In Islam

The following article, written by Babette Francis of Endeavour Forum, appeared in the Herald Sun on 24 October 2005.

I am a little disenchanted with the mantra chanted by many western political leaders that “Islam is a religion of peace and love”. Well yes, it is, but like the curate’s egg, or should I say the mullah’s egg, it is only good in parts. There are exhortations in Islam promoting peace and compassion, but there are also verses in the Koran which encourage conversion of “infidels” by the sword.

I can’t quote these lest I be accused of “vilification” under Premier Bracks’ “Racial & Religious Tolerance Act”. In the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal case brought by the Islamic Council of Victoria against two Christian pastors for explaining aspects of Islam at a seminar, Counsel for the Islamic Council objected to quotations from the Koran, claiming this was “vilification”.

Treasurer Peter Costello is to be commended for not chanting the mantra that Islam is a religion of peace, but correctly analysing that Sharia law is unacceptable in democracies and that fans of Sharia should leave Australia instead of attempting to turn this countryinto an Islamic state.

It is the misogynist aspects of Sharia that concern me, particularly the permission to husbands to beat their wives. My Muslim friends assure me this is only a fourth option, that first a husband must remonstrate and cajole his wife etc., but if she is obdurate, he can beat her. This isunacceptable and is a criminal offence in Australia. I don’t know if within democracies violence against wives is more prevalent in Muslim communities than it is among non-Muslims, but in any case Muslims need to publicly repudiate this aspect of Sharia law.

As repugnant as wife-beating is the permission Sharia gives men to have four wives. My Muslim friends assure me the husband cannot take a second wife without the permission of the first, but what power does a woman have to oppose her husband’s wishes if she is poorly educated and has little money? This is the plight of many women in Islamic countries where education for women is not considered important and is sometimes actively opposed by the rulers. If a wife did oppose her husband’s wish to take more wives, the husband can easily divorce her by saying in the presence of two witnesses “I divorce you”. Thereafter she is only entitled to his financial support for three months, unless she is pregnant.

Having four wives is illegal in Australia, but the pressure for polygamy is building in Canada after the legalisation of same-sex “marriage”, and Norway’s Directorate of Immigration (UDI) reports that despite being illegal, there are an increasing number of men with multiple wives in Norway. Married men travel to countries where polygamy is legal and then add a wife.

“This is something that Norwegian authorities cannot prevent,” said UDI divisional director Karl Erik Sjøholt.

UDI will try to tighten rules to discourage bigamy or polygamy by having integrated into the new Marriage Act (currently under consideration at the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs) recommendations that married men who enter into a new marriage without first divorcing in Norway be permanently prevented from reuniting their family here. So far men have been allowed to bring their second wives into Norway.

Polygamy is insulting and degrading to women. It may not be all that much fun for men either. In Malaysia where polygamy is common and legal, a recent news item reported the case of a truck driver, who upset by an argument between his two wives, drank weed killer in front of them. “The man was with his younger wife, aged 20, in the state of Pahang, when his first wife, aged 35 turned up. An argument started between the two women, attracting a large crowd. In frustration, the man rushed into the house and fetched a bottle of weed killer which he drank before the shocked onlookers”.

The mullahs’ eggs definitely needsome unscrambling.

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