How to write an essay: part 1

Essays are a very structured method of presenting a particular point of view.

How to write an essay remains a mystery to a lot of people! Putting all those ideas onto paper and presenting them as ‘an essay’ can be a daunting task for many people.  (Where do I start? How do I finish?)

Yet, it does not have to be so!  Very often, once the structure of how an essay is ‘supposed to’ be written is explained, writing one becomes easy, because there is a way to break the process down into very easily manageable steps.  However, not every person comes across a teacher who has taken the time to explain this structure and how to ‘get there’…

Not understanding the underlying structure of an essay makes ‘writing essays’, well, difficult (especially Aspies).  Here, I would like to ‘fix’ this:  essays are so very structured that everyone – especially people who do not deem themselves to be ‘writers’ in other ways, can compose effective essays.

There are two fundamental things that need to be understood about ‘essays’:  the ‘why’ and the ‘how’.  (OK, these are more ‘philosophical’ distinctions than anything else – but they do capture at least one aspect of the meaning…)

The ‘how’ is simple mechanics – but the ‘why’ underlies each bit.  So, let’s tackle the ‘why’ first.

The why of an essay (as I am using the descriptive) is the reason for writing it:  its main point, what it is saying and how it is saying it.  Once a person has understood the ‘underlying structure of an essay, many of the steps listed below can be combined, or skipped altogether.  However, listing them separately is one of the ways in which a person can gain an understanding how to build an essay, one little idea at a time.

The why of an essay can be arrived at as follows:

  • Examine the ‘assignement’:  question or statement.
    • Sometimes, the ‘main point’ is assigned, sometimes it is up to the ‘writer’ to define the ‘main point.
    • The ‘point of view‘ – or, the way in which this ‘main point’ is demonstrated (what evidence is cited to support the ‘main point’, how the evidence is presented and how the conclusion is drawn out) – that is always something the ‘writer’ must choose and ‘fulfil‘.

    This ‘main point’ and ‘point of view/means of making the main point’ (for lack of better terms) constitute the ‘reason’ for writing the essay (aside from it having been assigned, that is…).  In other words, they define the main idea which the ‘writer’ will build the essay to convey/bring across.

  • Define the ‘main point’ (unless it is assigned).
    • find a single word (OK, the word can be ‘contorted’ and hyphenated amalgam of a few ‘normal’ words, or it can be an expression:  the main thing about ‘this word’ is that it is the simplest-possible way of expressing the very core of the ‘main point’ which is the central focus of the essay.
      • this ‘main point‘ must be both ‘simple’ and ‘core’, because the ‘main point’ of each of the paragraphs in the essay will be ‘compared’ to it.
      • this ‘main point‘ is the focus of the essay
      • this is what the essay will say
  • Define the ‘way of presenting the main point’ (point of view)
    • write a sentence which defines how the ‘main point‘ will be made.
      • again, the ‘sentence’ is more of a suggestion than a hard requirement:  a phrase or point-form, or any other method which is ‘understandable’ to the ‘writer’ is acceptable, because this is all part of the ‘brainstorming’ or ‘rough work’ that so many teachers request to be handed in along with the ‘good copy’ of the essay, to prove the person actually did the work (and to demonstrate to the teacher the chain of thought that took the essay from ‘concept’ to ‘finished product’:  many teachers actually assign marks to these steps…so, if they are not handed in, the marks reserved for these steps cannot be earned…
      • the main goal of this step is to clarify in one’s mind the method (reasoning, proof, etc.) of how the ‘main point’ will be presented
      • once this is clarified, putting it down will help ‘the writer’ maintain focus, because it will be available for constant ‘feedback’…and, as subsequent steps ‘ought to’ be compared back to both the ‘main point’ and ‘the main sentence’ (which, for lack of a better term, is how I refer to this step for the purposes of this post.
    • This section will serve as the basis for the ‘opening’ and ‘closing’ paragraphs of the essay.
  • Gather the evidence
    • this step involves ‘putting down’/’brainstorming’ the pieces of evidence which will be used to support/demonstrate/prove the ‘main idea’ of the story
    • again, this can be done in two steps:  first, as ‘one word’ concept, then as the more concrete ‘simple sentence/point form’ (which might list the page numbers of quotes to be referenced, and so on).
    • while it is recommended (for the sake of self-discipline) that the individual points be put into the form of simple sentences, this is in no way a requirement:  point form is just as effective.
    • it is recommended (in order to ‘fit’ the expectations of ‘most’ essay assignments) that 3 major pieces of evidence be listed.
      • While most of these ‘major points’ can be expanded, it is important to clarify in one’s mind (and putting it down is a good way of achieving this – and being able to refer back to it) the main thrust each of these major pieces of evidence will make.
      • The ‘minor points’ or ‘development’ of the ‘major points’ will come during a later step.  They are very important – but it is also easy to go ‘off topic’ and loose the focus of the essay while ‘developing’ these bits.  Therefore, it is better to put all of the ‘minor points’ or ‘developments’ of these ‘major points’ into a section marked ‘notes’, not list them as the ‘major points of focus’.

