Okay, I decided to try to do this. These may be slow coming, since I have to look things up, etc.
The book starts with a few paragraphs of blahblah about 9/11 and how no one thought about Islam before then. The Christians in the West just pretended that Islam didn't exist, I guess. But it's true, Islam wasn't a big deal to most people until it became a big deal. I like to think most people have gone from the immediate, media fueled fear to an understanding. But not everyone.
The fourth paragraph in starts about how Islam oppresses women. My very first 'huh?' moment came there. The author quotes something that is supposedly engraved on the wall of a mosque in Kabul, which he attributes to the second Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab: "Prevent the women from learning to write! Say no to their capricious ways!" I had a hard time believing that I'd never heard this before. I mean, I've read a *lot* of muslimah's defending Islam and the quotes from the Qur'an and ahadith that are used to support the idea that Islam oppresses women. But I've *never* heard this before. So I went looking. I can find no independent verification that this phrase exists anywhere, let alone in a mosque. I'm not saying I'm 100% sure that it doesn't, just that it doesn't make sense. In the first place, I was under the impression that all of the text that decorates a mosque is Qur'an. In the second place, a quote that can only be found in one source, and a highly prejudiced source at that, cannot be trusted. Third, while I was trying to find this quote elsewhere, I ran across an answer from one of those Islam online Q&A sites: "As I am not sure about the statement you have mentioned [quoted above], I can answer your question from what `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, has done in his life. Firstly, his daughter, Hafsah, the mother of the believers, was one of the few women who could read and write. And he asked a very famous Muslim woman named Ash-shifa’ to teach Hafsah how to read and write, which reflects his caring about women’s education. Secondly, he nominated Ash-shifa’ to be inspector of the markets to watch prices and dealings in the markets. Moreover, a very old woman stopped him after delivering a khutbah and he was in a congregation of some companions, and he went to her, stood as a young child listening to his mother, and when the companions asked him about her, he said: “This is a woman whom Allah listened complaining about her husband.” Allah says, “Allah hath heard the saying of her that disputeth with thee (Muhammad) concerning her husband, and complaineth unto Allah. And Allah heareth your colloquy. Lo! Allah is Nearer, Knower.” (Al-Mujadilah: 1) In many evidences `Umar showed great respect for women and their education. Therefore, we cannot single out a certain event, if it is truly ascribed to `Umar, and consider that to be the general attitude of `Umar towards women."
Yadda, she quotes the Qur'an, stating that Muslim men are allowed to beat their wives. I'm not trying to blow off wife beating and abuse as a problem, but let's be honest. If a man is going to beat the shit out of his wife, he's going to do it whether or not his religious book tells him it's okay or if it condemns it. Does the Bible say no wife beating? Pretty sure it doesn't. Does it imply it by telling men to treat their wives like part of themselves? Eh. It's arguable. But again, it's all up to the men and how they and the society want to read it. I can give you plenty of instances where corporal punishment between a husband and a wife was viewed as a 'Christian' thing to embrace.
I'm not going to go through all the hadith she quotes, etc. But here's a comparison that struck me as not doing what she meant it to do.
She contrasts the Islamic opinion of women and their husbands as expressed by this hadith: "What rights does the woman have with the man...He should feed her if he eats, clothe her when he dresses, avoid disfiguring her or beating her excessively, or abandoning her except at home." Hadith 7.62.77 She doesn't give which book of hadith it's out of. It's not Sahih Bukhari, and googling doesn't tell me which book it belongs to. So I have no idea. Maybe it's one of the collections of hadith that isn't considered to have a strong chain of narration, making it weak and unacceptable. I don't know. But even if it is an accepted hadith, how, precisely, is it bad? Oh, I know, it mentions the husband disfiguring the wife or beating her. Yeah. It tells the husband *not* to disfigure his wife, or to beat her excessively. Keep in mind that up until really recent times, men disciplined their wives physically and there was *no* rule, no suggestion as to how far they could go. Men could kill their wives and if it wasn't out right accepted, it was swept under the rug. Women weren't just property in the ME. It was all over. So a ruling telling them to dial it the hell back was actually a step forward. Doesn't make doing it at all acceptable by todays terms, but they weren't living in modern times.
But other than that, the hadith sounds good. If the husband has food, he has to share it with his wife. He can't eat it all himself. If he has clothing, then he has to make sure that she has clothing. He can't just buy himself new things and let his wife run around in rags. He has to take *care* of her in the same level he cares for himself. So, nyah.
The author compares it, though, with a passage from the Bible: "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." 1 Peter 3:7. Fine and dandy. Except for the part about the wives being the weaker partner. So if women and men are supposed to be equal in Christianity, as opposed to Islam, where the man is a degree above the woman, why do you pick a verse that calls women *weaker*? Neither passage, from the hadith or the Bible says what the author wants them to say, and they're bad comparisons with one another.
Blah, blah, more Qur'an & hadith are evol and degrading to women, YAY CHRISTIANITY! *rolls eyes* Now if you were to point out to these writers the history of oppression of women within Christianity, you would be told that that was man messing up the message of God. Well, the same can be said for the oppression of women under Islam. Different rules, same problem. People suck. That's the problem with *everything*. We mess things up. Religions would be great if there were no people in them.