Tag Archives: women in Islam

Niqab is not more “Islamic” than hijab, and why I do not recommend it

As Muslims, the program we follow is the Quran. Its priorities are our priorities. Those priorities are to be kind, generous, understanding, forgiving, to work to make this world a better place as God’s stewards (agents, khalaa’if in Arabic) on the earth.

Veiling your face is not one of the Quran’s priorities, it is not even mentioned in it, and it should be considered in the light of the Quran’s priorities. Does veiling your face help you more effectively embody the Quran and carry out its program?

The root of the question is the matter of the Quran versus hadith. The Salafi view, which is a minority view that has billions of dollars of Saudi funding behind it, says that what the early Muslims did, we too must do. If their women wore niqab, then our women must do it too, since they were “the best generation” of Muslims and the represent the ideal all Muslims most follow.

The alternative view, which is the mainstream view followed by hundreds of millions of Muslims, is to follow fiqh al-awlawiyyaat (the law of priorities), giving importance to things the Quran considers important, and not obsessing with things the Quran does not consider important.

While Salafi Muslims are often obsessed with things never even hinted at in the Quran, mainstream Muslims read the Quran and try to apply its message in the modern world.

These differences lead to two different types of Islam. Salafi Islam thinks niqab and various other things about dress code are important parts of Islam, because it refuses to distinguish between the Quran and other texts. It treats all of Islam’s early history as a binding program that must be followed, thinking that the best Islam is one that creates an accurate reenactment of 630 CE.

The mainstream view rejects this, saying we follow the Quran, we do not follow Islamic history as if it is a program in itself. If the Quran and the most authentic narrations (those known as mutawatir) do not command that women should wear niqab, then it is not a necessary part of Islam, it is a cultural practice of early Muslims that we are free to adopt or ignore as it fits our modern context.

Since I belong to the Quran-focused camp (rather than the Salafi camp), to me niqab isn’t just unimportant, it must be judged within the context of the Quran’s priorities, and if it is found that wearing niqab goes against those priorities, it is more advisable to avoid it rather than wear it.

For Muslims living in the West and various other areas, wearing niqab will nearly always get in the way of applying the Quranic program more than it helps one follow it. Muslims are meant to belong to the societies in which they live, reforming it, working as activists to eradicate poverty and injustice, to create alliances with good people around them, Muslim and non-Muslim, in order to improve the world (please see Tariq Ramadan’s Western Muslims and the Future of Islam for detailed explanation of what I mean by these priorities.)

The Salafi view, exemplified in the fatwas of Salafi leaders like Ibn Baaz, is that a woman is a walking “bag of fitnah” that has to be cut off from society for her own good and the good of everyone else. Mainstream Islam considers this view inhumane and disrespectful toward a woman’s dignity, respecting her right to be an active member of society.

Wearing niqab will act as a barrier that turns people away from Islam on the one hand, while also reducing a woman’s ability to interact and connect with those around her. I respect a woman’s right to wear what she wants, but if you ask my opinion on it, then niqab is not something I recommend, I consider its potential harms to be greater than its potential benefits. This is, of course, something that every person should decide for themselves. But those who say that niqab is a “duty” or that it is “recommended” are voicing a minority view that is rejected by the majority of Muslims. Niqab is neither a duty nor is it recommended, it is a tool whose benefits and harms should be judged according to one’s culture and local context.

If a woman sees that it is more beneficial for her to wear it in her particular time and place, then she can do it. And if other women elsewhere decide not to wear it, like the majority of Muslim women have decided, then that’s their choice, and no one has the right to say that their faith is not complete or that they should “aim higher”, having the goal to one day wear niqab. There is nothing “higher” about niqab, it is a tool for separating women from society. If a woman prefers to separate herself in this way, then that is her choice, but this is not something the majority of Muslim women would choose.

The Salafi view is that niqab is more “Islamic” because there is evidence that some early Muslims wore it. The Quran-focused view is that niqab is not more “Islamic”, because it has little relation to the Quranic program. It is considered a tool that may or may not be beneficial depending on the time and place. The Salafi view is that Islam is about reenacting history. The Quran-focused view is that Islam is about following the Quran’s priorities.

Instead of thinking of niqab as a duty, it must be thought of rationally. As a woman, does it help you carry out your function (of being God’s agent for good on Earth) more effectively or less effectively? Which is more beneficial for you, separating yourself from society (and wearing something that many people find disconcerting), or engaging with society? Is it beneficial for your psychological health to feel separated from and potentially disliked by the people you interact with daily?

This way of thinking of niqab does not apply to hijab, since hijab is commanded by the Quran (although the Quran’s view on hijab is more moderate than the views of many Muslims, since the Quran recognizes that different cultures may choose to show less or more than others).

Niqab can help a person in avoiding unwanted male attention, and the separation it causes is beneficial toward applying the Quran’s teachings regarding modesty and lowering the gaze. But these benefits must be weighed against the potential harms it does.

There is nothing wrong with a woman veiling her face at a certain occasion, the way Victorian women used to, if she decides that she is more comfortable that way and expects benefits from it. This is the proper way to think of wearing niqab, not as a duty to be practiced no matter what, but as a tool that can be used if and when necessary.

