Heather Hastie on Islam, women’s dress, and the disingenuous nature of CAIR

May 11, 2016 • 1:30 pm

Over at her website Heather’s Homilies, Heather Hastie has a new post, “Islam and Women’s Clothing“, which is well worth reading. It began with her reading a paragraph on the website of a local Islam-promoting organization (CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, based in Chicago), a paragraph that’s part of a page trying to explain the religion in the most positive way possible. Among its claims:

What about Muslim women?

Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own property, receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. Men and women are to be respected equally. The Islamic rules for modest dress apply to both women and men equally. (Men cannot expose certain parts of their bodies, wear gold or silk, etc.) If a particular society oppresses women, it does so in spite of Islam, not because of it.

If you know even a little about Islam, or at least about how some Islamic people and countries interpret the faith, you’ll see through this immediately. It’s a masterpiece of dissimulation.

Heather concentrates on women’s dress, but of course you know how sharia law dictates unequal treatment of men and women, like counting a woman’s testimony in court as worth but half the value of a man’s. Women can’t drive in Saudi Arabia, and can’t go outside unaccompanied, or accompanied by an unrelated man, in many places. The claim that Islam has nothing to do with oppression of women is ridiculous. All the Abrahamic religions, which include Christianity and Judaism, have oppressed women. The difference is that Islam is doing it in a far more pernicious way.

But I’ll let you read Heather’s excellent dissection of this grossly misleading paragraph, which involves citing the Qur’an, as well as the hadith as interpreted by Islamic websites. Conclusion: the paragraph above is full of it.


9 thoughts on “Heather Hastie on Islam, women’s dress, and the disingenuous nature of CAIR

  1. Great work by Heather.

    It’s sad this sort of evidence-based analytics has to come from random people.

    Mainstream and left journalism is too dominated by faith-pandering and racial paternalism to do something as audacious as actually critically examine self-serving Islamist rhetoric.

  2. No doubt not a few here have seen “CAIR [Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR Nat’l Communications Director] Debates Hate Vandalism of Quran with Chris Hitchens” on Youtube.

  3. That reminded me of the RationalWiki again, and I wondered how they would report about CAIR. Since they are a core Authoritarian “Left” site (what’s exactly left with the regressives?) my guess was that their article would be positive on CAIR. And here you go:


    As you’d expect. According to them, CAIR is reputable organisation that did mostly good things, among it, “protect[ing] the rights of Muslim women to wear the hijab”. They list two minor “Meh” things and one bad thing that vaporizes into nothing.

    Topping it off, they feature a testimonial from none other than Glen Greenwald endorsing the organisation. That’s the RationalWiki.

  4. Almost completely irrelevant, but possibly more interesting is the range of “sumptuary laws” that used to be (in some cases, still may be) on the law books in Britain ; IANA-landshark). Actually, Wikipedia has a wider-ranging article, including some comment on Islamic sumptuary laws.

    1. The british laws went til 17thC and a hangover of feudal rank demarcation. What’s striking of the Muslim laws is, like ancient greek and roman societies, extravagant male dress was viewed as effeminate but women’s dress was used to show the wealth status of the family (both societies at one stage had sumptuary laws to curb this in women also)
      I find it particularly interesting that non muslims had to wear distinctive colours, badges or chords. Not the first time Ive read that the yellow star for Jews originated in 9th C Bagdad.

      1. It’s no surprise that Hitler (Goering, or whoever did the administrivia) lifted someone else’s idea. I’d just be careful of setting myself up by claiming that $CODE_OF_LAW$ was the first to do such a thing. Because there were a lot of instances of $CODE_OF_LAW$.

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