Don’t drag Islam into every debate

Published: January 25, 2012

Why is it then that in almost every article, blog, documentary, book, or piece of information that talks of a woman who has been wronged, Islam is brought up even though it is totally out of context?

A wife: Not an adversary, not a subordinate, not a superior, but a companion – an equal, with a role that may be different, but equal.

A marriage: A coveted relationship based on mutual respect, companionship, love, and joy.

This is how it is supposed to be; this is how Islam sees it. Is that always the case in reality?

No. In a disturbing percentage of cases, it is not.

Is Islam to be blamed for this, or any religion for that matter? No. Are patriarchal cultural tendencies responsible for it? Often, yes.

Why is it then that in almost every article, blog, documentary, book, or piece of information that talks of a woman who has been wronged, Islam is brought up even though it is totally out of context?

However, it seems like we are living in a world of ‘catch phrases’ and safe playing when it comes to media (writing, journalism, music, or film-making). Like a very apt comment on Facebook recently said:

“One cannot go wrong with Sufism these days.”

A bit of mullah-bashing, human rights jargon, controversial issues brought out of the closet – and voila! A recipe for success.

Being a journalist and a human rights activist of sorts myself, this is not to imply that there is anything wrong with it. But there has to be a context – some sort of a connection. Without connection, bringing religion into every human rights violation is moot. If it is contextual, then by all means, go ahead and do so.

An example is a recent interesting write-up on marital rape. The topic is apt, relevant to many, a human rights violation, and thus, should be taken up. But Islam neither encourages nor condones it. More than the writer, the comments under the write-up were disturbing. It seemed as though people were looking for an opportunity to lash out at Islam. Ahadith being quoted were completely out of context.

For the record, I agree with the writer; marital rape is rape. It is a human rights violation not sanctioned by Islam.

Let me also narrate a story here:

A woman, Muslim, Pakistani, educated, with a so-called educated husband, gives birth to her third child. She comes home with the baby. She has an episiotomy. Her stitches have not healed. The first night her husband forces himself on her. She bleeds. She cries. She does not want it. He does not care. But she does not protest. It is a case of marital rape. No question about it. In addition to this, a woman’s basic human right of respect has been violated. She is simultaneously a victim of domestic violence, harassment, and marital rape.

The above story has many catch phrases and concepts that will make it an instant hit, and if used as a baseline for a feature or film, it has potential to become a human rights’ champion. Woman, Muslim, marital rape, human right, victim, domestic violence, harassment: all these words are going to come up in net-searches or tags. Add to it a few ahadith and verses from the Quran that seem patriarchal enough and voila! Recipe for a hit, with many comments under it, commending the bravery and valour of the one who dared to bring it up.

Let me be clear here, it is not just about Islam, any religion or ethical code will not allow a human being wronged. Therefore, where there is no need for it, bringing up religion unnecessarily is hardly needed. Yes, if there is a need, it must be brought up. The current discussion, and the passing of a resolution in the Sindh Assembly against honour killings is related to Qisaas and Diyyat laws. The laws have been looked into, as do the lacunas and loopholes that are allowing these laws to be misused against unassuming victims of honour killings.

As writers, journalists, media persons and activists, we have a responsibility, not just towards others but towards ourselves – that we truly believe in what we publish, and have researched it, and made sure that it is contextual. Non-partisanship and objectivity are an aim, but in all honesty  are myths when it comes to presenting ideas. Our tilts need to at least have reasonable limits, even if neutrality is not achieved.

Online presence is an attractive whirlpool, and to have an online presence, we use the most attractive concepts and catchy ideas at times, which is ligitimate, provided the idea or quotation or reference makes sense. Equally responsible is the readership or viewership. When we become less discerning, we just popularize certain concepts and ideas, for example Islam’s patriarchal tilt or extremism these days. The rules of demand and supply fall into place, and media persons continue to churn out predictable hits, albeit incontextual at times.

I ask not for objectivity, for that can make a write-up both boring and ultimately doing a disservice to causes that need advocacy. I ask, simply, for fair-mindedness. I believe it is possible.

Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz is a writer and editor, and has worked as the Features Editor with The Express Tribune. Her focus is human-centric feature stories. She now writes as a freelancer, and works in the field of marketing and corporate communications. She loves literature and traveling. She tweets on @FarahnazZahidi. Her work can be seen at

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Anthony Permal

    Nice writeup. I agree 100% with your intention.

    However, you forget to take into account that a majority of those who ‘drag Islam into every debate’ are those who want to prove that Islam DOES condone X, Y or Z factors.

    Not everyone blames Islam. But almost all of the ghairat brigade is hell bent on proving an Islamic bent for cultural norms based on limited or inaccurate knowledge of the Quran themselves and even worse off they rely on the Hadiths alone many times.

    This brings me to your point on ethical and journalistic integrity by the media. Yes, it is required. Yes, it is lacking. But media in this country is a business, my dear, and businesses will only sell what their target market desires most. In our sense: sensationalism.Recommend

  •!/User_Ahmad Ahmad

    not plused, no likes, not even tweeted, scratch “don’t” out of title it’s out of context :),

    A comprehensive article discussing the issue accurately and the best thing is truth is not impaired for getting dozens of comments, well done and thank you.

    I desk toped a picture of sasha grey, a colleague asked me who is she? I replied sasha grey, no what’s her profession? She is a porn star.

    Oh you put a picture of porn star on your desktop, we follow molvies, and we idealize them?
    But I never asked them to idealize me, to follow me; I have my own life and my own evils and angels in me, no one will go in my grave, but still do I have a right to be wrong?

    A question if someone can answerRecommend

  • Muhammad Usama Aziz

    Brilliant !! Agreed with your each wordRecommend

  • Zaki

    I think islam is to be dragged here because if Islam claims to provide a complete jurisprudence then it should have penalties for martial rape. It does not. In fact, it goes to quiet some extent about patronizing the behavior of a wife. You are just touching the tip of the iceberg, but as they say (quite ironically in this case) “the devil is in the details”.

