(Mormonism & Islam, part 4)



Islam and Mormonism emphasize a strong family as the nucleus of social stability. Both religions offer the benevolent patriarch as the family leader to assure solidarity. Both religions indicate that, although the man should be the head of the household, the wife must be treated fairly, kindly and with the utmost respect. This respect in Islam is reflected in the protection of women by a seclusionary tendency and optional veiling (usually a head scarf) which helps prevent them from being stared at and thought of as merely physical bodies and thus targets of potential lust. The love men should have for their wives and the condemnation for lusting after a woman is expressed in the LDS Doctrine and Covenants:

Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

And, he who looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.(D. & C. 42:22-23)

Concerning how men should treat women, the Quran states "consort with them in kindness."(4:20) As for the authority in the family, the Quran offers advise in various passages:

Men are guardians over women because Allah has made some of them excel others, and because they spend of their wealth. So virtuous women are obedient, and guard the secrets with Allah's protection.(4:35)

And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in equity; but men have rank above women.(2:229)

One aspect of family and marriage practice which is shared by both Islam and Mormonism is so-called polygamy which is really polygyny or marrying more than one wife. Although in the past both religions accepted this practice of the Biblical patriarchs by authorized worthy men, more recently the practice is more of a historical element. The LDS Church was forced to abandon the practice due to federal laws and pressure on church authorities from the U.S. government. It is also becoming rare in Islamic countries and metropolitan areas of the Islamic world again due to pressure by westernized regimes. The Quran discusses the practice:

And if you fear that you will not be fair in dealing with the orphans, then marry women as may be agreeable to you, two, three, or four; and if you fear you will not deal justly, then marry one or what your right hand possesses. That is the nearest way for you to avoid injustice.(4:4)

The concept of balance and fairness to wives is stressed:

And you cannot keep balance between wives, however much you may desire it. But incline not wholly to one so that you leave the other like a thing suspended.(4:130)

The concern for equal treatment of wives is a deterrent in Islam for abuse of plural marriage which Mohammed had limited to four wives ameliorating the former practice of marrying more than one could support and not treating them fairly. In early Mormon history, plural marriage was limited to worthy men of high moral character who would not abuse the ordinance as a way to collect women. In the Doctrine and Covenants plural marriage is discussed as is the concept of monogamy:

And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood--if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then he is justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

And if he have ten virgins given to him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given to him; therefore he is justified.(D.& C. 132:61-63)

The present day LDS policy might be expressed as follows:

Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh,(D. & C. 49:16)

Islamic law is replete with details about family, inheritance etc., far more detailed than religious laws of the LDS faith or other world religions. Another principle on which both religions agree is modesty of women. Originally, Mormons favored long dresses and Brigham Young stated "I am ashamed to see the tight clothes--to see the shape of the ladies" and "Have your dresses neat and comely, and conduct yourselves, in the strictest sense of the word, chastity." (Widtsoe 1951:215-216). Strict Moslem women are comfortable wearing the hijab or veil shawl which can cover all but one eye. Some modern women in Cairo, which is the most westernized Arab city, have recently revived their preference for traditional dress in the form of a head shawl and in some cases the full veil. It is estimated that now about 50% of these women have readopted the traditional dress and are more comfortable and happier to have done so.(Fernia: A Veiled Revolution - video) Concerning modesty in women, the Quran states:

And say to the believing women that they restrain their eyes and guard their private parts, and that they disclose not their beauty except that which is apparent thereof, and that they draw their head-coverings over their bosoms, and that they disclose not their beauty save to their husbands, or their fathers (24:32)

As for homosexuality, both Mormonism and Islam agree that it is an abomination in the sight of God. According to the Quran:

And Lot--when he said to his people, "Do you commit an abomination such as on one in the world ever did before you?

You approach men with lust instead of women, Nay, you are a people who exceed all bounds.(7:81- 82)

(Continued in Mormonism & Islam, Part 5)