Bangladeshi cleric Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi
Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi is the emir of Hafajat-e-Islam (Saving Islam), a coalition of Islamist religious organizations in Bangladesh. The Islamist group did not exist before 2010, but during the past three and a half years, and especially this year, it has laid siege to the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, including the use of street protests and violence led by students of madrassas in its control, to force the country's secular government to accept its 13 demands.
Allama Shafi, who is 93 years-old and studied at Darul Uloom Deoband seminary in India, is also the principal of Hathazari Madrassa, an Islamic seminary based in the town of Chittagong. He has emerged as the country's leading Islamist cleric, with a massive support base that is threatening to unseat the secular government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who faces a difficult election in the next few months.
Currently, Shah Ahmad Shafi is being widely criticized for a speech in which he denigrated Bangladeshi women and expressed an extreme fundamentalist view of Islam with regard to their status. On July 13, 2013, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina denounced Shafi for his remarks against women, asking him rhetorically if he came from his mother's womb. According to a Bangladeshi media report, Hasina "wondered how a person, who was born in a mother's womb, has sisters and a wife, could use such filthy language about women."
"Punish [With Death] The 'Atheist' … Bloggers, And Anti-Islamists Who Make 'Derogatory Comments' About Prophet Muhammad"; "Ban All Foreign Culture, Including The Free Mixing Of Men And Women"
The 13 demands put forward by Hefajat-e-Islam seek to achieve Islamic sharia rule in Bangladesh. According to the Bangladeshi news site thedailystar.net, these demands include:
"I) Reinstate the phrase 'Absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah' in the constitution as one of the fundamental principles of state policy.
"2) Pass a law keeping a provision of capital punishment for maligning Allah, Islam, and Prophet Muhammad, and smear campaigns against Muslims.
"3) Punish [with death] the 'atheist' leaders of Shahbagh [Tahrir Square-like movement in Dhaka], bloggers, and anti-Islamists who make 'derogatory comments' about Prophet Muhammad...
"4) Stop killing, attacking, and shooting Islamic scholars and madrassa students.
"5) Free all the arrested Islamic scholars and madrassa students.
"6) Lift restrictions on mosques and remove obstacles to holding religious programs.
"7) Declare Qadianis (Ahmadiyyas) non-Muslim and stop their publicity and conspiracies.
"8) Ban all foreign culture, including the free mixing of men and women, and candlelit vigil [by secular NGOs].
"9) Stop setting up sculptures at intersections, colleges, and universities across the country.
"10) Make Islamic education mandatory from primary to higher secondary levels, after scrapping the women's policy [that sought to give equal right to women] and education policy.
"11) Stop threatening teachers and students of Qawmi [Deobandi] madrassas, Islamic scholars, imams, and khatibs [mosque leaders].
"12) Stop creating hatred against Muslims among the young generation by misrepresentation of Islamic culture in the media.
"13) Stop anti-Islam activities by NGOs, evil attempts by Qadianis, and conversion by Christian missionaries at Chittagong Hill Tracts and elsewhere in the country."
"Oh Women, If You Believe In Allah's Koran, Then The Koran Says About You: '… Oh Women, You Remain Within The Four Walls Of Home; Don't Stray Outside The Home'; Educate [Women] Up To Class 4-5 So That After You Marry Her, She Can Do Book-Keeping For Her Husband's Earning; That's Enough"
Following are excerpts from Shafi's speech on the status of women in Islam:
"Oh women, if you believe in Allah's Koran, then the Koran says about you: '… [Arabic words deleted] Oh women, you remain within the four walls of home; don’t stray outside the home.' Who said this, Allah said. … [Arabic words deleted here] Before the prophet, the women used to walk around without purdah [veil/covering]. Don't go outside home; don't move around naked on the streets, in the markets…. Be careful, don't go for shopping; you have a son, you have a husband; ask them to do the shopping; why should you go?"
"You will stay at your husband's home, protect your husband's furniture, rear children. These are your duties; why should you go out? Why should you send your daughters [to work] in garment factories? You are doing lot of jobs; where is your wife? Teaching at school. She becomes a doctor; you are a doctor; your daughter also works at school, works at a garment factory. Everybody is earning money; still you can't keep up with your needs; there's poverty, poverty, poverty. Previously, one person used to earn, with that he fed everybody well - husband, wife, son, daughter; now there is no prosperity, no prosperity, no prosperity…
"Why have you sent your daughters to [work in a] garment factory? She goes out at fajr [morning prayer], 7-8AM; she doesn't come back even by 8, 10, 12 at night. You do not know with which man she is roaming around; in how much zina [illicit sex, also moral crime] she is involved, you do not know. She is earning money by doing zina, will it bring barkat [prosperity]? Your women have education in schools, colleges, universities. Educate them up to class 4-5 so that after you marry her, she can do book-keeping for her husband's earning; that's enough…"
"If You See A Woman, Your Heart Will Secrete Saliva; However Elderly You Are, If You See A Woman, Shake Hands With Her, You Get Bad Thoughts [Lust] In Your Heart; This Is The Zina Of The Heart; Ultimately This Will Turn Into A Real Zina [Illicit Sex]"
"This is the time of mobile [phones]; women, everybody has got mobiles, the men have got mobiles, male and female students have got mobiles, mobiles, mobiles. The male students take numbers from female students; a female student gets numbers from male students at college…
"In colleges, universities, women are seated at the front; I wonder what sort of education men are getting; women are like tamarind, tamarind, tamarind. A child is eating a tamarind and you are watching that, your mouth will secrete saliva; tell me, is it true or false, tell me. If you walk under a tamarind tree, your mouth will secrete saliva. In the market where they are selling tamarind, if you pass by your mouth will secrete saliva; is it true or false, true or false; women are worse than that.
"If you see a woman, your heart will secrete saliva, you feel like marrying her, you feel like doing love marriage, court marriage; is it or not; a woman is like a tamarind, you are studying day and night alongside women, you can't keep your heart pure; you are roaming around with them in the streets, you can't keep your heart in place once you shake hands with them.
"However elderly you are, if you see a woman, shake hands with her, you get bad thoughts [lust] in your heart; this is the zina of the heart; ultimately this will turn into a real zina, is it true or false, tell me brother. Even if an old man says he doesn't feel bad thoughts [lust] when he sees a woman, then I will say, oh old man, you have got impotency disease; you have lost your manhood; that's why you don't feel any bad thoughts seeing a woman…"
"Why Do You Want Birth Control?; Do You Know The Meaning Of Birth Control – Making A Male Infertile; And For Women, Stitching Their Womb"; Prophet Muhammad: 'On The Day Of Judgment, I Will Be Proud That My Followers Are Huge In Number; You Can Do/Marry Two, Three, Four [Women]; Grow The Ummah'"
"Why do you want birth control? Do you know the meaning of birth control – making a male infertile; and for women, stitching their womb so that semen cannot pass through; this is birth control. In previous times, we used to make animals infertile, now it has come to humans…
"Be careful, be careful. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: [Arabic words here] 'oh my followers, marry a woman from whom there will be lots of children…' Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, 'On the Day of Judgment, I will be proud that my followers are huge in number; you can do/marry two, three, four [women]; grow the Ummah.'
"One companion [of the prophet], after marriage, went to the prophet, and said: 'I cannot provide food and clothing to my wife.' The prophet of Allah said: 'marry another.' The companion said what answer is this, I cannot provide for even one; how can I marry another. The prophet said, 'listen to me and marry another.'
"Who provides the livelihood? Allah. Why do you talk of birth control? You are not feeding them; Allah says, I will feed you and your children…."