Sweden, the UK, and the Netherlands are in a three-way race to see which country can achieve full dhimmitude first. Every time I think one of them is winning, one of the other contenders puts on a burst of speed and pulls ahead.
Today the Netherlands has forged into the lead. A Dutch philosopher has taken a close look at the Koran and determined that it is a thoroughly modern book, especially in its prescriptions for how women should be treated.
I kid you not. According to Radio Netherlands:
Does the Qur’an say I can hit you?
The Qur’an is more positive about women than many people think. That’s the conclusion by philosopher Marlies ter Borg, who compared the texts on women in the Bible and the Qur’an on the website www.bibleandkoran.net. Nevertheless, it is difficult to remain objective with all the commotion surrounding Islam in the Netherlands.
‘Woman and her relationship to man’ is the name of the new chapter on the website by IKON and Radio Netherlands Worldwide. The creators of the website, Marlies ter Borg and Karima Bisshop, place texts on themes such as the economic independence of women, marriage and divorce from the Qur’an and the Bible alongside one another so that readers can decide for themselves.
The website’s compilers see it as a contribution to the public debate on Islam in the Netherlands, which they say is full of misconceptions. Marlies ter Borg answers some of RNW’s questions and starts by explaining:
“Many people think the Qur’an is anti-women. But there’s nothing in the Qur’an to suggest this. Christians, on the other hand, often think they are more tolerant towards women. But Bible texts can be worse on that point…”
RNW: So the Qur’an is less misogynistic that people think?
– – – – – – – – –
“In many ways, the Qur’an is more modern than the Bible. Which isn’t surprising by the way, because the Qur’an is much more recent and many of the stories are based on the Bible.
Many of the biblical themes are revisited in a modern version.
Take the economic position of women. The Old Testament says women can make financial transactions, but they can be reversed by her father or husband when they think she has done the wrong thing.
On the other hand, the Qur’an gives women financial independence when they get married. The man has to pay her a dowry, which she can use at her own discretion. She is able to enter financial obligations as an individual.
Another example is divorce. Both Jesus and Mohammed were confronted by the outrageous situation that men could simply turn their wives out onto the street. Jesus solves the problem of divorce by banning it.
Mohammed says: Split up if there is no other option but, when you do so, follow a procedure, which protects the interests of the woman. An extensive divorce procedure, in which the woman is entitled to support. This was an huge reform at that time.”
RNW: You cite the Qur’an verse which states that sons get twice as much inheritance as women. This is clearly a case of inequality. But why do you think it is reasonable to a certain extent?
“Because in the Qur’an men have many more financial obligations. When he gets married he has to pay a dowry, when he gets divorced he is responsible for the woman and the children. So it is not surprising that he gets more financial resources.”
And now we come to one of the more damning verses in the Koran: the one that values the testimony of a woman at half that of a man.
Alas, Prof. ter Borg must have spilled soup on that page when he was making his close examination of the book, because he missed it:
RNW: Another Qur’an verse says that evidence given by a woman is worth half that of evidence given by a man. This verse plays an important role in the discussions on this subject in the Islamic world. But I haven’t come across that verse in the chapter.
“I think we must have missed that verse. If people give us tips on things we have missed, we say: Thank you very much, we’ll add it. The internet is an interactive medium.”
Whoops! We should have sent in a tip. Oh, well…
RNW: In the press release you say that the idea that a man should beat his wife is based on a translation error.
“The Arabic word ‘daraba’ in the verse you are talking about has different meanings: it can mean beat, but it can also mean leave. It can be interpreted in different ways. The question then is: which interpretation is the most accurate? In the context of the passages on divorce, it appears to be about the question: when can a man leave his wife?”
You’ve got to give the Radio Netherlands interviewer credit; he couldn’t let that honker just slide by:
RNW: Aren’t you interpreting the Qur’an? I don’t think you will be able to find an Arabic speaker who reads that word as ‘leave’.
“We don’t really interpret. But sometimes you are confronted with the question of how to translate a certain word. We just want to show people that different interpretations are possible. So that in the public arena you cannot just say: the Qur’an says men can hit women!”
In other words: “When choosing our interpretation of the Koran, we will always choose the version that makes Muslims look their best, and lets them off the hook!”
The phrase “Useful Idiot” has been overworked in recent years, but I can’t think of a better term.
Hat tip: TB.