More AIDS and Islam

Muslim Wake Up has a followup to the AIDS conference and the Dr. Wadud controversy, pointing out the dreadful condition of women in Pakistan. Of course there are many other muslim countries the author could have named too. Times are rough all over.

At one point, the author says this:

“When she gets married, and if her husband is promiscuous, it’s easy for us North Americans to legalistically claim that a woman can leave him if he isn’t pious. All is still well in our jurisprudence. ”

Since I left this comment:

“If a woman suspects her husband of adultery, isn’t divorce or separation more the issue than refusal of intercourse?”

in the Dr. Wadud article, I assume she is talking to me.

Although I think she is being sarcastic, I’m going to repeat the statement “All is still well in our jurisprudence”. That’s the crux of my objection and I think it’s still valid. Stringing these two arguments (MWU’s and Wadud’s) together in the context of fighting AIDS, which is what this was all supposed to be about in the first place, Dr. Wadud was saying that the religious injunction to avoid adultery was meaningless, or worse, harmful or deceptive, because evil men will still fornicate and bring disease home to their wives. Divorce, though allowed in Islam, is not an option because it’s rough for a single mother in Pakistani society. Therefore wives must have the religious right to refuse intercourse. Now tell me, we should expect the man who defies the religious law by fornicating is going to respect the (new) religious law by not forcing intercourse on his wife? I don’t see how that could be. And this will stop AIDS because the wife will actually be refusing intercourse for the rest of her life? I don’t understand. The only thing gained by such a course of action is the undermining of the sanctity of the Quran and Hadith. Arguably, that was the whole point of the exercise.

I hope I don’t sound callous. AIDS is a big problem and so is the status of women in Pakistan and in many other countries. That’s why I support the Muslim Women’s Coalition and the Sisters in Islam pro-monogamy campaign, and any other group that wants to advocate for the rights of women in society within the context of Islam. But Dr. Wadud and anybody else is barking up the wrong tree if they want to “problematize” the Quran and Hadith, as Esack oh-so-gently put it, in pursuit of a solution to these things. And they shouldn’t be surprised if muslims in turn are hostile to it.

As an aside, Dr. Haddad deals with this issue in his review of the work of Riffat Hassan. [Update: Dr. Haddad’s review of Dr. Wadud’s Aisha’s Legacy]

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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  1. Back in December 2002, I had four posts on my blog about Muslims and AIDS:

    number1 focuses on compassion to those who have repented for past wrongs

    number2 story of a man who re-evaluated his life after contracting HIV and accepted Islam

    guidelines for Muslims in dealing with HIV/AIDS issues

    number4 following Islamic rules as a means of prevention

    [re-entered – bG]

  2. I don’t understand. How can a spouse refusing intercourse be a serious plank for AIDS prevention? And I am saying this as someone who thinks a wife has the right to refuse (with the caveat that if she really doesn’t have to have intimate relations with her husband she should think about divorce).

    Dr.Wadud’s presentation seems to be geared towards controversy rather than actually thinking about AIDS prevention.

    OTOH most Muslims think AIDS is for kafirs and is not a serious disease to be fought against.

  3. I was actually quite disturbed by the lack of emphasis by Dr. Wadud on the husband’s own lack of Islamic practice – the fact that he committed adultery.

    Islam itself outlaws adultery – had there been adherence to the Quran and Sunnah, the husband would have not contracted AIDS in the first place. In fact, barring blood transfusion and unclean needles in hospital, all other methods of contracting AIDS are all associated with sins in Islam, are they not [Casual Sex, Homosexuality and Drug Abuse?]

  4. I generaly disagree with the comment posted by Zack and Sadin on June 27 2003 and also point out that the same can be said from a Christian perspective.Aids is,like it or not indescriminant with regard to its selection of victims. Therefore society’s responsibility is to either “embrace” the victims, educate the population in the fight and protection against aids OR if it is prefered all aids victims and high risk groups such as sex workers, adulterers, homosexuals, intravenous drug users be quarantined, which is in effect another form of divorce.

  5. Aminah Wudud only wishes to advance her agenda of promoting “re-interpretation” [i.e TAHREEF in the Quraan and Sunnah]. The other speakers ought to have taken her up on her bluff and asked her to provide exact statistics of how many women have been infected with AIDS because they believed that refusing to have sex with their AIDS infected husbands was sin or failing that even a few easily verifiable examples of such God-fearing women who knowingly had sex with their AIDS infected husbands because it would be a contravention of their husband’s Islamic rights if they refused. I don’t think there are ANY.

    In answer to her twisted logic the Muslims can say:

    Firstly: The man whose wife always satisfies him is much less likely to contract AIDS in the first place, such a person is less likely to frequent brothels or even to have homosexual sex or to use drugs [and share syringes]. SO the Islamic law reduces the spread of AIDS.

    Secondly: It is allowed to eat haraam to save your life if you are dying of hunger and there is no halaal food available. In the same way it would be allowed for a wife to do the haraam act of refusing to have sex with her husband inorder to prevent contraction of a life threatening disease.

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