Women in Islam: Suffering the Barbary of an Ideology

Written by Frank Salvato


April 4, 2008
By Frank Salvato

News spread quickly that anti-Islamofascism activist Dr. Wafa Sultan has gone into hiding, along with her family. They are in hiding because of her participation in a recent debate on Al-Jazeera in which she challenged Egyptian Islamist Talat Rheim over Dutch cartoons of Mohammed and the ideology of Islam in general. For her truthful criticisms of Islam Dr. Sultan earned a fatwa, a “religiously” decried death sentence, from an Islamic scholar. That she criticizes Islam is enough justification in the eyes of the radical Islamist to kill her. That she is a woman infuses into the fatwa an unbridled viciousness and a need for expediency.

In the al-Jazeera interview, Dr. Sultan proclaimed:

"...any belief that chops off the heads of its critics is doomed to turn into terrorism and tyranny. This has been the condition of Islam, from its inception to this day. Islam has sentenced [its critics] to prison, and whoever crosses the threshold of that prison meets his death... If you want to change the course of events, you must re-examine your terrorist teachings, you must recognize and respect the right of the other to live, you must teach your children love, peace, coexistence and productive work. When you do that, the world will respect you...”

Not long after Dr. Sultan’s remarks, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of Islam’s most respected scholars, presented his religious edict and denounced Dr. Sultan, calling for her death. Qaradawi, it should be noted, has also declared the killing of American soldiers in Iraq and suicide bombings against Israel as a religious obligation for all Muslims. Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, describes Qaradawi as, “one of the world’s pre-eminent Islamofascists.”

To date, Dr. Sultan and her family are living clandestinely, in a world of anxiety and inconvenience. She can’t work; her family cannot have contact with their friends; and they are all constantly looking over their shoulders for the jihadi threat. That we would ever know sacrifice as this brave woman does.

Incredulously, but for her notoriety, the dangers and treatment of Dr. Sultan would be unremarkable in fundamentalist Islamic culture.

A traditional Islamic saying is that, "A woman's heaven is beneath her husband's feet." In the Islamic culture, to show someone the bottom of ones shoes, to figuratively place them beneath ones feet, is an insult of the highest order.

The fact of the matter is that women in the fundamentalist Islamic world are relegated to the status of possessions. They are subjected to incredibly harsh and degrading cultural edicts where transgressions are punished – justified under Sharia Law – by whippings, beatings, stoning and death.

The penalty of death is imposed quite frequently on women in the fundamentalist Islamic culture. Offenses that warrant a death sentence under Sharia Law range from un-Islamic dress to being in the presence of an unrelated male.

The revered Islamic scholar, Abu Hamed Mohammad al-Ghazzali, who has been called 'the greatest Muslim after Muhammad,' writes that the role of a Muslim woman is to:

"...stay at home and get on with her sewing. She should not go out often, she must not be well-informed, nor must she be communicative with her neighbors. She should only visit them when absolutely necessary; she should take care of her husband...and seek to satisfy him in everything...Her sole worry should be her virtue...She should be clean and ready to satisfy her husband's sexual needs at any moment."

This totalitarian screed, we will soon learn, would be the least of a woman’s concerns where life in fundamentalist Islamic culture is concerned. In fact, the litany of transgressions against female humanity at the hand of fundamentalist Islam is countless.

  1. If she does not attempt to make herself beautiful for him
  2. If she refuses to meet his sexual demands
  3. If she leaves the house without his permission or a "legitimate reason"
  4. Or if she neglects her religious duties

Any of these are also sufficient grounds for divorce.

The president of Cairo's Al-Azhar University described the proper method of wife-beating in a television interview: "It's not really beating," Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb explained, "It's more like punching.”

Interestingly, delinquently, appallingly, women’s groups around the world, especially the progressive, pro-feminist groups such as the National Organization for Women, pay little more than lip-service to an issue that should illicit outrage of the highest order.

Columnist Jeff Jacoby, in a December 2007 article for the Boston Globe titled, The Islamist War on Muslim Women, lists an enumeration of outrages perpetrated against women at the hand of fundamentalist Islam:

In Pakistan, a tribal council ordered a woman to be gang-raped as punishment for her brother's supposed liaison with a woman from another tribe.

In San Francisco, a young Muslim woman was shot dead after she uncovered her hair and put on makeup in order to be a maid of honor at a friend's wedding.

In Tehran, a father beheaded his 7-year-old daughter because he suspected that she had been raped; he said he acted to defend his honor, fame, and dignity.

In Saudi Arabia, the Islamic police prevented schoolgirls from leaving a burning building because they were not wearing headscarves and abayas; 15 of the girls died in the inferno.

In May of 2006 in the Punjab Province of Pakistan, Ayesha, an 18 year old girl, accused of adultery by her husband of only one and a half months left the marital home to stay with her brother for fear of her life. Her husband, accompanied by his brother and under the guise of reconciliation met with her and persuaded Ayesha to return to the marital home. She agreed. Ayesha recounted from her hospital bed how when they were traveling back to the marital home the husband and his brother stopped the car in a semi-remote area and started to beat and torture her. They cut off her nose and her lips. They then left her in a field unconcerned with whether she would live or die.

Again in May of 2006, another Pakistani woman, Shamin Mai, who committed the “crime” of marrying a man of her own choosing rather than acquiescing to a pre-arranged marriage by her family, had her legs chopped off; this atrocity taking place at the hands of her brother and uncle.

