Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

What Does God Say About the Family?

By Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.

The family was created by Yahweh.  The first couple were given the command to have children and populate the earth.  This is no easy task.  Having a family is not like breeding animals.  Animals have instincts that are designed  into them and they care for their young accordingly.

Humans are different from the lower animals.  They have been given a brain that enables them to reason, to solve problems, to make judgments, to make choices between good and bad, and to pursue the possibility of a Godly lifestyle.

Let’s begin with the story of the creation of the first two people.  The book of Genesis says,

Gen 1:27 “And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (ASV)  There is no judgment in this account that man is better than woman or that woman is better than the man.  They are both created by Yahweh and both stand before Him.

The story of creation involves the word “good.”  Neither one was regarded as unfinished or created with parts that were bad. Was Eve lacking something in her physical makeup? Did Yahweh perform an operation on Eve’s genitals (genital mutilation) after creating her? Did Yahweh tell Adam and Eve to do this to their daughters?  Such a procedure is an insult and a slap in the face of Yahweh.  Whoever first thought of the procedure was inspired by Satan.  This is an evil that is perpetuated by ignorant parents who were abused by their ignorant parents.  If God had wanted to make woman the way evil people have abused women he could have done so, but that was not his intention.

This terrible procedure done on young girls only creates problems for them as well as their husband and their children.  When a woman who has been mutilated marries, intercourse is a severe threat to her. Many women have been sewn up after the mutilation so that they can barely urinate.  Sexual intercourse may mean tearing of the woman.  If that does not happen, child birth is another threat because the opening is not wide enough for the delivery of the child, because scar tissue will not stretch during child birth as the woman’s healthy tissue is designed to do. Moreover, many girls die from the mutilation because it is done by amateurs who have crude instruments, and no sterilization. 

Some claim that there is no basis for female mutilation in Islam.  However, Dr. Muhammad al-Mussayar of Al-Azhar University has stated:

 “All jurisprudents, since the advent of Islam and for fourteen centuries or more, are in consensus that female circumcision is permitted in Islam. But they were divided as to its status in the Sharia.  Some said that female circumcision is required by the Sharia, just like male circumcision.  Some said this is a mainstream practice, while others said that it is a noble act. The Shafi’i school of Sharia considers circumcision of girls compulsory.” (Muhammad al-Mussayar, Panorama show, Al-Arabiya TV, February 12, 2007)

Ahmad ibn Hanbal (from whom the Hanbal school of Islamic jurisprudence takes its name, quotes Mohammed as saying, “Circumcision is a law for men and a preservation of honor for women.’”  (Ahmad ibn Hanibal d.855) (Source)

Reading these “rationalizations” for female mutilation one wonders if that is a noble act what is a degrading act done to women.  If this is a badge of honor what is an act of dishonor?  When one has not been brainwashed by Sharia these comments seem to be a perversion of values and an insult to the Creator’s design for healthy child birth. What is bad is considered good and what is good by Yahweh’s creation is considered bad.

It is ironic that imams can whip up a crowd to persecute someone accused for blasphemy by some enemy, but do not preach about the terrible evils people impose on their female children.  Accusations of blasphemy are often motivated by jealousy, hate, or envy, and are usually false. Once female mutilation is done it is a horrible and evil experience that the girl has to endure and live with the rest of her life.

While we are at this juncture it would be useful to consider the idea of Sharia law and where it came from.  Sharia law came into existence after the death of Mohammed when Islam was beginning to fall apart with people lapsing from Islam.  In attempting to gain control over the people Sharia was created by a number of imams.  The laws are drawn from the Qur’an and the hadiths.  What is striking is that the caliphs were exempt from punishment under the Sharia for cases of theft, adultery, killing and drinking.  Imam Abu Hanifa stated, “An Islamic State Head cannot be charged for adultery, robbery, theft, or drinking.”  (Codified Islamic Law, vol. 3, no.914)  Mohammed had 11 wives which was a privilege for him alone, but later Caliphs had harems of hundreds.

This seemingly poses no questions for Muslims.  At any rate Muslims are not supposed to question the authorities.  But this poses real questions for non-Muslims.  A law made by Yahweh in the Bible does not allow for distinctions between rulers and ruled. Neither were prophets exempt from the laws of Yahweh.  All are to abide by the Law. David’s adultery was judged by Yahweh.  No one is above the law of God.  Thou shalt not commit adultery, murder, robbery, whatever, applies to all people, including rulers.

