Islamic art frequently involves beautiful designs in which non-representational ornamentation, often in sky-blue tones indicates the faith penetrating as a jewel into the celestial sphere. This comes however at the cost of a death-sentence for representing the sacred in any form of image following the Pentateuch edicts against indolatory. This is parallelled by death or conversion for non-Hanif i.e. anyone except the peoples of the Book. Thus language becomes the new idol worshipped in ignorance of the truth as before. Any religion which pronounces a death sentence for such deviation is in serious error. Iblis, himself the shaitan, is given a light sentence for his hubris, while Rushdie and Nasrin are given death for making a critique of such hubris. The divine right of jihad and the death sentence and dismemberment must be rescinded from shariat and all Islamic scripture before peace can come to the world.. The central picture comes from the cover of Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses". On either side are the blue mosque Isfahan taken by the author..

Kashan carpet illustrates the Arabesque in Nature design (large jpeg)

The Legacy of the Prophet

Please refer to the 2004 chapter of Sexual Paradox
for an updated commentary on these questions in the chapter:
Islam, Jihad and Sakina

Muhammad was a true prophet and visionary. Unlike the excesses of Jesus' deification by the Christians, Islam is a religion with a clearly transcendent deity unconfused by a personality who is part-man part-God. Islam is a religion with a genuine personal tradition going back to its founder, rather than coming from a hearsay or mythical source whose historical details remain in doubt. Muhammad was a man who was a true nabi, a devoted prophet of night visions in his vigils in the cave, personally affectionate towards his women and concerned for the welfare of his umma, the motherhood become brotherhood.

Muhammad took nine wives and a concubine after Khadja, more than he permitted in Islam itself: "[At age 50, Muhammad married again, this time exercising the Arab option of taking several wives, which he had not done while married to Khadija. In Mecca he wed the widow Sawda and was engaged to Aisha, the 6-year-old daughter of Abu Bake. He later married her in Medina at age 9, although the marriage was not consummated until she reached the age of womanhood in Arabic culture. Next he married Hafsa, the daughter of Umar, a notable Companion, as the circle of Muslims closest to Muhammad came to be called. Muhammad's marriage to Zaynab, the wife of his adopted son Zayd required some thought and several revelations. Zayd assured the Prophet that his marriage to Zaynab was not a happy one, and though Islamic law permitted yet disapproved of divorce as well as marriage to one's son's relations, Zayd and Zaynab were divorced and Muhammad married her. As the Prophet's revelations granted permission for his marriages, the outspoken Aisha remarked (according to oral tradition), "It seems that God is hastening to satisfy your desires"-demonstrating Aisha's remarkable freedom as a woman. Muhammad then married Umm Salama and two Jewish women, Raihana and Safiya, followed by Umm Habiba, a daughter of Abu Sufyan, a famously idolatrous opponent of Islam, and Maimuna, sister-in-law of his uncle and the aunt of Khalid, the great Quraysh military leader. Besides these 9 official wives, Muhammad took as concubine-over the objections of Aisha and his other wives-Mariya, a Coptic Christian slave girl who was a gift from the ruler of Egypt." (Occhigrosso 1996 403)

Unlike Jesus, Muhammad did not claim to be God and specifically tried to correct the excess of Christian deification of Jesus, whom he rightly asserted was merely another human in a continuing prophetic tradition. "Muhammad did not work miracles like previous prophets, something that was held against him by his Arab detractors." (Occhigrosso 1996 403)

This human face accepted, however we have to come to terms with the fact that Muhammad did claim to be the final prophet of destiny and has given a legacy in which the word, however idiosyncratically inspired, has been treated as divine in just the same way as Jesus' blasphemy; that this word preaches violence unto death in the name of God and, despite the protestations of its supporters; counts women as fundamentally inferior to men. These aspects are human error. They may not be satanic but neither are they divine law.

Within Islam, like other religions there is great diversity of tradition from liberal to fundamentalist, however despite the golden early age of Islam, it remains committed in the word to certain narrow moral prescriptions in the Qur'an and Shariat which are in essence violent, binding and confining.

This idolatrous use of the divine word has plagued the Bible as well. The curse of Deuteronomic law has led to women being stoned to this very day, ironically now only in Islam. Islam takes other Biblical prescriptions such as not making any graven image to similar excess, ordering the death penalty for any artistic representations of God.

Violent Jihad

This excess to the point of death is woven right into the fabric of the Qur'an. Muhammad set many traditions of utterly human violence in his actions. These cannot and should not be ascribed to the will of God. In doing so, he was merely repeating many of the things from Old Testament legacy, but Deuteronomic law was set down around 500 BC. Muhammad was writing over a thousand years later. A millennium is an epoch which should convey learing from our errors, and above all compassion. To say al-Lah the merciful, al-Lah the compassionate wishes to slowly starve unfaithful wives to death in their houses is blasphemy.

