Robert Spencer, the author of the Islamophobook The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)
This is a rebuttal of chapter five of Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), which is entitled “Islam oppresses women.” On pp.74-76, Spencer claims that the Sharia rejects a rape victim’s testimony.
Robert Spencer’s Claims
Says Spencer in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades):
Rape: Four witnesses needed
Most threatening of all to women may be the Muslim understanding of rape as it plays out in conjunction with Islamic restrictions on the validity of a woman’s testimony. In court, a woman’s testimony is worth half as much as that of a man. (Quran 2:282)
Islamic legal theorists have restricted the validity of a woman’s testimony even further by limiting it to, in the words of one Muslim legal manual, “cases involving property, or transactions dealing with property, such as sales.” Otherwise only men can testify. And in cases of sexual misbehavior, four male witnesses are required…
Consequently, it is almost impossible to prove rape in lands that follow the dictates of the Sharia. Men can commit rape with impunity: As long as they deny the charge and there are no witnesses, they will get off scot-free, because the victim’s testimony is inadmissible. Even worse, if a woman accuses a man of rape, she may end up incriminating herself. If the required male witnesses can’t be found, the victim’s charge of rape becomes an admission of adultery. 
Spencer also says the exact same thing on his website:
Consequently, it is even today virtually impossible to prove rape in lands that follow the dictates of the Sharia. Even worse, if a woman accuses a man of rape, she may end up incriminating herself. If the required male witnesses can’t be found, the victim’s charge of rape becomes an admission of adultery.
Let us analyze Spencer’s claims one point at a time:
Women as Witnesses under Sharia
Robert Spencer writes:
In court, a woman’s testimony is worth half as much as that of a man. (Quran 2:282)
Islamic legal theorists have restricted the validity of a woman’s testimony even further by limiting it to, in the words of one Muslim legal manual, “cases involving property, or transactions dealing with property, such as sales.” Otherwise only men can testify.
There are two claims made here: (1) a woman’s testimony is worth half of a man’s; (2) a woman’s testimony is accepted only in financial transactions (even then only by half), and rejected altogether in other cases, including rape.
Of course the reality is that Spencer has spoken a half-truth, which is what he normally does. Spencer’s modus operandi is simple: he presents the absolutely most conservative view as if it is not only the most authoritative one but also the only one. He then compares this ultraconservative Islamic opinion with the most liberal Judeo-Christian view, and then says aha!
The issue revolves around the following Quranic verse:
O you who believe! When you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time, then write it down; and let a scribe write it down between you with fairness…and call from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other. (Quran, 2:282)
Some Islamic jurists opined that the Quranic verse only permitted a woman’s testimony in cases related to financial transactions. Therefore, they reasoned, it ought to be excluded in all other cases. This opinion was prominent in the writings of medieval jurists, and is clung onto by some ultraconservative Muslims.
However, Spencer neglected to inform his readers of less stringent views that abound today. Contemporary Muslims argue that the Quranic verse 2:282 has nothing to do with the courts or legal system in general:
…There is no verse anywhere in the Qur’an, which directs a court of law to consider a woman’s witness to be half reliable as that of a man. As for the verse 282 of Al-Baqarah, which is presented to substantiate the viewpoint in question, it has quite a different meaning and implication than what is construed from it…
Actually this verse addresses the common man. It does not relate to the law and thus gives no directive regarding judicial matters. In other words, it does not call upon the state, the legislative council or the legal authorities. This verse just invokes the common man’s attention for taking precautionary measures in case of a particular situation of conflict…
The verse states that when two or more individuals enter into an agreement for a loan for a fixed period of time, they should write it down thereby avoiding any misunderstanding or dispute. As a further safeguard to avoid such misunderstanding, they should make two men witnesses to the agreement. In case they are not able to find two men, then they may take two women instead of a man…Obviously, if this were a directive pertaining to judicial matters, it would have addressed the state or legal authorities. 
