The Islamic State Isn’t Islamic

Islamic peaceThe Islamic State is not Islamic.

Neither was Afghanistan under the Taliban, even though its leaders said they were striving to build, “the perfect Islamic state.”

Many will be surprised to learn that the Quran has very little sexism and gave women many rights that most women in the world did not enjoy in the 7th century, when the Quran was written.

In fact, most of the sexism you find in the Middle East comes from culture, not scripture.

The Quran gives women the right to:

  • Work
  • Own and inherit property
  • Have protections from abuse
  • Marry with consent

The Quran abolishes:

  • Female infanticide
  • Slavery
  • A widow’s obligation to marry her husband’s brother

And, 99 lashes — not stoning — is prescribed for both women and men who have had sex outside of marriage.

A woman must veil herself?

The Quran asks both men and women to be modest. What’s considered “modest” varies from place to place. But the only thing scripture tells a woman to veil is her breasts (24: 30,31):

Tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms.

What does the Islamic State do?

But what does the Islamic State do? Or the “perfect Islamic state,” Taliban style?

One or the other — usually both — have gone against the Quran in these ways:

  • Women have been forbidden from taking jobs
  • Women and girls have been forced into marriage without their consent
  • Women and girls have been forced into slavery
  • Women have been stoned for sex outside of marriage
  • Women have been forced to veil nearly their entire bodies (and in this, the choice of women believers is removed)

Meanwhile, one of the most egalitarian and peace-loving places on the planet is Muslim West Jakarta.

The so-called “Islamic State” and the “perfect Islamic state” are terrorist organizations focused on amassing power. They are not believers following the Muslim religion.

So no, the Islamic State is not Islamic.

It’s not a state, either. But that’s a matter for a different post.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 30, 2015, in feminism, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I think one needs to be honest about religion, but doesn’t the punishment for fornication sound totalitarian and disturbing to you? I also disagree with your image equalling Islam to peace.

    • Where women are stoned I do think that it’s totally wrong, and even worse than totalitarianism — fortunately, the Quran does not sanction it. And while you are right, that if you read every word of the Quran, you will find pro-violence references, you can find the same thing in the Judeo/Christian scriptures. A religion, as it is lived, is how the adherents practice it. These days very few Muslims promote violence, Just as very few Christians and Jews do, either. And I believe in promoting the positives in any society rather than encouraging the negatives.

  2. Thank you very much for your clear explaination of the teachings of the Qur’an. As a Muslim, I totally agree. The Qur’an gives right to men and women not equality but justice. I cannot tell you how much I feel ashamed of what ISIS is doing, and how they recently killed the Jordanian pilot was a MUSLIM too. Indeed, they are just bunch of barberians who don’t know what Islam is about. It is very sad that still some people believe that what ISIS is doing to related to Islam. In conclusion, Islam respects all other religions and value Moses, Marry, and Jesus, as well as Muhammad. We are all about peace its just how people translate and explain things in their own favor. Thank you again for the great post I really do appreciate it.

    • You’re welcome. In probably every religious tradition you get people who use their religion as an excuse to try to gain power. If they didn’t have a religion they would find some other excuse, most likely.

  3. Haomeijie Liang

    I grew up in a country which adopted atheism decades ago. I was taught to love the government and the party which established the government since I entered school. The “history” of our country, especially recent centuries’ history, in our history class is all about the justification of why the party can established the government and why only the party is justified to own it. As I knew more about that history, I realized the history was written by human from their perspective. I do understand people who have religion. I don’t mean to challenge their faith. But I think people should know all the records or quotations of a divine were made by human. Moreover, all the interpretations are made by human as well in their own stands. Therefore, people should not obey any interpretations from others (from Taliban or even from your own religion).

