A Final Word On Islam And Women

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - July 01, 2009
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In my first MidWeek column more than five years ago, I iterated what my readers could expect. I said, among other things, “no political correctness.”

In keeping with that pledge, I’ve received some of the most outrageous, vitriolic feedback one could imagine; more so in e-mails but some in “Letters to the Editor,” to which MidWeek readers have been privy. Most attacks are oblivious to the the truth of what I have written, but focus more on personal accusations of “biased,” “hateful,” “racist,” “fascist,” “intolerant,” “bigot,” “offensive,” “ignorant.”

I have never used my columns to rebut any of these charges because, like all MidWeek columnists, I know it just comes with the turf. When I receive thoughtful and civil e-mail feedback, either agreeing or disagreeing, I always try to respond in kind, albeit briefly.


However, after publishing my column, “Just What We Need, Islam Day” (May 20), MidWeek invited Mr. Hakim Ouansafi, president of Hawaii Muslim Association, to write a rebuttal. This is great for lively pro-and-con dialogue occurring in professional journals where the other side is presented in the same issue. But with MidWeek‘s weekly format, many readers who may not have read my original column are left only with the impressions of the rebuttal - all negative. For that reason, on this singular occasion, I feel justified in rebutting Mr. Ouansafi’s rebuttal.

First and foremost everything I wrote in the column was true, both about the Suras of the Quran pertaining to men’s domination of women and the deplorable dependency of women in Saudi Arabia, one of the most-advanced Muslim countries in the world. My purpose was: 1) to point out the irony of our women state legislators initiating and leading the passage of a resolution honoring Islam, a religious/political (no separation of church and state) ideology that takes its most fundamental laws from the Quran which clearly specifies that women are subservient to men, and (2) the impropriety of designating an “Islam Day” when there are no other designated days for any other specific religion. I stand by that irony and that impropriety, both of which should be self-evident.

As I expected, Mr. Ouansafi and many others cited the Bible as a moral equivalent to the Quran. “It is true there are texts in the Quran like other holy books (my italics) that seem to go against women’s rights.” Granted, the Old Testament could be pretty tough on women, but that was more than 2,000 years ago.

That was then this is now. With few exceptions, Bible-based societies have moved well beyond the the Dark Ages. The same cannot be said about some Quran-based societies. Paul’s New Testament exhortation, “Wives obey your husbands, husbands be considerate of your wives” is a far cry from “Husbands may hit their wives even if the husband only fears highhandedness in his wife.” Comparisons with the Bible are simply a red herring.

Mr. Ouansafi states “Educated women converting to Islam outnumber that of men four to one and continues to rise.” He fails to mention that statistic derives from a 1984 study (I was unable to find more recent statistics) which of course would not account for the events of 9/11/01, or the fact that the majority of women converts do so to marry Muslim men who are forbidden by the Quran to marry infidels unless they promise to convert.

Mr. Ouansafi rightly extols the conciliatory rhetoric of our president while speaking in Cairo recently, but apparently fails to understand why the president felt it necessary to include a pointed reference to equality for women to a Muslim audience: “A woman who is denied an education is denied equality ... countries with well-educated women are more prosperous.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Ouansafi for MidWeek in 2005, and it was a most amicable experience. I mentioned to him that many Americans would feel closer to their Muslim communities if more moderate Muslims, such as himself, spoke out more often and more forcefully against the Islamic extremists who actively promote the killing of innocents and suppress women’s rights. He responded, “We do publicly condemn it, in the strongest possible terms ... but people aren’t hearing us.”

Mr. Ouansafi, people won’t ever hear you if you don’t say it. You just wrote an entire column in MidWeek that goes out to a half-million people. I saw only justification, not one word of condemnation ... except of the truth.

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