Muhammad first bowed to Jerusalem and only later turned the centre of 'God's energy' from the Jewish spiritual capital to Mecca itself. The Qur'an is strewn with unique detail of Jewish history from the targums and apocryphal literature. Stoning women for adultery exists only in Deuteronomic law. The concept of jihad is precisely the invective used by Joshua to conquer the nations. Protection only for believers is a shadow of the protections of the decalogue, including not killing, applying only to other Jews, as is evidenced in the rape of Jericho. This is not said to blame the Jews but to help Islamic people recognise the true source of their dilemma.

In fact, al-Llah is Yahweh and El before him, the ancient father God of paternity: All are al-Llah.

2.136 Say: We believe in Allah and (in) that which had been revealed to us, and (in) that which was revealed to Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq and Yaqoub and the tribes, and (in) that which was given to Musa and Isa, and (in) that which was given to the prophets from their Lord, we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit.

3.84 Say: We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Ibrahim and Ismail and Ishaq and Yaqoub and the tribes, and what was given to Musa and Isa and to the prophets from their Lord; we do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him do we submit.

During the time of stuggle between Medina and Mecca which resulted from Muhammad's outright rejection of the al-Lat, Manat and al-Uzza, Muhammad actively sanctioned the cold-blooded murder of 700 male Jews in the souk of Medina, on the basis that they had considered siding with the Meccan enemies. This act of genocide then proved unwarranted because, in accepting the Sakina of Hudaybiyah, he entered Mecca in peace in the end. Although to his credit he did embrace peace, this was a difficult learing experience, and despite his peaceful entry to Mecca, he immediately proceeded to smash his own Arabic people's cultural heritage in an act of religious bigotry clearly reflecting the rape of the sanctuaries by Josiah, again a thousand years before. Even the souk of Medina has its echo in a Jewish act of religious genocide against the Christians of Narayan. But the Prince of Curls was a common Jewish warrior. Muhammad is extolled as the mouthpiece of God. Why then were 700 men beheaded unnecessarily?

Virtually every religion uses imagery to convey the nature of deity. Islam does this indirectly through Arabesque and mosaic. Christianity, despite the laws against idolatory is richly endowed with such icons, the 'virgin' with child being one of the most enduring. To finally enter the holy Ka'aba in peace and proceed to smash all 360 icons which represented a religious toleration embracing every devotee of the spiritual including reputedly Jesus and Mary, was an act of extreme religious vandalism. Buddha would have been appalled, as would have Lao Tsu, who made quite clear that "the way that can be told is not the countless way", yet the Qur'an is treated as an icon in precisely the way which makes it, by its own reckoning, a fundamentally idolatrous blasphemy against the unspeakable divine.

Even when faced with death, Jesus said to turn the other cheek and to love your enemies, rather than to do violence to them. Muhammad was a prophet of jihad who came upon peace by an act of the Shekhinah. That peace is Sakina - the feminine spirit of tranquillity.

Martyrdom 1:

Koranic verse: "Those who are slain in the cause of Allah are not counted among the dead. They are living in the presence of their Lord and are well provided for." - Price of Honour

Wafa's story makes a clear point that martyrdom can also happen tragically to the innocent. Why were the Israeli's using real bullets against stone throwers? Peace is the only living future. Wafa is tragically dead to the flesh. We all live on as spirit equally not just those who believe Islam. Only through peace, not jihad will a better way come.

Jesus didn't suffer:

In the Qur'an, Muhammad stated that Isa did not die a death of agony on the cross but was taken straight up to heaven:

4.157 "And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise."

In 3:55, the phrase "I am gathering thee", and in 5:117, the phrase "when Thou tookest me" are forms of the same Arabic word "tawaffa". Both these verses refer to the return of Jesus to God at the end of his life, and the most straightforward interpretation of them is to suppose that they refer to a natural death of Jesus at the end of his earthly life, but it can also mean that he was taken to heaven without undergoing the experience of physical death.

Comment: Abrogated: These suras are used to justify violent martyrdom involving killing others in Jihad on the basis that Jesus did not suffer on the Cross and that whoever dies in holy war will be automatically be taken painlessly to the bosom of God and into paradise. This is historically incorrect. All the evidence we have is that Jesus died a very painful death. It abets violence to others under the sanction of God. It violates Sakina - the Spirit of Tranquillity, through which Muhammad was received into Mecca.

Monotheistic Monolith

Islam is a religion in which an attempt is made to set up a monolith of religion, law and government this is the 'legacy of the prophet' to which I refer in the title. This is oppressive and totalitarian in its concept however much it may have been originally designed with the welfare of the people as a society in mind.