      These points will go on to form the ‘body’ of the essay (the paragraphs in between the opening and closing paragraphs):  each one of the ‘major points’ of evidence will have one paragraph of the essay devoted to it.

This should (I hope) explain the ‘why’ of essay-composition:  if it does not, or if it is confusing (or just plain wrong), please, let me know and I will do my best to explain/fix it.

The next post (link to be inserted) will address the ‘how’ of essay-writing.

Aspergers: ‘price’ and ‘punishment’

People with Asperger’s syndrome (Aspies) process information a little differently than most other people.  Some of us (well, OK, ‘we the Aspies’) would say that we process information much more logically!

This is a gift – but is also is a curse:  very often, we will arrive at a completely logical (and rather obvious) conclusion which is not only obvious to ‘us’, but somehow completely inaccessible to ‘others’.  Perhaps this is due to their social programming – I do not know:  I’m still trying to figure out the unpredictable reactions of ‘neurotypicals’ (NTs).

Let me give an example which demonstrates this most clearly and understandably.

Please, consider the way we (as a society) ‘forbid’ things.

We have a list of behaviours which are socially forbidden: from horrible things like murder to little things like ‘talking in class’. Oh, we do not treat each transgression equally (though SOME Aspies thing that might have made more sense) – our society considers some much more serious than others.  Yet, the fact remains, these various behaviours are all ‘forbidden’.

Aspies can deal with that:  IF, that is, we are given a very accurate explanation as to which behaviours are forbidden (often, explaining ‘why’ will help us figure out ‘what’ these prohibited behaviours are), and IF we are willing to accept the prohibition (which is most of the time), we WILL  respect it absolutely.

KNOWING that respecting the prohibition is part of the social contract we have with our fellow humans is enough.

However, our society does NOT stop at the prohibition itself!  Perhaps this is some misguided attempt at ‘labeling’ different ‘seriousness’ of transgressions, but the fact remains:  our society ascribes very specific ‘punishments’ to particular transgressions.

Of course, once a ‘punishment’ is assigned to a specific ‘transgression’, it removes that ‘transgression’ from the list of ‘forbidden’ behaviours:  it has become a ‘permitted behaviour with a price’!

I am not sure if I am doing a good job of explaining this to non-Aspies.  I have a hard time putting myself into their position with regard to this and seeing it the way I (and many, many Aspies do).  Perhaps an example would be useful:

This is a true story:  starring none other than my husband!

When my husband was in grade 7, he had a Math teacher who had a rule:  if you got caught talking in class, you had to ‘write lines’ (a full page of:  ‘I will not talk during class.’).

