24 June 2008

The tokens of virginity: Muslims, honor killings, and the book of Deuteronomy

Where do Muslims get their fruitcake ideas about sex and marriage? Take this recent news story for example.
The annulment of a young Muslim couple’s marriage because the bride was not a virgin has caused anger in France, prompting President Sarkozy’s party to call for a change in the law.

The decision by a court in Lille was condemned by the Government, media, feminists and civil rights organisations after it was reported in a legal journal on Thursday. Patrick Devedjian, leader of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement, said it was unacceptable that the law could be used for religious reasons to repudiate a bride. It must be modified “to put an end to this extremely disturbing situation”, he said.

The case, which had previously gone unreported, involved an engineer in his 30s, named as Mr X, who married Ms Y, a student nurse in her 20s, in 2006. The wedding night party was still under way at the family’s home in Roubaix when the groom came down from the bedroom complaining that his bride was not a virgin. He could not display the blood-stained sheet that is traditionally exhibited as proof of the bride’s “purity”.

Is there something about bloody sheets in the Quran? No, for shit like that you have to go to the Bible.

If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you. Deuteronomy 22:13-21

So the groom was just obeying God. Well, almost anyway. According to the Bible, he shouldn't have just had the wedding annulled; he and the men of the city should have stoned his bride to death at the door of her father's house because she had disgraced him, her family and her community. It's a matter of honor -- an honor killing required by the Bible.

As long as these verses remain in the Bible, no Bible believer can complain about Muslim honor killings. The Muslims are just doing what the Bible God commands.

And there couldn't be anything wrong with that, now could there?

12 comments:

Skeptical Simsam said...

I often ask myself whether the law as put forth by the Torah is worse than the Qur'an. I guess in this instance, the Torah gets the "worst holy scripture" award.

Aidan said...

The problem is that much of Islamic law and tradition comes from the Hadith, which is in fact mostly plagarised from, amongst other things, Jewish, Christian and the occasional Zoroastrian text.

If you think the Bible is of dubious authorship and authenticity...well, it ain't got nothing on the Hadiths.

Anon said...

In anticipation of Christian arguments saying that that was the Old Testament and should be ignored (as Julia Sweeney would say, it has "old" right in the name!)

If there are things that are morally repugnant and unacceptable in modern society which are still currently found in millions upon millions of copies of the Holy Bible in existence around the world , why not

* take out the bad parts (à la Jefferson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, etc.) and sell it as the "Good Book". Most Christians who have actually read the Bible know that there are things in there that shouldn't be; they just try to ignore it and focus on the good parts. This would make it easier for these people and would avoid people mistaking the bad for the good. Who decides what goes into this new Bible might be problematic, though...An easier route may be:

* take out the entire Old Testament, or replace it with a historical introduction of the Israelites explaining what (allegedly) happened, without the direct quotes from God commanding people to do all sorts of crazy things most people no longer consider moral (because we know better now). The New Testament contains crazy things, too, but it's a lot better than the Old Testament.

* put a foreword in the Bible explaining the Old Testament is not what Christians should follow (e.g. "Do not try this at home"). Examples could be given of things crazy modern people did wrong and make it clear God doesn't want women who aren't virgins when they're married to be stoned, and that will send people to hell if they actually do any of this stuff nowadays.

* Reject the Bible entirely and just start over. Then again, we may be in trouble if a new Christian L. Ron Hubbard comes around...

Darren Delgado said...

anon wrote:

* take out the entire Old Testament, or replace it with a historical introduction of the Israelites explaining what (allegedly) happened, without the direct quotes from God commanding people to do all sorts of crazy things most people no longer consider moral (because we know better now). The New Testament contains crazy things, too, but it's a lot better than the Old Testament.

* put a foreword in the Bible explaining the Old Testament is not what Christians should follow (e.g. "Do not try this at home"). Examples could be given of things crazy modern people did wrong and make it clear God doesn't want women who aren't virgins when they're married to be stoned, and that will send people to hell if they actually do any of this stuff nowadays.


This is all good stuff of course, but the flaw is in assuming that the Church wants this stuff out of circulation. I think they love that good old time religion; if they had their druthers they'd be breaking out the sticks and stones and the lighter fluid in 2008.

The only reason they have backed off of some of that stuff is because they kinda have to, if they want to retain tax exemption status with the government, and other societal privileges; as society and our laws have progressed to the point where we won't tolerate that shit.