In other words, these Muslims argue that the Quranic verse cannot be generalized to all court cases; instead, it simply pertains to financial matters, and contracts of debt in specific. It is argued that the women of pre-Islamic Arabia were generally unaware of the intricacies of the business world. Tahir Haddad, an Islamic thinker of the early twentieth century, writes:
The fact that woman lagged behind man in all aspects of life [in the pre-Islamic times] made her less proficient in intellectual and mathematical tasks, especially since at that time she did not get her share of education and culture to prepare her for that…[which was taken into] account when it was decided that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man…[in] issue[s]…such as debts. 
The lack of business acumen that women of that particular time generally possessed was the reason that a woman’s singular testimony about a contract of debt might be rejected by the common man, resulting in conflicts. The intent of the Quranic verse was after all to prevent infighting between Muslims, as was often the case between creditors and debtors. Therefore, argue these contemporary Muslims, witnesses had to be produced who would be accepted by the common man as being authoritative.
Some contemporary Muslims even argue that such a restriction (i.e. the requirement of two women as witnesses instead of one) would not be applicable if the cause for the restriction (i.e. the lack of business acumen on the part of the woman) was not present. The Islamic cleric Muzammil Siddiqi  issued the following fatwa (religious edict):
Does Islam regard the testimony of women as half of a man’s just in cases of transactions or in every case? Who are the scholars that maintain the first view? What is the evidence of those scholars saying that her testimony is not accepted in cases of murder and adultery?
The word shahadah [testimony] in its various forms has occurred in the Qur’an about 156 times. There is only one case (Al-Baqarah 2:282) where there is a reference to gender. Apart from this one reference, there is no other place where the issue of gender is brought in the context of testimony. According to the Qur’an, it does not make any difference whether the person testifying is a male or female; the only objective is to ascertain accuracy and to establish justice and fairness. In one place in the Qur’an, there is an explicit reference that equates the testimonies of the male and female (See Surat An-Nur 24:6-9).
Only in the context of business transactions and loan contracts, it is mentioned that if two men are not available for testimony, then one man and two women are to be provided for that particular purpose (See Surat Al-Baqarah 2:282). The reason is not because of gender; it is given in the Qur’anic verse: If one errs, the other may remind her. Some scholars have suggested that this was due to the fact that most women in the past and even now were not involved in the intricate business dealings. So the Qur’an accepted their testimony, but to insure justice indicated that there should be two.
It is also important to note that the Shari`ah emphasizes that we follow the law exactly in the matters of worship; in economic dealings, however, the issue of justice is the main factor. If a judge sees that there is a woman who is very qualified and has good understanding of business transactions, the judge may consider her testimony equal to the testimony of a man. This will not be against the teachings of the Qur’an. 
Jamal Badawi,  another Islamic cleric (who Spencer himself quotes as an authority from time to time), comments:
The context of this passage (verse, or ayah) [verse 2:282] relates to testimony on financial transactions, which are often complex and laden with business jargon. The passage does not make blanket generalization [against the testimony of women]…In numerous societies, past and present, women generally may not be heavily involved with and experienced in business transactions. As such, they may not be completely cognizant of what is involved…
It must be added that unlike pure acts of worship, which must be observed exactly as taught by the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, testimony is a means to an end, ascertaining justice as a major objective of Islamic law. Therefore, it is the duty of a fair judge to be guided by this objective when assessing the worth and credibility of a given testimony, regardless of the gender of the witness. A witness of a female graduate of a business school is certainly far more worthy than the witness of an illiterate person with no business education or experience. 
Robert Spencer claims that the Sharia itself excludes a woman’s testimony in cases of rape; yet, this is not the interpretation of Sharia that many Muslims follow:
The simple point is that this verse peculiarly relates to bearing witness on documentary evidence i.e. sale deeds, leasing agreements, loan agreements, guarantee cards and trust deeds etc. In the above related cases, one is free to choose the witnesses. But, in cases of accidents, theft, murder, robbery, rape, and hijacking etc the witnesses are not a matter of choice. Whosoever is present at the scene should and can be taken as a witness. Thus we cannot say that the witness of a woman in cases other than documentary evidence, as explained above, will be affected by this verse. 
