From the book “A CAGED VIRGIN” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Submission: Part I
This is a transcript of the original document that I took to Theo van Gogh, which he read and proposed that we make into a movie. It was first broadcast on Dutch television in August 2004. On November 2, 2004, Theo van Gogh was murdered on the streets of Amsterdam.
Submission is about God and the individual. I did not write this script to provoke anyone. As I mentioned in the preface of this book, I wrote it to show the abolutism with which the individual Muslim woman is expected to totally submit herself to God's wall and God's word as written in the Koran. I wanted to introduce a shift in the relationship between the individual and God, and I wanted this shift to move us from a relationship of total submission to one of dialogue. I chose the structure of the prayer because Muslims are supposed to pray five times a day. That's why there are five different women praying in five different ways. The sense of the film is of these faithful women who have submitted themselves to God's will and who are continuing to pray under terrible circumstances as they try to elicit a response from God. They are saying, Look, God, I've submitted completely to you, but everything is going wrong. Yet, you, God, remain silent.
This transcript is called Part I because I will write more parts. Again, I will not do this out of any desire to insult or provoke, But I feel that reasonable people and reasonable people of faith must confront Allah with the dilemmas He places us in and requires us to face on earth. Our dilemmas—the dilemmas that men and women face every day—arise directly out of His commands.
Part II will be about four men who have trouble following God's commands and, like the women of Part I, confront God during prayer with their demands.
In Part III, God will answer.
Amina is a dedicated Muslim woman who dutifully adheres to the rules of the Shari'a. She is surrounded by women who are treated cruelly in the name of Allah: they suffer abuse, marital rape, incest, and corporal punishment. These acts of cruelty are justified by verses from the Koran. Amina feels sorry for the victims and identifies with their fate. Every day she turns to Allah and prays fervently for an improvement in their circumstances, but Allah remains silent and the cruelties continue.
One day Amina does something surprising. She does not adhere to the fixed routine of the prayer ritual. After reading the compulsory opening chapter to the Koran she launches into a spontaneous "dialogue" with Allah, instead of subjecting herself to him.
Location: Islamistan [an imaginary country where the majority of the population is Muslim, and where the legal system is the Shari'a].
Amina: main character (addressing Allah in prayer)
Aisha: curled up in fetal position recovering from the pain
caused by one hundred strokes of the cane
Safijra: her experience of sexual intercourse with her hus-
band is as rape
Zainab: severely bruised, having been beaten up by her hus-
band, who considers her disobedient
Fatima: wearing a veil, a victim of incest
The five women take up their positions. Amina sits at the center, her head bowed. She gets up, walks over to a prayer rug in front of her, and unrolls it. The rug points in the direction of Mecca. Amina stands at the end of the rug; she faces Mecca. She raises her arms up into the air, with her palms exposed, and shouts “Mahu Akbar." Then she folds her arms across her chest and places her right hand over her left. Finally she fixes her gaze on the opposite end of the prayer rug. She remains in this position until the Sura Fatiha [The Opening] has been read. When she hears 'Aaaammiiin' she merely lifts up her head and stares into the camera.
1. AISHA, WHO HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO ONE HUNDRED STROKES OF THE CANE.
Amina delivers the speech below, which tells the fate of a woman called Aisha. Meanwhile, the camera slowly moves from Amina to Aisha. Aisha is lying on the floor in the fetal position. The wounds (scars) on her body, caused by the strokes of the cane, are visible. Written across them is text from the Koran: chapter 24, verse 2 (Al-Nur, or The Light).
O Allah, as I lie here wounded, my spirit broken
I hear in my head the judge's voice as he pronounces me guilty.
The sentence I have to serve is in your words:
"The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication flog each of them with a hundred stripes; let no compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by God, if ye believe in God and the Last Day; and let a party of the believers witness their punishment." [This quotation in italics is written across Aisha's body]
Two years ago, on a sunny day while in the souk my eyes were caught by those of Rahman, the most handsome man I have ever met. After that day, I couldn't help but notice his presence whenever I went to the marketplace. I was thrilled when I learned that his appearance in the bazaar was not a coincidence.