  4. You say: ¨In fact, most of the sexism you find in the Middle East comes from culture, not scripture¨…. Your statement and the information you provide above make me think that the tendency to interpret the Coran is what defines its scope of action somehow…
    Same thing happens with terrorism, which is indeed a radical effect on reading scriptures in a certain way…. It is interesting that hermeneutics differs so much, moreover if we keep in mind how jihadists might read, don´t you think…
    Best wishes Georgia, Aquileana 😀

    • Just saying that there are some very clear statements in the Quaran that these guys manage to ignore — and interpret in the opposite way from what is actually said.

  5. Interesting post!
    I’ve been to the middle east a few times and I’ve found that many consider /culture/ to be Scripture. Often when I’ve inquired about certain religious beliefs for certain actions, the first response I’ve usually gotten from a local begins with “God…” which usually goes back to the ideal that Quran is indeed the prime source for this justification. On the other hand you have many conservative Americans claiming that Islam is not a religion of peace. Where am I going with this? Well, I think when it comes to a culture where implied religious indoctrination plays a key role, it’s important to have a /true/ teacher and reader of the Quran as its given and not as what may be implied.

    Sexism is a problem in the middle east and it has nothing to do with religion. Religion, specifically Islam is simply the “excuse” in which to enable this policies on to the population and that is inherently wrong. With that said, would education of the mass be key in overcoming this problem in the middle east?

    • I suspect that education would go along way toward improving things in the middle east. People tend to get attracted to terrorism when they have no hope. They are also more likely to be educated by terrorists when they don’t have good public education available.

  6. Great article l hope those liberal politicians who think that TALIBAN are school boys and not fanatic terrorists should have their head examined.

  7. As with Catholicism, it appears to be it is not the faith but the interpreters that do the suppressing and repressing.

    • Yeah. There is no sexism in any of the Gospels — the books covering Jesus’ life. Quite the opposite, in fact. (Paul does have a few choice words in his letters to various congregations that appeal to sexist people, but it goes against Jesus’s teachings. Makes more sense to go with Jesus than Paul!)

  8. Islam is not the same as the Quran. Don’t make them Protestant Christians where the bible is the only source of authority. You don’t get to decide what Islam is just because you read one of their holy texts.

    • The Quran is the only book recognized in Islam as being God’s unadulterated word. Everything else is some human’s commentary.

      Where there is a contradiction does it really make sense to go with a human over God?

      • Hmmm. Touchy issue.

        Does not your line of thinking imply that Orthodox Judaism is not Judaism?

        I agree with you that ISIL is really not Islam. But, for reasons other than the Holy Quran.

        Thanks for pointing out that one of the most peaceful and loving nations on earth is probably Indonesia which is 80% Muslim. One of my favorite countries in the world. Btw, what is so ironic about Indonesia is the women actually talk to the men, instead of regarding us as “strange” and “creepy.”

      • Is there something that orthodox Jews do that is contrary to the Bible?

      • “Is there something that orthodox Jews do that is contrary to the Bible?”

        You mean besides not believing in Jesus and the New Testament?

        Orthodox Judaism, much like Islam, imposes a lot of restrictions on the lives of women. For example, an Orthodox married Jewish women is not allowed to touch or speak to any man who is not related to her or her husband or her male child. A woman is considered unclean while on her period. The women do not shave any hair from their bodies. Hence, you rarely see any exposed flesh. Often they were very long dresses or skirts with socks. Long sleeves in 90 degree weather is common. In an Orthodox synagogue, men and women are physically separated with neither being able to see the other.

        These are just a few of the differences I am aware since I started studying Judaism four years ago. Great religion. Did you know that a woman has had the right to divorce under Judaism for thousands of years!?

        What is amazing to me is how Christianity and Islam, whose origin is rooted in Judaism, have very little regard for Judaism.

      • Yeah, on that last point I suppose it’s due to sibling rivalry — feeling some competition for one reason or another.

        Women could get a divorce, I suppose, but only men can initiate it in the Orthodox tradition. If the man is beating a woman and she wants a divorce, the community has to pressure the husband into initiating separation. At least that is the case among the ultra orthodox, and is law in Israel (Last I heard).

        On this and other points you make, I’m not clear whether these are simply traditional or actually points of law in the Bible.

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