Treatment of Women

In Islam, a man can have up to four wives at the same time (Sura 4:3). In addition, a man is given the right to beat his disobedient wife until she obeys (Sura 4:34, Bukhari 8.73.68). According the Quran, “Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made some of them to excel others…and (as to) those on whose part you fear rebellion, admonish them, and leave them alone in beds apart, and beat them.” Note that in one popular English translation of the Quran the term “lightly” is placed after “beat them.” But “lightly” is not in the Arabic. Here are six translations of Sura 4:34.

An example of Muhammad himself beating his wife is documented in the Sahih Muslim Hadith, number 2127. (Note, the Arabic word for beat is the same word as how you would treat a slave or a camel.)

Muhammad himself actually had thirteen wives, two concubines/slaves, and four women of uncertain relationships. Of note, a Sura conveniently appeared to give Muhammad an exception to the 4-wife rule (Sura 33:50). One of his wives was six years old when he married her, but nine years old when he consummated his marriage with her. (See Aisha.) This relationship with Aisha could be the basis for charges of pedophilia in non-Muslim cultures. See this link:

Islam and Paedophilia

Also of interest, Muhammad married his daughter-in-law Zainab (Bukhari 9.93.516-518). He arranged for his adopted son Zaid to divorce Zainab so he could marry her. The divorce was prompted by the prophet’s admiration for Zainab’s beauty. Faced with the refusal of Zaid to dissolve his marriage, Muhammad had another convenient revelation from Allah, which not only commanded Zaid to give up his wife to Muhammad, but also decreed that there was no evil in a father-in-law taking his daughter-in-law away from his own adopted son (Sura 33:36-38).

Sura 2:223 explains that “Your wives are your fields, so go into your fields whichever way you like.” (Again, some translations cover up the clear implication of this passage.) Is this how husbands should think of their wives? Is this an example of the perfect divinely inspired revealed truth dictated from Allah to Muhammad?

Men are superior to women in Islamic teaching. (See Suras 2:228, 4:34. Note: English translations vary considerably here. For example, in 4:34 some use the term “superior,” while others say that men are “maintainers” or “guardians” of women.) In Islamic law, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of men because the female mind is considered deficient (Sura 2:282, Bukhari 3.48.826). Women are only entitled to inherit half of what men do (Sura 4:11).

Prostitution is common in some Muslim countries, especially Africa. Some Muslims justify prostitution by marrying the woman for the night, which seems to be okay as long as they stay within the limit of four wives at one time. Prostitution may be partly a result of the attitude in Muslim societies that men can do whatever they want, while women have limited rights.

Genital mutilation of women is a widespread practice in Muslim countries. In some countries 90% of women are so mutilated. (See the link at the bottom of the article entitled “Islamic Sexuality.”)

The Quran and hadiths teach that it is morally acceptable to force women to have sex with their captors (Suras 4:2470:29-30; also Bukhari 8.77.600; 9.93.506; also Muslim Hadiths numbers 8:3371 and 8:3433). According to a reliable witness we personally know who grew up in Pakistan, rape is not prosecuted even today in the Muslim world in some circumstances, especially if the victim is a non-Muslim. Apparently at least some Muslims consider these passages as giving permission to rape. See organized gang rape.

Interestingly, Islam teaches that the majority of people in hell are women (Bukhari 1.2.28, 1.6.301, and 2.18.161). According to the prophet of Islam, “I looked at Paradise and found poor people forming the majority of its inhabitants; and I looked at Hell and saw that the majority of its inhabitants were women.” This is an abominable idea to Christians.

Fundamentalist Christianity condones none of the above abuses of women. While Old Testament figures had multiple wives, this is seen as sinful behavior. Jesus insisted on the sanctity of marriage with one woman (Mark 10:5-12).

Two books of the Old Testament are named for (and are about) women. Women play an even more venerated and prominent role in the New Testament, especially in view of the low status afforded women in the culture in which Jesus lived (Matthew 5:32; 1 Corinthians 11:11-12; Galatians 3:28;Ephesians 5:25-33.) There are 21 notable women mentioned favorably in the New Testament. While the Bible teaches different roles for women than for men, the New Testament elevates women in many ways. It teaches, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

Carrying out this teaching, Christianity throughout history has enhanced and protected women. For more on the cultural impact that Christianity has had on women, see Women

For evidence of mistreatment of women in modern Islamic societies see Egypt.

Here is a link that is pretty comprehensive about this: Wife-Beating.