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Criticism of Islam

Criticism of Islam

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Criticism of Islam has existed since Islam's formative stages, as with many other religions, on philosophical, scientific, ethical, political and theological grounds. There are criticisms of both the fundamentals of Islam as a religion and of the cultural traditions and social norms associated with it.


[edit] History of criticism of Islam

The earliest records of criticism of Islam are found in early Islamic writings about criticism from pagan Arabs, and from Jewish inhabitants of Arabia.

The earliest surviving written criticisms of Islam are to be found in the writings of Christians who came under the early dominion of the Islamic empire. One such Christian was John of Damascus (born c. 676), who was familiar with Islam and Arabic. The second chapter of his book, The Fount of Wisdom, titled 'Concerning Heresies' presents a series of discussions between Christians and Muslims. John claimed a Nestorian monk influenced Muhammad.<ref name="John of Damascus1"> The Muslim World, Volume XLI (1951), pages 88-99, [1] </ref><ref name="John of Damascus2"> De Haeresibus by John of Damascus. See Migne. Patrologia Graeca, vol. 94, 1864, cols 763-73. An English translation by the Reverend John W Voorhis appeared in THE MOSLEM WORLD for October 1954, pp. 392-398. </ref>

Over the years there have been several famous Muslim critics and skeptics of Islam from within the Islamic world itself. In tenth and eleventh-century Syria there lived a blind poet called Al-Ma'arri. According to Ibn Warraq, he became well-known for a poetry that was affected by a "pervasive pessimism." He labeled religions in general as "noxious weeds," and said that Islam does not have a monopoly on truth. He had particular contempt for the ulema, writing that:


Some medieval ecclesiastical writers portrayed Muhammad as possessed by Satan, a "precursor of the Antichrist" or the Antichrist himself.<ref name="Oussani"> Mohammed and Mohammedanism, by Gabriel Oussani, Catholic Encyclopedia, retrieved April 16, 2006</ref>

Maimonides, one of the foremost rabbinical arbiters and philosophers in Jewish history, sees the relation of Islam to Judaism as primarily theoretical. Maimonides has no quarrel with the strict monotheism of Islam, but finds fault with the practical politics of Muslim regimes. He also considered Islamic ethics and politics to be inferior to their Jewish counterparts. Maimonides criticised what he perceived as the lack of virtue in the way Muslims rule their societies and relate to one another.<ref> The Mind of Maimonides, by David Novak, retrieved April 29, 2006 </ref>

[edit] Modern criticism of Islam

Modern criticism of Islam comes in many varieties and from various corners. The most notable of recent criticisms include those expressed by political and religious leaders, and by official institutions.

Such notable critics include personalities such as Evangelical leader Pat Robertson, who expresses the view that "Islam wants to take over the world and is not a religion of peace, and that radical Muslims are "satanic", and that Osama Bin Laden was a "true follower of Muhammad".<ref>"Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson calls radical Muslims 'satanic'", Associated Press, 2006-03-14. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.</ref><ref>"Top US evangelist targets Islam", BBC News, 2006-03-14. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.</ref> Jerry Falwell, another popular American conservative Baptist minister, characterized the prophet Muhammad as being a 'terrorist'.<ref>"Jerry Falwell calls Islam's Prophet a "Terrorist"", Associated Press. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.</ref> Franklin Graham described Islam as an 'evil and wicked religion' and suggested that those who believed Islam to be "wonderful" should "go and live under the Taliban somewhere".<ref>"Franklin Graham: Islam Still Evil", Associated Press, 2006-03-16. Retrieved on 2006-07-21.</ref>

