So today in the morning, and while I was ironing a shirt, I heard something quite interesting on television. It was actually my grandmother (I’m staying with my grandparents these days – long story), who wakes up quite early, watching an Egyptian soap.
Since she’s a bit hard-of-hearing, old age and such, the volume was set pretty high on the television (I was in a different room, definitely over 10 meters away). The soap she was watching was set in the 1950s (I heard Gamal Abdel Nasser’s famous 1956 Suez Canal Nationalization speech just before it ended), but it didn’t seem like that to me. In fact, in the beginning I thought it was one of those programs where someone would explain different parts of supposed Islamic Sharia and all that. You know, one of those “religious shows”.
The man was being asked questions in English and was responding in Arabic which was then translated. In fact that very first sentence I heard was “… el rad bel kamel ba3dain targemo enta” (I will give my complete response, and then you can translate it). I suppose he was speaking to a translator-actor-person.
The two questions that I heard were about women in Islam. The first was concerning inheritance and the second marriage. It was an obvious attempt to respond to various criticisms regarding Islam (though why they’d show it to an Egyptian/Arab audience is totally beyond me. Hope they didn’t believe foreigners would watch this stuff and have to listen to the atrociously-accented, highly inaccurate translation and grammer).
The actor here was none other than Hassan Youssef, famous for all his movies throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s with such stars as Soad Hosny and Magda. Having undergone a radical islamcization during the last few years of the twentieth century and the beginning of the 21st, he is back. In a role which I would think he’d think suits him more.
The first question was along the lines of: Why are Muslim women not allowed to marry non-Muslims? (It wasn’t “Why are Muslim women not allowed to marry non-Muslims whilst Muslim men can marry Christians and Jews?” Perhaps this was their attempt at not drawing attention to that fact?)
His response: As Muslims, we believe in Christians and Jews. We believe that their prophets were true messengers of God as Mohammed was. We believe in their holy books. This is why a Muslim man is allowed to marry Non-Muslim women. She should have no fear of him
I would have thought that since she’s marrying this guy, she shouldn’t have fear of him period. But, of course, this is the way I view marriages should go. This, obviously, does not apply when arranged marriages occur where you should be especially afraid, as a woman, if the guy is from your same religion and denomination.
He continued by saying that if Christians and Jews believed in our prophet, teachings and Holy Book like we believe in theirs, there would be no problem in Muslim women marrying their men.
He was then asked a second question: Why do Muslim men get double Muslim women when inheriting? So the actor smiles in that way which says: “Old, wise man that I am, I expected this question O innocent and naive child. Now you shall be blessed with my ancient, wise yet succinct answer because I am an old wise man”.
His response: Islam has made the man responsible for spending and taking care of his house, wife and children. Thus with the increase in financial burden, this is an equitable distribution seeing the amount that each are more likely to spend. The woman, on the other hand, is “spent on” by her father in the beginning, then her husband. Still, Islam provided adequately for the woman who, due to circumstances, is not married and lost her parents.
I’d finished ironing my shirt by then, and had to go get dressed to leave for work. I do have these thoughts on the matter.
In the beginning, when he made the Muslim/Christian/Jew marriage response I’d thought: That makes sense. It’s when he responded to the second question that I thought… actually, neither of his responses make sense.
In both responses, there is an obvious bias towards men. I’ve heard a lot of the arguments about why Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslims. The one I’ve heard most often is thus: Since a child’s religion, as with the name, follows his father’s… if the father is Christian than the children will be Christian. If the father is Jewish, then the children will be Jewish. *End of Arguement*
Strangely enough, when I was younger I would always nod my head and dismiss the whole conversation (not because I thought it unimportant, or that I disagreed with what was said. Just because it wasn’t relative to my circumstances generally. I am a Muslim Male. Officially that is). Now that I think about it, I realize I should have said: Er, so what? So what if a Muslim woman marries a Christian man or a Jewish man or even an atheist.
I’ve always believed that religion is the relationship between you and your god (whichever god) and should be treated accordingly. If these couples (that might get into these sorta marriages where the two come from different religions) raise their children properly, it really wouldn’t matter what religious label they choose to use. Of course, I’m not discussing the social ramifications, merely the children.
Keep in mind that to Christians and Jews, Muslims are friggin heretics. Why on earth would Jews or Christians want to marry heretics?! The way I see it, most people who get into these mixed-religion marriages are not religious to begin with. From what I’ve seen, that solves like 75% of their problem. The remaining 25% is, of course, society.
Now, how about that extremely obvious patriarchal rule/law/whatever you want to call it? What about women who choose not to get married, emancipate themselves from their parents and support themselves throughout the rest of their lives? Better yet, what if they get married early, husband dies, they work and they only get half of what their brother gets because he’s male?
Actually, what about the fact that they’re human beings too? Such a law, when set in stone like that, goes against the general concept that Islamic Sharia and edicts are eternal.
The way I see it? All religions are good without all the specific laws and regulations.
P.S. After many failed attempts to insert pictures of Hassan Youssef, I chose not to because either wordpress isn’t being cooperative or I wasn’t very smart about it. I’m guessing it’s the latter.