One day he suggested we meet in secret, and I said, "Yes." For months Rahman and I met, shared drinks and delicacies. We danced and dreamed... yeah, we built beautiful castles in the air. And we made love, on every secret meeting. As the months went by our relationship deepened. What is more, out of our love a new life started to grow. Our happiness did not go unnoticed and before long, envious eyes gave way to malicious tongues. "Let's ignore these people and trust in Allah's mercy" Rahman and I said to each other. Naive, young, and in love perhaps, but we thought that Your holiness was on our side. Rahman and I shared affection, trust, and a deep respect for each other; how can God disapprove? Why would He?
And so we ignored the mean tongues, and together we continued to live our dream, albeit in more secrecy. O, Allah, until we were summoned to court and charged with fornication!
Rahman called me a day before we were to appear before the judge. He said that his father had smuggled him out of the country. What a pity that my father happens to be a pious man, I thought. Rahman told me that he loved me and that he would pray for me.
He also encouraged me to be strong and have faith in you. O Allah, how can I have faith in you? You who reduced my love to fornication?
I lie here flogged—abused and shamed—in your name.
The verdict that killed my faith in love is in your holy book.
Faith in you, submission to you, feels like—is—self-betrayal.
2. SAFIYA, WHO IS SYSTEMATICALLY RAPED BY HER HUSBAND
Amina delivers the speech below, which tells the fate of an imaginary woman called Safiya. Meanwhile, the camera slowly turns from Amina to Safiya. We get a view of a beautiful woman from behind; she is wearing a full-length white robe with a low-cut back. Written across her back and thighs (the robe has a split at the front) we see the text from the Koran: chapter 2, verse 222 (Al-Baqara, or The Cow).
When I was sixteen my father broke the news to me in the kitchen, "You are going to marry Azziz; he is from a virtuous family, and he will take good care of you. When I saw pictures of Azziz, instead of feeling excitement I thought of him as unattractive, and even though I did my best to see the perfect whole, I couldn't help but notice his faulty details: a scar on the Up, a bent nose, so much hair on the eyebrows.
My wedding day was more my family's celebration than mine. Once in my marital home my husband approached me. Ever since then I recoil from his touch. I am repulsed by his smell, even if he has just had a bath. Yet, O Allah, I obey his command. Sanctioned by your words. I let him take me. Each time I push him away he quotes you:
"They ask thee
concerning women's courses
Say: they are a hurt and a pollution
So keep away from women
In their courses, and do not
Approach them until
They are clean.
But when they have
Ye may approach them in any manner, time, or place
Ordained for you by God.
For God loves those
Who turn to Him constantly
And He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean."
So I stretch the days of my period, But of course there comes a time when I must
Undress. He orders me and I submit. Not to him, but to you.
Lately, enduring my husband is getting harder and harder.
O, Allah, I pray, give me the strength to endure him or I fear My faith shall weaken.
3. ZAINAB, WHO IS BEATEN BY HER HUSBAND
Amina delivers the speech below, which tells the fate of a woman called Zainab. Meanwhile, the camera slowly moves from Amina to Zainab. We see Zainab's swollen face, which is covered in bruises. Her clothes have been ripped from her body. Written across the exposed parts of her body—her upper arms, shoulders and, possibly, her stomach—we see the text from the Koran: chapter 4, verse 34 (Al-Nisa, or The Women).
O Allah, most high, You say that "Men are the protectors and maintainors of women, because you have given the one more (strength) than the other,"
I feel, at least once a week the strength of my husband's fist on my face.
O Allah, most high, life with my husband is hard to bear. But I submit my will to you.
My husband supports me from his means. Therefore, I am devoutly obedient, and I guard in my husband's absence what you would have me guard. But my husband, maintainer and protector, fears disloyalty and ill conduct on my part; he accuses me of being ungrateful to him. Like an army general on the battlefield he screams his every whim at me; Threatens never to share my bed again, And goes away for nights on end. I suspect to another woman.
