What Do Putin and the Prophet Share in Common?


It would seem that Vladimir Putin, the contemporary Communist leader of Russia, and Muhammad, the 7th C. Arabian leader of the followers of Islam, should share little in common, particularly when it comes to metaphysics. Putin, a purported dialectical materialist, has a decidedly this-worldly orientation. Muhammad, on the other hand, seemed obsessed with how to live in light of the looming destinies either of Paradise or Hell. Putin apparently has little interest in the question of God. Muhammad claimed to be God’s spokesman.

On the other hand, both are purveyors of totalitarian ideologies which seek to bring the whole world under their sway. Both find it permissible to use military force to bring about their visions for humanity.

Yesterday, it became apparent that there is one other curious connection between the two — their denigration of women as weaker and less dependable than men (or at least than they themselves).

According to Bloomberg Politics, in a series of wide-ranging interviews conducted by Oliver Stone (to be released as a Showtime special from June 12-15), Putin argued the superiority of men over women with his declaration that he never has an off day as president of Russia because he’s a man. To clarify, he went on:

“I am not a woman, so I don’t have bad days. I am not trying to insult anyone. That’s just the nature of things. There are certain natural cycles.”

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin works out at a gym

Muhammad also viewed the female sex as weaker, prone to error, and hampered by “natural cycles.” From his own mouth came the words, now enshrined in the Qur’an:

“Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded….” (Qur’an 4:34)

and

“Women have such honorable rights as obligations, but their men have a degree above them…” (2:228).

Further, when it comes to legal testimony, we see that since women are so prone to error it is necessary to have two women to corroborate something, whereas only one man’s testimony carries the same weight:

“And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.” (2:282).

The inferiority of women according to the Qur’an is confirmed contextually by this report found in Bukhari, the most authoritative collection of the Ahadith:

Narrated by Abu Said Al-Khudri : Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer)…. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.” (Bukhari, 1.6.301)

Apparently, Allah doesn’t think much of women. At least not if we believe that Muhammad speaks infallibly for him. The prophet is able to back up his beliefs by appeal to divinity. Putin, on the other hand, having no god to rely on, falls back on male chauvinism and an argument from “nature.”

Fortunately, when Putin exits the stage of history, no one will any longer care (if they ever did) what he believed about male supremacy. His views will not be enshrined as an authority for future generations to follow.

Unfortunately, the same has not been true of Muhammad. According to Islamic doctrine, Muhammad is al-Insan al-Kamil, the “Perfect Human.” His teachings are to be believed without question, his example is to be followed as nearly as possible if one hopes to end up in Paradise. Today, the vast majority of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims exalt him as the paragon of human virtue. What he said about the role of women and their place in Allah’s Shari’a-driven society cannot be questioned without undermining his position as Allah’s perfect messenger. Muslims who seek to “modernize” Muhammad’s approach toward the female sex are in danger of apostasy by denying that their prophet’s words are Allah’s inspired words, incapable of change.

Misogyny is a terrible wrong in the hands of anyone. But when it becomes enshrined as the will of Allah, misogyny is no longer merely a personal sin but becomes a movement destructive of human society and harmony, demeaning half of the world’s population and shackling them from expressing and utilizing the full range of their God-given gifts for the expression of His glory and the well-being of His created order.

Putin and the prophet are strange and unpalatable bedfellows, especially to those who believe in the equality of the sexes.

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