Of course, this made ‘not talking in class’ a thing which was not forbidden – rather, it was a thing which was ‘purchased’ with a page of ‘lines’.  And, liking to talk in class, he knew he would have to pay the price for it at one point or another.  Therefore, being the intelligent and foresightful person that he is, he would not indulge in an ‘expensive’ behaviour without having the ‘means to pay for it’, so to speak…

Thus, when the teacher ‘caught him’ talking in class and ordered him to write a page of ‘lines’, my husband (well, he was not my husband then, he was in grade 7 – but, you know what I mean) pulled a page of ‘lines’ from his knapsack and handed it over to the teacher!

For some weird reason, many teachers think this type of a thing is a ‘provocation’ of some type:  the reason for this escapes me (after all, the price was pre-set by the teacher), but I have come to understand that many NTs think that many very straigt-forward and logical reactions are somehow ‘provocations’.  Perhaps it is that they do not like to be reminded of the fact that they skipped a logical step along the way…

Whatever the reason, the teacher said something to the effects:  ‘Ah, so you think you are so clever, having your ‘lines’ all pre-done!  Well, in this instance, the punishment is TWO pages of ‘lines’!’

To which my husband responded – logically, I think – by producing a second sheet of ‘lines’ and handing them in  to the teacher!

THAT seemed to end things…

Again, I am not sure if I am explaining things in an ‘understandable’ way:  what I am trying to say is that, once an action has a specifically defined punishment associated with it, it is not really forbidden any longer:  to the contrary!  It is permitted, provided YOU are WILLING to PAY the pre-efined PRICE!

Therefore, it is not ‘advisable’ to have a ‘specific’ penalty assigned to a ‘misbehaviour’, when it comes to Aspies!

Now, I DO understand that for most NTs, knowing the ‘punishment’ is a part of the whole ‘consequences of actions’ bit – and therefore, it is a ‘good’ thing to define the exact punishment for various ‘forbidden’ behaviours.  Yet, I ALSO expect NTs to take a look at the logical conclusion:  once you put a ‘price’ on something, it is no longer ‘prohibited’, just ‘expensive’…

The moral of this post…

If something is ‘prohibited’, keep it ‘prohibited’ and do NOT make it merely ‘expensive’ by putting a ‘price’ on it!!!

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White flowers for Aisha

The story of Aisha Ibrahim Duhuhulow – the child who was stoned for the crime of being raped – has really touched me.

The young girl grew up under one application of Sharia, where ‘justice’ meant that rapists are caught and punished.  However, her local Mosque had come under ‘new management’:  the ‘elders’ (Islamic scholars) who now controlled it applied Sharia very, very differently.   Admitting to having been raped was interpreted by them as admitting to having had sexual intercourse outside of marriage, which is punishable by stoning.  And, while stoning her, the cleric, Sheik Hayakallah, continued to praise ‘sister Aisha’ for ‘wanting Sharia and its punishment to apply’!

And THIS is why Sharia – even if it were fully compatible with ‘Western’ laws and principles (which it is not) – is UNACCEPTABLE !!!

This ‘Islamic Law’ and its applications are not consistent:  the local Islamic leader has the authority to interpret it in any way he deems to be correct!  (This does not even take into consideration that there is no consensus as to what training (if any) a person requires in order to be an Imam or an ‘Islamic scholar’.  Currently, any man who considers himself to be knowledgeable of the Koran and the Sunnah can declare himself to be  an Islamic scholar and act as an Imam.)

Thus, a simple change of Imams at a Mosque could completely change the rules under which are ‘the laws’ which govern every aspect of public and private behaviour in the local community.  And, the people might remain completely unaware how the changed interpretation of Sharia will be meted out:  unaware, that is, until someone like Aisha gets stoned for having been raped!

THAT, in my never-humble-opinion, is a big problem!

As for Aisha, not only was her story criminally mis-reported (at first), she herself has remained faceless:  no amount of Googling has revealed any pictures online of the unfortunate girl.  (If you find one – please, let me know!)

