Loyal Followers

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Selamat Menyambut Maal Hijrah/Awal Muharram


ARTiculations mengucapkan selamat menyambut Maal Hijrah/Awal Muharram kepada semua umat Islam dan selmat bercuti kepada semua sahabat se-Malaysia.

Hijrah itu saya rasa bukan sahaja meliputi penghijrahan fizikal daripada satu kawasan geografi ke satu kawasan geografi yang lain. Penghijrahan sifat, akal dan keperibadian daripada satu titik kebawahan kepada satu titik ketinggian jauh lebih penting dan dituntut oleh agama. 

Moga kita semua mencapai penghijrahan yang bermakna.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anti-apostasy law – the legal dynamics

I wonder whether the proponents of anti-apostasy laws have given thoughts to various legal issues which will undoubtedly arise in the event anti-apostasy laws are passed.

First of all, article 11 of the Federal Constitution guarantees the right of every person to profess and practise his religion. Freedom of religion, as this article guarantees, is deemed to be so important and universal so much so that the Federal Constitution guarantees it for every person in Malaysia as opposed to just her citizens.

By contrast, freedom of speech and expression, the right to assemble and the right to form associations are only guaranteed for Malaysian citizens. Such is the universality and fundamentality of freedom of religion that every person within Malaysia is guaranteed of that right.

The right to practise a religion is absolute. That right is not limited to the right to choose a religion but also the right to practise the religion of choice in accordance to the person’s belief and faith. In other word, under our Federal Constitution, one can not only choose a religion of his or her choice, but also to practise his or her religion freely, without any mullahs, monks, priests or prophets, real or otherwise, telling him how to do this and that.

Being so, anti-apostasy laws would run foul of article 11 as soon as it is passed. It is a non-starter. In legal jargon, it is void ab initio.

There are only two very narrow restraints which the Federal Constitution allows in so far as freedom of religion is concerned.

Firstly, laws may be passed to control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among Muslims. This means, a law may be passed for example, to prohibit anybody or group from propagating Christianity to Muslims. This provision however, does not allow any law to be passed to prevent a Muslim from leaving Islam or to punish Muslims for doing so.

Secondly, any person is not allowed to practise his or her religion in any way which may be contrary to any general law relating to public order, public health or morality. This simply means that if your religion requires you to slaughter five pigs at Dataran Merdeka every Friday at precisely 12.30pm, you cannot do so even though article 11 says you are free to practise your religion. Similarly, if your religion requires you to have sex with your daughter and your wife at the same time, you are not allowed to do so, although of course, it is open to you to argue that you may do so spiritually and not physically. (excuse me, I have to laugh…hahaha).

So, that’s about it. Quite how the proponents of anti-apostasy laws are planning to overcome this Constitutional hurdle to their beloved anti-apostasy laws is beyond me. I suppose, they would also seek to amend the Federal Constitution along with the anti-apostasy laws.

Assuming the Constitutionality issue is overcome, then comes the jurisdiction clanger. This is what I normally refer to as the judicial ping-pong or pass-the-bucket.

You see, in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia or anywhere else in the civilised world, every arm of the country’s administration would defend it’s jurisdiction and powers so fervently. Of course here in Malaysia, our judiciary, in the form of the highest Court of the land, ie the Federal Court, have always done it’s darndest best to disclaim its jurisdiction and powers. It’s almost funny really.

Whenever cases involving Islam come to our Federal Court, it will, without fail hold that it does not have the jurisdiction or power to hear such cases because they involve matters concerning Islam. Never mind the fact that the matter also involves serious and multiple Constitutional issues which have far-reaching consequences and ramifications on our society and nations. As long as the word Islam appears of the Court papers, the Federal Court will tremble in its pants and disclaim jurisdiction.

Sometimes, the Federal Court will cling to some technicalities in order to refuse hearing such hot potatoes of a case. See Shamala and the skirt of technicalities, as an illustration of this.