The highly respected mainstream scholar Yusuf al-Qaradhawi has done a detailed study of the Islamic rulings regarding niqab, published as al-Niqab Baina Fardiyyatihi wa Bid`iyyatihi, and his conclusion is that niqab is neither a duty, nor is it a bid`ah (false innovation) to be condemned, it is rather a tool, an item of clothing, that can be beneficial to wear at times and harmful at others.

Conflicts of Fitness: Islam, America, and Evolutionary Psychology

Get it on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook or paperback.

Conflicts of Fitness: Islam, America, and Evolutionary Psychology by A.S. Amin is a highly original examination of the dynamics of gender and sexuality within Western societies on the one hand, and within Islamic societies on the other.

As someone who has been working on reconciling Islam and evolutionary theory and on developing a post-feminist theory of human sexual dynamics, I hardly expect most books to tell me anything I haven’t already heard or thought about, but this book manages it. It is a short and enjoyable read that sticks to the facts and does not try to force an interpretation on them, which will make it agreeable to people coming from differing backgrounds and ideological currents.

The author’s main thesis is that different societies have different reproductive climates designed to maximize reproductive success. In a short-term climate, like that of most of the United States, human evolutionary instincts drive men to do their best to have sex with as many women as possible while not caring very much about a woman’s virginity and past sexual experiences. As for women, the climate drives them to display sexual receptivity through makeup, dress and manners designed to encourage men to think of them in sexual terms.

On the other hand, in a very-long-term climate like Saudi Arabia, men maximize reproductive success not by trying to have as many short-term relationships as possible, but by maximizing paternity confidence. Saudi Arabian seek virginal women so that they can be assured their children are theirs, and they go to extremes to ensure this; marrying very young women and preventing women from leaving the house, getting an education or a career.

This way of looking at the problem of women’s status in extremely conservative Muslim societies is a breath of fresh air from all of the moralistic, emotional and melodramatic treatments the subject has so far received on the hands of ideologically-driven intellectuals and commentators. It is also good to find another Muslim who can think of these matters in scientific and largely apolitical terms. Almost all Muslim-written materials on gender and sexuality is stuffed with moralistic thinking. Either they are traditionalists and try to “fight off” the West, or they are modernists and embrace unscientific moralistic frameworks like modern gender philosophy, exchanging one highly biased framework for another, abandoning one that unfairly favors males and embracing one that unfairly favors females, and thinking they have gained something out of this.

Get it on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook or paperback.

The topic of this book is close to my heart, as it has been a focus of my research for close to a decade, having recently published a book on it, Sex and Purpose. There are significant differences between our works. Amin’s book aims to be a scientific analysis that examines the problem without offering solutions. Mine is a highly opinionated work that takes evolutionary psychology for granted without bothering to offer citations, and a large focus of the book is offering a solution that bypasses modern feminist/post-modern thinking.

And while Amin’s book delves into a deep examination of Islam and gender politics, mine does not at all, since my book is not meant to have anything to do with religion directly.

A reader of Conflicts of Fitness or Sex and Purpose may wonder how a Muslim can write from an evolutionary perspective when Muslims do not generally accept the theory of evolution. Amin does not offer an explanation for this, focusing on his research topic without delving into this issue, leaving it to the readers to work it out. In my essay God, Evolution and Abiogenesis I explain how the Quran is compatible not only with evolution, but with abiogenesis as well.

Explaining Islam’s policy toward polygamy

Before reading this book, I had often thought of polygyny as a privilege granted men in order to deal with certain exceptional circumstances (such as having an infertile wife). Conflicts of Fitness explains that there is more to it than this, and that women, rather than men, are potentially the primary beneficiaries of polygyny:

  • If you have ten men and ten women, by allowing the most successful man to marry the two women, nine men are left to compete for the remaining eight women. These men will be forced to offer stronger commitment to these women in order to secure their hands in marriage, in this way creating a society where most relationships are highly committed.
  • Successful middle-aged men often strongly desire to use their wealth and success to build new families and have more children. In a monogamous society, such men are forced to divorce their current wives, or worse, cheat on them. In an Islamic society, a safe outlet is provided for these men, enabling them to keep their current wives (who, if divorced, would most likely be unable to marry again due to their old age), while also enabling them to create new families. While this is not ideal for the current wives, most would prefer it over being divorced. This also increases the options of younger women, since married men would compete for their hands in marriage. Polygyny is not a zero-sum game for women, and the overall benefits to women is almost certainly greater than the harm it does.

Most Western women and men empathize with the underdog when thinking of hypothetical situations, therefore they are unlikely to accept the above explanation, since they empathize with the poor woman who will suffer having to share her husband with another woman. The fact that she chooses this over divorce is not given attention since it goes against the “Islam is misogynistic” narrative.

For a Muslim who already believes in the Quran, the explanation is a good vindication of the policy, and it should help restrain scholars overeager to place strict restrictions on polygyny. In a society where marriage is by consent and where people are free to divorce whenever they want, polygyny will be self-balancing. Men will have to balance the fear of losing their present wife with their desire for a second one, meaning that the majority of men will be unlikely to abuse this right. My experience of Kurdish and Persian society proves this correct.