Since I could not find a picture of her, I decided to paint one…  this is my impression of ‘Aisha’:

Aisha

Then, someone posted this comment about Aisha:

WHITE FLOWERS FOR AISHA
I could not sleep for days after reading about Aisha’s tragedy. I would have wanted to bring flowers to her grave, but there was no grave to be reached. I felt so powerless!
But then I got the idea that we should all try and create a wave of sweetness and kindness in the love of Aisha, all over the world. May her death not have been in vain. Let us transform it into a stimulus to spread lovingkindness.
I decided to buy a bunch of white flowers and offer one of them, together with a 5 dollar bill and a piece of candy,to every homeless person I woud find at the railway station,
mentioning Aisha’s name and sending her a blessing every time.
I also made an offer to Amnesty international to honor her name.
Let us all do something, let us create a wave of white flowers and of kind actions so as to try and counterbalance the horror of her death. And let us pray for her, telling her we all love her.
Ilaria

Yes!  WHITE FLOWERS FOR AISHA!

What a beautiful idea:  the innocent blossom, plucked before her time!

White Flowers for Aisha

White Flowers for Aisha

This is my take on ‘White Flowers for Aisha‘!  What is yours?

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‘Marriage under Sharia’ permits child prostitution

My first law of human-dynamics is:  if a law can be abused, it will!

That is why every law must be examined very, very carefully; all the ways it can be perverted and abused must be considered and weighed.  This should – preferebly – be done before such a law is accepted and before it becomes the norm in a society.

Sharia is based on the Koran and the Sunnah (the ways of the Prophet Muhammad).  It governs every aspect of a person’s life.  Here is the definition of Sharia from the Islamic Dictionary:

“Way to the water.” The “way” of Islam in accord with the Qur’an and Sunna, ijma’ and qiyas. Sharia is the law of Islam. It is based on the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunna, though there are many sources outside these two, such as Arab Bedouin law, commercial law from Mecca, and the law of some conquered nations such as Roman and Jewish law. The Sharia extends beyond what Westerners consider law. It covers the totality of religious, political, social, including private life and makes no distinction between sin and law.

While there are several ‘schools’ of Sharia, they all have the same roots and tend to be considered complementary of each other, rather than in opposition to each other.  And, they are in agreement on many of the most fundamental rules of human behaviour and social organization.

One thing that is troubling about ‘Sharia Courts’ is that there is no formal differentiation between these various legal interpretations of the Islamic laws:  rather, it is the leadership of the local Mosque which determines what ‘school’ of Sharia applies to the congregation.  If a change occurs in the leadership (or ‘elders’) in the Mosque, the legal standards are automatically changed, without any notice being given to the populace.

It is my conviction that Aisha Ibrahim Dhuhulow was a victim of such a change.  She grew up under the interpretation of Sharia where rapists were caught and punished.  That is why, after this 13-year-old child was raped, she went to her local officials and ‘demanded that justice be done’.  Unbeknown to her, her town Mosque was recently taken over by officials who subscribed to the most extreme form of Sharia, where the rape victim is stoned to death for adultery.  That explains why she kept begging for her life and calling for help, while the officials who sentenced her to death praised her for ‘demanding that justice according to Sharia be done’…

Both courses of action are possible under different schools of Sharia!  How was the child to know that things could change THAT drastically?!?!?

Which brings me back to my original statement:  if a law can be abused, it will!

Now, I would like to ask you to consider  the rules which govern marriage under Sharia:  I have posted some of the major rules here and here. And, human nature being what it is, I would like you to consider the most twisted possible interpretation of these rules which will not be breaking the letter of the rules.  Because, sooner or later, that is exactly how every law will be applied.  (The background information is in my two earlier posts on this, linked at the beginning of this post).

The example of Muhammad, the Prophet:

  • Muslims emulate the behaviour of Prophet Muhammad, because Islam teaches that they are supposed to do that in order to lead good and pious lives.
  • Muhammad had married his ‘only virgin wife’, Aisha, when she was 6 years old (thought he waited until she was 8 (or 9 – the lunar year calculations are a little different from the solar ones)).  Therefore, that is the example that all Muslims are taught to emulate.
  • Therefore, most countries governed by Sharia allow – nay, encourage – marrying girls of  ‘Aisha’s age’.