Carlos Castaneda very aptly said of "God": "Warriors know that man's idea of God is one of the most sturdy aspects of the human inventory which binds the assemblage point to its original position".

This is the tragegy of such an alignment. Oppression doesn't just come from forcing people against their will, it also comes from ordering people into one system, however willingly, if that system is one of rigid rule and prescriptive punishment for any deviation.

" 'Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Koran its Constitution, Jihad its path, and death for the sake of Allah its most sublime belief,' Article Eight declared ... How could they participate in a secular legislative system when all good Muslims knew that the Koran was the only legitimate constitution and source of divine law?" - Ninety-nine Names of God

To give Islam and the Qur'an this triple status - religion, state and law (shariat) is totalitarian. By aligning church, state and legal system, a society is created from which there can be no true evolution, no renewal and no escape. Such a society is doomed. Most frequently it will oppress its people to stagnation or decay as the women of Afghanistan are repressed or it will disintegrate explosively from within as the women of Algeria are oppressed. It may even destroy the society. The Jews followed Yahweh, invented Deuteronomic law, and were zealots for the Jewish state. They suffered holocaust and diaspora. It is an offence to all complementarity - male and female, mind and body, wave and particle, chaos and order.

This is essentially why secular society, democracy and free speech are essential to spiritual as well as material freedom and well-being. These are not the 'western way' nor the'depraved way'. The depravities of Western society come from another source, runaway commercial exploitation, particularly by multi-national organizations.

In becoming a monolith of order not only is natural dissent and criticism suppressed, but the verdant natural diversity that comes from creative freedom is destroyed. In the scientific epoch of genetic technology, such a totalitarian society is even more dangerous.

Karen Armstrong (1993) notes that this danger had already become an historical reality by the fifteenth century. Early Islam had a freer and more tolerant tradition in which reinterpretation of the law remained possible, but during the middle ages, the legal position become solidified into a fixed tradition, which claimed that legal prescriptions had now been determined for all time, thus casting Islamic law into a permanent medieval mold.

Blasphemy, apostasy and the unbeliever

4.93 And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement.

Comment: Abrogated because it implicitly condones killing if one does not share the same spiritual beliefs. Like the Old Testament, this implies genocide. It contradicts the universality of transcendent Truth. What is a truth only to believers is not the Truth. Ibn al-Arabi, whose experience of Sophia in the aura around a young girl Nizam as Sophia divine wisdom, made him realize falsafah or the utter transcendence of God beyond logic, has this right: "Do not attach yourself to any particular creed exclusively, so that you may disbelieve all the rest, otherwise you will lose much good, nay you will fail to recognise the truth of the matter. God the omni-present, the omnipotent is not limited by any one creed, for he says 'Wheresoever you turn, there is the face of al-Llah' (2:109). (Armstrong 1993 270-5). Everyone praises what he believes, his God is his own creature, and in praising it he praises himself. Consequently he blames the belief of others, which he would not do if he were just, but this dislike is based on ignorance."

Any religion which abets violence against anyone who is not of their own ilk is inherently oppressive and totalitarian. The saga of the hanif of Harran illustrates this point well. Even the members of Abraham's own historical community, despite welcoming the Muslims, escaped the choice of conversion or death only by making a plea that they were the mythical people of the book acquitted from such a fate by Muhammad.

Casting a death fatwah for blasphemy and apostasy likewise unacceptible. To prescribe the death penalty for representing God in iconic form is evil. The icon is the metaphorical mask of God. It is the literal taking of the word which loses this metaphorical inspirational meaning which is the root error of Islam. Egypt has allowed even its own Islamic scholar Abu Zaid to face the death threat for suggesting metaphorical interpretation of some Qur'an passages. Iran remains unable to guarantee saftety to Salman Rushdie and Bangla Desh for Taslima Nasrin. The very concept of the death fatwah is violent blasphemy - abandonment and debasement of God..

4.137 Surely (as for) those who believe then disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in disbelief, Allah will not forgive them nor guide them in the (right) path. Announce to the hypocrites that they shall have a painful chastisement: ... surely Allah will gather together the hypocrites and the unbelievers all in hell.

Comment: Abrogated: The prescription against apostasy lies in contradiction to freedom of will. If one doubts Islam and cannot decide, this does not justify punishment. If one steadfastly disblieves this neither warrants punisment. Even if someone takes Islam in vain, to threaten them with death or to issue a fatwah for their death is oppression of life, oppression of the freedom of spirit, which all people must possess to freely love God, or not, as is their will. To deny it is a complete contradiction to the transcendent freedom of the Godhead.

