinic literature, it was the custom of Jewish women to go out in public with a head covering which, sometimes, even covered the whole face leaving one eye free. 76 He quotes some famous ancient Rabbis saying," It is not like the daughters of Israel to walk out with heads uncovered" and "Cursed be the man who lets the hair of his wife be seen....a woman who exposes her hair for self-adornment brings poverty."

The veil signified a woman's self-respect and social status. Women of lower classes would often wear the veil to give the impression of a higher standing. The fact that the veil was the sign of nobility was the reason why prostitutes were not permitted to cover their hair in the old Jewish society. However, prostitutes often wore a special headscarf in order to look respectable. 79

… St. Paul in the New Testament made some very interesting statements about the veil:

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head" (I Corinthians 11:3-10).

From all the above evidence, it is obvious that Islam did not invent the head cover. However, Islam did endorse it. The Quran urges the believing men and women to lower their gaze and guard their modesty and then urges the believing women to extend their head covers to cover the neck and the bosom:

"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty......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 except what ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms...." (24:30, 31). --Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

 

The Bible did not condemn polygamy. To the contrary, the Old Testament and Rabbinic writings frequently attest to the legality of polygamy. King Solomon is said to have had 700 wives and 300 concubines (1 Kings 11:3) Also, king David is said to have had many wives and concubines (2 Samuel 5:13). The Old Testament does have some injunctions on how to distribute the property of a man among his sons from different wives (Deut. 22:7). The only restriction on polygamy is a ban on taking a wife's sister as a rival wife (Lev. 18:18). The Talmud advises a maximum of four wives. 51 European Jews continued to practice polygamy until the sixteenth century. Oriental Jews regularly practiced polygamy until they arrived in Israel where it is forbidden under civil law. However, under religious law which overrides civil law in such cases, it is permissible. 52

What about the New Testament? According to Father Eugene Hillman in his insightful book, Polygamy reconsidered, "Nowhere in the New Testament is there any explicit commandment that marriage should be monogamous or any explicit commandment forbidding polygamy." 53 Moreover, Jesus has not spoken against polygamy though it was practiced by the Jews of his society.

… The Quran, too, allowed polygamy, but not without restrictions:

"If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one" (4:3).

The Quran, contrary to the Bible, limited the maximum number of wives to four under the strict condition of treating the wives equally and justly. It should not be understood that the Quran is exhorting the believers to practice polygamy, or that polygamy is considered as an ideal. In other words, the Quran has "tolerated" or "allowed" polygamy, and no more, but why? Why is polygamy permissible ? The answer is simple: there are places and times in which there are compelling social and moral reasons for polygamy. As the above Quranic verse indicates, the issue of polygamy in Islam cannot be understood apart from community obligations towards orphans and widows. Islam as a universal religion suitable for all places and all times could not ignore these compelling obligations. -- Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

Because of the fact that the Old Testament recognized no inheritance rights to them, widows were among the most vulnerable of the Jewish population. The male relatives who inherited all of a woman's deceased husband's estate were to provide for her from that estate. However, widows had no way to ensure this provision was carried out, and lived on the mercy of others. Therefore, widows were among the lowest classes in ancient Israel and widowhood was considered a symbol of great degradation (Isaiah 54:4). But the plight of a widow in the Biblical tradition extended even beyond her exclusion from her husband's property. According to Genesis 38, a childless widow must marry her husband's brother, even if he is already married, so that he can produce offspring for his dead brother, thus ensuring his brother's name will not die out.

"Then Judah said to Onan, 'Lie with your brother's wife and fulfil your duty to her as a brother-in-law to produce offspring for your brother' " (Genesis 38:8).

The widow's consent to this marriage is not required. The widow is treated as part of her deceased husband's property whose main function is to ensure her husband's posterity. This Biblical law is still practiced in today's Israel. 48

The pagan Arabs before Islam had similar practices. A widow was considered a part of her husband's property to be inherited by his male heirs and she was, usually, given in marriage to the deceased man's eldest son from another wife. The Quran scathingly attacked and abolished this degrading custom:

"And marry not women whom your fathers married--Except what is past-- it was shameful, odious, and abominable custom indeed" (4:22). -- Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

 

The Old Testament in several places commands kind and considerate treatment of the parents and condemns those who dishonour them. … It is difficult to speak of the New Testament as a scripture that calls for honouring the mother. To the contrary, one gets the impression that the New Testament considers kind treatment of mothers as an impediment on the way to God. According to the New Testament, one cannot become a good Christian worthy of becoming a disciple of Christ unless he hates his mother. It is attributed to Jesus to have said: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26).

…. In Islam, the honour, respect, and esteem attached to motherhood is unparalleled. The Quran places the importance of kindness to parents as second only to worshipping God Almighty:

"Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, And that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, Say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, But address them in terms of honour. And out of kindness, Lower to them the wing of humility, and say: 'My Lord! bestow on them Your Mercy as they Cherished me in childhood' " (17:23-24).

The Quran in several other places puts special emphasis on the mother's great role in giving birth and nursing: -- Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

 

The three religions have remarkable differences in their attitudes towards divorce. Christianity abhors divorce altogether. The New Testament unequivocally advocates the indissolubility of marriage. … Judaism, on the other hand, allows divorce even without any cause. The Old Testament gives the husband the right to divorce his wife even if he just dislikes her:

Islam occupies the middle ground between Christianity and Judaism with respect to divorce. Marriage in Islam is a sanctified bond that should not be broken except for compelling reasons. Couples are instructed to pursue all possible remedies whenever their marriages are in danger. Divorce is not to be resorted to except when there is no other way out. In a nutshell, Islam recognizes divorce, yet it discourages it by all means. -- Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

 

According to the Biblical definition, if a married man sleeps with an unmarried woman, this is not considered a crime at all. …  According to Encyclopaedia Judaica, the wife was considered to be the husband's possession and adultery constituted a violation of the husband's exclusive right to her; the wife as the husband's possession had no such right to him. 15 That is, if a man had sexual intercourse with a married woman, he would be violating the property of another man and, thus, he should be punished.

To the present day in Israel, if a married man indulges in an extramarital affair with an unmarried woman, his children by that woman are considered legitimate. But, if a married woman has an affair with another man, whether married or not married, her children by that man are not only illegitimate but they are considered bastards and are forbidden to marry any other Jews except converts and other bastards. This ban is handed down to the children's descendants for 10 generations until the taint of adultery is presumably weakened. 16

The Quran, on the other hand, never considers any woman to be the possession of any man. The Quran eloquently describes the relationship between the spouses by saying:

" And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are signs for those who reflect" (30:21).

This is the Quranic conception of marriage: love, mercy, and tranquillity, not possession and double standards. -- Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

 
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