Jalal Abualrub , a “Wahhabi”  cleric, writes:
The Quran states that we need two women [as] witnesses in cases of financial transactions in place of one man. There is no proof whatsoever that this is also the case in any other dispute, including criminal cases such as rape. In fact, a woman’s testimony is accepted in the most important aspect of Islam: the religion itself. Did anyone ask Aishah to bring another witness or a man to support her narrations of the Prophet’s practices and sayings? 
What Spencer will do is simple: he will cite various Islamic clerics, mostly classical medieval ones, as a proof that the Sharia itself says such-and-such. Yet, the reality is that even though most Muslims believe that the Sharia is divinely one, they also acknowledge that there are multiple interpretations of it. If some Islamic scholars argued that a woman’s testimony ought to be excluded, others argued that it should be considered equal to that of a man’s. Spencer attempts to portray the ultraconservative interpretation of the Sharia as the only one–and to him it is the only authoritative one, with all other understandings deemed as either “taqiyya based” or simply unorthodox and therefore unrepresentative (as if Spencer is the pope of Islam!).
Yet, contemporary Muslims point out that the opinions of Islamic jurists (including the classical ones) are just that: opinions. Unlike papal decrees in Catholicism, the rulings of Islamic clerics are neither infallible or binding. Imam Abu Hanifa, the eminent jurist who founded the Hanafi school of thought, decreed:
What comes from the Messenger of God, we accept with our mind and heart, by my father and mother, we cannot oppose it. What comes from the Companions, we choose from. As for what comes from other sources, well, they are human beings as we are. 
So while the Muslims find the Quran and authentic hadiths/sunna to be infallible and binding, they do not view the interpretations of them to be such. Along this line, Jalal Abualrub wrote:
We should avoid thinking of the opinions of the scholars as infallible. What is infallible is the Quran and Sunnah alone. Scholars of all schools have their own opinions and fatawa that may either be correct or wrong. For instance, a Maliki scholar can claim whatever opinion his madhhab says, but we are not bound by and certainly the religion is not bound by it.
So when Allah states in Surat al-Baqarah that in regards to financial transactions the testimony of two women can be used with the testimony of one man, no one has the right to make this specific ruling apply in other cases. Let me remind you again: the female Companions [of the Prophet] have narrated and testified on countless occasions about aspects of creed, fiqh and other Islamic topics. Have you heard any of the [male] Companions ever say that their testimony cannot be accepted unless they bring another woman and man to agree? I mentioned this because money issues and criminal issues are certainly far less important than religious issues that establish a ruling for all times.
It must be remembered that the scholars are not infallible, and their efforts are only explanatory–they are not the final authority. We respect the scholars, but we agree that they are human and make mistakes. 
Abualrub brings up the point that the testimony of women was accepted on aspects of religion and creed, which are more important than crime and punishment. This is one proof that contemporary Muslims use, namely that the female Companions bore witness to the actions of the Prophet Muhammad; there is no rule in Islam that the testimony of a woman in this regard be considered half of a man’s.
Another proof that contemporary Muslims use–to prove that a woman’s testimony is equal to that of a man’s–is the Quranic passage 24:6-9 (just two verses down from the verses that Spencer has quoted). In these verses, the husband may testify against the wife that she has committed adultery, but if the wife gives her own testimony declaring this to be a lie, then the wife’s testimony trumps that of her husband’s. Muzammil Siddiqi writes:
In one place in the Qur’an, there is an explicit reference that equates the testimonies of the male and female (See Surat An-Nur 24:6-9). 
Jamal Badawi comments:
Most Qur’anic references to testimony (witness) do not make any reference to gender. Some references fully equate the testimony of males and females…
[Verse 2:282] cannot be used as an argument that there is a general rule in the Qur’an that the worth of a female’s witness is only half the male’s. This presumed “rule” is voided by the above reference (24:6-9), which explicitly equates the testimony of both genders on the issue at hand. 