If one really thinks about it, sharia laws are human laws created by a group of people who had little or no basis in revelation for them.  They are without justification except in the minds of people who want to impose them for their own power and enjoyment.  If one is to regard any source of revelation for these laws, one is immediately struck with the problem of Yahweh prohibiting murder and Allah commanding murder.

One more word about the creation of the first humans.  There were only two, one man and one woman. I suspect that if Yahweh thought that polygamy was good for man he would have created more wives to begin with.  But there was only one wife.  That was the way it was meant to be.

Polygamy is a major threat to a woman’s security and a threat to a man’s vulnerability to the sin of lust.  I have read of Muslim wives pleading with their husband not to take a second wife.  They can accept their husband having an affair, or “temporary marriage” but not a second wife.  The Biblical creation story condemns polygamy.

 Moreover Eve was created “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” out of Adam. (Gen. 2:23) There was no inferior product used to create her.  The woman’s ability, because she is an equal to man, made it possible for her to assume important leadership roles from the beginning.  In the Old Testament we read of Miriam and Deborah who lead the people to freedom, Hulda was a prophetess whose counsel was sought by a king.  In the New Testament we read of Phoebe, Lydia, Euodia, Syntyche, Priscilla, and Junia doing various forms of ministry  in the church. These are important observations about the freedom and abilities of women in the Bible.

Yahweh gave clear instructions about religious instruction in the family.

“Listen, Israel! The LORD our God is the only true God!  So love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.  Memorize his laws  and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning.  Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them.  Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) 

There is no distinction between male and female here.  Children are to be taught the laws of Yahweh.  Women are important for teaching children and they must also learn.  Godly obedient women are just as important as Godly obedient men. Wherever there was a departure from teaching girls the Torah there was a departure from the laws of the Torah.

The Old Testament has a great description of a woman committed to her husband.  The last chapter of the book of Proverbs describes a wife.

“How hard it is to find a capable wife! She is worth far more than jewels!  Her husband puts his confidence in her, and he will never be poor.  As long as she lives, she does him good and never harm.  She keeps herself busy making wool and linen cloth.” (Proverbs 31:10-13)

“She looks at land and buys it, and with money she has earned she plants a vineyard.   She knows the value of everything she makes, and works late into the night.  She speaks with a gentle wisdom.”  (Proverbs 31:16,18,26)

There are many other descriptions in the passage.  The verses above emphasize certain great qualities.  She is capable, that means she is not a nine year old.  Her husband puts his confidence in her, meaning that there is no question of her commitment to him.  The confidence of the husband is based on the capability of the woman, her reason, her judgment, and her common sense.  Because she loves him she is doing him good, not harm.  She looks at land and buys it, meaning she can go out of the house by herself.  She is not quarantined in the house like many wives in some Muslim countries.  Given the time this was written she has learned much about the market place and knows the value of things to be bought and sold.  The last quote is about gentle wisdom.  The wife is recognized as one who has wisdom and should be heard for what she has to say.  A wife should be educated, mature in making decisions, able to reason and discern problems, and have the freedom and trust of her husband to allow her abilities to be used for the family. 

There is no finer example of how a marriage is to function than what is expressed in the fifth chapter of Ephesians.

Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord.  For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body.  And so wives must submit themselves completely to their husbands just as the church submits itself to Christ.  Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.  He did this to dedicate the church to God by his word, after making it clean by washing it in water, in order to present the church to himself in all its beauty---pure and faultless, without spot or wrinkle or any other imperfection.  Men ought to love their wives just as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself.  (None of us ever hate our own bodies. Instead, we feed them, and take care of them, just as Christ does the church; for we are members of his body.)  As the scripture says, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one."  There is a deep secret truth revealed in this scripture, which I understand as applying to Christ and the church.  But it also applies to you: every husband must love his wife as himself, and every wife must respect her husband.” (Ephesians 5:21-33)

 Verse 21 is often overlooked so that people, particularly men, are inclined to rush to the 22nd verse. In a healthy marriage there is the significance of mutual submission.  This does not make any sense if a 50 year old man is married to a 10 year old girl.  Moreover, if a male dominated culture forbids education to a female who is forced to remain ignorant, then mutual submission does not make sense.  It is a shame that Muslim men do not see the value of an education for their wives.

