Trapped Behind the Veil of Islam/Program 2
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|
|This week on the John Ankerberg Show, we’ll examine Muslim women’s struggle for human rights by studying some of Islam’s teachings on women and how they are applied in Muslim societies today. Further, we’ll seek opportunities to present both the biblical worldview regarding women’s rights as well as how to help Muslim women learn more about Christ.|
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.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. We’re talking with two former Muslims who have converted to Christianity, gone on to get their PhDs, 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’re both professors, bestselling authors. And our topic today is, what are the consequences for Islamic women if they do not follow Islamic teachings? And in order to get to that topic we need to preface it with some information about Islam in general. Where did Islam come from? Who is Muhammad? What is the Qur’an? What is the Hadith? What is sharia? Because we’re seeing the world changing. On the news as we watch it every evening, more and more countries are becoming Islamic states and adopting sharia law. So let’s start at the beginning. Islam was founded by Muhammad.
- Ergun Caner: Muhammad, who lived in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, we refer to it as. He was a boy raised in very, very stark contrast to anybody who had money or riches. He was, both his parents died. His mother dies when he’s two years old; his father dies before he’s born. His grandfather who raises him, you know his grandfather dies, Abu Talib, his uncle teaches him a trade and he learns how to be a caravan trader.
- When he turns 40, he finds himself at a crossroads in his life. He’s been married to the love of his life for 15 years. She’s older than him. Her name was Khadija. And, in a cave, he believes he receives these revelations. And the central message of these revelations was, Christianity was false; Judaism false; all religions false; he is here as the final prophet to fix all religion and all of humanity. What takes place in the slow beginning days is, very few people listened. He’s rejecting all the other gods in the Ka’bah, and rejecting all the other, you know, gods that have been worshiped in that area. They chase him out of town. He goes to Medina, gets more followers because he changes his message to a movement of political dominance, land rights. “We are the Muslims, you live under us.” All the while he’s reciting this Qur’an. The entire message is either “as a minority, we are to be respected; as a majority, you are under us.” By the time he dies, 632 AD, Islam has become very popular because they believe they are genetically children of Ishmael, and they believe that as the children of Ishmael they deserve Jerusalem. This is their land. They give very few rights to those who are the outsiders, but they demand rights to conquer the world, which they believe will bring about the end of the world. When the world is subjugated to Islam, Allah brings about an end.
- Ankerberg: Quickly define, what is the Qur’an, what is the Hadith?
- Emir Caner: Well, the Qur’an is 114 surahs, books commonly known as chapters, about two thirds the size of our New Testament or so. It is supposedly the words of Allah dictated through the angel Gabriel to Muhammad. It is the very word of God. The Hadith, or the sayings of Muhammad, the example of Muhammad, is really their six compilations, the two most respected known as Sahih Al-Bukhari and [Sahih] Muslim. They’re compiled eight generations after Muhammad’s death and they are the constitution for anything that is an Islamic government.
- Ankerberg: What is sharia?
- Emir Caner: And sharia, which, it comes from chapter 45 of the Qur’an in verse 18, is the clear path. It’s the constitution, the laws, the practices, the ethic, that must be followed by all Muslims within a given territory or nation.
- Ankerberg: And so women fall underneath sharia, and everything from the cradle to the grave is put into the sharia about how they’re to live. And we’re talking about how they should live. And we talked a little bit about this last week, but just give me in general some of the rules; if you’re a woman in Islam, how are you raised? How do you think about men and marriage? Let’s talk about that.
- Ergun Caner: Well, the fourth chapter in the Qur’an, the Nisa, the fourth book, if you will, surah 4, has this entire outlay of what marriage is supposed to be. A man is allowed to have two, three or four wives if he wishes. The woman can have just one husband. And in no uncertain terms, the woman is considered part-and-parcel, like cherished commodity. She is the one being the property. One of the citations in the Hadith, in book 22, where Muhammad turns and says, “Women are a plaything. Take your pick.” You know, surah 3, verse 14, it talks about the woman, they try to say it in terms of nobility, but there’s no question, a woman is property to be held. And just like your home, just like your children, the man is not only over top, but the woman is filling hell, two thirds; the woman has no property rights; the woman has no personal rights except through her husband.
- Ankerberg: How about this thing of the way she dresses? Why is she dressed the way that she is, with the veil?