Contemporary Muslims point out that many classical scholars permitted female judges; how could it be then that a woman would be permitted to serve as a judge but not as a witness, the former of which is in charge of the latter? The judge uses his wisdom to give judgment, whereas a witness simply retells what he/she witnessed. Therefore, if a woman is allowed to be a judge, she ought to be permitted to be a witness as well. Tahir Haddad wryly comments:
The assertion [that women ought to be barred from serving as witnesses]…is even stranger in view of the fact that according to the jurisprudence of the four orthodox Islamic law schools a woman is allowed to act as a judge to rule on differences between people in a role similar to that of a man. Abu-Hanifa al-Nu’man [Imam Abu Hanifa] who was a contemporary of some of the Prophet’s Companions, confirmed that it is acceptable in Islam [for her to be a judge]…So, do we deduce from this that Islam…[bars her as] a witness…and at the same time elevates her by conferring her the responsibilities of a judge? 
Jalal Abualrub notes that the words of some of the fallible scholars contradicts the infallible authentic hadiths; Abualrub quotes the following narration in the Islamic texts:
When a woman went out in the time of the Prophet for prayer, a man attacked her and raped her. She shouted and he went off, and when a man came by, she said: “That man did such and such to me.” And when a company of the emigrants came by, she said: “That man did such and such to me.” They went and seized the man whom they thought had had intercourse with her and brought him to her.
She said: “Yes, this is he.” Then they brought him to the Apostle of God. When [the Prophet] was about to pass sentence, the man who had [actually] assaulted her stood up and said: “Apostle of God, I am the man who did it to her.”
[The Prophet] said to her: “Go away, for God has forgiven you.” But he told the [innocent] man some good words, and to the [guilty] man who had had raped her, he said: “Stone him to death.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 38, #4366)
Abualrub points out that contrary to Robert Spencer’s claim that a woman’s testimony is not accepted in cases of rape, the Prophet Muhammad convicted a man based solely on one woman’s testimony. Abualrub comments:
As for the woman mentioned in the narration, it is clear that no one asked her for four witnesses nor did anyone suspect her character, and her testimony alone was used as proof, and the innocent man who was wrongly accused was set free, while she was not punished even though she identified the wrong man, so how can the critics of Islam today claim that the Shari’ah itself says a woman is to be lashed for failing to bring forth four witnesses, when this woman in the narration not only did not do that but also identified the wrong man!? 
Abualrub mentions a number of salient points here, which we shall discuss in greater detail in the next part of this article. But for now, the bolded part is most relevant to our discussion, as it shows that contemporary Muslims have a very strong proof that in their religion a woman’s testimony is to be accepted in cases of rape, contrary to what Robert Spencer–the self-proclaimed pope of Islam–insists.
Women as Witnesses under the Judeo-Christian Laws
What we have thus far concluded is that yes it is true that some Muslims (such as those living in the medieval times and some ultraconservatives today) believe that a woman’s testimony is rejected in most legal proceedings. On the other hand, many contemporary Muslims feel otherwise, a fact that Robert Spencer conveniently ignores.
But Spencer’s half-truth does not end there. He also purposefully neglects to mention that a woman’s testimony is rejected in traditional Halakha (Jewish law) and Biblical law (of the Christians). The Jewish Virtual Library declares that there has been a longstanding “rabbinic rule that a woman is ineligible to testify as a witness.”  Rabbi Aaron Mackler writes:
The vast majority of Orthodox rabbis, and some Conservative rabbis, do not accept the legitimacy of women serving as witnesses. 
The Talmud forbade Jewish courts from accepting women as witnesses:
The Talmudic interpretation of the law held that women or slaves were not admitted as witnesses; nor could one such testify on the basis of testimony heard form an eye-witness. 
It is for this reason that the testimony of a woman is not accepted in the Orthodox rabbinical courts up until this day. However, like the Muslims, there is a difference of opinion amongst Jewry; Reform Jews and some Conservative rabbis accept women as witnesses.
