Trapped Behind the Veil of Islam/Program 1

Ed. Note: Unless otherwise indicated, footnoted Qur’an quotes are from the Yusef Ali transition, and Hadith quotes are from Bukhari’s Hadith.

By: Dr. Ergun Caner, Dr. Emir Caner; ©2013
When we think of women in Islam, our first thought is often of a veil. Traditional Muslim culture emphasizes this veil as part of a woman’s covering, but why? This week, guests Dr. Ergun Caner and Dr. Emir Caner helps us take a look at some of these Muslim teachings and look at how they compare with biblical teachings regarding women.



Today on the John Ankerberg Show: Approximately 700 million Muslim women live under the teachings of Muhammad and sharia law, which covers everything in a woman’s life from the cradle to the grave. What did Muhammad say is the role of women? Why are Islamic women prohibited from even looking directly into a man’s eyes? Why did Muhammad teach that a woman’s mind is deficient in intelligence, and it takes the evidence of two women to equal the witness of just one man? How have Muhammad’s twelve wives affected how Muslim women are to be treated within marriage today? If a woman doesn’t please her husband or is not obedient to him, did Muhammad say a husband could beat his wife? Further, how easy is it for a Muslim man to divorce his wife and take away her children? Why did Muhammad give women only half the inheritance rights that he gave to men? If a Muslim woman decides to convert to Christianity, why is she to be killed for doing so? How does Jesus Christ teach something completely different than Muhammad by teaching women are equal with men?

To answer these questions, my guests today are two former Sunni Muslims who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where their father built mosques. When they made their decision to leave Islam and convert to Christianity, their father disowned them. Dr. Emir Caner went on to earn his PhD in history from the University of Texas and is now the President of Truett-McConnell College in Georgia. Dr. Ergun Caner received his Doctor of Theology from the University of South Africa and is Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Texas. We invite you to join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.

