Women in Islam - From Islam's Sources
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Does Islam protect women?
- 3 Women – social status
- 3.1 Women are mere possessions
- 3.2 Women are controlled by their husbands
- 3.3 Women's prayers are rejected if their husbands are angry with them for any reason
- 3.4 Women must never be alone in the presence of another man who is not a relative
- 3.5 Women are deficient in intellect
- 3.6 Women's testimony equal to half of man's
- 3.7 Women are the inhabitants of hell
- 3.8 Women compared to dogs
- 3.9 Women compared to devil
- 4 Women, marriage and divorce
- 4.1 A Muslim woman is not permitted to marry a non-Muslim Man
- 4.2 The marriage of women who convert to Islam or whose husbands leave Islam is annulled
- 4.3 Men can marry up to four wives
- 4.4 Muslims believe Muhammad was given permission to marry as many wives as he desired
- 4.5 But Muhammad permitted only one wife for his son-in-law Ali
- 4.6 Men can divorce wife for any reason
- 4.7 Divorce process for women
- 4.8 Muhallil marriage: Woman can remarry ex-husband only if she marries another man first and has sex with him
- 4.9 Marriage to pre-pubescent girls
- 4.10 Marriage to virgins
- 4.11 Mut'ah marriages
- 5 Sexual relations with women in Islam
- 5.1 Man can have sex with wife how he desires
- 5.2 Wife must not withhold from her husband
- 5.3 Women are treated as sexual objects
- 5.4 Men can have unlimited sex (rape) with any number of female slaves
- 5.5 Women cannot have sex with male slaves and POWs
- 5.6 Ban on Forcing Slave Girls into Prostitution
- 5.7 Hadith suggests marrying young women so they can be fondled
- 5.8 Females found responsible and punished for rape
- 5.9 Muhammad married Aisha at 6, had sex at 9 years of age
- 6 Women – dress requirements, modesty
- 7 Shame and honor
- 8 Testimonies of ex-Muslim women
- 9 See also
- 10 References
To hear groups like the Council of American-Islamic Relations or the Islamic Society of North America, one might be given the impression that Islam holds women in high regard. Indeed, Souad Saleh, a female professor at Al-Ahzar University in Cairo and a vocal proponent of women's rights in Egypt, recently stated, "Islam is pure and simple, and it holds women in high esteem." For example, she says, "Muslim women were the first to be granted the right to inherit property and conduct their own private business affairs. This was so at an age when the women of Europe and Asia were not allowed to own property, inherit wealth and in some instances were treated as chattel." When addressing the issue of women being mistreated by their husbands, she states, "guardianship over women … does not give male members of the family license to oppress their female counterparts. Islam enjoins men to protect, love and care for their women folk."
Another scholar claimed that Islam abolished the horrible practice of female infanticide prevalent among the pagan Arabs. Muhammad gave clear directions leading to the restriction of polygamy, restrained the unlimited rights by men over their wives, and gave woman both spiritual and material equality with man.
A recent Gallup survey polled a significant percentage of Muslims worldwide. The findings are highlighted in the book Who Speaks for Islam, edited by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed. The findings of the poll paint a picture of women in Islam that is in stark contrast to the oppression many in the West believe exists. For example, the authors note, "Majorities of women in virtually every country we surveyed say that women deserve the same legal rights as men, to vote without influence from family members, to work at any job they are qualified for, and even to serve in the highest levels of government." Concerning the ability of Muslim women to obtain an education, the poll demonstrated that Muslim women were often able to pursue post-secondary educations, particularly in Iran (52%), Egypt (34%), Saudi Arabia (32%), and Lebanon (37%).
Pro-Islamic websites love to proclaim how Islam elevates the status of women. For example, at the website of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Southern California, one can find the following regarding Women in Islam:
- Islam declared women and men equal.
- Islam condemned pre-Islamic practices degrading and oppressing women.
- The same injunctions and prohibitions of Islam equally apply to both sexes.
- Islam gave woman the right of inheritance and the right of individual independent ownership unhampered by father, husband, brother, son or anyone else.
