Can wife-beating ever be justified?

Published: November 30, 2010

The writer is a sub-editor on the web desk of The Express Tribune and is an LLB graduate from the University of London atika.rehman@tribune.com.pk

“A woman, a dog, and a walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be.” The syntax of these words, penned by a prolific 17th century writer, is a clever concoction. It shows how a woman’s spirit can be broken — stage by stage — turning her from human, to savage, to a voiceless but still beautiful creature, through acts of aggression.

Out of all the justifications I have heard that try to validate domestic violence within a marriage, none enrages me more than the one that comes from a man who uses religion to justify the beatings. Like Shakespeare’s Antonio said, the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose — so can, it appears, misguided Muslim men.

The Quran states that a husband is not allowed to hurt a woman to the extent where she is left bruised, even if she has committed a sin. “As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.” (Surah Nisa, Quran 4:34)

Dr Zakir Naik describes the situation as one where the Quran says a husband can hit his wife with a handkerchief, only after she persistently sins and he has exhausted the options of verbal admonishment and sleeping in a separate bed. Furthermore, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) never engaged in such a practice and frowned upon men who abused their wives. Men and women have been given the right to divorce each other, so in a situation where a man may think he is being a “good Muslim husband” by “disciplining” an unfaithful spouse, he has the option of leaving her.

Ultimately, it is for our Maker to decide whether mankind has sinned; instead of taking that task upon himself, a man who suspects that his wife is unfaithful should leave her. No matter what her socio-economic background may be, the mental and physical anguish a woman undergoes after being hit by her husband is mortifying; being abused by a man you love and have a family with can break even the strongest woman’s spirit. According to statistics compiled by the Aurat Foundation for 2009, most cases of domestic violence arise due to “domestic conflicts”, fights arising from petty issues in the household. Figures reported for rape, burning, torture and attempted murder incidents are alarming — enough to make one wish that these women didn’t have central nervous systems that could register the pain.

The theory that Islam justifies abuse is incorrect; Islam does not disempower women, as is popularly believed. A woman has the power to create, nurture and transform life, and is born powerful by virtue of her very existence; a husband would be a better man if instead of feeling threatened by his wife’s strength, he celebrated it.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (71)

  • 123
    Nov 30, 2010 - 3:38AM

    very well written!!Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2010 - 3:40AM

    What about teachers, uncles, aunties, daddies and mommies beating up their children? Its a routine in the rural areas as the only way to discipline? needs to stop from there to end the practice of wife beating. Recommend

  • Amaar
    Nov 30, 2010 - 4:10AM

    I might add that in (normative) Islam, the ‘beating’ is nothing more than mild physical reprimand -not on the face- and is the last response to ‘nashuz’ – which is not mere disobedience but an aggravated act of marital infidelity. This physical reprimand has many conditions and is supposed to be used as a method of last resort. Contrast this with how almost all abusive and angry husbands resort to beating as a first response to their wives not cooking the right food or producing a male heir.Recommend

  • Iqbal Khan
    Nov 30, 2010 - 4:20AM

    For the love of God Ms. Atika! Do not twist and fabricate words of Quran about permission to abuse or insult women. There is not a single verse which allows men to use any kind of soft violence or right to abuse or torture them physically and emotionally…Women must be treated with dignity otherwise men who resort to violence against them are simply below the level of humanity. Recommend

  • Umair
    Nov 30, 2010 - 4:33AM

    A man who abuses or beats a woman is not really a man, since there is no comparison between a man and a woman in first place. Main reason is that a woman could be weaker emotionally so there should be no further violence against the weaker side.
    Again, If I am correct numerous Hadith exist which state that ‘The best among you are those who treat their wives good’.
    Women are delicate like a stick, if you will try to bend very hard they can break. Surely, Islam has appointed and given some responsibility to a man. He is the leader of household and responsible for providing for the wife and children and has to ensure their good conduct as well. Where there is check and balance, man has been blessed with physical power. But with power comes responsibility and great care should be taken in exercising their responsibility. Often, the wife beating argument is taken out of context and specially non-Muslims use it to malign Islam. Though the cases of domestic violence against women is also common in the west where women have just been turned into some mere commodity. In Islam, woman has been blessed with great status in all roles, be it Mother, sister, wife or daughter. Recommend