Explaining makeup

In a short-term reproductive climate, women signal their receptivity to short-term-style sexual relationships in various ways, one of which is makeup. One thing that makeup does is simulate the effects of sexual arousal:

It turns out that when a woman becomes sexually aroused, certain physiologic changes take place. Among these changes are dilation of the pupils and the blood vessels in the cheeks and lips.

The author refers to this facet of makeup-as-a-signal-of-sexual-receptivity in many places in the book. However, while this is highly informative, it is not the complete picture. In Sex and Purpose I provide the other part of the picture, I explain that makeup serves as an important axis for enabling women to get ahead of themselves and other women. Makeup enables a woman to enhance her apparent quality as a worthy mate by making herself look younger and healthier. In a long-term or somewhat-long-term climate, makeup helps a woman appear as a better substance compared to her competitors. This, however, runs the danger of sending the wrong signal, of appearing to be receptive to sexual advances, for this reason in a long-term climate, a woman has to walk a fine line between enhancing her looks (which helps her get the interest of more suitors wanting to marry her) and signalling sexual receptivity (which garners the attention of the wrong audience).

While Conflicts of Fitness entirely focuses on the short-term aspect of makeup, Sex and Purpose entirely focuses on its long-term aspect. In this way neither book’s theory is complete, and together they provide what is closer to a full picture.

Along these same lines, I have always told women that I prefer makeup I cannot see, since I have always had a long-term, “Victorian” mindset toward women. I like women to look beautiful, and makeup can help toward this. But I also think of women as long-term lovers and despise short-term sexual relationships (since they are anti-civilization as I will explain below), therefore if I see a glaring amount of makeup on a woman’s face, what I see is what Amin describes, that she is signalling short-term sexual receptivity, which is not something I find attractive in a woman.

Therefore to me, the ideal woman will care about her looks and will be able to enhance them, but without appearing to have done so. If she wears lipstick, it will be a color and texture that makes her lips look young and healthy without making any obvious modification to it.

Some Muslim women, confused by various differing influences, wear hijab on the one hand, while also wearing very heavy makeup on the other. This is such a glaring contradiction that it makes my eyes hurt. Her dress signals the fact that she is not sexually receptive, while her makeup is designed to signal sexual receptivity. It is, at its root, a very good indicator of the identity crisis that so many Muslims suffer from.

Of course, a woman is free what she wears and what she puts on her face. And people are free to respond to seeing her according to what their instincts tell them. You cannot send a signal on the one hand, and enforce a specific interpretation of that signal on people on the other hand. From an evolutionary perspective, heavy makeup signals sexual receptivity (that the woman is approachable). From a radical feminist perspective, this fact does not matter, what matters is whatever is going on inside the woman’s head. Not only does she have the right to wear whatever she wants, she also has the right to dictate how people interpret what she is wearing. She can expose most of her breasts while berating any man who dares to look at them. She can wear heavy makeup and complain if people, following their evolutionary instincts, interpret her makeup as meaning anything.

A large part of Sex and Purpose is dedicated to discrediting these and various other forms of irrationalist thinking present in radical feminist ideology. If a feminist is free in the interpretation she gives to people’s behaviors (which is a right that is always 100% reserved by feminists), then if equality is to be achieved, people, too, should be free in the interpretations they give to her behaviors.

If a man acts a certain way, feminists reserve the right to judge him for his behavior. Yet if she acts a certain way and a man reserves the right to judge her for her behavior, she considers this misogynistic. It is for this reason that many have called radical feminist ideology female solipsism, it is the belief that the female mind (or more likely, the feminist mind) is all that can issue valid judgments about reality, it is a woman’s nannying instinct taken to its most horrible extreme; mother always knows best, and every man is just a foolish little boy (and a potential rapist) to be told what to think and do for his own good.

The generational gap in reproductive strategies

The author mentions that an important reason for the strife that so often exists between teenage girls and their parents regarding dress and makeup is a generational gap in reproductive strategies. The parents grew up in a climate that was more long-term oriented than the present climate, and they want to enforce the mores of their outdated climate on their children, not realizing that the climate has changed, and that by preventing their daughter from dressing more skimpily or wearing more makeup or dating more freely, they are causing her to fall behind her peers.

Immigrants, especially Muslims, bringing up children in the West suffer a similar conflict. What should be done to handle this problem? The author does not say.

The fact that a highly leftist-oriented and activist mainstream media continuously pushes society toward a shorter-term reproductive climate, consequences be what they may, is not mentioned.

Should Muslims submit to the new climate, admitting that laxer standards are needed for their children, or should they fight off the West and try to keep isolated?

My creed, Quran-focused Islam, inspired by Sayyid Qutb and Ahmad Moftizadeh, offers the way to the solution. Islam should always be an application of the Quran over the modern world. Muslims living in the West, instead of trying to recreate their own mini-Arabia in Nashville, should go back to the Quran daily and ask its opinion on how they should live. This constant “going back to the Quran” leads to an Islam that can embrace or reject cultural practices as needed, responding to the environment and updating itself daily. Unlike Salafism, which tries to apply all Islamic texts to the modern world (trying to create the mini-Arabia mentioned), Quran-focused Islam only tries to apply the Quran, which is a highly simple and “lean” program, using the rest of the texts as helpers toward the Quran, rather than as goals in themselves.