Mutilations, the barbaric Islamic tradition associated with Muslim honor killings is the act of permanently scarring a woman as punishment for a transgression against the man – be it the father or the husband and whether actual or perceived. The act is acceptable behavior in fundamentalist Islam.

It has been established that when the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in 1996 that a decree was issued forbidding women to leave their homes. Prior to the Taliban’s seizing of power, women in Afghanistan held jobs in hospitals, schools and in the civil service sector. Women were doctors and teachers. They were professionals. With the Taliban’s decree employment and education for women came to a screeching halt. In fact, many would become beggars.

This tyrannical dogma extended to men who tried to help women. In 2006, years after the “liberation” of Afghanistan, a 46-year-old Afghan schoolteacher, was dragged from his family, his home, and horribly murdered – disemboweled and then dismembered – for defying orders to stop educating girls.

In Iran, two girls, identified only as Zohreh and Azar – sisters, were sentenced to death by stoning, having been convicted of adultery. Under Sharia Law death is the punishment for women who commit adultery.

The “crime” for which these two women were convicted and sentenced to death was caught on video tape. This “adultery” consisted of the two women being in the presence of other men when their husbands were absent. Let me repeat that and expound; their crime – caught on videotape – was to be in the presence of other men when their husbands were absent. There was no sexual activity, no touching. It’s hard to tell from the tape if they were even conversing. But under Sharia Law they committed “adultery” and have been sentenced to death by stoning. They also received 99 lashes for “illegal relations.”

In a stoning death, the woman's hands are tied behind her back and her body is placed in a cloth sack. Then, when she is securely "packaged" she is brought to a hole located in the center of a circle, predetermined in size, and buried up to her shoulders. After she has been affixed in the hole people start chanting "Allah hu Akbar" – or god is great – and proceed to throw palm sized stones at her head from a designated distance. The stones are thrown until she dies or until she escapes from the hole and crosses out of the circle.

These true atrocities continue around the world and even take place right here in the United States at the hands of radical Islamists, Islamic fundamentalists.

It needs to be noted here that in Wahhabist ideology – radical Islamist ideology – it is forbidden for Muslims to imitate, befriend or assist those who do not practice Islam, in any way. By Wahhabi edict, it is forbidden for fundamentalist Islamists to assimilate from the Islamic culture into any other. Further, fundamentalist Islamism instills a natural hatred for the United States because our nation is governed by legislated constitutional law rather than by tyrannical Sharia law. It is because of both, the radical Islamists’ refusal to assimilate and his contempt for our form of government, that events such as the murders of Amina and Sarah Said have taken place right here on American soil.

In Dallas, Texas, Yaser Said is said to have killed his two daughters, Sarah, 17, and Amina, 18, because he felt Western culture was corrupting the chastity of his daughters. He is currently at large. Law enforcement believes he is being harbored by the Islamic fundamentalist community in North Texas.

Similar stories have been reported in areas with large Islamic populations around the country, including in Dearborn, Michigan and the greater Herndon, Virginia area.

In addition to physical abuses that women face in the fundamentalist Islamic society the social dogma and familial hierarchy present an equally oppressive and inequitable existence.

In Islamic law – Sharia Law – those who commit adultery are to be put to death, most often by hanging, beheading or stoning. In the matter of adultery a gross inequity exists in the instances of sexual abuse and rape.

In fundamentalist Islam, the burden of avoiding non-marital sexual encounters, of any sort, is placed on the woman. Under Sharia Law, sexual assault, or rape, can only be proven if the rapist confesses or if no less than four male witnesses come forward to testify to the rape having occurred. Because women are worth less than men in fundamentalist Islamic society there are seldom, if ever, four men willing to testify against another man in support of a woman.

Women who allege they have been sexually assaulted by a man who is not their husband, women who allege they have been raped, are actually confessing to having had sex outside of their marriage. Without the benefit of four male witnesses to the attack – mind you, four men who are willing to testify to have witnessed the act – the attack itself is considered to be adultery and, as has been established, punishable by death.

Since women in fundamentalist Islam bear the burden of sexual responsibility, inequitable as it may be, the reality of the matter is that only women are executed for adultery, even if they have been the victims of what we in the West would consider a sexual assault.

There are thousands, if not millions, of stories like Zohreh & Azar’s, Sarah & Aminas and Ayesha  & Shamin’s and they come from every corner of the world, some from right here in the United States. Yet the feminist community does nothing. The Progressive-Left humanitarian organizations do nothing. The United Nations does nothing. And women – girls – daughters, mothers and granddaughters die.

To be born female into the world of fundamentalist Islam is to be inferior by Quranic edict. To be born a female into the world of fundamentalist Islam, it would appear, is to understand death while one is alive.

As I continue to study Islam, its radical tenets and the threat that it poses to Western Civilization, I become more convinced everyday that it will be the women of our society that end up being the motivating factor for our definitive action. I only pray that it happens soon because today we are losing the battle.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for Basics Project a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention.

More about Frank Salvato:

His organization, Basics Project, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel and is the host of the The New Media Journal Internet radio program broadcast globally on NetTalkWorld global talk radio. He is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network and on The Captain's America Radio Show catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times & Human Events and are syndicated nationally. He is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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