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PKatalikkiren: Islam liberated women

To: alt.sufi,alt.islam.sufism,alt.religion.islam,talk.religion.misc,alt.magick.tyagi
From: (tyaginator)
Subject: PKatalikkiren: Islam liberated women
Date: 27 Mar 1999 02:49:20 -0800

[from Penkalai Katalikkiren ]

Will Durant, in the Story of Civilization, after studying all the
available archaeological evidence, wrote that slavery always followed
the subjugation of women, and may actually have been caused by it. 
(The same has been said about the subjugation of women in Islam
developing at same time as extensive slavery.  The Prophet Muhammad
not only encouraged the freeing of slaves, he raised women's status
and gave them their rights.  His friends accused him of being ruled by
his wives!)

Patriarchal Christianity in the early Middle Ages condemned women as
inferior and the cause of sin, and enforced the most repressive rules
ever.  How they could have done this in the name of the gentle prophet
Jesus Christ is beyond understanding.

It was only when the benign influence of Islam and Sufism began to
make itself felt in Europe that Christendom began to ease up on its
misogyny.  The Sufis honored women because of their high spiritual
significance.  The Qur'an teaches sacred sex in a couple of verses,
and the Sufis developed the mysticism of Divine Love growing out of
human eros.  For example, Ibn `Arabi's mystical erotic poetry in the
Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, and his exposition of sacred sex in the Fusus

The High Middle Ages of Europe arose from contact with Islamic
civilization.  Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) was a key figure
in this (and according to Idries Shah she was descended from Prophet
Muhammad).  At her Court of Love at Poitiers, she was a great
patroness of the arts and encouraged the troubadors who sang of
courtly love, i.e. spiritualized eros, which came from Sufism.  She
promoted the idea that real men loved and honored women, rather than
fighting feudal wars or becoming monks.

After this, Western civilization began to soften toward women, and the
veneration of Mary came to the forefront.  However, sacred sex had to
remain underground in Christianity and could only be detected in the
veiled, symbolic language of the poets and the alchemists.

The French troubador Pierre Vidal said in one of his poems: "I think I
see God when I look on my lady nude."  He was burned at the stake.

The West may feel proud for thinking it invented "Women's Liberation"
in the recent past, but considering the extreme misogyny of early
Christianity, how could that have come about?  The first raise of
Western women's status came from Islam, especially Sufism.  That was
the basis for all subsequent women's liberation.  Will Islam ever be
able to regain its original role of honoring and empowering women?

penkalai katalikkiren


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