Dr. John Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. Today we’re going to talk about Islam and women. And I have two guests that you’re going to want to hear from. They are both former Muslims, and they’ve come to know Christ as their personal Savior and Lord. They’ve gone on to get their PhD’s, and now Dr. Emir Caner is the President of Truett-McConnell College in northeast Georgia, and Dr. Ergun Caner is the Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Texas. They are both bestselling authors. They’re professors. They’ve taught in this country and other countries around the world.
And we’re coming to this very controversial topic, and I want to ask this question: People that are non-Christians that might be watching, why is this topic of the role of women in Islam so important, whether you’re a Christian, a non-Christian, or you’re a Muslim?
Dr. Emir Caner: Well, the life of Islam is in the Qur’an; actually in three sources of authority, that if you’re a woman in Islam, you look to the Qur’an as your theological precept; you look to the Hadith as the law that governs how you’re going to live life; and you look to Muhammad as the example. How he treated his wives, how he treated other women, is the way that your husband, your father, and other men of the community will treat you. And so when we’re discussing Islam, it’s going to affect 700 million women around the world by one man, Muhammad.
Ankerberg: Yeah, and the sources that you talked about, especially when you talk about sharia law, it covers everything in a woman’s life. And I mean everything, from the cradle to the grave. Explain that.
Emir Caner: Well, in the Hadith, or the sayings of Muhammad, the traditions, the woman’s going to know how to dress, whom to marry, what’s her role in the family, what’s her role in society. Everything about her, from the time she was born, when her father whispers before she’s born, the Qur’an, to the time she dies, everything is enacted in the Hadith. And so she literally has her life carved out because of Muhammad, his sayings, and his example.
Ankerberg: For people that aren’t familiar with the words, the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Sunnah, what are they?
Dr. Ergun Caner: The Qur’an is a collection, 114 chapters, but it’s supposedly all given by wahy, given by revelation of Allah, through the angel Gabriel, Jibreel, to the prophet Muhammad. And he had people that would scribe for him, they would write for him. It’s supposedly “the monologue.” It’s all from the mouth of Allah; the internal dialogue, you know, like our Bible will say, “And then David said,” it’s from the mouth of Allah. The Hadith is a collection on the life of Muhammad himself, his words, his actions, the rules he left, the example he left. It serves somewhat like the constitution for Islamic Republics, the 35 Islamic Republics that use sharia law as their constitution. The third that Emir mentioned was the life of Muhammad himself, Sunnah, his example. And how Muhammad interacted with women is actually at the core of how women exist in Islam today.
Ankerberg: Yeah, I think we have to bring in the fact of, why is the life of Muhammad so important to the way that women live in Islam?
Emir Caner: Well, Muhammad’s life is a precursor to what are the laws of the land in Islamic-dominated countries today. And so you can have up to four wives, chapter 4 and verse 3. You are allowed, as the final tally, to beat your wife, chapter 4 and verse 34. His example is seen as such. In the Hadith, when a woman comes to him and she’s got green covering, she takes it off for Muhammad, and she’s got, her skin is as green as her clothing it says. He is then the marital counselor for a woman who is beaten. In fact, at the end he tells her she has to go back and have sex with her husband who has beaten her, because he thinks she’s a liar. And so Muhammad is the final arbitrator to how a woman’s going to live; and not only in the seventh century, but in the 21st century.
Ankerberg: I need to stop right here, because some people might say, what gives you guys the right to even have a discussion about Islam and women? It’s almost like, if Christians have an opinion, they ought to keep it to themselves, okay. Let’s talk about this thing; because folks are using the words, “you’re not tolerant; you are not loving” by talking this way. How would you approach this topic to say that we have studied this topic, and we have something to say that we believe is truthful and loving?
Ergun Caner: First off we were raised in Islam. And our conversion didn’t come, you know, when we were just babies. It was a rational, we came to a moment where both spiritual, rational, intellectual, to the degree that we considered the causes and the sources. But I would also offer, secondly, it would only be hate speech, it would only be intolerant, if it was “we win, you lose; Jesus loves us, but Jesus doesn’t love you.” But the central message of Christianity—I cannot emphasize this enough—whereas every other religion has gods, a god or gods, that hate, the central message of Christianity is “For God so loved the world.” This is not us versus them. This is not Christianity beats other fellow religions. This is Jesus Christ, the only Lord, Savior, God and King, loves you. God designed you for a relationship. And He wants a relationship with you. He loves the Muslim and wants to bring them to Himself, to be their Father and to forgive them through Jesus Christ.
Ankerberg: Yeah. When I think of the word “tolerant,” that means that I might have somebody that I work with or might be at school that I disagree with. But the fact is, I put up with that and I say, okay, you can go your way and we can disagree. Now, what we’re talking about is, are we tolerant in the sense that we understand what people are saying? Do we have the right to even say anything at this point? And how else would you…?
Emir Caner: I’d simply say and ask this question: Who’s standing up for women in Islamic societies? For example, when you look at one of the Hadiths, it comes from what’s called Dawud’s Collection, or David’s Collection. You look at number 5251. It argues, either optional or some would take as mandatory, that you must circumcise females. Some would say, well, that’s historical; 90% of Egyptian women today are circumcised before they reach their adolescence. When you look at Pakistan, and you see that, according to the Pakistan Institute of Science, in 2002, 90% of married Pakistani women are beaten on a regular basis. And that is because the very words of Muhammad in the Qur’an, surah 4:34, where you have a three-tiered way of finding obedience to your wife: if you fear disloyalty you are to verbally admonish her; do not share your bed with her; and then it says, beat her. So the question has to arise, who’s going to stand up for the freedom of women, even if it seems intolerant to speak of these things?
Ankerberg: Muslim apologists would say that Muhammad was the great emancipator of women. What would you say to that?
Ergun Caner: If he’s an emancipator, and that he would raise the level of women from say, sexual slavery, he tries to establish laws of divorce, the second chapter of the Qur’an, the second surah, says that a woman is the field to be plowed; she’s the tilth. She’s property. You know, you have the two sides: On one hand Muhammad loved Khadija, but on the other hand, he said hell is filled two thirds with women. He said, and this is part of sharia law, it takes the testimony of two women to equal that of one man, and that is because, Muhammad said, of the deficiency of a woman’s mind. Where are the feminists who rise up and say, “Well, this is wrong”? They, in the course of diversity and tolerance, they’d rather be silent and allow their sisters to live in that type of system.
Ankerberg: Muslim apologists would come back and say, well, look at the inheritance rights that Muhammad gave to Islamic women.
Emir Caner: The inheritance rights that you find in the Qur’an, chapter 4 and verse 11, for example, says that a male gets twice as much as a female. I mean, the irony of Islam is, Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, couldn’t really spring to the forefront today like she was back then, because Muhammad actually removed rights that were with women back in the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century. And while he finally annihilated infanticide, female infanticide, the fact is, he covered them, surah 24:31, now they have to lower their gaze; they cannot look upon. And the more literally you take the Qur’an, and the more obviously you take Muhammad’s life—for example, in Hadith by Muslim 2127, he literally strikes his youngest wife, Aisha, even if you take it as with the palm of his hand, he is beating his wife. Now, how do you detail that in Muslim lifestyle?
Ankerberg: Did Muhammad consider women as possessions?
Ergun Caner: The short answer’s yes, absolutely. The man’s job as protector is to protect that which is in his home, which includes his child, his wife, the home itself.
Ankerberg: Yeah, surah 3:14 I’ve got here, “Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet, women and sons, heaped-up hordes of gold and silver.”
Ergun Caner: But woman is the “thing.” “If a man fears disloyalty from his wife, again, my brother,” this is 4:34, “refuse to share the bed with her,” was one of those admonitions of even polygamy at the very beginning of chapter 4, that you must treat them all equally. Again, the idea being, it’s possessions.
Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to take a break. When we come back I’m going to ask the question just pointblank, did Muhammad consider women as sex objects? And then we’re going to talk about marriage and divorce inside of Islam. So stick with us. We’ll be right back.

Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with two former Muslims, and we’re talking about women and their role in Islamic society. And we’ve gotten to this interesting question: Did Muhammad himself consider women to be sex objects?
Emir Caner: There’s a fascinating verse in the Qur’an, chapter 2, verse 223, where women are defined as a field to be plowed. It’s no wonder that, according to Bukhari’s Hadith, volume 5, and 268, Muhammad was said to have the sexual prowess of 30 men as he would go from house to house making his rounds, it would say. That’s the reason why, in Bukhari’s Hadith, volume 8, number 97, it says Medinan women are allowed to take him by the hand and he can lead them wherever he wished. It was so frustrating to Aisha that in volume 6 of Bukhari’s Hadith, number 311, she said, “Why is it that Allah reveals things that fulfills your wishes and desires?” And Muhammad became so frustrated with his wives that in the Qur’an, chapter 66 and verse 5, he finally looks at them and says, you know, I can replace you with better wives if I have to. That’s what Allah will allow me to do. And so it encompasses women as objects instead of the picture of them being our complement, our equal to us.
Ankerberg: Why are we even telling this information?
Ergun Caner: We live in a culture where we want to speak about equality. We live in a very politically correct culture. Activism has replaced religion, your cause. And everybody’s fighting for something. You know, they want animal rights. They want universal human rights. And in the mix comes this system that measures itself by how it adheres to the seventh century. For Islam, when they have a reformation, they go back toward what they would consider the purest example, of Muhammad and the seventh century life, so that it’s more oppressive. Their reformation is stricter. It’s like looking somebody in the eye and saying, they’re not radicals, they’re devout. And so this oppression of females, which should go against everything that our culture is screaming for; because of political correctness, we don’t say a word. And 700 million plus women suffer in silence. Somebody has to be a voice.
Ankerberg: How many women did Muhammad actually marry?
Emir Caner: In the end he married a dozen, including Khadija. And they would be sometimes a Christian, like Mary was one of them,…
Ankerberg: Let’s go through them. Who were they?
Emir Caner: …or a Jew. But he would have concubines and wives. Aisha, Zaynab, these were the ones that he would marry and take as his own. In chapter 4 he was not only allowed to take these wives, concubines as well, but he was allowed to take them out of war. And so there is the seduction that, if Muhammad’s the perfect example, and they go into a country, and in war they could take women, that was handed down for centuries in Islam that when they would come and invade, they can take women with them. And so you see the picture of male dominance. And in many ways Islam is a male-dominated faith, where men can marry those of monotheistic faiths, and the children will be raised as Muslims. But women couldn’t marry those of monotheistic faiths, but only Muslims.
Ankerberg: Is it possible for the Muslim moderates to modify the role of women in Islam?
Ergun Caner: They could try. The problem that they face is, there’s a great danger for them. You think about just, say, in the last two or three generations, whenever a Muslim tries to modify the teaching of Islam—while we would applaud that, Queen Noor and others who would speak up—they immediately become threatened by, and endangered by, not Jews, not atheists, and not Christians, but other Muslims. So Anwar Sadat, he shakes hands with Menachem Begin, and they say we’re going to have a parade for you, sit up front. And he’s put to death. Threats come from other Muslims who see this as an abdication of true Islam. They believe that the more pure they become, the more, what we would say oppressive, the more old-school, they become. So, that’s the hard thing: modifying it means, in their case, liberalizing it.
To give women the right to drive in Saudi Arabia is unthinkable. They can’t own driver’s licenses. They’re not allowed to drive. It’s considered an act of revolution for a woman to be behind the wheel.
Ankerberg: What else do we learn from Muhammad’s marriages?
Emir Caner: Well, I think the clearest thing you learn is he had his own rules. You know, he could marry as many as he wanted, surah 33:50. He could marry those that others could not marry, like Zaynab, who is his adopted son’s wife, and the wife divorces his adopted son in order to marry Muhammad. Muhammad, who looked at her and he said, “O dear, O heavens, you really catch my eye,” or “you really woo the men.” And so you learn that the rules for Muslims are different than the rules for Muhammad, even though he’s the example.
Ankerberg: What do we learn about Aisha?
