The readership of the Qur’an is clearly presupposed to be male, and this is a book for men, by men. We find numerous examples of the audience being given information and instructions about women, in texts that speak of women in the third person. Women are not directly addressed, but rather men are directed as to what they should tell their wives (plural).
While men and women are said to have equal rights in Islam, looking at the Qur’an we find that men are still presented as being superior to them: ‘And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them’ (2:228).
The testimony of a woman is worth only half that of a man: ‘get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women’ (2:282).
Men are in charge of women and women should be ‘obedient’ to men. If they are not, they must be beaten (2:223).
Men may have multiple wives, but women can only marry one man.
Women are ‘as a tilth’ (a piece of land) to men, and husbands may have sex with their ‘wives’ whenever they want to, including on the ‘night of the fasts’, when a man may still have sex with his ‘wives’ (2:187).The only exception is when a woman is menstruating, which is presented as a ‘pollution’. Once menstruation is over, and the woman has ‘purified’ herself, her husband may once again ‘approach [her] in any manner, time, or place’ (2:222-223).
Even women who are not menstruating ritually pollute a man and if men ‘have been in contact with women’ prior to prayer, they must first cleanse themselves (4:43; 5:6).
Women must be veiled and should not ‘display their beauty’ to anyone other than close family members, slaves, ‘or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex’. Women are forbidden to ’strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments’ (24:31). When they leave the house, women ’should cast their outer garments over their persons’ (33:59).
Male children are to receive twice the inheritance of females: ‘to the male, a portion equal to that of two females’ (4:11); ‘if there are brothers and sisters, (they share), the male having twice the share of the female’ (4:176).
Muhammad’s wives are ‘not like any of the (other) women’ and are commanded to ’stay quietly in your houses’ (33:32-33). While there is ‘no blame’ on Muhammad’s wives if they ‘appear before’ close family members (33:55), men from outside the family may only address them ‘before a screen’ (33:53). If a wife of Muhammad is found guilty of ‘lewdness’ or ‘unseemly conduct’, their punishment will be double that of other women (33:30).
Muslim men will be rewarded in heaven by being given female virgins ‘whom no man or Jinn [genie] before them has touched ‘ (55:56; 55:71-74). In other words, for men, the afterlife will be a kind of orgy. For women, no equivalent to this male ‘reward’ is offered.Okay, so maybe he wasn't exactly Alda Alda. But they say for the 7th Century he was real cutting edge.
Update: Here's the song.