Binding the Feminine

Significantly this lust for bloodshed did not come from a real social need but from the very satanic verses which Muhammad pronounced against the three daughters of al-Llah: al-Lat, al-Uzza and Manat. Until the time of his pronouncing of sura 53:19, the prophet was accepted in Mecca. Even when later offered a pact of toleration, he chose to recite the sura of rejection, thus effectively forcing the division and conflict which led to the flight to Medina and the death of Khadja. He then embraced jihad which led to a continuing war of skirmish, bloodshed and desperation.

The Goddess is a false icon: Abrogated in the name of Wisdom

Sura 53.19 "Have you then considered the Lat and the Uzza,
And Manat, the third, the last?
What! for you the males and for Him the females!
This indeed is an unjust division!
They are naught but names which you have named,
you and your fathers;
Allah has not sent for them any authority.
They follow naught but conjecture and their low desires."

"53.26 And how many an angel is there in the heavens
whose intercession does not avail at all
except after Allah has given permission to whom He pleases and chooses.
Most surely they who do not believe in the hereafter
name the angels with female names."

Those who claim Islam has set a code of protection of women which gave them rights they did not previously enjoy may be correct about some of the nomadic clansmen, but they have a good deal of explaining to do. Barbara Walker points out the triple declaration of male divorce is an ironic mirror-reflection of the same rights previously enjoyed by women under the matriarchal umma which we can still see today among the Berber Tuareg. It is clear that Muhammad utterly smashed the Goddess, overthrowing a culture of the divine feminine which was renowned throughout the epoch of Nabataea - a culture in which women had significant political powers - that he discredited female angels and only came to terms even with Sakina because the situation necessitated it. That despite being surrounded with women, he only gave them half the status of men. We also know that from time immemorial until a century or two before Muhammad's time the great cultures of South Arabia had high queens such as the Queen of Sheba and worshipped male and female divinities alike, until the strife that arose between the Christians and the Jews a century of two before. This debasing of women and of the culture of the feminine continued to Muhammad's sorrow in the massacre at Daws, which the prophet himself prophesied as the eventual death knell of the patriarchal epoch.

It is said by al-Bukhari that the Prophet himself said: "This world shall not pass away until the buttocks of the women of Daws wiggle [again] around the dhu-al-Khalasah and they worship it as they were want to do [before Islam]" (Faris 32).

Women to be beaten and inferior:

Sura 4:34: "Men stand superior to women in that God hath preferred the one over the other ... Those whose perverseness you fear, admonish them and remove them into bed chambers and beat them, but if they submit to you then do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great."

Comment: Abrogated: Women are NOT inferior. They are the manifestation of sustainability. No religious text that advocates beating women is holy or sacrosanct.

"When the Koran sanctions wife beating and the execution of apostates, it can't be entirely exonerated for an epidemic of wife slayings and death sentences on authors"
- Nine Parts of Desire

Women only half the value of men:

4.11 Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females

Down to the present time, according to the Koran (2: 82) the evidence of two women is considered equivalent to that of one man: "call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses".

Hadith narrated by Abu Said Al-Khudri and Sahih Bukhari: The Prophet said, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind."

Comment: Abrogated: The female is equal to the male. This is incorrect and damaging to the female.

Al-Llah confines unfaithfull women to death:

4.15 And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them.

But only chastises 'the two' in his 'mercy':

4.16 And as for the two who are guilty of indecency from among you, give them both a punishment; then if they repent and amend, turn aside from them; surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful.

Comment: Abrogated: Confinement unto death is the cruellest of punishments. It remains unclear whether this implies starvation or life-imprisonment.

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Stoning to Death

In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangla Desh and Saudi Arabia women are regularly stoned to death.

"In Muslim law the punishment of lapidation is only inflicted for adultery. (Under Jewish law idolaters or bearers of false witness were also stoned). It is founded not upon the Quran where the only pounishment Sua 24:2 is one hundred stripes but upon the traditions where Muhammad is related to have said 'Verily God hath ordained for a man and a woman not married to one hundred lashes and expulsion from their home town for one year, and for a man and a woman having been married one hundred lashes and stoning'." (Hughes - Dictionary of Islam).

Abdu Ilah ibn Umar quotes a story in which Muhammad ordered stoning because it was in the Old Testament after a Jew declared an adulterous couple. The story is designed to portray the Jews as hiding the evidence in the Old Testament from Muhammad who then ordained it on the basis of the Bible. (Hughes - Dictionary of Islam).