Many critics are non-Muslim scholars or authors who are outspoken in their views. The members of this group include Oriana Fallaci, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer and Bat Ye'or. Robert Spencer is especially vocal, having written many books, one titled The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats Non-Muslims.<ref>Alyssa A. Lappen, "Review: The Myth of Islamic Tolerance: How Islamic Law Treats non-Muslims",, April 11, 2005.</ref> Bat Ye'or has studied the phenomenon of dhimma in detail, and stresses "the incompatibility between the concept of tolerance as expressed by the jihad-dhimmitude ideology, and the concept of human rights based on the equality of all human beings and the inalienability of their rights."<ref>Rod Dreher, Damned If You Do: Historians dare to criticize Islamic dhimmitude at Georgetown and pay a price, National Review Online</ref> Sam Harris, author of the bestseller The End of Faith, is skeptical that moderate Islam is even possible, arguing that Muslim extremism is a consequence simply of taking the Qur'an literally.<ref>Harris, Sam (2005). The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. W. W. Norton; Reprint edition, 31. ISBN 0-393-32765-5.</ref> Nobel prize winner V. S. Naipaul, a Trinidadian-born British novelist of Hindu heritage, has sowed controversy with his criticism of Islam. He claims it has had a "calamitous effect on converted peoples", destroying their ancestral culture and history.<ref>Gibbons, Fiachra. "VS Naipaul launches attack on Islam", The Guardian, October 4, 2001.</ref> The Italian journalist and novelist Oriana Fallaci has written three short books since the events of September the 11th advancing the argument that "Western world is in danger of being engulfed by radical Islam". Two of them, The Rage and the Pride and The Force of Reason have been translated into English by Fallaci.<ref>"THE AGITATOR: Oriana Fallaci directs her fury toward Islam.", The Newyorker, May 29, 2005.</ref>

There are also outspoken former Muslims who believe that Islam is the primary cause for what they see as the mistreatment of minority groups in Muslim countries and communities. Almost all (if not all) of them now live in the West, many under assumed names because of a perceived danger to themselves. Such people include Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, and Ali Sina. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has focused on the plight of Muslim women, saying that "they aspire to live by their faith as best they can, but their faith robs them of their rights."<ref>Ayaan Hirsi Ali, "Unfree Under Islam", The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2005, [2]</ref>

Several scholars do not self-identify as critics of Islam but are not afraid to criticise some of its aspects. Bernard Lewis is perhaps the most well-known member of this group. For example, he holds that unbelievers, slaves, and women are considered fundamentally inferior to other groups of people under Islamic law though he holds that even the equality of free adult male Muslims represented a very considerable advance on the practice of both the Greco-Roman and the ancient Iranian world.<ref>Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong?, p. 67, 2003, Harper Perennial, ISBN 0-06-051605-4</ref><ref>Lewis, Bernard. "Islamic Revolution", The New York Review of Books, January 21, 1998.</ref>

[edit] Responses to criticisms

Responses come from both Muslim and some non-Muslim scholars and writers.

Responses from Modern non-Muslims scholars

Such non-Muslim scholars include William Montgomery Watt, John Esposito and Karen Armstrong and the late Edward Said, who sharply criticized Western scholarship of the East. Watt, for example, in his book Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman addresses Muhammad’s alleged moral failures. He claims that “Of all the world's great men none has been so much maligned as Muhammad.” Watt argues that Muhammad should be judged by the standards of his own time and country rather than "by those of the most enlightened opinion in the West today."<ref name="Watt">Watt, W. Montgomery (1961). Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman. Oxford University Press, 229. ISBN 0-19-881078-4. </ref> Karen Armstrong, tracing what she believes to be the West's long history of hostility toward Islam, finds in Muhammad’s teachings a theology of peace and tolerance. Armstrong holds that the "holy war" urged by the Qur'an alludes to each Muslim's duty to fight for a just, decent society.<ref>Armstrong, Karen (1993). Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. HarperSanFrancisco, 165. ISBN 0-06-250886-5.</ref>

John Esposito has written many introductory texts on Islam and the Islamic world. For example, he has addressed issues like the rise of militant Islam, the veiling of women, and democracy.<ref>Esposito, John L. (2002). What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515713-3.</ref><ref>Esposito, John L. (2003). Unholy War : Terror in the Name of Islam. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516886-0.</ref> Esposito emphatically argues against what he calls the "pan-Islamic myth". He thinks that "too often coverage of Islam and the Muslim world assumes the existence of a monolithic Islam in which all Muslims are the same." To him, such a view is naive and unjustifiably obscures important divisions and differences in the Muslims world.<ref>Esposito, John L. (1999). The Islamic Threat : Myth or Reality?. Oxford University Press, 225-228. ISBN 0-19-513076-6.</ref>

Responses from modern Muslims scholars

Responses from Muslims have come from many Muslim writers, scholars and comparative religionists such as Ahmad Deedat, Osama Abdallah, Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Gary Miller. Within the academia, responses have come from scholars such as Michael Sells, Muqtedar Khan.