    Islam gives the right for a women to seek divorce – yet a huge percentage of marriages carried out under islamic traditions, the right is negated. You can argue that it is not the fault of islam here but the patriarchs, but from my perspective its totally the fault of islam because if you give a right – you don’t make it optional! No marriage should be legalized without bride’s right to file divorce.

    I can go on and on about this, but I rest my case.Recommend

  • Sidrah Moiz Khan

    In LOVE with your write-up.Recommend

  • Solomon

    Good!, to the point and precise!

    Well written and conceived.Recommend

  • Anon

    Man if these human rights walals, NGO types and self-righteous journos picked up the Quran and ACTUALLY read it, they would realise how strict the codes on treatment of women are. Men have been reprimanded and reminded in both Quran and Hadith repeatedly to treat their women fairly and with honor. Women were given rights to divorce, property and inheritance BEFORE as per Shariah law! Yes this is the same ‘oppressive’ law that has existed in place for 1400 years. All these burger elitist types should know, that the very inspirational West’s oppressive laws on divorce and property entail (which restricted women from owning property and passing it on) existed well into the 20th century until the world war!!!
    So in a nutshell, yes the journos and so called liberal human rights activist in Pakistan are blatantly hypocritical and extremely uninformed on the reality of Islamic laws and propagate unnecessary hyperbole about Sharia laws. Instead of targeting the poor implementation of the law, they target the law in itself as the root cause which is just dumb. But then again this just explains why this lot are in a minority and not very much liked by most.
    No Muslim will mistreat even a dog let alone a woman i.e. if they actually did properly follow it’s teachings. So all these problems of honor killings, maritial rape and women being acid burnt are a reflection of general decay and malaise spreading in the society BECAUSE people have stopped upholding the teachings of Quran and Sunnah.Recommend

  • A Wife

    @Zaki: A woman has all the right in Islam to not only divorce a man but to also refuse to go to bed with him. You should check your facts before commenting. Islam stresses on the husband to not only be kind to his wife but in the event of a divorce, not take his presents back and to let go of her respectfully. Secondly, the fact that there’s ample space in the nikahnama for the bride to fill in with all her conditions, it IS the society (and sorry, its not men but older WOMEN) who snatch that right from the bride! I blame myopia, not Islam.Recommend

  • natasha s.

    //A bit of mullah-bashing, human rights jargon, controversial issues brought out of the closet – and voila! A recipe for success.//

    Exactly. And people don’t even get fed up of talking about the same thing over and over again. Pretty sickening for people like me who’ve started avoiding such islamophobic write ups/comments. People here drag religion while discussing Palestine too. No problem being ignorant these days. Just drag Islam and sound ‘informed’.

    Well written indeed.Recommend

  • Bilal

    A great, great article and finally someone who talks sense. I just hope this changes the current trend of blogs on ET, some of which have been rubbish at best. Thanks a bunch Farahnaz. Recommend

  • mani

    Excellent write up… Rightist and leftist has been injected too much in us, thanks to media and illiterate commenting on internet that even if you are watching cricket highlights on youtube, the comments are filled with islam and mostly disgraceful. Actually right now there are two kinds of people fighting one who have little knowledge and think themselves the right preechers of islam and the other who loves in making fun of Islam. Both of them are doing no good to society. The balance have ended, temepers have lost especially after the fights on facebook:) What you will see more now a days is most people will try to drag islam in each topic just to make fun which is very sad and righlty highlighted in the above topic!Recommend

  • asif khan

    since we are repeatedly reminded that the question or concept of marital rape does not exist in islam as a way to shut off debate on marital rape or as a way of shutting up those condemning marital rapists ,it is highly necessary to discuss religion.on every blog,every article there are people who try to glorify religion by linking every blog with the advantages and glories of religion.being a religious apologist will bring you accolades and praise from our society but then you have to remember that this is the same society that threw rose petals on and glorified a cold blooded murderer like qadri.Recommend

  • Kinza

    The point is that Islam has and should have a say; a very significant say in our lives and every day issues. But the teachings should not be misjudged, in which case things get messed up. And it should be kept in mind that when quoting Islam one should have proper and sound knowledge of the issue and the teachings of Islam.
    It is actually difficult to portray the real image of Islam and how issues must be dealt in accordance with it because of the two extremist blocks; one of the socialists and the other of the actual Islamic fanatics. Both don’t have the complete and correct information and thus are very much responsible for many confusions and the negativity against Islam and Muslims.Recommend

  • Milestogo

    You mean keep Islam limited to one’s personal life as a spiritual guide.

    If history is any evidence then I doubt that is possible.

    But go ahead try it – it’s a nice thought.Recommend

  • A Wife

    @Zaki: Oh & as for the punishment of marital rape, its categorically stated according to the damage inflicted! Seriously, why blame Islam for your own ignorance? And if a woman just doesn’t want to sleep with a man but stay in his home n use his cash, she’s the one raping his wallet. Marriage is a contract, it means you consent to be there for each other. There is no place for abuse!Recommend

  • Abdul Rafeh Iqbal

    Dear Writer,

    i am confused and would really appreciate your input in this matter or your advice if it clears my intention over here.

    As i go along in life, learning more and more about our religion Islam and how i have come to identify certain qualities is people; this being both Muslims and non-Muslims, i have been able to observe the “haqooq-ul-Ibad” which make up the society.

    in essence i have learned that our actions including our etiquettes all form from our base which is Islam. We hear about the stories that even our Prophet (PBUH) levied laws to protect animals, how can we think that He (PBUH) could not give protection to humans?
    And then if one tries to ponder over this and read through the Qur’an and Ahadith, one surely recognizes that Human Rights, in terms of men, women, children, elders, orphans, neighbours, are all present in our religious teachings.

    The issue i have come to conclude is that, many have started using the name of the religion in the incorrect sense which eventually results in an abuse of the religion. This does not mean that religion is not present in certain subjects, it very well is and can be used in the facilitating manner if properly used.

