Controversial Verses Part I

A few blogs ago i posted my distaste for the movie Geert Wilder is making on Islam called “Fitna” the reasons for my reactions were simple as i do not think we need more hate in this world.

I received numerous comments regarding this movie and different opinions of my religion Islam, among them a reference to certain Ayats in the Quran which clearly belong to the stone age.

Now before my fellow Muslims declare me an infidel i would like to ask them to comment on the following ayat. I saw this on Debbies Blog “The Right Truth” and i verified it.  This verse does exist and is further verifiable by the historical fact that our Prophet {PBUH} referred to it in his last address or Khutba, calling for the action to be such that no injury is made to the female.

Obviously the fact that today is womans day is not lost on me, or the strategic timing of such a post, but still i think discussion leads to answers.

Surah An Nisa Verse 4.34

Men are (meant to be righteous and kind) guardians of women because God has favored some more than others and because they (i.e. men) spend out of their wealth. (In their turn) righteous women are (meant to be) devoted and to guard what God has (willed to be) guarded even though out of sight (of the husband). As for those (women) on whose part you fear ill-will and nasty conduct, admonish them (first), (next) separate them in beds (and last) beat them. But if they obey you, then seek nothing against them. Behold, God is most high and great. (4:34)

To me basically it is giving the husband a right to beat his wife as a last resort to save their marriage, should she not stop her infidelity. This beating does not have to be taken by the wife who can apply for khula or separation. However i totally fail to understand how domestic abuse can be permitted. Could someone with more knowledge please clarify this?

I would like to request that this not be viewed as an attempt to demonize Islam, but to understand it better by a Muslim.

  1. “However i totally fail to understand how domestic abuse can be permitted.”

    Its very simple really. Religion is manmade, born in a patriarchal society and is a reflection of the male mind – Islam is no exception – a reading of the quran shows its addressed to men, betraying a 7th century arab mindset. I encourage you to read the Quran and for every verse think “is this something written by God, or by someone living in 7th century arabia with all the myths about past prophets and views about what a perfect patriarchal society should be like”.

    I’m surprized this is the *only* verse which bothers you – and that you aren’t bothered by the fact that the woman has to ask “permission” for khula, whereas the man has the default right to pronounce a no-fault divorce.

  2. Oh and btw, the beating is not “should she not stop infidelity” – its allowed even if the man “fears” infidelity. So suspicion is enough grounds for admonision, sexual ties cut off, and in the end beating.

  3. @ Debbie Ty, i think a person needs to discover what the truth is in all things, not just take everything for granted.

    @ B I do think that a woman can take Khula when she wants as well from the courts, she has to take permission from noone

  4. Well faisal i have heard this Verse too, bt i beleive “beat the Wife” here means not burining her over with a cylinder, or throwing acid over her face, or giving her smoke or iron burns, the only beating that is allowed is a slap. And that too in a case when the Husband himself has seen His Wife practising some false acts a bigger issue not like just small house issues, if she is caught with sme adultory act or smethng. And yes if the Husband himself is sincere with his Wife then i support this act too, that she should be given smething to make her realise that she is indeed at fault but if the husband himself is practising such acts and the Wife is practising all this in reply as a revenge then the Husband shld take care of that thing..

  5. @Faisal – Under islamic shariah laws Khula is not granted (note granted i.e. permitted, not a default right) unless the woman is able to show a compelling reason, unlike the husband who has the right to a no-fault divorce. Ofcourse some muslim countries are lenient about their khula laws giving women more rights, but that’s not in line with the traditional islamic teachings.

    @Mohashir – we have atleast 1 Sahih-hadith account of Muhammad hitting Aisha on her chest which caused her pain –

    And ofcourse, all accounts of Muhammad’s life are from Islamic sources, so ofcourse they won’t tell us negative things if they happened.

  6. thanks for stopping by…link exchange sounds good…i guess you are talking about that indian place on m street…i was talking about kabob palace in crystal city

  7. Well…. there are+ +attempts at alterate translations but to do so you would have to ditch the hadith since there are a couple sort of condoning wife beating. The argument goes that the word means ‘to part’ instead of to hit. I don’t buy it since the word ‘idrahabunna’ normally means to strike and idrib normally means strike. The attempt at alternate translation is to say the least shady.

