Tuesday, April 29, 2008

When Rights Falter, Should Men & Women be Equal in Punishment?

A protest to the UN about polygamy in Saudi being fair to the society because it limits the number of wives to four, and obligates the man to support them all, got me thinking on the issue of adultery in Islam!

In the defense of Islam, a website lists many Pre-Islamic religions and cultures and how they punished such sin. It, then, concludes, “Unlike almost all pre-Islamic traditions, the Qur’an makes no distinction between men and women who commit heterosexual offences, neither in the degree of sin nor in the punishment.”

Furthermore, “Almost all pre-Islamic traditions are quite lenient to a man, married or unmarried, who has sexual intercourse with an unmarried woman. The Qur`an greatly strengthens the sanctity of marriage by making all heterosexual intercourse outside of marriage equally punishable.”

Yet I think the very weakness of adultery punishment in Islam is equality! If a married man and a married woman commit adultery, they are punished equally under the law of Islam. But should they?

Let us assume that both married parties committed adultery because they were not fulfilled in their marriages, under the law of Islam as is practiced today:

1- A man has a right to peruse 3 additional wives.

2- A man has a right to divorce his current wife.

3- A man has a right to remarry immediately after divorcing a wife.

4- A woman cannot pursue additional husbands.

5- A woman cannot easily divorce her current husband, she has to seek court, and some financial losses might be involved in the process as well as losing guardianship to kids of certain age.

6- A woman has to wait after being divorced, for a specified period of time.

If a men and women’s rights to marriage as well as within the marriage are not equal under the laws of Islam, why should their punishment in adultery be equal?


Broke Saudi said...

That's a brillaint observation, and I'll be borrowing your argument...thanks!

Bob said...

Weakness in Islam?!?!?!
You think you can come up with a fairer system of justice than what the creator has provided for us?!?!?

This is blasphemy!!

You should be stoned! And forbidden to drive!

because it is dangerous to drive when you are stoned.

Murtadha said...

as you know, i am divided into two contradicted persons, the first one believe that islamic law doesn't represent equality between men and women
and the second one, believe in the opposite
and here is his justification :))

in physics as well as in chemistry,, when we compare between two different elements, we have to make an account for all other components (like air, Gravity، etc..) that may influence or affect each of compared elements.
we have to do that in order to draw a right conclusion.
the same here, when we want to compare between two different genders, we have to put an account for all the psychological, physical and biological differences.
the philosophy of equality is so complicated. how can we decide the equality and inequality for two different thing.
if we look at your argument, we can easily say that women are absolutely unequal in Islam.
but let's look at another side of the argument,
take this example,
in islam, a wife isn't obliged to serve ( cook, clean, pay for expenses) with her husband. she can even claim to get paid for the milk that she gives to her baby. and the husband is obliged to pay her if she ask so. the husband is obliged to work, and pay all the home expenses and all others for his wife without taking a cent from her :)
now does this present unequality ?

American Muslima Writer said...


frogman said...

I'm going to have to agree with murtadha's alter ego on this one. when looking at topics of equality between genders its very important to look at the whole picture and the mass effect of impact any decision will have. for instance, i'm sure i don't have to convince you that Polyandry (multiple husbands) would have too many complications.

in reality, if given the choice, would you marry four men? i understand that you want to have the choice.

the problem is not with islamic rules, but rather with the implementation of these rules. too many of our religious leaders in saudi are influenced by their culture and upbringing.

like murtadha said, women have more rights than they know they do. the fact that they are not given those rights should not be blamed on the religion, but on the leaders.

Saudi in US said...

Murtadha and frogman,

I always like your comments. However, on this one I do not think we are in agreement. Think about this issue in a different way. What if you were given all the rights that women are given. Example you are guaranteed support etc. But for that you will pay the price of having every major decision in your life made by someone else. Would you accept that situation?

Think about this long before you answer. To help you understand, think back to the time you were a child. Your parents made sure that all your needs are met, but they controlled the decisions. Would you take that life back,now that you are a rational adult?

Freedom has a cost, which is you have to be responsible, support your self and take risks. Yes these are burdens, but we accept them to be free. Women do not have that option.


Muneeb Saeed said...

it is the same debate tht why should a mother lose the custody of her child in the case of a divorce..
one part says tht its fair since dad's have a stricter way of raising children but the other part says tht the children r part of the mothers..

frogman said...

dear saudi, i am honoured that you like my comments :) and i must say the same about you, your comments are always very long but always worth the read.

i have a feeling my comment didn't come across as i planned. in agreement with what you are saying, i don't think its fair that the woman has no choice and that she is told be content because everything is provided for her like a child or in some extreme cases, a pet. sadly enough in many live cases in saudi you find that this is the norm, the man makes all the decisions and expects his wife's happiness to come through feeding and clothing her.

my point was that its unfair for Islam as a religion to be blamed for these injustices. no where in the Qu'ran does it say that a woman should not work and make her own money, no where does it say she shouldn't drive or that she shouldn't live her own life.

however, when it comes to wanting equal rights in terms of multiple marriages that is where i personally draw the line. you will end up with pregnancies that can't be linked to one father.

Polyandry is banned worldwide not only in islam. polygamy exists in our world, it is a fact. i am not a fan but i have to understand that it exists. lets not look beyond that latest polygamy scandal in the US just a couple of weeks ago.

aysha, i must congratulate you for coming up with such a good argument. you have left me baffled for the last 6 hours thinking of ways to answer.

amani-أماني said...

