Ghazzali is so highly revered amongst the majority of Muslim clerics that he is called Hojjatul Islam,” proof of Islam”. For many, his authority in religious matters is only second to the Prophet. In his The Revival of the Religious Sciences Ghazzali defines the position of women in Islam:
She should stay at home and get on with her spinning
She can go out only in emergencies.
She must not be well-informed nor must she be communicative with her neighbors and only visit them when absolutely necessary.
She should take care of her husband and respect him in his presence and his absence and seek to satisfy him in everything.
She must not leave her house without his permission and if given his permission she must leave secretly.
She should put on old clothes and take deserted streets and alleys, avoid markets, and make sure that a stranger does not hear her voice, her footsteps, smell her or recognize her.
She must not speak to a friend of her husband even in need.
Her sole worry should be her “al bud” (reproductive organs) her home as well as her prayers and her fast.
If a friend of her husband calls when her husband is absent she must not open the door nor reply to him in order to safeguard her “al bud”.
She should accept what her husband gives her as sufficient sexual needs at any moment.
She should be clean and ready to satisfy her husband’s sexual needs at any moment.
The great theologian then warns all men to be careful of women for their “guile is immense and their mischief is noxious; they are immoral and mean spirited”.
Ghazzali states “It is a fact that all the trials, misfortunes and woes which befall men come from women”.
In his Book of Counsel for Kings, Ghazzali sums up things that a woman has to endure because of Eve’s misbehavior in the Garden of Eden:
“When Eve ate fruit which He had forbidden to her from the tree in Paradise, the Lord, be He praised, cursed women with eighteen punishments:
separation from mother and father and marriage to a stranger;
not having control over her own person;
a lesser share in inheritance; (one half of the male as per the Quran)
her liability to be divorced and inability to divorce;
its being lawful for men to have four wives, but for a woman to have only one husband;
the fact that she must stay secluded in the house;
the fact that she must keep her head covered inside the house;
the fact that two women’s testimony has to be set against the testimony of one man;
the fact that she must not go out of the house unless accompanied by a near relative;
the fact that men take part in Friday and feast day prayers and funerals while women do not;
disqualification for ruler ship and judgeship;
the fact that merit has one thousand components, only one of which is attributable to women, while 999 are attributable to men;
the fact that if women are profligate they will be given twice as much torment as the rest of the community at the Resurrection Day;
- the fact that if their husbands die they must observe a waiting period of four months and ten days before remarrying;
“Marriage is a form of slavery” says Ghazzali. “The woman is man’s slave and her duty therefore is absolute obedience to the husband in all that he asks of her person. A woman, who at the moment of death enjoys the full approval of her husband, will find her place in Paradise.”
He also wrote: “If you relax the woman’s leash a tiny bit, she will take you and bolt wildly…. Their deception is awesome and their wickedness is contagious; bad character and feeble mind are their predominant traits …”
What about Jalalleddin Rumi? If Gazzali is great among the clerics, Rumi is the greatest lighthouse for all the Muslims. Rumi was a genius poet. But he was also a Muslim. Let us see what this genius Muslim thinks of women.
He narrates a story of an Arab couple, where the woman, tired of poverty, complains to her husband to get off his butts, do some work and improve their lives.
The husband rebukes her for her covetousness. He engages in a series of logical fallacies verbalizing Rumi’s own views about wealth and worldly possessions. He says wealth and poverty will pass just as floods come and go and what difference does it make whether the flood is clear water or muddy? In this world, he argues, all sorts of animals live in comfort praising their Lord without bothering to go after work. Possession is like hat, which is only needed by the bald. The wise man is like an eye. He can see better when it is naked and not covered by a veil. Only defects have to be covered. A man of God has no defects to cover. From mosquito to elephant, all creatures are provided by God. And we too must abandon all concerns and rely on God for our sustenance.
He then reminds his wife of the Prophet’s saying that there is glory in poverty, and threatens to divorce her
The wife, realizing that complaints don’t work and frightened of divorce, resorts to tricks. She sheds crocodile tears to fool her husband. Rumi says all tears shed by women are for deceiving men. She apologizes profusely and praises her husband’s kingly detachment. In these verses, the great sage masterfully depicts women as sly, cunning and manipulative creatures who can beguile the wisest of men.
Finally, through tears and blandishments she softens her husband’s heart and convinces him to do her bidding, which eventually leads him to become greedy and forget God.
Men subdued by women’s wiles.
In this manner she pleaded with gentle coaxing,
The while her tears fell upon her cheeks.
How could his firmness and endurance abide
When even without tears she could charm his heart?
That rain brought forth a flash of lightning
Which kindled a spark in the heart of that poor man.
Since the man was the slave of her fair face,
How was it when she stooped to slavish entreaties?
When she whose airs set thy heart a-quaking,
When she weeps, how feelest thou then?
When she whose coquetry makes thy heart bleed
Condescends to entreaties, how is it then?
