4:34 versus 5:33
On 17 January 2023, four months after Mahsa Amini’s murder, as details emerged of how women protesters were treated, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour was shocked:
The details of the stories, you almost can’t believe them. And for an Islamic country, so-called, to engage in this sexual abuse of women, whom they say they’re trying to protect, you know, I mean, where does this end?
For an Islamic country to engage in sexual abuse of women! Imagine that. Oh my word. Where will this end, indeed. Women’s rights expert, Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, responded:
It’s been going on for decades. These are not new incidents, unfortunately. The fact that we are now talking about it and …are prepared to lift the veil on these issues, is really important. This idea that under an Islamic setting, women are valued and protected, and so on, is absolute nonsense. It’s nonsense there, it’s nonsense in Afghanistan, it’s nonsense in other countries. The hypocrisy has to be addressed, and they have to be brought forward in the international setting if the want to be part of the international community. We have laws around these things.
Unlike Amanpour, Anderlini is not deluded, but she is naive to think that Islamic regimes hold themselves to Western standards. Such regimes have only the deepest contempt for Western standards and have no interest whatsoever in being “part of the international community.” If lay Muslims in the West can kill their own daughters for being “too Western,” what can we imagine those in power in an Islamic republic think of Western norms and standards?
There is no hypocrisy in Iran regarding the treatment of women. Their behaviour is consistent with their attitudes and beliefs, and they believe Allah to have ordained things to be as the are. Whether man or woman, under Islam no one has rights. There are only degrees of oppression, mitigated by arbitrary favours and dispensations. They follow Shari’a and do not pretend otherwise. Muslim proselytisers and apologists in the West may lie about Shari’a and spout propaganda about women being “valued and protected.” And since we are dealing with Iran, Mansour Hekmat is probably best placed put this right:
In Islam, …the individual has no rights or dignity. In Islam, the woman is a slave. In Islam, the child is on par with animals. In Islam, freethinking is a sin deserving of punishment. Music is corrupt. Sex without permission and religious certification, is the greatest of sins. This is the religion of death. In reality, all religions are such but most religions have been restrained by freethinking and freedom-loving humanity over hundreds of years. This one was never restrained or controlled. With every move, it brings abominations and misery.
Muslim efforts to defend the hijab in the immediate aftermath of Amini’s murder were almost comical, and thankfully, have since all but dried up. Hanging on a bit longer has been all the talk of “women’s revolution” and “feminist revolution,” but these, too, are sounding increasingly ridiculous in light of the regime’s executions of protesters. The executions are not of women and not for immodesty, but of men and for “causing mischief in the land.” If you want to express this in Qur’anic terms, then the Iranian regime’s response to the protests has been about 5:33, not about 4:34.
Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded, (Qur’an 4:34)
Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and spread mischief in the land is death, crucifixion, cutting off their hands and feet on opposite sides, or exile from the land, (Qur’an 5:33) 
Certainly, for men to be able to impose anything on women, including the hijab, they have to be in charge of women (4:34), but to impose anything on men, including charge over women, they have to be subject to brutal and arbitrary control, such as for causing “mischief in the land,” which can mean absolutely anything, and have the cruelest and severest punishments imposed on them (5:33).
The Iranian regime’s problem is neither with women, nor with the hijab. Its problem is with the undermining of the arbitrariness of its control, as encapsulated in the hijab, and hence the erosion of the totality of its power. For Iranian totalitarianism to work, it is critical that a woman never knows when she might fall foul of the law, no matter how carefully she dresses. This is not an abuse of power; it is how totalitarianism works. All totalitarian systems rely on the arbitrary exercise of power, i.e., built-in unaccountability and total lack of recourse. An accused can never argue a case, because there is never a case to argue. To be accused is to be guilty, everybody else is suspect. Totalitarianism itself is the abuse of power.
Western complaints about protesters being tried in kangaroo courts abound, as does outrage over judges venting their anger at the accused and the absence of defence lawyers. The presumption underlying such critiques is that we are looking at a society with Western due process of law and equality before the law. Such critique is wholly misplaced. Such practices as we see in Iranian courts are perfectly in line with Shari’a. But such critics will not go there, because to criticise Shari’a is to criticise Islam, and we don’t want to be “Islamophobic” now, do we.