رغم اني لااصنف نفسي رجعيه ولا متزمته غير اني ارى ان مناقشه مواضيع كهذه بالانجليزيه تعطي مزيدا من الذخيره لاهل اليمين المسيحي المتطرف في كل مكان.. وما دمنا قد تجنبنا دائما كتابه مواضيع عنهم ولو على سبيل الدفاع عن النفس اثناء غاراتهم على النبي والقرآن
مثلا..فإني اشعر احيانا ..انه نوع من الخذلان لانفسنا ان نعطيهم -في الحين- ذاته المزيد من الذخيره وبلغتهم ايضا

هذا فضلا عن اعتقادي الدائم ان الشؤون الدينيه والاجتماعيه في بلادنا العربيه تحظى بكل انواع النقد وبكميه هائله ووفيره منه.. رغم انها ليست الاشياء الوحيده التي تحتاج الى نقد

مثلا نقد سلوك الشرطه الدينيه اما انواع الشرطه الاخرى فلا نقد لهم.. يبدو انهم ملائكه.. كنت اتمنى ان اعرف لماذا يبدو وكأن الجميع لديه شهيه
مفتوحه دائما لنقد الدين ومتعلقاته والمجتمع وترك كل شيء آخر.. هذا مع العلم بأني لاتراثيه ولامتدينه

No hard feelings..just my two cents. :)

Bob said...

frogman, we can determine lineage through DNA.

Do you have a reason why you draw the line between polygamy and polyandry?

Polyandry is practiced in Tibet.

frogman said...


A) used to be practiced in Tibet, its banned now.

B) do you actually believe that DNA testing is a viable resource for everyone? + imagine waiting for 9 months to know if you are the father or not.

i did not by any means try to promote polygamy by poking holes in polyandry. but i personally believe the latter has more flaws.

polygamy in islam is only permitted under circumstances where the man is capable of taking care of two families + he will show equality between the wives etc etc.

the argument i have been trying to make is that the true form of islam is not being implemented in the real world and that sadly enough the religion starts incurring the bad reputation.

Saudi in US said...


At the core of this a man (husband, father, guardian, etc.) has the ultimate authority to override any decision made by a woman. This is part of the religion. The fact that certain Islamic societies implement this more strictly than others is not relative. Actually the places where you have more lenient implementations are in countries that have applied some secular rules into their laws. If shariia is implemented in any country as law, then a man can go to court to uphold his rights to make that decision. Example, a husband can prevent his wife from working even though Islam allows her to do so. A person is not FREE, unless he or she can make their decisions without the risk of being over ruled.

The issue of Polyandry vs Polygamy is not of relevance to me in this discussion. I do not care if a man marries 10 wives or a woman has 10 husbands. The issue is how is that decision made. If a man decides to add another person into a relationship, then he is making a decision for his previous wife that impacts her life without her having control. Now if she agrees fully without coersion (i.e. if you do not agree then I will divorce you), then I have no problems with polygamy. But according to Shariia a man is within his rights to make this decision solely.

I really, think many generic answers that blame social implementations of the religion for all the issues that contradict modern living, are acrobatic acts. This concept of defense have propagated so much that we are starting to believe in it. Islam does not provide equality between man and women, we either accept it or not. The understanding does not move forward, if we lay the blame on social traditions.

Bob said...

Well I'm not Tibetan but according to wilki polyandry is still the norm in rural areas.


Polygamy is also banned in the States but is still practiced by some Mormons and Muslims

DNA testing is not readily available to these people and it's not an issue. When you don't live in a patriarchal society patriarchal lineage is not a major factor. Like polygamy, it might not be the choice of you or I, but for these people it seems to work.

I agree that polygamy is abused today. I can not verify that there ever was a time it was not. "capable of taking care of" is open to interpretation.

Yes the "true" form of Islam as you see it is not being implemented. But even the "true" form addresses gender differences using 7th century chauvenistic norms.

amani-أماني said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amani-أماني said...

I really wanted to comment on
lots of what has been said here but i am slow these days + i am busy with school work. So, I\\\'ll just throw in a few words then..I may come back later to say a few more things if i get the chance to do so.

Alright, I hate polygamy..looks like that everyone here does. But what about the widespread practice of having extramarital affairs and societies that indirectly allow it by making it legal and some what ok? Why don\\\'t we equally condemn this practice and societies that permit it? I mean in the end it\\\'s the same result!!

If we are talking from a just, neutral and purely human point of view then both parctices, polygamy and extramarital affairs are the smae and should be eaqually condemned.

However, i sometimes get the idea that because having an extramarital affair is very much accepted in western societies while polygamy is a no no, many of us who speak from a \\\'western\\\' point of view keep talking about polygamy and they \\\'forget\\\' to talk about the other type of polygamy..the one that doesn\\\'t have the label or the bad name. I guess it\\\'s the usual double standard isn\\\'t it?:)

So, to all those who are not westerners yet seem to be talking from an extrem western point of view i say..wake up and see the whole picture.. i mean if u still can..just because something is ok in your beloved culture does not make it alright.Ya\\\'ll are guilty of - among other things- prcaticing, double standard.


Note to Ayushita :)

Hola mi amiga ¿Cómo estás?

i wish i had your e mail address
wanted to talk to you about our mutual amiga.. Hadeel. the news about her sudden hospitalization have really devastated me. I am sure that u feel same way too.

Bob said...

cheating on a spouse may be common but it is not "OK", even in the west.

I agree with you that it has a moral equivilance to polygamy.

The sanctity of marriage should not be legally enforced. If the committment is disolved within the heart, no amount of leglislature will save it from failure.

Murtadha said...

i think Time magazine should consider all of you guys as the most intelligent bloggers in the world :))
great thoughts and discussion guys,, i really really enjoy reading everyone comments.
anyway, i think the discussion will never reach an end and will keep going around the circle,,
i think we need first to answer this : is our comparison between two different genders is fair and well-established! what are the things that we need to put in consideration when we make our comparison?
i think the comparison like this is so complicated and vague!
i will be back to comment more :))
thanks aysha so much for this great topic

Aysha said...

Thank you guys for your wonderful and insightful comments. I purposefuly didn't comment for a while, because I was enjoying finding a newer perspective in each of your comments. Parts that I find myself nodding to, other parts that I leave the computer while still arguing for and against.

Bob, Saudi in US, Frogman, Murtadha, let's start from what looked to me like our area of agreement: "Islam as practiced today" vs. "Islam as an ideal".