    In the example that you have provided, before any talk of a “Human Right Violation”, should we not realize that had the man been in touch with his religion; even in the spiritual sense and had known certain values, he would never have committed such a thing. Greed, desperation, an uncontrolled aggression was inside him which i certainly believe can be reduced and eliminated by religion.

    we have totally taken Religion out of our lives and we try to bring it in places where it matters but in the incorrect sense.
    Islam, falls in all categories of life and brings values and benchmarks of how we all are to perform accordingly to…

    i hope you understood my point and would respond.
    i am not in any way of what people call the fundamentalist who says religion should be observed everywhere and be extreme and all…i just think we have never actually practised Islam in it’s true nature…
    I always talk to converts when i go abroad and even these days i am in contact with many, and believe me…They practise Islam in ways we never did…
    Yes, they perform well in “haqooq-ul-Allah” but they try to achieve perfection in “Haqooq-ul-Ibad”. Something we don’t even think about.Recommend

  • ali baba

    beautifull piece Recommend

  • abid

    A very good Article. Kaash everybody take it positively.Recommend

  • Adeel Qureshi

    Very well said. The writer here has shown a lot of maturity I must say as she elaborates and clarifies her stance,I second her stance. This is what journalism should actually be about rather than trying to look rather liberal. Kudos.Recommend

  • Vikram

    Looks like don’t think a husband should be considerate to his wife’s injury. Better way is for wiife to divorce using Islam. I think it will be a good idea to use common sense some times. Use Islam to become a better person. Islam means different to different people. Talibans use Islam ib their own way. Some Sunnis use Islam to hate Shias. I agree with the author, there is no need to drag religion into every thing. Recommend

  • Mj

    When Islam, or any other religion is being used or abused then it is absolutely pertinent to bring it into the debate, although I do wish those who believe would use their reason to solve ethical, moral, and social issues instead of cherry picking verses to support their own point of view.Recommend

  • Vikram

    No Muslim will mistreat even a dog let alone a woman i.e. if they actually did properly follow it’s teachings. So all these problems of honor killings, maritial rape and women being acid burnt are a reflection of general decay and malaise spreading in the society BECAUSE people have stopped upholding the teachings of Quran and Sunnah.

    Most Muslims justify their actions as Islamic. Talibans claim to follow Quran and Sunnah. Men’s rule in Islam, like they do in almost all religions. Recommend

  • Where is democracy?

    Half education is dangerous than both; complete education or no education at all. This is what most of the commentators exhibit.

    What is most amazing, perhaps hurting, is that when a non-Muslim reads about Islam or Islamic Law about all the controversial domestic or international issues, he/she praises Islamic thought more than anything else. It is so shameful that we, the so-called Muslims, are buried under tremendous feel of inferiority in today’s world and find no way else except to put the blame on Islam for many issues, husband-wife relationship being one of them as being discussed here.

    And that is perhaps what we do, just talking with no sense of responsibility let alone the pre-requisite to study and learn things before commenting on them. I ask you guys not to follow Islam but at least take out some time to learn it through various different means from various different schools of thought before jumping to pass judgement about it.

    Great article, JazzakAllah for it!Recommend

  • An Elephant

    My trumpet goes trump trump and trump!Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK

    “Don’t drag Islam into everything” is precisely what the secularists have been pleading for the last half a century!

    It’s the narrow-minded, holier-than-thou class of Muslims who insist that since Islam being a complete code of life, must be dragged into every debate ranging from how to run a country to how to cut one’s fingernails. No exceptions.

    For things that are so obviously evil, like marital rape and honour killings, you don’t need a holy book to tell you these things are bad. Listen to your own conscience, if you have one!Recommend

  • ZAK


  • Where is democracy?

    @Loneliberal PK:

    Trust me, you would need the Holly book to even use your conscience. Many (wana be) liberals chanted the same slogan until they realize that they were wrong.

    As for cutting the fingernails, there is no obligation on you to how to cut them in Islam but there is a way that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to do it. If I choose to follow the way the Prophet (PBUH) did, you shouldn’t criticize it. Again that is just you not knowing of the facts about Islam making you criticize like this. Which is, to my understanding, against your own slogan of Liberalism (which means respect for others without distinction). But unfortunately our liberal brothers have an understanding of being anti-Islamic to be being liberal. And if you take out time to read about Islam (just for some additional knowledge, not to follow), you will find out the Islam is the most liberal religion. Don’t judge Islam by what Muslims do around you, judge it by reading, analyzing and understanding it. Then you will know why Islam is a complete code of life. Don’t take the bait of judging through shortcuts.

    Learn before you jump to comment!Recommend

  • Musthaq Ahmed

    @Loneliberal PK:
    Pakistanis like this writer live in ahistorical delusional world. Any partial presentation can draw applause from readers. The theme of dogs being best friends can be highlighted to the extent of throwing people to the mercy of street dogs. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Very well said it sis may god bless u here i manna ad something too last ten years and so here in United states on every forum islam is bashing in every level even last compaign of 2008 election california governer Arnold (austrian) make a fun of islam by saying women are slave in islam and then few months later he him self got catched with affair his House maid
    with one illegal baby (which is very normal here) but he did not say it was a christianity or
    his own faoult its easy to blame or joke islam but if some one say something about others
    its a Anti christ or anti simitism.Recommend

  • Dee Cee

    The real nub of the issue is this: bad deeds are carried out in the name of Islam. Islam doesn’t support suicide bombings, yet bombers are shaheed according to many just like Qadri is a hero. When these “NGO-and-human-rights-wallahs” bring Islam to get cheap publicity, they are actually criticising the wrong use of Islam, not the correct Islam. If Islam is pure, it can’t be criticized. But you yourself agree that wrongs are done in the name of religion; to criticise those wrong, one has to bring religion in the discussion, right? Otherwise, one will have to ignore those crimes that (incorrectly) get sanctioned by molvies. Qadri is a case in point. And when you try to oppose criticism of abuse of Islam, you are either being too ignorant or being deliberately hypocritical. Instead of berating “NGO-and-human-rights-wallahs”, ask the women-killer Talibans, governer-killer Qadris, child-raping molvies, Quran-wielding politicians, and constitution-raping dictators to NOT BRING ISLAM IN EVERTHING! Islam was supposed to be between me and my Allah. Who brought it everywhere else?Recommend

  • Moz

    It is mostly the self righteous who bring Islam in every debate.Recommend

  • Raja

    Most (not all) Hindu religious ‘gurus’ dont dabble in politics. Hence even if some of them talk rubbish at times, they are generally left alone. There is this saint near Chennai, who made a ‘political statement’. And then it was open season. He was criticised a lot, but the general consensus was that he go what he deserved when he stepped out of bounds.