- Islam gave women the right to accept or reject a marriage proposal free from pressure, and by mutual agreement to specify in the marriage contract that she has the right to divorce (if she misses that option she has the right to seek court divorce if she deems the marriage to have failed beyond repair).
- Islam does not require woman to change her name at marriage.
- Islam protects the family and condemns the betrayal of marital fidelity. It recognizes only one type of family: husband and wife united by authentic marriage contract.
- "Heaven is at the feet of mothers", is a basic Islamic teaching.
- "The best of you are the kindest to their wives and I am your best to mine", is a teaching by prophet Mohammad.
- Islam enjoins sounds morality in thinking, behavior and appearance. Dress fashions and social patterns that reduce woman to a sex object and exploit her as such are not acceptable to Islam.
- The observance of chastity and moral standards is equally demanded by Islam from both men and women. "Women are the siblings of men", is a saying of prophet Mohammad.
However, as with any area of study within Islam, one must separate out the current reality from the ideological underpinnings. If women are treated equally in Islam, is there justification for it in the sacred writings of Islam, or is this 'equal treatment' in conflict with sacred directives? What does the Qur'an say about women? What does Muhammad say about women as recorded in the hadith, and what kind of example did he set in the way he treated the women in his life? Do the reports we hear of women being oppressed accord with sacred scripture, or are they rather anomalies having no foundation in Islam? What have women from an Islamic background actually experienced – what are their stories? These are some of the issues we will be addressing.
Does Islam protect women?
A couple of verses of the Qur'an would seem to suggest that Islam holds a high view of women.
So at least on the surface, Islam suggests women are to be treated as equals with men and be provided for economically by their husbands. But what does the rest of the Qur'an say, and what can we learn about women from the traditions?
Husband can beat a wife he suspects of disobedience
Muslim apologists will assert that the term "and beat them" speaks only metaphorically. Others insist it means only a simple strike, as with hitting them with a feather or toothpick. Yusuf Ali adds the word 'lightly,' which never appears in the Arabic. Yet, a simple observation of the text shows any of the above to be erroneous.
The text presents a series of progressive disciplinary measures if a man suspects disobedience from his wife:
- Admonish her. Give her a verbal warning regarding her behavior.
- sleep in separate beds from her. This humiliates the woman, for in Islam a woman's worth is measured, in part, by her ability to reproduce offspring, particularly male offspring. Sleeping in a separate bed from the wife dishonors her by limiting her ability to reproduce a male child.
- Beat them. This is the third, most significant step of the progressive discipline process and is expected to be the one that produces the desired result if the first two failed.
So the idea of hitting the woman "lightly" with a toothpick as the most severe disciplinary measure loses the argument based simply on the text alone. It is also nearly impossible to imagine anything like "metaphorical beating" that apologists claim.
In the most authoritative biography of Muhammad, written by ibn Ishaq, we find the following words of the prophet of Islam:
Ibn Kathir records a hadith that states:
Ibn Kathir further elaborates what constitutes ill conduct:
Scholar Abdul-latif Mushtahiri:
Muhammad himself struck Aisha, condones flogging wives
The reality: According to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, over 90% of married women report being kicked, slapped, beaten or sexually abused when husbands were dissatisfied by their cooking or cleaning, or when the women had 'failed' to bear a child or had given birth to a girl instead of a boy. Another organization stated that one woman is murdered and one woman is kidnapped in Pakistan every day.
Women are mere possessions
In the following hadith, note that Sad bin Ar-Rabi used his wives as a mere possession to be traded in a purely commercial transaction:
The prophet of Islam stated the following, recorded in the earliest biography:
Also note the high status given women in the following two quotes:
Women are controlled by their husbands
Saudi feminist Wajeha Al-Huwaider describes the lives of many Arab women as similar to a prisoner. However, the Arab woman is a prisoner in her own home, has committed no crime, was not captured in battle, does not belong to any terrorist group.
In the book The Ideal Muslimah, Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi notes:
"No human being is permitted to prostrate to another, but if this were permitted I would have ordered wives to prostrate to their husbands, because of the greatness of the rights they have over them."
