This article takes a look at yet another form of Islamophobia - ie the warped idea that Islam allows wife to be abused, beaten and treated inhumanely.
Over-reaction due to ignorance and lack of understanding -
There appears to be an over-reaction from some parties due to ignorance and lack of understanding of the teachings of Islam. The link below pertains to "wife beating".
Singapore’s Muslim marriage courses under fire
Singapore’s leading association for Muslim converts, Darul Arqam, has begun an internal investigation into lecturer misconduct after several attendees of the organization’s pre-marriage courses voiced concerns over violent and sexist content in the lectures and course materials. Specifically, attendees allege that male students are encouraged to beat wives who refuse to submit to sex, while female students are taught that if they refuse sex with their husbands angels of Allah would curse them.
Singaporean gender equality advocacy group, AWARE, has begun an investigation into the claims. The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport (MCYS) has also been alerted.
Here is Darul Arqam's reply to the above. Darul Arqam disputes sexist allegations
Islamic perspective -
For all the hooha that the news try to portray that Islam propagates wife-beating, no Muslim scholar has interpreted or encouraged the interpretation of the one particular verse that mentions wife-beating to be used as a form of humiliation or abuse. It is the the ignorant who have been interpreting it as such. Here is the Quranic verse - Sura 4:34 (Yusuf Ali's translation)
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, 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 those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).
Here is an interpretation of the above:
Wife Beating in Islamic Perspective
Name of Questioner: Asif
Reply date: 2012/04/30
Question: Respected scholars! Does Islam allow wife beating? Some husbands are violent and they say that the Qur'an allows them to beat their wives. Is there any logical explanation given regarding men being allowed to beat their wives, as stated in surat An-Nisa', verse 34?
consultant: Jamal Badawi
consultant: Muzammil Siddiqi
It is important to read the section (Sura 3:34-35) fully. One should not take part of the verse and use it to justify one's own misconduct. This verse neither permits violence nor condones it. It guides us to ways to handle delicate family situation with care and wisdom. The word "beating" is used in the verse, but it does not mean "physical abuse". The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explained it "dharban ghayra mubarrih" which means "a light tap that leaves no mark". He further said that face must be avoided. Some other scholars are of the view that it is no more than a light touch by siwak, or toothbrush.
Note that in the immediate link above, there are many verses quoted which tell us that the Quran expects the woman to be respected. So for all the claims by certain parties that allege Islam does not respect women, it is seen that the allegation is false.
As for "wife-beating" in Islam, it must be remembered that the beating must not be done with the intention to cause physical hurt, but more of an expression of disapproval.
Another opinion here. Wife Beating in Islam: Permissible?
Name of Questioner: Muslim
Reply date: 2011/04/21
Question: As-Salamu 'Alaykum, I have recently read a fatwa where the mufti states that it is permissible for a husband to beat his wife if she refuses to have intercourse with him. What are the conditions under which physically rebuking the wife, with force, becomes necessary? Muslim men take these types of fatwas as license to become dictators inside the home.
Mufti: Sheikh Gamal Qutb
Responding to your question, Sheikh Gamal Qutb, the Ex-Head of the Fatwa Committee at Al-Azhar Ash-Shareef, stated,
As for beating a wife which is mentioned in the Qur'an, it is a way of suspending dealing with her, and waving with the hand as a sign of warning and drawing attention, not for hurting or offending.
Again, note that the so called violence against women as claimed by certain parties is an over-reaction. All claims that the verse Sura 4:34 is a licence for the man to abuse his wife are non-Muslim claims. No Islamic scholar has endorsed that.
And again, the beating must not be done with the intention to cause physical and mental hurt, but more of an expression of disapproval, as explained by the mufti I quoted above.
Imposing Liberal Western ideology on non-Western cultures, practices and beliefs -
Liberal Western ideals like freedom of expression, feminism etc have been used as benchmarks to judge societies that are alien to such practices. I have many times discussed the hypocritical idea of certain western ideals being imposed on others. For example, the idea of democracy where democratically elected Islamic govts are not recognised by the West, eg Hamas. But that's a different story.
The issue here about wife-beating is that to the West, any kind of laying of hands is considered "barbaric". That includes punishing your own child, what more your wife. As such, parents in the West can get jailed just for punishing the child with a slap.
But isn't this ridiculous idea of child abuse, with even one slap of the hand from a parent or teacher, the downfall of the moral society of the West? Isn't the lack of discipline and the defiance against law and authority among kids and teenagers a major problem in the West? Even in Singapore, which adopts this ideal in our schools is seeing its effect. We now have kids in schools who respect teachers and authority not.
In Islam, the man as head of the family is given the right to correct a wrong, be they his children or his wife. This is in direct opposition to the so called "modern" West, where that idea is seen as patriarchal and even misogynistic. But then again, who is the West to judge another culture, when it is shown to have been so hypocritical?
Man as head of house in Judeo-Christian tradition -
Actually, not just in Judeo-Christian tradition, but in many societies and cultures too. If at all, the so called "modern" West, not Islam, is the one at odds with rest of the world. Here is a past post I made in Nov 2010, showing you the tradition as practised in a typical Jewish family.
Tradition - A Look at Jewish Practice and Culture and how it holds society together
Below, is a clip of a scene from The Fiddler on the Roof, explaining how tradition keeps the Jewish lifestyle intact, in spite of the outside threats to erode the Jewish culture.1:45 min - The message strongly sent out is that in a traditional Jewish family, it is the man who is the head of the house. He has the final word at home.
The setting was 1905. Note that the Family is the central backbone in Tradition. It's the same in all societies and culture, no?
Of course today, the liberals and feminists will squirm at the fact that it is the father that is the head of the family who decides how the family is run. This includes how marriages are arranged and approved by the dad, with little involvement from the children themselves.
Liberals and feminists gripe that family, patriarchy and tradition should be a thing of the past. Aren't we stuck to this same argument the last 100 years, as seen in this 1905 setting? What's so modern about the idea we should abolish tradition and have change?
Watch the clip here and you will know what I mean.
Oh btw, take note that Jewish women cover their heads like Catholic nuns do too! Headscarves are not just a Muslim thing, no?
Fiddler on the roof - Tradition
The concept of man as head of the family is common in many cultures for many centuries. It is only at the turn of the last century that Feminists and other liberals (including LGBTs) try to construct that this concept as patriarchal and even misogynistic - and that too, it is just an opinion from the liberal West, not from the rest. Isn't that isolated idea from the West actually the oddball in the world's society?
Summary and conclusion -
- There is a lot of ignorance, especially those drowned in the exuberance of trying to promote liberal West ideals, against Islam. In this article, we discussed how "wife-beating", which is just a method of of expression of displeasure for wife, and not to be used as a form of abuse, is criticised as misogynistic.
- In reality, no Muslim scholar sees the Sura 4:34 as an open licence given to the husband to lay his hands liberally on his wife. That idea is actually a concoction of the ignorant who are quick on the trigger to criticise Islam.
- The idea that the man is the head of the family is a concept that is also found in Judeo Christian tradition and in many other cultures around the world. If at all, it is the liberal Western idea that this concept is misogynistic, that is the whacky oddball that is out of place in the world's society.
Finally, it must be remembered all this Islamophobia, over-reacting to wife-beating being preached at Darul Arqam, is due to one factor - ignorance on the part of those who fail to understand Islam better. That includes AWARE, which is known to be anti-religion and gay friendly.