At some point every religion, especially one that purports to encompass a complete way of life and system of government, has to be called to account for the kind of life it offers the people in the lands where it predominates.
It becomes insufficient to look at Islam on paper, or Islam in history, and dwell on the inarguable improvements it brought to women's lives in the seventh century. Today, the much more urgent and relevant task is to examine the way the faith has proved such fertile ground for almost every antiwomen custom it encountered in its great march out of Arabia. When it found veils and seclusion in Persia, it absorbed them; when it found genital mutilations in Egypt, it absorbed them; when it found societies in which women had never had a voice in public affairs, its own traditions of lively women's participation withered.
The author does admit there are exceptions citing Muslims being "appalled by the [Indian] practice of sati, in which widows, on a husband's death, would burn themselves alive on his funeral pyre." And also I remember Islam did away with Arabia's own custom of getting rid of baby girls. So there is that.
Ms. Brooks also talked about a "mental test" she gave herself whenever she wondered if such things - like the universality of human rights - were even our fight. Should we care what happens to women in other parts of the world as long as we are treated fine in our own countries? I thought this particular substitution worth sharing.
Say a country, a close Western ally and trading partner, had a population half white, half black. The whites had complete control of the blacks. They could beat them if they disobeyed. They deprived them of the right to leave the house without permission; to walk unmolested without wearing the official segregating dress; to hold any decent job in the government, or to work at all without the permission of the white in control of them. Would there have been uproar in our countries by now? Would we have imposed trade sanctions and subjected this country to international opprobrium? You bet. Yet countries such as Saudi Arabia, which deprive half their population of these most basic rights, have been subjected to none of these things.
*sigh* What we overlook and accept for the love of oil!
Do you think the author's assessment here is fair? Do you tend to agree with what she wrote or would you challenge her conclusions? In what ways do you agree? In which ways to you disagree?
Do you believe we should speak out on behalf of people around the world even though it may not be our battle to fight? Or should we mind our own business because change needs to come from within?
quotes from pages 217 and 222