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de-emphasis essay
Islam, aside from being a religion of misanthropy is a profound misogyny expressed as the divine word of god. This painting is a commentary on this religion, particularly its view on women.

de-emphasis. 2004-05. Oil on canvas. © demetrios vakras

It is a matter of great shame in Islam to be a woman. However, there is much obfuscatory dishonest commentary from (some) Mohammedan women which is intended to deflate criticism of this religion by instead deflecting criticism of Islam by claiming criticism to instead be an expression of the bigotry of the critic. By this means criticism of the misogynistic component in that religion is blunted. The claim by some Muslims that Islam is not misogynist is generally supported by a concomitant claim: what appears to be misogyny is nothing other than an expression of profound Islamic piety. As such it is a religious right and duty.

According to the believers of this faith, the word of god is expressed via the medium, Mohammed, possessed by the angel Gabriel reciting the word of god, the Koran.

The Koran clearly and unambiguously declares the role and position of women:

Women 4:34: "Men have authority over women because Allah has made one superior to the other...Good women
are obedient...As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them to beds apart and beat them. Then if
they obey you, take no further action against them. Allah is high, supreme.";

The Cow 2:223: "Women are your fields: go, then into your fields as you please."

as is immediately obvious, these are directives for men.

Islam is a religion which is so offended by women that it demands the mutilation of women's genitals. What this religion thus in effect does is emphasise what it thinks a woman is by what it seeks to cover up or cut out. Early Arab/Islamic commentators on Christian women (from Byzantium) state clearly the intention behind the mutilation of female genitalia.

"Al-Jahiz [died 868/869 AD] states that Byzantine women are not excised [mutilated] and this is why they are among 'the most shameless women in the whole world.' Al-Jahiz also draws a direct connection between chastity and excision. Byzantine women have sharper passions because they are not subject to the procedure. The 'uncircumcised woman' he writes, 'finds pleasure, which the circumcised woman does not.' Because they find sex more enjoyable, they are prone to adultery. 'Abd al-Jabbar confirms this opinion, linking the failure to excise women with their sexual pleasure...He also mentions that Byzantine women are not veiled; even when married, they pass the people in the market with heads and faces uncovered, showing all their beauty." pp. 125-126, n. M. el-Cheikh, Byzantium viewed by the Arabs, ISBN 0932885306.[1] Clearly then both the covering up of women and the mutilation of their genitals is intended to eliminate female sexuality - piety for Muslims.

mohammed in hell -uighur manuscript 15th century AD.
Above, a 15th century Uighur manuscript now at the Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris, shows Mohammed on his "Night Journey", riding Buraq and accompanied by Gabriel, visiting Hell. This illustration shows a demon punishing "shameless women" who had the temerity of exposing their hair to strangers. The women are strung up by their hair and burned for eternity ... simply because men might lack slef-control.

The bulk of the Koranic misogyny of Islam derives from  the Verse "The Confederate Tribes", written "At the time Mohammed had nine wives, apart from slave-girls." ( Dawood's Koran translation footnote). The intention of this verse was to dissuade other men from being tempted by Mohammed's wives and this was to be accomplished by their being ordered to cover up. Mohammed's insecurities have damned half the human race:

"Prophet We [Allah] have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave-girls whom Allah has given you as booty...This privilege is yours alone... You may put off any of your wives you please and take to your bed any of them you please. Nor is it unlawful for you to receive any of those whom you have temporarily set aside." The Confederate Tribes 33.49-51

“Wives of the Prophet, you are not like other women... do not be too complaisant in your speech lest the lecherous-hearted should lust after you... Stay in your homes and do not display your finery as women used to in the days of ignorance.” The Confederate Tribes 33.32-33

“Prophet, enjoin your wives, your daughters, and the wives of true believers to draw their veils close around them... so they may be recognised and not molested.” The Confederate Tribes 33.58

On a broader level this painting is a criticism of what this religion stands for. Every secular view is antithetic to it... & the Aphrodite of Melos [2] sports a gas-mask.... She's us, regardless of gender. The desolate landscape is what Islam seeks... The crescent moon is the symbol Islam uses to represent itself [3] and under which the world we know will be reduced to a barren wilderness.