The Hidaya says: "It is necessary when a whoremonger is to be stoned to death that he should be carried to some barren place void of houses or cultivation and it is requisite that the stoning be executed, first by witnesses and after then by the Imam or Qazi and after these by the bystanders." This is intended to oblige the witnesses to actually carry out the act of punishement in case they have perjured, but also involves the religious authorities directly in the killing. (Hughes - Dictionary of Islam).

When a woman is to be stoned, a hole or excavation should be dug to receive her as deep as her wallet because the prophet ordered such a hole to be dug for Ghandiyah (at whom he threw only one rock the size of a bean when she confessed). Ali also ordered a hole to be dug for Shuraha Hamidad. The purpose of the hole is to conserve 'decency' for the female. (Hughes - Dictionary of Islam).

Flogging for adultery:

24.2 (As for) the fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them, (giving) a hundred stripes, and let not pity for them detain you in the matter of obedience to Allah, if you believe in Allah and the last day, and let a party of believers witness their chastisement.

24.3 The fornicator shall not marry any but a fornicatress or idolatress, and (as for) the fornicatress, none shall marry her but a fornicator or an idolater; and it is forbidden to the believers.

Comment: Abrogated: Adultery which is not rape is a voluntary consenting act. It should not be punishable. This is really an attempt by men to ensure paternity by force. Women must be free to choose who they get pregnant to because it is they who have to carry the child to term. Men should achieve trust through trust not through violence. The equating of idolatry and fornication is an invective against fertility religion.

Enforced seclusion of women:

Hamas considers the unveiled as collaborators of a kind.
It is our religious duty to execute collaborators.
HAMAS GRAFFITI, GAZA - Price of Honour

24.30 Say to the believing men that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts; that is purer for them; surely Allah is Aware of what they do.

24.31 And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known; and turn to Allah all of you, O believers! so that you may be successful.

24.60 And (as for) women advanced in years who do not hope for a marriage, it is no sin for them if they put off their clothes without displaying their ornaments; and if they restrain themselves it is better for them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.

33.59 O Prophet! say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers that they let down upon them their over-garments; this will be more proper, that they may be known, and thus they will not be given trouble; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Comment: Abrogated: The two passages are manifestly biased to the ownership of women by men of a blood line. Women have a concealed estrus to give them sexual privacy in their reproductive associations. It is the woman's prerogative to veil if and only if she so chooses. No man should attempt to veil or sequester any woman. What you cannot achieve by trust do not try to achieve by confinement.

Seclusion of women from public life:

Webke Walther in Women in Islam notes "Closely connected with the veil is the exclusion of women from public life. This is based on a verse in the Koran which clearly refers to the wives of the Prophet: '. . . When ye ask them (i.e. the wives of the Prophet) for any article, ask them from behind a curtain; that is purer for your hearts and for theirs.' (33: 53; see also 33: 55). It is reported in an Arab historical work dating from the ninth century that this revelation originated at the marriage of Muhammed to the beautiful Zaynab Bint Jahsh ... Toward the end of the wedding feast, the guests showed no signs of departing. Muhammed impatiently left the room several times and went out into the courtyard, hoping that he would finally be left alone with his new bride. But this was not the case. It was now that the verse quoted above was revealed to him."

Comment: Should Muhammad's urgent desire to consummate his marriage sparked by seeing his adopted son's spouse in her underwear doom women from public life for the rest of history? Is this whole 'tryst' inspired by God? Women in Afghanistan can no longer work and are confined to home. Circumstances are similar in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. countries with only 10% of women in the work force. The lowest in the entire world.

Women confined in their movement:

Narrated Abu Huraira, Ibn 'Umar: The Prophet said, "A woman should not travel for more than three days except with a Dhi-Mahram (i.e. a male with whom she cannot marry at all, e.g. her brother, father, grandfather, etc.) or her own husband.)"

Comment: Totally unacceptable. Trust your womenfolk if you love them. Protect your family in freedom, not bondage. Today women in Afghanistan are completely confined in their movement and cannot venture out without a burqa and a male family member.

Women deficient in religion:

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) of 'Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."

Comment: Naked prejudice against the very evidence that the female possesses equal genetic rights to the offspring as the male. The menses are accursed by man because by doing so woman's equal share in genetic and spiritual parenthood can be denied.

Women are equivalent to dogs and beasts of the field:

Narrated 'Aisha: The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, "Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people)." I said, "You have made us (i.e. women) dogs. I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in my bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I would slip away. for I disliked to face him."

Comment: Perhaps the men would like to become dogs for a millennium or two? The girls of Algeria are abducted forced into marriages of convenience or merely raped and have their throats cut. All this in the name of al-Llah.

Men a rank above women in divorce:

Webke Walter notes: In the context of divorce, the Koran says that they (women) have the same right as is exercised over them, though the men have a rank above them. (2: 228)

2.222 And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is a discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean; then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.