I quite agree with Saudi in Us perspective on this "I really, think many generic answers that blame social implementations of the religion for all the issues that contradict modern living, are acrobatic acts. This concept of defense have propagated so much that we are starting to believe in it. Islam does not provide equality between man and women, we either accept it or not. The understanding does not move forward, if we lay the blame on social traditions."

A parallel to his argument would be, if a country has a very generous and loving dictator. Does that mean the system on which he functions and reighns is fair? The question is open to arguments, but certainly, the minute this loving and fair dictator is replaced by a nasty dictator, the shortcomings of the system become evident to everybody.

When the issue of polygamy or women rights in Islam is opened, many times there are voices which argue: but Islam liberated women from mistreatment and slavery which they were faced with all over the world. But that statement in itself is dangerous, because it merely states that Islam comes as a (transitional stage) until socieites start to develop their own moral systems as is suitable with their modern life needs. That arguments also weakens what is supposed to be Islam's moto: as a worldly and timeless religion.

I am so curious now to hear what your contradictory person says, even in response to your first argument. Whenever you have time, please give us the other view too. I know for certain that there are many englihtening points he has to say.

Brother Amani, I will highly appreciate it if you respond to English discussions with English especially that you are capable. Mixing up discussions of faith and religions with politics and political movements, in my opinion, has caused the greatest of harm to religions all along history. Statements such as the West is this, and the East is that, while dicussing the topic of religions has so many eky generalizations and political refrences that I don't know where to start!

I hope you have noticed, the discussion is not geared towards deciding if polygamy is the answer or not, it starts and ends with the question "When rights falter, should men and women be equal in punishment".

Thank you all. I'm indebted to you. Please keep it going.

insomniac said...

Aysha, you talked about "opinionatism" earlier, but throughout history, sexism remains the worst kind of "ism" to date in my opinion. With some kind of abstraction, if you examine the many cultures, civilizations and religions that we know of, you can clearly see the systematic and consistent discrimination against females throughout time.

What fascinates me is that when you talk about a group of people that are being discriminated against, and as a result not being able to work, get services, vote, or practice other rights, you're really just talking about the men in that group. Women probably still end up being deprived of those rights even if the group is welcomed to that society with open arms.

It's all about power. People with power are usually reluctant to give it away. It's extremely convenient to be a male in Saudi Arabia, however, it's extremely unjust to be a female too.

Saudi in US said...


In the west extramarital affairs are not accepted. I think you are confusing the concept of not criminalizing it with acceptance. In the US adultery is treated like a civil manner and receives important considerations in family courts in matters like divorce, child custody and alimony.

As far as society acceptance is concerned, my observation is that it is not accepted. The difference is in the degree of reaction. While in the Arabic world a person is ostracized and may be considered a criminal (especially women). In the US he/she are considered not trust worthy.

Another comparison to consider is that in the gulf countries a high percentage (comparatively) of men actually go on sex tourism vacations. This is adultery by any definition, but it is somewhat accepted, since everyone knows about the problem. In the west this happens to a much smaller percentage and is frowned on. However, I think there is a higher percentage of adultery in the west, because of opportunity. I do not think the number is as high as the Arabic press and religious leaders portrait as.

One last observation regarding your comment,

"So, to all those who are not westerners yet seem to be talking from an extrem western point of view i say..wake up"

Please, do not resort to such tactics in civil discussion. It is impolite and is an assumption that has no basis. You should assume that every person you debate with is a free thinker and able to develop his/her own believes, unless you really know otherwise for fact. I highly doubt you know any of us from a few comments. A good debtor should argue for or against the idea not attack people for holding them.

Anonymous said...

Aysha I immensely enjoy every single post you write. Plz keep posting and keep nourishing us from your valuable insights.

While reading your post , I had a flashback. LOL, last month I was thinking why Islam mention the punishment of gays , and not lesbians. Both are homosexuality, aren't they? Then, why are men punished and women aren't ? Isn't this called inequality too ?

In respect to all what have been said, I firmly believe that Islam promotes equality for both sexes , but nowadays Muslims don't. I always say, "Women and men are equal in Islam through their differences" (Now, I'm not sure if my statement make sense or nope :D

this exact sentence I said it 2 months ago to a feminist activist, and after three hours of argument with her , she said "I guess, we here in North America should follow Islam to give women their right)

I should note, Islamic law is not the rules practiced in a particular country.

أبو سنان said...

Great comments and great post. Actually, Adultery is still illegal in many places in the USA. Dont confuse the decision made not to prosecute with something being legal.

In many towns, cities and states in the USA adultery is illegal and punishment can include imprisonment. In Michigan adultery can include a prison sentence of up to life.

As a crime in general, Adultery is illegal in a majority of American states, and of course, the basis of these laws is almost always moral from a reading of Christian holy texts.

In the US military adultery is an imprisonable offense and people are imprisoned on a regular basis for it. Punishments for the crime also include demotion or expulsion from the military.

I think we need to further distinguish what is indeed required under Islamic law and what is a part of the culture.

If you look at the Sunnah, the Prophet was not a man who forced things on his wives. He was a man who helped his wives do domestic work and loved to play and joke with them. His model was one of partnership, not as overlord.

The Sunnah tells us that he had problems with his wives, but dealt with them in a fair and open fashion. Even when some of them were involved in some things that would probably see them lashed in Saudi today, he was much more lenient. The example of Aisha and her desert ordeal is a good example.

The problem is those trying to force THEIR version of the religion on us miss the forest for the trees.

I am not in favour of Shari'a being implemented anywhere simply because any nation in which this is a possibility are those very same countries that have such a major issue with justice, fairness and openess.

Saudi is the perfect example of what happens when you try to implement Shari'a in a country where injustice, wasta and privledge abound.

As a Muslim I view Shari'a almost like I view Communism. It is a nice idea, but we as people are not good enough to implement it properly and make it work right.

