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Books and Documents

Books and Documents

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 necessary to examine at this stage some cases because these were disposed of together by an order passed at a conference of officers on 24th December 1952. These are the Gulu Shah Fair case [File No. 16 (19) 145], the Lyallpur and Samundri cases [File No. 16 (2) 127], the Rawalpindi case [File No. 16 (2) 129] and the Shujabad case [File No. 16 (2) 130]. There is held every year at village Koreke within the jurisdiction of Police Station Satrah in the district of Sialkot a cattle fair called Gulu Shah Fair. In. 1952, the fair was held from 3rd to 10th October 1952 where a large number of men with their cattle had assembled. The Ahrar embraced this opportunity to call a meeting of All Muslim Parties Convention and to pour out their usual stuff to the people thus assembled. Some of the leaders spoke on 3rd and others on 7th October. The subject of the speeches was of course Ahmadiyyat and since these were calculated to spread sectarian hatred and were prima facie actionable, they were ordered by the Superintendent of Police to be examined by Mr. Abdus Said, Prosecuting Deputy Superintendent of Police.

Next: ACTIVITIES OF THE ULAMA AND THEIR INTERVIEWS WITH THE PRIME MINISTER AND THE CHIEF MINISTER

 

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 first person to draw the attention of the Prime Minister, Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din, to the seriousness of the Qadiani movement was Qazi Ehsan Ahmad Shujabadi. Opposition of Qadianiyyat appears to be this man’s sole interest in life and he carries wherever he goes a large wooden box full of Ahmadiya and anti-Ahmadiya literature.

Every calamity, catastrophe or other unfortunate event that falls to Pakistan or to anyone else, including such events as the assassination of the Quaid-i-Millat and the air crashes, not to speak of more important political events, is always ascribed by Shujabadi to the machinations of the Ahmadis. In March 1950 Shujabadi succeeded in persuading another divine of Karachi, Maulana Ehtisham-ul-Haq Thanvi, to go to Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din and to apprise him of the great discontent and indignation that prevailed against the Ahmadis in the country. They both went to Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din and saw him on 3rd March 1950, Shujabadi carrying his wooden box with him. He brought out from this box some Qadiani literature perusal of which horrified Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din.

Next: MORE INTERVIEWS WITH THE PRIME MINISTER AND CHIEF MINISTER

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 ‘MAGHRIBI PAKISTAN’

In its issue of 3rd August, 1952, this paper criticised the foreign policy of the Pakistan Government which it described as the personal policy of Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan and alleged that Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan had failed in the Kashmir dispute. In the comments under ‘Sang-o-Khisht’, the paper taunted Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan by making to him the suggestion that instead of seeking police protection on his next visit to Lahore, he should ask ‘Hazrat Sahib’ (the head of the Ahmadiya community) to pray for his safety. The issue of 10th August again made sarcastic remarks about the reported resignation of Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan, stating that he had presumably resigned after consulting the ‘Paighambarzada’ (sarcastic reference to the head of the Ahmadiya community), because during his ministership whatever he did he always did after consulting the head of his community. In this very issue was published a statement by All Muslim Parties Convention claiming that the efforts of the convention were bearing fruit and appealing for support by extensive propaganda in the form of tabligh conferences, deputations and collection of funds. The issue also contained a news item announcing a public meeting under the auspices of the Majlis-i-Amal and the names of the speakers and appealing to the people to come in large numbers to attend that meeting.

Next: More speeches, policy reconsidered

 

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

“I firmly believe in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad and any person who does not believe so is not a Muslim. But this does not mean that a person who does not believe so should have no right to live in the country. All those people who live in Pakistan and are loyal to Pakistan, be they Hindus, Christians or of any other sect or religion, come under the protection of the Government of the country and also of the people. To protect each one of the countrymen is the foremost duty of a Muslim as also of the Government; so long as I am at the helm of affairs I will see that no harm is done to any loyal Pakistani purely because of his different faith, caste, or creed. The question of declaring the Ahmadis a minority is not a religious but a constitutional issue, which should be treated as such and discussed dispassionately and coolly. I appeal to the Ahrar and other religious organisations to create a calm atmosphere for the consideration of such a question”.

Next: Social boycott of the Mirzaais and collection of Rs one crore for anti-Ahmadiya agitation

 

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 case was withdrawn yesterday. I sent for the Deputy Commissioner on the 15th immediately after our meeting with H. C. M. and communicated to him the decision of Government when he came to see me on the 16th.”…

…“As decided at the meeting held on the 15th July 1952, I sent the attached signal to D. M., Gujranwala, who saw me yesterday. I told him that in view of the fact that the two ringleaders of the Ahrar, namely, Master Taj-ud-Din and Sheikh Husam-ud-Din, had been convicted in the Sargodha case, Government have decided to withdraw the Gujranwala case. The case must have been withdrawn by him either yesterday on return to Gujranwala or today.”