    Why am i saying this? @LoneliberalPK is right. If Islam is dragged into non-religious discussions when it suits us, it would be dragged in even when it does notRecommend

  • Vikram

    @Where is democracy?: “Don’t judge Islam by what Muslims do around you, judge it by reading, analyzing and understanding it.” Are you saying Muslims don’t read, analyse and understand Islam. If they do then one should be able to judge Islam by looking at what Muslims do. If Muslims don’t understand and follow Islam, that is a serious problem.Recommend

  • Mj

    The thing is, dear writer, that no one will ever criticize faith when it motivates people to do good, to make charity, to be kind to others, and so on. And who even criticizes a belief for its positive impact? But it does need to come under scrutiny if its teachings, however distorted, misinterpreted, or taken out of context are being used for suppression, subjugation, and bloodshed. If faith is lauded for making people behave better then it also deserves criticism when people slaughter and murder in its name. You cannot have it both ways. And it is sometimes ironic when the people using faith for evil are on better ground theologically as opposed to those who follow a wishy-washy version of their faith. Recommend

  • Vikram

    @A Wife:
    Are you saying in Islam A Wife can refuse to go to bed with her husband without any reason?Personally I don’t think why it should it be a big deal, a man can climax without a woman. But saying “no” without any reason reflects some sort of problem between the couple.Recommend

  • leila rage

    the writer: I completely agree with what you’ve said, but I think you missed a very important point,i.e, that the reason Islam is dragged into these debates in the first place, is not because people want to blaspheme and lash out against religion, but because SOME people choose to comment on these debates by claiming that all these injustices and perversions are sanctioned by Islam.

    It’s these people who need to be stopped, its these people who’s thinking needs to be changed. These people are our problem. These are the people who will derail you for eating with your left hand, for not hiking up your shalwars, for wearing an abaya that isnt black, for merely breathing.

    How can you blame others for lashing out against Islam when THIS is the Islam they are presenteed with:
    Women=non-entity, Man=demi-god
    wife/daughter/mother/sister= a possession without rights or feelings. the seat of “honour”, the ones who need to guard their modesty.
    men= its their nature to behave like animals so if they beat/stare at/humiliate/abuse/rape a woman its all her fault, and God will forgive the poor man for being tempted by the wayward woman. Recommend

  • Aakasa

    Beautifully and sensibly said Vikram. I fully agree with what you said.
    Its high time we rack our brains not ‘religiously’ but sensibly. We’ve tangled the affairs of our life enough by justifying our actions in the name of religions and at other times making it as a backbone for every argument.
    The crux is not that one leaves God only for the affairs of heaven and hell and exclude religion from our lives but at making our lives simpler in this post modern era.
    It’s very much humanish to quote from scriptures and judge and discern between right, wrong and morality codes but this further complicates situations and one ends up feeling miserable about his/her ‘natural’ state. At times one should question the basic foundations of religions that’d been misinterpreted in limelight because they destroy nature itself the way patriarchy is wrongly exposed in Islam.Recommend

  • Irshad Khan

    Not only in case of a particular subject but nearly in all discussions and matters sayings from Islam are being quoted or referred right or wrong, relevant or irrelevant, no matter. It has become a fashion of the day in order to give weight to the discussions. Most of such people are those who have not studied even a book related to principles of Islam or QURAN with its meaning or with its TAFSEER. I have also seen some programmes of cooking shows on TV channels wherein sermons on Islam are given or discussed and have no relevancy with the subject.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Ali Tanoli:
    “i wanna add something too last ten years and so here in United states on every forum islam is bashing in every level”? Do you know how Ahmadis, Shias, Christains, Hindus are treated in Pakistan? I remember reading how a “doctor” in Pakistan went to prison on Blasphemy charge for throwing a business card because the name of the owner of the business happend to be Mohammed or Muhhamed. Islam bashing is the result of 9/11. Every few months some one is arrested in US for planning attacks in the name of Jihad. . Recommend

  • RAW is WAR

    why not? Islam is not just a religion, means the way of life, right?Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK

    Where is democracy?,

    The notion that religion is a necessity for one’s moral construction is archaic, untrue, and frankly, provokes intolerance towards non-religious people. Take Sweden, for instance. How does a nation with 85% of its population consisting of atheists, emerge as the fourth least corrupt state in the world? And why are the most corrupt and least developed nations nearly all religious?

    You’re good because the law stands ready to punish you if you fail to do so. You’re good because of your inborn capacity to empathize with your fellow humans.

    And most importantly, you’re good because your parents taught you the difference between right and wrong, the same way non-religious Swedish parents teach their kids. Recommend

  • Asdf

    The author says “Let me be clear here, it is not just about Islam, any religion or ethical code will not allow a human being wronged.”

    But that is what is under argument these days that Islam in it’s original form (Quran, Hadiths and Islamic history) does allow human rights violations as understood by modern day world.Recommend

  • Asdf

    Read Quran 2.223Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan


    You brought up a very pertinent subject, needing discussion. I am tempted to call you courageous. Over time, despite denials. it seems as if chips have been implanted in every Paki-brain, turning them into Manchurian Candidates. The moment chime of Pavlov’s bell is, heard, the pack goes into action.

    Obviously, it is the deep seated fear that makes them to go into attack like cornered animals. A people which have lost their moorings in the rapidly developing (materially at least) world. Not many positive achievements have made the headlines for the last 300 years, negative ones undoubtedly have been aplenty. They feel that history is not on their side, the playing field is uneven, they are charged with crimes they did not commit.