Until then I put forward the USA as the country that operates as close to an Islamic state as there is. It isnt perfect here, but as for me the ultimate goal of Islam is justice, it is the closest thing out there.

In a perfect society everyone should be punished the same for the same crimes.

Saudi in US said...


"Women and men are equal in Islam through their differences"

I would like to challenge that statement a little. There are 2 primary differences between women and men that are relevant to this discussion:

1) Physical size, strength and athleticism. I accept that and would not blame someone for enjoying men's sports more or for selecting only men for hand to hand combat.
2) Ability to bear children and the resulting hormonal changes during the monthly cycle and pregnancy.

The second item is why many people believe women are emotional and not capable of dealing with pressure as well as men. I think that is a mistaken judgment as the great majority of women develop skills to deal with these chemical changes by their early 20's at the latest. Even in the extreme cases of chemical imbalances there are modern medicines that solve these issues. Additionally, you may have a counter argument that men have over doses of testosterone that make them aggressive and hinder their judgment in some cases.

Given the above, how do you explain taking away decision making from women as being equality, since the differences do not support that conclusion.

Sorry, to harp on the point of decision making, as I view that as the central issue for women rights in the Middle East.

أبو سنان,

Good input and we agree on the technicalities here. I think I am going way out of topic now :), but many of these laws will not stand if they are pushed all the way to US supreme court. The USSC had already ruled that states can not make private sexual misconduct a crime. This was part of a ruling on a Texas sodomy case. Most experts expect the same to occur to any adultery case that gets challenged. The reason that has not occurred is that no significant punishment has been handed down on a civilian adultery case recently, thus no appeals have been filed.

toto said...

as your best friend "Hadeel" laying on a white bed in a coma fighting death you are here discussing stupid issues that have been discussed before MILLIONS of times! and you are not posting any updates about her case as if she was dead to you !!

you asked us -in your letter of fake feelings- to stop interfering in the family business as hadeel's illness and you asked from us,too, to pray in silence, well, I bet you don't know what silence means because obviously you are not practicing it !

I used to respect you but now, after your attitude towards such a tragedy, now I can JUDGE you loudly, with full confidence saying: "you are COMPLETELY SENSELESS!"

Saudi in US said...


I know Aysha is too polite to respond to you. Since you made this criticism in a public place and in such nasty tone, I think it is fair game for me to respond.

1) Who gives you the right to judge people in this manner, you self-righteous prick.
2) Have you considered that Aysha may be going through a hard time. One of the problems when a friend is in such tough condition is the feeling of helplessness. I went through a similar situation 2 years ago when my best college friend was dieing of cancer. I was helpless and the only way I kept sane is to occupy myself with work and reading.
3) You showed extreme insensitivity towards another human being. You should be ashamed and need to take time to learn how to be HUMAN.

Yes, I am angry because of what you said. I usually do not respond in such strong words, but you earned this Award. Please watch the video it would have explained to you what you should have done before writing your comments.



Never mind responding or dealing with such hateful people. You are a wonderful person. We will continue preying for Hadeel.

Anonymous said...


You are not silent too!

at least, Aysha blogs about thoughtful things while I don't see any thoughtfulness in your jealousy-driven attack on someone who has been close to Hadeel since ages.

If you want to collect some credits by acting more devastated by Hadeel's tragedy, go ahead.. but don't judge people's behavior toward it. Maybe they are not busy "collecting credits" as you are!

Aysha said...

* I realize the discussion is branching out, but it is taking us to interesting topics nonetheless!

I wrote a long response, then I found that it took me to the following questions: What is power? Who defines it? And as women argue their competence within modern contexts, are they inventing new definitions for power or merely inherting the old?

Abu-Sinan & Saudi in US, thank you for this legal perspective which I had no idea about! It is with discussions like these that I wish I had some background in law :S Will try to read more on actual adultery cases and how they were dealth with here in the US. It will be interesting to find out about adultery cases in SA too, and how they were dealth with!

I have read once, in an Egyptian lady's blog, an argument which claims that Islam does not penalize lesbieans. The topic was outside my area of interest at the time, but I did notice people quoting religious texts as a response to her. It is my understanding that around the world, when the topic of homosexuality is opened, lesbieans are not taken as seriously as gays, and let me not go further than that :P

Bob and Frogman, I forgot to thank you for bringing up polyandry! I had no idea :@

I suppose you're referring to this letter?
Your comment "You are here discussing stupid issues that have been discussed before MILLIONS of times," sounds to me like the question: people have been solving mathematical questions for HUNDREDS of times, isn't it time they stopped already?
I don't think so.
But I do think you wouldn't want to be friends with me and that's just fine.

toto said...

Saudi in us

defending Aysha won't do you any good but proving that she is guilty!
I don't hate her, BTW!
oh! and considering my toughtfulness, don't ask or even try to :)

the mathmatical Qs are puzzles that must be solved, are you telling me that what you have discussed "here" in your post is that "puzzled" !
I'm not objected to "what" as much as "when" and "how"!
Friendship ain't the case her, first you acted like Hadeel's voice then you simply abandoned your role, last update 22 April, today 4th of May!

yes Aysha, I'm mad because as a blogger who must represent ethics you did a horable mistake.

your silece was not expect towards Hadeel serious coma.

I don't hate ypu but I love Hadeel !

Aysha said...

toto, any further discussion regarding Hadeel's case if not posted here:
will be deleted.
In the address above you will notice a growing list of blogs/forums/groups which are discussing the issue. if you have been a keen follower on Hadeel's health, will also notice that her immediate family members are doing the updates, especially her father. FB Prayer group is also working on sending notices and fascilitating things for Hadeel whenever necessary. You might also like to subscribe to other bloggers on twitter and keep an eye on what's happening. Besides that, sorry, I have nothing to tell.

Aysha said...