The Sargodha cases for contravention of orders under section 144 were prosecuted vigorously and as we have already pointed out one of them resulted in conviction. The case pending at Gujranwala and the other which was pending at Sargodha were subsequently withdrawn and the persons who had been, convicted in the Sargodha case were ordered to be released.

Next: SUBSEQUENT EVENTS

Photo: Ahmadiyya Mosque: Destroyed and pillaged: the police inspector (at right) accompanied human rights activists.

 

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 pusillaminity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

After the speech of Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan on 18th May in Jehangir Park, Karachi, Maulana Lal Husain Akhtar convened a conference of All Pakistan Muslim Parties in the Theosophical Hall, Karachi. The invitations for this conference were issued over the signatures of Maulana Ehtisham-ul-Haq Thanvi, Maulana Abdul Haamid Badayuni, Maulana Jafar Husain Mujtahid, Maulana Muhammad Yusuf and Maulana Lal Husain Akhtar as decided upon in an alleged representative gathering of important Muslim parties. The conference was held at the house of the convener on 2nd June…

This conference was presided over by Maulana Sayyad Suleman Nadvi, under whose chairmanship a board was also constituted which was to make arrangements for the next meeting of the Convention. The resolutions passed at this conference were approved in a public meeting held in Karachi.

Next: From The Lahore Convention To Arrest Of Ulama In Karachi And Punjab

 

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 pusillaminity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

A meeting of Anjuman Ahmadiya, Karachi, was advertised to be held. In Jehangir Park, Karachi, on 17th and 18th May 1952, and Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan, foreign Minister, was mentioned as one of the speakers. Though, the meeting was held under the auspices of Anjuman Ahmadiya, it was a public meeting as any member of the public could be present to hear the proceedings. A few days before the meeting, Khwaja Nazimud-Din, the Prime Minister, expressed his disapproval of Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan’s intention to attend a sectional public meeting. Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan, however, told Khwaja Nazim-ud-Din that he was committed to the Anjuman but that if he had been advised earlier he would have refrained from attending the meeting. In view of his commitment, he said, he felt it his duty to speak at the meeting and that if the Prime Minister insisted on his not attending it, he could have his resignation.

The first session of the meeting was held under demonstration of public resentment and there were attempts to interfere with the proceedings. On the 18th May, however, special arrangements for preservation of order were made and Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan spoke on ‘Islam as a Live Religion’ (Islam zinda mazhab hai).

Next: All Pakistan Muslim Parties Convention In Karachi

 

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 pusillaminity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

Orders issued by District Magistrates in pursuance of the directions given by the Provincial Government were enforced in certain places by the prosecution of the offenders.

On 12th June 1952, the Ahrar announced that a public meeting would be held at 8 o'clock on the morning of the following day, which was a Friday, in Municipal Park, Sargodha. The District Magistrate banned the meeting by an order under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, promulgated in pursuance of the policy laid down by the Government in the letter of 5th June 1952. Thereupon the Ahrar made another public announcement that the meeting would be held on the date fixed in the Juma mosque. But the District Magistrate lost no time in having it proclaimed that his order under section 144 was equally applicable to public meetings in mosques and that the holding of the proposed, meeting would be a contravention of that order. The meeting was, however, held at 10 o'clock and was presided over by Sheikh Husam-ud-Din. Speeches of the usual type against the Ahmadis were made by Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari, the President, and Sheikh Husam-ud-Din, the General Secretary, of Majlis-i-Ahrar-i-Pakistan, and Muhammad Abdullah, the President of the District Majlis-i-Ahrar, Sargodha, and slogans “Zafrullah murdabad,” “Mirzaeeat murdabad”, etc., were raised while the meeting was in progress.

Next: Chaudhri Zafrullah Khan’s Speech in Jehangir Park

 

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 pusillaminity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. – Editor

6. I have already proposed that District Magistrates should be advised in a circular letter to take a firm stand and to promulgate 144, Cr. P. C. if they have the least suspicion that the holding of an Ahrar meeting would promote sectional ill-will. Another thing we can do is to take action against the rag (Shu’la), which has shamefacedly publicised the evil attacks made against the Foreign Minister. It is the duty of the Government, as long as Sir Zafrullah Khan holds his office, to protect him from such malicious attacks. By abusing Sir Zafrullah Khan the Ahrar do not attack an individual but defame the Government to which he belongs—of which, in fact, he is a part.

