Can you say that Islam is not racist and anti-feminist?

Details of the Question

- I am searching Islam but the behavioral style toward non-Muslims in Islam reminds me of the attitudes of Nazis to the people who are not of pure race. Non-Muslims do not have the same rights as Muslims. The same thing is valid for women too.

- I will give an example: The statement of a Christian or a woman in a court is equal to half of the statement of a male Muslim. That is an offensive and racist approach in my opinion.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- A person who calls the religion of Islam “racist” either does not know the realities of Islam or has malicious intentions.

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)." (al-Hujurat, 49/13)

“No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, no non-Arab is superior to an Arab, no white person is superior to a black person and no black person is superior to a white person. Superiority is through taqwa (respect shown to Allah).” (see al-Musnad, Muasssasatur-Risala, 1421-2001, 38/474/h. no: 23489)

The verse above and the hadith under it are documents showing how Islam rejects racism.  

Christians living today do not have the same rights that Islam gave women fifteen centuries ago. At the time when the Sultan Mehmed II was about to conquer Istanbul, Christian priests in the church were seriously discussing whether women were human beings and whether they had spirits like men.

There were women dealing with science and trade even in the first century of Islam. Hz. Aisha was like a mufti of Madinah.

The Prophet (pbuh) received allegiance from men as well as from women. That is a kind of right to choose. In the Incident of Jamal, the commander and leader of one party was Hz. Aisha.

The names of a few chapters in the Quran are related to women. However, there is no chapter whose name is related to men.

The expression of women’s rights in comparison with men’s rights in the Quran at the same level enabled them to be applied in all centuries.

We see this reality in the following verse of the Quran:

“…And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” (al-Baqara, 2/228).

There is no other system as fair as the Islamic shari’ah because there cannot be anyone fairer and more merciful than Allah. Its fair activities in the society including tens of nations for fourteen centuries are a clear indication of it.

We can learn directly from the Quran as well as from the history books that Jews and Christians had a very critical attitude toward Islam in the Era of Bliss. Despite all of the criticisms, there is no command regarding violence in the Quran; on the contrary, Muslims were advised to struggle against the People of the Book in the best way. Islamic states have shown great tolerance toward them throughout history in compliance with these commands and recommendations of the Quran.

During the conquest of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmed II, the Christian people who were tired of the cruelty of their rulers applauding and welcoming him with great joy - knowing that he was a Muslim and hence fair - is an indisputable proof of it.

He who says that the source of the legendary justice of Hz. Umar, and the respect for human dignity and virtue beyond justice that Salahaddin-i Eyyubi showed toward his enemies is not the religion of Islam cannot be sane.

The Prophet states the following:

“If a person maltreats a dhimmi, I am his enemy. If I become an enemy of a person, I will settle accounts with him.” (Kanzul-Ummal, h. No: 10909)

In fact, this attitude of the Prophet (pbuh) toward non-Muslims explains everything.

Entertaining a delegation from Najran Christians, the Prophet (pbuh) evacuated Masjid an-Nabawi and allocated it to them to worship.

There were many non-Muslims among those who took refuge in Madinah due to a famine outside Madinah. The Prophet (pbuh) distributed them among his Companions and the person whom the Prophet (pbuh) himself entertained in his house - for a while - was a non-Muslim.

Finally, we should state again that women experience a period of menstruation that can be regarded as unusual almost half a month every month. It is a known fact that they assume a different psychological mood in that period. One of the negativities caused by a different psychology is irritability and forgetfulness. This subject needs a scientific study. However, their state is clear.  Since Allah brings the "forgetfulness for them" to the attention, what we need to do is not to deny it, but to try to prove it scientifically. However, it would be gullibility to say that a person who does not believe in Allah and the Quran, and who regards it as his duty as a goal to show the mistakes of the Quran will do a healthy research on this subject. For, every opposer might not be virtuous enough to preserve the honor of science. That is a separate issue.

If the wisdom behind an issue is not understood - by people – it does not mean that this issue has no wisdom. Our failure to understand some of the issues of the Quran and its wisdom does not really show that they are incomprehensible and unwise.

We should also state here that it is extremely wrong and dangerous to doubt that the Quran is the word of Allah acting upon not knowing the wisdom of any issue of the Quran. For, the Quran is like a palace with a hundred doors. If ninety-nine of those doors are closed and only one is open, one can easily enter that palace. However, ninety-nine doors of the palace of the Quran are open. In other words, there are hundreds of intellectual, reported and scientific evidences and documents equipped with miracles showing that it is the word of Allah. Neverheless, Satan tries to make us ignore all those open doors, takes us to the door, whose wisdom we do not know and - which is closed in our opinion - and tries to make us say, "This palace is closed, there is no divine treasure in it as it is thought ...". We should not be deceived by this trick of Satan.

As for the issue of witnessing:

One of the most important criteria for the recognition of witnessing in Islam is the truthfulness and honesty of the person because a lie causes a lot of injustice to be done. For this reason, the presence of a negative factor such as a relationship of interest or hostility that can cause the witness to lie prevents even a very pious Muslim from being a witness.

That is why the testimony of a father in favor of his child is not accepted. The testimony of a person against his enemy is not accepted either. That is also the underlying reason for not accepting one of partners’ testimony regarding a company.

In Islam, the testimony of a non-Muslim against a Muslim is not accepted because it contains the possibility of such a lie. For, non-Muslims are generally hostile toward Muslims.

However, it is very accurate in terms of the justice mechanism that the competency of the People of the Book about testimony (witnessing), which is one of the basic elements of justice, is disputable since they did not hesitate to distort their own books, told lies, slandered Allah and dared to say that Hz. Uzayr (Ezra) and Hz. Isa (Jesus) was the son of Allah as it is clearly stated in the Quran.

According to the scholars of the three madhhabs other than Hanafis, the witnessing of dhimmis against one another is not acceptable because they do not avoid lies - in general. Some non-Muslims definitely avoid lying, but they laid it as a condition that that the witness must be a Muslim within the framework of the rule of "sadd adh-dharai’ (preventing legitimate means that have the potential of harming)", so as not to cause injustice. (For detailed information about the criteria for witnessing, see W. Zuhayli, al-Fiqhul-Islami, 6/562-68)

That is to say, the testimony of non-Muslims is not accepted because of the strong possibility of their deviation from justice not because of their religious preferences.  

Thus, this discrimination is a measure taken for the sound operation of the justice mechanism. As a matter of fact, the testimony of any Muslim who is not fair is not accepted either.

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