- Emir Caner: Well, from her demeanor she is to lower her gaze, surah 24:31, to her covering, that is, she has responsibility of making sure other men are not tempted by her body, by her figure. So if she wears tight-fitting clothes and a man is tempted, the responsibility falls upon her as the temptress. Therefore, they have to be covered. So in places like Saudi Arabia today, you have modesty police. These are literal police who stand on the street, helped and led by women who point to other women who aren’t dressed properly, according to Saudi protocol. And they are to dress properly; and until such time, they are slapped on the back of their legs, on their thighs, until they go into a shop and dress properly. And so this is a literal sense in an Islamic renaissance where the Qur’an is once again being taken literally in this post-colonial world. This is the Islam, not only of old, but back being new again.
- Ankerberg: Alright, let me jump to our question we started with, then what are the consequences? Let’s say that Islamic women, 700 million of them, say, “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to follow Muhammad. I don’t want to follow the sharia.” What’s to keep them from just leaving or not obeying it?
- Ergun Caner: Well, if she understands that she has no property rights, if they divorce, she gets nothing. If you add to that that the man is the one who has the rights to the children. You know, in our culture, in the Western culture, it’s often the mother. You know, “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” The woman does not have the right. In Judaism you are what your mother is. But in Islam, your father, as the Muslim leader, he gets rights to the children. And this is a very hard thing to separate a woman from her children. Surah 4, verse 34, I quote, “If a man fears disloyalty from his wife he is first to admonish her, secondly to refuse to share the bed with her,” the rule being that if they are not intimate for a certain number of days, 40 days, then they are no longer married. But admonish her, refuse to share the bed with her, thirdly, “beat her.” These are supposedly the words out of the mouth of Muhammad. To this day you find Muslims who are devout on television teaching all through the Middle East, “Well, of course this is what we do. But we are merciful in it.” You know, “we do this just to restore her, to bring her back.” One of the translators of the Qur’an made a little note and said there’s four reasons to divorce the woman, and one being if she doesn’t wear the fineries that her husband wants her to wear; does not offer herself sexually to her husband; that the beating is to make the home a haven; that she feels to leave her husband would be like leaving God, because she’s rejecting the very religion that teaches her husband to do these things.
- Ankerberg: Let’s talk about that, the fact, in terms of truth claims. If you say, you know, this is what Allah is saying; if you believe that this is really God saying these things, then what can you say to a Muslim woman to persuade her that that’s not really truth?
- Emir Caner: In terms of apologetic, the ultimate question that everybody has in life is, is there a God—both Muslims and Christians believe so, even though we worship two different gods—and did He speak? And that’s the key question; because to a Muslim the Qur’an has no miracles; it is the miracle. It’s the most beautiful thing ever written. It is, chapter 2 and verse 23, irreproducible. It is incorruptible, chapter 15 and verse 9. But there are no prophecies. There’s no way to demonstrably show God spoke, Whereas in the Scripture, I often times say you show me three places, three chapters to read in the Qur’an about Jesus—and maybe it’s chapters 3, 4 and 5 that speak of Christ—and I’ll show you three places where in the Bible Jesus spoke—and maybe the gospel of John, chapters 1 through 3—and then you see where prophecy lies, where truth lies. And then you have to make a decision: Is Allah and the Qur’an true or are Yahweh and the Bible true?
- Ankerberg: The ultimate thing is Jesus’ resurrection.
- Ergun Caner: That’s right. And clearly we have to be absolute, for your listeners, for your watchers and your viewers. Islam is not a form of Christianity or an offshoot. It is a rejection of Christianity. All the manmade gods and all the manmade religions reject the central nature of who Jesus Christ said He is. They reject either His person; they reject His work. But ultimately, if He resurrected and conquered death, hell and the grave, that changes everything, because no one has a living Lord. No one ever conquered death. Jesus Christ is not a religion, He is the only true living Savior, one throne, and one who can unseal the seal, one who is God. That’s our message. Islam isn’t a form of Christianity. Like all other religions, it rejects the resurrected Lord.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to take a break. When we come back I want to talk to what are the rules of the road, if you want to get married? If you’re an Islamic gal that has some ideas about an Islamic guy, how can you connect? How can you even date, okay? What are the rules to the road according to sharia? And then, when you get married, what are the rules to the road? And then if you get divorced, what are the rules to the road? So stick with us. We’ll talk about that when we come right back.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re back. We’re talking with Dr. Emir Caner, Dr. Ergun Caner. They’re both professors. They are former Muslims that have converted to Christianity. And we’re talking about Islam and women. And I said we were going to talk about, if an Islamic woman, 700 million of them out there in the Muslim world, if some of them that are single have interest in a Muslim man, how is it they can get together? Is there anything that they can do? I said, is it possible for them to date? You laughed. Tell me why you laughed.