The oft-relied Constitutional provision for this disclaimer of jurisdiction is of course article 121 (1A), which says that our Courts shall have no jurisdiction in respect of any matter within the jurisdiction of the Syariah Courts.

So, assuming anti-apostasy laws are passed and a man is going to be charged for being an apostate. The first question is, in which Court is he supposed to be charged?

He cannot be charged in our civil Courts. Because quite simply, our civil Courts will say whether or not that man is an apostate would depend on whether he has really left Islam and that would be a matter for the Syariah Court to deal with. So, our civil Court will gladly disclaim jurisdiction.

And so, our guy would then have to be put in the black maria and driven to the Syariah Court. Okay, hold on to your seat guys, this is going to be one hell of a ride.

He is then produced before a Kadhi/Syariah Judge and charged. The charge might read as follows:

“Bahawa kamu, Jakim bin Jais, telah didapati tidak sembahyang Jumaat sebanyak tiga kali berturut-turut dan telah dengan itu keluar dari agama Islam dan dengan itu telah melakukan kesalahan di bawah seksyen 3 Akta Anti-Apostasi.”

(“That you, Jakim bin Jais, has been found not to perform the Friday prayer for three consecutive times and accordingly you have left the religion of Islam and accordingly has committed an offence under section 3 of the Anti-Apostasy Act.”)

So far so good.

Suddenly Encik Jakim says, “err…excuse me,  item 1 of List II of the Ninth Schedule of the Federal Constitution says that Syariah Courts shall have jurisdiction only over persons professingthe religion of Islam. Since according to the charge I had left the religion of Islam, you, the Syariah Court, have no jurisdiction or power over me. Thank you very much and assalamu’alaikum.”

So, we have a situation where our civil Courts disclaiming jurisdiction and power because of article 121 (1A) of the Federal Constitution and the Syariah Courts having killed it’s own jurisdiction by the very charge that it is supposed to hear.

This jurisdiction issue, to me, cannot be cured or solved. Even if the Federal Constitution is amended to allow the Syariah Courts to have jurisdiction, such amendment would still run foul against the doctrine of equality and anti-discrimination on the ground of religion.

Will the rocket scientists who are proposing the anti-apostasy laws solve this conundrum please?

Assuming the aforesaid issues are solved and either our civil or Syariah courts are given the jurisdiction, have we ever ever imagined how the case is going to proceed?

Let’s get back to Encik Jakim’s case. Finally, after the Federal Constitution and all sorts of other laws are amended to charge him, he is charged before the Syariah Court.

Encik Jakim then says, “okay, you are accusing me to be an apostate, which means I have left Islam. So, for me to leave Islam, I have to be a Muslim first. You have to prove that I was a Muslim in order to prove that I have left Islam. Can you tell me what is Islam and what is not?”

Oh uh…

During an enquiry headed by Justice Munir under the Punjab Act II 1954, Justice Munir had set out to establish just that, ie, what is Islam or who is a Muslim.

He then sets out to ask, what in the opinion of several  ulamaks, were the "irreducible minimum conditions which, a person must satisfy to be entitled to be called a Muslim." Here is some of their answers.

Quote:

"Maulana Abul Hasanat Muhammad Ahmad Qadri, President, Jami’at-ul-Ulamai- Pakistan

Q.— What is the definition of a Muslim ?

A — (1) He must believe in the Unity of God.

(2) He must believe in the prophet of Islam to be a true prophet as well as in all other prophets who have preceded him,

(3) He must believe in the Holy Prophet of Islam as the last of the prophets (khatam-un-nabiyin).

(4) He must believe in the Qur’an as it was revealed by God to the Holy Prophet of Islam.

(5) He must believe as binding on him the injunctions of the Prophet of Islam.

(6) He must believe in the qiyamat.

Q.—Is a tarik-us-salat a Muslim ?

A.—Yes, but not a munkir-us-salat

Maulana Ahmad Ali, President, Jami’at-ul-Ulama-i-Islam, Maghribi Pakistan

Q.— Please define a Muslim ?