‘Age of consent’ in the Koran:

  • Neither the Koran, nor the Sunnah, specify what is the minimum age for a person (male or female) to enter into marriage.  Therefore, there is no prohibition against very young people entering into marriage.
  • In order to ensure adequate protection of the ‘fair sex’, females – both children and adult women – have male guardians to look after them.  A girl/woman’s first guardian is her father, then her husband, her brother, and, eventually, her son.  As such, this guardian represents the girl/woman’s interests in all legal matters, such as management of property and conracts, like marriage and divorce.
  • The Koran has very specific laws about divorce.  IVery specific rules are set out in order to ensure that a husband retains control of any offspring sired – but not yet born – at the time of divorce.
  • Among these rules are ‘special cases’ for widdows, as well as for divorce from women who are no longer fertile because they have reached menopause or because they have not yet reached sexual maturity.
  • Putting these things together, the majority of Muslim scholars support the marriage of pre-pubescent girls, provided her father/guardian permits the marriage.  Some assert that ‘sexual enjoyment’ is permitted with females as young as one day old, though penetration is not ‘recommended’ (but not forbidden).
  • Following a divorce, the guardianship of the girl/woman reverts back to her father – or her closest male relative, who is free to (and encouraged to) arrange the next marriage for the girl/woman in question.

‘Bride Price’

  • Many Muslim scholars do not like the term ‘Bride Price’ – it is supposed to be a ‘nest-egg’ to support the wife in the case of divorce, until her guardian can arrange another marriage for her.  In practice, however, that is exactly what it is.
  • The size of this ‘present’ is usually set by the bride’s father or guardian, who arranges the marriage.

Hmmm…  is it really that difficult to see how this can be (and is) exploited for prostituting children?

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Marriage under Sharia – part 2

In Part 1 of ‘Marriage under Sharia’, I explained the types of marriages which Sharia (Islamic law) permits: Nikah (‘permanent’ marriage), Nikah Mut’ah (temporary marriage) and Nikah Misyar (traveler’s marriage).  I also explained the Mahr – the ‘marriage present’ or ‘bride price’ which is paid by the groom at the time of the marriage.

Here, I would like to look at who is and is not eligible to enter into a marriage contract well as the rules of divorce under Sharia.

3.  Islamic Divorce (Koran, Chapter 65)

In Islam, divorce is not considered sinful, as it is in some forms of Christianity.  To the contrary, it is perfectly acceptable and there are very specific rules under Sharia which regulate it:  both the husband and the wife (through her guardian) can request a divorce.

In practice, it is much easier for the husband to obtain divorce than it is for the wife, as in some schools of Sharia, women are sometimes not allowed to address the court (and thus request divorce) without her husband accompanying her there.  Other times, women may be allowed to go to court, but a a male relative intervene on their behalf or the divorce will not be granted against the husband’s wishes (this may be difficult, as in many cases, the husband is in full control of whom the wife may or may not contact – including her relatives).  There are even cases where young married women are told they are too young to request a divorce:  to come back when they ‘reach maturity’!

The wife must observe a ‘waiting period’ (iddah) of three menstrual cycles following the divorce, to see if pregnancy resulted from the marriage.  (The ‘waiting period’ for a widow is 3 lunar months and 10 days.)

Special Case 1:  Pregnancy

If the marriage resulted in pregnancy, the husband must support the wife for the duration of the pregnancy.  Once the child is born, it is the father’s choice to either take custody of the infant right away, or to continue to support the mother (ex wife) while she nurses the child.  Once the child is weaned (or a specific time period set by the father is up), the child will be handed over to the father and his obligations toward the mother will end.  (This will also end any claim – legal (guardianship) or moral – that the mother has towards the child, including visitation rights.)