A woman came to ask the Prophet (PBUH) about some matter, and when he had dealt with it, he asked her, "Do you have a husband?" She said, "Yes." He asked her, "How are you with him?" She said, "I never fall short in my duties, except for that which is beyond me." He said, "Pay attention to how you treat him, for he is your Paradise and your Hell."
How can the Muslim woman complain about taking care of her house and husband when she hears these words of Prophetic guidance? She should fulfil her household duties and take care of her husband in a spirit of joy, because she is not carrying a tiresome burden, she is doing work in her home that she knows will bring reward from Allah.
One of the most important ways in which the Muslim woman obeys her husband is by respecting his wishes with regard to the permissible pleasures of daily life, such as social visits, food, dress, speech, etc. The more she responds to his wishes in such matters, the happier and more enjoyable the couple's life becomes, and the closer it is to the spirit and teachings of Islam.
"It is not permitted for a woman who believes in Allah (SWT) to allow anyone into her husband's house whom he dislikes; or to go out when he does not want her to; or to obey anyone else against him; or to forsake his bed; or to hit him. If he is wrong, then let her come to him until he is pleased with her, and if he accepts her then all is well, Allah (SWT) will accept her deeds and make her position stronger, and there will be no sin on her."
It is a great honour for a woman to take care of her husband every morning and evening, and wherever he goes, treating him with gentleness and good manners which will fill his life with joy, tranquility and stability.`Aisha urged women to take good care of their husbands and to recognize the rights that their husbands had over them. She saw these rights as being so great and so important that a woman was barely qualified to wipe the dust from her husband's feet with her face, as she stated: "O womenfolk, if you knew the rights that your husbands have over you, every one of you would wipe the dust from her husband's feet with her face."
Women's prayers are rejected if their husbands are angry with them for any reason
Abu Umamah narrated that :Allah's Messenger said: "There are three whose Salat would not rise up beyond their ears: The runaway slave until he returns, a woman who spends a night while her husband is angry with her, and a people's Imam whom they dislike."
Women must never be alone in the presence of another man who is not a relative
According to Amnesty International, women who walk unaccompanied or in the company of a man who is neither their husband nor a close relative are at the risk of arrest on suspicion of prostitution or other "moral offences."
In February 2008, an American businesswoman of Jordanian descent was arrested in Saudi Arabia after being found by the religious police sitting in the family area of a Starbucks with a male business associate. They had been working together at their nearby office when power was lost, and they decided to go to Starbucks to use the wireless internet. She was released from jail a day later, bruised and crying after being detained and beaten for being in the presence of another man not a relative.
Women are deficient in intellect
Women's testimony equal to half of man's
Women are the inhabitants of hell
Some Qur'an translators use the word "spouses" instead of "wives." Yet, the Qur'an is clear in telling us that if some persons deserve hell, their spouses must simply follow suit irrespective of whether or not they are guilty. The tafsirs are also in disagreement over the correct word; Ibn Abbas goes with "wives."
Women compared to dogs
Islam considers dogs to be haram - forbidden and najis - unclean. What then are we to think of the following Sahih (authentic) ahadith:
Women compared to devil
Women, marriage and divorce
A Muslim woman is not permitted to marry a non-Muslim Man
A great tragedy, of which first hand stories are frequently related online, concerns inter-faith couples who have fallen in love, but are forbidden by the woman's community to marry for the sole reason that the Islamic jurisprudence only allowed a Muslim woman to marry a Muslim man, based on their interpretation of the Qur'an. Typically, the couple end their relationship with great sadness if the man is unwilling or unable to convert to Islam to satisfy his beloved's Muslim family and community.
This ruling, derived from a verse in the Qur'an and for which there was scholarly consensus, is designed to ensure that a Muslim wife and her future offspring continue to follow the religion of Islam, lest a non-Muslim husband enforces his views on the family.
Muslim men have fewer restrictions - they are permitted to marry Muslim women and people of the Book (Jewish and Christian women).
In recent times, some have argued that the classical view does not necessarily follow from the Qur'anic verses and that Muslim women should be given more freedom.