A.—A person is a Muslim if he believes (1) in the Qur’an and (2) what has been said by the prophet. Any person who possesses these two qualifications is entitled to be called a Muslim without his being required to believe in anything more or to do anything more.”

Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi, Amir Jama’at-i-Islami

Q.—Please define a Muslim ?

A.—A person is a Muslim if he believes (1) in tauheed, (2) in all the prophets (ambiya), (3) all the books revealed by God, (4) in mala’ika (angels), and (5) yaum-ul-akhira (the Day of Judgment).

Q.—Is a mere profession of belief in these articles sufficient to entitle a man to call himself a Musalman and to be treated as a Musalman in an Islamic State ?

A.—Yes.

Q.—If a person says that he believes in all these things, does any one have a right to question the existence of his belief ?

A.—The five requisites that I have mentioned above are fundamental and any alteration in anyone of these articles will take him out of the pale of Islam.”

Ghazi Siraj-ud-Din Munir

“Q.—Please define a Muslim ?

A.—I consider a man to be a Muslim if he professes his belief in the kalima, namely, La Ilaha Illalah-o-Muhammad-ur-Rasulullah, and leads a life in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet.”

Mufti Muhammad Idris, Jamia Ashrafia, Nila Gumbad, Lahore

Q.—Please give the definition of a Musalman ?

A.—The word ‘Musalman’ is a Persian one. There is a distinction between the word ‘Musalman’ which is a Persian word for Muslim and the word ‘momin’. It is impossible for me to give a complete definition of the word ‘momin’. I would require pages and pages to describe what a momin is. A person is a Muslim who professes to be obedient to Allah. He should believe in the Unity of God, prophethood of theambiya and in the Day of Judgment. A person who does not believe in the azan or in the qurbani goes outside the pale of Islam. Similarly, there are a large number of other things which have been received by tavatir from our prophet. In order to be a Muslim, he must believe in all these things. It is almost impossible for me to give a complete list of such things.”

Hafiz Kifayat Hussain, Idara-i-Haquq-i-Tahaffuz-i-Shia

Q.—Who is a Musalman?

A.—A person is entitled to be called a Musalman if he believes in (1) tauheed, (2)nubuwwat and (3) qiyamat. These are the three fundamental beliefs which a person must profess to be called a Musalman. In regard to these three basic doctrines there is no difference between the Shias and the Sunnies. Besides the belief in these three doctrines, there are other things called ‘zarooriyat-i-din’ which a person must comply with in order to be entitled to be called aMusalman. These will take me two days to define and enumerate. But as an illustration I might state that the respect for the Holy Book, wajoob-i-nimaz, wajoob-i-roza, wajoob-i-hajj-ma’a-sharait, and other things too numerous to mention, are among the ‘zarooriyat-i-din’ ”

Maulana Abdul Hamid Badayuni, President, Jami’at-ul-Ulama-i-Pakistan :

Q.—Who is a Musalman according to you ?

A.—A person who believes in the zarooriyat-i-din is called a momin and everymomin is entitled to be called a Musalman.

Q.—What are these zarooriyat-i-din ?

A.—A person who believes in the five pillars of Islam and who believes in the rasalatof our Holy Prophet fulfils the zarooriyat-i-din.

Q.—Have other actions, apart from the five arakan, anything to do with a man being a Muslim or being outside the pale of Islam?

(Note—Witness has been explained that by actions are meant those rules of moral conduct which in modern society are accepted as correct.)

A.—Certainly.

Q.—Then you will not call a person a Muslim who believes in arakan-ikhamsa and the rasalat of the prophet but who steals other peoples’ things, embezzles property entrusted to him, has an evil eye on his neighbour’s wife and is guilty of the grossest ingratitude to his benefector?

A.—Such a person, if he has the belief already indicated, will be a Muslim despite all this”.

Maulana Muhammad Ali Kandhalvi, Darush-Shahabia, Sialkot

Q.—Please define a Musalman?

A.—A person who in obedience to the commands of the prophet performs all thezarooriyat-i-din is a Musalman.

