This is part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.One thing one quickly come away with when reading the Koran is how much of it is directed to men; how much of its promises, blessings, and privileges are directed at and reserved for men. It quickly becomes apparent that men are superior to women and, in many ways, women are no better than children and often are treated like property. The Koran teaches us that God created men to be superior to men.
"Men are the managers of the affairs of women [superior to women] for that God has preferred in bounty [gifted the] one of them over another [above the other], and for that they have expended of their property [on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them]." (Koran 4:38)Here, Muhammad tells us that men are superior to women because God has created them superior, giving giftings to the man that are higher and superior to the giftings He gave to women. We certainly cannot deny that men and women are different; their physical and emotional makeup differs one from another. Men tend to be stronger physically than women and women tend to be stronger emotional than men and are often more caring, nurturing, and insightful then men. However, this does not make one superior, or better, than the other, it just makes them different. In the Jewish scriptures, when God is about to take the woman from the side of man, He says, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Genesis 2:18) Here, the Hebrew word for "suitable" means one who can stand in front of, or opposite to. It is the picture of one who is not inferior of beneath the other but one who stands before another as their equal. This equality of Eve with Adam was also reflected in the words Adam spoke when he first saw Eve, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." (Genesis 2:23) Adam saw her as his equal, as being his own bones and his flesh. He saw her not as his slave or possession but his companion and his equal.
The Koran also teaches us that men are superior to women because they provide financially for their sustenance. However, such a view demeans the value that a woman bring to a home, even if she is not working or contributing to the financial purse of the home. It is an affront to the the value of a good wife and mother to say that just because she does not provide financially, she is not as important as a man. Moreover, it doe not take into account the realities of toay when many women do work and contribute to the finances of the home. If a woman earns more than a man is she then to be considered superior to him? King Lemuel teaches us, "An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." (Proverbs 31:10-11) A woman's value may not be financial, but it is nevertheless incalculable.
The Koran goes on to say that, in all things, and especially in a marriage, men are a step above women.
"Divorced women shall wait by themselves for three periods; and it is not lawful for them to hide what God has created in their wombs; if they believe in God and the Last Day. In such time their mates have better right to restore them, if they desire to set things right. Women have such honourable rights as obligations [and it is for the women to act as they (the husbands) act by them, in all fairness], but their men have a degree [step] above them; God is All-mighty, All-wise." (Koran 2:228)However, the Christian scriptures teach us that, in Christ, all distinction of gender vanish. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) While the scriptures do teach that men are to be the "head" of the women, it is a headship of service as demonstrated by Jesus who is the "head" of the church. It says of Jesus' headship that, "Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25) and "for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body." (Ephesians 5:29-30) Men may be the head of their wives but their wives are also as their flesh. Men are to view wives not as inferior but as themselves. "So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies." (Ephesians 5:28)
"And call in to witness two witnesses, men; or if the two be not men, then one man and two women, such witnesses as you approve of, that if one of the two women errs the other will remind her; and let the witnesses not refuse, whenever they are summoned." (Koran 2:282)
"If there be two sisters, they shall receive two-thirds of what he leaves; if there be brothers and sisters, the male shall receive the portion of two females." (Koran 4:174)
This is quite understandable in the context of the culture and society that Muhammad lived in, but Muhammad is claiming more than cultural authority, he is claiming that his teachings come directly from God. It is not Muhammad that is saying one man is worth two women, it is God! Peter teaches husbands to "show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." (1 Peter 3:7) However, the Koran teaches great dishonor towards women. Women are worth less than a man, women's value in a marriage is less than a man, and women are lower in degree to men in the sight of God. Where is the honor here? God created us all alike. We are equal before Him and we are all honored by Him. The Koran brings women low but the true God in Heaven lifts them up and honors them equally with the rest of mankind.
More to come...