Regarding Eboo Patel’s “Three Myths about Islam” (February 2009): I have to take issue with his simplistic attempt to debunk myth two. To believe Patel’s arguments, one must overlook abundant information regarding the view of Muslim women. Patel selects one privileged woman, Khadijah, in Islamic history and then casts her life as the rule rather than the exception. Patel frames her as a successful businesswoman who was a well-respected figure in her time and place. He states, “For me, that’s one model of a Muslim woman, which is powerful, independent, and equal.” That’s one in how many?
The practice of Islamic law is often discriminatory against women. For example, in some Islamic countries there are no laws against domestic violence against women; there are no formal mechanisms available for women to file complaints about discrimination; women must have the permission of their male guardian to get a license; there are restrictions on interactions between unrelated men and women; many areas of the public sphere, such as workplaces and schools, are largely segregated; and inheritance laws grant wives half the amount of inheritance of male relatives.
A recent study in the state of Qatar indicates that 42 percent of Qatari women condone beatings. Furthermore, 42 percent of Qatari women believe they deserve the physical abuse at the hands of their male relatives.
But I guess when you are viewed as evil, the Quran condones your beating, and 42 percent of your gender believe they should be beaten for disobedience, women can find refuge in Patel’s weak argument that Islam isn’t oppressive to women.
(Name withheld by request) Doha, Qatar