Are Diapers Now Women’s Garments?

The steady deterioration of Islamic apologetics

Sam Shamoun & Jochen Katz

A few days ago, in his entry posted on 9/12/2006, Osama Abdallah issued the following challenge:

Challenge to Shamoun:  Did Jesus and his mother Mary violate the Law when Mary made Jesus wear her garment? (Source)

The formulation of this challenge is as devious as asking Osama Abdallah, "Have you now stopped beating your wife?" It doesn't matter whether he answers yes or no, he still looks like a wife-beater, and the more he tries to deny it, the more suspicious he looks.

The deviousness is in the construction. Questions always look more honest and fair than direct accusations. But here the question about "having stopped or not" is merely a camouflage for the direct accusation that is contained in it, i.e., "you have beaten your wife". Without giving evidence for this charge, the accusation is presented as if it is an established fact.

Similarly, Abdallah’s absurd challenge is a devious insinuation because it simply assumes that "Mary made Jesus wear her garment", and only asks whether this would violate the Law. Before this challenge can make any sense, Abdallah needs to prove that Jesus ever wore one of Mary’s garments, as he so brazenly assumes. The burden of proof for this claim is on Abdallah. We do not have to answer every absurd challenge.

Nevertheless, since most readers would have no clue what this is about, we want to inform them about the background of Abdallah’s absurdity.

Ever since our debate (*) where I, Sam, documented from Muslim sources, specifically from the so-called sound collections of Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim, that Muhammad wore women’s clothing (*), Abdallah has been trying to do everything he can to refute this point. Somehow Osama Abdallah thinks that his current challenge is one of the ways he can undermine my argument.

The problem with Abdallah’s approach here is that he is doing nothing more than committing the fallacy of tu quoque as well as using a false analogy. After all, even if we were to assume that Abdallah is correct that Jesus wore his mother’s garment this would still do nothing to vindicate or justify Muhammad having adorned himself with his young wife’s clothes:

She told that the people used to choose: ‘A’isha’s day to bring their gifts, seeking thereby to please God’s messenger. She said that God’s messenger’s wives were in tow parties, one including ‘A’isha, Hafsa, Safiya, and Sauda, and the other including Umm Salama and the rest of God’s messenger’s wives. Umm Salama’s party spoke to her telling her to ask God’s messenger to say to the people, "If anyone wishes to make a present to God’s messenger, let him present it to him wherever he happens to be." She did so and he replied, "Do not annoy me regarding ‘A’isha, for inspiration has not come to me when I was in any WOMAN’S GARMENT but ‘A’isha’s." They then called Fatima, sent her to God’s messenger, and she spoke to him, but he replied, Do you not like what I like, girlie?" She said, "Certainly," so he said, "Then love this woman." (Bukhari and Muslim.) (Mishkat Al Masabih, English translation with explanatory notes by Dr. James Robson [Sh. Muhammad Ahsraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore-Pakistan, Reprint 1990], Book XXVI- Fitan., Chapter XXXVIII, "The Fine Qualities of the Prophet’s Wives", Volume II, p. 1361; bold and capital emphasis ours)

If Abdallah’s claim were true, this would only imply that both Jesus and Muhammad violated God’s express command which prohibits men from wearing the clothing of women:

"A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this." Deuteronomy 22:5

But that is not at all what we are talking about here. Although Abdallah has given no hint what he is referring to, what he has most likely in mind is the swaddling cloths of newborn Jesus.

It is common for mothers to wrap their babies in their garments in order to protect them from getting cold, so it wouldn’t surprise us that Mary decided to wrap Jesus with her clothing. But Muhammad wasn’t a baby when he asserted that the so-called divine inspiration came to him while in the garment of Aisha, his child bride, and not of the other wives. We, therefore, have to ask what was a grown man of over fifty doing wearing a young prepubescent girl’s clothes?

It is a simple fact that the New Testament nowhere states that Mary dressed her Divine Son in her garment. Abdallah has deliberately distorted what the Holy Bible teaches at this point since the inspired Scriptures say that Mary wrapped the newborn in swaddling cloths, which was the custom at that time:

"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths (esparganosen) and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn… ‘This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths (esparganomenon) and lying in a manger.’" Luke 2:4-7

First, it does not say that those were clothes, but cloths. This invalidates the challenge all by itself. Second, nowhere does it say these cloths were Mary’s anymore than they belonged to Joseph. Most probably she either got them as a gift from her relatives, or Mary and/or Joseph bought them on the market. These swaddling cloths were specifically for babies, and they were certainly not distinctively female in any sense.

Furthermore, even if Jesus had been wrapped in a garment of Mary, for which there is absolutely no evidence, it would still not violate the law in Deuteronomy 22:5 because this command forbids a man to wear women’s clothing. A baby boy is not a man. This law refers to adults who know what they do, and deliberately cross-dress. This answers Abdallah’s silly challenge even though there was no need to do so.