[edit] Objections to the methods used by critics

Edward Said, in his essay Islam Through Western Eyes, stated that the general basis of Orientalist thought forms a study structure in which Islam is placed in an inferior position as an object of study. He claims the existence of a very considerable bias in Orientalist writings as a consequence of the scholars' cultural make-up. He claims Islam has been looked at with a particular hostility and fear due to many obvious religious, psychological and political reasons, all deriving from a sense "that so far as the West is concerned, Islam represents not only a formidable competitor but also a late-coming challenge to Christianity."<ref>Edward W. Said, Islam Through Western Eyes, The Nation, January 1, 1998</ref> Montgomery Watt agrees with West's historical denigration of Islam but states that the situation has become much better during the last two centuries though many of the old prejudices still linger on. Watt encourages both Muslims and Europeans to reach to an objective view of Muhammad and his religion.<ref name="Watt1"> Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman, London, Oxford University Press, 1961, p. 108, ISBN 0-19-881078-4, [3] </ref>

[edit] Intolerance of Islam to criticism

Islam is frequently criticised as being intolerant of and suppressive of criticism, and especially of apostasy. Ibn Warraq has collected and published stories of the reported mistreatment of Muslim apostates at the hands of Islamic authorities.<ref>Bostom, Andrew. "Islamic Apostates' Tales - A Review of Leaving Islam by Ibn Warraq", FrontPageMag, July 21, 2003.</ref>

Image:Rechtsgutachten betr Apostasie im Islam.jpg
Decision of a Fatwa committee on the case of a convert to Christianity: "Since he left Islam, he will be invited to express his regret. If he does not regret, he will be killed pertaining to rights and obligations of the Islamic law."

[edit] Apostasy in Islamic law

Main article: Apostasy in Islam

Bernard Lewis summarizes:

The penalty for apostasy, in Islamic law, is death. Islam is conceived as a polity, not just as a religious community. It follows therefore that apostasy is treason. It is a withdrawal, a denial of allegiance as well as of religious belief and loyalty. Any sustained and principled opposition to the existing regime or order almost inevitably involves such a withdrawal.<ref>Lewis, Bernard. "Islamic Revolution", The New York Review of Books, January 21, 1998.</ref>

However, the question of the correct penalties to be imposed under Islamic law for apostasy is a highly controversial topic that has been passionately debated. There are widely-held exceptions to the death penalty punishment, and a minority of Islamic scholars advocate a lesser penalty altogether. In general, though, the four Sunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence, as well as Shi'a scholars, agree that a sane adult male apostate must be executed. A female apostate may be put to death, according to the majority view, or imprisoned until she repents, according to others.<ref> "Murtadd". Encyclopaedia of Islam. (2003).</ref>

Some contemporary Islamic jurists from both the Sunni and Shi'a denominations together with Qur'an only Muslims have argued or issued fatwas that state that either the changing of religion is not punishable or is only punishable under restricted circumstances.<ref>Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri: "Not Every Conversion is Apostasy", by Mahdi Jami, In Persian, BBC Persian, February 2, 2005, retrieved April 25, 2006</ref><ref> What Islam says on religious freedom, by By Magdi Abdelhadi, BBC Arab affairs analyst, 27 March 2006, retrieved April 25, 2006 </ref><ref> Fatwa on Intellectual Apostasy, Text of the fatwa by Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi </ref><ref> S. A. Rahman in "Punishment of Apostasy in Islam", Institute of Islamic Culture, Lahore, l972, pp. 10-13 </ref><ref>The punishment of apostasy in Islam, View of Dr. Ahmad Shafaat on apostasy.</ref><ref>Religious, Apostasy (Irtdidad) In Islam, by B.A. Robinson, Religious, April 7, 2006, retrieved April 16, 2006.</ref><ref> Is Apostasy a Capital Crime in Islam?, Jamal Badawi </ref><ref> No Punishment, If No Harm, Sheikh `Abdul-Majeed Subh</ref> For example, Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri argues that no Qur'anic verse prescribes an earthly penalty for apostasy and adds that it is not improbable that the punishment was prescribed by Muhammad at early Islam due to political conspiracies against Islam and Muslims and not only because of changing the belief or expressing it. Montazeri defines different types of apostasy. He does not hold that a reversion of belief because of investigation and research is punishable by death but prescribes capital punishment for a desertion of Islam out of malice and enmity towards the Muslim community.<ref>Ayatollah Montazeri: "Not Every Conversion is Apostasy", by Mahdi Jami, In Persian, BBC Persian, February 2, 2005, retrieved April 25, 2006</ref> However, these minority opinions regarding punishment for apostasy have not found broad acceptance among their peers in the ulema.