We see then that the situation of the Muslims and the Jews with regard to this issue is very similar if not identical; why is it then that Robert Spencer arrives at dramatically different conclusions about Islam/Muslims/Quran/Sharia than he does about Judaism/Jews/Talmud/Halakha? Why does Spencer entitle the chapter of his book as “Islam oppresses women,” but not say “Judaism oppresses women?” If one criticizes the Quran for one thing, should not such a person criticize the Talmud for the exact same thing? It seems there is one standard for Islam and another for Judaism and Christianity. This is indeed the modus operandi for the Islamophobic movement in general; I have already in a previous article detailed Daniel Pipes’ fantastic double standards towards Sharia and Halakha.
The traditional Biblical law also excluded women from serving as witnesses. The Bible says:
One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses…The two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. (Deuteronomy 19:15-17)
Notice that Robert Spencer argues that the four witnesses in the Quranic verse 24:4 ought to be males, since the word “witnesses” appears in the masculine. Yet, this was the exact same logic that Christian scholars used: the Bible uses the word “men” when it refers to witnesses. John Gill, a well-renowned Biblical scholar of the eighteenth century, commented on this verse that it
teaches that there is no witness by women; and so it is elsewhere said, an oath of witness is made by men, and not by women; on which it is observed that a woman is not fit to bear witness, as it is written “then both the men,” [meaning] men and not women. 
Medieval Islamic and Christian scholars opined that witnesses ought to be male, based on the fact that both holy books (the Quran and Bible respectively) used masculine words for “witnesses.” Yet, for some reason Robert Spencer argues that the Quran specifically requires male witnesses, whereas the Bible does not! Again, this exposes Spencer’s bias.
The Testimony of Women in Cases of Adultery
Robert Spencer, likes to contrast the Quran with the Bible; his book is full of such side-by-side comparisons. Let us play his game then. Both the Quran and the Bible deal with the case of a husband accusing his wife of adultery. The Quran declares that if a wife denies the charges, then she is exonerated by the law–her testimony is accepted over that of her husband’s, and any worldly punishment is waived. The Quran declares:
As for those who accuse their wives but have no witnesses except themselves: let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies, swearing by God that he is of those who speaks the truth; And the fifth oath should be invoking the curse of God on himself if he is of those who lie. But it shall avert the punishment from her if she bears witness/testifies before God four times that the thing he says is indeed false, and if she takes an oath a fifth time that the wrath of God be upon her if he speaks the truth. (Quran, 24:6-9)
This is the Islamic law of Al-Li’an. The Bible, on the other hand, has the Law of Jealousy: if a husband suspects his wife of adultery, then he is to bring her to the priest. The priest will then dump dust and ink into a container of water, and force her to drink the dirtied water. If she gets sick from it (or dies), it proves the allegation that she was adulterous; if she does not fall sick, then she is exonerated. Furthermore, the woman is to drink this water in a state of public humiliation: her head is to be uncovered (a sign of shame back then) and she is forced to stand at the east gate of the temple in sight of the people, so that she might serve as a reminder against lewdness. (All this even before she drinks the contaminated water.)
The Bible declares:
The Test for an Unfaithful Wife
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act, and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure–then he is to take his wife to the priest…
The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water.…Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has slept with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have defiled yourself by sleeping with a man other than your husband”–here the priest is to put the woman under this curse of the oath–”may the LORD cause your people to curse and denounce you when he causes your thigh to waste away and your abdomen to swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells and your thigh wastes away. ” Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”
The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. He shall have the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water will enter her and cause bitter suffering…He is to have the woman drink the water. If she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the water that brings a curse, it will go into her and cause bitter suffering; her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away, and she will become accursed among her people.
If, however, the woman has not defiled herself and is free from impurity, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children. This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and defiles herself while married to her husband, or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the LORD and is to apply this entire law to her [i.e. death by stoning]. The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’” (Numbers 5:11-31)
Matthew Henry, the eminent seventeenth and eighteenth century commentator on the Bible, explained these verses:
We have here the law concerning the solemn trial of a wife whose husband was jealous of her.
