Inspired by Mohammad - women's rights?
There is a (not-so-)subtle plot afoot to inculcate us all with subliminal messages about the illiterate man to whom Allah chose to reveal the greatest book ever written. It is not so much what was Inspired by Muhammad which is in question; theological arguments can be made to support all manner of historical propositions, especially disjunctive anachronisms like 'women's rights' in 7th-century Arabia. No, what irritates Cranmer the most about this campaign is the sly, subtle, stealthy standardisation of the spelling of Mohammed.
Where did 'MU-hamm-AD' come from?
In England (which is, lest it be forgotten, where we live), by the English, the name is traditionally spelt 'Mohammed'. Yes, of course, there have been and are variations in the spelling - a fact which is responsible for the statistical confusion over the most popular name given to baby boys every year. But why adopt a distinctly foreign spelling of the name when the campaign is aimed at non-Muslims?
There are at least 14 different spellings of the name – all pronounced the same. The main two, Mohammed and Muhammad (a non-Arab Muslim would adopt the name ending in -ed while an Arab Muslim would adopt the -ad ending) are complemented by Mohammad, Muhammed, Mohamed, Mohamad, Mahammed, Mohammod, Mahamed, Muhammod, Muhamad, Mohmmed, Mohamud and Mohammud. And these are augmented still by the much less-common Mehmet or Mohemet.
The name ‘Muhammad’ (which, however it is spelt, means ‘one who is praiseworthy’), like all transliterations, comes from replacing the Arabic script with what is deemed its closest Latin equivalent. It is well known that Muslim parents like to have something that shows a link with their religion or with their Prophet. Parents who name their son Mohammed believe that the name has an effect on their personality and future characteristics. They are saying that this boy will be of good character.
The problem with this campaign, however, is that there is a certain amount of politically-correct and religiously-convenient redaction going on, so much so that it really ought to be a matter for Advertising Standards. For Mohammed was into women's rights just about as much as he was into gay rights (and where are the posters espousing that proposition? Or are homosexuals less entitled to rights than the women?). Of course people are free to believe whatever they wish, but when it comes to an aggressive advertising campaign to induct the whole nation into a particular set of beliefs, one ought to expect a degree of scrutiny, criticism and historical analysis.
For the sake of factual accuracy: Mohammed knew nothing of 'women's rights' or even of the principles of natural rights or the Rights of Man, which emanated on the continent of Western Europe a thousand years later. And even those did not address the status of women or issues of slavery.
Mohammed knew nothing of these because they are philosophical and political principles of the Enlightenment. Seventh-century Arabia knew nothing of individualism, equality or Locke-Rousseau notions of social contract. It knew nothing of the foundational tenets enshrined as 'natural law' in the US Declaration of Independence. There were no rights for women because there were no collective rights for any but the male Muslims. There were no women's rights because they had no rights to liberty, property or even life (there are many Hadith accounts of Mohammed riding roughshod over women, usually after slaughtering their husbands and sons; and Qur'anic accounts of the words of women being worth less than those of men).
And Mohammed never made it the business of his government to recognise and secure any such rights for women.
So, by all means believe that Mohammed was the coolest dude who ever walked the earth - a great husband, father, warrior and a better footballer than Beckham.
But please let no intelligent Muslim (or kaffir) be deluded into believing that he was remotely supportive of women's rights.
But doubtless a poster campaign stating this would be illegal on the grounds of 'incitement to religious hatred'.
As would one which said: 'I believe in gay rights - So did Mohammed'...