This seemingly simple change in mindset changes everything, enabling Muslims to create a “Western” Islam that is truly and authentically Western. A Muslim Westerner, guided by the Quran, works daily to implement its priorities while remaining fully a citizen of the West, avoiding its evils and embracing its good (which, of course, is easier said than done).

The Muslim Westerner’s mindset toward the West’s short-term reproductive climate is not reactionary, the way the Salafi reaction always is, it is instead  constructive. It does not seek to reject, it seeks to use it to build something new. Muslim men and women, following the Quranic program, live and marry and construct their own Western society that proudly rejects everything it considers inferior and happily embraces everything it considers beneficial. Instead of trying to live in an “intellectual ghetto”, as Tariq Ramadan calls it, they live in the center of the Western intellectual tradition, reforming it, critiquing its weaknesses, calling for betterment, and freely defining new ways of life, exactly the way the intellectual elite throughout the ages have always done, defining new ways of life for themselves often at odds with the wider society.

Parents, instead of trying to restrict their “out of control” daughters, share the program with their daughters, and let the daughters themselves be evangelists of the program. I have seen this phenomenon in many Quran-focused families around me. Unlike in Saudi, where a daughter has to be held in a physical and intellectual cage for her own good, in such families the daughter is given the program and is expected to love it and follow it of her own free will. She becomes an activist social critic, rather than fearful and victim-minded minority.

Teenagers are by nature selfish and short-term minded (I used to be one myself), therefore parental management is still necessary. If Muslim adults don’t attend Western-style parties, neither should their children. The topic of bringing up children in a discordant climate would require its own book, and it is not something I have focused on so far. Perhaps this would the subject of some future work of mine.

Approaching Muslim women

I have seen some Western non-Muslim men wonder how you go about approaching a Muslim woman (i.e. “hitting on her” to see if she is interested in a relationship), since the way they dress often signals unapprochability. The answer is that you don’t approach Muslim women (at least not the vast majority). The author gives an evolutionary explanation for this. Muslim women seek long-term partners, which requires deep knowledge of the man before any contact is made. It is for this reason that parents, relatives and friends are often heavily involved in planning and executing marriages.

Approaching a Muslim woman, telling her she is beautiful and that you find her really interesting will most likely upset and offend her, since you are offering her exactly what she does not want; a relationship based on a short-term sexual attraction, and because being seen talking to a random man can harm her reputation.

Westerners, and some liberal Muslims, think these facts show that Muslims are out of touch or backward, and that they must be “better-educated”, “liberated”, “integrated”, “assimilated” and a whole lot of other euphemisms referring to the belief that Muslims should stop being Muslims and act more like non-Muslims for their own good.

The Quran requires that Muslims implement long-term reproductive strategies in their lives, meaning that for Muslims to remain Muslims, short-term reproductive behaviors can never be normalized. A Muslim woman who has a PhD and is attending a conference is not going to respond positively to some non-Muslim man’s pick-up line no matter how well-educated and liberated she is, if she is a devout Muslim. This is because in effect the man is calling her to abandon her chosen way of life. For her, sexual relationships are long-term matters that require the critique and approval of her family, relatives and friends, since Islam teaches her to think of herself as a member of a community, and to respect the opinions of her relatives and the authority of her parents.

If a man is interested in her, instead of approaching her directly, he does it in a manner that shows his respect for the Muslim community and her family, and that shows his long-term interest in her, by having a friend or relative approach a friend or relative of hers.

Of course, this is not always an option, sometimes a direct approach is the only one possible, for example for a Muslim man and woman studying at the same college but knowing nothing else about one another, and having no one to mediate for them. This is one of the many scenarios that shows the superiority of Quran-focused Islam, since it teaches that instead of trying to implement traditions as if they are binding commandments, it teaches them to follow the Quranic principles (which say very little about courtship), leaving it to the man and woman’s conscience to intelligently follow it.

Islam, women, careers and divorce

The book analyzes the significant relationship between reproductive climates and attitudes toward women having careers. In a short-term climate, men cannot be relied on as providers, since they are interested in independence and short-term sexual relationships. In a long-term climate, men can be relied on, since men have no option but to be providers, in order to be able to attract the love interest of females.

This means that in a short-term climate, a career can be essential to a woman’s survival, while in a long-term climate, it can be largely irrelevant. Western women may look down on or feel sorry for Muslim women for not having careers, while Muslim women may look down on or feel sorry for Western women for being forced to have careers in order to survive.

Men who like to follow a short-term sexual strategy (having sex with widely available women) will promote women’s “liberation” and will hate the idea of women being “locked away” within their families, inaccessible to them. For such men, it can be extremely frustrating to live in a society that limits the availability of women, and they will do everything in their power to bring about change, to “free” these women, to discredit the “backward” patriarchs, to get these women out of society’s protection and into their own hands.

