Says spirit-sheikh Ibn Abu al-Ibn, "Women hold a negative charge and men a positive one—that's why their reproductive organs are built like a plug and a socket, respectively, Wallahu a3lam.” A satiric/scientific explanation of sexual harassment as the tant
This weekend, I had the bright idea of writing something about sexual harassment. I have written about this from many angles before so I figured I'd try something new: interview an eminent Islamic scholar on this subject. However, I was lazy and Islamic scholars don't usually hang out at the bars I frequent. Inspired by another ghost-whispering friend, I purchased a ouija board, some incense and quite a few candles - unscented ones since I strive to be manly in all I do.
I was going to interview a dead sheikh!
I chose the 13th day of the 7th month for the fateful night. The day of the week was obviously Saturday since magic only works on Jewish holy days (witchcraft is an intrinsically Jewish thing, didn't you know?) I burnt the candles, spread the incense, then looked up at the sky and in a slow voice screamed, "The spirit of one pious sheikh of the middle ages variety required for personal questioning. Appear before me or may Allah deprive you of the deflowered hoors you're frolicking with!" After repeating this a few times, I heard a grumbling voice say my name, "What is it that you want? I am Sheikh Ibn Abu al-Ibn."
What follows is my conversation with his spirit verbatim and if I lie, may I be locked up in Jaheem for a thousand years and fed Zaqoom until I scream "UNCLE!"
Sheikh: "Are you a woman?"
Me: "No, but I would like to ask you about the sexual harassment of women…"
Sheikh: "No woman ever asks for my presence. Must get my beard trimmed slightly. Anyhow, what do you need to ask, ya tifl?"
Me: "Ya sheikh-ul-shoyookh, given that in this day and age, if you are a woman, chances are, you probably know what sexual harassment means through personal experience… how does one avoid this?"
Sheikh: "Is it a problem?"
Me: "Yes, it's a serious problem. Women find it very objectionable."
Sheikh: "I still don't see where the problem is…"
Me: "Oh, and I mean MEN find it objectionable, too."
Sheikh: "Wallahi… Indeed this is a predicament, then."
Me: "So then how does one avoid it?"
Sheikh: "Well, the only solution is for the woman to never leave the house unless escorted by 6 or 7 armed bodyguards."
Me: "And if one cannot afford bodyguards?"
Sheikh: "I have several prayers that will give them patience to persevere under poverty if you want...?"
Me: "No, but what if a woman wants to leave the house for some reason, has no money for bodyguards and no time to do the prayers?"
Sheikh: "Women… They have time to go out, but no time to do some simple prayers. Anyway, I'll tell you. Wear the hijab. And I'm not going to sugar-coat it or try to slowly walk you into it, the only hijab that is perfect is the one where the only thing you see is a giant blob completely covered in black clothes. I mean, it should be so that you couldn't tell if it's a woman or a remote-controlled shopping cart under the clothes."
Me: "I see that may be a solution, but why does this happen? Inform this humble servant of the fuqara wal mahroomin."
Sheikh: "Such an inquisitive mind you have, mashallah. May my darajaat be more elevated than they already are, I will answer this question scientifically, both because you live in the age of science and because my version of Islam and science are completely compatible.
The woman is a paradox.
It is a creature whom Allah has given infinite sensuality and infinite chastity. Those two are polar opposites so they cannot exist in the same body at the same time. But Allah made a solution. When those forces meet inside a woman, a big explosion happens - like the Big Bang, you see - and creates a parallel universe inside her body. This universe is outside creation so she can be both infinitely sensual and infinitely chaste at the same time.
There is a side effect, though: The parallel universe also makes a woman's body a perfect vessel for Shaitan to inhabit. He is a prisoner as long as those two forces of chastity and sensuality are in balance in a woman.
If she reduces from her sensual side, Shaitan will be tortured by this; that's why she is ordered to make herself always appear as unpretty and unattractive as possible (except when her husband is around, of course, I'll explain why later.) There is great reward in this on Judgment Day so doing it is as if you are doing Allah's work and I must tell you, my version of Allah is quite satisfied with what the Bush admin called enhanced interrogation techniques.
However, if the woman reduces from her chastity, Shaitan finds cracks in her body through clothes to entangle unsuspecting men, taking over control of their actions and spreading fitna. Therefore giving rise to what you call "sexual harassment of women". That's why hijab is necessary.
It's all quite simple.
Me: "Well, Sheikhna, so what happens when her husband is around?"
Sheikh: "Simple physics, again. Women hold a negative charge and men a positive one - that's why their reproductive organs are built like a plug and a socket respectively, wallahu a3lam. As you know, opposites attract. When Shaitan inhabits a woman's body in perfect balance of sensuality and chastity, her charge becomes neutral. So when her husband approaches her, nothing happens. However, when she puts on make-up, in effect reducing her chastity, she develops a slight negative charge, ensuring that when her positively charged husband approaches her, the plug can go inside the socket, building a closed circuit. This connection of their combined powers creates new life."
Me: "Mashallah, ya sheikh, your knowledge of the human anatomy as well as physics is quite impressive."
Sheikh: "You had doubts? Are you Shia?"
Me: "Al-3ayazubillah! Not until 40 camels pass through the eye of a needle!"
Sheikh: "Good, then, you may ask more if you wish."
Me: "Just one last question. Allah, or at least your version of Allah from what I've heard, always does things for a reason. Then what is the real hikma behind sexual harassment? It also happens to women who do appear as shopping carts covered in a black cloth as you described, apparently. Inform me for my soul is thirsting for sacred knowledge"
Sheikh: "At the risk of one of my hoors being taken from me, if only you promise to never divulge this secret…"
Me: "May my fingers be chopped and my eyes gouged out and fed to dogs."
Sheikh: "Mashallah, then, listen closely. If women come out of the house, they go to school. They go to school, they get a degree. They get a degree, they find work. They work, they have money to support themselves. They support themselves, they find time to hang out with friends. They hang out with friends, they develop hobbies. They develop hobbies, they become busy. So between all of this, where does she find the time to spend on keeping the balance intact so Shaitan remains in chains?"
Sheikh: "Exactly! Sexual harassment has hikma in that it physically and emotionally forces women to keep the balance intact. If there was no sexual harassment, do you think women would sit at home or come out wearing hijab? Never! Therefore, Islamic governments should tacitly ignore sexual harassment and do nothing about it so that women are forced to live in fear. This is the only way.
As for the problem of women who have their balance intact, but who still get sexually harassed, you may say they are collateral damage."
Me: "So then what's my responsibility as a man in all of this?"
Sheikh: "Um, buckle up when you drive because it's the law?
Listen, ya tifl, you are a man. Your responsibility when it comes to the sexual harassment of women is to quietly ignore it. Women are dangerous. The only way to control them is to make them live in constant fear of sexual harassment. Without that reminder, Allah knows what will happen. So do you job by never asking me about this again. I thought you summoned me to ask about ways to acquire multiple hoors!"
Me: "Well, that was part of it."
Sheikh: "Perfect! But you will have to catch me some other time. There's a tea party at al-Ghazali's palace. He has this one hoor... al-amaan!!! Until next time, Wa ma alaina illa l’balagh."
Then I heard the sound of the rumbling of a cosmic corolla and he was gone.
* Josh Shahryar is a reporter and analyst for EA WorldView, covering foreign policy and human rights.