7. The Ahrar are clever speakers and they take good care not to attract the law. It is not possible in this case to prosecute them for spreading sectional discord, under section 153-A., P.P.C. In my opinion their activities are such that there is full justification for taking action against one or two prominent ones under the P. P. S. A. 8. Two telegrams have been received from the Ahmadis protesting against the conduct of the Ahrar.

Next: Section 144 Orders Enforced Against Public Meetings In Mosques: Sargodha And Gujranwala Cases

 

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 pusillaminity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. - Editor

The Ahrar of Sargodha decided to take out a procession after the Juma prayers today at Sargodha city as decided by Sayyad Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari and Maulana Muhammad Abdullah Ahrari in their conference with the object of shouting slogans against mirzaeeat, Sir Zafrullah Khan and the Khalifa of Qadian. This matter was brought to my notice as soon as I returned from my tour at midday and the District Magistrate also phoned to me to make suitable police arrangements in the city. I collected my force immediately and wont to the city at 1.30 p. m. Khan Abdul Hadi Khan, Additional District Magistrate, also reached there as directed by the District Magistrate. When I and my party reached the Gol Chowk Mosque, a procession of Ahrar led by Maulvi Muhammad Abdullah Ahrari, Maulvi Saleh Muhammad, Mu’allam of Siraj-ul-Uloom, and Abdur Rashid Ashk an editor of the local paper known as Shu’la came from Katchery Bazar.

Next: More Speeches By Bukhari (Contd.)

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 pusillaminity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. - Editor

A telegraphic complaint about the burning of the Ahmadiya mosque at Samundri and of mercilessly beating peaceful worshippers there was made by Amir-i-Jama’at-i-Ahmadiya, Bhera, to His Excellency the Governor-General of Pakistan. The Ministry of the Interior by its letter No. 44/1/51-Poll(1) dated 28th May 1951, forwarded a copy of this telegram to the Chief Secretary to the Government of the Punjab requesting for an early report with the comments of the Punjab Government. In reply to this letter S. Ahmad Ali, Home Secretary to Government, Punjab, wrote the following letter No, 8447- BDSB, dated the 28th June 1951:—

 “Reference your letter No. 44/l/51.Poll (l), dated 28th May 1951, I am directed to report that on the afternoon of 13th May, 1951, a mob of non-Ahmadis (Ahrar) of Samundri town in Lyallpur district collected together and set fire to the mats and roof of the kacha mosque consisting of one room and a platform built on evacuee land in the vicinity of District Board School. Some members of the Ahmadiya community who happened to be present on the spot were assaulted. A peon of the D. B. School carried the news of the sacrilege and arson to the local police and they rushed to the spot immediately. The District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police also arrived without any loss of time and the situation was brought under control. Fourteen of the culprits were arrested flagrante delicto. Later, 6 more were arrested and on completion of investigation the case was put in Court for trial. The prompt action taken by the local authorities stopped any deterioration of the situation and the atmosphere is now calm and quiet.

Next:  More Speeches by Bukhari (Contd.)

 

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 pusillaminity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. - Editor

According to the view propounded by the leading ulama before us the punishment for apostasy (irtidad) in Islam is death. If, therefore, Ahmadis are kafirs, a person who becomes an Ahmadi renders himself liable to the capital punishment. This doctrine seems to be in force in Afghanistan as part of the law of the land and several persons there have paid the supreme penalty for their un-Islamic beliefs. The first Ahmadi to experience the rigour of this law was one Abdur Rahman Khan who was executed in the time of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan. The second was Abdul Latif who was stoned to death in 1903 during the reign of Amir Habibullah Khan. Abdul Latif was an Afghan national who, after living for sometime with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad at Qadian, had himself become an Ahmadi. When he returned to Afghanistan in 1903, he was declared by the Ulama to be a murtadd for having become an Ahmadi and was ordered to be put to death.

Next: AHMADI MOSQUE BURNT

Why are these Internet Hindus worthy of notice at all? There are three reasons. First, a collective of the intellectually inadequate, the professionally frustrated and the plain bigoted, they represent the collapse of Hindu politico-intellectual space into a caricature of the very Talibanism it opposes.

Second, as Hindutva as an idea has contracted in real-world politics, it has become shrill and over-the-top in cyberspace. The Left has its universities, journals and institutional support system. It is a commentary on Internet Hindus that they only have multiple email accounts.