    Instead of any discussion based on rational premises supported by facts we get ultra conservative or apologetic subterfuges thrown at you. Unfortunately, even the basics of logic are not taught in colleges or schools of the country.

    A very nice effort. Recommend

  • sherry

    pathetic, atleast you can google about things/facts you don’t knowRecommend

  • sherry

    well writtenRecommend

  • Parvez

    I think your article needs to be read more than once to be fully appreciated.Recommend

  • Salman Arshad

    @ the writer:

    Islam needs to be dragged because Islam is a belief system.

    Just like you believe Islam forbids marital rape, many in our society, and even arabs, unfortunately believe that Islam condones marital rape, and this includes learned scholars.
    The problem is much more complicated than you think.Recommend

  • rationalist

    @Lionel: What is a conscience? I do not have a conscience, I’ve never seen one, and I think there is no such thing as rape. It is survival of the fittest and strongest. Whoever dominates and gets to spread his seed and hence increasing chances of progeny has won the greatest battle against mankind: natural selection. Recommend

  • Jehanzeb

    The writer is spot on that religion has no place in the present world and a religion-based argument should not form a part of any debate. As someone said: “Religion is the last refuge of a scoundrel”.

    Violating the writer’s prohibition I decided to research to see where a woman is placed in Islam and whether the scripters provide sanction to men to exploit degrade and abuse women. After reading all relevant verses and hadith here ('an,Hadithand_Scholars:Women), I have been left with no choice but conclude religion has to become irrelevant if humanity, gender equality and rights have to progress. Women cannot find their place and due rights in the society if they keep restricting themselves in the bounds of religion, which invariably approve misogyny and male superiority.Recommend

  • http://NewYork Falcon

    @Author…well done…at least someone said it. Its so nauseating to see all this drama against religion as if religion is the cause of all evil and human beings were so inherently pure without it.Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    @Where is democracy?:
    I totally disagree with your sweeping statement, when a non-Muslim reads about Islam or Islamic Law about all the controversial domestic or international issues, he/she praises Islamic thought more than anything else., part of the same delusional thinking. Without ever bothering to check the real live version of your fairy tale world, it is nothing but self deception.

    Please check the comments by different contributors on an article written by Karen Armstrong, on Hajj Exhibition in London.

    Exhibition at the British Museum Recommend

  • Khurram Malik

    well, we can’t just turn a complete blind eye to something that’s been happening for centuries to people/particularly women, interestingly in islam dominated societies and if people are questioning and reasoning about it, there shouldn’t be any problems answering those questions. take it as an opportunity to tell the world about your faith, beliefs and religion. but if you can’t make sense in your arguments, you shouldn’t be blaming or calling the other person/country a propagandist… also, WE need to learn to keep an argument open-ended instead of bringing out swords/fatwas on mere discussions and table talks.Recommend

  • Aviator

    I agree with author.

    The problem is with people justifying their corrupt cultural practices, with wrongly interpreted Quranic verses.

    There are people who are understandably frustrated at this, who choose to attack Islam. International media turn this into a narrative of how Islam is to blame.

    This is not going to solve the problem. Attention needs to be focussed on the cultural practices themselves, as these are the root cause of the problem. Stricter laws need to be implemented that remove the possibility of someone using Islam to justify commiting these crimes. The molvis and their supporters who are responsible for peddling warped interpretations need to be apprehended and punished. People need to be educated.

    I suggest Pakistanis to visit Morroco to witness how Islam should be implemented. Its like a different galaxy compared to pakistan! People there are much more chilled and open minded, especially with regards to womens rights etc in Islam. Its generally a much more peaceful, enlightened and tolerant Islamic society than pakistan.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @rationalist: says “Whoever dominates, gets to spread his seed”. You may be in able to do that in Pakistan. In some other countries seed carrier with seeds get buried into the ground and gets stoned. Natural selection happens better in a jungle.Recommend

  • rex minor

    The author made a good start, but then got bogged down with ISLAM. Madam, where is your reference point for Islam in marriage or Rape. Most of Indian and Pakistan muslims had non muslim ancestors. Their living style today is more the two third their non muslim traditions, culture and customs! What Pakistan needs is the enlightening/aufklarung in German, process which started ion the European continent in eighteenth century.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Mir

    Closet mentalities ultimately perpetuating such heinous acts. Giving inebriating sermons on equality yet being the foremost in objectifying women – It isn’t hard to comprehend how the meaning of ‘marriage’ has evolved.Recommend

  • amrita

    Bash the culture, say the problem lies with the people misinterpreting the religion and voila! the recipe of a successful blog, right?Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK


    Conscience is a part of your psyche, or the software of your brain. You cannot see or touch it (like say, anger or pain), but it can be demonstrated by various means.

    Also, are you aware of ‘group selection’? It was a crucial part of human evolution, as species that tend to look after one another have a better chance of survival than groups following the “every man for himself” rule (remember that story about how a single branch can easily be snapped, but a whole bundle is hard to do so?)

    That’s how humans became such social animals in the first place. Evolution grants us an inborn ability to empathize, and have a sense of goodwill towards fellow humans. This needs to be consolidated further by things like parental guidance, or good education by teachers, but religion is not imperative for either (proven by non-religious societies around the world).Recommend

  • mind control


    In your illustrative story about marital rape,let us examine whether Islam should be dragged into it or not.

    Ask the victim why did she prefer to stay quiet. And if she quotes some Hadith to the effect that women who deny their husbands are heading for eternal hell. Then you know, Islam needs to be dragged in.

    Ask the same question of the perpetrator. And if he says his ‘Deen’ gives him absolute unquestionable rights over the wife. Then, the incident does involve Islam.

