The metaphor, “war on women” has become a worn out catch phrase for politicians in western nations to describe an imaginary attack on the “rights” of women. Most often it is used to try and advance a pro-abortion stance in national public policy. The implication is that pro-life, pro-Christian individuals are waging a “war” against a woman’s freedom to choose to abort their babies.
The term became popular after the 2010 U.S. Congressional elections, and can now be found in news articles from other nations. For instance, in February, headlines declared that women in Spain, France, Britain and other European nations were marching against Europe’s “War on Women” in protest of the Spanish’s government plans to ban abortion. In the past few weeks, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s attempted use of the “war on women” narrative failed to help her hold onto her position as the Labor Party leader. And the “war on women” rhetoric surrounded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week allowing Hobby Lobby the ability to deny funding abortifacient contraceptives.
This western imaginary war on women pales in comparison to the treatment of women under fundamental Islamic rule. There are countless examples of inequality and mistreatment of women within fundamental Islamic societies, which has its root in Islamic texts. The Center for the Study of Political Islam in a statistical study of the Qur’an found that 68% of the verses about women in the Qur’an are negative.
As an example, the Qur’an states, “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other…” (Qur’an 4:34). The idea that women are inferior to men is also echoed in the hadith (Sahih Bukhari 1:6:301). In this hadith, Muhammad passes by a group of women and says that the majority of dwellers in hell are women. When they ask him why he replies, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.”
Women in Muslim majority countries are rarely given the same educational or economic opportunities as their male counterparts. The ten nations with the lowest economic participation and opportunity for women are Muslim majority nations such as Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Yemen. Globally 523 million adult women are illiterate. 98% of illiterate people are concentrated in South and West Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Arab States. In many Muslim nations, the majority of women are illiterate. There is an 87% female illiteracy rate in Afghanistan, 84% in Niger; 75% in Chad and Sierra Leone; 59% in Pakistan; 56% in Morocco and 53% in Yemen.
In Afghanistan, the Islamist Taliban banned female education while they were in power, but even after the Taliban was overthrown it can be dangerous for women to seek an education.
Shamsia Husseini suffered severe acid burns on her eyelids and cheeks in 2008 after she was attacked for attending school in Afghanistan. As she walked to school, a masked man who asked her if she was going to school approached her. When she said that she was, he tore off her veil and pumped acid from a spray gun onto her face. Despite the attack she and other girls that were attacked that day persuaded their parents to allow them to continue with their education. Today, nearly six years after the attack, Shamsia is a teacher at the school. She said, “I remember the attack on me and the pain. Education of girls and having female teachers is so important for the future, to show parents and everyone what we can do.”
The lack of education for the women of Islam keeps them trapped in a cycle of poverty with few opportunities. Stand with the women for breakthroughs in their lives – declaring that this cycle will be broken for women and future generations.
Without an education, people cannot understand the teachings of their religion and are not taught the truth of God’s Word. Christianity encourages everyone to “study to show ourselves approved” and God’s Word brings His light to our understanding. Islam’s teachings that women are inferior not only keep the Muslim women, but also their children, trapped into a system that they truly have not had opportunity to research for themselves.
Pray for the Muslim women during Ramadan – that they will have a great desire for “truth” and begin to seek God for it. (We know when they do He will reveal His heart of love to them.)