Special Case 2:  Infertile wives

There is a special provision in Koran for divorce from women who are not fertile, because they are either too old or too young to have their ‘monthly courses’.  Their ‘waiting period’ cannot  be ‘three monthly courses’ – because they do not have them.  Therefore, their ‘waiting period) is set at 3 months.

Special Case 3:  Unconsummated Marriage

If the marriage has never been consummated (and this ‘consummation’ is up to the will of the husband – he has up to 1 lunar year to ‘consummate’ the marriage from the date of the marriage contract), the ‘waiting period’ following divorce is cut down to 1 lunar month.

4.  Who may marry whom

There are very, very specific rules over who is – and who is not – allowed to marry whom.

A man may marry any female except those who are

  • direct blood relatives:  mother, sister or daughter
  • direct ‘nursing’ relative:  his wet-nurse (she is considered to be his ‘milk mother’)
  • a female child who is a direct blood relative of his ‘milk mother’ (that is, anyone a woman who was nursed by his ‘milk mother’
  • a female who is a ‘milk mother’ relative of (was nursed by) his wives or his mother
  • not ‘of the book’ – that is, not Muslim, Christian or Jewish  (all children resulting from this marriage MUST be Muslim) – this prohibition does not apply to female slaves.

In addition, a woman may never marry any man who is not a Muslim, because it is not permissible for a non-Muslim to be the ‘superior to’/’in the position of power over’ (in business, politics – or marriage, where the husband is the superior of the wife) a Muslim.

A man may re-marry his ex-wife, provided she had been married to another man in between the marriages to him.

In order to get married, the terms of the marriage must be negotiated by the groom and the bride’s guardian.  The bride must then formally consent to the marriage – silence is considered to be ‘consent’.  In practice, this ‘consent’ is often forced by threats – and if the bride refuses, the alternative is ‘honour killing’ or the ‘ever-growing-in-popularity’ honour suicide!

Islam does NOT set any age limits on the age of the bride or groom.

However, the Koran states that onlywomen are to be veiled:  men and children (including female children, before they are ‘ready for marriage’).  It is up to the father to decide when his daughter is ready for marriage.  When he judges that she is available for an Islamic marriage, he signals that fact to the community by having her wear the veil (hijab)  in public.

(If you take nothing else away from this post, please, understand this: when we see little girls, as young as 7 or 8, wearing hijabs to school, we are allowing their fathers to advertize that they are actively seeking a suitor for their daughters!)

There are many Islamic experts who assert that it is ‘not recommended’ that a female should ‘reach her first course [of menstruation] in her father’s house’, but rather that she should do so in her husband’s house!

There is no limit on how young a female should be upon marriage:  the Ayatollah Khomeini unequivocally stated that a man may ‘enjoy’ a girl – a suckling –  as young as 1 day old – he just should not ‘penetrate’ her ‘right away’…

Here is a YouTube video of an Islamic expert, being interviewed on the topic of Islamic marriage with ‘underage girls’:

What is more – Islam dictates that in order to live a righteous life, men must emulate the actions of Prophet Muhammad.  He is well documented to have married his ‘only virgin wife’, Aisha, when she was 6 years old, and he consumated the marriage when she was 8 years old (sometimes reported as 9:  this discrepancy is due to the use of Lunar callendar to measure age in Islam – as Allah is the name of the Arabic Lunar God, not the Arabic word for ‘God’ as it is often stated to – and the lunar and solar years do not line up perfectly).

Therefore, it is ‘pious’ for Muslim men to marry females who are as young as Aisha was when Muhammad consumated his marriage with her:  8 or 9 years old!  And, a Muslim woman must submit to her husband’s sexual desires and preferences at his whim:  there is no option for her to say ‘no’ to anything her husband may desire.

The Prophet Muhammad is even reported to advise one of his friends that it is better to marry a child-bride, rather than a grown woman, so he can ‘have sport with her’…

I suspect I have left out a lot that really ought to be said…but, it is a beginning at bringing about an understanding of what Marriage under Sharia truly means!

