Muhammad was a feminist.
Believe it or not, not too long ago the Huffington Post published a column that made this patently laughable claim.
When I first heard that someone had the gall to write this, I was incredulous, swearing that either the source was mistaken or the article itself was satirical. My intuitions, as it turns out, were wrong on both counts.
The author of the piece, Jim Garrison, insists that Moses, Confucius, the Buddha, and Jesus have nothing on Muhammad as far as advancing women’s rights are concerned, for the founder of Islam “was easily the most radical and empowering in his treatment of women.” “Arguably,” Muhammad was “history’s first feminist.”
The first thing of which to take note here is that this is not history that Garrison presents to his readers. It is what the philosopher Michael Oakeshott calls “retrospective politics,” the enterprise of enlisting the past in the service of a present political agenda. Only this is the worst sort of retrospective politics, for the past that Garrison invokes isn’t even a real past. It is an invented past, a past made in the image of his leftist ideology.
Secondly, while Muhammad’s teachings on women may very well have marked an advance over those of his pagan contemporaries in the Arabic world, only someone who is as theologically as he is historically illiterate could think to rank Muhammad above all other religious founders on the question of sexual equality.
In reality, the Prophet belongs at the bottom of this scale.
As Robert Spencer has noted, the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book that Muslims regard as the incarnation of Allah, affirms the superiority of men over women and commands men “to beat those from whom they ‘fear disobedience.’” It as well likens women to commodities that can and should be used by men as the latter please; assigns only half of the value to the testimony of women that it assigns to that of men; and promotes polygamy, sex with slave girls, and marriage with pre-pubescent girls. The Quran as well stipulates that the inheritance for male heirs should be double that which it is for females.
And the bulk of those in Hell, Muhammad is said to have remarked, are women.
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