Islam the religion of torture?

by Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood /

How can anyone justify Islam’s treatment of women, when it imprisons Afghans under blue shuttlecock burqas and makes Pakistani girls marry strangers against their will? How can you respect a religion that forces women into polygamous marriages, mutilates their genitals, forbids them to drive cars and subjects them to the humiliation of “instant” divorce? In fact, none of these practices are Islamic at all.
Anyone wishing to understand Islam must first separate the religion from the cultural norms and style of a society. Female genital mutilation is still practised in certain pockets of Africa and Egypt, but viewed as an inconceivable horror by the vast majority of Muslims. Forced marriages may still take place in certain Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, but would be anathema to Muslim women from other backgrounds.

Indeed, Islam insists on the free consent of both bride and groom, so such marriages could even be deemed illegal under religious law.

A woman forbidden from driving a car in Riyadh will cheerfully take the wheel when abroad, confident that her country’s bizarre law has nothing to do with Islam. Afghan women educated before the Taliban rule know that banning girls from school is forbidden in Islam, which encourages all Muslims to seek knowledge from cradle to grave, from every source possible.

The Koran is addressed to all Muslims, and for the most part it does not differentiate between male and female. Man and woman, it says, “were created of a single soul,” and are moral equals in the sight of God. Women have the right to divorce, to inherit property, to conduct business and to have access to knowledge.

Since women are under all the same obligations and rules of conduct as the men, differences emerge most strongly when it comes to pregnancy, child-bearing and rearing, menstruation and, to a certain extent, clothing.

Some of the commands are alien to Western tradition. Requirements of ritual purity may seem to restrict a woman’s access to religious life, but are viewed as concessions. During menstruation or postpartum bleeding, she may not pray the ritual salah or touch the Koran and she does not have to fast; nor does she need to fast while pregnant or nursing.

The veiling of Muslim women is a more complex issue. Certainly, the Koran requires them to behave and dress modestly – but these strictures apply equally to men. Only one verse refers to the veiling of women, stating that the Prophet’s wives should be behind a hijab when his male guests converse with them.

Some modernists, however, claim that this does not apply to women in general, and that the language used does not carry the textual stipulation that makes a verse obligatory. In practice, most modern Muslim women appreciate attractive and graceful clothes, but avoid dressing provocatively.

What about polygamy, which the Koran endorses up to the limit of four wives per man? The Prophet, of course, lived at a time when continual warfare produced large numbers of widows, who were left with little or no provision for themselves and their children.

In these circumstances, polygamy was encouraged as an act of charity. Needless to say, the widows were not necessarily sexy young women, but usually mothers of up to six children, who came as part of the deal.

Polygamy is no longer common, for various good reasons. The Koran states that wives need to be treated fairly and equally – a difficult requirement even for a rich man. Moreover, if a husband wishes to take a second wife, he should not do so if the marriage will be to the detriment of the first.

Sexual intimacy outside marriage is forbidden in Islam, including sex before marriage, adultery or homosexual relationships. However, within marriage, sexual intimacy should be raised from the animal level to sadaqah (a form of worship) so that each considers the happiness and satisfaction of the other, rather than mere self-gratification.

Contrary to Christianity, Islam does not regard marriages as “made in heaven” or “till death do us part”. They are contracts, with conditions. If either side breaks the conditions, divorce is not only allowed, but usually expected. Nevertheless, a hadith makes it clear that: “Of all the things God has allowed, divorce is the most disliked.”

A Muslim has a genuine reason for divorce only if a spouse’s behaviour goes against the sunnah of Islam – in other words, if he or she has become cruel, vindictive, abusive, unfaithful, neglectful, selfish, sexually abusive, tyrannical, perverted – and so on.

In good Islamic practice, before divorce can be contemplated, all possible efforts should be made to solve a couple’s problems. After an intention to divorce is announced, there is a three-month period during which more attempts are made at reconciliation.