She who subdues us with her pride and severity,
What plea is left us when she begins to plead?
When she who traded in naught but bloodshed
Submits at last, ah! what a profit she makes!
God has adorned them “fair in the sight of men;”
From her whom God has adorned how can man escape?
Since He created him “to dwell together with her,”
The greatest sage of the Muslim world, the biggest luminary that was ever born in Islam, is saying that men, though wise and strong, can be seduced and bested by women and swayed from the right path, (the path of laziness and poverty that leads to God) and can become her slave, go after worldly pursuits, (i.e., industry, production and wealth) and become deterred from God.
How can Adam sever himself from his Eve?
Though he be Rostam, son of Zal, and braver than Hamza,
Yet he is submissive to the behests of his dame.
Now listen to this greatest sage’s weltanschauung. Comparing man to water and woman to fire and says:
Though water prevails over fire in might,
Yet it boils by fire when in a pot.
When the pot intervenes between these two,
The fire makes as naught of the water reducing it to air.
On the surface you dominate you wife, like water on fire;
But in reality you are ruled by and suppliant to her.
Such is the peculiarity of man,
He is in need of animal affection; that is his failing.
The great sage is saying that despite man’s apparent superiority and dominance over woman, there is a weakness in him. He is ensnared by her beauty and is in need of animal affection. The love between a man and woman is not really love. That kind of elevated noble love can only happen in the sky, between man and his imaginary God. The love between a man and a woman is a shortcoming of our animal nature, which is detrimental, leading to our downfall.
The gist of Rumi’s story is condensed in a quote that he attributes to his prophet.
The Prophet said that women hold dominion
Over sages and over men of insight,
But that fools, again, hold the upper hand over women,
Because in them (women) there is animal nature.
Explanation: Women can seduce wise and pious men, with their beauty, charm and tricks and lead them astray, but because of their animal nature, fools have an upper hand over them.
Rumi then goes on to say that all good human qualities are in men. Women lack those qualities because they are animals.
They have no tenderness or gentleness or amity,
Because the animal nature sways their temperament.
Love and tenderness are qualities of humanity,
Passion and lust are qualities of animality.
It appears as if she is the light of God and not just a lover,
That she is the creator and not a creature herself.
All the lofty human attributes, such as tenderness, gentleness and amity belong to men. By virtue of not being humans, women are bereft of them. Rumi compares man to intellect and woman to to ego (nafs). And there is a permanent conflict between them. The woman’s only concerns are the necessities of this life, such as having a home, food, dignity and pride. Sometimes she appears modest and other times she is full of ambitions. But man that represents intellect is not aware of these petty and mundane thoughts. His only worry is the pain of separation from God.
Rumi is extremely important figure in Islam. He gave eloquence to the crude asinine thoughts of Muhammad. It is he who made Muhammad’s misogyny sound rational. Iranians would never have accepted this balderdash had it not been for Rumi’s great influence. Without him Islam, would probably have disappeared by now. Every “reasonable” Muslim (if such a creature exists) owes the justification of his faith to Rumi and how he interpreted the teachings of Muhammad.
There are two lessons in this story. One is that work that leads to wealth is bad and laziness and poverty are good, because wealth makes one forget God while poverty makes one constantly remember God. Doesn’t this explain why Muslims, particularly Arabs loath manual work? Love based on need is not love at all. But it seems that God does not care much. He wants people to be needy so they constantly remember him and pray to him. This is the mentality of the narcissist. Since Allah is the figment of the mind of Muhammad who was a narcissist, he is a narcissist too.
The other lesson is that women don’t have the spiritual acumen that men have. Their thoughts are mundane and this worldly. All they can think of is how to live better. They are greedy and a hindrance to man’s noble pursuit of the divine. They can deceive a pious man through tears and cajolery.
There is validation for all these claims in the Quran and the sayings of Muhammad. Muhammad said women are deficient in faith and in intelligence and natural born sinners.
These are the views of the two greatest Muslim luminaries. No other Muslim ever rose to their rank and knowledge. If this is how Ghazzali and Rumi thought of women, why should we expect anything better from ordinary Muslims?
Islam views women as awrah : The Encyclopedia of Islam defines awrah as pudendum, that is “the external genitals, especially of the female”. [Latin pudendum (literally) a thing to be ashamed of] The followers of Imam Hanbal and Shafi’I (major factions) consider even the woman’s hand and the face to be awrah (genitalia), and therefore should be covered.
Women in Islamic countries are treated no better than trash. For many, the only escape from a forced marriage or a violent husband is to set fire to themselves. This is their way to get the world’s attention. Alas no one is listening. For the benighted people, or rather the zombies of the world, it is more important to defend Islam, than to save the precious lives of these innocent souls. Most of these victims are very young. Islam is a lie. These lives are real. Where is your priority?
In Afghanistan, 60% of women are still forced into marriage as children, sometimes as young as nine or 10. As long as Muhammad is regarded as the most perfect human and someone to emulate these crimes will continue.