Actually, his interpretation of Luke 2:4-7 results in the following syllogism.

When Jesus was a newborn baby:

  Premise 1 :   Mary made Jesus wear her garment   (according to Osama Abdallah)
  Premise 2 :   Jesus wore the diapers of his time (according to Luke 2:4-7)
  Conclusion:   Mary wore diapers as her garment.

Abdallah's claim is actually a grave insult to one of the most honorable women of faith.

O. Abdallah apparently loves to embarrass himself by making challenges which only serve to expose his shoddy research skills together with evil intent. Let us provide the lexical meaning of the Greek word in question, taken from an online dictionary that Abdallah regularly uses himself, i.e. whenever he thinks it suits his purposes:

Strong's number 4683
sparganoo {spar-gan-o'-o}

Root Word:
from sparganon (a strip, from a derivative of the base of 4682 meaning to strap or wrap with strips)

Outline of Biblical Usage:

1) to wrap in swaddling clothes
     a) of an infant just born

Thayer's Lexicon:


And we add a few commentaries for good measure:

Wrapped in swaddling clothes (esparganwsen).
From sparganon, a swathing band. Only here and verse 12 in the N.T., but in Euripides, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Plutarch. Frequent in medical works. (A.T. Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament; source)

Swaddling clothes. When a child among the Hebrews was born, it was washed in water, rubbed in salt, and then wrapped in swaddling clothes; that is, not garments regularly made, as with us, but bands or blankets that confined the limbs closely, Ezekiel 16:4. There was nothing peculiar in the manner in which the infant Jesus was treated. (Albert Barnes' Notes on the New Testament; source)

and wrapped him in swaddling clothes;
which shows, that he was in all things made like unto us, sin only excepted. This is one of the first things done to a new born infant, after that it is washed, and its navel cut; see (Ezekiel 16:4) and which Mary did herself, having neither midwife nor nurse with her; from whence it has been concluded, that the birth of Jesus was easy, and that she brought him forth without pain, and not in that sorrow women usually do; (The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible; source)

Just in case Abdallah still doesn’t get this we will show how this very word is used in the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible known as the Septuagint (LXX):

And I made a cloud its clothing, and swathed (esparganosa) it in mist. Job 38:9

The word is used metaphorically of the earth being clothed with a mist.

And as for thy birth in the day wherein thou wast born, thou didst not bind thy breasts, and thou wast not washed in water, neither wast thou salted with salt, neither wast thou swathed in swaddling-bands (kai sparganois ouk esparganothes). Ezekiel 16:4

Ezekiel describes Judah as a newborn baby girl who hasn’t been washed and clothed, but abandoned to die.

This shows that there is nothing in the word itself which limits its application to women’s clothing. In light of this we now issue a challenge of our own, which simply demands from him to bring the evidence before making such false accusations:

Challenge to Osama Abdallah:  Present the Biblical text which explicitly says that Mary made her son Jesus wear her garment, or publically apologize for lying to your readers.

The foregoing should expose Abdallah’s desperate attempt at justifying his prophet’s wearing the clothes of women. He is doing nothing more than comparing apples and oranges.

This is quite unlike what the Islamic narrations report since they describe what Muhammad was wearing as the clothing which women put on:

Sahih Muslim, Hadith Number 4415

Abdul Malik bin Shu’ayb bin al-Layth bin Sa’d told us; My father told me that my grandfather told me from Aqil bin Khaled from Ibn Shihab from Yahya bin Saeed bin al-Aas that Saeed bin al-Aas told him that Aisha the wife of the prophet and Uthman told him:

Abu Bakr asked for permission to see the messenger of Allah while he was laying down on his bed wearing Aisha’s dress (mirt), so he permitted Abu Bakr while he was like that and he met his need then left. Then Umar asked for permission and he permitted him while he was still like that and he met his need and then left. Then Uthman said: "When I asked for permission he sat down and said to Aisha, ‘Take your dress’; and I met my need with him and left." So Aisha said, "O messenger of Allah, I did not see you as concerned with Abi Bakr and Umar as you were with Uthman." The messenger of Allah said, "Uthman is a shy man and I was worried that if I permitted him to see me while I was like that that he may not discuss his issue with me."

Sahih Muslim – Commentary by Al Nawawi

When he said, "wearing Aisha’s dress [mirt]"

It is a dress from wool… al-Khaleel said: a dress from wool or cotton or other material. Al-Arabi and Abu Zaid said: It is the Izar. (Arabic source; translated by Mutee’a Al-Fadi; italic and underline emphasis ours)

Here is the definition of mirt according to Al-Mu’jam Al-Waseet ("The Intercessory Dictionary"), second edition, 1972, part 2, p. 864:

(Mirt) - a dress from wool or cotton that is used as an Izar or a cover by a woman.

In due time, and if the Lord Jesus permits, we will be producing a full length article documenting that Muhammad did indeed dress in women’s garments and will also seek to interact with the common Muslim objections to the contrary.

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