The marriage of women who convert to Islam or whose husbands leave Islam is annulled
Based on another Qur'anic verse and numerous hadiths, Islam is also responsible for enforced break-up of existing marriages when a wife converts to Islam but the husband does not to do so. This ruling, for which there is also classical scholarly consensus, is based on the following verse:
The classical scholars also ruled that if on the other hand a husband converts to Islam, the marriage remains intact so long as his wife is a Christian or Jew. If a Muslim husband or wife leaves Islam, the marriage to his or her Muslim spouse is immediately annulled, though some held that the marriage is unaffected if only the wife leaves the religion, while others said that she becomes the husband's slave.
Men can marry up to four wives
Muslims believe Muhammad was given permission to marry as many wives as he desired
But Muhammad permitted only one wife for his son-in-law Ali
Men can divorce wife for any reason
Ibn Kathir, the most respected of Qur'an commentators:
Divorce process for women
A wife can ask her husband to divorce her, and if he releases her from the marriage she makes a payment to him of the mahr (dowery) she had received or other agreed payment. This is known as khula'. If he refuses, she can try to get a divorce by judicial decree when there are grounds for which his consent is not required (such as inability or failure to fulfil his marital obligations, desertion, insanity, cruelty).
Ibn Kathir quotes Sahih Muslim:
Muhallil marriage: Woman can remarry ex-husband only if she marries another man first and has sex with him
Marriage to pre-pubescent girls
Marriage to virgins
Mut'ah is a temporary arrangement whereby a man and a woman enter into a contractual arrangement to marry each other for a specified period of time. The time can be as little as one hour or as long as several years, though most Mutah contracts are for hours or a few days. The man gives the woman something of value, and in exchange he is allowed to enter into sexual relations with her, legally, without committing fornication, since they are "married." At the end of the period specified in the contract, each party walks separate ways and neither is indebted to the other. For all intents and purposes, Mutah is nothing more than religiously endorsed prostitution.
Mutah is practiced mainly by Shi'ites today, although at one time Muhammad permitted it for all Muslims. This is one of many areas of disagreement between Sunnis and Shi'ites: Sunnis believe Muhammad abrogated Mutah, while Shi'ites disagree and still practice Mutah as allowed by Muhammad.
The following quotations regarding Mut'ah marriages are from a Shi'ite Muslim website.
- Whenever man sets foot on the earth the need to travel always emerges. Sometimes traveling can involve man going thousands of miles away from home, sometimes for moths, even years. Do one's sexual desires just evaporate when an individual is traveling? Sexual desire isn't like some light switch that turns off when a man leaves his wife to set off on his travels, and turns back home when he gets back! Sexual desire is something that remains permanently with a human, when it accompanies him at all times then how can he curtail such sexual feelings? When someone is traveling and accessing his wife is impossible, and he is incapable of summing her to join him, then what will a young red-blooded male do? Miles away from home, feeling sexually aroused his situation is not one wherein he can get permanently married, so what is he to do? He will feel the only way that he can relieve himself is by amalgamating himself into the society around him. Islam does not permit a person to sexually relieve himself through masturbation nor is he permitted to adopt the ways of the kufr and indulge himself in fornication, it offers him a legitimate mechanism with which to relieve himself and that is temporary marriage.
- It is not just traveling, that might necessitate Mutah, there are many in society who just does not have the financial ability / standing to get permanent married, yet they still have sexual desires, again Mutah is there to ensure that they practice sex within the boundaries set by Allah (swt).
- Islam is a religion that is suited for all nations and ages. Mut'ah is a good example of that. It is only the Deen of Islam that caters for sexual desire by permitting a legitimate method of control. For others societies the only mechanism that they see as the solution to relieving sexual feelings is through the practice of fornication. In the western world adultery and fornication are common and openly performed. Mut'ah is a way of protecting a person from committing these serious sins and vices.
Imam al-Baydawi, in his famous book, The Interpretation of the Baydawi, says, "The purpose of the contractual marriage is the mere pleasure of intercourse with a woman, and her own enjoyment in what she has given" (p. 108).
Sexual relations with women in Islam
Man can have sex with wife how he desires
Wife must not withhold from her husband
The issue of protecting a man's chastity and keeping him away from temptation is more important than anything else that a woman can do, because Islam wants men and women alike to live in an environment which is entirely pure and free from any motive of fitnah or haram pleasures. The flames of sexual desire and thoughts of pursuing them through haram means can only be extinguished by means of discharging that natural energy in natural and lawful ways.