Regardless of how vociferous the protests are, the wearing of what can only be described as a body-sack ("burka") is a rejection of any idea of a common humanity regardless of gender. The wearing of this "body-sack" is a means used by "pious" Muslim women to shame those considered "impious" on the sole grounds that they are "uncovered". Muslim women that do not cover themselves are compelled to cover themselves for fear of being criticised/shamed for their claimed impiety and promiscuity. The pressure of religious peers who believe that only a woman insincere in her piety would not cover herself over and refuse to undergo surgical mutilation of her genitals means that there is no choice for a woman on whether or not she should cover herself.

Alexandria was the city founded by Alexander in the 4th century BC, in which the great LIbrary was founded in the 3rd century BC. It became a centre of learning. This is a painting by Giovanni & Gentile Bellini: "St Mark preaching in Alexandria", painted in 1506. Alexandria was not a centre of learning any more... The world's most progressive city had been reduced to this.

The attire of Greek women after 400 years of Mohammedan rule...

[1] One correspondent to whom I sent a photograph of my painting de-empahsis proceeded to lambaste my "warped" idea of Islam and sent me the following to correct my view:

"The Hadith, which is a collection of the sayings of the Prophet
Mohammed recorded from oral histories after his death, also contains no
justification for the practice. Islam clearly acknowledges women's sexuality
and emphasises her right to sexual satisfaction, as long as this is confined
to marriage."

This is a widespread claim and it is false. A number of hadith refer to the mutilation ("circumcision") of the genitalia of women.

Sexual intercourse is described in the hadith as the passing of a cirumcised part into another circumcised part:
Maliks Muwatta Book 002, Hadith Number 075. Maliks Muwatta Book 02. Purity. Section : Obligation to Do Ghusl when the Two Circumcised Parts Meet. “...When the circumcised part passes the circumcised part ghusl is obligatory."

While another hadith extols the mutilation of the clitoris as a matter of hygine:
Fiqh-us-Sunnah Volume 001, Purification and Prayer, Fiqh 1.021
Fiqh-us Sunnah Section 01. Purification
Section : Circumcision.
This prevents dirt from getting on one's penis, and also makes it easy to keep it clean. For women, it involves cutting the outer portion of the clitoris. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said, "Ibrahim circumcised himself after he was eighty years old." (Related by al-Bukhari.) Many scholars say that it is obligatory.' The Shaf'iyyah maintain that it should be done on the seventh day. Says ash-Shaukani, "There is nothing that states explicitly its time or indicates that it is obligatory."

(Hadith can now be accessed from and

An often disputed hadith confirms the proposition:

8.(Al Hadis, Vol. 1, p. 738) Abul Malih reported that the Messenger of Allah said, "Circumcision is Sunnat (required by Islamic law) for males and  optional for females."
(though not mandatory, the pressure of religious peers entails an understanding that only a woman insincere in her piety would not undergo this barbaric procedure)

Below is another Hadith which elicits a woman's duties to her husband: 

Quotes From Sahih Muslim Hadith:
Chapter 558. The prophet said: "When a man calls his wife to bed and she does not come, the husband spends the night being angry with her, and the angels curse her until morning. The one who is in heaven is displeased with her until the husband is pleased with her.

[2] The Aphrodite of Melos is known better in her French pseudonym Venus de Milo. Found by a Greek fisherman off the island of Delos she was abducted by the French and now sits imprisoned in the Louvre.

[3] The crescent moon, symbol of Islam, is derived directly from the Sassanian Persians. The Zoroastrian religion of the Persians, and not Judaism/Christianity fromed the basis of Islam. Refer here for information off-site.

© demetrios vakras