I. What was the case supposed:
1. That a man had some reason to suspect his wife to have committed adultery,
2. It is supposed to be a sin which great care is taken by the sinners to conceal, which there is no witness of…
3. The spirit of jealousy is supposed to come upon the husband…then he may compel her to drink the bitter water. But the law here does not tie him to that particular method of proving the just cause of his suspicion; it might be otherwise proved. In case it could be proved that she had committed adultery, she was to be put to death (Lev. 20:10); but, if it was uncertain, then this law took place. Hence, (1.) Let all wives be admonished not to give any the least occasion for the suspicion of their chastity; it is not enough that they abstain from the evil of uncleanness, but they must abstain from all appearance of it, from every thing that looks like it, or leads to it, or may give the least umbrage to jealousy; for how great a matter may a little fire kindle! (2.) Let all husbands be admonished not to entertain any causeless or unjust suspicions of their wives…
II. The process of the trial must be thus:
(1.) Her husband must bring her to the priest, with the witnesses that could prove the ground of his suspicion, and desire that she might be put upon her trial. The Jews say that the priest was first to endeavour to persuade her to confess the truth…If she confessed, saying, “I am defiled,” she was not put to death, but was divorced and lost her dowry; if she said, “I am pure,” then they proceeded.
(3.) The priest was to prepare the water of jealousy…it must be [in] an earthen vessel, because the coarser and plainer every thing was the more agreeable it was to the occasion. Dust must be put into the water, to signify the reproach she lay under, and the shame she ought to take to herself, putting her mouth in the dust; but dust from the floor of the tabernacle…
(4.) The woman was to be set before the Lord, at the east gate of the temple-court (say the Jews), and her head was to be uncovered, in token of her sorrowful condition; and there she stood for a spectacle to the world, that other women might learn not to do after her lewdness, Eze. 23:48…
(5.) The priest was to adjure her to tell the truth, and to denounce the curse of God against her if she were guilty, and to declare what would be the effect of her drinking the water of jealousy, v. 19-22. He must assure her that, if she were innocent, the water would do her no harm, v. 19. None need fear the curse of the law if they have not broken the commands of the law. But, if she were guilty, this water would be poison to her, it would make her belly to swell and her thigh to rot, and she should be a curse or abomination among her people, v. 21, 22…
(6.) The priest was to write this curse in a scrip or scroll of parchment, verbatim-word for word, as he had expressed it, and then to wipe or scrape out what he had written into the water (v. 23), to signify that it was that curse which impregnated the water, and gave it its strength to effect what was intended. It signified that, if she were innocent, the curse should be blotted out and never appear against her, as it is written, Isa. 43:25, I am he that blotteth out thy transgression, and Ps. 51:9, Blot out my iniquities; but that, if she were guilty, the curse, as it was written, being infused into the water, would enter into her bowels with the water, even like oil into her bones (Ps. 109:18)…
(7.) The woman must then drink the water (v. 24); it is called the bitter water…
(9.) …If the suspected woman was really guilty, the water she drank would be poison to her (v. 27), her belly would swell and her thigh rot by a vile disease for vile deserts, and she would mourn at the last when her flesh and body were consumed, Prov. 5:11. Bishop Patrick says, from some of the Jewish writers, that the effect of these waters appeared immediately, she grew pale, and her eyes ready to start out of her head… 
The husband could not only accuse the woman of adultery during the marriage, but of fornication before the wedding. His testimony was accepted without question unless her father could provide physical proof saying otherwise; the wife’s testimony on the other hand was not considered at all. The Bible says:
If a man takes a wife and, after lying with her, dislikes her and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,” then the girl’s father and mother shall bring proof that she was a virgin to the town elders at the gate. The girl’s father will say to the elders, “I gave my daughter in marriage to this man, but he dislikes her. Now he has slandered her and said, ‘I did not find your daughter to be a virgin.’ But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.” Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town, and the elders shall take the man and punish him. They shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl’s father, because this man has given an Israelite virgin a bad name. She shall continue to be his wife; he must not divorce her as long as he lives.