However, if the couple have comparable education, the wife has something that the man does not usually have – a sense of intuition.  I know the story of a man who wanted to make an investment that his wife sensed he should not do.  Given his hope of making great wealth from the investment, he talked her into agreeing.  It was a disaster and he lost 100,000 dollars in the process.  Women have a wisdom that is sometimes lacking in a man who is “macho” about his ability to make decisions.  In the Muslim world there are a half billion women who are denied their native abilities because Mohammed pronounced them half the intelligence of a man.  What a tragedy Islam has heaped upon women.

The Scriptures indicate that wives then are to submit to their husbands because they belong to the Lord. The analogy here is that the church submits to Christ’s authority so wives are to submit to their husbands.  Christ is the Savior of the church, and the husband is to be like unto Christ taking care of his wife in love.

The husband has something more profound placed on him. He is to love his wife just as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. Verse 28 marks a great demand on the husband. “Men ought to love their wives just as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself.”  A man who loves his wife as he loves himself will sacrifice himself for her.  He will desire that she be honored by her children as well as family members.

The recent story about bin Laden reveals a different kind of marriage.  It is a marriage in which the man is the kingpin of the arrangement, and the woman is a breeder for children and servitude.

Phyllis Chesler has written about Osama:

“He had driven fast and fancy cars and had flown in private planes but he did not allow his wives to have modern kitchen appliances or air conditioning (“modernization is corrupt”), not even in sweltering heat; he deprived his son Omar of his asthma medication; and he force-marched his sons in the desert for many hours without allowing them to drink any water. He routinely beat his sons, “caning” them for the “slightest infraction.”  His sons were not allowed to look him in the eye, disagree with him about anything, laugh, or “show their teeth.”  He sacrificed his sons to cruel, tyrannical religious teachers and to bullies.” 

“Still, according to her son and co-author, Omar, even when Najwa (one of bin Laden’s wives) was suffering from a difficult pregnancy, “she lived without air-conditioning in the hottest weather, without proper heating in the coldest weather, without modern appliances to store or cook food or wash her family’s clothes, without proper food for her children, without medical care for anyone and without a way of communicating with her mother and siblings.”  (Ed.note. Najwa and bin Laden’s fourth son, also Najwa’s son wrote  Growing Up Bin Laden which is quoted in the article)

“Paradoxically, but also typically, Osama loved and trusted one woman only: his mother Allia. His son Omar described their mother-son relationship in this way: “He had enjoyed the most pure and loving mother-son rapport from the time he was born… Everyone in our close family circle knew that he loved his mother more than he loved his wives, his siblings, or his children… Anytime he spoke of or to his mother, a sort of glow came to his expression.” This, too, is typical of Arab and Muslim patriarchal psychology.” ( Source)

One last description about Osama’s wives: “They were chosen for their submissiveness, passivity, and religiosity.” 

Yahweh did not create marriage for one to be the servant of the other. A marriage is not a business arrangement.  A woman is not a breeder as regarded by many Muslims.  She is not a servant waiting to fulfill every whim of a man.  A woman will do for the love of a husband things she would not do for money.  Without his love she will not have love for him. Marriage is not a one-sided situation where the husband is everything and the wife is a zero.  Love between husband and wife binds them together.  If one suffers, the other suffers also.  Marriage is to be based on mutual love and a sense of oneness.  Here are the words of Jesus:  “And God said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.'  So they are no longer two, but one. No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together.” (Matthew 19:5-6)

One last observation about the marriage relationship concerns divorce.  Yahweh did not make any back-up contingencies for husbands wanting to divorce their wives.  There is a strong statement in the prophet Malachi:  "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel. "I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife." (2:15)  Jesus answered his critics on the subject of divorces with these words:

“Some Pharisees came to him and tried to trap him by asking, "Does our Law allow a man to divorce his wife for whatever reason he wishes?"  Jesus answered, "Haven't you read the scripture that says that in the beginning the Creator made people male and female?  And God said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.'  So they are no longer two, but one. No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together."  The Pharisees asked him, "Why, then, did Moses give the law for a man to hand his wife a divorce notice and send her away?"  Jesus answered, "Moses gave you permission to divorce your wives because you are so hard to teach. But it was not like that at the time of creation.” (Matt. 19:3-8 GNB)

The easy divorce procedure of the Muslim world announcing “I divorce you” three times is simply unbelievable when viewed from the woman’s position.  There are lots of people divorcing in the world today, but they are rebelling against the Creator’s intentions for family life.