  • Talat
    Nov 30, 2010 - 5:29AM

    A good piece on an ever live issue, The article would have served its purpose if it was published in a urdu or any other local language newspaper for the simple reason that the people who use violence against women in Pakistan don’t understand english.Recommend

  • mawali
    Nov 30, 2010 - 5:57AM

    What an absolutely wierd, ridiculous yet in some morbid way a funny question. BTW, the Quran justifies after a couple of admonitions. Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Nov 30, 2010 - 7:28AM

    Atika:

    A similar saying from Hindu epic Ramayana is “Dhol, Ganwar, Shudra, Pashu, Nari, Yeh Sab Tadan Ke Adhikari”. Means a drum, idiot, low cast person, animal and woman are meant for beating. A lady is considered as priced possession of man since time immemorial across religions and borders. In general, even a lady is attracted towards such dominance of man folk and accepts (like) it in her life. It is nature which has made us like this and we have to accept this fact. A normal household depict all shades of emotions whether it is happiness, laughter, sadness or anger. The maturity we show in society turns into child ego when we are behind the closed doors of a family.

    This family atmosphere becomes abusive when either party is harmed physically and emotionally in an irreparable manner. This is the situation which you are mentioning and there is thin demarcation line in it. The over enthusiasm of society in such situations at times is taken as interference in family affairs even by the lady who is at the receiving end. The social empowerment of the fair sex is the only answer to such problems. When you talk of rape, burning, torture and attempted murder, they are non-compoundable crimes and are never accepted in any religion or in law. The guilty is required to be punished in all such cases. More so, if such crime is cognizable under criminal procedure codes, it becomes the duty of every citizen to act and stop such crimes. A person knowing the teachings of our beautiful religions and understanding the law can make the society better as to domestic violence.Recommend

  • muhammad asif khan
    Nov 30, 2010 - 7:37AM

    excellent work atika ! not just the article but ur courage in taking up issues afflicting an overwhelming majority of our population but one which most of our women prefer to brush under the rug,rather than confront & talk about.
    Hope u continue to raise ur voice against the suffocating misogyny present in our society through future articles as well.Recommend

  • Sadik
    Nov 30, 2010 - 7:59AM

    I fully support this article. Allah has the only righteous judge to what is wrong and right. When I first came across this verse in Surah Nisa, I did question myself as to whether the Qu’ran would state such a thing since the Qu’ran is the word of Allah it would never contradict itself. In the Qu’ran it does state (and I do this without reference-sorry) that one Muslim is not to harm another Muslim or Non Muslim, so therefore to beat ones wife is to also harm her.
    I then looked into the actual verse and after checking a few websites, I realised that the word ADRIBU also means to separate or move away as well as to beat. My only conclusion is given that the Qu’ran doesn’t contradict, the word ADRIBU in this particular verse 4:34 means that the husband should walk away from the situation.
    We have to remember that it is a translation of the original arabic source, and translations can be made in many different ways.
    If Muhammad (PBUH) strongly frowned upon men beating women, then surely he is reinforcing the words of Allah given in the Qu’ran. I personally think as a result of this mistranslation, that a lot of men justify themselves to beat their wives whether mild, moderate or severely.
    If someone beats another person up (whether it be man or woman), they will always try to justify their actions. The husband is the carer of the wife and not the beater.
    If the translation was right, we have to remember than physically men are stronger than women, so even if the man did beat his wife lightly then there are some men who don’t know their own strength and their ‘light beating’ could potentially injure their wife. Their children would also pick up on it and they will think that its OK to do the same when they grow up. We have to remember that the Qu’ran has been sent for all of mankind, so the message in Surah Nisa is for all men.
    In summary the word ADRIBU also means to walk away and this translation doesnt contradict other parts of the Qu’ran (where it says that one Muslim is not to harm another Muslim) and the teachings of the our beloved Prophet (PBUH).
    Allah has given us intuition and independent thinking. May Allah guide everyone to the straight path.Recommend

  • CCC
    Nov 30, 2010 - 8:37AM

    Question is – How do you define “lightly”? What is lightly to one woman may be too harsh for another. How does one know when to stop beating so it does not cause a bruise? Do you keep beating until you see a bruise and then stop? If there are wife-beating do’s and don’ts is there a husband-beating do’s and don’ts as well for the sake of gender equality?

