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The patriarch: Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali « Previous | |Next »
October 27, 2006

Below are the remarks of Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali as translated by SBS translator Dalia Mattar in The Australian. The defence I heard on the radio this morning is that Sheik Hilali's speech was taken out of context and misinterpreted. This defence doesn't come to grips with what was actually said:|


Sheik Hilali's likened "immodestly" dressed women to meat and suggested that in adultery women were more to blame than men, as they were the temptress. He says:

But when it comes to adultery, it's 90 per cent the women's responsibility. Why? Because a woman possesses the weapon of seduction. It is she who takes off her clothes, shortens them, flirts, puts on make-up and powder and takes to the streets, God protect us, dallying. It's she who shortens, raises and lowers. Then it's a look, then a smile, then a conversation, a greeting, then a conversation, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay jail. (laughs).Then you get a judge, who has no mercy, and he gives you 65 years.

The mispresentation is that he referred to adultery and not rape as originally reported. Most of the commentators are still talking in terms of rape and suggesting that the Mufti condones rape even though the word rape is not mentioned by Sheik Hilali. That looks to me like anti-Muslim hysteria and a form of Orientalism.

Despite the misrepresentation Sheik Hilali is expressing a core idea of Islamists, that of the woman as temptress.That is objectionable and it suggests that Islamists have a serious problem with women. The mufti quotes a scholar who puts the patriarchal position:

But when it comes to this disaster, who started it? In his literature, scholar al-Rafihi says: 'If I came across a rape crime --- kidnap and violation of honour -- I would discipline the man and order that the woman be arrested and jailed for life.' Why would you do this, Rafihi? He says because if she had not left the meat uncovered, the cat wouldn't have snatched it.

The mufti has the opportunity to critique this view of women as meat and show why it is wrong.

Instead Sheik Hilali endorses women as a lump of meat and therein lies the problem. He says:

If you take a kilo of meat, and you don't put it in the fridge or in the pot or in the kitchen but you leave it on a plate in the backyard, and then you have a fight with the neighbour because his cats eat the meat, you're crazy. Isn't this true? If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street, on the pavement, in a garden, in a park or in the backyard, without a cover and the cats eat it, is it the fault of the cat or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.

The scantily dressed women is the issue for Sheik Hilali. His is a standard moral conservative position about sex outside marriage. It's the equation of women with meat that takes it over the edge into the offensive.
If the meat was covered, the cats wouldn't roam around it. If the meat is inside the fridge, they won't get it. If the meat was in the fridge and it (the cat) smelled it, it can bang its head as much as it wants, but it's no use.If the woman is in her boudoir, in her house and if she's wearing the veil and if she shows modesty, disasters don't happen.That's why he said she owns the weapon of seduction.

The finger is continually pointed at the women and not the man without acknolweding the oppression of women in some Muslim families. That's an expression of patriarchy. I don't see that Sheik Hilali speaking in English would change things much, other than introduce the issue of integration.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:51 AM | | Comments (3)


I think that the latest comments by the Mufti can have some very positive ramifications. I hope the moderate muslim community rally and become a clear voice in the media. I work with many muslims, and I think they are wonderful

I agree. The test for moderate Muslims would be for the Sheik Hilali to be removed from the mufti role: ie., relinquish his role as Australia's top Muslim cleric.He is too conservative for the second generation, Australian born Muslims who embrace a liberal Australia.

Conservatives, such as Michael Baume in the Australian Fimnacial Review go on about the intake of Muslim migrants representing a community:

.. .whose basic beliefs involve a rejection of our secular society and a desire to remain separate while enjoying the benefits that residence brings...What is clear is that multiculturalism, like most "isms", has too great a potential to divide a nation; to push it away from unity into a sort of ethnic federalism with stronger allegiance to background and limited national loyalty.

That kind of argument ignores the liberal Muslims you know and work with.

The Sheik Hilali fracas in Sydney and the Ted Haggard affair in Colorado have occasioned the posing of the following question to any soundly-minded persons paying attention: Is fundamentalism not merely a conventionalized form of insanity?

My fondest hope is that by the end of my days I might see a diagnosis and treatment for the misanthropic and homicidal psychosis we call today religious ardor.