I dare not ask him about her. Even though family and friends whisper about him and the other woman. When he comes back he always finds a reason to doubt my loyalty to him, And after a series of warnings and threats he starts to beat me. First lightly on my arms and legs, just as you, most high describe—ahhhuh O shall I say prescribe—in your holy book; but mostly on the face.
For not responding fast enough to his orders.
For ironing the wrong shirt.
For not putting enough salt in the food.
For chatting too long with my sister on the phone.
O, God, most elevated, submission to your will assures me of a better life in the hereafter, But I feel that the price I pay for my husband's protection and maintenance is too high. I wonder how much longer I will submit.
4. FATIMA, THE VEILED WOMAN
Amina delivers the speech below, which tells the fate of a woman called Fatima. Meanwhile, the camera slowly moves from Amina to Fatima. We see a woman veiled from head to toe; a lattice of threads dangling in front of her eyes suggests she is peering through a barred window. She is sitting down, and the draperies of her robe reveal her feminine contours. Printed across the veil, in white ink, are the texts from the Koran: chapter 24, verse 31 (Al-Nur, or The Light).
O Allah, most gracious, most merciful.
Just as you demand of the believing woman, I lower my gaze and guard my modesty.
I never display my beauty and ornaments; not even my face or hands. I never strike with my feet in order to draw attention to my hidden ornaments, not even at parties. I never go out of the house unless it is absolutely necessary; and then only with my father's permission. When I do go out I draw my veil over my bosom as you wish.
Once in a while I sin, I fantasize about feeling the wind through my hair or the sun on my skin, perhaps on the beach. I daydream about an extended journey through the world, imagining all the places and peoples out there. Of course, I shall never see these places or meet many people because it is so important to guard my modesty in order to please you, O Allah. So I cheerfully do as you say and cover my body from head to toe except while I am in the house and with family members only. In general I am happy with my life.
However, since my father's brother Hakim is staying with us things have changed!
Hakim waits till I am alone at home and comes to my room. Then he orders me to do things to him, touch him in places most intimate. Since he is with us I took to the habit of wearing the veil inside the house in order to deter him. That doesn't stop him, though. Twice now he unveiled me, ripped my inner garments, and raped me. When I told my mother she said she would take it up with my father. My father ordered her—and me—not to question his brother's honor.
I experience pain each time my uncle comes to see me. I feel caged, like an animal waiting for slaughter. I am filled with guilt and shame; and I feel abandoned, yet I am surrounded by family and friends. O Allah, Hakim is gone, now that he knows I am pregnant. For the moment I can hide my abdomen behind my veil, but sooner or later someone will notice. I shall be openly shamed and killed by my father for not being a virgin.
When I consider this, I think of taking my life but know that in the hereafter the one who commits suicide shall never count on your mercy.
O Allah, giver and taker of life.
You admonish all who believe to turn toward you in order to attain bliss.
I have done nothing my whole life but turn to you.
And now that I pray for salvation, under my veil, you remain silent as the grave I long for. I wonder how much longer I am able to submit!
AND THERE WILL BE NO ANSWER FROM ALLAH, BECAUSE HE IS A FALSE MADE-UP GOD. IN REALITY HE DOES NOT EXIST. THE MUSLIM PEOPLE WORSHIP THEY KNOW NOT WHAT. THEIR RELIGION IS THE WORK OF THE GREAT DECEIVER…..SATAN THE DEVIL. THEY ARE BLIND TO THE TRUE GOD IN HEAVEN.
ONE DAY THEY SHALL ALL COME TO SEE THE FOLLY OF THEIR RELIGION.
ONE DAY, AS WITH ALL FALSE RELIGIONS, THEY WILL HAVE THE VIEL OF BLINDNESS REMOVED; THEN THEY SHALL BEHOLD AND SEE TRUTH. THEY WILL BE GIVEN THE CHANCE TO REPENT AND FOLLOW THE TRUE WAY OF LIGHT AND SALVATION.