Excerpt - A Brief Introduction: Believing Women in Islam

Chapter 1 

Interpreting Scripture


A Core Dispute


Islam, like Christianity and Judaism, informs us of who we are, what God expects of us, and how we may meet those expectations. It advises us of imperfections that bar our salvation. Islam is home both to those who, on the one hand, read its sacred text, the Qur’an, as teaching sexual inequality and the oppression of women, and those who, on the other, understand its teachings to be liberating for women.

The former view supports patriarchy in Islamic societies based on a conservative reading of the Qur’an. We’ll be more precise about patriarchy in Islam in due course, but by way of example, patriarchy makes the foundational claim that women are defective. Thus, a famous ancient Islamic scholar claim that God spoke thus of Eve: “Were it not for … Eve the women of this world would not menstruate, and they would be intelligent and, when pregnant, give birth easily” (Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari [b.838, d.923], The Commentary on the Qur’an, 280-281). If anyone mistakenly thinks that such claims have disappeared from the face of the earth, consider the following comments from a contemporary Saudi Arabian imam, scholar, and (at the time) religious advisor to the king:


The Prophet Muhammad said about women: “I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.” And, Islam … has shown that the twisted nature of women stems from their very creation. This is how God wanted woman to be … Therefore, the husband should not make her do anything that is contrary to her nature and to the way she was created by God … he should turn a blind eye to her mistakes, he should tolerate her slips and errors, and put up with all the silly ignorant things she might say, because this constitutes part of the nature of her creation. (Saleh Al-

Fawsan, Memri TV, clip no.1,483, June 11, 2007).


David Raeburn Finn

David Raeburn Finn read a BA (Hons) in Philosophy and Psychology at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. Subsequently he read a PhD supported by a Canada Council Post Doctoral Fellowship at the University of London, UK. At one point he imagined he might pursue medicine. Though he completed the task of castrating a lab rat in a neurophysiology course, the experience taught him of his aversion to cutting, a fatal flaw for a physician. He has taught, operated small private businesses in construction and importing, and worked with a Vancouver hedge fund management firm.

At age seventy-one he co-published his children's book, Poopballs Over The Shanty And Other Bedtime Stories' (Caledon Bedtime Press Ltd, 2013) illustrated by Rae Mate.These five bedtime stories reflect his earliest memories as a child in Ontario. Each story takes 10 to 12 minutes to read aloud. The title story, Poopballs Over the Shanty, recalls the earliest outdoor game he played with his brother."Yes, we tossed frozen horse poop over an old broken shanty," he says. "We didn't have rubber balls or tennis balls. Some of the horse poop was a tad fresher, so unfrozen. We found a use for that, too."

David Finn's Recognitions

  • "David Raeburn Finn is a Canadian philosopher and student of Islam. He currently writes on Pashtun anthropology, gender and Islam, American foreign policy, and politics, as well as fiction for children and adults."

  • "David Raeburn Finn of Nanoose Bay was born in Sudbury District, Ontario on May 17, 1942. Raised in Caledon and Etobicoke, Ontario, he received his BA (1964) and MA (1965) from Queens University; and completed his Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship at University of London, UK (Ph.D, 1967)."