Image:Abdul Rahman with Bible.jpg
Abdul Rahman, an Afghan convert to Christianity who made international headlines when he was arrested and threatened with execution. Kabul, March 23, 2006

William Montgomery Watt, in an interview in response to a question about western's view of the Islamic Law as being cruel, states that "similar punishments are found in the Old Testament... In Islamic teaching, such penalties may have been suitable for the age in which Muhammad lived. However, as societies have since progressed and become more peaceful and ordered, they are not suitable any longer."<ref> Interview: William Montgomery Watt, by Bashir Maan & Alastair McIntosh </ref>

[edit] Modern treatment of accused apostates

Today, many Muslim countries make apostasy from Islam a crime punishable by death, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, and Yemen. Other Muslim countries specify lesser punishments.<ref>Shea, Nina. "Statement of Nina Shea before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus", Center for Religious Freedom, April 7, 2006.</ref>

The recent case of Afghan Abdul Rahman has achieved particular notoriety. In early 2006, Rahman was arrested and held by Afghan authorities on charges that he converted from Islam to Christianity, a capital offense in Afghanistan. Many Muslim clerics in the country pushed for a death sentence, but after international pressure (including a public statement by U.S. Secretary of State at the time Condoleezza Rice) he was released and secretly given asylum in Italy.<ref>Coghlan, Tom. "Afghan Christian convert is released", CNN, March 28, 2006.</ref><ref>"The Troubled Odyssey of Abdul Rahman", Der Spiegel, April 3, 2006.</ref>

In 1993, an Egyptian professor named Nasr Abu Zayd was divorced from his wife by an Egyptian court run by Islamic radicals on the grounds that his controversial writings about the Qur'an demonstrated his apostasy. He subsequently fled to Europe with his wife.<ref> "Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd". Encyclopaedia Britannica Concise. (2006).</ref> Another Egyptian professor, Farag Fuda, was killed in 1992 by masked men after criticising Muslim fundamentalists and announcing plans to form a new movement for Egyptians of all religions.<ref>"Foe of Fundamentalists Shot to Death in Egypt", The New York Times, June 10, 1992.</ref>

[edit] Modern treatment of critics

German professor Christoph Luxenberg feels compelled to work under a pseudonym to protect himself because of fears that a new book on the origins of the Qur'an may make him a target for violence.<ref>Heneghan, Tom. "Low profile for German Koran challenger", SwissInfo, Reuters, November 11, 2004.</ref> Hashem Aghajari, an Iranian university professor, was initially sentenced to death because of a speech that criticised some of the present Islamic practices in Iran being in contradiction with the original practices and ideology of Islam, and particularly for stating that Muslims were not "monkeys" and "should not blindly follow" the clerics. The sentence was later commuted to three years in jail, and he was released in 2004 after serving two years of that sentence.<ref>"Profile: Hashem Aghajari", BBC News, July 9, 2003.</ref><ref>"Iran Frees Professor Set to Die for Speech", The New York Times, August 1, 2004.</ref><ref>"From monkey to man: A call for Islamic Protestantism", The Iranian, December 4, 2002.</ref>

In recent times fatwas calling for execution have been issued against author Salman Rushdie and activist Taslima Nasreen.<ref>Davis, Thulani. "Taslima Nasrin Speaks (Still)", The Village Voice, November 13-19, 2002.</ref>

On September 19 2006 French writer and philosophy teacher Robert Redeker wrote an editorial for Le Figaro, a French conservative newspaper, in which he attacked Islam and Muhammad, writing: "Pitiless war leader, pillager, butcher of Jews and polygamous, this is how Mohammed is revealed by the Qur'an"; he received death threats and went into hiding.<ref>Arnold, Martin. "Teacher in hiding after attacking Islam", Financial Times, 2006-09-29. Retrieved on 2006-10-17.</ref>

