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Apr 25 2012

What if Allah’s three daughters were worshipped today?

 

What if the Satanic Verses about Allah having  three daughters and about worshiping those  three daughters as goddesses were not deleted from the Koran and  al-Lat , al-Uzza and Manat were worshiped  today?  Would Islam have been a bit less anti-women?

27 comments

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  1. 1
    markdowd

    No. Nothing at all would change.

    I expect better from this site. I expect to have my eyes opened to new experiences. As I am a man, feminist perspectives are particularly interesting.

    This question is a waste though, as the answer is trivially obvious to anyone who has more than a passing familiarity with the way fundies are.

    Think about the ways fundies talk about their oppression as “respecting” women. Find&Replace “respect” with “worship”.

    You’re done.

    1. 1.1
      markdowd

      I should add that I do like your style. You may possibly become a regular stop for me here on FTB. I just think you’ve missed an opportunity for a more insightful analysis by asking a question that you really should already know the answer to.

      If I come across as harsh, it’s because I’m socially deficient. I don’t know tact.

      1. Taru Dutt

        “If I come across as harsh, it’s because I’m socially deficient. I don’t know tact.”
        “Hey, I’m only being honest.” Bull.

        Taslima’s question was a very sensible one, actually. But why let go of a good opportunity to be rude, right? The worship of the female does provide at least some space to women for a feminist questioning of religion. The Abrahamic religions are very patriarchal – as, of course, are the male-authored texts in non-Abrahamic religions as well.

      2. Arakiba

        We noticed your lack of tact, and your lack of basic civility.

        1. Stacy

          I think there’s a higher than average percentage of people within atheism who are on the autism spectrum (for fairly obvious reasons: bright people with autism are liable to be less attracted to religion than neurotypical people, because a lot of religion’s appeal is social.)

          So it’s quite possible that markdowd really is socially deficient and is still learning to navigate his way in the world of social interaction.

          1. Bernard Hurley

            First there is no such thing as being “within atheism” as to be an atheist is not to be a member of a cult. If you mean that you think that you think that a higher percentage of those that do no believe in a God are atheist than of those who do, it would be interesting to know the source of this information. However there are Christian groups in the UK who are proud of the “work they do with autistic people.” It seems that they can provide a “space” where such people are accepted without having to have social skills. You are assuming that people only join religions because they feel attracted to them. The reality is that many religions are quite active in hauling people in, the more vulnerable the better, whatever their initial feelings towards the religion might be.

          2. ik

            Seriously? We do have communities though. Shorthand for within the atheist community.

    2. 1.2
      mynameischeese

      On the one hand, yes, as a woman, I think women being put on a pedastools can be oppressive in its own way. But I think it’s also possible for oppression to be of a different nature than being erased.

      There must be some reason why the fathers of church spent so much time debating banal, meaningless shit about the “holy trinity” and why they absolutely bent over backwards to erase women from it when a woman was represented in the trinities of earlier religions.

      I think it’s a fair question to ask, though it would be hard to answer. Were the Cretians more woman-friendly when Hera was the main goddess, or when Zeus was imported and Hera demoted to his subservient wife? Were the original cultures in Iran (who worshiped Innana or Ishtar for example) more woman-friendly than the culture that took root after Islam was imported?

      Ideologies aren’t stagnant and they don’t exist in isolation. Probably religions tend to be more of a reflection of wider cultural practices than vice versa. So you could also ask if the area had been more woman-friendly, would the chapters have been erased?

    3. 1.3
      Arakiba

      Thank you for mansplaining that, markdowd.

  2. 2
    Anon

    Maybe a little, but probably not by any decent amount.

    In Mormonism for example, God is said to have a wife (who IIRC is as powerful or almost as powerful as God himself) and women are claimed to be able to become Goddesses of their own world and thus be just as powerful as God is, yet, mainstream Mormonism can’t claim by to be a feminist religion.

    Of course, the prescence of Goddess(es) doesn’t seem to make the majority of other relgions much more tolerant of women either.

    Still, depending on how the mythology of three Goddesses are developed, we could possibly see some modern day feminists find artistic inspiration in them the same way some find inspiration in the the character of Lilith.

    1. 2.1
      luvaljones

      Very interesting didn’t know about the goddess connection in Mormonism, especially agree with Mr Hurley in regards to intrinsic connection of cultural and religion and it’d profound affect on interruptions I..e. Islam in Turkey versus Egypt

  3. 3
    Nox

    Catholicism has a female deity (in their case it’s god’s mother instead of daughters). Never once stopped them from being anti-woman.

    1. 3.1
      mynameischeese

      Nah, catholics are quick to officially insist that Mary is not a deity. Thus why you have the holy ghost instead of Mary.

      But that’s only the official theology. Plenty of people pray to Mary and all that. But priests will tell you that she has no powers of her, only the ability to ask god to intercede.

      1. Bernard Hurley

        Well praying to Mary i.e, asking her for things is considered OK. As I Catholic nun once put it to me: “You make your request to Mary and she goes and asks Jesus and he goes and asks the Father.” I think that’s what did in religion for me, and I was only about 7 or 8.