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Marriage under Sharia

Sharia is more than a legal code.  Sharia is based on the Koran and the Sunnah (the ways of the Prophet Muhammad).  It governs every aspect of a person’s life.  It also contains detailed rules governing marriage and divorce.  In this post, I would like to explore some of the various rules and regulations over the customs and practices of marriage in Islam.

If my understanding is erroneous or imperfect, please, do comment on it:  I will be very happy to have any of my misconceptions corrected.  My aim is to bring the reality of marriage under Sharia forward, so that even non-Muslims may understand it and its implications.

There are several aspects of Islamic marriage which are addressed under Sharia.  These are the terms of the marriage itself, the terms of any divorce (which is permitted and regulated under Sharia), the ‘marriage present’, or ‘bride price’, which is obligatory under Sharia, and who may or may not enter into a marriage contract.

1.  Islamic marriage

There are several types of marriages in Islam. In all cases, a marriage is a social contract, with legal documents specifying the terms of the marriage.  Here is a list of the main ones, with a brief explanation:

Nikah

This is the most common Islamic marriage.  It is a ‘permanent’ marriage – and somewhat similar to the ‘Western’ concept of ‘marriage’.  However, instead of equal obligations among the husband and wife, the husband is responsible for the welfare of the wife, and becomes her legal guardian (as a woman cannot be emancipated under Sharia – her status is equal to that of a minor).

According to the Koran, a man may have up to 4 wives through Nikah marriage at any point in time. A wife is not permitted to have multiple husbands at the same time.

Divorce is permitted, provided it follows the proper rules under Sharia.

Nikah Mut’ah

This is a ‘fixed term’ or ‘temporary’ marriage (mainly practiced under Shi’a form of Islam – and which is promoted in Iran as an alternative to young people having extra-marital affairs).

Even before the marriage is entered into, a time limit is specified for the duration of this marriage. This period can last years, or it can be as little as one hour.  Following this period, the marriage is dissolved.  The same rules and obligations now apply to the couple as under an Islamic divorce.

‘Fixed term’ or ‘temporary’ marriages do not count towards the maximum of 4 wives.

Nikah Misyar

This is also termed ‘traveler’s marriage’ – and also does not count towards the maximum of 4 wives.

Under this type of marriage, the husband’s obligations are significantly reduced, as he does not have to support this wife.  In return, she retains more independence.  This is mostly a ‘Sunni’ practice, just as the nikah mut’ah is a mostly Shi’a practice.

The husband is not responsible for the maintanance of this wife, though he enjoys the marital privileges of ‘visiting her’ as frequently (or seldom) as he pleases.

Special Case 1:  female slaves (prisoners)

If a man cannot support a wife (or multiple wives) sufficiently, it is recommended that instead of entering into a marriage, he should purchase a female slave.  Sharia has very specific rules on slavery:  female slaves are ‘permitted’ to a man who owns them, without binding him with the obligations a marriage entitles.

Female prisoners are considered equivalent to slaves:  that is why, according to some Islamic scholars, part of the ‘punishment’ of a female prisoner is rape by her jailers.  Both ‘slaves’ and ‘prisoners’ are referred to in the Koran as ‘those whom your right hand possesses’.

Special Case 1:  ‘broken’ wives

It is well recognized that sexual intercourse with infants or other very young females may cause permanent physical damage to them (including sterility).  Sharia has a specific rule to deal with this ‘special case’:  if a young ‘wife’ becomes ‘broken’ through the husband’s sexual practices, the husband cannot divorce her and remains responsible for her maintenance for the rest of her life.  She will remain ‘available’ to him – but will not count towards the maximum of 4 wives.

2.  Mahr – Marriage present (bride price)

When the marriage contract is signed, the groom must give the bride a ‘present’:  this is meant to be her ‘nest-egg’ and support her in case of divorce.  In some traditions, the bride’s parents request a very high ‘marriage present’, in order for the groom to prove his worthiness.