2.228 And the divorced women should keep themselves in waiting for three courses; and it is not lawful for them that they should conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the last day; and their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation; and they have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and the men are a degree above them, and Allah is Mighty, Wise.

Comment: Abrogated because women and men are entirely equal and mutually complementary in reproduction. It is not the case that male intercource contributes the divine seed and the woman only the womb. We see here why men are more equal than women. Men are the agents of "what Allah has created in their wombs".

Webke notes: A Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim, but a Muslim man is permitted to marry a Jewish or a Christian woman. ... After a divorce, she must wait three months before remarrying. Men, however, are permitted to remarry immediately. (2:234, 228) The waiting period for the woman was introduced by Muhammed in order to determine whether the woman was expecting a child, so that the paternity could be established without any doubt. If the woman was pregnant, she could only re-marry after the birth of the child.

Comment: Let both sexes marry whom they please. A pregnant woman may need support and partnership. To forbid a woman to marry while pregnant to secure paternity rights is sexual discrimination. Given the violent treatment of fornication, it remains doubtful whether men should be able to demand paternity tests. Virginity tests are an even more unacceptable invasion of personal privacy.

None of thewse statements denies that the Qur'an also contains some compassionate and democratic passages inspiring love: "Amongst His signs is that He hath created for you of your own species spouses that ye may dwell with them, and hath set love and mercy between you." (30: 20)

To his credit, Muhammad tried to keep to the Koran's instruction that a man must treat all his wives equally. His practice was to see each of them, every afternoon, in a brief private meeting, but to have his dinner and spend the night with one at a time, in strict rotation.

Of course there are many defenders of the position that, despite these restrictive traditions, Muhammad was a "radical, compassionate reformer who did much to liberate and protect women. ... 'Certainly the attitude of the Prophet as regards women has weighed heavily on Muslim civilization, for [his] examples and principles were forcibly warped by the natural tendency of men to seek their own advantage. He certainly improved woman's lot in the Arabia of his day. He prohibited infanticide and the prostitution of slave-women. He established the rights of women to inherit (a half-share). He proclaimed that ... married couples have reciprocal duties and rights, and that women ought to be educated. He limited the number of wives a man may lawfully have to four. He did not set himself up as a model. As it was, he hardly surprised his contemporaries; on the contrary they were inclined to admire his amatory prowess, and were accustomed, like the contemporaries of Solomon, to measure the power of a ruler by the number of his wives. Polygamy was only permitted if one was capable of being perfectly fair to all. Concubines could only be obtained from the holy war, not from the purchase of slaves. Daughters could not be married without their own consent, and this ought to have done away with the right of jabr (arranging marriages for minors). As for unilateral divorce which, more than the now rapidly disappearing polygamy, is the curse of Muslim family life, it is condemned in the famous but little observed hadith, "There is nothing created that God likes better than the freeing of slaves, and nothing that He hates more than divorce.' -Emile Dermenghem - Muhammad and the Islamic Tradition" (Occhigrosso 1996 404).

What is somewhat difficult to ascertain is just how true these statements are about the previous Arabic society. The relative strength and independence of the Nabataean queens as noted on the coinage of Aretas IV and Shaqilat II and the cruel repression of the women of Daws and the women of Hadramaut who had their hands cut off by Abu Bake's soldiers for celebrating Muhammad's death as a wedding.

Certain writers pass some of the blame to later patriarchs who themselves had reasons to sequester and veil their women: "Many of the so-called cultural and ethnic habits that we see in Muslims today are not derived from the original teachings of Islam, but trace their origins back to that period of the corrupt Ummayad dynasty. Indeed dynastic rule itself was forbidden by Muhammad. The separation of men and women within the same house began in Damascus. There were men who wanted to have dancing girls in their palaces and so they created for the women of the household ladies' quarters, which had not existed in houses before. The mosque, which had been the center of the community where the general public met, and which was the center of economic, social, and political exchange as well as a place of worship, ceased to be so. The mosque became a place of ritualistic worship and lost its pivotal position in the life of the community. The caliph grew fat, often drank and did not want to leave his palace. Accordingly the palace became the center of power and governmental activities. In order not to have his debauchery openly exposed, the caliph separated the women and the children from himself, and thus the home was divided and fragmented." -Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri, The Elements of Sufis (Occhigrosso 1996 421).