    Oh and you’re better off staying away from those MSA ppl. Had a field day with ’em in the comments here( heheh

    / I do think that a woman can take Khula when she wants as well from the courts, she has to take permission from noone/

    In Pakistan probably. In Islam? Noramlly no. Even the rather liberal Ghamdi opined that women didn’t have the right to instant khula unlike men.

  8. These verses and several other verses that you seek the meaning of have been questioned, doubted, analyzed and answered many times in the past and this will continue till the end of time. This is nothing new and surprising. The book itself asks the reader to question it but the questioner should then seek to find the real answer not start doubting the entire ideology just because you fail to find an answer which you may understand or be satisfied with. Let me be the first one to burst the bubble that internet is not the source of finding such knowledge. It certainly is a good and powerful tool but like any other useful tool if not used properly and safely can be extremely dangerous for the ignorant users.
    Don’t know if you intent is to generate traffic to your blog or you really seek knowledge but to throw a question like that at the cyber audiences and expect to find a answer is certainly not very wise.
    Find out a good source of knowledge around you in person and ask these questions in person and do you due diligence by reading yourself. Just as you did for your education and not learned things from the books alone. The interpretation requires explanation from experts just like people at your university. Not everyone is a source of knowledge just like you don’t go to any doctor for your ailments. If you are still not satisfied choose your path which satisfies you however your decision will not add or subtract anything to the divine kingdom
    Take care,

  9. @ gridlock

    i do not need to generate traffic to my blog.

    the point here was discussion and i think that has been achieved, i have consulted some aalims on this and none have come up with a satisfying answer to be honest. I do not doubt my beliefs but i like to discuss things, without judging.

    you should try it sometime

  10. Domestic violence represented by wife beating or abuse is rampant around the world. While the exact numbers on domestic violence incidents differ, because this is such an under-reported crime there are statistics on which most experts agree.

    1. In 1984 the US Surgeon General declared domestic violence as this nation’s number one health problem. (US Surgeon General)

    2. A woman is beaten every 15 seconds by her partner; it happens at some time in 25-35 % of American homes; 4,000 women die from such abuse each year. (FBI)

    3. Physical abuse by male social partners is the single most common source of injury among women ages 15 to 44, more common than auto accidents, muggings and rape by a stranger combined. (U.S. Surgeon General, 1989)

    4. In USA, medical costs from domestic violence total at least $3-5 billion annually. At least another $100 million can be added to the cost to businesses in lost wages, sick leave and absenteeism. (Sylvia Porter, For Your Money’s Worth)

    5.Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are battered – by husbands, boyfriends, lovers and partners. (Surgeon General Antonia Novello, as quoted in Domestic Violence: Battered Women, publication of the Reference Department of the Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, MA)

    Statistics as these should awaken all those in denial of the fact that wife beating and abuse is an endemic disease in all different cultures, religions and communities. It is as common in Western as it is in Eastern societies.

    Men in Western (and Eastern) societies do not abuse their wives because of scriptural teachings, but because of a natural instinct of domination and aggression. God, knowing this, has therefore decreed a perfect law to help men control their temper and to solve any problems before resorting to physical aggression.

    These statistics reflect the failure of modern societies in treating this perilous condition in men. Despite advances in modern psychology and improved understanding of behavioral patterns of men, civilized and uncivilized, a successful solution to this aggressive behavior has not been found by man.

    A solution has however been presented to the world in the Quran, the Final Testament, more than 1400 years ago, in verse 4:34.

    [4:34] The men are made responsible for the women, and GOD has endowed them with certain qualities, and made them the bread earners. The righteous women will cheerfully accept this arrangement, since it is GOD’s commandment, and honor their husbands during their absence. If you experience rebellion from the women, you shall first talk to them, then (you may use negative incentives like) deserting them in bed, then you may (as a last alternative) beat them. If they obey you, you are not permitted to transgress against them. GOD is Most High, Supreme.

    the necessary time and space for both parties to cool off, reason, examine the problem and reach a favorable agreement for both of them.

    Abuse of a wife will not happen if the man learns to follow the clear commandments of God in this verse and in the order decreed. Abuse will only happen when a man does not follow these commandments, and thus fails to cool off and reason with himself or with his wife.

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