In regards to solving mathematical equations, people often go through a long and very crucial process of learning and practicing how to add, substract, devide, multiply, etc. These processes are a way to excercise the thinking muscle so when there's a real problem to solve, they -the people- are better prepared to do so. Unfortunatly, in day to day conversations, we tend to overlook that even if the topic seems redundant, the process and memebers of the discussion can never be. Discussing these seemingly redundant topics, especially in the presense of a diverse group, becomes an excercise for the "process of thought". It is easy to assume the necessity of cold and purely scientific math, but regular conversation has these other factors of ego, beliefs, ideology, the other, power distribution, etc, that people might feel uncomfortable and think: if I'm not going to win this fight, if not anybody, what's the point?

Khalid said...

Saudi in US, I don't exactly understand what do you mean by "decision making" How are decisions taken from women? Didn't the Prophet Muhammad used to ask his wives about crucial issues, and he used to do what his wives suggested to him when he could have just taken the decision by himself.

As for the hormonal thing, I'm not an expert in that , so I cannot give my opinion. I still believe that men and women are equal. No one is better than the other. There are things where women are better than men, and vice versa , yet exceptional cases do exist. I believe everything is balanced in this life. Let's take it from a computer prospective :), there are some features that Men lack -- women complete the men's deficiencies . Some features women lack -- men complete them. So each of them complete the other , no one of them has the total control over the other, and no one of them can live without depending on the other .

This is only my personal opinion , I don't force it to anyone. This how I personally see things.

Even if you were not interested Aysha :D, this is called global inequality :P :P (my sense of humor) Yeah, and feel free to solve mathematical equations as much as you want. The more fascinating equations you write down, the happier your readers become :)

May Allah recover Hadeel and returns her very soon to her family "biseha wi afya" I don't know why, but these last couple of years we heard about lots of young people who are in comas , having cancer and so on ,.. It's really depressing and saddening to hear such news. let me confess something last year I knew about couple of people in their early 20's who got cancer in the brain. I was talking with myself, and asking "what's happening in the world? why people in very young age are suffering ? why are some of them dying how can I know that I'm not the next target . my mind was occupied with such gloomy thoughts and idea. Till now I don't have the answer . Is it related to technology ? To the wars and what comes after it from chemical waste ? To the food we eat .................................................. I became depressed now that I thought of it again , so I'll stop here ...... Sorry for the side tracking and my apology for the typos

Saudi in US said...


Thanks for the reply.

There is a distinction between seeking advise and holding the decision making responsibility. As AbuSinan indicated earlier, Islam has great models to follow. If everyone acted like the prophet we may not have issues.
The problem is in the real world you have the control freaks and the wife beaters. When a man is controlling, he can make every decision in his household if he chooses to. The woman does not have any recourse under shariia law to change this situation unless there is extreme physical abuse. This follows from the clear requirement for women to obey.
A woman can make decisions only if a man lets her do so. It is not an inviolable right.


frogman said...

i've been trying to play catch up for the last two days lol... anyways i'm back..

Saudi in the US,

"in the gulf countries a high percentage (comparatively) of men actually go on sex tourism vacations. This is adultery by any definition, but it is somewhat accepted,"

firstly, seriously? I do not deny this happens, but where is it accepted?

secondly, i think the debate keeps on confusing the religious with the cultural implications on the subject.

The original question (in a nut shell) was a matter of religiously, the punishment for adultery VS the rights for polygamy.

and we all established the agreement that the practiced islam should not represent the true islam, so arguments such as the prior and your latest comment about wife beaters are slightly out of scope. Plus that you make it sound like only the muslim wife beaters get away with it.

In islam, if you ask anyone, they will tell you that Aisha (the prophet's wife) is the most experienced in al-Fikh. if women had no rights then she wouldn't be acknowledged for that because she was a woman. No where does it say that the woman has no rights or should not make any decisions.

The word obedience in recent years has been used only in a negative form. when your father or mother asks you for something, do you obey? does that mean you are oppressed by them? do you still respect them and love them although you are OBEDIENT?

I have a point to raise, maybe we are looking at this whole issue from the wrong perspective. Why are we only comparing Adultery VS Polygamy. By saying that, we belive that the only reason behind polygamy is the right to have sex legally with more than one woman.

It is known that in the arab world your heritage or legacy is partially if not fully based on your lineage or the number of Boys you have who will carry your name. I believe that that was the basis for Polygamy, having a bigger stronger legacy.

I'll ask you this, why is it the norm in the US for a woman to carry the man's surname instead of her own? I know she can choose not to. Where here she keeps her own name, the little examples like this are always overlooked in such debates.

finally, I agree and love khalid's quote "Women and men are equal in Islam through their differences"

Saudi in US said...

Sorry this will be long as you raise many points and questions and I am trying to address each...
Regarding sex tourism, my exact words were "somewhat accepted”. That means society does not necessarily reward a person for doing it, but I do not see anybody being shunned for doing it either. Hence, no outright rejection implies mild acceptance.
Regarding Adultery VS Polygamy as the main topic here, I think your first message is the one that took us on the path of discussions about equality. Look at the mess you got us into. Just kidding  I do believe Aysha’s question was clever and you cannot answer it without talking about rights and equality.
Regarding the wife beaters, I did not suggest that the Islamic world is the only place that happens. My point is that you cannot expect all people to be good (read my statement again for context).
Regarding Figh and Aisha being the most experienced. First, Figh was not established until over 100 years after hijrah through the Hanifi school. Aisha the prophet’s wife was the most learned, but Figh was not a science at her time (sorry another diversion, but you brought it up). Also, I never said women did not have rights; the context all along has been quality of those rights.
On the issue of the pure religion versus implementation, I am not confused about that point. I am aware of social customs, but I also think this argument is over used to deflect any real discussions. All I discuss is from my understanding of my religion, not the social implementations.
The concept of obedience is not as benign as you describe it. There are specific requirements for women to obey and follow their husbands decisions. A good example of this is that a woman is required to obtain permission from a husband to leave the home, if he so requires. Another example is that the ultimate decision to end a marriage is held by the man. I also gave another one earlier about obtaining a job. These are decision control examples. I think they are clear and can be supported by religious text.
The point I tried to make is that these powers in the hands of an enlightened person is not a problem (Aysha made the same point earlier also). The issue is such control can land in the hands of people that can abuse it. I much rather have men and women work their own relationships and make their own choices on how to make decisions, without a predefined roles and laws to enforce these roles. That would be equality.
Regarding polygamy’s main purpose is of leaving a legacy, is true in some cases. However, dismissing sex as a major and in most cases the primary reason for it is somewhat naïve.
Regarding women surname change in the west, I view that to be a non issue as it is a choice. It implies that even in western societies men still hold a traditional figurehead position as the head of a household (not much power goes with that anymore). However, you have to make a distinction that the laws do not support given men such privileged position.
Finally, I guess we disagree on the statement "Women and men are equal in Islam through their differences". I see it as a very elegant statement, but I cannot accept the logic behind it. Let me expand, for the statement to be true, then I can list the differences between men and women along with the privileges that the two genders receive. In the next step I should be able to map the privileges back to those differences in a sensible manner. When I go through this process, I cannot make the connections logically. I gave an example of this in an earlier reply to Khalid. I am open for you to provide a different path for proving the statement.