    These questions are relevant because religion does not evolve (all religions) and following age-old doctrines verbatim can be a pain as mankind evolves. Hence religion needs to evolve to stay current with the times.

    The passage you quote is open to interpretation and no two people may agree on it.

    Debating wife-beating etiquette’s and protocols is a luxury right now when blasphemy laws actually advocate killing women (or others) for merely saying something. Isn’t that the highest form of abuse?

    Coming out of the 3-day festival where millions of livestock were slaughtered, one would think there will be compassion and peace in the hearts at least for some time. Not really, within days the religious folks are after a woman from a different religion who merely spoke something. Time to look inward, deep inside and ask if these rules make sense. Just pause and reflect.

    Thank you for the time and space.Recommend

  • IZ
    Nov 30, 2010 - 8:56AM

    Can wife-beating ever be justified?

    The answer is a simple no. No and no and no.Recommend

  • SJ
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:35AM

    Atika, you lost me the moment you mentioned Zakir Naik’s name. What does he know about Islam? His job is to ridicule other religions. To respect a woman you don’t need religious scripture to tell you what to do. People get influenced by cultures, most importantly family culture.
    In my case, I’m not even allowed to beat my wife in the game of checkers.Recommend

  • Adam Zubair
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:37AM

    No, wife beating is never justified in True Islam. Prophet Noah and Prophet Lot’s wives disobeyed their husbands. Did these Prophets ever beat their wives?

    What if the husband is the problem? Would our Mullahs allow a wife to beat her husband who gambles, drinks alcohol, or patronizes prostitutes?

    Here is the correct translation of the verse 4:34 and 4:35.

    (4:34) [...]as for those women whose animosity or ill-will you have reason to fear, then leave them alone in bed, and then separate; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek a way against them. God is Most High, Great.

    (4:35) And if ye fear a breach between them twain (the man and the wife), appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they desire amendment Allah will make them of one mind. Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Aware.

    For more information on this topic, please check the following website.

    http://islamicmyths.wordpress.com/2008/01/13/islam-forbids-wife-beating/Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:59AM

    What about “Wife beating Husband”. Slapping husband is normal and sometimes even CHITRAUL has been witnessed. In Islam a husband has a very colorful life, specially if he is a rich person. He can go for four wives at a time and become General Manager of Baby Factories. He thus has multiple choices and does not need any type of Wife Scolding or Feather Weight Beatings. Why women do not get the same CHOICE??? Bottom Line: Please don’t talk about what Islam, Christianity, Hinduism etc….. says about behavior of husbands towards their wives but talk about how to build “Bond Of Love and Behavior with Equal Rights” between male and female.Recommend

  • Rahul Khare
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:08AM

    A knotted handkerchief dealt a grievous eye injury to a fellow classmate(male) of mine; a slap(general idea of a lighter corporeal punishment) out of the blue can cause a cardiac arrest. Justifying domestic violence to one’s life partner through the prism of religion is IMHO a cardinal sin. One can write endless number of blogs but the fact of the matter is that the solution to this rest with the women who have been at the receiving end. Come on, apply some motion lotion, get your teeth into it, decide for yourself what should be out and what to be kept hush-hush,if at all it’s to be kept hush-hush.Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:14AM

    What about men who experience mistreatment from their wives and partners, no one talks about that, that can have very damaging consequences as well, a woman’s infidelty can ruin a mans life, why must men always be generalised as ones who always committ the bad, while women are always innocent assumed
    Dont get me wrong i am not supporting violence, im supporting every one be self accountableRecommend

  • SA
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:24AM

    Excellent piece! Recommend

  • Arachnid
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:35AM

    What about women? Can they refuse to share a bed with abusive husbands, beat them “lightly, if useful”?

    What’s the punishment in Islam for wives that refuse to put out? Is marital rape a crime in Islam? Not being sarcastic: this is a genuine question. Any clarification would be appreciated.Recommend

  • Arifq
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:37AM

    Change the narrative please or stay locked in a time vortex. Recommend

  • Shoaib Muhammad Khan
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:39AM

    Thank God somebody addressed it the right way!!