Women are treated as sexual objects
Men can have unlimited sex (rape) with any number of female slaves
Sahih Muslim Chapter 29: IT IS PERMISSIBLE TO HAVE SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH A CAPTIVE WOMAN AFTER SHE IS PURIFIED (OF MENSES OR DELIVERY) IN CASE SHE HAS A HUSBAND, HER MARRIAGE IS ABROGATED AFTER SHE BECOMES CAPTIVE
In case of doubt concerning the meaning of the phrase what the right hand possesses, in Ibn Timiyya, we read in volume 32, p.7 the following:
In the same volume (page 89), Ibn Timiyya says boastfully:
Women cannot have sex with male slaves and POWs
This is a tafsir (commentary) explaining surah 23 verses 1-7 of the Qur'an. Abul A'la Maududi explains that women are not allowed to have sex with male slaves and captives.
7: This is a parenthesis which is meant to remove the common misunderstanding that sex desire is an evil thing in itself and satisfying it even in lawful ways is not desirable, particularly for the righteous and godly people. This misunderstanding would have been strengthened had it been only said that the Believers guard their private parts scrupulously, because it would have implied that they live unmarried lives, away from the world, like monks and hermits.
....The law prescribed in the parenthesis is only applicable to men as is clear from the Text. A woman in the time of Hadrat `Umar did not understand this fine point of the language and indulged in sexual gratification with her slave. When her case was brought before the consultative body of the Companions, they gave the unanimous decision: "She misinterpreted the Book of Allah.".... The wisdom of why the slave has been forbidden to the woman is that he can only satisfy her sexual desire but cannot become guardian and governor of herself and her household, which leaves a serious flaw in the family life.
Ban on Forcing Slave Girls into Prostitution
The slave women are 'forgiven' for what they were forced to do by the slave owner, but no punishment is prescribed for him for his vile actions.
Hadith suggests marrying young women so they can be fondled
Females found responsible and punished for rape
In March 2007, a 19-year-old Saudi woman received a sentence of 90 lashes. Her crime? A man threatened to tell her father that they were having an affair unless she met him alone. When she did, she was kidnapped and repeatedly raped, after which her brother beat her because the rapes brought shame to the family. Rather than giving her justice, a Saudi court sentenced her to be lashed ninety times because she had met a man alone who was not related to her. Fuziyah Al Ouni, a feminist activist, said she was outraged by the case. 'By sentencing her to 90 lashes they are sending a message that she is guilty.'
"In 2004, a sixteen-year old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, was hanged in a public square in Iran. Her crime? Rajabi was charged with adultery -- which probably means she was raped. Her rapist was not executed. Rajabi told the mullah-judge, Haji Rezaii, the he ought to punish men who rape, not their victims." The judge both sentenced and personally hanged Rajabi because, in addition to her crime, he said that she had "a sharp tongue."
On November 1, 2008 a 13-year-old girl in Somalia was stoned to death after being raped by three men. She was unable to produce the required four witnesses to the rape and was therefore accused of adultery as required by Shari'a law. It was reported that the girl begged for mercy before being buried waist high in the ground and pummeled to death by a mob of 1,000.
Islamic law restricts the validity of a woman's testimony, particularly in cases involving sexual immorality. And Islamic legal theorists have limited it even farther, in the words of one Muslim legal manual, to "cases involving property, or transactions dealing with property, such as sales." In other judicial areas only men can testify. It is virtually impossible, therefore, to prove rape in lands that follow these Sharia provisions. If the required male witnesses can't be found to exonerate her (four men who testify to seeing the actual crime, according to the Qur'an), the victim's charge of rape can become an admission of adultery. That accounts for the grim fact that as many as seventy-five percent of the women in prison in Pakistan are, in fact, behind bars for the crime of having been raped.
Muhammad married Aisha at 6, had sex at 9 years of age
Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian Shia religious leader, married a ten-year-old girl when he was twenty-eight. Khomeini called marriage to a prepubescent girl "a divine blessing," and advised the faithful: "Do your best to ensure that your daughters do not see their first blood in your house."