        1. mynameischeese

          Yes, I should put that more clearly. That’s what I meant by “intercede.”

  4. 4
    Stacy

    It’s an interesting question.

    It seems as though the presence of goddesses in a religion ought to serve as abstract examples (and even, for women, role models,) of female authority and power.

    It doesn’t seem to work out that way, though. The classical pagans had goddesses, but their societies were patriarchal. Likewise medieval Europe, despite the fact that the Virgin Mary (though not technically a goddess I think she was one for all practical purposes) was greatly beloved and honored.

    Heck, early Christianity may actually have been fairly egalitarian (if you believe the textual critics who say that the misogynist verses in Paul were interpolations and forgeries). But early “Church Fathers” took care of that right quick.

    But you asked if Islam would be a bit less anti-woman.

    Maybe. A bit.

  5. 5
    Winterwind

    An interesting question. It’s difficult to guess how a religion would develop because there are so many variables. One way in which goddess worship might have improved the position of women in Islam would be that it might have ensured greater female participation in religious rituals from the early days of the religion.

    For example, according to one of the hadith about how Ali obtained the sword Zulfiqar, Muhammad sent Ali to destroy the idol of Uzza. Outside the shrine, there was an “Ethiopian/black” woman in a trance, whom Ali killed. According to Muhammad, the woman was al-Uzza. This would suggest that women were believed to go into trances and become possessed by the spirit of the godesses, making them an important part of worship in pre-Islamic Mecca. Zulfiqar was originally dedicated to al-Uzza, but Ali looted it from the temple, and Muhammad gave it to him to keep. (This is only one story about Zulfiqar’s origin. The entire hadith could be fabricated.)

    Some Muslim feminists I know who are trying to reform their religion have pointed out that there were Muslim women leading prayers and participating in battles in the earliest days of Islam.

    As other commenters have noted, having goddesses and goddess-figures in a religion does not always (or even often) make it anti-patriarchal. In some sects of Shia Islam, Hazrat Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet, has a position similar to Mary in Roman Catholicism: she was believed to be divinely conceived when Muhammad ate a heavenly fruit during the Meraj, angels attended her birth, she is Khairun Nisa, the Exalted of Women, Zahra, the Shining One, the mother of Hussein and Hassan, Izzat e Khuda, the Honour of the Lord, an example of perfect virtue to Muslim men and women… but that doesn’t seem to translate into more rights for women in Shia areas…

    1. 5.1
      Winterwind

      I forgot to add that in Pre-Islamic Mecca, although they worshipped goddesses, they also practiced customs like female infanticide, and their culture seemed to be very patriarchal. Another example of a culture in which the presence of goddesses does not guarantee women’s rights. Though as you pointed out in earlier posts, Khadija was allowed to run her own business and possibly choose her own husband, which seems pretty enlightened for the time and place.

      1. mynameischeese

        But there were several tribes overlapping in Mecca, so the goddesses could have been the leftover of one culture that was later replaced by a more patriarchal one.

        This is what some historians think happened in Summeria. A more gender egalitarian culture (which worshipped female deities) was invaded by another tribe, which changed the culture to a more patriarchal one, but some of the goddesses remained as leftovers. I think this was also the case in the greek islands where the female main goddess, Hera, then became the wife of the imported more patriarchal religion. Also a bit like what happened in Britain in Ireland where pagan goddesses were demoted to Christian saints.

      2. ik

        I have read that right when Islam was new, like the first fifty years, it was waaaaayyyyy less patriarchal than its predecessor. Which of course meant still pretty patriarchal. Not sure if that is true.

  6. 6
    Bernard Hurley

    I think this raises some interesting questions. When cricising religions one is always being told “This is not a matter of religion it is a matter of culture.” But this ignores two things: That religions are, in part, a product of culture and that cultures are, in part, sustained by and a product of religion.

    On the the one hand the way a religion develops both in terms of its beliefs and in terms as which beliefs are seen as significant in determining behaviour is heavily dependent on the prevailing culture. The earliest members of a new religion often have views that are out of step to some extent with the prevailing culture. For instance from what we know of early Christianity it seems not to have been as misogynistic as it later became. Similarly in early Islam we have the composition of these Satanic verses. Given the society in which Islam first developed one would expect there to be social pressure on the religion either to renounce these verses or to interpret them in a way that is more in accord with current social norms.

    On the other hand it is clear that western society would not be what it is today if Christianity had not been the dominant religion for nearly 2000 years and the societies in “Islamic” world would not not be what it is without Islam. This applies to both secular and overtly religious states in both cases. Incidentally it is no part of this claim that the influence of Christianity has been good whereas that of Islam has been bad: If it had not been for the reformation followed by the enlightenment we would still be burning witches in villages all over Europe.

    In short I think that given the society in which Islam developed it would not have made any difference had those verses not been deemed Satanic. The way beliefs determine the actual behaviour of the religious is never a simple matter.

  7. 7
    Winterwind

    Allah and His Daughters

    Or, It Ain’t Easy Being a Single Father

    Allah was sitting on the sofa trying to watch the India-Pakistan cricket match. At that moment, Billy Bowden gave Younus Khan out for a duck.