    So, what did you find?Recommend

  • pmbm

    @Abdul Rafeh Iqbal:
    you are correct,proper teaching of Islam is needed. Most of foreign converts use Mohammad Asad as source of information and do not separate individual’s duties to God and to society as per 2 basic sources—The Quran and authentic Ahadith.Recommend

  • pmbm

    @Dee Cee:
    and between you and fellow man e.g zakat, honesty, and justice.Recommend

  • bilal akhtar

    why ex tribune become gate keeper of society ! why islam come is blamed for every voience aginst women still need to understandRecommend

  • Danish

    This is apologist rhetoric at its best. Why shouldn’t we bring Islam into every debate if Islam claims to solve all our problems and afflictions? When you agree that Islam has a say in every aspect of the society (this is what secularists have been arguing against), then if the problems persist, religion will always come into debate.

    The abominable behaviour meted out to women and minorities in Pakistan is all done in the name of Islam (even if it’s not Islam’s fault). Unless we stop killing in the name of Islam, Islam is inevitably going to come in the debate. Recommend

  • Quran

    Thanks for sharing this useful information.
    Islam is a religion which base on belief. How stronger your belief you can get right direction from this. This is perfect religion in every aspect of life.Recommend

  • abhi

    I thought you must be writing about keeping religion out of day to day issues, but disappoited with the tone of blog. Instead of criticizing the hardliners who try to bring Islam in every damn topic (from scientific theories to social conduct), you are ctitcizing liberals who show guts to criticize wrong practices!Recommend

  • Rationalist

    You have not provided any evidence for group theory. You only think it is true because you want it to be true. You do not want to admit the inner animal inside you, you want to be empathetic, and that is why you are using the group theory example as part of evolution.

    Altruism might be beneficial, but is not necessity for evolution. Lions kill the cubs afterwards they have killed the lion from the opposing clan, yet they still exist, evolve, and enthrall us.

    When humans evolved, they wiped off Nenaderthals, we are animals. For the last 200,000 years we have been killing each other through out the wide spreads of time, and that has only helped us in evolution.

    This empathetic crap that you want us to believe is NOT necessary for evolution. Evidence of that is many animal species. Chimpanzees continue to kill each other, and yet still exist, and fight the forces of evolution. Evolution is no different.

    If you say then what is the purpose of `sad“ feelings that humans have evolved, if nor for feeling sadness and pain of fellow members, I do not know what is the purpose of it. All I know is that I do not depend and give importance to such neurotransmitter activation in my brain.

    As for your claim of conscience, pray tell us which lab experiments can show us our conscience?

    There is no such entity as ‘conscience,” unless you are referring to electrical impulses in one’s brain? If yes, that proves furthermore that since it is all in the electrical signals, there is no reason to take some of these signals seriously.

    @ Vikram: You are right, the communities where religion is wide spread, they will stone people to death for stoning. More advanced countries like US will penalize rapists, and put them in jails. See, that is one step further towards evolution, no stoning, compared to the primitive religious societies. I believe human evolution will reach its zenith when countries will stop punishing for rape at all and accept it as natural culmination of chemicals, neurotransmitters, hormones, desires and fantasies. We already see the trend, as I’ve shown. From stoning to prison to hopefully freedom! Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    One of the most unfair blogs to appear in recent times. Uninformed as well.

    Islam defines sexual relations between men and women, between men and women of different religions. About the ‘rights’ and about what is permissible. As Muslims, if you don'[t bring Islam in, what will you use to argue about such things?Recommend

  • M.Aswad Mehatb

    100% Agreed !! These days Most of the writers are after Cheap Publicity, They Misquote Things , Spread Sensationalism and nothing creative… I Always want to say after each cheap post that “Yes We Know you have a Nice vocab. and fancy words but you are not going to win any awards in Real life” Present the solutions don’t roast and bake the problems with spices again and again…Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK


    Please stop calling me Lionel, that’s not my name.

    Also, group selection is an important theory explaining how certain species may have evolved. You can google it out on your own, but here’s a start (link).

    Yes, altruism is not necessary for evolution, which is mostly based on individual success in surviving and reproducing, But research has revealed things that can only be explained via group selection. For example, we’ve mapped out well-defined brain regions responsible for empathy in humans. If anthropogensis had entirely been an “every man for himself” game, the development of these regions would make no sense.Recommend

  • Katarina

    Religion should be kept out of legislation but in many countries this is not yet the case. And that is why religion is then dragged into debates like this. Having legislation that is secular and not based on some outdated thousand year old stuff is a sign of a modern society. If someone wants to believe in some old stories written down 1400-2000 years ago then that is their own choice. Recommend

  • Silent Sufferer

    @Loner: Just because the empathetic regions in various cortices of brain have been mapped, it does not mean they are necessary for evolving. Empathy might be beneficial for certain tasks, which are necessary for evolving, for example, not killing one’s children out of empathy. I never denied that, because if one kills the very children, it is not going to help evolution. However, what does that have to do with raping? How is lack of empathy and rape related to regression of evolutionary prowess?

    “may” have evolved, talk to me when you have conclusive evidence if such empathy was absolutely necessary, or at least is NOW absolutely necessary. Some aspects of empathy, as I’ve mentioned, are needed, for evolution to work, for example not killing one’s very own children, but other aspects are not needed at all, such as feeling bad about rape. Recommend

  • mind control

    @A Wife

    Your assertions give rise to some very interesting questions on the issue of marital relationship in Islam. Let me recall the assertions first
    a. A woman has all the right in Islam to not only divorce a man but to also refuse to go to bed with him. You should check your facts before commenting.

    b. And if a woman just doesn’t want to sleep with a man but stay in his home n use his cash, she’s the one raping his wallet. Marriage is a contract,

    A. The first question of course is which of the two contradictory statements is true?Does the woman have a right to refuse to sleep with a husband or does that make her a rapist of the valet?

    B. If statement B is correct, then does it mean that a wife has access to the man’s valet only in return for sexual favours and all else that she does e.g. cooking,cleaning, raising children, caring for the sick, is gratis. And would that not render a marriage only a long term sex for cash in the valet contract? So, what happens to things like love, trust and companionship?

    C. There may be instances where it is the woman who holds the valet as the wealthier of the 2 partners. What happens in such a case? Will the valeted woman will be able to demand the favours of the husband even if he has been intending to spend some time with one of his other 3 wives?

