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The Medieval Islamic Scholar Imam Al-Ghazali (Gazel) Describing Women in his book, "Counsel for Kings" [Nasihat al-Muluk]
 - A fascinating clue into the misogynist mindset of today's medieval mullahs

The Medieval Islamic Scholar Imam Al-Ghazali (Gazel) Describing Women in his book, "Counsel for Kings" [Nasihat al-Muluk]
 - A fascinating clue into the misogynist mindset of today's medieval mullahs

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Published by Tarek Fatah
To understand contemporary misogynist attitudes of Islamists towards women, one must look deeply into the medieval texts these mullahs and Imams read. Imam Ghazali's contempt for women and his derision of the female gender may be one reason why Muslim women find themselves as the primary victims of the wrath of Islamism
To understand contemporary misogynist attitudes of Islamists towards women, one must look deeply into the medieval texts these mullahs and Imams read. Imam Ghazali's contempt for women and his derision of the female gender may be one reason why Muslim women find themselves as the primary victims of the wrath of Islamism

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Published by: Tarek Fatah on Jan 27, 2012
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05/13/2014

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Imam Ghazali
Source:
Counsel for Kings [Nasihat al-Muluk]
London, Oxford University Press, 1964, pp. 158-173
 
“When Eve (disobeyed Almighty God and) ate fruit which He had forbiddento her from the tree in Paradise, the Lord, be He praised, punished womenwith eighteen things:(i) menstruation; (ii) childbirth;(iii) separation from mother and father and marriage to a stranger;(iv) pregnancy (through him);(v) not having control over her own person;(vi) (having) a lesser share in inheritance;(vii) her liability to be divorced and inability to divorce;(viii) its being lawful for men to have four wives, but for a woman to have (only) one husband;(ix) the fact that she must stay secluded in the house;(x) the fact that she must keep her head covered inside the house;(xi) (the fact that) two women's testimony(has to be) set against the testimony of one man;(xii) the fact that she must not go out of the houseunless accompanied by a near relative;(xiii) the fact that men take part in Friday and Feast Day prayersand funerals while women do not;(xiv) disqualification from rulership and judgeship;(xv) the fact that merit has one thousand components,(only) one of which is (attributable) to women, while nine hundred andninety nine are (attributable) to men;(xvi) the fact that if women are profligate they will be given(only) half as much torment as (the rest of) the (Muslim) community at theResurrection Day;(xvii) the fact that if their husbands die they must observea waiting period of four months and ten days (before remarrying) ;(xviii) the fact that if their husbands divorce them they must observe awaiting period of three months or three menstruations (before remarrying).”
1
 
By Dr. Mohammad Omar FarooqImam Ghazali is one of the towering figures in Islamic history, whoseinfluence on the Muslim world continues to remain strong and deep. The rich spiritual dimension of his contribution is indisputable. Hislegacy of sagacity, wisdom, and enlightenment is a veritable treasurefor many. Yet, truth seekers and conscientious people who believe in Islam don'trevere any individual scholar, however great and towering he is, withan absolutist mindframe. Hence, reading the following chapter fromone of his notable works one would find remarks and views aboutwomen that are utterly degrading, verging on misogyny.Several years ago when an Islam basher cited some of these aspectsfrom Imam Ghazali's writings I could not believe it. After reading hisviews about women, it seems reasonable to say that, despite his allother contributions to the Islamic history, his views at least in this areaare more his own than based on Islam, i.e., the Qur'an and the Sunnah.Even though the entire presentation of thoughts by Imam Ghazali hereprojects an Islamic veneer, yet the hadiths that he reports are oftenwithout any source, or only selective hadiths that are more restrictiveof women are mentioned without taking into consideration other onesthat directly contradict these.His weakness in the science of Hadith is well-known. "Taj-ud-Din Subkihas collected such traditions in
Tabaqat-Shafeiyya
that have been citedby the Imam in his
Ihya-ul-Uloom
but which cannot be traced to anysource. (See
Tabaqat 
, vol. IV, pp. 145-182)." [Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi,A Short History of the Revivalist Movement in Islam, Lahore, IslamicPublications, 5th edition, 1981; footnote on p. 66] Also, for specificexample, see Appendix note #6 in Dr. Suhaib Hasan,An Introduction tothe Science of Hadith, London, Al-Qur'an Society, 1994.]Predictably, Islam bashers have a field day with such works andthoughts. But conscientious Muslims should be less worried about theIslam bashers than the negative influence such Imams' views andopinions have on the Muslims minds and societies.Muslims need to be proactive in self-critical reexamination of manysuch classical works. Such reexamination is not for wholesale2
 
repudiation and discrediting of the past contributions of many nobleIslamic personalities. Rather, we must accept the fact that they werehuman beings and not without their personal biases or variousinfluences and experiences that had shaped their positions.Conscientious Muslims would engage in critical reexamination likedivers seeking pearls. In the deep ocean of knowledge andunderstanding, those who seek pearls must sift through more than justpiles, separating pearls from empty shells and also watch out for shellsthat can be harmful.As we cherish and utilize the pearls of wisdom from the works of scholars, such as Imam Ghazali, we also ignore the empty shells as wellas anything potentially harmful. Noble souls, such as Imam Ghazali,never taught us to blindly follow and revere anyone, including himself,and he never would have endorsed and encouraged an uncriticalacceptance of his views, especially when some views are simplyunfounded from Islamic viewpoint or stand contradicted by the Qur'an,the Sunnah and the Seerah.[emphasis added] The Apostle, God bless him, stated that the best and most blessed of women are those who aremost prolific in child-bearing, fairest incountenance, andleast costly in dowry. [1] He also stated, 'In so far asyou are able, seek a free woman in marriage; they are the purest.' The Prince of the Believers 'Umar (ibn al-Khattab) said, ' Take refuge inGod from the evils caused by women, and beware ( even) of the mostpious of them.' This means, let not (even) your own wife receivepraise.[2] The author of this book declares that any man who desires to besound in his religion and sound as master of his house ought not tocare about nobility of birth [3] and beauty of countenance; for a pious(wife) is the best and most beautiful.
(Anecdote)
[4]It is related that at Marv lived a man called Nuh ibn Maryam, who wasthe
qadi
of Marv and also held the office of mayor. [5] He was blessedwith great wealth and had a very beautiful daughter. Many of the3

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