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by Abigail Van Buren

Close Reading of the Koran Reveals Respect for Women

DEAR ABBY: As a devoted Muslim reader, I support Mavis Leno's efforts for the women of Afghanistan.

The purpose of my letter is to inform your readers that the suppression of women in Afghanistan or any other Muslim country is falsely attributed to the teachings of Islam. In fact, the acts of emancipation promoted by the Prophet gave women a place of honor and respect in seventh-century Arabia. For instance, during the battles that were fought in the beginning of Islam, women worked in the field, nursing and comforting the wounded. They were neither sheltered nor shunned.

In my readings of the Holy Koran and Hadith, I have not seen any edict that would justify the treatment meted out to these hapless women in these so-called Islamic regimes. -- NO NAME IN N.J.

DEAR NO NAME: Since most of my readers are unfamiliar with the teachings of the Koran, thank you for making it clear that the plight of the Afghan women originated in the hearts of fanatics, and not in the Koran.

DEAR ABBY: You were right when you said that the doggerel written in response to the poem honoring mothers-in-law would raise eyebrows -- but not the way you expected it to.

I'm not a mother-in-law objecting to this doggerel as poking fun at all good mother-in-laws around the world. I am a man. I'm not here to rush to the defense of the decent men who don't behave in ways the doggerel described. However, my eyebrow arched at the implied message that his behavior might be suitable grounds for divorce. While the daughter-in-law's outlook may be tongue-in-cheek, I think you'll like the way this poem states my point in the same spirit. -- ROBERT FERDINAND JR., FRIDLEY, MINN.

DEAR ROBERT: You are a talented as well as sensible man. You're right; I do like the way you make a point. Read on:


(A Mother-in-Law Responds)

You told him "I do," and I once gave you credit

For thinking it through, Dear --

BEFORE you had said it.

You judge him as shiftless and lazy,

So be it!

Yet he lived his life out

Where the whole world could see it!

So how did he fool you?

I'd like to know why

You could give every foible

Of his the blind eye.

Was that any way to go choosing a mate,

With your hormones so raging

You couldn't think straight?

Or was it the lure of his six-digit pay

That convinced you to take him,

And change him someday?

But it hasn't worked out

In the way you had planned.

Now you're hoping to dump him

And see him unmanned.

Yes, you sound quite dramatic

But I won't lose heart!

'Cause the problem is YOURS, Dear --

'Til death do you part!

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