Wife beating – Qur'aan 4:34

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Mike Ghouse

This verse keeps popping up every few months and I am happy to present recent research work. Finding the truth is your own responsibility.
Bassam Abed, Michigan University writes, “The primary source of legislation on dealing with wife in Islamic law is verse 34 of the fourth chapter of the Qur’an entitled “the Women.” The verse presents the disciplinary scheme in the latter sentence of the verse—hereafter referred to as the “Discipline Passage.”
The verse in whole reads: (Husbands) are the protectors and maintainers of their (wives) because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to the women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them first, (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) spank them (lightly), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means of (annoyance): for Allah is Most High, Great (above you all).

Cultures determine one’s behavior rather than the religion, indeed, religions are the product of environment; God says in Bhagvad Gita, “whenever unrighteousness takes over the society, I will emerge among you and reset the society to righteousness” and the Qur’aan, ” to every nation, and to every tribe, there will be a messenger to put them back on the path of righteousness” and that’s precisely what Jesus and Moses did; bring a sense of morality to the deviousness that preceded them.

Religion is about justice, inclusiveness and common goodness.

Thanks to the variations in translations, it shows us the limitations of human understanding, and challenges us to strive to grasp the whole truth. What was hitherto cut and dry is no more. May be it is Allah’s hint to us to get closer to understanding the truth. The monopolies would be gone and focus would be on the essence rather than literal meaning.

.Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, an Iranian American and a former lecturer on Islam at the University of Chicago offers another meaning to the translation of the Arabic word “Idrib,” one of the most debated words traditionally translated as “beat,” which has been mis-understood and abused over the centuries by men who would be abusive any way, whether they are Muslim or not. “Why choose to interpret the word as ‘to beat’ when it can also mean ‘to go away’ – either one from the other, may be it meant separation as a process of re-evaluation.

Instead, Bakhtiar suggests “Husbands at that point should submit to God, let God handle it — go away from them and let God work His Will instead of a human being inflicting pain and suffering on another human being in the Name of God.”

Arabic Language Professor at the American University in Cairo Siham Serry said her interpretation of the word “idrib,” was “to push away,” similar but slightly different from Bakhtiar’s “to go away.”
The Prophet was consistent in word and deed, establishing his emulative example through both avenues. He asserted, “The best among you, are those who are best towards their wives, and I am the best among you in that respect.” Further, he never raised his hand against any of his wives. If there is a Hadith one needs to follow, it would be this Hadith.
The Qur’an outlines its expectations of a marital relationship:
“And among His (Allah’s) signs is this: that He created for you mates from among yourselves that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are signs for those who reflect.”
As this verse illustrates, some of the most important components of a healthy Islamic marital relationship is that the couple live in tranquility, with love and mercy for each other.
The Qur’an instructs husbands to treat the wife with kindness and equity: “Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.”
Equity and love between the husband and the wife is also metaphorically spoken of in the Qur’an when it states, “They are your garments and ye are their garments….” Scholars have interpreted this to mean that husbands and wives need mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual protection. It is also a reference to the fact that spouses are each other’s sanctuary insofar as each covers the others’ shortcomings and preserves his or her privacy; hence the tranquility and harmony.

It is not just the Qur’an that instructs husbands to treat their wives with love and kindness. The Prophet has been quoted as saying, “Among the Muslims, the most perfect as regards to his faith is the one whose character is most excellent, and the best among you are those who treat their wives well.” In this Hadith the Prophet, by a logical equation, equated faith (in essence one’s belief in religion) with good moral character and in turn stated that the best of the Muslims are those that treat their wives well. One can deduce from this Hadith that in order for a person to become one of the best individuals in the eyes of God, he has an obligation to treat his wife well. As mentioned earlier, the Qur’an requires kindness, love, mercy, and equity from the husband to the wife (and vice versa).


So far, one can see that tranquility, love, mercy, equity, and kindness are the hallmark of an ideal marriage under Islam
Whether the man is an Arab, American, Chinese, Indian, Maya or Zulu, he goes off the handle when it comes to tolerating a spouse who is unfaithful, while the hypocrite expects acceptance from the wife for a similar sin by him. It is for men like these Quraan instructs to hold on to their temper and separate, however, the interpretation to hit her with feather light stick will be fade eventually.
When the man is angry, religion gets thrown out of his system.
The article is compiled with abstracts from the writings of Dr. Bassam Abed, and Dr. Lelah Bakhtiar on the topic.
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Mike Ghouse runs the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other and is committed to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress.
He is a commentator on the TV, Radio and Print media offering pluralistic solutions on the issues of the day.   Mike’s work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.MikeGhouse.net/


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