Don’t Reject Your Culture, Even When It Mutilates You
With recent new good news, I’m updating a past post and expressing my thanks, first, that only a very small part of the world lives under the Taliban, and second, that a young girl now has a new nose.
The August 9, 2010 cover of Time shocked the world as an 18 year old Afghani named Aisha gazed from behind her mutilated nose. Punishment for running away from home. Aisha had run away because she feared she would die from her in-laws’ abuse.
Eventually discovered, a Taliban-run court ordered her nose and ears be cut off, declaring she must be made an example. This was effectively a death sentence, since it was assumed she would bleed to death.
A death sentence? For running away? From people who might kill you?
Her husband took her to a mountain clearing where he slashed Aisha and left her to die.
Yet she lived. After passing out from pain, she eventually awoke, choking on her own blood. Then Aisha summoned her strength and crawled to her grandfather’s house. Fortunately, her father managed to get her to an American medical facility.
Alive but disfigured, sympathy arose around the world, and the non-profit Grossman Burn Center in California has now fitted her with a prosthetic nose. They are hoping to eventually do reconstructive surgery.
The Taliban tell their people that women’s rights are a Western concept that breaks away from Islamic teaching. But the Quran says nothing of cutting away ears and noses, and leaving girls and women to die. Early Islam actually had a feminist air.
I’ve often thought that if Asian women had gained the vote before their American sisters, the powers that be would warn us away from rejecting our religion and our culture.
Is it really a loss of culture or “religion” that is feared? Or do these men just worry that women might gain equal footing?
Meanwhile, beware: Don’t reject the culture that mutilates you body, mind and soul.
A version of this article was originally published August 3, 2010.
Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Did Women Create Burqa Culture? Early Islam’s Feminist Air
Cultural Relativism: Must We Be Nazis to Criticize Them?
Sources: Baker, Aryn, “Afghan Women And The Return of The Taliban.” Time Magazine. August 9, 2010; Bsimmons; Daily Mail
Early Islam’s Feminist Air
The founders of three great religions, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed (in order of appearance) were remarkably feminist in their leanings. In the month of Ramadan I would like to explore the feminist air of early Islam.
For centuries Muslim women enjoyed greater rights than most women in the world. The Koran gives women the right to work and to own property. Mohammed abolished female infanticide, slavery, and a widow’s obligation to marry her husband’s brother. Indeed, women were given the right to give their consent to marry.
Some things that look sexist today were a great step forward at the time. Women could become heir to one third of what a male inherited. (Since men’s role was to support women they were given extra help.) Muslim women were able to inherit much sooner than their Western sisters.
Islamic men are also allowed to marry up to four wives, and each wife must be treated equally. Doesn’t sound too heavenly to our ears, but this was progress from a time when men could marry as many women as they wanted.
Even the most problematic scripture in the Koran was an improvement. Chapter 4 verse 34 reads, “As for those women whose rebellion you justly fear, admonish them first; then leave their beds; then beat them.” This scripture actually gave women some protection against abuse in that men were cautioned against battering as the first response.
Some Islamic feminists note that there are other definitions for the word “daraba,” than “to beat,” one of which is “to go away.” Something to think about.
With early feminist beginnings it is not surprising that one of the largest, most egalitarian and peaceful societies is West Sumatra, Indonesia.
Yet over time the religion has become increasingly patriarchal in most corners of the world.
In what is claimed “countering Westernization,” Islamic states have kept busy restricting women’s rights, sometimes going against the Koran, as when the Taliban took away women’s right to work, or when the right to consent to marriage is ignored.
As one Islamic feminist put it, “Islam needs to go back to its progressive 7th century roots if it is to move forward into the 21st century.”
Asra Q. Nomani. “A Gender Jihad for Islam’s Future.” The Washington Post. November 6, 2005
Neil MacFarquhar. “Translation of Koran Verse Spurs Debate.” San Jose Mercury News. March 25, 2007. (Originally published in the New York Times.)
Don’t Reject Your Culture, Even If It Mutilates You
This week’s cover of Time shows an 18 year old Afghani named Aisha gazing from behind her mutilated nose. Punishment for running away from home. She left because she feared she would die from her in-laws’ abuse.
Eventually discovered, a Taliban-run court issued what was in effect a death sentence. For simply running away? From abuse and possible death?
Declaring she must be made an example, the Taliban ordered her nose and ears cut off.
Her husband took her to a mountain clearing where her brother-in-law held her down as her spouse slashed Aisha and left her to die.
Yet she lived. After passing out from pain, she eventually awoke, choking on her own blood. Aisha summoned her strength and crawled to her grandfather’s house. Fortunately, her father managed to get her to an American medical facility.
The Taliban tell their people that women’s rights are a Western concept that breaks away from Islamic teaching. (Though the Quran says nothing of cutting away ears or noses, and leaving relatives to die.)
I’ve often thought that if Asian women had gained the vote before American women, the powers that be would warn us away from rejecting our religion or our culture.
Is it really a loss of culture or “religion” that is feared? Or do these men just worry that women will gain equal footing?
Meantime, beware: Don’t reject the culture that mutilates you body, mind and soul.
Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Must We Be Nazis to Criticize Them?
Why Do Women Fight Against Their Own Interests?