Janet Jackson’s now-estranged Muslim husband Wissam Al Mana, according to insiders, “swept in at just the right time” when they first met in 2010, and Jackson was at a low point in her life. Al-Mana “bailed her out and whisked her away to the Middle East.” Soon, however, Jackson began to feel “like a prisoner” in the marriage. Al Mana wanted “a traditional wife who stuck with Muslim traditions,” and Jackson began to chafe in the role.
That’s not surprising. Jackson felt “like a prisoner” because that’s exactly what Islamic law expects of “a traditional wife who stuck with Muslim traditions.” South Carolina Muslim cleric Muhammad Sayyed Adly recently said that the man owns the woman and that women should be “as prisoners in your hands or in your house.”
Adly is no “extremist.” A manual of Islamic law certified by Al-Azhar, the foremost authority in Sunni Islam, as “conforming to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community,” stipulates:
[A] woman may not leave the city without her husband or a member of her unmarriageable kin accompanying her, unless the journey is obligatory, like the hajj. It is unlawful for her to travel otherwise, and unlawful for her husband to allow her to. (Reliance of the Traveller m10.3)
As a traditional Muslim wife, Jackson could also have expected to be beaten if she got out of line. This is because the Qur’an says:
[M]en have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. (4:34)
Nowhere, of course, does the Qur’an teach that a woman can beat a man under any circumstances.
The Qur’an also likens a woman to a field (tilth), to be used by a man as he wills:
Your women are a tilth for you, so go to your tilth as you will. (2:223)
It declares that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man:
Get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as you choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her (2:282).
It allows men to marry up to four wives, and have sex with slave girls (those “your rights possess”) also:
If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if you fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly, then only one, or one that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice (4:3).
The Qur’an has more that oppresses women. It rules that a son’s inheritance should be twice the size of that of a daughter:
Allah directs you as regards your children’s inheritance: to the male, a portion equal to that of two females (4:11).
It allows for marriage to pre-pubescent girls, stipulating that Islamic divorce procedures “shall apply to those who have not yet menstruated” (65:4).
Islamic law stipulates that a man’s prayer is annulled if a dog or a woman passes in front of him as he is praying. This is because Muhammad’s favorite wife, his child bride Aisha, is depicted in a hadith (a report of Muhammad’s words and deeds) saying:
The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, “Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people).” I said, “You have made us (i.e. women) dogs.” I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in my bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I would slip away, for I disliked to face him. (Sahih Bukhari 1.9.490)
Another hadith depicts Muhammad saying that the majority of the inhabitants of hell are women:
I looked into Paradise and I saw that the majority of its people were the poor. And I looked into Hell and I saw that the majority of its people are women. (Sahih Bukhari 3241; Sahih Muslim 2737)
When asked about this, Muhammad explained that this was because men were smarter and more religious than women, and women were ungrateful to their husbands:
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) went out to the musalla (prayer place) on the day of Eid al-Adha or Eid al-Fitr. He passed by the women and said, “O women! Give charity, for I have seen that you form the majority of the people of Hell.” They asked, “Why is that, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religious commitment than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.”
The women asked, “O Messenger of Allah, what is deficient in our intelligence and religious commitment?” He said, “Is not the testimony of two women equal to the testimony of one man?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Is it not true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women said, “Yes.” He said, “This is the deficiency in her religious commitment.” (Sahih Bukhari 304)
“Like a prisoner”? In Janet Jackson’s marriage to Wissam Al Mana, that was the least of her worries.