- Emir Caner: Well, there’s no such thing as dating in the Islamic world, at least in the traditional Islamic world. In the West if they’ve accepted some more moderate rights there. But the father has the right over his daughter. So in Niger, he can give her away even before puberty. In Yemen, 50% of all women are married off by the father’s consent and approval before they’re 15 years old. In Iran it’s 12 years old. And he can hand over, that is, it’s the father’s right to hand over either because another man thinks she’s beautiful, or there’s wealth behind her, or her family wants to connect with another family. Those are the issues that Aisha say makes a woman ready for marriage. And so there’s a youngness to it that we in the West would say, well, hold on; she’s not ready at any age, or at 12. I have two daughters and they’re not going to be ready by 15. There is an Islamic value system that we would hold that’s absolutely abhorrent.
- Ankerberg: I was haunted by the words of Aisha in the Hadith who at, what, nine years of age, she says, I’m swinging on the swing, and tell me the rest.
- Emir Caner: Well, she’s playing as a child. And in Hadith volume 7 number 64, Muhammad says he consummates the marriage with her when she’s nine years old. Now, even though Muslims will try to justify one way or another, or say she was a bit older, this is codified in their constitution. And so they have to struggle with a verse that they cannot deny, but many Muslims struggle with experientially, being fathers and mothers.
- Ankerberg: And this is where it’s very ironic; that at the United Nations, you have the OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation], you have what, 57 countries that are arguing for sharia law, for that kind of thing to be implemented in all of those countries. And I’m saying, where is the world in terms of saying we can’t go with that? And turning down the human rights declaration of the United Nations, we’re just not going to obey that, okay. So, these are some of the reasons I want to bring these things up in the program. I think it’s time for the Christians to understand what Islamic women are experiencing right now while we are living, and say this is wrong. And also, it’s not truth, alright. Let’s go on. Girls dating, how does she get married then? The family arranges it?
- Ergun Caner: Well, once she is promised, again, traditional or devout Muslims, once she is promised there is that which is called the nikah, the marriage contract, the agreement that they make, the husband to the wife. And, again, surah 4 of the Qur’an, the fourth chapter of the Qur’an, gives some very explicit things. The man must care for her financially. As many wives as he has—and polygamy is not only allowed, but it is endemic in Islam—he has to financially provide for them. They, on the other hand, a woman, as the tilth, a woman as the property, protected property of the man, their rights in that home are not only limited, but the reflection of the male/female relationship in the mosque and in the home would probably horrify, you know, 95% of the people who live in Western society. If a boy walks into the kitchen, the oldest woman seated must stand up and give her seat to the boy. The man is always ahead; in the prayer room in the mosque, the youngest boy is praying three feet ahead of the oldest woman. She is always behind him, three steps behind him. She is always more covered than him. In Islamic culture she is either wearing the chador, you know, leaving her face open; or niqab, covering one eye; or burqa, covering completely; because she is to hide her beauty.
- Ankerberg: Emir, talk a little bit more about how the value of women versus the value of a man is seen, even in the mosque and in prayer time.
- Emir Caner: You go to a traditional mosque, of course, the women are in back. And the question comes, well, why in the back? And the typical Muslim man will say modesty, but they won’t quote the exactness of it. In surah 4:43 it says you can’t go to prayer if you’re dirty, drunk, sick, or have touched a woman. In Bukhari’s Hadith, in the sayings of Muhammad, volume 1, number 490, it says there three things that interrupt prayer, a dog, a donkey, or a woman. So you see the explicit nature of what Muhammad sees in a woman; therefore, they are not only set in the back, but in many mosques they’re in a totally different arena, different building, different floor, however it’s viewed. And that’s the picture of a literal Islam. And to our viewers who say, “Well, I know of a moderate Islam; I know what goes on in places like Turkey.” I’ll remind them, since 1980 the expansion of Islam has been into purest militant literal Islam every single time. And so we’re watching it with Arab Spring, that democracy has now fallen in North Africa; where things like if a woman leaves Islam, it used to be she would be imprisoned, re-educated, now they’re considering laws that, for example, with Egypt, 85% of Egyptians say if someone leaves Islam, man or woman, they should be put to death.