Of course Iran is riddled with men who hate women, but the Iranian regime is not against women per se; it is against everyone who is not the Supreme Leader. Everyone who is not the Supreme Leader is against everyone who is less the Supreme Leader than themselves. The same holds true in Russia, in China, in North Korea, in Nazi Germany. Everyone is subject to arbitrary control, but women find themselves at the bottom of this pecking order, so the arbitrariness of all power ends up borne by women, in Iran instrumentalised in the hijab, a piece of cloth. The women of the morality police are just one step away from being at the bottom of that social pile. They can least afford to not be brutal towards women.
V S Naipaul, in his Beyond Belief: Islamic excursions among the converted peoples, observed in Pakistan, another Islamic Republic:
So the women who had come to see the pir [saint] that day had to wait, and they were squatting like chickens in his courtyard in the sun. They were peasant women, serf women, chattel of their landlords and their husbands, unprotected by law, custom or religion. They lived with cruelty and their minds had half gone.
There are no individuals under totalitarianism, and Islam is no exception. Views, opinions, likes, dislikes, all emotions come prepackaged from the Party, the “scholars”, various little books that come in a variety of colours, etc. Muslims did not know what they thought of Covid-19 until their “scholars” told them what they thought of Covid-19. Since there are no individuals, there are no opinions. There are only Muslims (inside the ummah), who think one thing, and kufaar (outside of it), who think something else. Anyone within the ummah who has an issue with Islam can be nothing but a traitor. Every totalitarian society is some variation of this formula.
I have argued right from the start, here, here, here and here, that the events unfolding in Iran is not about people protesting against compulsory hijab, or against the general lack of freedom or even against the Iranian regime. This is about throwing off Islam. What we are witnessing in Iran is mass apostasy from Islam, something that Maajid Nawaz, with Sam Harris in tow, dismissed as impossible. The demonstration of the rejection of Islam was already present in men objecting to the way the clergy confronted women in public, even before Mahsa Amini’s murder, and men physically tackling men who assault women on the street.
General Iranian opposition to Islam was brought into sharp focus when Mahsa Amini’s father chased a mullah away from his daughter’s funeral with the unmistakable rejection: “Take your Islam and go!” Even the slogan, Women Life Freedom, is a powerful negation of all that is Islam. A few weeks into the protests, it became a sport to knock turbans off the heads of holy men and run away as quickly as possible, followed by not running away at all, but instead, stomping on the turbans. In broad daylight, demonstrators tore down the emblem of Iran, which is both the name of Allah and the declaration of faith. The negation of Islam implicit in the slogan Women Life Freedom has since become explicit in the slogan No to Islam, no to the Qur’an. My life is only for Iran! This latter slogan also happens to be a complete repudiation of Ayatollah Khomeini, who not only rejected the nation of Iran, but was ready to see it destroyed, if that’s what it took for Islam to prevail.
The Iranian people themselves have put an end to talk of a “woman’s revolution.” The principal losers are Islam and those empowered by it; the secondary losers are the Western ideologues who were going to turn this into a “feminist revolution,” no matter what.
- Only Western people are conceited enough to believe that everyone is basically an unfulfilled version of themselves. It is inconceivable to them that there are people in the world who want neither democracy, nor human rights, and see those amongst them who aspire to such iniquities as traitors undeserving of life. They all want the creature comforts that Western society provides and their societies cannot, but somehow they remain superior to the West. These are, indeed, hypocrites. Still, the strongest censure has to be upon those in the West who insist that all cultures are equal.
Here is Barack Obama in response to widespread Iranian protests against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stealing of Hussein Mir Musavi's June 2009 presidential election victory, and a regime sniper's murder of Neda Agha Soltan:
"What we can do is to say unequivocally that there are sets of international norms and principles about violence, about dealing with peaceful dissent, that spans cultures, spans borders. And what we've been seeing over the Internet and what we've been seeing in news reports violates those norms and violates those principles. ...I think it is not too late for the Iranian government to recognise that there is a peaceful path that will lead to stability and legitimacy and prosperity for the Iranian people. We hope they take it."