This conflict between different sections of Muslim societies is analysed in detail, and it proves informative in explaining the conflicts existing in these societies between modernists and traditionalists.

In his analysis of Islamic thought as it applies to the topic, the author’s methods and ways of thought are close to mine, which was a pleasant surprise. He refers to some of my favorite scholars while also maintaining a critical eye toward their opinions. He makes many references to the UCLA professor Khaled Abou El Fadl, someone largely unknown to me until reading this book, an unknown treasure whose books I now plan to read.

Reviewing many of the Qur’ānic verses used to justify women’s restricted access to divorce, he concludes that the full implications of these verses have not been fully considered and intimates his opinion that Islam gives women the same access to divorce as it does to men. However, Abou El Fadl seems somewhat troubled that his opinion is in disagreement with the majority of Muslim jurists throughout Islamic history. The question becomes, is the majority opinion the result of the unequivocal evidence found in the sources of Islamic law, or a manifestation of the reproductive climates in which those opinions were formulated?

For me, as someone belonging to the Quran-focused school, the matter of divorce rights for women is a long-solved problem. A woman should have full rights to divorce, because ethically, this is almost certainly crucial for ensuring the fairness of the marriage system. A man is given a degree of authority over his wife in his household. To ensure that this authority does not lead to abuse and tyranny, a woman must always retain the right to leave. Preventing her from leaving is going to greatly reduce her bargaining power in the relationship.

I also support the opinions of the Salafi scholars al-Albani and Ibn Baaz in requiring a formal procedure for a man to divorce his wife, requiring him to stay with her for one menstrual cycle without having sex before the divorce is considered official. I believe that allowing a man to perform a permanent triple divorce by uttering a sentence is a highly damaging and anti-social and defeats the purposes of Islamic law.

The desire to make it difficult for a woman to leave a marriage is an instance of the same patronizing and nanny-ing behavior that scholars show in wanting to make it difficult for Muslims to leave Islam, and both policies are equally counterproductive in my opinion.

If jurists say that letting a woman leave will cause all kinds of social ills, instead of taking their hypothesis for granted, we must question it and ask them for statistical evidence. Are there devout Muslim societies where women can easily get a divorce? Are such societies more likely to accomplish the aims of Islamic law in spreading justice and preventing tyranny, or more likely to accomplish the opposite?

Instead of blindly following tradition, the Quran-focused school teaches that we must boldly question all traditions, and if a scholar ever recommends anything that we find irrational or unjust, we must demand from them extraordinary evidence, because they are making an extraordinary claim; that the Quran supports something irrational or unjust.

Reproductive climates and the practice of fiqh

Fiqh refers to Islamic jurisprudence, the field of discovering the best possible practical applications for the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah (the Prophet’s traditions ﷺ). One of the main theses of the book is that the reproductive climate affects the way men interpret Islamic principles.

According to Amin, in very-long-term climates like Saudi Arabia, paternity confidence is one of the prime directives in the minds of the scholars, so that they support nearly everything that can in some way restrict a woman from cheating on her husband and make her a better reproductive object.

Egyptians have a less long-term climate, so that their scholars are willing to make concessions to women’s freedom even if they acknowledge that in certain circumstances these granted privileges may lead to less paternity confidence.

Amin’s thesis is that reproductive climates affect the derivation of fiqh, leading to differing rulings (fatwas). This is one of the main conclusions of the book, that Muslim men prefer different interpretations of Islam based on their reproductive climates. To Saudi Muslim men, it is “obvious” that women should be restricted for everyone’s good, while to (cosmopolitan) Egyptian Muslim men, it is “obvious” that women should have more freedoms. A man’s reproductive strategy affects his values and makes him prioritize certain things over others, leading to a type of Islam that fits his own reproductive goals.

This scientific analysis of the derivation of fiqh is important and very much needed in order to separate what is truly Islamic from what is merely cultural within the rulings of the scholars. A new field can be launched, the (evolutionary) sociology of fiqh, that studies these matters.

The limitation of his evolutionary psychology approach is that it treats humans as genetic creatures, so that he studies how manifestations of genetically-driven instincts affect psychological behavior. To me this is only half of evolutionary psychology, although I know that many evolutionary psychologists limit themselves to this.

Humans are not genetic creatures, but genetic-cultural creatures, genes affect culture and culture affects genes. This adds a layer of complexity to human psychology that, if ignored, leads to incomplete theories. Thus the Egyptian toleration for less paternity confidence is not necessarily a consequence of the reproductive climate, it might be a cause of it. Perhaps the cultural appreciation of Egyptians for human rights led to a toleration for a shorter-term reproductive climate, so that this ideal was given priority over the concern for paternity confidence.

A piece of evidence in support of it being culture that affects scholarly opinion toward paternity confidence is that higher IQ Muslim nations (Egyptians, Iranians, Turks, Malaysians) have higher appreciation for our modern romantic ideals than lower IQ nations like Saudi.

IQ is largely genetic (i.e. not cultural), but its consequence is a culture that appreciates various intangible ideals, whose consequence, in turn, is a re-interpretation of religion that tolerates a laxer reproductive climate, since this is more likely to achieve those ideals.