    Hats off to you madam!Recommend

  • hina
    Nov 30, 2010 - 11:02AM

    I liked the article untill I saw ‘Zakir naik’s name pop up outta nowhere.I wonder why you felt the need to mention “ZAKIR NAIK” in this article as many do not follow or care what he preaches I simply dont! and nor do we need HIM as an example.
    ISLAMIC TEACHINGS + Mentioning Of Our HOLY PROPHET PBUH should have been ENOUGH. As far as the question goes “NO ISLAM DOES NOT ALLOW WIFE-BEATING ETC AND THEREFORE IT SHOULD NOT BE JUSTIFIED USING THE NAME OF ISLAM AS AN EXCUSE TO ABUSE PARTNERS OR ANYONE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER.
    Only a weak man would ever lay a hand on a woman!
    Recommend

  • anon
    Nov 30, 2010 - 11:16AM

    When you make beating an option, it is an option – even if only in the extreme case. Religion may not be the cause or instigator of domestic violence but it sure as hell does help. Add to that the stupid Objectives Resolution and you have the right explosive mix for the followers of religion-of-peace in the land-of-pure. Unless basic human rights are recognized as more important than ramblings of a Mullah, this issue will stay there despite all the “good” Muslims making all the necessary “revisions” to their “understanding” of Islam.Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2010 - 11:31AM

    Atika – sadly for a woman and an educated woman at that – there is very little to differentiate you from the mullah on Memri tv who explains to some youth as to how you should beat your wife (not on the face he cautions etc).

    Chada – if the Ramayana does say that – I have no qualms in saying that these religious texts are written by humans albeit great philosophers, thinkers and story tellers – but human beings nevertheless. And when you realise that, you learn to accept ONLY those teachings that conform to human dignity and equality regardless of gender, economic status and colour. In fact a woman from my hometown conducted the last rites of her father and shaved her head just like a son would do – and her story was celebrated in the newspapers. By all accounts she is as much a hindu as I am (though a far more courageous one)

    Atika – you are doing a disservice to your gender by attempting to justify domestic violence. Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2010 - 11:42AM

    Great article ma’am. Islam protects a woman and gives her a good status, no other religion does. However, our Muslim Pakistani brothers just look at the limitations Islam has put on women and the duties Islam suggests to women, and don’t pay heed to the empowerment, standard and rights Islam has given to women.
    Guys like my page, “www.facebook.com/IAARACCOP, (I am a responsible and civilized citizen of Pakistan)Recommend

  • Jay S
    Nov 30, 2010 - 12:07PM

    A mild beating is supposed to improve blood-circulation. That, surely, has to be a good thing considering that women barely exercise and most of them are overweight anyway. Maybe all these scriptures have the good of women at heart ;-)Recommend

  • Ashail
    Nov 30, 2010 - 12:48PM

    I think the word in question here used in the Quran is “dharb” which has often been translated to mean “beating”. The Quran has used the word to mean smiting or striking in some passages. However, the Quran has also used the word to mean “separate” in some passages. In 20:77 it is used for the splitting of the sea to make a way for the children of Israel to escape and in 57:13 it is used of making a wall to separate the two groups of people in the hereafter.Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2010 - 12:48PM
  • Nov 30, 2010 - 12:51PM

    @Jay S Wow, that’s the most foolish thing I’ve ever come across.Recommend

  • Kashif
    Nov 30, 2010 - 1:25PM

    Islam is the ONLY RELIGION that Brought Justice to Women, before our Holy Prophet PBUH, girls were burried and considered to be shame if borned. NOW HOW CAN THE RELIGION ISLAM Allow Abuse, Physical and Mental Torture or other Physical Punishments. Answer is very simple… Some illeterate (I mean illeterate) clerics specially in the villages and Urban areas allow men to do so while Holy QURAN…..Clearly Denies any such rights of Men (Husband) over Women (Wife).

