Extremist: Debunking Terrorism and Anti-Islam Extremism

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 Qasim Rashid debunks an allegation by anti-Islam extremist Geert Wilder, and invites readers to join the fight for tolerance for all religions. 

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Editor’s Note: Below is an excerpt from Qasim Rashid’s new book, EXTREMIST.

EXTREMIST’s back cover blurb reads:

Terrorists and anti-Islam extremists are both wrong about Islam. Qasim Rashid proves just that in EXTREMIST: A Response to Geert Wilders & Terrorists Everywhere. Rashid debunks extremists head-on, clarifying important issues like Islam’s view on free speech, women’s rights, and Jihad — among many more. He writes for non-Muslims and Muslims alike, asking you to stand for a narrative of moderation, civility, and compassion — and against the extremist narratives of Geert Wilders and all terrorists. Rashid empowers you with a tool extremists don’t have — knowledge of Islam, and invites you to join the fight for tolerance.

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Allegation 34: Islam Requires a Female Rape Victim to Produce Four Witnesses

Wilders rightly laments that, “some Islamic states consider female rape victims to be adulterers liable to be stoned to death.”[1] However, he explains this by misrepresenting a verse of the Qur’an: “This stems from the Koran’s injunction that a female rape victim has to present four male witnesses to support her claim that she has been raped.”[2] In reality, nothing in Islamic jurisprudence supports Wilders’s (or the so-called Muslim government’s) belief.

Reference: Qur’an 24:14.

Response: Before even delving into this response, let me make one thing clear at the onset. In Islam, rape is a crime and one of the most horrific crimes imaginable. Thus, those who commit rape are criminals and Islam demands the state or governing authority hold them criminally liable. Moreover, rape is never the fault of anyone but the rapist. That clarified, let’s move on to repudiate Wilders’s baseless allegation.

The verse in question actually reads:“Why did not those, who gave currency to this charge, bring four witnesses to prove it? Since they have not brought the required witnesses, they are indeed liars in the sight of Allah.”[3] As the reader will soon see, this verse has nothing to do with rape — which is a criminal act. Instead, this verses addresses adultery — which is not a criminal act — and the Islamic teaching to not expose people’s private lives.First, Islam is a religion of modesty. Sexual behavior is considered a private matter, not for public display. Accordingly, this verse calling for four witnesses protects women and upholds Islamic ideals of modesty and chastity. Of note, Islamic modesty derives its core principles from the example set forth by the woman that the Qur’an recognizes as the greatest woman of all time — Maryra Mother of Jesussa. Islam teaches that God chose Maryra to be the mother of the Messiah due to her unmatched piety, righteousness, and chastity. When Maryra conceived Jesussa, she was unjustly accused of unchaste behavior though no person had a shred of evidence to prove such an accusation. Accordingly, the Qur’an forbids that any woman should face accusations of unchaste behavior without a minimum of four witnesses. But this is just one part of the equation.

Next, as mentioned this verse does not address rape; it addresses those who accuse women of unchaste behavior. If, for example, someone accuses a woman of adultery, then he or she must produce four truthful witnesses to corroborate the accusation. Failing that, meaning if the accuser only produces one, two, or three witnesses, then the minimum threshold of proof is unfulfilled, and the accuser is deemed a liar. The Qur’an prescribes harsh punishments for those who make such false allegations against women.

It is worth noting that the same rules apply when someone accuses a man of adultery — i.e. four witnesses must substantiate the claim. Wilders ignores this altogether. Thus, I am focusing on accusations against women because it more directly addresses Wilders’s allegation.

But why four witnesses? For context, consider that for crimes of murder or rape, Islam teaches that even one witness or the rape victim’s testimony alone can suffice. Why then, would Islam suddenly require four witnesses for accusations of adultery? It is crucial to understand the overall Islamic philosophy behind requiring an astounding four witnesses. The fact is that Islam does not allow just anyone impose him or herself into another person’s private life. While Islam considers adultery a sin, it does not permit individuals from invading another person’s privacy rights and exposing their private behavior. Indeed, the reader should recall the earlier discussion on Islam’s immense emphasis on privacy rights.

On the other hand, however, if a woman (or man) becomes so open about their sexual promiscuity that they display it openly, Islam sets a limit because now that once private behavior has a public impact. That limit is described as “Why did not those, who gave currency to this charge, bring four witnesses to prove it?” That is, if someone’s private behavior is exposed due to his or her own display (as evidenced by four truthful witnesses), rather than through anyone invading that person’s privacy, only then does it become a public matter liable to public response. On the contrary, whatever a person’s private behavior, though Islam may frown upon it, it is a private matter between that person and God, and therefore must be kept private.