Q.—Can you define zarooriyat-i-din ?

A.—Zarooriyat-i-din are those requirements which are known to every Muslim irrespective of his religious knowledge.

Q.—Can you enumerate zarooriyat-i-din ?

A.—These are too numerous to be mentioned. I myself cannot enumerate thesezarooriyat. Some of the zarooriyat-i-din may be mentioned as salat, saum, etc.”

Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi

Q.—Who is a Musalman?

A.—There are two kinds of Musalmans, a political (siyasi) Musalman and a real (haqiqi) Musalman. In order to be called a political Musalman, a person must:

(1) believe in the Unity of God,

(2) believe in our Holy Prophet being khatam-un-nabiyin, i.e., ‘final

authority’ in all matters relating to the life of that person,

(3) believe that all good and evil comes from Allah,

(4) believe in the Day of Judgment,

(5) believe in the Qur’an to be the last book revealed by Allah,

(6) perform the annual pilgrimage to Mecca,

(7) pay the zaka’at,

(8) say his prayers like the Musalmans,

(9) observe all apparent rules of Islami mu’ashira, and

(10) observe the fast (saum).

If a person satisfies all these conditions he is entitled to the rights of a full citizen of an Islamic State. If any one of these conditions is not satisfied, the person concerned will not be a political Musalman.

(Again said) It would be enough for a person to be a Musalman if he merely professes his belief in these ten matters irrespective of whether he puts them into practice or not. In order to be a real Musalman, a person must believe in and act on all the injunctions by Allah and his prophet in the manner in which they have been enjoined upon him.

Q.—Will you say that only the real Musalman is ‘mard-i-saleh’ ?

A.—Yes.

Q.—do we understand you aright that in the case of what you have called a political (siyasi) Musalman, belief alone is necessary, while in the case of a haqiqi Musalman there must not only be belief but also action?

A.—No, you have not understood me aright. Even in the case of a political (siyasi) Musalman action is necessary but what I mean to say is that if a person does not act upon the belief that is necessary in the case of such a Musalman, he will not be outside the pale of a political (siyasi) Musalman.

Q.—If a political (siyasi) Musalman does not believe in things which you have stated to be necessary, will you call such a person be-din ?

A.—No, I will call him merely be-amal”.

The definition by the Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiya, Rabwah, in its written statement is that a Muslim is a person who belongs to the ummat of the Holy Prophet and professes belief in kalima-i-tayyaba." End quote.

Justice Munir then concluded:

"Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulama, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental. If we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulama, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim but kafirs according to the definition of every one else."

Encik Jakim then asked which test of “Muslimness” or “Islamness” that is going to be adopted by the prosecution?

After a long and tedious trial, the Court might be ready to declare that Encik Jakim bin Jais has committed apostasy and ought to be punished.

Just before the Court does so, Encik Jakim says, “do you know that under the Amman Message, which is endorsed by Malaysia, as a member of the OIC, you are prohibited from making a declaration of apostasy against another Muslim?”

This takes Encik Jakim and the learned Syariah Judge to the Amman Message. It says, among others, the followings:-

"Circa 2004, H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan sent the following three questions to 24 of the most senior religious scholars from all around the world representing all the branches and schools of Islam: (1) Who is a Muslim? (2) Is it permissible to declare someone an apostate (takfir)? (3) Who has the right to undertake issuing fatwas (legal rulings)?

Based on the fatwas provided by these great scholars (who included the Shaykh Al-Azhar; Ayatollah Sistani and Sheikh Qaradawi), in July 2005 CE, H.M. King Abdullah II convened an international Islamic conference of 200 of the world's leading Islamic scholars 'Ulama) from 50 countries. In Amman, the scholars unanimously issued a ruling on three fundamental issues (which became known as the 'Three Points of the Amman Message'):

  1. They specifically recognized the validity of all 8 Mathhabs (legal schools) of Sunni, Shi'a and Ibadhi Islam; of traditional Islamic Theology (Ash'arism); of Islamic Mysticism (Sufism), and of true Salafi thought, and came to a precise definition of who is a Muslim.