Temporary Marriage

One particular respect in which Shi'ite and Sunni branches of Islam differ is in the institution of temporary marriage: "A major difference in custom is the Shia practice of muta, or temporary marriage. An ingenious expedient created by Shiites to resolve the tension of momentary lust without resorting to either dishonor or sexual repression, muta may last only a few hours, but it legitimizes any offspring of the union. Sunnis disavow such a concept, even though their treatment of women is considerably less generous than that of the Shiites when it comes to family inheritance and participation in religious ritual. " (Occhigrosso 1996 432)

Islam and Women:

The Blood of the Prophets and the blood of the Martyrs

Matt 23:30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

Although Muhammad claimed he and Jesus were both simply prophets of al-Llah, he is nevertheless claimed to be the final prophet. This has effectively made Jesus' cry come true for Islam. Although certain Shi'ite sects claim the mystical tradition of the Imams, there is a general prohibition on any further fundamental evolution of the prophetic tradition except in the final Requital in the form of Isa (the returning Christ) and the Mahdi.

This has caused a continuing degree of danger for the inspired mystical traditions which grew in Islam to realize in ecstasy the union with the divine within, which is so characteristic of gnosticism, the vedantic tradition of the Self, Buddhist enlightenment and the mystical tradition generally. While Islam has contained diverse mystical and philosophical traditions in its heyday of toleration and cultural flowering, as the law became closed, bound and final, so religious toleration has suffered. Here follows a brief indication of some of the earlier dimensions of inquiry.

The Faylasufs attempted a philosophical integration of Greek philosophy with (muslim) religion. Al-Kindi expresses this well:"We should not be ashamed to acknowledge truth and to assibilate it from whatever source it comes to us, even if it is brought to us by former generations and foreign peoples. For him who seeks the truth there is nothing of higher value than truth itself; it never cheapens nor debases him who reaches for it, but ennobles and honours him" (Armstrong 93 202).

Al-Farabi in Shia tradition envisaged ten emanations between God and the material world. In the first heaven was Muhammad, the next Ali and so on down to Fatimah who had made this sacred line possible. She was the mother of Islam and Sophia in the 'manok' or archetypal order (Armstrong 93 208).

Cover detail from The Way of the Sufi (Shah)

Sufism: In Sufism is the salvation of Islam. Sufism is the inner garment of the visionary light, free of fundamentalism and unfettered by fixed belief. It is the one in which all outer garments are shed as the layers of the onion and it is the inner garment of which Islam is the traditional outer garment. Its roots are deeper and wider than Islam yet it is the visionary endowment of the prophet's tradition.

The Tragedy of Bahai: Bahai is a religion of world spiritual unity claiming a revealed prophetic tradition originating int he 19th century. The risks run by any prophet who claims to break out of the mold imposed by Islam are emphasized by the fate of Báb who was imprisoned and then executed by firing squad and following him of Bahá'u'llah who upon revealing the divinity of his inspiration was exiled to Baghdad, and imprisoned in the Akka barracks after declaring Feast of Ridván where "He assumed the supreme authority which He had received from the Most High at the time of His call." - calling it "The Day of God" whereon "all created things were immersed in the sea of purification" (works of Bahá'u'llah). This language of divine personal empowerment was regarded by Islam as heresy. 20,000 died in his cause and are still persecuted and denied personal freedoms today in Iran because of the potential threat his messianic hope causes to traditional Islam by the very existence of Bahai followers. His message is however apt:

" ... ye walk on my earth complacent and self-satisfied,
heedless that My earth is weary of you and everything within it shunneth you"
(works of Bahá'u'llah)

Jesus, Mary and Muhammad.

Just as the Qur'an contains a wealth of Jewish literature outside the Torah so it contains an Arabic slant on Jesus and Mary. Bearing in mind that Paul went to Arabia, this may form a complementary aspect of Jesus tradition associated with the Bridegroom of Edom, Dhu Shara. Jesus bears the name Isa in the Qur'an, a name associated with Esau, the 'red man' of Edom. This was a term of abuse of Jesus applied by the Jews, and one should realize the truth in this view. Jesus was pan-cultural in his vision, as the woman from the coasts of Tyre indicates, although reserving a good place for the children of Israel.

In addition to being Yahweh and El   al-Llah is Abba:

3.52 But when Isa perceived unbelief on their part, he said Who will be my helpers in Allah's way? The disciples said: We are helpers (in the way) of Allah: We believe in Allah and bear witness that we are submitting ones.

Isa is peace and love, and is raised to life from the dead:

19.33 And peace on me on the day I was born, and on the day I die, and on the day I am raised to life.

Isa speaks the controversial truth:

19.34 Such is Isa, son of Marium; (this is) the saying of truth about which they dispute.

Isa is only an apostle of Allah, not a God in himself. Correct. Essential. Common sense.

4.171 O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector.

5.116 And when Allah will say: O Isa son of Marium! did you say to men, Take me and my mother for two gods besides Allah he will say: Glory be to Thee, it did not befit me that I should say what I had no right to (say); if I had said it, Thou wouldst indeed have known it; Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I do not know what is in Thy mind, surely Thou art the great Knower of the unseen things.