Having a high IQ does not mean that a person will be a nice, idealistic person. Rather, a high IQ population, after accepting certain teachings (Western/Christian philosophy, the Quran, Sufism), ends up becoming something of a humanist.

A low IQ population, given the same teachings, will mostly focus on its form and ignore its content (ideals). Thus low IQ Muslims and Christians are often obsessed with appearances, socialization and ritual, while it is the high IQ Muslims and Christians who bother to read deeply into the texts and reach sweeping conclusions from them.

It is, therefore, my hypothesis that when Islam is given to a high IQ population, the result is a humanist Islam, as is so well seen in modern Egypt. While when Islam is given to a low IQ population (Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan), the result is a focus on texts (naql, its extreme example being Wahhabism) and negligence toward the Quran’s humanist teachings.

While the author’s focus on reproductive concerns within the practice of fiqh is useful and enlightening, it is an incomplete view of the system. Genetics can lead to certain cultural (by “cultural”, I mean everything that’s not genetic) behaviors, which can then come back and influence reproductive behaviors, leading to highly complex feedback loops.

Dress codes for slave women

Amin mentions the fact that jurists have tolerated laxer dress codes for slave women compared to free women. According to his theory, this is a sign of the fact that since a slave woman is a short-term mate (more of an object of desire than reproduction), a short-term mindset toward her was tolerated, some jurists going as far as allowing her to show her breasts in public. Since paternity confidence was not a concern, the amount of skin a slave woman showed was not much of a concern.

This behavior is also seen in Arab and Indo-Pakistani men living in the West who have sexual relationships with Western women without caring much about the woman’s past sexual experience or the way she dresses, but once they go on to seek a wife, they look for women who offer maximal paternity confidence by being virgins who dress modestly.

In both of the above situations, a double standard is maintained depending on the purpose of the woman in question. While the dress codes of slave women have no practical relevance to the modern practice of Islam, from a sociology of fiqh perspective, the matter provides a useful insight into the thinking processes of jurists, showing how personal biases and reproductive goals affect the way Islamic sexual morality is interpreted.

It should, however, be noted that part of the justification for this double standard for the dress codes of free vs. slave women is verse 33:59 of the Quran:

O Prophet! Tell your wives, and your daughters, and the women of the believers, to lengthen their garments. That is more proper, so they will be recognized and not harassed. God is Forgiving and Merciful.

A common interpretation of “so they will be recognized” is that so that it will be known that they are free women and not slaves (as mentioned in al-Tabari’s tafseer). This clearly provides justification for tolerating different dress codes for different classes of women.

Another Persian scholar, al-Razi, interprets this verse as saying that virtuous women should dress more conservatively if there is a chance they will run into uncouth strangers, so that those strangers may recognize them as virtuous women and not women open to flirtation. This interpretation is far more satisfactory in my opinion and prevents the use of the verse as justification for having double standards regarding different classes of women.

Short-term reproductive climates versus civilization

The most significant missing topic in Conflicts of Fitness is an analysis of the long-term consequences of short-term climates, which perhaps cannot be done without bringing politics and morality into the discussion, and therefore perhaps this is why the author avoided it. It is my belief, expressed in detail in Sex and Purpose, that short-term reproductive climates are inherently anti-civilization.

A man needs to feel integrated into his society, to feel as a part of its rises and falls, in order to be invested in its long-term welfare. Short-term climates turn men into societal satellites who dip into it when it benefits them, but who are ultimately free to move on and leave it for somewhere else where the grass is greener. Men no longer think of building a better world for their grandchildren, but of earning enough money to attract the most sexually desirable mates as quickly as possible, to have no-strings-attached sex as often as they can, and to continue to maintain a fulfilling life that maximizes pleasures and minimizes burdens.

In such a climate, the economy is “financialized”, everything is about short-term returns, and anyone who invests his money expecting returns 20 years from now on is considered hopelessly old-fashioned. The entire economy starts to function on the short-term sexual mindset; take as much pleasure as you can, give as little back as you can. Men financially rape and plunder, women worship power and privilege and offer themselves up for sale to the highest bidder.

What would be the fate of the country in 2100? Who cares? Maximize money and orgasms.

Individuals can talk about sustainability, anti-consumerism and charity. But expecting such things to be taken seriously in a short-term reproductive climate is like expecting a tree to grow on Mars, and therefore all movements that promote these things are going to be largely incapable of doing anything against the general flow of history toward ever more short-term decisions that damage and destroy civilization’s foundations. This process is slow and subtle, and therefore goes widely unnoticed.

The ideals of civilization are all long-term; a respect for truth, fairness and sustainability. A short-term climate will always act as an incentive to abandon these ideals in favor of short-term interests (personal power and profit). It is for this reason that today very few scientists are willing to state politically incorrect scientific facts. In this short-term climate, the scientists and intellectuals that rise to the top are not those that are best at unbiased factual analysis or contributing to civilization, but those who are best at being fashionable through doublespeak, cherry picking of facts and avoidance of sensitive topics.