Third, there is a hard question for the BJP. How quickly can it delink itself from Internet Hindus and their offline equivalents? A party that seeks to build broad-spectrum opposition unity in Parliament on governance issues can do without such viral downloads. -- Ashok Malik

Photo: HELL IS EMPTY AND ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE

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 pusillaminity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. - Editor

The genesis of the controversy that led to the disturbances is to be found in what has been described in official documents as ‘the Ahrar-Ahmadiya controversy’, which had existed since long before the Partition. But this description was objected to, in fact resented, before us by all non-Ahmadi parties, on the ground that differences with the Ahmadis are not confined to the Ahrar and are common to all sects of Musalmans. Similarly the use of the word ‘ Ahmadi ’ exclusively in respect of the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was resented by non-Ahmadis for the reason that all Musalmans are Ahmadis, being the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, whose other name was Ahmad, and that it has been wrongly usurped by the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. We have decided to use the word ‘ Musalman ’ to distinguish the general body of Muslims who do not believe in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad from those who believe in him and the word ‘Ahmadi’, ‘Qadiani’ or ‘Mirzai’ for the Qadiani section of Ahmadis who believe that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet (nabi).

Next: STONING TO DEATH OF AHMADIS IN AFGHANISTAN AND THE ‘ASH-SHAHAB’

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 pusillaminity of our so-called scholars of Islam and their near-total disregard of the beauty and generosity of Islam. - Editor

In the beginning of March 1953, widespread disturbances broke out in the Punjab which in some places continued till the middle of April 1953. These took so alarming a turn and assumed such a menacing form that in several places the military had to be called in, and in Lahore Martial Law had to be proclaimed, which remained in force till the middle of May 1953. Before the declaration of Martial Law, the police had to resort to firing in several places and at least two persons were killed on the night of 4th March and ten on 5th March, Sixty-six persons more must have been injured in the firing because that number of wounded persons admitted to the Lahore hospitals had gunshot wounds. The number of casualties admitted by the military to have been caused in quelling the disturbances in Lahore was eleven killed and forty-nine wounded. In some other towns also there were a number of casualties caused by firing by the police or the military.

Next: From Partition to Lahore Convention

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

 

The difference between the Biblical and the Quranic conceptions of women is not limited to the newly born female, it extends far beyond that. Let us compare their attitudes towards a female trying to learn her religion. The heart of Judaism is the Torah, the law. However, according to the Talmud, "women are exempt from the study of the Torah." Some Jewish Rabbis firmly declared "Let the words of Torah rather be destroyed by fire than imparted to women", and "Whoever teaches his daughter Torah is as though he taught her obscenity"8

The attitude of St. Paul in the New Testament is not brighter:

"As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." (I Corinthians 14:34-35)

… Now, to be fair, we should ask: is the Quranic position any different? One short story narrated in the Quran sums its position up concisely. … The divine verdict abolished this iniquitous custom. One full chapter (Chapter 58) of the Quran whose title is "Almujadilah" or "The woman who is arguing" was named after this incident: A woman in the Quranic conception has the right to argue even with the Prophet of Islam himself. No one has the right to instruct her to be silent. She is under no obligation to consider her husband the one and only reference in matters of law and religion.  -- Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

 

The image of Eve as temptress in the Bible has resulted in an extremely negative impact on women throughout the Judaeo-Christian tradition. All women were believed to have inherited from their mother, the Biblical Eve, both her guilt and her guile. Consequently, they were all untrustworthy, morally inferior, and wicked. Menstruation, pregnancy, and childbearing were considered the just punishment for the eternal guilt of the cursed female sex. In order to appreciate how negative the impact of the Biblical Eve was on all her female descendants we have to look at the writings of some of the most important Jews and Christians of all time. Let us start with the Old Testament and look at excerpts from what is called the Wisdom Literature in which we find:

"I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare....while I was still searching but not finding, I found one upright man among a thousand but not one upright woman among them all" (Ecclesiastes 7:26-28).

In another part of the Hebrew literature which is found in the Catholic Bible we read:

"No wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman.....Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die" (Ecclesiasticus 25:19, 24). --Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

 

A careful look into the two accounts of the story of the Creation reveals some essential differences. The Quran, contrary to the Bible, places equal blame on both Adam and Eve for their mistake. Nowhere in the Quran can one find even the slightest hint that Eve tempted Adam to eat from the tree or even that she had eaten before him. Eve in the Quran is no temptress, no seducer, and no deceiver. Moreover, Eve is not to be blamed for the pains of childbearing. God, according to the Quran, punishes no one for another's faults. Both Adam and Eve committed a sin and then asked God for forgiveness and He forgave them both. -- Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem

 
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