Alpine Summit

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Food for Thought

I'm reading "Now They Call Me Infidel" by Nonie Darwish. It's a book about a woman growing up in Egypt, more importantly a Muslim society, as a child of a religious martyr and her transformation from a Muslim Egyptian to a Christian American.

In chapter four she outlines the stark contrast between a Christian/Western wedding versus a Muslim/Eastern wedding.

As a teenager, I vividly recall watching the scene of a church wedding in an old Hollywood movie. I was very touched by the holiness of the marriage vows, especially when the husband promised to love, honor and cherish his one and only wife "till death do us part."

She goes on to note that each participant is an equal before God as opposed to the man being the be all and end all to the relationship. She also notes the romance and genuine love behind the wedding as opposed to the business contract Muslim marriages are all-too-often made.

I now realize that my innocent mind was touched not only by the romance of the marriage vows but also by the way a Christian woman was honored and elevated by her husband and society..."

Her arguments against Muslim law regarding marriage using the resulting family dynamics are undeniable. When a man can drop a woman (or not depending on the situation) at the first sign of trouble in the relationship, the woman's goal is no longer to please her lover but to constantly fight for her husband's exclusivity since he can marry up to four women. It's also a matter of the woman having to ensure her survival in the event that her husband does divorce her-- which she says is why Muslim women are allowed to keep their family's property after getting married.

How can a religion, supposedly the final words of God for the benefit of all mankind for all time, cause such a gap in not just equality of genders, but intimacy in relationship between a husband and wife?

The Koran (Qur'an) talks about "Allah the most merciful, most loving..." I have to smile when I read that. Is it more loving to share your life with someone to whom you have promised yourself exclusively for your life? Or is it more representative of God's love that two people are in constant battle to outmaneuver the other for the sake of surviving on one side (woman) and retaining honor and control on the other (man)? Darwish goes on to mention how this isn't always the case, but the culture (which she explains more than I will here) hinders any kind of advancement and can even cause the women to become more "devout" than their husbands because it gives them some level of respectability--furthering the oppression.

I haven't finished the book yet, but it is very inciteful so far and full of things of which I think many western women should be aware.