Yawarakai said...

wow.. very interesting discussion going on here..

i just have a tiny point to make.. when u look closely into human society in general, u will find more and more that humans are just another type of animal.. we try to act civil when in reality, we r always in complete anarchy. why is that?

is it truly because of the laws that are applied in different human inhabited places? i don't think so.. there is no such thing as a perfect law.. but even if it did exist.. would people follow that law?! Abu Sinan puts forwarda point that he finds US law to be the closest things to perfection in our current world.. i think domestically, in many cases i would agree.. but this does not mean that no body in the US breaks the law..but who is blaming the law?

until people learn to respect each other as human beings.. no law can force them to.. even if it was the most perfect law ever..

McDonalds said...

You are still playing the judge role here despite the criticism that you've Hey genuinely earned. You seem enjoying the role and nothing can be done to make you abandon it. Therefor, no rational discussion can be established!
So... go ahead, enjoy roaming around blogs and place your clueless judgments which lack insight and politeness. Unfortunately, nobody can restrict the way your use your keyboard!

and, congratulations, as "anonymous" said, you've collected 2 credits by ending your reply with the classic cliche "I love Hadeel"..... Keep it up!

frogman said...

Good morning everyone lol,


i just realized you are right, i started this mess lol.

with regards to the wife beaters example. in your comment to khalid you said that a woman can only ask for divorce in extreme abuse cases. you are somewhat right, however the cases need not be extreme, and not only physical. by giving the man more responsibilities it means it gives the wife more rights to object when any of those responsibilities are not met. i would also like to add that at the time of marriage the wife can add any clauses she likes to the contract including having the "3i9ma". she can add things such as "if he marries someone else, he divorces me and gives me so and so. the fact that people don't practice such rights does not mean the rights are not given.

with regards to Figh, you further proved the point i was trying "but obviously failed" to make lol. the fact that even after 100 years Sayida Aisha was recognized as one of pillars of Figh is something.

regarding polygamy being for sex vs legacy. i never denied that sex was a factor. but i personally think that legacy would have been a stronger one looking at our country's history and our religions history. Islam was a growing religion and needed more men to spread it. the same with King abdulaziz or any of our kings. i am sure (correct me if i am wrong please) that the main reason for their polygamy was to procreate.

about practiced VS true being an overused argument. i'll agree with you, its everyone's escape from such topics. but denying it as a MAJOR factor would be unfair. i'll give an example of why converted muslims turn out in better shape than the rest of us who were born in saudi. the problem with is that me and you while taught and ins and outs of our faith, there were always tidal waves of cultural and traditional influences. which ends up distorting the minds of most into believing that islam is as extreme as it sounds.

islam, i believe, is a whole picture religion. you can't just take one verse from the qura'an and use it on its own. you need the back story + all the other verses that support of compliment the fuller meaning. i also believe that it is very important no to focus on the weaknesses that we believe exist, but rather try and understand/justify them and if we can't, we should try to solve them in the most civil way possible. in this light, i will agree with you that there are many evident examples of inequality. and i will take your comments, and aysha's and yawarakai and blend them into this.

we all agree that there is a problem. we just don't agree on where this problem comes from (religion, tradition, culture, animal instinct etc etc..) i believe we need to go past this disagreement and agree on one thing, that educating our men AND women would probably make this issue less of a problem. like you said saudi "in the hands of the enlightened there is no problem"

Aysha said...

An interesting discussion with a friend from Fiji today reminded me of some comments made here and how "men and women are equal through their differences," as well as "we must seperate religion from tradition."
She was asking about "pleasure marriages" in Saudi. I jumped out of my seat at the mention of it. Here's a situation where a man is not legally obligated to take care of the financials, nor is he obligated for equality between wives, yet still, legally the adultery punishment remains unchanged.

Saudi in US said...

We do not agree on everything, but it has been a good discussion. I enjoyed it. You also managed to find something that we agree on in the last statement.

Your last post, raises more questions, but I am resisting to start another thread. Nice try though :)


amani-أماني said...


You called me \\\'brother\\\' Amani lol
That was a big typo brother Aysha lol. That\\\'s if it was actually a typo.

Anyhow, i talked about west..east because it is clear to many of us that some..see western way of life as superior to all others..the only acceptable form of modern life etc. and to those.. nearly, everything that is not ok in western societies is..ugly..outdated..bla bla.

when anything appears to be ugly or not working in the one culture they love, they quickly defend it..try to make that thing less ugly or not important at all. Just the usual bias attitude.

I also mentioned east/west because if we are evaluating someone\\\'s way of life using a certain method, which is a clearly a western one here, then it\\\'s only natural for them -if they wanted to disagree with our evaluation- to criticize the method used it self and challenge it\\\'s \\\'superiority\\\'. So, it\\\'s not necessarily political nor religious..when we say east/ west.