    Ms. Atika Rehman, I have ONE STRONG COMMENT… Why You Tieup the issue of Voilence on Women with Islam, this happens every where in East / West, Europe and Middle East. This is Regardless of Race, Religion or Country. ALLAH the All mighty, our Holy Book QURAN and Our Beloved Religion ISLAM Protects every right of Women in all relations (Mother, Sister, Daughter and Wife). It is our Fault as Muslims if we are in denial or ignoring this. As Women rights are violated across the world, its merely because we are Far far away from our True Religion Islam and preaching of our Holy Prophet (PBUH). Every Lady should be respected as mentioned in Quran (Surrah Nisaa). Recommend

  • parvez
    Nov 30, 2010 - 1:47PM

    @JayS – all the other comments were so predictable and then you decided to say something waaaay out different.
    Now be careful some female will come at you with a stick.Recommend

  • Sir Magpie De Crow
    Nov 30, 2010 - 1:52PM

    Many people here seem to be making comments that Islam, religious texts and the conduct of the Prophet Muhammad does not permit spousal abuse, beatings, etc. of women under any circumstances. Others claim that the treatment of women under modern Islam is uniformly excellent when compared to the decadence of Western culture. Curious. So I’m guessing the Afghan woman Aisha, who appeared on the cover of Time magazine with a missing nose, got that way as a result of running around with scissors? Or that the currently headless wife of Muzzammil Hassan (formally of Bridges TV) wanted to divorce her husband because he was too overweight?Recommend

  • Jay S
    Nov 30, 2010 - 2:56PM

    @Sir Magpie De Crow, I presume you have been knighted for reasons other than beating up your wife. Anyway, most of the comments here are tongue-in-cheek. The fact of the matter is that a man prone to violence will use it irrespective of what the scriptures say and a non-violent person will not. I don’t think it has anything to do with the scriptures. But the society where a person grew up has a lot to do with it. I don’t think the people who resort to domestic violence can even read.Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2010 - 3:25PM

    Guys don’r forget to join the page, I am a responsible and civilized citizen of Pakistan
    http://www.facebook.com/IAARACCOPRecommend

  • Deen Sheikh
    Nov 30, 2010 - 4:46PM

    I am still waiting, for some one to comment on the What If off men facing abuse in a relationship or a marriage, how do men protect themselves against women, especially considering that even raising your voice against a woman, be it your own wife is considered cowardly.Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2010 - 5:15PM

    @Deen Sheikh: The author has mentioned that you can divorce your wife… That’s the peaceful solution if a wife doesn’t fulfill her obligationsRecommend

  • sheraz rajput
    Nov 30, 2010 - 5:45PM

    Brilliant, Just Brilliant…God bless you :)Recommend

  • jahanzaib ahmed
    Nov 30, 2010 - 6:38PM

    atika, its NOT about islam, its about reasoning. People who, when beat their wives, think they are doing according to ways in islam, what does difference it makes between them and self-exploding maniacs and terrorists, who also justify their motives with relation to Islamic theology,

    When we want to do something, we can always dig up a reason, a certain line from quran, a hatidh, an inspirtation from our observation or any wise mans quote! so in my point of view, its not about being jusitified, its about enforcing same law, from a beggar to a Army chief, from a druken corrupted minister to an abused poor woman! Everyone should fear the justice alike! Recommend

  • Rehan
    Nov 30, 2010 - 6:43PM

    I somehow feel is biased against women in a negative way, as they do not enjoy equal rights that men do. Really, we talk about gender equality but when it comes to muslim women, they are binded by certain Islamic rules which forbids them to be a part of certain social activities.Recommend

  • Tahira Munir
    Nov 30, 2010 - 6:58PM

    What is best about this piece is the holistic approach of the writer to look at the picture, even if she just hints at some of the very important facets of the grave issue. What is somehow weaker is why religion has to be dragged into the debate all the time. i would like ask, what is lightly beat your wife? Who has derived the meanings for this word? If God has claimed man and wife to be equal partners who cover each other like garments, why cant the wife beat her husband lightly when he goes astray? the best thing about Islam is, God allows Ijtehadd, it means to understand the principles of Islam and apply them according to the metamorphosis of mankind. islam does not pressurize to follow the spirit of the religion as quoted in one example. If in iran, a marriage of convenience which could last from ten minutes to ninety nine years is allowed and holy, would it be acceptable in every section of the pakistani society? iran’s islam is to shroud women in black, not knowing whether they want to be drapped, what sexual advances could a woamn make to a man by waering a coulourful shirt? What kind of man could be sexually aggravated to see a woman’s picture on the billboard? Islam, sadly, tragically is everyone’s own interpretation these days. So what lightly means, is obscure.
    Most of the times, when a man beats up his wife, its not because his religion allows him to. it never really goes up to that status, if wife beating was such an issue that it had to be mentioned in the Quran, and God reprimanded us from doing it, it is just not allowed. What Pickthall says, is the interpretation of this verse of lightly hitting wives means only when she goes adulterous, men in our society, would divorce a woman if she would, hitting lightly is thus out of question.
    this is a social issue, filial and domestic, it does not require Quranic references to be dealt with. it requires therapeutic sessions. Recommend