If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the girl’s virginity can be found, she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death. She has done a disgraceful thing in Israel by being promiscuous while still in her father’s house. You must purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)
Imagine if this was in the Quran: Spencer would have a field day! He would wax and wane about how the only way the wife in this case could avert stoning to death would be by her parents somehow producing a blood stained cloth–blood from a broken hymen…evidence which seems mighty hard to come by. And even if she is found innocent by this physical evidence, in that case the husband pays the wife’s father, not her. Furthermore, the wife stays married to such a husband “as long as he lives.” But if no proof can be found, which seems the most probable outcome, then she was to be publicly stoned to death by the men of the town. Again: imagine Spencer’s rantings and ravings if this all were in the Quran!
To be clear: I am not trying here to demonize Christianity. Obviously the Christians of today do not enforce the Law of Jealousy or demand virgins to show proof of their virginity. Yet, what is apparent here is the double standard with which Spencer approaches the religious texts. Many Islamophobes pride themselves as being the protectors of the Judeo-Christian tradition, yet squirm when we apply the same standards to Judaism or Christianity.
Robert Spencer relies on half-truths: he only mentions the most conservative opinion amongst Muslims, as if it is somehow the only one. In reality, contemporary Muslims believe that women can testify in trials, including cases of rape. They interpret the Quranic verse 2:282 to be limited in scope.
Furthermore, Spencer conveniently neglects to mention that Orthodox rabbinical courts to this day refuse to accept women as witnesses, based on Talmudic teachings. (And such understandings abounded in Christianity as well.) Spencer ought to be as critical of the Halakha as the Sharia, but his double standard in this regard is reminiscent of Daniel Pipes’ double standards, as I documented in a previous article. This biased methodology underlies the Islamophobic mentality in general.
In part 2 of “Robert Spencer Rapes the Truth,” we’ll discuss the rest of Spencer’s spurious claims on the same topic, focusing specifically on his allegation that a rape victim is lashed if she fails to produce four witnesses.
refer back to article 1. Robert Spencer, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), 74-76. ISBN 0-89526-013-1
refer back to article 2. http://www.renaissance.com.pk/Julrefl12y4.html#1.
refer back to article 3. al-Tahir al-Haddad, Muslim Women in Law and Society: Annotated Translation of al-Tahir al-Haddad, 38. ISBN 0415418879, 9780415418874
refer back to article 4. Muzammil H. Siddiqi is the President of the Fiqh Council of North America
refer back to article 5. http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?cid=1203515453417&pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar%2FFatwaE%2FFatwaEAskTheScholar
refer back to article 6. Jamal Badawi is a member of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Fiqh Council.
refer back to article 7. http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar%2FFatwaE%2FFatwaEAskTheScholar&cid=1119503544348
refer back to article 8. http://www.renaissance.com.pk/Julrefl12y4.html#1.
refer back to article 9. Jalal Abualrub is a prolific Islamic author and translator
refer back to article 10. The proper term is “Salafi”. “Wahhabi” is considered offensive; it has been used here only because readers may be unfamiliar with “Salafi”.
refer back to article 11. Jalal Abualrub, http://islamlife.com/religion2/
refer back to article 12. as quoted in Tariq Ramadan’s Radical Reform, 53.
refer back to article 13. Jalal Abualrub, http://islamlife.com/religion2/
refer back to article 14. http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?cid=1203515453417&pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar%2FFatwaE%2FFatwaEAskTheScholar
refer back to article 15. http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?cid=1119503544348&pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar%2FFatwaE%2FFatwaEAskTheScholar
refer back to article 16. al-Tahir al-Haddad, Muslim Women in Law and Society: Annotated Translation of al-Tahir al-Haddad, 38.
refer back to article 17. Jalal Abualrub, http://islamlife.com/religion2/
refer back to article 18. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/agunot1.html
refer back to article 19. http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/teshuvot/docs/20052010/mackler_women_witnesses.pdf
refer back to article 20. Jacob Nuesner, Understanding Rabbinic Judaism, 67. ISBN 0870682385, 9780870682384
refer back to article 21. John Gill’s Exposition to the Bible, Commentary on Deuteronomy 19:17, http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/deuteronomy-19-17.html
refer back to article 22. Matthew Henry’s Whole Bible Commentary, http://biblebrowser.com/numbers/5-29.htm