When i say western, i am referring to English speaking countries, which many of the so called \\\'arab liberals\\\'(saudi liberals in particular)seem to be so in love with, like.. if japan for example does not exist. As a result of this love, they fail to make the necessary connection with the local everyday people.

Now who does a good job at making such a connection? it\\\'s the other side accross the aisle..the altra conservative side. which by the way, i disagree with as well.

Trying to drag us back to the middle ages is wrong. However, borrowing other peoples values to evaluate our way of life is equally senseless. Not because those others are less of human beings than us or anything prejudice like that, but rather because every society on this planet has different goals and priorities than the other.


i made my first reply in arabic because i wanted less people to read it. it was kind of personal.

p.s #2

were u in a bad mood or something when u made ur reply? just wondering. :)

Martin said...

Good Job! :)

Anonymous said...

Q1- A man has a right to peruse 3 additional wives.
- Its based on need not on whim and the condition is that he has to treat all women equal. How many men have guts to do that? Besides polyandry (multiple husbands is not practical for the following reasons:

1- If one man visits his wife and leaves her flooded, why should the second one bear the filth of the first one. It takes time to clean and restore.

2- If the woman has menses, all the men are blocked. When she becomes clean, who should visit her first.

3- If one man wants children, and another one doesn't want, how do they tackle the situation.

4-When they have children, they will not know who is the father of the child until they do DNA testing. Who should feel proud of the pregnancy?

5- Suppose a husband was travelling and when he returns his wife is pregnant. Why should this man go through hell for the act of someone else?

6- Men are likely to vary in size and drive. If one man is good in size and drive and another one is pathetic, the woman will simply hate to bear the pathetic one. That might even cause that guy inferiority complex.

7-It's not practical for a woman to take care of the house hold responsibilities of more men. It will be so tiring for her.

8-There is no law of equal distribution, so if one husband wants his wife for all the night, the others have to just spill beans.

9- Biologically men are more polygamous or have sexual drive than women. Its proven through so many researches.

10- How should the men distribute their household incomes. And when there is no DNA testing, how should be the distribution of wealth after death.

Q2- A man has a right to divorce his current wife.
- All men have on this planet earth, in all countries and all types of laws.

Q3- A man has a right to remarry immediately after divorcing a wife.
- Because he doesnt get pregnant unlike women. A woman has to wait because if she is pregnant, it will be known and thus there is no controversy regarding the fatherhood of the child.

5- A woman cannot easily divorce her current husband, she has to seek court, and some financial losses might be involved in the process as well as losing guardianship to kids of certain age.
- If it was made easy for them, most of the men will get kicked off during the mood swings of menstrual cycles. Thus, they have been give a right to divorce if they are sincere and pursue it.

Canadian Muslimah said...

We've all suceeded in straying from the initial discussion at hand, which was that men and women should not be dealt equal punishment when they have been married or are married and commit adultery. The reason cited: men are essentially afforded more means to be intimate than women.

The only way to support or refute this claim is to look at the reason the punishment of stoning is prescribed for the widower/divorcee/married person in the first place. It's because they "know" what marriage is and decide to have illegal sexual relations anyways. The punishment for unmarried persons being flogging.

I believe the punishment is fair. Their crime is equal. What Aysha provided are reasons why women might become adulterers but it's not a justificatioin for the crime and therefore one cannot neglect the punishment. It's just like the argument some people put forth for suicide bombings. Just because you sympathise with the plight of the Palestinian people and understand why they would be driven to the act - doesn't excuse it. It's still 100% wrong and they are 100% responsible for their actions because everyone has a choice, whether you choose to limit yourself to one or the other is another matter altogether.

I'll give you an even clearer example with regard to your take on a male adulterer. If a white kid from a well-to-do family from suburban America (read: priveleged) stole a car, he would do the time. Now what if a black kid from the New York projects (read: under-priveleged) committed the very same crime and stole a car. Should he be entitled to less of a punishment? Certainly not. His background with respect to that of his more priveleged counterpart in no way excuses his behaviour and life choice. [Note: the racial example was cited to provide contrast and in no way categorizes either race as belonging to one stereotype or the other.]

At any rate, both male and female adulterers should be treated equally and as a woman, I really would feel any attempts at trying to get the woman out of punishment would be to the discredit of our sex. I know this isn't what your suggesting Aysha, but it's almost as though women are soo vulnerable they wouldn't be able to hold out and therefore, should not be held accountable for their actions. It's a regressive concept and goes against the equal treatment, good or bad, we've fought to preserve.

Canadian Muslimah said...

Also, just to expound on the suburban vs. projects kid analogy -- the reason it's soo apt is because what would a priveleged kid need to steal a car for when he is afforded so many avenues to earn it lawfully? And the perception of the projects kid is that although it might be more difficult in theory for him to earn a car lawfully and there is much to entice him not to earn it lawfully i.e. racial discrimination at work, poverty, education-level, etc.

But the analogy really reflects how the discussion was already framed, namely that the husband is more priveleged than the wife.

This isn't a stance that I agree with. Just as has been mentioned earlier, women and men are equal in Islam in terms of rights, punishments, and rewards - in this life and the hereafter. They simply have different responsibilies as outlined by God.

And like Frogman mentioned, you have to look at Islam as a whole and not pigeon-hole yourself in a discussion by not considering all the factors in the equation.

Aysha said...

Canadian Muslimah,
Thank you for your valuable input. In regards to the example of the rich & poor boys, I find irrelative IF under the legal system they are given equal opportunity. Meaning, they are both allowed the same things but it was matter of fortune that they were born to one situation or the other. I wouldn't blame the law for punishing them equally if, to begin with, it had allowed them equal opportunities + limitations.