Speaking about the waiting period for divorce, the Qur'an states:
Women – dress requirements, modesty
Women must cover to control the sexual desires of men
Modesty valued more than life
In the Muslim holy city of Mecca in March 2002, fifteen teenage girls perished in a fire at their school when the Saudi religious police, the muttawa, wouldn't let them out of the building. Why? Because in the female-only school environment, they had shed the all-concealing outer garments that Saudi women must wear in the presence of men. They had not put these garments back on before trying to flee from the fire. The muttawa preferred that they die rather than transgress Islamic law, and actually battled police and firemen who were trying to open the school's doors and to save the girls. 
Shame and honor
Honor killings by family members
Domestic violence is an issue that transcends cultures and is not limited solely to the Islamic world. This is the argument generally made by Muslim sympathizers to deflect focus from honor killing in the Muslim world. While honor killing indeed occurs in other cultures, and is not prescribed in Islam, it is the only culture and religion where killing of children by parents is enabled by religious tenets. Shari'a law allows a father or mother to murder their children without retaliation (Qisas):
In other words, according to the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, a father or mother may murder their offspring for any reason, without fear of vengance. Most often, this sort of murder is done to preserve family "honor" and usually the female gender takes the brunt of this sort of barbaric discipline. Such extreme negative attitudes and actions in response to female freedom are no doubt influenced by Islamic punishments for zina (unlawful sexual intercourse) and the highly controlling nature of Islam towards women generally.
The United Nations Population Fund estimated in September 2000 that as many as 5,000 women and girls fall victim to such killings each year. Here are but a few that have captured media attention recently.
Aqsa Parvez was strangled to death by her father, Muhammad Parvez, on December 10, 2007 in Ontario, Canada. Aqsa shamed her father because she refused to wear the hijab and wanted to dress in Western clothing.
Amina and Sarah Said
Amina and Sarah, two sisters, were gunned down by their Egyptian father Yaser Said on New Year's Day 2008 in Dallas, Texas. Their crime: wanting to be like other teenagers in high school and dress in western clothing. Yaser was assisted by his wife and has fled the country. A reward for his arrest is still active, though speculation suggests Said is back in Egypt and in full protection there.
On July 6, 2008 Chaudhry Rashid, a Pakistani man, strangled his daughter with a bungee cord for refusing an arranged marriage. During his arraignment, Rashid told the judge, "I have done nothing wrong." According to Shari'a law, he is correct.
Aasiya Hassan was beheaded by her husband, Muzzammil Hassan, in February 2009. Muzzammil was said to be an influential member of the Muslim community of Buffalo, New York where the couple lived and where they operated Bridges TV, a media outlet designed to help remove the stereotype of Islam as a violent religion.
The Shafii Family: Three sisters and a wife
A man, his second wife, and his oldest son were charged with the drowning murder of the man's first wife and his three daughters in July 2009. Muhammad Shafii, a Canadian man of Afghani descent, his son Hamid Muhammad Shafi, and his second wife Tooba Muhammad Yahya, were charged with first degree murder after authorities learned they had been planning the murder for months.
For more media coverage on honor killing among Muslims, see Fox News video special on honor killing in America.
Female circumcision (FGM)
In some Islamic countries women face the certainty of female circumcision, otherwise known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Somali women's rights activist and ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali notes that in her own homeland virtually every girl has her clitoris excised, sometimes when as young as five years old, and that the practice is always justified in the name of Islam.
Uncircumcised girls are told they will become prostitutes but that circumcised girls will be pure and will retain their honor and dignity. Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes her own genital mutilation in her book Infidel:
Among Muslims FGM is prevalent mainly in Egypt, Sudan, and Somalia, and in other African countries. Muslims who practice it invest genital mutilation with religious significance. One Islamic legal manual states that circumcision is required "for both men and women."
Reliance of the Traveller
This manual of Islamic law prescribes female circumcision, but with an interesting twist. In English versions, the law forbids removal of the female clitoris, while in the original Arabic no such restriction exists.
To Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, the Grand Imam of Cairo's al-Azhar, the oldest and most prestigious university in the lands of Islam, female circumcision is "a laudable practice that does honor to women." Tantawi is no fringe figure: he is, in the words of a BBC report, "the highest spiritual authority for nearly a billion Sunni Muslims."
In endorsing female circumcision he uses this considerable spiritual authority to perpetuate a practice that gives women lifelong pain and blocks their access to sexual fulfillment. But perhaps in the eyes of Sheikh Tantawi the pain is worth the result: most authorities agree that female circumcision is designed to diminish a woman's sexual response, so that she will be less likely to commit adultery.
Testimonies of ex-Muslim women
Parvin Darabi recounts the last moments of her sister's life. Homa Darabi committed suicide rather than continue to live the repressive life of a woman in post-1979 Iran. 
- During her professional life my sister was under pressure from some parents of her younger patients to give the label of "mentally incapacitated" to many perfectly intelligent young girls so that they could be saved from the tortures of the zealots (150 strokes of a whip for things such as wearing makeup or lipstick). Having to label these young women truly broke my sister's heart. When a sixteen-year-old girl was shot to death in northern Tehran for wearing lipstick, my sister could no longer handle the guilt she felt about her former involvement in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. She finally decided to protest the oppression of women by setting herself on fire in a crowded square in northern Tehran on February 21, 1994. Her last cries were, 'Death to tyranny! Long live liberty! Long live Iran.'
- Each time my family members visited a girl as a potential wife for my uncle or cousins, their evaluation of the poor young girl would make me sick. It was as if they were buying a piece of furniture. The only thing important was her physical features.
- The way the Muslims in my family and neighborhood acted, it was clear that a woman's treasure was her virginity before marriage and her vagina after marriage.
- In 1991, the Prosecutor-General of Iran declared that "anyone who rejects the principle of hijab is an apostate and the punishment for an apostate under Islamic law is death." Girls condemned to death may not undergo the sentence as long as they are virgin. Thus they are systematically raped before the sentence is executed.
- The only thing the Islamic Republic has brought to the Iranian people is poverty and misery. At the time of the revolution Khomeini told people that God was on their side. If this is what we will get by having God on our side, I am so pleased to not have Khomeini's so-called "God" on mine.
- I was born in rural Turkey. Generally, Turkish women enjoy many freedoms that our Arab sisters can't even think of. Rural Turkey is a different story. Honor killings take place every day, women don't have much say (if any) in household matters, and female employment is out of the question. However, much hard work is done by women because men don't want to strain themselves. If a husband tells you to do something, you have to obey.
- I was a disciplined and obedient girl, unlike my sister who was somewhat uppity. When she was eighteen, she fell in love with a young man. They both loved each other, but he was meant for another girl, thus his parents had decided. Dating is utterly forbidden in Islam; marriages are arranged and often young people meet on their wedding day.
- My sister was rebellious. She "dated" that young man. Every night she would go to see him. They even kissed and then their relationship went too far: she got pregnant.
- I remember their young faces. I could see they were happy. Their happiness made me happy, too, and I wanted to smile.
- Instead of eloping, they decided to speak to my father. Pregnancy is a very good reason to get permission for marriage, or so they thought.
- Alas, my sister had miscalculated my father's love for her and his obsession with his religion. He became furious. Instead of letting the two young lovers marry and build their nest of love, he took her to the religious elders and they ruled that she had committed adultery. She was sentenced to death by stoning. They showed no mercy even for her unborn child. She had stained the "honor" of the family and the only to remove that stain was to nip her life in the bud. Her unborn baby was a stain, too, and that little creature had to be destroyed as well so my family could live honorably.
- I still remember her black eyes; she stared into the sky while she was dug into the ground. She was wrapped in white sheets and her hands were tied to her body. She was buried up to her waist. The rabid mob circled her with stones in their hands and started throwing them at her while the roars of Allah-u-Akbar!, Allah-u-Akbar! added to their frenzy. She twitched with pain as the stones hit her tender body and smashed her head. Blood gushed out from her face, cheeks, mouth, nose, and eyes. All she could do was to bend to the left and to the right. Gradually the movements slowed down and finally she stopped moving even thought the shower of the stones did not stop. Her head fell to her chest. Her bloodied face remained serene. All the pain had gone. The hysterical mob relented and the chant of Allah-u-Akbar stopped. Her bright black eyes that beamed with life were shut. Her jovial laughter that filled the world around her was silenced. Her heart that beat with such a heavenly love for only a short time had stopped. Her unborn baby was not given a chance to breathe one breath of air.