Anon said...

darren said: The flaw is in assuming that the Church wants this stuff out of circulation. I think they love that good old time religion[...] The only reason they have backed off of some of that stuff is because they kinda have to, if they want to retain tax exemption status with the government, and other societal privileges; as society and our laws have progressed to the point where we won't tolerate that shit.

That's a good point. They would never admit as much, but public perception/pressure must play some role, otherwise they'd still be claiming the Sun revolved around the Earth.

There is an audience for the fire and brimstone bible unfortunately, so it may be a while until we see biblical reform. A liberal Protestant congregation somewhere might lead the way.

Or better yet, maybe they'll stubbornly keep it as-is and people will eventually start rejecting the whole thing...

sophiehirsch said...

Ugh, dogma can be so frightening sometimes - but this post made me ponder something. There is a certain percentage of women who are virgins and have never had sex who don't bleed on first intercourse. It must have been terribly frightening for a girl to have lived at a time when people didn't understand this and it makes me wonder if any girls actually did things to fake their first blood. There are tales of women who did things to have primitive abortions (bring back menarche, as it is often put) and who did various other things in desperation, I wonder if those desperate measures extended to their blood proofs on their wedding nights.

erlybird said...

I would certainly not presume to add to all the Bible-bashing things being said here...true all...so here is my rationalist take on the whole thing...

Was the MAN a virgin? Is there a rule that the MAN be a virgin? Does the "maiden" get to come marching down the stairs defiantly shouting that her new HUSBAND has fucked someone else before her? No, of course not.

But here is the thing...SINCE the man was probably not a virgin then at some point he has gone with a woman to have sex thus DEPRIVING HER of being a virgin herself and EXPOSING her to the humiliation of NOT being able to get married in an HONORABLE way, having her marriage ANNULLED and getting herself STONED to death.

Shouldn't this be punishable TOO? And I am not talking about their RIDICULOUS notion the men CANNOT HELP THEMSELVES where it comes to sex...and that if they happen to see a woman's ANKLES or HAIR then they are not RESPONSIBLE for what might occur...I am just talking about how much these NON-VIRGIN men TAKE from the women that they have had sex with in the past. They have, essentially, in this kind of culture, RUINED their lives. In fact, when they think about the women that they have had sex with I am SURE that they think of them as being REPUGNANT even though THEY led them to having sex, not the other way around.

But not to worry about those SLUTS...their own BROTHERS will take care of them...and again do itin the name of HONOR.

v_quixotic said...

Perhaps Mr X's insistence on a virginal wife is cultural and not related to his Muslim faith per se.

In any case it sounds like a lucky escape for Ms Y.

Pesto Bong said...

"There is a certain percentage of women who are virgins and have never had sex who don't bleed on first intercourse. It must have been terribly frightening for a girl to have lived at a time when people didn't understand this and it makes me wonder if any girls actually did things to fake their first blood. There are tales of women who did things to have primitive abortions (bring back menarche, as it is often put) and who did various other things in desperation, I wonder if those desperate measures extended to their blood proofs on their wedding nights."

I believe there are certain methods for achieving such a result recorded. I read about it somewhere recently. It may have been in this book.

Miss Poppy Hussein Dixon said...

I agree that Christians want this in their Bible. If it wasn't there it would be harder to teach their sons that women are chattel, unclean, untrustworthy, etc. It would also be harder to teach their daughters how good they have it, and how merciful the men in their lives are to them.

G said...

That the token of virginity is a sheet stained with the blood of a ruptured hymen is not logical. The "signs of virginity" (Deuteronomy 22:15) are presented to the court by the parents. Even if the parents were present at the consumation of the marriage, the so called token, the blood stained sheet actually came after the bride was no longer a virgin.

Somebody, please look into the stories of the Middle Ages (maybe fictional) when some stud was hired to pierce a royal maiden before the prince would enter her. From my knowledge, conception is more probable after the bride has been pierced. In those days, the prince could have been killed by his enemies even before he ever had a chance to unite with his royal bride. Maybe the stud was willing to lose his head for piercing the royal bride. Again, the story I heard about royal studs may be fiction.

In reality, however, the bible is actually a book about kings and priests.

Breathe said...

The New Testiment, which is an extension from the Old Testiment, hence part of the Bible; providing a new Covenant between G-d and His people through Jesus, states:"Those without sin, cast the first stone." Jesus speaks a lot about hypocracy, about how people point out the "speck in his Brother's eye, but does not see the log in his own eye". And secondly, not every virgin bleeds.