  2. Based upon this definition they forbade takfir (declarations of apostasy) between Muslims.

  3. Based upon the Mathahib they set forth the subjective and objective preconditions for the issuing of fatwas, thereby exposing ignorant and illegitimate edicts in the name of Islam."

(The full message can be viewed here).

It continues:-

"These three points were unanimously adopted by all the members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit at Mecca in December 2005. And over a period of one year from July 2005 to July 2006, the Three Points were also unanimously adopted by six other international Islamic scholarly assemblies, culminating with the International Islamic Fiqh Academy of Jeddah, in July 2006. In total, over 500 leading Muslim scholars worldwide unanimously endorsed the Amman Message and its Three Points."

Malaysia is of course an OIC member. In fact, Tun Abdullah, while being our PM, was the Chairman of OIC. Among the 500 "leading Muslim scholars" who "endorsed the Amman Message" are:-

  • H.E. Dato’ Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi
  • Prime Minister
  • Dr. (sic) Anwar Ibrahim
    Former Deputy Prime Minister
  • Dato’ Dr. Abdul Hamid Othman
    Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister
  • Prof. Dr. Kamal Hasan
    President of the Islamic International University, Kuala Lumpur
  • Prof. Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali
    Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation
  • Mr. Shahidan Kasem
    First Minister of Perlis State, Malaysia
  • Mr. Khayri Jamal Al-Din (sic) - (presumably this means YB Khairy Jamaluddin)
    Deputy Chairman for the Youth Sector, the United Malays National Organisation
  • Dr. Salih Qadir Karim Al-Zanki
    International Islamic University

    (See the full list here).

  • I think Encik Jakim would be given an acquittal after that.

    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    The Curse of Eve - a bedtime story*

    By The Special Correspondent

    *This awesome piece was written by The Special Correspondent, a very special personal friend of mine, for the magazine Homme, which in turn published it some time back. I would like to share this with all of you. Many thanks to The Special Correspondent for his consent for the republication of this story here. For the record, The Special Correspondent is part man part computer chip who owes his life to the chip more than anything else. He is currently at the tail end of his mid-life crisis but is fast sliding into an old life crisis. According to him, he had had nine near-death experiences. One thing for sure though, he can only count up to one.

    Our story begins thus, as do all bedtime stories …

    Once upon a time, far, far away, there lived a poor sod called Adam. God made him from dust. He was immortal. Our hero lived in a beautiful garden called Eden. In the garden there was a Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If Adam ate its fruit, he would know the difference between … yes, good and evil. And that would be bad, or must have been, because God told Adam that if he ate from it, he would surely die (Genesis 2:16). Our hero got lonely. So God created Woman from his rib to be his ‘helper’. God loved them. He made them in his image, perfect and sinless. They would never be ill, never be harmed and never die. And God was a real sport when he said, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:27).

    And how could they not live happily ever after? …

    I must pause here. There is a tiny dispute of fact. This tale in Genesis of the Christian God, his Adam and Eve, suggests that Eve was the first woman. However, a Jewish book called The Alphabet of Ben Sira (circa 8th Century A.D.) tells the story of Lilith; that she and not Eve, was Adam's first wife, created at the same time and from the same dust. Claiming to be thus created equal, Lilith refused to sleep “under him”. This was a problem for our hero who, ever the ladies man, insisted,

    I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am to be the superior one.

    Lilith freaked. She flew away into the air where she ‘knew’ many demons, spawning hundreds of baby demons a day. And thus was coined the oath “I wouldn’t sleep with you if you were the only man in the whole universe”. Adam sobbed to God, “O Sovereign of the Universe, the woman you gave me has run away”. Oh boo hoo. But God was good to Adam, so he sent three angels after her. They threatened to drown her if she refused to return to him. “O piss off” she must have said, because they did. So God, perhaps regretting Free Will a little, made Eve, but this time from Adam’s rib to prevent her from leaving him.[1]

    I readily accept this version as Genesis 1:27 suggests a woman before Eve, but more so because Lilith sounds really hot. Despite Lilith, the consensus is that Eve represents Woman and that She did not come into existence in her own right but only to fulfill man’s needs. This is significant, as we shall see.