Ergun Caner: Aisha was a very powerful woman. She’s the last one that Muhammad marries. When he marries her, in the Hadith it says the prophet marries her when she is six years old, Hadith 7:64, and it says they consummate the marriage when she is nine; which means he was 50 when they were married and 53 when they consummated this marriage. This has become the foundation for the law of children being sworn off in marriage, even before they’re through puberty. But there are, in Iran up until just very recently, you could marry at the age of nine without parental consent, again because the example of the prophet. Here’s what’s interesting in the Western civilization. In Judaism, you are what your mother is, so you’re Jewish if your mother is Jewish. But Islamic law operates that you are what your father is. And so all of the television shows that we see, the movies, a woman marries a Muslim man, good intentions, thinks he’s a hard worker, has a child. When they divorce, the man flies off to his country. Because the child, being raised by a Muslim man, is his property, he gets the rights. He has the child. It affects us on every level. It affects how the woman is seen: lowering the gaze; they are the one’s guilty in the adultery; the woman gets more lashes. Even in countries that don’t put the woman to death in honor killing, they’ll still give her 20 more lashes than the man.
Ankerberg: Talk about why it’s impossible for women to report rape.
Emir Caner: Well, first, the Hadith talks about how a silence of a woman is her consent. And so all of a sudden rape has a difficulty in terms of a principle in their constitution. But secondly, if she admits she’s raped, that is also seen as adultery or fornication. If she admits that, and the man is not convicted, which in a male-dominated society is not going to happen, then she has admitted fornication or adultery. So she’ll either be flogged or stoned to death. So it’s a Catch-22.
Ankerberg: You need to have four witnesses too, don’t you? The woman needs four witnesses.
Ergun Caner: Surah 4, verse 15 says she must gather four witnesses…
Ankerberg: Four witnesses of the sex act.
Ergun Caner: …who are willing to say that it was a sex act, and she was an unwilling participant.
Ankerberg: And if she doesn’t have them, and she claims rape, then what happens?
Ergun Caner: She’s dishonored her family.
Emir Caner: Not only dishonored, but she’s guilty. She’s guilty of fornication if she’s single, adultery if she’s….
Ankerberg: And under sharia what’s the penalty?
Ergun Caner: The penalty is death. And here’s what’s horrifying in all this. She’s put to death not by some arbitrary executioner, but by her own, the oldest male, or leading male in her family, the father or her brother, because she has brought dishonor to their family.
Ankerberg: Talk about Muhammad as the marriage counselor. What do we learn from the Hadith?
Emir Caner: This is where Bukhari’s Hadith, volume 72, number 715, the story really comes out. There’s a woman who comes to him, and she’s been beaten by her husband. But she realizes in Islamic law the only way she can divorce him is if he has left Islam, if he’s committed adultery on her, or if he’s impotent. Well, he’s still a Muslim, and so she says that he’s impotent. The problem is, she has been beaten. He comes into the equation, shows himself and he’s not impotent, because he brings his children with him. So Muhammad looks at her, even though she shows proof of being beaten, and says “You lied to me. You must go back to your husband and have sex with him before you can divorce him,” proving that impotence is not true. And, of course, you can’t divorce. And he does nothing. Even though she gets the empathy of Aisha, he does nothing to save her from these beatings she is getting from her husband.
Ankerberg: Alright, people that are non-Christians and people that are Christians that are listening that did not know this about Muhammad, what do you want them to do with this information?
Ergun Caner: Well, certainly one of the core essence of existence is some essential human rights. The fact that in Islam a woman is not allowed to read; it’s discouraged for women to be educated. But the thing is, according to the Bible, a woman does not stand to her husband to find God. Galatians 3 says there’s no difference between slave and free, male or female. My wife doesn’t come through me to get to God. My wife is a child of the living God. Our message to the Muslims is, if we don’t have Christian women reaching Muslim women, there’s no cross-gender evangelism. I can’t, as a man, speak to a woman without dishonoring her family or angering her father. If Christian women don’t rise up to share this, Muslim women won’t listen and won’t hear. We want them to know that there’s a God who loves them individually. God wants them as a child, that the husband is not superior, that He loves her just as much.
Ankerberg: Final word.
Emir Caner: You know, in Islam when it says the majority of inhabitants in hell are women. And the stark irony is because, it says, they are ungrateful to their husbands. That is, a woman goes to hell not because what she did against Allah, but what she did being ungrateful to her husband and what he’s given her. And the beauty of the gospel is that Christ loves her, died for her, can set her free from this bondage. And whatever else happens spiritually, she is made in the image of God, to have a relationship with God; that she can speak to the Lord and the Lord will speak to her. And she can be sure she’s going to heaven, not because she is good, but because He is good, and He died in her place. And the beauty is, He is called her heavenly Father, and that’s the true picture of a father.
Ankerberg: Folks, next week we’re going to continue this discussion, and we’re going to talk about, if a Muslim woman wants to marry a man, how does she go about even meeting that man and arranging it? And then, if she does get married, what are the rules on divorce? We’re going to talk about that. So I hope that you’ll join us then.


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