If, by the end of each month, the couple have resumed sexual intimacy, the divorce should not proceed. The three-month rule ensures that a woman cannot remarry until three menstrual cycles have passed – so, if she happens to be pregnant, the child will be supported and paternity will not be in dispute.

When Muslims die, strict laws govern the shares of property and money they may leave to others; daughters usually inherit less than sons, but this is because the men in a family are supposed to provide for the entire household.

Any money or property owned by women is theirs to keep, and they are not obliged to share it. Similarly, in marriage, a woman’s salary is hers and cannot be appropriated by her husband unless she consents.

A good Muslim woman, for her part, should always be trustworthy and kind. She should strive to be cheerful and encouraging towards her husband and family, and keep their home free from anything harmful (haram covers all aspects of harm, including bad behaviour, abuse and forbidden foods).

Regardless of her skills or intelligence, she is expected to accept her man as the head of her household – she must, therefore, take care to marry a man she can respect, and whose wishes she can carry out with a clear conscience. However, when a man expects his wife to do anything contrary to the will of God – in other words, any nasty, selfish, dishonest or cruel action – she has the right to refuse him.

Her husband is not her master; a Muslim woman has only one Master, and that is God. If her husband does not represent God’s will in the home, the marriage contract is broken.

What should one make of the verse in the Koran that allows a man to punish his wife physically? There are important provisos: he may do so only if her ill-will is wrecking the marriage – but then only after he has exhausted all attempts at verbal communication and tried sleeping in a separate bed.

However, the Prophet never hit a woman, child or old person, and was emphatic that those who did could hardly regard themselves as the best of Muslims. Moreover, he also stated that a man should never hit “one of God’s handmaidens”. Nor, it must be said, should wives beat their husbands or become inveterate nags.

Finally, there is the issue of giving witness. Although the Koran says nothing explicit, other Islamic sources suggest that a woman’s testimony in court is worth only half of that of a man. This ruling, however, should be applied only in circumstances where a woman is uneducated and has led a very restricted life: a woman equally qualified to a man will carry the same weight as a witness.

So, does Islam oppress women?

While the spirit of Islam is clearly patriarchal, it regards men and women as moral equals. Moreover, although a man is technically the head of the household, Islam encourages matriarchy in the home.

Women may not be equal in the manner defined by Western feminists, but their core differences from men are acknowledged, and they have rights of their own that do not apply to men

Advice to the converts of Islam

By Aisha Stacey / 28 May 2013

After a person has accepted Islam as their religion they will come to realise that Islam is more than just a religion – it is way of life.  Worship is not reserved for special days or special ceremonies; it is a part of our living and our dying, our working and our play, our rest and our study.  In short Islam is something that we live with all our actions, thoughts and deeds. Developing good habits to assist us in our everyday lives as a worshipper of the One God is easy. Below you will find a few guidelines to get you started.  They are habits that should InshaAllah become as familiar as breathing.

1. Dedicate some part of everyday to reading a translation of the Quran.

2. Pay strict attention to learning how to pray.  Try to improve your prayers until you are satisfied that you are praying in the correct manner. Sometimes this takes longer than you might expect, so do not be discouraged.

3.Try to learn some words of remembrance.  These can be said at any time of the day or night.  If you feel you do not know enough of the prayer ritual but want to spend longer connected to Allah then they can even be repeated at the end of your prayer.  Learn to say:SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah  and Allahu Akbar.

“Therefore remember Me (by praying, glorifying), I will remember you, and be grateful to Me (for My countless Favours on you) and never be ungrateful to Me.”(Quran 2:152)

4. Give some form of charity every day.  Remember that in Islam giving charity can be as simple as smiling and brightening a person’s day.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Every Muslim has to give in charity.”  The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied:“He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?”  He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied: “He should help the needy who appeal for help.”  Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charity.” Saheeh Al-Bukhari

“Every act of kindness is charity.” Saheeh Muslim

5. Avoid wasting your free time. You will discover that there 1001 things to do that are beneficial.  Time wasted on video games and idly surfing the internet can be better spent.  Once you understand that every single thing can be a way of worshipping Allah then playing video games for hours on end does not seem to be a very wise way to spend time.  Having said this however we now come to the next point.