See also Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy

[edit] Muhammad

Main article: Criticism of Muhammad
See also: Aisha's age at marriage

Muslims consider Muhammad to be the final and greatest prophet, the messenger of the final revelation that he called the Qur’an. Muslims believe that Muhammad was righteous and holy. However, some scholars such as Koelle and Ibn Warraq, as well as some other non-Muslims, see some of his actions as very immoral.<ref name="Oussani"/><ref> Ibn Warraq, The Quest for Historical Muhammad (Amherst, Mass.:Prometheus, 2000), 103. </ref> Islamic scholars, such as William Montgomery Watt disagree, especially when a comparison is made between Muhammad and Biblical prophets. Watt, for example, argues that Muhammad should be judged by the standards of his own time and country rather than "by those of the most enlightened opinion in the West today." Muslims have also questioned the historical evidence for some of Muhammad's alleged immoral acts.

[edit] The Qur'an

It is a central tenet of Islam that the Qur'an is perfect, so criticism of the Qur'an is criticism of Islam. The two general categories for this consist of criticism of the claim of divine origin of the Qur'an, and criticism of the morality of the Qur'an.

Here are the main arguments of the critics:

  • The transcendence of Allah means that He is not bound by reason, and therefore unreasonable things can be done to glorify him.<ref>[4]</ref>
  • The origins of the Qur'an: Muhammad, according to tradition, recited perfectly what the angel Gabriel revealed to him for his companions to write down and memorize; non-Muslims state that Muhammad had made it by himself.
  • The science of the Qur'an: Many critics of Islam describe the existence of scientific errors in the Qur'an, endeavoring to prove that the Qur'an is not compatible with contemporary scientific views, and therefore is not of divine origin.".<ref>[5]</ref><ref>[6]</ref>
  • Contradictions in the quran; Many critics of Islam believe there are contradictions in the quran, endevoring to prove that because of them, the quran therefore cannot be of devine orgin.
  • Satanic Verses: The Qur'an says that nor did Muhammad say anything from himself and neither did Satin's interfere. But some early Islamic histories recount how Satan fooled Muhammad into adding two lines to Sura 53 of the Qur'an, lines that implore followers to hope for intercession by three pagan goddesses. These histories then say that these 'Satanic Verses' were shortly afterward repudiated by Muhammad at the behest of the angel Gabriel. The authenticity of this narration is disputed. Fischer and Abedi state that the story is rejected by almost all Muslim exegete's. Ibn Kathir in his commentary points out the weakness of the various Isnad by which the story was transmitted, almost all of them mursal—i.e., without a companion of Muhammad in their chain. Some non-Muslim scholars, such as William Montgomery Watt, suppose it's true, while others (such as J. Burton) believe the story is a forgery.<ref>"The Life of Muhammad", Ibn Ishaq, A. Guillaume (translator), 2002, p.166 ISBN 0-19-636033-1</ref><ref name="Watt">Watt, W. Montgomery (1961). Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman. Oxford University Press, 61. ISBN 0-19-881078-4. </ref>
  • Domestic behavior: The domestic behavior encouraged in the Qur'an, particularly the treatment of women in Islam, has been criticized regarding the ethics of the statements.<ref> "The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary", Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Amana Corporation, Brentwood, MD, 1989. ISBN 0-915957-03-5, passage was quoted from commentary on 4:34 </ref><ref> Kathir, Ibn, “Tafsir of Ibn Kathir”, Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2000, 50-53 </ref>
In response to the criticism regarding jihad and the Qur'an's alleged promotion of violence, some Muslims argue that the real purpose of armed jihad is to remove injustice and aggression.<ref>[8]</ref>
  • Slavery: A specific type of slavery is a permitted institution according to the Qur'an under definite rules. <ref>Robert Spencer, "Islam Unveiled", p. 63, 2003, Encounter Books, ISBN 1-893554-77-5</ref>

[edit] Other criticism

[edit] Human rights issues

Human-rights violations by adherents of Islam

See Historical persecution by Muslims.