  • Zain
    Nov 30, 2010 - 7:24PM

    you quote Surah Nisa and and write extensively on its explaination/Zakir Naik- and yet fail to mention the various definitions of ‘daraba’ in arabic. (if you had any sense to do your research before writing, you would know it is the arabic word used in the surah is daraba- which is regularly mistranslated as ‘beat’). AND you fail to mention Laleh Bakhtiar, who made waves with her approach towards this issue. Recommend

  • Shawn
    Nov 30, 2010 - 8:05PM

    Yes, when she deserves it.Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2010 - 8:36PM

    @Shawn….a woman isnt a man’s ‘pet dog’ that he can beat her when according to him she “deserves” it. In such a case, he can simply leave her but beating a women in any case is a heinous act. Its high time that people like u should understand that women r human beings, not street animals.Recommend

  • Mehwish
    Nov 30, 2010 - 8:58PM

    Counter question: What if the man is unfaithful or disobedient, can the woman lightly beat up her husband?????Recommend

  • SKChadha
    Nov 30, 2010 - 8:59PM

    Prasad:

    I am not advocating wife beating at all. What I have stated is a right social position which is in existence since time immemorial. Read second paragraph of my comments carefully and analyze the social impact of unnecessarily poking nose by social activists to disturb the family harmony.

    If emotional or physical tolerance exists between the couple or such violence is temporary in a fit of rage from either side and it does not fall under the category of cognizable offence, the role of society is to douse the fire and not to fuel it. The limit of such tolerance differs from person to person and from society to society. The concept of social interference should be to make the house and not to break it. This is true in all cases whether husband beats or wife beats.

    If the offence from either side is compoundable better it is compounded by mutual consent. In matrimony the role of society should be limited to this. That’s all I want to say.Recommend

  • Saleem Jamali
    Nov 30, 2010 - 9:09PM

    ok everybody let’s not mix this up. i’m against this wife beating stuff but. as we all know by now, Quran clearlly states that a husband can beat his wife. and ie we want to be true muslims, we should obey that. sorry but that’s ISLAM.Recommend

  • Nov 30, 2010 - 9:30PM

    @Mehwish: She can be as violent as a man can be… :-)Recommend

  • khurram sahazad
    Nov 30, 2010 - 10:10PM

    It is because we tried to seek half hearted knowledge about differnt condition, to my knowledge there are clear indication that u should not beat women.
    holy Prophet(S A W) said
    woman is bend rib, if u try to straighten it, it will be broken. so treat it accordinly and politelyRecommend

  • umer
    Nov 30, 2010 - 11:00PM

    how come only men are allowed to judge women in islam? and what is the definition of ‘dis-obedience’ and ‘ill-conduct’?

    this ambiguity is the reason why women are sometimes victims of abuse by muslim men. Also see this
    http://blog.heritage.org/?p=42257
    (in short a muslim man in america tried to justify marital violence/rape by invoking his right to practice his religion and succeeded until the judgement was repealed by another court)

    clearly scripture is not the place to look if you want an answer which is in keeping with modern valuesRecommend

  • Anoop
    Nov 30, 2010 - 11:14PM

    If you had opposed beating one’s wife just because it is wrong I would have appreciated you. But, like all Pakistani authors you have to bring in Religion. Islam says this, Islams says that. Cant you argue for something based on sound arguments and have you constantly depend on Islam.

    Recommend

  • Salim S
    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:03AM

    You seem to be all over the place.

