What about Esposito’s next claim, that “the Qur’an teaches that all human beings are equal, regardless of…sex”?
Before we weigh this statement, let’s review what we know about the treatment of women in Islam. Can there be equality between men and women, when a man can marry four women but a woman only one man? When a man can triple-talaq his way out of any marriage, even being allowed now to fax his triple-talaq message home for it to be valid? When male heirs inherit twice as much as female ones? When the blood-money payable for a murder is twice as large for a male victim as for a female? When the Qur’an itself gives instructions on when and how, and how hard, to beat a wife? When the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man? When, if a woman makes an accusation of rape, she must have four male witnesses to back her up? Or when a woman is raped, or otherwise been sexually attacked (or even just looked over), it is often she who is in danger of being killed by her own father, or brothers, or uncles, all in order to preserve the family’s honor, a strange code indeed that punishes the victim? And if we need Qur’anic passages to explain these practices, they are easy to locate, along with several excerpts from the most authoritative collection of Hadiths, that by Bukhari:
Quran (4:11) – (Inheritance) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females.” In Islam, sexism is mathematically established.
Quran (2:282) – (Court testimony) “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.”
Quran (2:228) – “and the men are a degree above them [women]“
Quran (5:6) – “And if ye are unclean, purify yourselves. And if ye are sick or on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have had contact with women, and ye find not water, then go to clean, high ground and rub your faces and your hands with some of it.” Men are to rub dirt on their hands, if there is no water to purify them, following casual contact with a woman (such as shaking hands).
Quran (2:223) – “Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will…” A man has dominion over his wives’ bodies as he does his land. This verse is overtly sexual. There is some dispute as to whether it is referring to the practice of anal intercourse.
Quran (4:3) – (Wife-to-husband ratio) “Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four.” Inequality by numbers.
Quran (53:27) – “Those who believe not in the Hereafter, name the angels with female names.” Angels are sublime beings, and would therefore be male. So those with wrong beliefs (“not in the Hereafter”) would “name the angels with female names.”
Quran (4:24) and Quran (33:50) – A man is permitted to take women as sex slaves outside of marriage. Note that the verse distinguishes wives from captives (those whom thy right hand possesses.).
In the Hadith and Sira
Sahih Bukhari (6:301) – “[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’ They replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence.’“
Sahih Bukhari (6:301) – continued – “[Muhammad said] ‘Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religion.’“ Allah has made women deficient in the practice of their religion as well, by giving them menstrual cycles.
Sahih Bukhari (2:29) – Women comprise the majority of Hell’s occupants. This is important because the only women in heaven mentioned explicitly by Muhammad are the virgins who serve the sexual desires of men. (A weak Hadith, Kanz al-`ummal, 22:10, even suggests that 99% of women go to Hell).
Sahih Bukhari (62:81) – “The Prophet said: “‘The stipulations most entitled to be abided by are those with which you are given the right to enjoy the (women’s) private parts (i.e. the stipulations of the marriage contract).'” In other words, the most important thing a woman brings to marriage is between her legs.
Sahih Bukhari (62:58) – A woman presents herself in marriage to Muhammad, but he does not find her attractive, so he “donates” her on the spot to another man.
Sahih Muslim (4:1039) – “A’isha said [to Muhammad]: ‘You have made us equal to the dogs and the asses’“ These are the words of Muhammad’s favorite wife, complaining of the role assigned to women under Islam.
Do these Qur’an passages and reports of what Muhammad said in the Hadith (and there are many more that could be adduced) in any way support the claim of Esposito that men and women are “treated equally” in Islam? Do you think he could possibly be unaware of these passages? Or is he willing to state utter falsehoods, prepared to brazen it out should anyone dare to question his claim? He could do this brazening in two ways: The first is just to insinuate that any such challenger is merely exhibiting “Islamophobia,” and thus need be paid no never mind. That often ends the discussion. The second is the argument from authority: could the head of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Professor John Esposito, be deliberately misleading us about the treatment of the sexes in the Qur’an and Hadith? You bet he could. He could, and he does.