Discrepancy between Islam and the UN Declaration of Human Rights

Predominantly Muslim countries, like Sudan, Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, frequently criticized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for its perceived failure to take into account the cultural and religious context of non-Western countries. In 1981, the Iranian representative to the United Nations, Said Rajaie-Khorassani, articulated the position of his country regarding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by saying that the UDHR was "a secular understanding of the Judeo-Christian tradition", which could not be implemented by Muslims without trespassing the Islamic law.<ref name="Littman1999">Littman, David. "Universal Human Rights and 'Human Rights in Islam'". Midstream, February/March 1999</ref>

In 1990 the Organization of Islamic Conference published a separate Cairo Declaration of Human Rights compliant with Shari'ah.<ref>The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, Adopted and Issued at the Nineteenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers in Cairo, Religion and Law Research Consortium, August 5, 1990, retrieved April 16, 2006</ref> A group called Article 11 is protesting for religious rights in Malaysia and has been attacked by mobs of Muslim counter-demonstrators.<ref>[9]</ref>

Ayatollah Sanei believes that the Islamic and the UN Declaration of Human Rights are approximately close to each other. The discrepancy is their sources. The source of one is divine revelation and the source of the other is the God-given human conscience.<ref> interview with Grand ayatollah Yousef Sanei, roozonline news </ref>

In full contradiction with this point of view, official European sources have ruled that the difference is not just in the sources, but in the basic tenets. See the reperated condemnations by the European Court for Human Rights of the Sharia as incompatible with democracy.

[edit] Discrimination against women and non-Muslims

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See also: Sex segregation in Islam

Critics argue that in Islam women have fewer rights than men and that non-Muslims under the dhimmi system have fewer rights than Muslims. Muslims argue that men are the protectors of women (Qur'an 4:34) and that Kafirs must return the favor<ref>The Poll tax(Jizya),, retrieved March 31, 2006</ref> of the protection given by an Islamic state (non-Muslims are exempt from military service for the state). Non-Muslims also have certain privileges in Muslim countries; for example, they may be permitted to drink alcohol, although it would be illegal for Muslims to do so, and are also not required to pay the alms tax (Zakah) that Muslims are required to pay in a Muslim state. Alternatively, non-Muslims are required to pay Jizya which is the equivalent of Zakah for non-Muslims. (See also Islam and other religions).

According to Freedom House [10], Saudi Arabia relegates women to second-class citizenship. "Women are not treated as equal members of society. They may not legally drive cars, and their use of public facilities is restricted when men are present. ...Laws discriminate against women in a range of matters including family law, and a woman's testimony is treated as inferior to a man's in court." [11]

Some Islamic scholars justify the different religious laws for men and women by referring to the biological and sociological differences between men and women. For example, regarding the inheritance law which states that women’s share of inheritance is half that of men, Grand Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi quotes the Imam Ali ibn Musa Al-reza who reasons that at the time of marriage man has to pay something to woman and woman receives something, and that men are responsible for both their wives' and their own expenses but women have no responsibility thereof.<ref> Grand Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi, Tafsir Nemoneh, on verse 4:12 </ref> Muslims reject the assertion that different laws prescribed for men and women imply that men are more valuable than women, arguing that the only criterion of value before God is piety. Part of the verse (3:36) that literally reads as “the male is not like the female” is usually used to show that the value of the female is greater than or at least equal to the value of the male. (The text is not clear as to whether this quote is supposed to be from God or from the mother of Mary, but the meaning of the phrase is clear in its context.) [citation needed]

According to Professor Doumato, in Islamic thought, women are held responsible for sexual temptation. She writes "Specific Quranic verses enjoin modesty upon women and, to a lesser degree, upon men; and women are viewed as being responsible for sexual temptation (fitna)."<ref>Eleanor Abdella Doumato, in Helen Chapin Metz (ed.), Saudi Arabia : a country study (Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1993), Ch. 2. (This source might also be found at )</ref>

Critics have used the derogatory terms "gender apartheid" to refer to "sexual discrimination, particularly strict gender-based segregation [12] in some Muslim countries where women are segregated on the basis of sex from men in public and do not enjoy legal equality or equal access to employment or education." The terms "Islamic apartheid" and "Muslim apartheid" have been used to highlight alleged discrimination by both religion and gender.<ref> Minette Marrin of The Sunday Times (United Kingdom) uses "Muslim Apartheid" to refer to voluntary self-segregation by Muslim communities in Europe, and corresponding unwillingness to integrate into the surrounding community. [13]

Prominent feminist author Phyllis Chesler [14] uses the term "Islamic Apartheid" to refer to apartheid-like practices in Islamic cultures.

