In a letter to the contestants in the 12th Dar Al-Quran of the Imam Ali contest – a Quran memorization contest for women – which opened December 15, 2018 in Jamkaran, near the holy city of Qom in Iran, Iranian Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani, a senior Shi'ite scholar and part of the Iranian ruling establishment, stressed the appreciation of the merit of women in Islam and their importance in the Quranic tradition. He contrasted this with the denigrating and humiliating treatment of women in pre- and post-Islamic cultures, in both the East and the West.
Opening his letter with Quranic verses about women's equality to men, and directing a warning to humanity about the "Zionist regime's" treatment of women, he went on to say that this regime had opened a shopping center for publicly trafficking in women. He added that it also was murdering people and selling their organs, as was its protégé, the Islamic State (ISIS).
Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani. Source: Khabaronline, Iran, December 16, 2018.
The following are highlights of Ayatollah Nouri Hamedani's letter to the contestants:
"Our teacher [Ayatollah] Alama [Mohammad Hossein] Tabataba'i [leading Shi'ite Quran commentator, d. 1981] said in his 'Al-Mizan' commentary that these [Quranic] verses [on equality between men and women] descended in the era when it was thought that a woman who transgresses must take responsibility and be punished, but if she does a good deed, her husband should get the credit. This stemmed from the fact that women [were considered] base and disgraceful, and unworthy of receiving credit. These verses reject this thinking.
"But barbaric views of this kind have not been limited to the era [of the Prophet Muhammad] or to the Arabian Peninsula, and the humiliation and degradation of women has a sad history worldwide, throughout many generations.
"In India, women were considered secondary to men and not entitled to live after their husbands died, so they were burned 40 days after their husband's death. In ancient Egypt, every time the Nile dwindled, they would drown a virgin in it so that the waters might rise again. In Africa, they would sell women wholesale, like cattle. In China, women were stripped of the right to learn; they were always beaten and humiliated by their fathers and husbands, and were forced to do hard labor.
"Likewise, in the Arabian Peninsula, the birth of a daughter is considered a disgrace, and they would even bury [infant girls] alive. But even in civilized countries in those days, there were actions no less [vile] against women than those practiced by barbaric nations. For example, in ancient Rome, women were considered base, unclean, and satanic creatures; in ancient Iran, in the Sassanid Empire, women were considered chattel; and in Europe, women were generally discriminated against and had no social or inheritance rights. In France in 586 [AD], it was concluded, after much debate, that women were indeed human, [but] were created to serve men.
"All these are examples of the oppression and cruelty that were women's lot before the revelation of our dear Islam. With the rising sun of Islam, and the merciful call of the Prophet of Mercy, Mohammad, the spirit of joy and hope filled humanity. He always mentioned the important, high place of women in Muslim society, and their attributes. He conveyed to the people many of the Quranic verses regarding the important merit of women and their great value in society...
"We hope that the women in our society, and all women in the world, will keep in mind that the Zionists and colonialism still want to objectify women. Not long ago, there was news that in Israel a shopping center for trafficking in women had opened, and the video of [the center's inauguration] was shown worldwide. The report showed that they sat the women like merchandise in the store windows, with price tags on them. This is actually the same thing that ISIS, the protegee of America and Israel, did in Iraq and Syria: they abducted many girls and sold them in marketplaces, and now the Zionist regime has officially opened a shopping center for trafficking in women, before the very eyes of billions of people in the world!!
"Is the uncivilized and barbaric behavior instituted today by the global arrogance [i.e. the U.S.] and the Zionists not worse than that during the pre-Islamic period in the Arabian Peninsula? Why, today, 1,400 years [after Islam began], do we still see such atrocious sights in the world? Why does the conscience of humanity and of the community of civilized [nations] remain silent in light of this trafficking and trading in human beings? And even more criminal is the murdering of people and the selling of their organs by Israel's mafia. How deep into perdition has humanity sunk? What justification is given by the defenders of Western society for Israel's crimes? And [as for] those who think that the Western rule and communities are civilized... how can they justify defending Israel like submissive slaves, when Israel has officially opened a market for human trafficking?
"Why are the UN and the other international communities silent in light of this activity against humanity by Israel? Have they too lost their identity? God, we appeal to you."
 Khabaronline (Iran), December 16, 2018.