Marriage usually involves children.  There is much said about children in the Bible.  Yahweh told the people of Israel to memorize his laws  and tell them to your children over and over again” (Deuteronomy 6:7)

The Ten Commandments are important.  Jesus was asked about the greatest commandments and he replies, “Jesus answered, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  This is the greatest and the most important commandment.  The second most important commandment is like it: 'Love your neighbor as you love yourself.'”  (Matthew 22:37-39)

These words were to be taught to all the children, boys and girls.  Loving your neighbor as yourself requires one to question certain things going on in the Muslim world.  Children are being taught to hate the Jews even though they have never met one, did not know any, and probably would never meet any.  Jesus is against hatred.  Mohammed was for hatred.

There are some additional words about raising children in the book of Ephesians.

"Children, it is your Christian duty to obey your parents, for this is the right thing to do”  (Ephesians 6:1)

“Parents, do not treat your children in such a way as to make them angry. Instead, raise them with Christian discipline and instruction.” (Ephesians 6:4)

First, there is the matter of children obeying their parents.  Yahweh has made humans quite different from many other creatures.  There is a long time in the life of a child for it to learn, grow up, and become self-sufficient.  In contrast, there are some creatures that hatch out ready to start the activity of living.  We have observed killdeer birds that hatch looking exactly like their parents and ready to run, hunt for food, and grow up.  Human babies have a lot of learning, growing, and maturing before they can take care of themselves.  Consequently, children are to be taught not only the commands of Yahweh, but they need to be taught how to live in a world that is exploitive, dangerous, and consuming.

Children not only need verbal instruction, but it must be fortified by parental examples. A child will rebel against a parent who commands something the parent will not accept himself.

Second, there is the command to refrain from treating them in such a way as to make them angry.

Children should not be denigrated and humiliated by being cursed, slandered, put down, and insulted.  Calling children stupid, ignorant, or idiots harms the child’s self-esteem and confidence.

Children are sacred and precious and are not to be used, exploited, and killed by jihadists who have no regard for them. 

The recent story of using young boys to carry out jihad attacks reflects the deception on them by their imams.  “Our mullah told us that when we carried out our suicide attacks, all the people around us would die, but we would stay alive," Farooq said Saturday, sitting inside a juvenile detention facility in the Afghan capital.  He was one of five alleged suicide bombers — all boys in adolescence or even younger.” (Source)

There is a story in the hadiths which indicate that women were taught they were inferior.  This would include young girls as well as older women who were wives.

Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301:  Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o 'Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle ?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."

Upon reading this story one cannot help asking: who declared that the evidence of two women was equal to one man? How was it possible for the women to agree with Mohammed?  Who brainwashed them into believing this?  Was this the work of their parents, their culture, or the work of the teaching of Mohammed?  If this judgment originated before Mohammed why did he not correct it because he claimed to be a prophet?  There is no judgment like this from Yahweh.  If this judgment originated with Mohammed how can it be justified as departing from Yahweh’s creation.  One sad feature is that the women had been brainwashed to accept Mohammed’s judgment on their intellect.

Given the story of creation, any religious idea that reject woman’s ability should be questioned and rejected.  Boys and girls are both equally sacred in the plan of the Creator, Yahweh.

Children should be made to know their potential.  Their abilities should be recognized and cultivated.  This applies equally to girls as well as boys.  It is unfortunate that many women in Muslim cultures are not allowed to develop their gifts.  Some parents have educated the girls but then forbade them to teach or work outside the house.  No one can evaluate the vast amount of talent and abilities which have been ignored given the subjection of women in Muslim cultures.

What is at issue in all this?  The revelation by Yahweh of his goals for the family members, men, women, and, children,  is at odds with the claims of Islam.  If a Muslim wants the truth of Yahweh it can be found in the Torah and the New Testament.  Living in a culture of denial does not bring one to truth.  Comparisons must be made between the Bible and the Qur’an.  Ignorance of the Bible only leads to a perpetuation of customs demeaning to children, young girls, and adult women.  There is little possibility of reformation in Islam.  The only alternative is to turn to Jesus, the Son of God. If you want to be a godly man, a godly woman, you have to come to the Son of God.  who alone exemplified the godly life in perfection, and who wants to give us the Spirit of God empowering us to also live a life pleasing to God.