But Islam’s requirement of proving adultery with four witnesses has another important application. In the West, a common insult to demean and demonize women is “slut-shaming.” This derogatory term describes an attempt to make a woman feel guilty about her private life or personal choices. The Islamic practice of requiring four truthful witnesses to levy an accusation of unchaste behavior not only prevents this demonization from occurring, it also better ensures that the only time a woman’s private life is exposed is when she chooses to do so of her own accord. Otherwise, Islam categorically forbids any person from invading or commenting on a woman’s private life. No other scripture affords women this level of protection. Indeed, nothing in the Qur’an or ahadith validate Wilders’s highly offensive allegation that a woman must provide four witnesses to prove she was raped. Extremists ascribing to Islam who hold this belief commit a grave injustice against women.

It is the height of absurdity to suggest that a rape victim should face punishment. On the contrary, numerous ahadith related to rape prove that the woman is not to be punished under any circumstance. Abdul Jabbar ibn Wa’il ibn Hujr reported on the authority of his father that a woman was raped in the time of Prophet Muhammadsa. Prophet Muhammad punished the rapist but prescribed no punishment for the victim.[4] In another hadith, Alqamah ibn Wa’il Kindi reports that Prophet Muhammadsa punished a rapist but not the victim.[5] I challenge Wilders to cite any hadith in which Prophet Muhammadsa punished the victim, or a Qur’anic verse that prescribes such injustice.

Wilders also makes a side allegation that “Mohammad so hated his daughters that even after their deaths he called them ‘filth and whores’ and ranted that someone should defecate ‘on their graves.’”[6] This shameless lie reflects only Wilders’s ignoble imagination, nothing more. True to his calling, Wilders makes this outlandish claim without citing any Islamic source. No Qur’an, no hadith, no Islamic historian. Instead, Wilders cites a Wall Street Journal news article, which itself provides no references.

Contrary to Wilders’s pathetic claim, Prophet Muhammadsa loved his daughters immensely and implored the same of his companions. When one of his daughters died, he directed Muslim women to wash her body thoroughly to give her a clean, dignified, and proper burial.[7] Whenever his daughter, Hadhrat Fatima, entered the room, he would stand in her honor, offer her his seat, and then sit next to her.[8] He gave her the most honorable rank as “chief of the believing women in Paradise,” demonstrating both his love for her and that women would certainly attain paradise.[9] He gave the glad tidings of paradise to his companions who raised their daughters virtuously and with honor.[10] This is the man Wilders claims loathed his daughters? Wilders’s claim is nothing more than a lie.

In short, it is worth repeating that Wilders sadly judges Islam by the actions of a small group of Muslims who have twisted the religion to suit their own ends. Yes, there exist misguided and barbaric clerics who believe that a woman who is raped must produce four witnesses. As mentioned earlier, Prophet Muhammadsa preemptively dissociated himself from such clerics and called them the “worst creatures on Earth.” I condemn their false interpretations and condemn their barbaric actions, and appeal to them and their followers to resort to reason. It is unfortunate that Wilders continues to look to these worst creatures in promoting his false narrative.

Footnotes:

[1].       Wilders, Marked for Death, 49.

[2].       bid., 59.

[3].       Qur’an 24:14.

[4].       Imam Muhammad ibn ‘Isa Tirmidhi, “Chapter 22, #1458” in Jami‘ Tirmidhi vol. 1, ( Karachi: Darul Ishaat Urdu Bazar, 2007), 620.

[5].       Ibid., #1459, 621.

[6].       Wilders, Marked for Death, 51–52.

[7].       Sahih Jami’ Bukhari 2.347, narrated Um ‘Atiyya: “When we washed the deceased daughter of the Prophet, he said to us, while we were washing her, ‘Start the bath from the right side and from the parts which are washed in ablution.’” Sahih Jami’ Bukhari 2.348, narrated Um ‘Atiyya: “The daughter of the Prophet expired, and he said to us, ‘Wash her three or five times, or more if you see it necessary, and when you finish, notify me.’ So, (when we finished) we informed him and he unfastened his waist-sheet and told us to shroud her in it.”

[8]        Sahih Jami’ Bukhari Hadith 8.301, narrated by Aisha, Mother of the Believers.

[9]        Ibid.