Because under Sharia, a woman is not a legal person (as in, a mature person – her legal standing under Sharia is equal to that of a minor), a woman may ‘own’ property, but not control it.  Just like minors in ‘The West’ who have a trust-fund, there is guardian who is appointed to oversee any property ‘owned’ by a woman and who controls it.  Under Sharia, this guardian of a woman’s property is also the woman’s guardian.

So it is with this ‘marital present’:  it is usually (not always) entrusted to the male guardian who authorized the marriage contract.  The reasoning behind this is that in the case of divorce, this man will again become the guardian of the ‘bride’, and will therefore be able to use this ‘marriage present’ to maintain her until he can arrange another marriage for her.

In my next post, I will explore the rules of divorce under Sharia as well as who may or may not enter into a marriage contract… and some of the real-life implications of these rules.

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Women’s rights must not be subject to referendum

Sometimes, it takes us a while to recognize things for what they are.

For example, when Britain adopted Sharia as a parallel, not state-controlled legal system, the publicity spin on the whole thing was – to some people – palatable.

Not to me – I consider it a matter of principle that a government must exercise control over its judiciary, just as the judiciary must exercise control over the government:  the two are parts of the ‘checks and balances’ of our legal system.  Therefore, I consider any legal system parallel t0 – yet independant – of the government and its judiciary to be a serious breech of our governance structures, and therefore unacceptable.  It is a threat to the very foundations of the way we govern ourselves!

Nor can I ever accept the principle that there ought to be different classes of citizens, with different sets of laws for each class.  To me, that very concept is highly repellent!  No longer are citizens equal to each other in the eyes of the law – they no longer even share the same law…  NO!  A person’s a person, no matter how small!  (or of which religion…)

These are two very powerful reasons why I could never support a judicial apartheid:  whatever form it may take!

These two reasons alone would make any parallel legal system 100% unacceptable to me – no matter how good they might be.   Yet, my rant  has not even touched on what I find unacceptable about Sharia…

Yet, the outrage many of us expresses at Britain’s official acceptance of Sharia as the legal system for its Muslim citizens was shrugged off by much of the MSM who assured us that Sharia was just a traditional way of doing things, that it really was a question of cultural preference, and that Muslims in Britain want it anyways, so we ought to butt out and shut up.

It’s not really all that long ago that Ontario’s Premier, Dalton McGuinty (his name – and track record – always makes me think of ‘bodymaster McGuinty’ from ‘The Valley of Fear’), almost instituted Sharia in Ontario.  And, before he considered it, he had commissioned a study, to make sure that Sharia would not be harmful to any Ontarians.  Marion Boyd, a lifelong feminist (as well as an environmentalists) and former NDP member of provincial parliament, authored the study which found that Sharia law was just fine, and fully compatible with feminist principles…

And let’s not even mention France… Muslim feminists, like Wafa Sultan advise women who are attempting to escape from oppression under Sharia law not to go to France, as they would not be safe there.

And Barak Obama, the higly popular US President, had (August 2006) campaigned in Kenya for his kinsman, Raila Odinga, whose election platform included the imposition of Sharia!

It seems to me that we have rather normalized the idea that ‘Muslims want to live under Sharia’ and that it is not our place to interfere…

In the last few days, many of us (myself included) have sharply criticized the new proposed law in Afghanistan, which would strip women (among other things) of parental rights, the freedom of movement and would legalize marital rape.  This ‘new law’ would govern the Shi’a minority (about 20%) of the Afghani population.

Please, indulge me in a chain of logic here:

  • The Shi’a minority in Afghanistan is ‘very conservative’ (some would say radicalized)
  • This Shi’a minority recognizes Koran as the only authority on law
  • This Koran-only-derived law is called – yes – Sharia
  • Therefore, this law which advocates ‘marital rape’ and strips women of basic human rights is – Sharia!!!

Perhaps we ought to thank the Afghani President, Hamid Karzai, for actually spelling out in this new Afghani law exactly what Sharia truly means!

As the following video shows:  women’s rights must never be subject to a referendum:

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