In short-term climates, the parasites raise to the top. The lender class (the bankers and their friends, nearly every member of the super-rich), who through interest extract profit from the economy at the expense of everyone else, end up owning most of the country’s economy, real estate, publishing and media, and use their immense wealth and power to continually push society toward reflecting their short-term-oriented rape-and-plunder mindset, and part of this is the promotion of sexual freedom. They do not necessarily do this out of malice, it could just be the human desire for short-term gain.

On the one hand, there is civilization and what it needs to stay alive; a thriving population that respects its long-term ideals. On the other hand, there is the short-term climate and its love for the wide availability of other people’s money and daughters. A Manhattan billionaire would absolutely hate to be forced to sit in his office without having easy access to attractive and sexually receptive women, therefore it is a central aim of the billionaire mindset to promote sexual freedom. 99 out of a 100 billionaires probably feel a strong revulsion for anything that threatens their supply of sexually available young women, the way they feel a strong revulsion for anything that threatens the profits they extract from society.

I admit that an objective analysis of these phenomena would be needed to show beyond reasonable doubt that short-term climates are inherently anti-civilization. For now, it is a general conclusion that I have reached over the years, and the facts of the modern world and history both seem to strongly support this theory. The only place where a short-term climate can sustain civilization is the minds of science fiction writers.

What does Islam select for?

All societies select for something. —Greg Cochran
All policy is eugenics.1 —Ikram Hawramani

Another relevant and highly interesting topic that is not covered by the book is the effects of reproductive climates on genes. For example, in a society that practices polygyny for long enough, the sex ratio will likely correct itself so that slightly more women than men will be born.

As I explain in my essay The Gene-Culture, any study of humans that entirely focuses on genes, or entirely focuses on culture, is going to be incomplete, because it focuses on one force while ignoring its equally important companion force.

A study of religious policies toward gender as entirely reproductive strategies, while highly informative, is incomplete. Thinking in terms of centuries and millennia, rather than in terms of individual generations and societies, will bring into focus the importance of religion as a gene-modifying force; Islamic culture will rewrite genes by selecting for certain characteristics and against others, the same way that genes (and reproductive strategies) affect our practice and interpretation of Islam, causing us to focus on certain aspects of Islam (and ignore others at times).

Islam rewards and promotes self-restraint, which is strongly associated with IQ, therefore high IQ people will get a favorable treatment under Islam compared to lower IQ people who have difficulty with self-restraint. A woman who has a reputation for being “wild” is going to be passed up by men in favor of women who have a reputation for restraint. A man who does not have the long-term planning capacity to get a degree and a good career is going to be passed up by women in favor of men who have such capabilities.

Short-term climates create winner-take-all realities where a few attractive men get to have sex with a great number of women, as Conflicts of Fitness studies in detail, while the less sexually attractive and shy “nerdy” men are going to find it very difficult to have sex.

The Islamic system prevents this reality from existing. It punishes the womanizing “alpha males” by forcing them into long-term relationships where they have to make do with one, two or at most four women. And since many of these “alpha males” will not have the money to take care of too many women at the same time, they will often be forced to make do with just one or two women. This means that the rest of the women will not have access to these men, so that they are forced to settle for less attractive men.

In an Islamic society, similar to Japanese society 100 years ago, the majority of men will be able to marry, including shy and nerdy ones who are totally incapable of using charisma to attract women. This fact of Islamic societies may be a significant contributor to the high fertility rates that devout Muslim societies enjoy.

The system may slowly increase IQ by enabling nerdy men to pass on their genes, instead of turning nerdy-ness into an evolutionary dead-end. The explosion of European innovation over 1000 years ago may have been partly caused by Christianity’s spread, enabling nerds to marry and reproduce, while before that, it is possible that they had a winner-take-all system where men who fitted the warrior archetype left the most offspring, and those who did not were less likely to survive and pass on their genes. This, however, is a big speculation.

As for today, throughout all sexually open societies (Western Europe, South Korea, Japan), nerdy men seem to feel isolated, purposeless and shunned by their societies, since short-term sexual climates always reward the alpha male archetype. This may cause a long-term dysgenic effect that decreases IQ, along with decreasing fertility rates in general.

Conclusion

Conflicts of Fitness is a worthy contribution in the best tradition of Western civilization, an effort to arrive at the truth without concern for political considerations. Many Islamic books quickly become tiresome as the author tries to signal their virtue and belonging to the Islamic establishment, and many Western books suffer from exactly the same thing; authors virtue-signalling and using doublespeak and the cherry-picking of facts to please crowds at the expense of the truth.

Conflicts of Fitness avoids these ills and provides much food for thought that will hopefully help in the goal of reforming Islam while avoiding infecting it with new Western diseases. The book should also contribute toward the equally important goal of rescuing the Western tradition from the clutches of irrationalism.

It is permissible for Muslim women to pluck their eyebrows (with conditions)

Is it permissible for a woman to pluck her eyebrows? Being a woman with unsymmetrical and thick eyebrows I always feel the need to clean them up so they look normal and symmetrical. But as far as I know the prophet sallalahu alaihi wasalim said, woman who pluck their own or other womens eyebrows are cursed. Does that still apply to today or was that meant in a different context? Thank you.