Marina Mahathir, the daughter of Malaysian premier Mahathir Mohamad, uses "Muslim Apartheid" in the context of the treatment of women in Malaysia and compares it to South African apartheid. ""You have two sets of laws for citizens of the same country, one is more disadvantageous than the other. To me, this is like the situation in (old apartheid) South Africa," the 48-year-old Muslim said in her office in a posh Kuala Lumpur suburb." Malaysia's Muslim Professionals Forum and PAS (Muslim political party) have expressed objections to Ms. Mahathir's position. [15]

Sudheendra Kulkarni of India's Sunday Express describes "religious and cultural apartheid" in which "Some are even calling for the areas where Muslims form a majority of the population to be reorganised on the ‘millat’ system of the Ottoman Empire, where they would enjoy the right to organise their social, cultural and educational life in accordance with Shariah. In parts of France, a de facto millat system is already in place.’’ As the French premier admitted, even the police could not enter these ‘‘seceded’’ parts." [16]

Colbert I. King (Washington Post) uses "Saudi Arabian Apartheid" to describe the enforcement of gender apartheid under Saudi Arabia's Islamic-based laws. [17] The Guardian Unlimited (United Kingdom) adds, "In the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, sexual apartheid rules." [18]</ref>

The term "gender apartheid" has also been used by Phyllis Chesler [19]. Per Chesler's article,

"In a democratic, modern, and feminist era, women in the Islamic world are not treated as human beings. Women in Iran and elsewhere in the Islamic world are viewed as the source of all evil. Their every move is brutally monitored and curtailed. The smallest infraction – a wanton wisp of hair escaping a headscarf – merits maximum punishment: Flogging in public, or worse. This is happening in Iran even as we speak. In 2005, a hospital in Tehran was accused of refusing entry to women who did not wear head-to-toe covering. In 2002, in Saudi Arabia, religious policemen prevented 14 year old schoolgirls from leaving a burning school building because they were not wearing their headscarves and abayahs. Fifteen girls died."

[edit] Reliability of hadith

Main article: Hadith

Hadith are Muslim traditions relating to the Sunna (words and deeds) of Muhammad. In general, for Muslims the hadith are second only to the Qur'an in importance,<ref>Ernst, Carl (2002). Following Muhammad : Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World. The University of North Carolina Press, 80. ISBN 0-8078-2837-8.</ref> although some scholars put more emphasis on the perpetual adherence of Muslim nation to the traditions to give them credibility, and not solely on hadith.<ref>Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, Mizan, Chapter: Sources of Islam, Al-Mawrid Institute</ref> However, there are groups and individuals both inside and outside Islam who criticize the reliability of hadith or its use in general.

John Esposito notes that "Modern Western scholarship has seriously questioned the historicity and authenticity of the hadith, maintaining that the bulk of traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad were actually written much later." He mentions Joseph Schacht as one scholar who argues this, claiming that Schacht "found no evidence of legal traditions before 722," from which Schacht concluded that "the Sunna of the Prophet is not the words and deeds of the Prophet, but apocryphal material" dating from later.<ref>Esposito, John (1998). Islam: The Straight Path. Oxford University Press, 67. ISBN 0-19-511234-2.</ref>

Other Western scholars, like Wilferd Madelung, are more confident in the reliability of Islamic traditions, rejecting the stance of some historians who show an "extreme distrust" for "Muslim literary sources for the early age of Islam". Madelung wrote in the preface of his book The Succession to Muhammad:


Within Islam, different schools and sects have different opinions on the proper selection and use of hadith. The four schools of Sunni Islam all consider hadith second only to the Qur'an, although they differ on how much freedom of interpretation should be allowed to legal scholars.<ref>Goddard, Hugh, Helen K. Bond (Ed.), Seth Daniel Kunin (Ed.), Francesca Aran Murphy (Ed.) (2003). Religious Studies and Theology: An Introduction. New York University Press, 204. ISBN 0-8147-9914-0.</ref> Shi'i scholars disagree with Sunni scholars as to which hadith should be considered reliable. The Shi'as accept the Sunna of Ali and the Imams as authoritative in addition to the Sunna of Muhammad, and as a consequence they maintain their own, different, collections of hadith.<ref>Esposito, John (1998). Islam: The Straight Path. Oxford University Press, 85. ISBN 0-19-511234-2.</ref>