    “Mushrik!” Allah screamed. “Kafir! May a plague of locusts descend upon the land of your ancestors! May your seed be scattered and never prosper even unto the seventh generation! May your crooked finger rebound upon you and smite you into oblivion!”

    “Abba!” Manat called sweetly, coming into the living room. “Could I please have 200 shekels of silver?”

    “What?” said Allah. “200 shekels? What in My name do you need 200 shekels for? Bring me another Guinness from the fridge. All praise belongs to Me.”

    “I need to go out with my friends,” Manat explained.

    Allah looked at his daughter. Her hair was uncovered and stylishly blow-dried. She had applied eyeliner, delicate strokes of blush and blue eyeshadow. She was wearing a tight, revealing blouse, a skimpy miniskirt and black leather boots.

    “What?” roared Allah. “You want me to give you 200 shekels so you can go out dressed like a prostitute and enjoy yourself with your corrupt, immoral Westernised friends? Forget it!”

    “Oh, please, Abba,” Manat said. “Lakshmi’s parents let her go out all the time. And she always has loads of money.”

    “Of course she has money, she’s a personification of abundance. And of course her parents let her do whatever she likes, she’s a Hindu whore! Do I look like a minor wealth goddess to you? If you want 200 shekels, ask your friend Lakshmi for it.”

    Manat stomped her foot.

    “This is so unfair!” she said. “The Qur’an says you’re the Generous, Compassionate and Merciful One. Why don’t you start acting like it?”

    “You don’t believe in that stupid old book do you?” Allah said. “Is it my fault if some illiterate Arab peasant got high on hashish and wrote a lot of shit about Me? And where’s that Guinness?”

    “Get it yourself!” Manat snapped. “I’m leaving!”

    “May you fall into the deepest pits of Jehanna where garments of fire and rods of red-hot iron have been prepared for the unbeliever!” roared Allah. “And tell your sister al-Lat that if that Hubal boy comes round here again, I shall smite him mightily!”

    ****

    Lakshmi was using two hands to drive, one hand to text Mary and one hand to fix her hair. Manat was in the passenger seat.

    “What do you think of Krishna?” Lakshmi asked. “Balarama told me he likes me.”

    “Krishna?” said Manat. “Well… he’s very handsome and he plays the flute so beautifully. But he’s so dark. Like, really, really black. He’s so black he’s blue. And he’s a ladies’ man. He’s always chasing after cowgirls. I don’t think you could have a serious relationship with him.”

    “Hmm,” said Lakshmi. “Maybe I should go out with Balarama. He’s almost as handsome as Krishna and he’s very fair.”

    “Girl, please. He’s a total queer.” Manat giggled.

    “Are you serious?” Lakshmi said. Her fingers blurred over the phone’s keypad:

    hey mary me n manat r goin 2 party come wid us

    Manat said, “Anyway, those two are poor farmers. You’re a minor wealth goddess, you could have anyone you wanted. You deserve someone rich and important.”

    “Hah! I don’t need a rich boyfriend. I have enough money for the both of us.” As if to prove her point, golden coins started cascading from all four of Lakshmi’s palms. “Damn, not again! Could you do me a favour? Pick those up and put them in the glove compartment? Thanks, sweetie, you’re a gem. What about you? Aren’t you interested in boys?”

    “It wouldn’t be fair on my boyfriend,” Manat said glumly. “Can you imagine having my Dad for a father-in-law? He doesn’t want me to meet boys. He just wants me to sit at home, recite Qur’an and bring him beer cans while he watches cricket.”

    “What? What kind of life is that! A girl like you deserves to have a life of her own. Don’t worry, we’ll find you someone. A nice, sweet boy who likes long walks on the beach and watching sunsets. Someone hotter than Ranbir Kapoor, but not so gay.”

    Just then, Lakshmi’s phone beeped. Mary had replied.

    sorry girls im busy 2day i hav 2 appear in miraculous vision @ Rome, weep in a statue @ Coimbatore, n cure a woman wid liver cancer @ Adelaide hospital. Also Jesus came top of his class in Woodwork!!!!! Im so happy!!!!! catch u 2morrow

    Lakshmi sighed and shook her head.

    “Mary never has time to herself any more,” she said. “I’m glad I don’t have kids.”

    Manat didn’t reply. She was busy daydreaming about the archangel Michael.

    1. 7.1
      Taslima Nasreen

      I enjoyed the story.So Heavenly! :)

      1. Winterwind

        Thanks! That is a real compliment, coming from a writer like you.

  8. 8
    Enkidu

    Mary. Roman Catholics. Nuff said.

    Of course Mary is not “officially” worshiped, but the cult of Mary in various regions and at various times pretty much amounts to worship in my book.

    Generally speaking, the more Mary is exhalted, real women are seen as less worthy and more likely to be despised.

  9. 9
    Allytude

    Is Hinduism not misogynist despite the Shiva-Shakti duality?
    Maybe Islam would have been less misogynistic, but not entirely so- religion has always been used by men to control women. even so-called “equal” religions- there it is the separate but equal rule…

  10. 10
    Branden Decesare

    See the wind, turn the rudder

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