    Where was I?

    Ah yes. There was a serpent in the garden who was actually Satan (Revelations 12:9). Before he lost the War in Heaven, he was called Lucifer, God’s first and most beautiful angel, the Angel of Light. The Morning Star. He felt that although Adam and Eve would be eternally happy in paradise, they would also be eternally ignorant. So he persuaded Eve to eat the forbidden fruit for then her eyes would be opened, and like God, she would have knowledge. She ate. The now wicked Eve then seduced poor Adam into taking a bite himself. Immediately his eyes were opened. With all this knowledge, he realised he was butt naked and so put on an apron (Genesis 3:7).

    But then he heard God walking in Eden in the cool of the day. ‘O bummer’, he must have thought and he hid. But God called for him and Adam said, “I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10). (What happened to the apron?).

    God figured it out (well, of course He would) and asked, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Adam blamed Eve, “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12). Eve blamed the snake, “The serpent beguiled me, and I ate (Genesis 3:13).

    God didn’t buy it. The serpent got off lightly though, probably because it was Satan and he was only doing his job. But it was off on its belly for the rest of its life. And to be hated by Eve and her children (oh that must have hurt).

    Adam was cursed (for listening to evil wifey, of course), (Genesis 3:17-19):

    And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, You shall not eat of it’, cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

    But Eve’s curse was worse (Genesis 3:16):

    To the woman he said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

    And God banished them from Heaven, to the East of Eden. And Death did come to Adam and Eve.

    The Christians, in another one of their cool euphemisms like ‘the Rapture’, call it ‘the Fall’. I think ‘the Almighty Cock-Up’ would be more appropriate. But I don’t get what’s so awful about knowledge. Certain Gnostic sects actually honour the snake for bringing knowledge to Adam and Eve. But it is the treatment of Eve that is truly baffling.

    Her curse is two-fold. The first was increased pain[2] during childbirth and in raising children.[3] There is also the post natal extra fat, wider hips, stretch marks and of course, the sag. And children will always find ways to break a mother’s heart. Coincidence? Perhaps not. Women have more pain in childbirth than any other creature.

    God 1, Woman 0.

    And the Puritans took the Curse very seriously. In 16th and 17th century Europe, midwives were tried and burned at the stake as witches for administering any form of pain relief. There was an outcry from the Church when chloroform was discovered and used in childbirth by Sir James Simpson in the early 19th century. It was seen as an unholy attempt to rebel against God’s curse on Eve. Even Queen Victoria was heavily criticized for having used anaesthesia with the birth of her 8th child.

    But Eve’s second curse is the real cracker: “… yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” I confess I am thoroughly enjoying the very suggestion of a man’s divine right to rule over his wife. After all, Adam did name her Woman because she was created of man (Genesis 2:18-23). This is no slip of the quill; Genesis earlier recognised the headship of man before the Fall (Genesis 2:18 and 2:22). This means that God’s later ruling ‘he shall rule over you’ cannot be a punishment in itself and is accordingly, simply the way things are. So to obey God’s edict the wife must submit to her husband, I surmise with glee. What’s worse is ‘desire’ is interpreted as Woman’s need to ‘control’[4] her husband. This is a curse because her need can never be fulfilled, as man’s headship is an edict of God that cannot be usurped.

    God 2, Woman 0.

    St. Paul himself did not accept Woman’s control over man. He said (I Timothy 2:11-15), “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”

    The Twentieth Century New Testament provides a truly brave translation of this clause, “But women will find their salvation in motherhood”. Try telling Liz Taylor that childbearing and submission to her husband (singular) are her salvation.