6. Avoid going to extremes.  It may be tempting to fast everyday or read all of the Quran in one sitting but Prophet Muhammad warned us against going to extremes.  Therefore in a 24 hour day there is time to play and time to learn.

“Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists…” Saheeh Al-Bukhari

7. Islam is a holistic religion; it requires us to pay attention to our spiritual, physical and mental health.  Therefore acquire habits that keep you healthy and add to your Islamic character.  Getting enough sleep at night allows you to rise early to pray. Eating the right foods in the right quantities keeps you energetic rather than lazy; this allows you to worship without hardship.

8.Try to make friends in the Muslim community. Staying in the company of people who worship Allah in the correct manner is a source of fun and benefit.  The best friends are those who talk about Islam more than the latest fashions. Good friends remind each other of their Islamic obligations, such as praying on time or the importance of helping others.

9.Try to read about the life and times of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). There are many good books in all languages that teach about the noble life of Allah’s final messenger. As Muslims we should love the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) but how do we love someone we do not know.

“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.”(Quran 33:21)

10. Acquire virtuous manners and morals. Learn about and try to emulate the morals and manners of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), those who lived around him and all of our righteous predecessors, including all the Prophets of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Allah expects us to behave in the best manner, if we fail sometimes then we should seek forgiveness and try to do better.

Our religion is easy.  It is one small step at a time.  Slowly but surely acquire the habits that will make life in this world better and a better life in the hereafter secure

The miraculous change?

You’re not in a happy place today but you have the power to make tomorrow better.  Never forget that…

If you are confronting with many difficulties, it means that at some time in your life, you have accumulated those problems without realizing it, or may be you were thinking that everything is just ok and nothing bad can ever happen to you.

Life is full of surprises and it can lean to one side today and tomorrow on the opposite side. So, be prepared always


If you are having financial problem or emotional problems, whatever your problem, there’s no shame in seeking help to get on your feet –financial, emotional, or professional.  You can lean on friends and relatives temporarily as you transition from dependent to independent.  It may take time but don’t give up.

Be practical. Take time to think and think until your thoughts are cleared. Once you see the light in the horizon, be prepared to do actions.

Don’t sit and pray as if your problems are solved. Prayer is a passage towards finding a way but ACTIONS SHOULD BE DONE

Human beings cannot loop it. They have to continuously strive in doing actions. This is what they have been created for

What? You don’t want to do actions? Well, sit and cry then


Need a job? Here you go…

Do it with a smile

Step 1: Introspection
Take a moment and think what all caused this to happen. The wrong habits or things you complied with, see if they can be beneficial for you now. If not, rule them and throw them out that very instance for the rest of your life and never return to them.

Step 2: Gather all what you got
Monetary wise, sum up all what you can by selling. Don’t borrow yet.
Qualification wise: Get a hold on all your certifications and education.

Step 3: The process initiation
Make a list of all places you can see yourself working for, according to the qualification you have.

Step 4: The application part
Apply for a job. The sooner, the better. There will be a lot of luck factor governing this step and a lot of hard-work too. So stay put, act bold and strive. Don’t fear failure and rejection, instead make these your best friends. You will meet them often in the start and if you turn your back for them, neither will you learn from them, nor will you profit from the failures. You will be else running in a loop of same errors and that will take you nowhere.

Step 4: Keep at it
Once on the job, realize it’s importance and keep working at it with full dedication. Prioritize the work at hand as there will be plenty. Everything else, and mind you everything, apart from work, can wait.

Step 5: Evolve
Don’t stop at any moment. Certification courses, part-time jobs, future planning.. keep at all this. Everyone has a tendency to settle down after a lot of hard time on small satisfying successes. Don’t be one of them as none of them ever made big.

You have an opportunity to cast your own life. Have a great one!

I wish you all the very best.




[Quora – internet post]