6.85 And Zakariya and Yahya and Isa and Ilyas; every one was of the good;

Isa has clear agruments and is strong in spirit:

2.87 And most certainly We gave Musa the Book and We sent apostles after him one after another; and We gave Isa, the son of Marium, clear arguments and strengthened him with the holy spirit, What! whenever then an apostle came to you with that which your souls did not desire, you were insolent so you called some liars and some you slew.

this is extended to miracles:

2.253 We have made some of these apostles to excel the others among them are they to whom Allah spoke, and some of them He exalted by (many degrees of) rank; and We gave clear miracles to Isa son of Marium, and strengthened him with the holy spirit. And if Allah had pleased, those after them would not have fought one with another after clear arguments had come to them, but they disagreed; so there were some of them who believed and others who denied; and if Allah had pleased they would not have fought one with another, but Allah brings about what He intends.

the miracles are described as permissions of God: including breathing life into a clay bird.

5.110 When Allah will say: O Isa son of Marium! Remember My favor on you and on your mother, when I strengthened you I with the holy Spirit, you spoke to the people in the cradle and I when of old age, and when I taught you the Book and the wisdom and the Taurat and the Injeel; and when you determined out of clay a thing like the form of a bird by My permission, then you breathed into it and it became a bird by My permission, and you healed the blind and the leprous by My permission; and when you brought forth the dead by My permission; and when I withheld the children of Israel from you when you came to them with clear arguments, but those who disbelieved among them said: This is nothing but clear enchantment.

Mana from heaven:

5.114 Isa the son of Marium said: O Allah, our Lord! send down to us food from heaven which should be to us an ever-recurring happiness, to the first of us and to the last of us, and a sign from Thee, and grant us means of subsistence, and Thou art the best of the Providers.

The 'virgin birth' is accepted, consistent with Arabian Hellenism.

3.45 When the angels said: O Marium, surely Allah gives you good news with a Word from Him (of one) whose name is the '. Messiah, Isa son of Marium, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who are made near (to Allah).

Isa is correctly identified with Adam in the standing Adam tradition. He is the second Adam thus spanning the entire epoch back to the Fall.

3.59 Surely the likeness of Isa is with Allah as the likeness of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, Be, and he was.

4.156 And for their unbelief and for their having uttered against Marium a grievous calumny.

Everyone believes Isa shall be present in Judgement at the Requital:

43:61 He (Isa) is surely a knowledge of the hour. ... And when Isa came with clear arguments he said: I have come to you indeed with wisdom, and that I may make clear to you part of what you differ in.

4.159 And there is not one of the followers of the Book but most certainly believes in this before his death, and on the day of resurrection he (Isa) shall be a witness against them.

5.115 Allah said: Surely I will send it down to you, but whoever shall disbelieve afterwards from among you, surely I will chastise him with a chastisement with which I will not chastise, anyone among the nations.

Allah is supposed to have killed Isa rather then the Jews.

This is a correct and honest interpretation of the situation. Jesus died as a sacrifice of atonement and as a martyr to insurrection. A Roman martyr and a Jewish sacrifice. It thus was Yahweh who killed him not the Jews. The idea that Jesus should be killed by God so that the believers will go to heaven and the unbeliever go to hell gives God fair responsibility for the whole problem.

3.55 And when Allah said: O Isa, I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend unto Me and purify you of those who disbelieve and make those who follow you above those who disbelieve to the day of resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, so l will decide between you concerning that in which you differed.

This passage abets martyrdom by alleging that a martyr does not suffer pain or agony. Incorrect.

There is no evidence whatever this is correct. It is a product of the early docetic doctrine that saw Jesus as only partly substantial - a spirit being manifesting in the flesh.

4.157 And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him, but it appeared to them so (like Isa) and most surely those who differ therein are only in a doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow a conjecture, and they killed him not for sure. Nay! Allah took him up to Himself; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.

5.78 Those who disbelieved from among the children of Israel were cursed by the tongue of Dawood and Isa, son of Marium; this was because they disobeyed and used to exceed the limit.

The Jews are blamed for Jesus travail and death. This is incorrect in principle.

If al-Llah did it, the Jews are merely participants in a sacrificial drama. The Jews themselves, indeed even the Samaritans believed in the Requital. The Jews are not to blame as a people for Isa's death. The sacrifice was the product of the vision of the epoch.

4.160 Wherefore for the iniquity of those who are Jews did We disallow to them the good things which had been made lawful for them and for their hindering many (people) from Allah's way.

On to Part 2: The Fatwah and the Shulamite?