As in regards to the suicide bombers, these are dangerous grounds not in ANYWAY relative to the discussion at hand to name two: 1) because in realtiy we do not only blame the individuals who kill themselves and others, we also blame the ideology, the countries which lent themself to protecting such ideologies and politics which supported inequality and oppression. 2) the very issue with suicide bombing is assuming that people are not equal and that some are worthy and others are to be sent straight to hell.

Reeshiez said...

Dear Aysha,

I came across your blog through a link on the bbc. I have to say, its a pretty cool blog! Anyhow, I couldn't help but comment on this post although it is old. Your thoughts remind me of a conversation I had with my husband a few days ago when we went to watch The Duchess, a film with Kiera Knightly. Not sure if you've seen it yet, but basically, the movie has a lot of adultery in it. So after the movie, my husband jokingly commented about how affairs seemed to be the thing to do in the old days. So I responded by saying that I'm sure it was the same in Muslim countries too. My husband was like no, with Muslims, men would marry another wife, so at least the second wife's rights are protected, and so are her childrens. True I thought, but what about the poor women? In a failed marriage, apart from divorce, the husband had the option of marrying a second wife but the wife's only option was to commit adultery. In the west, at least, they were equal! Anyhow, I decided not to express these thoughts because I didn't feel like getting into a religious debate with my husband!
Concerning the sharia laws that you are talking about, I think people tend to forget that Islam is a religion that is more than 1400 years old. Meccan society during the Prophet's time is completely different than society is today, and we should only judge the letter of Sharia law by the context in which it appeared. Islam did not allow men to have four wives. Instead, it limited the amount of wives a man could have to four. There is a big difference here. In a society where the number of wives was unlimited, this was truly revolutionary. It is true that Islam says that the Quran is applicable for all ages and all places. But I think that means the spirit of quranic law. The Quran clearly states that men and women are equal. This is the spirit of the law. The quran also clearly states that all humans are equal. Again, this is the spirit of the law. However, then someone could ask, if the quran states that all humans are equal, then why didn't Islam place a total ban on slavery? Well unfortunately, slavery was an integral part of society those days so a total ban was impossible. Instead, the prophet encouraged people to free their slaves. Now, more than a thousand years later, slavery is finally illegal everywhere in the world. You don't see Muslims protesting about how slavery should be reinstituted because it wasn't completely banned during the prophets time. Why? Because banning slavery is in line with the spirit of Islamic law. I believe the same applies to women's rights. Like I said, women and men are equal in Islam. The quran clearly states this. How this equality is interpreted depends on the time we live in. Today, polygamy is not the norm, nor the ideal. I believe there is very little use of it in modern society. Before, it was useful because society was patriarcal and government institutions were weak. Women needed a man's protection to survive and polygamy helped women obtain that protection. Marriages were not based on love but on survival. You needed a family to survive. Now this isn't the case. Governments protect the people and the mentality of men and women is completely different. Women expect to be treated equally. Women expect their husbands not to take on a second wife. And in most muslim countries at least, taking a second wife is not acceptable. The times have changed, and therefore, our interpretation of sharia law must change also. However, the spirit and the meaning of the Quran still applies to this day and age.

t said...

Hi Aysha,
I am a university student from the US, and your post on the inequality between genders in regard to marriage is fascinating to me. The fact that the consequences are the same for both the husband and wife who are not faithful, but everything else is not leads me to question if that is always the case? Based on what I have learned, women are tormented much more than men for all the time, so wouldn't being unfaithful subject them to that as well? Also, what is the punishment in Saudi Arabia for this because I'd like to know how the Saudi government reacts?

t said...

Hi Aysha,
I am a university student from the US, and your post on the inequality between genders in regard to marriage is fascinating to me. The fact that the consequences are the same for both the husband and wife who are not faithful, but everything else is not leads me to question if that is always the case? Based on what I have learned, women are tormented much more than men for all the time, so wouldn't being unfaithful subject them to that as well? Also, what is the punishment in Saudi Arabia for this because I'd like to know how the Saudi government reacts?

Yousuf said...


So basically you are challenging the orders and guidance of Allah?
With that tiny thing up your head, that is a blessing itself from Allah to you.

لانــا said...

والله تأذيت واحترق قلبي لما قرأته هنا

أختي إن كان عندك شبهة أرجو أن ترجعي للعلماء ليساعدوك على إزالة الشبهات فنحن قد لا ندرك الحكمة من حكم معين.. وليس عيبا أن نجهل الحكمة فنسأل ونتعلم.. أما طريقة طرحك فهي غاية في الجرأة والتجرؤ على حكم الله تعالى وليس هذا خلق المتعلم المثقف.. الله هو العليم الحكيم الذي لا يظلم مثقال ذرة!

ما الذي تقولينه؟ هل تعترضين على حكم الله بعد أن هداك للإسلام؟

أكرر...إن كنت إنسانة منصفة وعادلة نصيحتي لك ارجعي لأهل العلم حتى تزيلي الشبهة عن نفسك قبل أن تنشريها

أسال الله أن يهدينا ويهديك ويرحمنا ويرحمك

Anonymous said...

Interesting post - only proves to me how Saudis (both men and women) get so excitingly confused and rebellious when and if they step foot outside of their country.

My dear you should definitely add 'drama' to your daily vitamins 'cause you sure as hell live off of it!!

THE king said...

You ARE kind of a drama queen - no hard feelings :)

Do something about your life and stop complaining woman. Saudi? please leave that damn country of yours if it bothers you so much!! Islam? Hello, you have a hundred other religions to convert to if you are not content with yours and starting to question things about it!!

Just do something about it!! I came across "in the making" via BBC and I gotta tell ya, you depressed the hell out of me as I picked up on your negative attitude towards every single thing..

Doesn't your husband think you're depressing? I think you're his one-way ticket to heaven..

GOD woman..hufff!!

Anonymous said...

we can try and dissuade you all day, but it would only be a waste of time because to you, knowing the truth is inconvenient.

allah yehdeeki w yehdeena.