[10]     Sahih Jami’ Muslim 2631

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About Qasim Rashid

Author Bio: Qasim Rashid, Esq. is an internationally recognized voice on human rights and religious freedom. CNN calls him, “…an effective source on a wide range of religious issues” and The Huffington Post adds, “Qasim offers insightful commentary on issues Muslims in America face.” Rashid’s work has appeared in the USA Today, Washington Post, Huffington Post, CNN, Daily Beast, Richmond Times Dispatch, multiple peer-reviewed law journals, among several other national and international outlets. He interviews regularly on Huff Post Live, NBC, CBS, NPR, BBC World, New York Times, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Pittsburg Post-Gazette, among numerous media outlets. He also frequently lectures at houses of worship and universities nationally and internationally including Princeton, Berkeley, Barry, Howard Law, and Richmond Law.
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Rashid received his Bachelors Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and his Juris Doctorate from the University of Richmond School of Law. He is a National Spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, Chairman of the Muslim Writers Guild of America, a Board Member for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, a pro bono attorney for the Virginia Poverty Law Center, and practices law in Richmond, VA.

Comments

  1. Right now we’re seeing the hashtag #yesallwomen on Twitter to validate the experiences that women are having about being mistreated and disrespected by men. And one of the ongoing themes of various blogs on GMP is that men, in particular, need to stand up when women are being mistreated, in solidarity and support.

    Nowhere is the mistreatment of women greater, and more pervasive, than within the confines of the Islamic state. This is not an issue of Islamic terrorists and terrorism. This is an issue of how a great majority of the world’s Muslims – not including your own relatively tiny Ahmadiyya sect – treat women as a matter of Islamic religous and civil law.

    #yesallwomen calls upon us all to look with clear and open eyes at this problem – without whitewashing it or pretending it is less of an institutional problem than it really is. It is not merely a terrorist problem – it is a trans-national Islamic problem, dominating gender relations in entire countries. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia come immediately to mind – and there are many others as well.

    Sure, not all Muslims are like that. But in point of fact, Islam is, for the most part, still stuck in a pre-modern understanding of the world – and treats Islamic women accordingly. That is something that deserves our moral condemnation, not our religious tolerance.

  2. Hasan ahmad says:

    Joe did you even read the except ? If you didnt i understand you took a long time to write your retort so let me summarize it

    Majority muslims are adherent to their faith
    If most muslims are adherent and most are not mysoginistic then do you blame men or religion .

    Common sense man common sense

    • Yes, by all means lets go with common sense.

      And here is what common sense tells me: The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are ALL riddled with misogyny and patriarchy.

      Warren Blumenfield published a piece documenting this just the other day, here on GMP:

      http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/know-religious-texts-used-justify-persecution-wcz/

      So what you have (just speaking common sense here) is a vicious circle: The core texts of the Abrahamic religions – the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qu’ran – are NOT about gender equality. Anyone who says they are is either ignorant of what they plainly say – or (more likely) is trying to justify the unjustifiable.

      Those core texts are then read by people who have the usual component of human shadow (atheists and feminists have it as well) and use those core texts to institutionalize oppression and suppression of women (and gender variant people and people outside the religion, etc).

      Once again, all you need to do is look at history, and watch the news. It doesn’t take much scholarship to see the vicious circle in action.

      Here’s a very recent, and (thankfully) trivial example of how this plays out in Islam today:

      People all over the world have responded to Pharrell’s song “Happy” by making their own YouTube videos, showing them dancing to this catchy, happy, childlike and quite innocent tune. A few weeks back, a gender mixed group of Muslims in the UK put their version up. It was quite sweet.

      Within a day or two, some other Muslims “fixed” the video, editing out the bits which included women, replacing them with other men.

      Now that’s small beer – but there’s lots of big beer here in this picture. Specifically, Islam as a religion is the world laggard when it comes to moving out of an ancient way of thinking about men and women (and lots of other things) to a more modern, more enlightened way of thinking. It has not, speaking broadly, gone through the wash and rinse cycle of the Enlightenment the way most of Christendom has (and no, I am decidedly NOT a Christian).

      Therefore, the misogynistic problems that persist are not simply the evil of individual men, but the vestiges of an archaic way of looking at the human condition – a way that makes women second class citizens in a spiritual community.

      Is this kind of idea – call it misogyny, patriarchy or whatever – worthy of religious tolerance? Or moral condemnation?

      I say the latter, not the former. I say we have an obligation – whether we’re Muslims or not, religious or not – to speak out boldly and continually against institutionalized oppression of women (and other gendered people) in Muslim communities and Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

      I say it is a morally unacceptable misdirection to try to blame this oppression on a few bad apples – aka “terrorists”. That’s not the problem at all.

  3. If more effort was given to attacking “the small group of Muslims who have twisted the religion” than in making passionate arguments against Islamo-phobia ,you might have more credibility.

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