- While some Muslims may pretend to hold such ideas, in fact, none of them take kindly to the “distorting and Christianising” of their faith. See Metin Gülmen, “NRW: Erdogan-Politiker hält Hass-Rede in Moschee! “Werden sie vernichten’,” (North Rhine-Westphalia: Erdogan politician makes hate speech in mosque! “[We] will destroy them”) Der Westen, 17 January 2023 https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#inbox/FMfcgzGrcFhSWZHCXCJTLkdktQnFhhQf.
In the minds of many in the West, including Western Muslims, Islam is already distorted and Christianised. Despite reams of scriptural diktats and daily horrors to the contrary, they really do believe Islam to be nice and cuddly, placing them alongside Christiane Amanpour in holding Iran to be an aberration, nothing but “so-called Islam.” Even Shari’a, barbaric already by the standards of Late Antiquity, is held to be something innocuous.
- Mansoor Hekmat, “Islam and De-Islamisation,” interview with Negah, January 1999 http://hekmat.public-archive.net/en/3140en.html
- The hijab has exercised Sheikh Dr Yasir Qadhi a great deal over the years, but there has been a distinct uptick since the Indian hijab controversy early in 2022. Qadhi and other defenders of Islam, such as Mohammad-Javad Larijani, become truly ridiculous when they equate not wearing the hijab to nudity, seemingly without realising what they are saying about Muslim men.
- Feminist pretence at defending a woman’s “right to wear the hijab” is just a cowardly way of not opposing Islam.
- 4:34 is the infamous wife-bearing verse. The verse continues: “As for those from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Indeed Allah is Supreme, Great.” Many translations of Allah’s perfect Qur’an have in recent years been improved with euphemistic interpolations, always within brackets, you understand. It is not for creation to presume to improve the creator.
- The reader might have come across the verse immediately before this, 5:32, the go-to verse of those who try to defend Islam: “We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land - it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” For the defence to stand a better chance, they usually leave out some bits, so it is usually quoted as, “If anyone killed a person, it would be as if he killed all mankind, and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” There. Now will you accept Islam?
- “Islamophobia” and “hate-speech” in the West play the same totalitarian role as the hijab in Iran: they are instruments of arbitrary control. Since it is not possible to legally define either “Islamophobia” or “hate-speech” to a standard that will keep those not guilty of these “crimes” safe from prosecution, they serve no purpose other than to impose a debilitating caution on an entire population. Since literally anything can be either “Islamophobic” or “hate-speech,” the safest course of action is to say absolutely nothing, such as in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany or China.
Very few appreciated the significance of the British “Hate Crimes Awareness Week,” when the police, you know, the ones who don’t have guns, asked the citizens of Orwell’s island to report “hateful behaviour” even if it isn’t a crime and even if they have no evidence. Britain had graduated from a “shabby police state,” as Robert Spencer likes to call it, to a police state that can hold its head high amongst the likes of Iran, China, North Korea, etc. That was back in October 2019. By now the Brits should be pretty well broken-in.
- V S Naipaul was roundly hated in the Leftist critique world. Edward Said, e.g., damned him as, “A third-worlder denouncing his own people, not because they are victims of imperialism, but because they seem to have an innate flaw, which is that they are not whites.” All Hell broke loose when Naipaul published Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey in 1981. Reviewer Elizabeth Powers picks up from there:
“In that work Naipaul turned his gaze on the effect of Islamic imperialism on the peoples of four non-Arabic Muslim countries (Iran, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia). As he would later write, “no colonization had been so thorough as the colonization that had come with the Arab faith,” eradicating, as it did, all vestiges of pre-Muslim history. A ferocious anti-Naipaul industry developed, with Naipaul dogged by accusations of racism and bigotry.”
Four decades offered enough time for “decolonising the mind” and “Islamophobia” to be able to be used in the same sentence without irony.