    As I said, very interesting positions.Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK

    Silent Sufferer,

    “How is lack of empathy and rape related to regression of evolutionary prowess?…”

    It would result in a terrible inter-species conflict (much worse than what is generally observed), making the group more vulnerable to other predatory animals and natural forces. The species at war with itself, will inevitably cause its own extinction…ultimately, no individual member will benefit from his ruthless and selfish behaviour.

    Consider the world homo sapiens have built around you. Would any of this had been possible without a great degree of cooperation and non-hostile interaction among strangers?

    Social interaction is to humans what swimming is to fish. It is practically the defining attribute of humans. And at a point in history where we’re 7 billion strong, depending highly upon imports from foreign states and services and courtesies of strangers, we need this empathy now more than ever!Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK

    *intra-species conflictRecommend

  • Baji

    Farahnaz ! You’ve bang right on spot ! Bravo !Recommend

  • Where is democracy?


    Vikram sahab, I totally agree. This is a serious problem because Muslims really do not understand Islam in its true meaning.

    If bet you if you understand Islam with neutral frame of mind, even you will become better Muslim than most of the Muslims today, Insha-Allah.

    And mark my words, this is what going to happen, may be not you, not your next generation but ultimately, at some point in future, your generations will be Muslims because you do not need to attest the truth. Truth gets attested by itself no matter how strong the opposition is.

    Muslims are not the dearest to Allah if they stop obeying Him and His Messenger (PBUH). Allah replaces nations of wrong-doing Muslims by true Muslims (can be from non-Muslims too) and that is why all the new converts are amazingly far better than us, the Muslims by birth.

    May Allah guide us all. Peace!Recommend

  • Pacifist

    It is wonderful to at least see an attempt at balance! The writer is not saying that religion should not be OR should be discussed, but that any topic should be brought up when needed, not just due to Islamophobia or an immediate reaction.
    The discussion under the blog is also encouraging.
    Unless we peacefully agree to disagree, there will always be polarization…..may it be liberal extremists or religious extremists.Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Where is democracy?

    Are you saying that Islam can only be rejected by bad people, people who are misinformed, unfair, or have some other problems? How democratic is that?Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Let me ask my Muslim friends here…:)

    How many of you find our friend “Where is democracy”‘s statement utterly offensive and in terrible taste? How many of you will stand up and ask our friend quit uttering this nonsense as some of you would stand to defend Islam?

    “If bet you if you understand Islam with neutral frame of mind, even you will become better Muslim than most of the Muslims today, Insha-Allah.
    And mark my words, this is what going to happen, may be not you, not your next generation but ultimately, at some point in future, your generations will be Muslims because you do not need to attest the truth. Truth gets attested by itself no matter how strong the opposition is.”Recommend

  • Where is democracy?


    Dude I didn’t say that those who rejected Islam were bad, misinformed, unfair or have problems. I don’t object to anyone’s belief or anything else.

    And a fact for your enlightenment. Not a single Muslim, ever walked on this planet, can not be a Muslim until he/she believes that Islam is The Truth. I have no objection what you think or what not, but I know FOR SURE that what I believe is the truth and is bound to prevail, no matter what. But that is my belief. You are free to believe whatever. And last time I checked, this doesn’t contradict the concept of democracy, does it?


  • kaalchakra

    To help my Muslim friends think through the implication of such accusatory thinking: one of the most unpleasant aspects of learning about a gentleman called Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was seeing how readily and offensively he accused everyone who rejected his claims of talking to Allah everyday as being himself or herself a lier, an evil person, and much worse – if anyone actually argued with the man and called him a charlatan. Only xxxx would reject my claims – he would say.

    Our Muslim friends should avoid that similar tendency to personally defame anyone who does not believe Muhammad’s claims because the defamation game can easily be played against Muslims too. Best. Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Democracy Bhai

    So long as you allow that a person can be as good, intelligent, reasonable, and worthy of social intercourse with all as you and still may reject the claims of Muhammad and the Quran as totally unbelievable and uninteresting, that such a person may just think differently than you, you would indeed not violate the democratic spirit.

    Are we on the same page?Recommend

  • Where is democracy?


    You won’t understand. There is a famous verse in the Quran which implies that whom Allah guides, no one can misguide but whom he doesn’t, no one can guide him.

    All the intelligence, goodness etc does not matter. That is why we Muslims always pray Allah for guidance. But like I said, you realy won’t understand it.

    Lets pray that for ourselves and split. :-)Recommend

  • Katarina

    @mind control:
    So, marriage is a contract where the woman sell sex to the man and get money for her services? That is really a weird view on marriage.Recommend

  • leila rage

    @katarina: actually, i think mind control, was merely pointing out the statement made by ‘a wife’. I agree, it is an imbecilic view of marriage, but surprise, surprise, this is how tonnes of pakistanis think.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Where is democracy? How can one know Allah is guiding him/her? According to your statement, doing good does not matter, so why do good?.Do you think praying for guidance increases your chance of getting guidance from Allah?Recommend

  • Where is democracy?


    Yes I know that for sure. Praying for guidance increases guidance, provides opportunities of learning the truth, Islam. You won’t understand it because you have never experienced it. If I am a true Muslim spending life according to Prophetic (PBUH) teachings, I will be a good doer for sure (Unfortunately we are not that great Muslims because of our negligence).

    I think the point of the article is that if the Muslims aren’t doing good, or being unfair, or being negligent of the true teachings of Islam, then why everyone blames Islam? What is the ethics of discussions say? Know and learn about this first before you comment on them..

    Muslims are bad because they are not following (or understanding) the true spirit of the teachings of Muhammad (PBUH). This is, in no way, to be taken as if Islam is wrong and approves criminal stuff like honor killings, marital rape etc. There is no religion or concept more democratic than Islam. I know today, Muslims’ actions speak otherwise but that does not reflect Islam or Islamic Law.

    For example some people (including both Muslims & non-Muslims) have this idea that Islam is not progressive religion because of Muslims today. This is rubbish because all scientific advancement came from early Muslims. Now today if the Muslims are behind the non-Muslims in scientific knowledge does not mean that Islam stops them from learning. Here is the a good reference for this particular example.

