What’s in a Religion

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There are people -muslims and non-muslims alike- who claim that islam is a religion of peace. Then you’ve got the fear and hate mongers, who believe that every muslim is a potential terrorist or at least a threat to western society. And then there is me, who’s got a few muslim mates, who are all pretty groovy and I feel they are being victimized and I have to come to their defence. Now this image of mine of the poor, victimized muslim is changing somewhat. It’s not only what I experience in Egypt but also what is and has been happening in Europe. Today we had to bring an article or news story to class. One of my classmates had brought a short article, which was on a big national survey among the Egyptian youth on a number of topics and one of those topics was what we in the west would call domestic violence. Apparently 80% of males and 67% of females believe it is justified for a man to hit his wife if she was talking to another man. Talking. I thought these figures were rather worrying. If such a high percentage is cool with smacking their wife or being smacked by their husband then it must be happening a lot. If this is the view of Egypt’s youth then I fear for the next generation. The Koran justifies wife smacking. Yeah, you can interpret it as you like; only when she displays really inappropriate behaviour or she needs to be warned first. But it’s there in the holy book and muslims believe the Koran is the true word of god, so it means god is cool with it. And whatever interpretation you’d like to have nothing justifies a husband hitting his wife. Two of my girlfriends- who are muslim- explained to me that according to islam men and women are not equal. They are fundamentally different and have different roles to play and therefore can’t have the same rights. The different rights they have are of equal worth though. I find this rather dodgy because how do you measure each right. So, the husband has a right to hit his wife and the wife has a right to look after the kids and the household…. Not sure if I find that a fair deal. Muslims claim that islam does not disrespect women and here in Egypt one claims that men and women have the same rights. They might be equal before the law but society seems to think differently about the equality of the sexes and religion does not seem to be helping. But Egypt is not my country and islam is not my faith. If Egyptian women and muslimas feel respected by their society and their faith then it’s just me who has a problem and then it might be wise for this fairy to soon return to the wicked, wicked West.

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About Lemba

Non-conformist Writing Soul and Language Geek from the Lowlands with a South London accent, currently living a nomadic, location- independent lifestyle. While executing the Big Fat Writing Plan I’m invading cyberspace with my views on 'expat living', travel and other lifestyle choices, current affairs and other randomness. Welcome to the Dark Fairy Zone.

2 responses »

  1. the bible isn’t all that different from the koran in this respect. there’s a certain christian fundamentalist political party in the netherlands who bans women from joining because the bible clearly states women have no business in ‘politics’ (or ‘public life’). religion appears to be bad news for women all around. i think the west only appears to have moved beyond this (and not all that much beyond this) through cultural differences, it’s not necessarily a religious thing. my indonesian muslim grandmother was more emancipated than any of her dutch counterparts ever were, for example (but then she was married to a christian and my family has a wild history of being weird like that). that said, i’ve been drinking and i might not be making a whole lot of sense right about now.

  2. Miekster, makes absolute sense. And many aspects of Egyptian/ Arabic culture which we find weird and link to religion are actually cultural. My issue is that the Koran is considered the word of god and therefore absolute truth and immutable in time and place. The majority of christians acknowledge that the bible was written in a certain time and some values of those times are not applicable in our age. But you might be right; it’s not just islam. Other religions might not be that kind to women either. And then again, all my religious girlfriends from any religion do not feel disrespected by their faith. It’s just whatever works for you.

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