Mosque Sermons on women.(COMMENTARY)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 13, 2002 | Go to article overview

Mosque Sermons on women.(COMMENTARY)


Byline: Arnold Beichman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

I have been studying the texts of sermons delivered in the mosques of Saudi Arabia, subsidized by the Saudi government, as part of trying to understand the tenets and practices of Islam.

In an earlier column, I dealt with the Saudi mosque sermons attacking Christianity and particularly Catholicism and Pope John Paul. In this column, I want to discuss Saudi mosque sermons about women with texts supplied by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) These sermons are available on a Saudi-based Web site www.alminbar.net. (Alminbar means "pulpit" in Arabic.)

Whatever Islam's ethical base, there is one part of the Islamic code that would be totally rejected in any modern society, democratic or authoritarian. I refer to that aspect of Islam, as defined in the sermons I have been reading, which discuss women in terms, language and concepts no Westerner would dare use today or for that matter would have, in the Thatcher era, dared use yesterday.

It is not that Islam accepts polygamy; after all so did the Mormons. It is that the preachers of Islam regard women as creatures who must be dominated lest empires founder and nations self-destruct. Such a concept is utterly alien to any society based on the Judeo-Christian tradition.

One begins to understand why Israel, let alone the Western democracies, appears as a threat to the future of Islam. The freedom of women, the growth of an enforced equality to men in the Western democracies and the insistence on monogamy as part of the legal code of most countries in the world represents a fearful challenge to the imam. This very discussion about the status of women in Islamic countries would be regarded by the Islamic preachers as an attack on Islamic society.

Here is part of the sermon at the Al-Basateen mosque in Al-Riyadh of Sheikh Saleh Fawzan Al-Fawzan discussing the situation of Western women: "In [Western] societies, the woman has become cheap merchandise, displayed naked or half-naked before the eyes of men. ... Women are servants in homes, clerks in offices, nurses in hospitals, hostesses on airplanes and in hotels, teachers of men in schools, film and television actresses. If they do not succeed in presenting the woman in these ways, they present her voice on the radio, as an announcer and a singer. ... As is known, the number of women in society surpasses the number of men. Nevertheless, they have limited marriage to a single wife, abandoning the rest of the women to corrupt and be corrupted. ... [sic]

"They travel unsupervised and live as strangers among strangers, with danger threatening from all sides. Thus, the enemies of Allah and of humanity have stripped the miserable woman of all the elements of a happy life and of all her social rights, so that she serves as a tool of corruption and destruction. You will be surprised to hear that, in spite of these crimes, they claim that they are protecting the woman's freedom. …

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