    But the puritans condemn Eve for the consequence of her deeds. This is what they say. She disobeyed God and seduced Adam to follow suit. Adam was then punished because he ‘listened’ to her over God. Consequently, God cursed the Earth. Their sin, which had not been forgiven by God, was bequeathed to all their descendants. To absolve Man of this ‘original sin’, God sacrificed Jesus, his son in Christian dogma. (Umm, why God did not simply forgive us all without crucifying Jesus is not for me to ask.)

    So Eve caused Adam’s sin, the original sin of all Man, the death of Christ and the end of the world. It’s like blaming the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil for a tornado in Texas.[5] All butterflies should have their wings removed and like Woman, find salvation in raising larvae.

    The reality, however, is that women are attributed with the qualities of the Biblical Eve, unworthy, manipulative and filled with deception and guile.[6] As an example, see Ecclesiastes 7:26-28: “I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare ... while I was still searching but not finding, I found one upright man among a thousand but not one upright woman among them all”.

    Orthodox Jewish men in their morning prayers recite the following benediction to Yahweh, “Blessed be [God] King of the universe that Thou has not made me a woman.[7] And another: “Praised be [God] that he has not created me a gentile. Praised be [God] that he has not created me a woman. Praised be [God] that he has not created me an ignoramus.” Equating Woman with gentiles is a little harsh.

    But there are limits to this sexist Biblical nonsense. The joke ends with the original Protestant, Martin Luther, if he actually[8] said: “If they become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that's why they are there”.

    Ironically, there is no Quranic condemnation of the Muslim Eve and her purdahpracticing daughters. In the Islamic version of our story (2:31-36), (7:19-25), (20:115-123), Allah never blamed Eve for Adam’s sin and neither Eve nor her daughters were cursed with the misery depicted in the Bible. The Hadiths may say otherwise, but not the Quran.

    The real disappointment is Adam, or at least the Genesis/Ben Sira version. He is a wuss. He was given Lilith but went whinging to God when she left him for demons. He was then given Eve. But he could not even say ‘No’ to her for God’s sake. He hid behind aprons and even blamed Eve for disobeying God. Clearly, he was no match for Woman. He was conned by Eve and bollocked by Lillith; but in her defence, Lilith cannot be blamed for refusing to spend eternity with a poof like Adam.

    God, of course, is far more formidable. So after more than 3,000 years, Christian puritans must be appalled at Woman’s late charge in the 21st century in meeting her Curse.

    The epidural has all but rendered pain in childbirth obsolete. God 2, Woman 1. And in the modern home, her control over her domesticated husband (inexplicably called a pussy) is all but complete. God 2, Woman 2. And even without a Hilary win, we have women prime ministers and presidents who, despite St. Paul, rule over nations of men. God 2, Woman 3. Oh ... and what was that Curse again?

    Thus endeth the story. Oh, I almost forgot. … And Woman lived happily ever after.


    [1] This is the version of the Armenian writer Avetik Isahakyan.

    [2] There has been some argument about the translation: the word translated as ‘pain’ is the Hebrew etzev. The Christian apologist will argue that to ensure consistency, etzev means ‘toil’ as is used in relation to Adam in Genesis 3:17 and not ‘pain’. This remains a minority view. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible to translate etzev in Genesis 3:16 made by 70 scholars in 300 B.C. uses the Greek wordlupĂȘ, meaning also pain of body.

    [3] The curse could not have been of actually having children as the earlier command was “be fruitful, and multiply” (Genesis 1:27).

    [4] In the same sense as in Genesis 4:7: “[Sin's] desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

    [5] See Edward Lorenz’s lecture in 1972 for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

    [6] The following quotes are taken from the controversial article Women in Islam Versus Women in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition, The Myth and The Reality by Sherif Abdel Azim, Ph.D. But see the rebuttal in A Response to Sherif Abdel Azeem's Eve's Fault and Eve's Legacy by Anthony Wales.

    [7] Daily Prayer Book. (Phillip Birnbaum translator) (NewYork: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1977) pg. 18.

    [8] See The Gospel According to Woman by Karen Armstrong for the source of this quote.