ON FRIDAY, October 5, Oprah devoted her program to "Islam 101," which, I think, was supposed to be a crash course on the Islamic religion.
I’m still confused.
One of the guests, Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., explained that, "There is nothing in Islam that does not accord women equal rights and respect. Islam encourages women to participate and be a productive member of society."
Another guest, Professor Akbar Ahmed, who served as the Pakistani Ambassador to Great Britain and is now the Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington D.C., stated that there was a "commonality" between Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the "emphasis" on "family life."
Oprah didn’t challenge these statements.
After the program, I was very traumatized. I tried to synthesize Oprah’s show with everything I have read in the Qur’an – and in other Islamic texts. I failed miserably.
I’m very confused.
In the Qur’an, Surah 2:28 tells us that men are superior to women. Surah 4:34 commands a man to beat his wife as soon as she shows any sign of disobedience to his orders. The verse reads, "As for these women, fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart and scourge them."
The Prophet Mohammed was kind enough to leave no misunderstanding on this matter in the hadiths, which are his Sunnah (sayings and doings) as recorded meticulously by his companions. They are considered to have the same authenticity as the Qur’an by the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world.
In his hadith in volume 3:826 of the Sahih Al-Bukhari, Imam Al-Bukhari quotes Mohammed’s order to the husband regarding his wife: "Hang up your scourge where your wife can see it."
The Prophet, however, was loving enough to command that, according to Imam Kitab al-Nikah’s hadith No. 1850 in The Book of Marriage, "you shall not slap her on the face, nor revile her, nor desert her except within the house."
It’s a good thing that some contemporary Islamic teachers are a little more liberal on this issue. Abdul-latif Mushtahiri is a prime example. In his book, You Ask and Islam Answers, he instructs on page 94 that, while he is all up for a good wife-beating, it is a good idea to stop short of any broken bones or shedding of blood. He patiently explains that, "Many a wife belongs to this querulous type and requires this sort of punishment to bring her to her senses!"
Is this the "family life" that Professor Ahmed was referring to on Oprah in regard to the "commonality" between Islam, Christianity and Judaism? Or was he referring, perhaps, to Prophet Mohammed’s instruction to husbands, quoted in Imam Kitab al-Nikah’s hadith No. 1850, that, "It is that you shall give her food when you have taken your food, that you shall clothe her when you have clothed yourself"?
I wonder what comment Oprah’s guests would make about Al-Bukhari’s hadith, in volume 3:826 of the Sahih Al-Bukhari, that quotes Mohammed saying that women are deficient in mind and religion? Is this why Surah 4:3 allows a man to marry up to four wives at the same time, so that the other three can make up for the deficiency of the individual retarded one?
When the Pakistani ambassador told Oprah that "Islam encourages women to participate and be a productive member of society," was she referring to Surah 2:223, which states that a wife is a sex object for her husband? It’s quite a poetic verse: "Your wives are as a tilth unto you, so approach your tilth when or how ye will."
Aside from having more than nine wives, the Prophet Mohammed married six-year old Aisha and consummated his marriage with her when she was nine. Al-Bukhari’s Sahih Al-Bukhari is filled with references (i.e. vols. 5:236, 7:64, 7:65, 7:88) to this inspiring ingredient of Islam that all Muslims must accept.
I’m very confused.
Is Oprah planning to have an "Islam 202"? Is that when she will ask her guests about six-year old Aisha? Or is it when she will recommend the book Rage Against the Veil – the heartbreaking account about how Islam mutilates the lives and souls of women and children? The book tells the story of Homa Darabi, an Iranian female doctor and human rights activist, who committed suicide, by self-immolation, in a crowded public square in Tehran in 1994 to bring awareness to the nightmarish realities that, for some reason, were forced into invisibility on Oprah’s "Islam 101."