Karrar Al Asfoor is the Co-Founder of the United Atheists of Europe. Asfoor is also the Co-Founder of Atheist Alliance – Middle-East and North Africa. United Atheists of Europe is an organization in development, more in theory than in practice, and devoted to the unification of atheist efforts in Europe. Here we talk about Islam and gender roles from Asfoor’s perspective.
When I asked Asfoor about the standard gender roles in Islam, Asfoor talked about the complete dominance of men over women. That is, the women are treated as if property or chattel for men. Asfoor considered the most appropriate term “slaves.” Women become slaves for men.
The restrictions for human possibilities are greater for women than for men. “Many women in the Muslim world spend their whole life among four walls,” Karrar stated, “They are not allowed to go out without approval from their families. Many of them never get the opportunity to study or work.”
In addition to these restrictions on women, women spend the first portions of their lives inside of the house and then the second portions of life in the husband’s place. They work there. The work includes cleaning, cooking, and raising children.
Karrar said, “This policy is not only unfair for women but also it causes the society to operate in half of its power causing it to collapse and that’s why the Islamic world is going backward while the rest of the world is going forward.”
Women lose out; society loses out. I asked about the divinely prescribed gender roles in Islam. Asfoor quoted four verses: Verse 4:34, Verse 4:11, Verse 4:3, and Verse 2:282. “Verse 4:34 in the Quran clearly states that men are dominant over women. They have the right to beat them. Furthermore, Verse 4:11 gives women half the share of men when dividing the inheritance,” Asfoor explained.
Verse 4:3 permitted men to marry up to 4 women including additional sex slaves. Verse 2:282 says two female witnesses are equal to only one male witness. Asfoor considered these indicative of women seen as half-humans or less than half humans within the faith.
I asked for a comparative analysis. That is the perspective on the standards stated before. Then the humanistic standard that has been seen elsewhere in different documents. Do these seem humanistic in general? Do these consider women as full human beings? I wanted to know more.
Asfoor, stating in the negative. Islam seems non-humanistic to Asfoor. He concluded, “Because every self-aware being is actually looking for happiness and rejecting pain, and considering them not to be full humans just because they don’t have male sexual parts is something ridiculous, irrational, and not humanistic at all, it causes pain to them and this is an immoral act.”
Asfoor sees these principles and standards set for women as non-humanistic.
He talks here with Scott Douglas Jacobsen who founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: [email protected] We published other interviews in Canadian Atheist, Humanist Voices, and Personal Medium account.
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