Imam Abu Dawood says that what is meant by the forbidden type of plucking is when a woman distorts its shape by making it very thin, like some women do, meaning that other forms of plucking that do not make the eyebrows look unnatural are not forbidden.

The opinion of the Hanbali school is that plucking the eyebrows is allowed after agreement with the woman’s husband, if it is not overdone, and done for correction rather than for creating a new appearance.

The Maliki scholar Shaykh al-Nafrawi and the Hanafi scholar Ibn Abidain al-Hanafi also agree with the above.

Dr. Ali Jum`ah of Al-Azhar University and former chief Islamic jurist of Egypt says that what the Prophet, peace be upon him, meant by plucking the eyebrows is removing the whole of them then using makeup to draw them. He says that there is no issue with a woman correcting and beautifying the shape of the eyebrows if it is not overdone.

As for Salafi scholars like Ibn Baaz, Ibn Uthaymeen al-Albani, they all say it is forbidden, some Salafis make an exception for correcting a clear and obvious issue that severely reduces a woman’s beauty.

Most of the Muslim world follows the Azhari opinion, which is that correcting and beautifying the eyebrows is allowed if it is not overdone.

Can a Muslim woman have male friends? The Islamic view of having friends of the opposite sex

Salam. I have a question over boy friends? Is it okay to have friends who are boys and you know that they won’t do anything with you or take your guys friendship over the line? Or should we Muslim girls have no friends who are boys?

What is permissible for a Muslim woman to wear in front of her husband, and what are they allowed to do in private?

I have a question over husbands. What can you wear or do with your husband in private? What is allowed in Islam?

The rule regarding both clothing and sexual enjoyment is that everything is allowed unless it is specifically forbidden.

She can wear anything and nothing. Spouses are permitted to see each other naked.

Women are strongly discouraged from wearing male clothing, that’s the only important limitation I can think of regarding what she can wear in front of her husband.

As for what they can do, they can do all that’s customarily done between a husband and wife throughout the world, except for three things: Anal sex, sex when the woman is menstruating, and anything that causes harm to either person.

Sources: Dr. Khalid Abdul Mun`im al-Rifa`i (Azhar-educated scholar), UAE Fatwa Authority, Dr. Muhammad Sa`eed Ramadan al-Buti (Syrian Islamic studies professor).

What is permissible for a Muslim woman to wear in front of her father, other close male relatives, and other women?

Why must women pray behind men at the mosque?

Why must women pray behind men? Why is it that in Pakistan women have the worst place to pray when we need to pray in public and/or in the masjid? And also, why must men and women be separate in public? Isn’t that inconvenient? What is the wisdom behind all of this?

The wisdom in women praying behind men, which is the same as the wisdom in women wearing non-revealing clothes, is to take sexuality out of public interactions, so that people can get on with their lives and do what needs to be done without male-female sexual dynamics becoming a factor.

Men are designed to find women far more physically interesting than women are designed to find men. What this means is that having the women in front of the men at the mosque will cause more distraction, on the whole, than having the men in front of the women. Since the goal is to focus on God at the mosque, the logical thing to do is to not have the women in men’s sight. Since women do not find men particularly physically interesting, in general it doesn’t do any harm to have the men within the women’s sight.

Some will say it is men’s duty not to look at women lustfully, women shouldn’t have to dress a certain way or sit in a certain place just so that men wouldn’t be distracted by them. Islam deals with the issue on both ends, it asks both sexes not to look at one another lustfully, and it asks women to dress modestly so that if men do look, they do not see much to look at

At the mosque, it adds an extra degree of conscientiousness to have the women pray behind the men, to make lustful glances even less likely, so that proper respect for God is shown at His house.

We are all God’s servants and it behooves us to organize our public spaces in the way that is most likely to please Him. If having the women pray behind the men is more conducive to proper respect for God, and less distracting on the whole, than having the men pray behind the women, then it logically follows that it is best for the women to pray behind the men. The goal is not some power play or show of authority by the men, the goal is to show God proper respect, with both sexes being His lowly servants wanting to please Him.

As for why men and women can’t pray mixed like at church services, it is again because it adds an unnecessary gender dynamic to the act of praying at the mosque, which is unnecessary and not something God wants to be present in His house. Most of us are capable of praying alongside the opposite sex without any issue. But it is better not to mix, and since we want to please God, we do what is better. Amish Christians do the same, with the men and women sitting separately at church.

About separation in other public places, the point again is for public interactions to be civilized and free from lust. Islam has no issue with men and women interacting in public, it only wants to give the best shape to these interactions by removing potentially harmful dynamics. Each Islamic culture has its own way of trying to achieve this. Some cultures take the separation of men and women too far, and others have sensible policies that do not lead to inconvenience. Much of it is cultural tradition, there are no rules regarding separation of men and women in public in the Quran, for example.

I am sorry to hear that women do not have good places to pray in public in Pakistan. This could be a carryover from the past, where women venturing outside was far less common than now, so that there wasn’t much demand for better accommodations for women. Hopefully this will get better with time. In the United Arab Emirates, for example, the malls have large and well-maintained spaces for women to pray.