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I am a first time visitor to your website and I must say that it is well done. Congratulations! I read some of your articles and found it sad that countries like Iran and Afghanistan are imposing ridiculous so-called laws on their womenfolk. As a Muslim woman born and bred in Singapore, I am even sadder as these countries claim themselves to be Muslims. For the purpose of clarification, I would like to inform you that Islam does not, in any way, encourage or legislate the things that are done to women by the Talibans and the Iranian governments today.

The Prophet and the Quran exhort the education of women and men and none should be deprived of it. In fact, education is so highly regarded that the pursuit of it by both sexes is encouraged many times in the Quran. Nor is female circumcision mentioned in the Quran at all. The Prophet himself abolished the killing of female infants (a common pre-Islamic tradition of Arabia) and forbids the menfolk from beating their wives, among other things. He was also reported to have advised his close friends to consult Aisha (his wife) regarding matters pertaining to religion. This proved to be such a blow to the Arab male elite that some of them retaliated by passing caustic and sarcastic remarks to Aisha whenever she corrected them on their religious practices. It is only after the death of the Prophet that the predominantly mysoginistic male population (they were not happy when God dedicated one chapter on the rights of women called An-Nisaa meaning 'Women'), altered the interpretation of the verses to suit their own purposes.

I am distraught about the horrendous things done unto women in these countries for if Islam forbids the education of women, what am I doing here, a 20-something female graduate of English, holding a well-paying job, while at home my dad kept asking me when I would embark on a Masters programme?

Thank you so much for your note to FEMINIST.COM and for clarifying what is really at the root of the current activities in Iran and Afghanistan. A few years back I read a wonderful biography of Mohammud by Karen Armstrong. I went into it only thinking negative things and finished with a more honest and inspired look at Muslim society. I had the same experience when I went to the Women's conference in Beijing and saw many Moslem women re-explaing that it wasn't the Koran, but the interpretors. The same thing--although not visibly as strong--has happened in Catholicism. Hopefully, we can set the record straight.


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