Muhammad “History’s First Feminist”??

An article claims that Muhammad was history's first feminist. Let's look at a few examples of why this is a silly thing to say.

BY Bruce Cornibe · | November 1, 2016

One of the least sensible articles to appear lately is Jim Garrison’s piece at the Huffington Post, titled Muhammad Was A Feminist.  Garrison begins the piece by stating:

The prophet Muhammad would be appalled by how current Islamic Fundamentalists are treating women under their control. This suppression is done in the name of Islamic Law, known as Sharia. But the current suppression of women is shaped by cultural and history. It has little basis in the Quran and it is certainly not consistent with anything we know about what Muhammad taught or how he treated women. Of all the founders of the great religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Islam and Judaism — Muhammad was easily the most radical and empowering in his treatment of women. Arguably he was history’s first feminist.

This is a common approach used by apologists for Islam. All we have to do is look back at the life of Muhammad to find out that he was not the ‘liberator’ of women Garrison tries to make us believe.  Muhammad was certainly not a “feminist” by any measure (using the word “feminist” in a positive sense – for example, females are of equal human worth as males). Just examine the brutality of Muhammad’s companions towards women. For example, Muhammad’s so-called “adopted son[,]” Zayd bin Haritha, commanded an elderly woman named Umm Qirfa to be killed – “…by putting a rope between her legs and to two camels and driving them until they rent her in two).”

Most people are familiar with the well-known account where Jesus saved the life of the woman caught in adultery, but what did Muhammad do when presented with an adulterer/s? There are several cases we can reference – one involves a pregnant woman who confessed to Muhammad that she committed adultery and needed to be purified. Muhammad kept sending the woman away until after the baby was born, then eventually “weaned[.]” The story ends horrifically thanks to Muhammad’s orders:

…He (the Holy Prophet) entrusted the child to one of the Muslims and then pronounced punishment. And she was put in a ditch up to her chest and he commanded people and they stoned her. Khalid Walid came forward with a stone which he flung at her head and there spurted blood on the face of Khalid and so he abused her. Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) heard his (Khalid’s) curse that he had huried upon her. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: Khalid, be gentle. By Him in Whose Hand is my life, she has made such a repentance that even if a wrongful tax-collector were to repent, he would have been forgiven. Then giving command regarding her, he prayed over her and she was buried. –Sahih Muslim 17.4206

Garrison had the nerve to not only try and justify Muhammad’s many wives, but also to make Muhammad out to be some kind of defender of the poor because allegedly several of his wives were “destitute” women, stating:

After Khadija’s death, Muhammad married 12 wives. One was Aisha, the daughter of his closest friend and ally Abu Baker. The rest were nearly all widows, divorced women, or captives. He preached consistently that it was the responsibility of men to protect those women who had met with misfortune. This was one of the reasons polygamy was encouraged. Even with female infanticide, women in seventh century Arabia far outnumbered men because so many men were killed in the inter-tribal warfare of the day. Several of Muhammad’s wives were poor and destitute and he took them in, along with their children, into his household.

Garrison forgot to mention that Muhammad allegedly married little ‘A’isha when she was only six years old and consummated the marriage when she was nine.

In addition, there’s an account that Muhammad “struck” ‘A’isha “on the chest” causing her “pain[.]”  Garrison also left out how the Quran condones wife-beating in certain circumstances: Quran 4:34 states, “…But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.”

One passage perfectly sums up Muhammad’s perspective on the way he valued women, stating:

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.” –Sahih Bukhari 1.6.301

Muhammad was not a “feminist” – in fact he was quite the opposite. If we can’t acknowledge the obvious how is the status of women in the Islamic world ever going to significantly improve? The truth must prevail!



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