On the extreme end, there have been Muslims who deny the authority of the hadith completely or almost completely (manifestations of which have sometimes been termed the Quran-only movement). Early in Islamic history there was a school of thought that adhered to this view, but it receded in importance after coming under criticism by al-Shafi'i. Daniel Brown describes a modern anti-hadith movement that reached its peak in the 1950's and 1960's, but is now in decline.<ref>Brown, Daniel (1999). Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought. Cambridge University Press, 17. ISBN 0-521-65394-0.</ref> The Submitters movement today holds to a Quran-only view,<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> although they are considered heretical by more traditionalist Muslims.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Rise of fatwas

Many critics are concerned about the rise in fatwas from Islamic leaders. Some fatwas are simple declarations about lifestyle choices and others, such as Osama bin Laden's declaration of war against America, are a call to violence or assassination. Some critics of fatwas are shocked by a recent call to destroy ancient Egyptian statues and artifacts. [20]

[edit] War and violence

Many muslims believe Islam is a religion of peace, and that Islamic extremist terrorism is political terrorism or the actions of a few extremists. Many critics of Islam, and some Islamic fascists believe that violence is Islamic, and that Islamic extremist terrorism is religious terrorism or true islam.

[edit] Lesser Jihad vs Greater Jihad

Khaleel Muhammad, Professor of Religious studies at San Diego State University, stresses that armed jihad is only one of the five kinds of jihad (see Jihad).<ref> Khaleel Muhammad, professor of religious studies at San Diego State University regarding his discussion with the critic Robert Spencer states that "when I am told ... that Jihad only means war, or that I have to accept interpretations of the Quran that non-Muslims (with no good intentions or knowledge of Islam) seek to force upon me, I see a certain agendum developing: one that is based on hate, and I refuse to be part of such an intellectual crime." </ref> Karen Armstrong in her book "Muhammad," writes that:

Fighting and warfare might sometimes be necessary, but it was only a minor part of the whole jihad or struggle. A well-known tradition (hadith) has Muhammad say on returning from a battle, 'We return from the little jihad to the greater jihad,' the more difficult and crucial effort to conquer the forces of evil in oneself and in one's own society in all the details of daily life.<ref>The concept of Jihad ("struggle") in Islam, by B.A. Robinson, Religious, March 28, 2003, retrieved April 16, 2006 </ref>

In response, critics refer to some Islamic commentators, such as Hanbali scholar Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya and Abu Fadl, who have analyzed the hadith and believe it is a forgery. The latter states that:

This hadith has no source, nobody whomsoever in the field of Islamic Knowledge has narrated it. Jihad against the disbelievers is the most noble of actions, and moreover it is the most important action for the sake of mankind... the evidence used as proof or the basis for establishing that Jihad against disbelievers on the battlefield is Jihad Asghar [lesser jihad] and Jihad against the desires and Shaitaan [Satan, the devil] is Jihad Akbar [greater jihad], are weak if not false Hadith."<ref>Jihad in the Hadith, Peace with Realism, April 16, 2006</ref>

However, the above quotation attributed to Muhammad has been very influential in some Muslim communities, particularly Sufis.<ref> The internal Jihad, BBC, religion and ethics </ref> To this day, most Muslims believe that the non-violent jihad is the "greater jihad" and the violent jihad is the "lesser jihad".<ref> The Concept and Practice of Jihad in Islam, by Michael G. Knapp </ref> Sunni scholars consider a number of hadith supporting non-violent jihad to be authentic.<ref>Jihad al-Nafs: Striving for Self-Perfection, Sidi Gibril Haddad, Sunni Path, retrieved April 16, 2006</ref>

[edit] See also

[edit] Topics regarding Islam and controversy

[edit] Criticism of other beliefs

[edit] Further reading

[edit] References

<references />

[edit] External links

[edit] Christian academic sources

[edit] Jewish academic sources

[edit] Directories of sites critical of Islam

[edit] Muslim responses to criticism

ca:Crítica envers l'islam

de:Islamkritik fr:Critique de l'islam nl:Kritiek op de islam fi:Islamin kritiikki

Criticism of Islam

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