- Ankerberg: There are 1200 mosques plus here in the United States, 80% which supposedly are supported by the Wahhabis out of Saudi Arabia, alright. What does that mean for women here in America?
- Ergun Caner: The Wahhabi sect, it’s a sub-sect, a purist movement within the Sunni Islamic world, they are the ones who are the most devout. They follow the Qur’an most literally. The Wahhabis, who finance this, they’re also the ones who train the imams. They are also the ones who will call the Muslims to prayer, call the Muslims together, here is the mosque for us. No question, it is genetic inferiority for the female. No question for the women, when they say, well, you know, he’s so religious and he lets me go to church. Once you have signed nikah, I always ask them two things: Number one, did you hear yourself say “he lets me?” What is that? And then, secondly, once you are married, the husband has all these reasons to break—a women cannot; she, it is almost impossible for a woman to break talaq, to divorce the man. It’s almost as if they’re willingly selling themselves into slavery.
- Ankerberg: How easy is it for a Muslim man to divorce a wife?
- Emir Caner: The comparison between a man allowed to divorce and a woman allowed to divorce is stark. A man, for any reason, can just simply go outside and say, “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you.” He says it three times. There’s a waiting period to ensure she’s not pregnant, he takes care of a child, and it’s over. For a woman, she can only divorce a man if he leaves Islam, if he’s committed adultery, if he’s impotent, or if he’s insane. So you have the example in Afghanistan. There is an Afghan who is a Muslim who comes to faith in Christ, but he’s divorcing his wife at the time. She turns him in for spiritual infidelity, and the government system is about to put him to death. There’s a cry from the international community, and they declare him insane. Therefore he can move into exile instead of into death. That’s the picture that’s happening across the Muslim world. But those are the only four reasons she is truly allowed to divorce, according to chapter 2, verse 228 of the Qur’an.
- Ankerberg: Compare Jesus with the teachings of Muhammad concerning women.
- Ergun Caner: The profundity here is just unbelievable, because for Christianity, God enters into a relationship with us at our conversion. He doesn’t just save us; He doesn’t just forgive us; He doesn’t just make us ready for heaven; the Bible says He becomes our Father. Romans 8:14-17, He becomes our Father, “the sons of God.” The Qur’an absolutely rejects this concept. Surah 112 is supposed to be the highest verse in the Qur’an, “Allah does not begat nor is he begotten.” If Islam is a rejection of Christianity, what is it rejecting? It is rejecting the core and central issue of who Jesus is. The name and nature issue here is huge. Just because they may call themselves gods, Allah doesn’t necessarily have to be the God of the Bible. He is not, because they didn’t just change his name, they changed his nature. Allah hates. And yet our Bible tells us that the God of the Bible, the only true and living God, was born, lived a sinless life; Jesus Christ was crucified, buried and then literally bodily resurrected, ascended into heaven for what purpose? He is at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us. The Father to us. The Son who is a joint heir with Christ Jesus, who is God as well, and He loves us individually. If you ever hear a Christian say, “Well, God hates you,” that’s not Christianity, that’s a cult. Because God, the God of the Bible, the only God, loves the woman, the man, the slave, the free, the Greek or the Hebrew. You are valuable. You are worthy of His love.
- Ankerberg: How else has Jesus lifted women?
- Emir Caner: I think women have to realize whom you worship will be whom you also marry. The man who thinks that Allah may leave him, subsequently thinks about leaving his wife; that divorce just can happen because of irreconcilable differences. However, as a father and a husband myself, I stand with my wife through the high times and low times, through sickness, through health. Because my God unconditionally loves me, I unconditionally love my wife. And He said to me, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And I, as a representation of the Christian faith, love my wife in equal proportion, and will serve her and die for her if I need to be.
- Ankerberg: Alright, this is great stuff. Next week we’re going to talk more about women and Islam. We’re going to talk about why women that are overseas in Islamic states are coming to know Christ in spite of the admonition that if you leave Islam you could be killed. And you know some personal stories, and I want you to share that with the people. So I hope that you’ll join us next week.