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Islam is a religion for men; women look in from the outside. In contrast to France, where church attendance consists almost exclusively of women, in Islam, women hardly play any role in their worship services. Islam totally lacks female input to social life and culture. Isabelle Bird-Bishop had the opportunity to penetrate deeply into the life of Muslim women. She witnessed the indescribable in the presence of young harem girls. She could only comment that it would be impossible for anything more demonic, dirty and demeaning to be called up in the polluted imagination of a sick man than was displayed before the eyes of women and young girls or said in their presence. Another lady, Mrs. Stanley Pool-Lane, testifies that during the course of succeeding generations, life in harems gradually sank so low that it would be impossible to sink to a lower level of brutality and animalism.4747Today, in the 21st century, Muslims contemptuously dismiss primitive Western displays of nudity, scant clothing, every form of bestial sex, with prostitution presented as a respectable occupation. Sometimes they identify such sub-human practices with Christianity, a link Christians would strongly reject. Faithful Muslims similarly reject such links and regard such practices as un-Islamic. It is not acceptable to compare the best of one religion with the worst practices of adherents of another.
Undoubtedly, this almost exclusively male character gives Islam its strength. It enables Islam to retain its position in higher circles. But the total lack of female influence means Islam is bereft of that tenderness and warmth that women contribute so generously to the Christian religion. The Muslim, according to ancient Bedouin tradition, is hospitable and protective of strangers. He is famous for his charitable treatment of the poor. However, Tenney, in his recent book Contrasts of Social Progress, comments that everything done in Constantinople for the poor and needy, through voluntary gifts and foundations, is not even close to one tenth of the philanthropy practiced in London. The Muslim is honest in his commerce and traffic and shines here compared to Greeks and Armenians, not to speak of Asian Jews, but this honesty is rooted more in his pride than in his moral standard. Provided extremes are avoided, Muslim ethics makes light of moderate levels of evil. That is expressed in so many words in Surah 4, where we are told that Allah does not demand too much from us, for He knows that we are weak. If we keep ourselves from committing the offences that are explicitly forbidden, He will overlook your wrongs and ensure your entry into Paradise. These sentiments appear to be borrowed from the Old Testament, but they are distorted by nomism with its rough attack on the ethical ideal. A culture based on such a low ethical foundation cannot possibly develop beyond a mediocre level. Islam has risen a few rungs up the ethical ladder, but then remained at that level and could make no further progress. And even though this mediocre culture is often disguised in European dress to appeal to the higher classes, in their hearts and in their worldview the spirituality inherent to Islam maintains its control. All progressive development is cut off. Occasionally, puritan movements arise that protest against this legalistic deviation from the Qur’an, but even these revivals never aim higher than a return to the ethical standards of the Qur’an.
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