- The saddest part is that, according to Islam, my sister deserved that death. The elders were sure she would be burning in hell for eternity.
- I do hate Islam. Islam preserved the worst in our culture, reducing women into slavery and keeping them ignorant. When I look at my daughters, I pray that they may live in a free world, free from Islam and this slavery.
- Gamal Nkrumah - "Soaud Saleh: Time to tear down the divides" - Al-Ahram Weekly, 27 October - 2 November 2005, Issue No. 766
- Pierre Crabites, cited in Allama Sir Abdullah Al-Mamun Al-Suhrawardy, The Wisdom of Muhammad (New York: Citade Press, 2001), p. 20.
- John L. Esposito & Dalia Mogahed - Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think (P. 101) - New York: Gallup Press, 2007, ISBN 9781595620170
- Sirat Rasul Allah, ibn Ishaq, A. Guillaume, translator. Oxford University Press, 1955, page 651.
- Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Qualities of the Righteous Wife - Tafsir.com
- Tafsir Ibn Kathir - Dealing with the Wife's Ill-Conduct - Tafsir.com
- Quoted in: The Veil of Equality and Justice: Section 2 - Answering Islam
- Pakistan: Violence against women: Media briefing - Amnesty International
- ibn Ishaq, p. 651
- Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi - The Ideal Muslimah (chapter 4) - MSA West.net
- Sonia Verma - American Woman Boasted of Saudi Freedoms To Bush Brother Before Arrest at Starbucks - Fox News, February 7, 2008
- "Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas 37:22", http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=73&tSoraNo=37&tAyahNo=22&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2.
- Leeman, Alex B. (2009) "Interfaith Marriage in Islam: An Examination of the Legal Theory Behind the Traditional and Reformist Positions," Indiana Law Journal: Vol. 84 : Iss. 2 , Article 9. pp.754-759 Available at: http://ilj.law.indiana.edu/articles/84/84_2_Leeman.pdf and https://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/ilj/vol84/iss2/9
- Verses on Interfaith Marriage: Still Binding? Archive of islamonline.net
- Why a Muslim Woman Is Not Allowed to Marry a Non-Muslim Man
- Muslim Women Can Marry Outside The Faith - Blog on Huffington Post by Junaid Jahangir
- Stories of Women who Became Muslim and Left their Non-Muslim Husbands - IslamQA.info
- Tafsir Ibn Kathir (abridged), Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri et al, translators (Riyadh: Darussalam, 2000), vol 1, p. 635.
- Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol 1, page 633
- Tafsir Ibn Kathir, vol 2, page 601
- The Marriage of Mut'ah: Introduction: Preface - Answering Ansar
- Saudi gang-rape victim faces 90 lashes - Khaleej Times Online, March 5, 2007
- Alasdair Palmer - Death and the maiden in Iran - The Telegraph, August 29, 2004
- Raped girl, 13, stoned to death news24.com,2008-11-01
- David Williams - Somali girl 'pleaded for mercy' before Islamists stoned her to death for being raped - Daily Mail, November 5, 2008
- Rape, Zina and Incest Press Statement - Violence Against Women - SistersInIslam, April 6, 2000
- Christopher Dickey and Rod Nordland - The Fire That Won't Die Out - Islamawareness, 2002
- LinkTVWatch - Murder in the Family: Honor Killing in America (Part 1) youtube.com
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali - Infidel (p. 32) - NY: Free Press, 2007, ISBN 9781416526247
- Why We Left Islam, Susan Crimp, Joel Richardson, editors (Los Angeles: WND Books, 2008), pages 3, 11, 14, 17, 18.
- Yagmur Dursun - An Untold Love Story - FaithFreedom International, March 13, 2005