  • Katarina

    @leila rage:
    Yes, I noticed the same when I had already hit the “Post comment” button. My apologies to “Mind Control”. Recommend

  • Asdf

    @Where is democracy?

    In the past it’s entirely possible that there might be a few muslims who were great scientists but they were great scientists despite Islam. And I don’t think you even understand what science is all about. Scientific temperament first and foremost requires being open minded and not have fixed faith and beliefs. In my opinion, the contribution of Islam was probably in the military technology and psychology (creating traditions of death punishment for apostasy and blasphemy, surprise attacks, rules on distributing and consuming war booty). Another contribution of Islam was probably in literature due to Arabic being a poetic language and it’s influence on persian and native sub continental languages. Islamic ideology (for that matter any religious orthodoxy) is against the scientific method and critical thinking.Recommend

  • Some random guy

    // Without connection, bringing religion into every human rights violation is moot. //

    The link doesn’t make any connections to Islam. What are you going on about. Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    “Where is democracy? Jan 28, 2012 – 5:02PM
    You won’t understand. There is a famous verse in the Quran which implies that whom Allah guides, no one can misguide but whom he doesn’t, no one can guide him.
    All the intelligence, goodness etc does not matter. That is why we Muslims always pray Allah for guidance. But like I said, you realy won’t understand it.
    Lets pray that for ourselves and split. :-) ”

    Democracy bhai, I understand Islam more, better, in greater width and greater depth than you ever will. So let’s not go there.

    FYI, (1) faith and understanding are two entirely separate things. You can have faith and no understanding and vice versa. (2) You can believe whatever you like, but don’t call your beliefs democratic, at least in the sense the word is used in common parlance.Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Democracy bhai’s comments to Vikram:

    “You won’t understand it because you have never experienced it.”

    Seemingly, democracy bhai tells that to any non-Muslim who does not agree with him.

    “all scientific advancement came from early Muslims”

    There is something rotten in Pakistani education. Such a statement may be ok on Islamist websites (where it may be mandatory). But on a progressive site, progressive Muslims must stand up to reject such foolishness. It is unfair to non-Muslims.Recommend

  • Maria

    JazakAllah, Farahnaz. :)Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Quran: “This is perfect religion in every aspect of life” Can you explain this with examples?
    Do you mean any one who follows Quran like Saudi arbians and talibans are perfect people?Recommend

  • Where is democracy?

    No, you are ignorantly wrong.
    Everything was done because Rasulullah (PBUH) said: “Pen of Scholar is mightier than the Sword” (Al-Bukhari). “Gain knowledge even if you have to travel to China for it” (I forgot the reference for this one) Here are a few examples:

    The Medicine was advanced and researched by Muslims because of this motivation from Prophet’s (PBUH) saying: “Allah has not created any disease without creating for it, its cure” (From Al-Bukhari) & “Yes, servants of Allah, seek medical treatment!” (From Al Tirmidhi).

    Astronomy was researched and advanced to study the movement of stars, the moon and the sun to figure out accurate prayer timings and to start and to finish Islamic months.

    And there are many others. Even the Europeans accept all this and have regards for everything. Indians have other problems with Muslims & Islam. We don’t expect them to be neutral & rational at all about Islam. They can’t judge anything about Islam with a preset hatred about it.Recommend

  • Where is democracy?


    The Faith and Understanding is not a separate thing. The day you will realize it, you will become a good Muslim insha-Allah :)

    Also I do not have the Pakistani education for some reason. And neither the article is from Pakistani textbooks or Media. It was written by Rasheed Al Rabbi, IT Specialist and PHD Student in George Mason University in Virginia, USA. Google it before outrightly denying me :P

    If you want to say that it is biased because Mr. Al Rabbi is a Muslim, feel free to google BBC Series naming “Science & Islam”. Its free and available on Youtube. Hope that will suffice your objections about “Pakistani rotten educational system”. The Science & Islam was produced by BBC with research from Surey University UK’s Nuclear Scientist & Physicist.

    Again, do some research before you start typing. Don’t let your hatred affect your neutrality. I know you are an educated person and know the rules of comparative analysis of conflicting information.Recommend

  • Where is democracy?


    I would have loved if you had given me a reference of this verse from the Quran. (@Quran is not any reference, I am afraid). But I am not denying it because Islam is, without any doubts and ambiguity, a perfect religion and its true and complete followers are the perfect humans.

    But still, I dont think Saudi Govt. or the Taliban, or any other Muslim government today follows “complete Quran & Sunnah”. (there are always many muslims who follow the Quran & Sunnah completely and truly, individually mash-Allah. May Allah make me, you and every human being like them, Ameen!)

    Rule of Thumb: When Muslims start obeying the teachings of Quran & Sunnah in “entirety” sincerely, yes that is the perfection. You can deny it but that doesn’t change the fact.

    Examples? Well read the Quran, you will find out for yourself (trust me, and I am serious) because it has examples in there. And I am not preaching here, being a student of higher education, I am suggesting you to read it as a book. You will find it interesting and answers to many curiosity & misconception about itself. Again, please don’t jump to abuse Islam without knowing nothing about it.Recommend

  • Where is democracy?


    You guys are awesome by the way :-)

    But I don’t think I will keep arguing with you forever. Because being a Muslim, I am not supposed to argue with you guys as my beloved Prophet (PBUH) taught us “don’t argue with them (the non Muslims) and say Salaam (Peace)”. Verily, Allah guides whomever He wishes and May Allah guide me, you and all! Ameen.


    (Please don’t abuse poor Pakistan because of me since I am not a Pakistani)Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    My awesome brother democracy bhai :)

    You are awesome too. That’s why I am going to explain the distinction between experience and understanding by giving two examples that will you will not like :)

    A prisoner experiences the prison. A social scientist who studies the entire justice system, understands the prison.

    A cancer patient experiences the cancer and may even delight in it. A student of medicine and of human body understands it.

    Go in peace, my brother. As a Muslim, you must stay away from unbelievers like us who don’t accept things on faith. :)Recommend