    *Dr Zakir Naik describes the situation as one where the Quran says a husband can hit his wife with a handkerchief,*

    How do you even hit someone with a handkerchief ?

    ‘Ultimately, it is for our Maker to decide whether mankind has sinned; instead of taking that task upon himself, a man who suspects that his wife is unfaithful should leave her’

    If it really up-to to our Maker I should stop reading your piece at this point.

    ‘According to statistics compiled by the Aurat Foundation for 2009, most cases of domestic violence arise due to “domestic conflicts”, fights arising from petty issues in the household.’

    How is this relevant to whether wife beating should be justified or not?

    Figures reported for rape, burning, torture and attempted murder incidents are alarming — enough to make one wish that these women didn’t have central nervous systems that could register the pain.

    I have feeling you don’t have a central…

    The theory that Islam justifies abuse is incorrect; Islam does not disempower women, as is popularly believed.

    Where is that theory ? Did you mention it somewhere in your article ? Is that theory linked to Zakir Naek’s handkerchief theory ?

    A woman has the power to create, nurture and transform life, and is born powerful by virtue of her very existence; a husband would be a better man if instead of feeling threatened by his wife’s strength, he celebrated it.

    Oh I get it. This is why you wrote the article? Girl power.Recommend

  • Angelos
    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:10AM

    That saying in the Quran is just another way to remind MEN ‘Idiot, dont beat your women!”Recommend

  • Salim S
    Dec 1, 2010 - 12:30AM

    Dr Zakir Naik describes the situation as one where the Quran says a husband can hit his wife with a handkerchief,
    How do you even hit someone with a handkerchief ?
    ‘Ultimately, it is for our Maker to decide whether mankind has sinned; instead of taking that task upon himself, a man who suspects that his wife is unfaithful should leave her’
    If it really up-to to our Maker I should stop reading your piece at this point.
    ‘According to statistics compiled by the Aurat Foundation for 2009, most cases of domestic violence arise due to “domestic conflicts”, fights arising from petty issues in the household.’
    How is this relevant to whether wife beating should be justified or not?
    Figures reported for rape, burning, torture and attempted murder incidents are alarming — enough to make one wish that these women didn’t have central nervous systems that could register the pain.
    Ok.
    The theory that Islam justifies abuse is incorrect; Islam does not disempower women, as is popularly believed.
    Where is that theory ? Did you mention it somewhere in your article ? Is that theory linked to Zakir Naek’s handkerchief theory ?
    A woman has the power to create, nurture and transform life, and is born powerful by virtue of her very existence; a husband would be a better man if instead of feeling threatened by his wife’s strength, he celebrated it.
    Oh I get it. This is why you wrote the article? Girl powerRecommend

  • Arijit Sharma
    Dec 1, 2010 - 2:13AM

    @Kashif: Do you really seriously believe this ? Do you mean to say Vedic or Buddhist societies treat women badly ? Do you also mean to say that Jews treat their women badly ? Recommend

  • ihtisham khan
    Dec 1, 2010 - 9:14AM

    ofcourse you can beat a woman…it says in the quran as you have mentioned it…“As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great…the ones in the bracket are added by people..its not the translation..why wud i beat my wife with out the intent to hurt her…why lightly…she will laugh at me…don’t try to change the translation of quran…beat lightly….what difference does a light beating makes…or let me ask…what is light beating???? Recommend

  • ihtisham khan
    Dec 1, 2010 - 9:16AM

    @mehwish…no u cannot as it is not mentioned in the quran…simple…..its not man made..its in the quran…Recommend

  • Ahmed Khan
    Dec 1, 2010 - 1:32PM

    The author is a LLB graduate and not a frikkin Islamic scholar! Why the hell do you always have to bring it down to Islam? The amount of domestic violence you find in the West is 100 times more than in Pakistan. These civilized societies don’t even get married and with their ‘living in’ relationships beat their female partners and sometimes to death.

    Also a fact to be acknowledged that most men in the cities in Pakistan are subservient to their wives. If you don’t trust me, look at the growing number of households moving away from joint-family system to a nuclear family lifestyle.Recommend

  • anila ansari
    Dec 1, 2010 - 4:51PM

    I totally agree with you Anoop. Humanity should precede religion.
    The lives of South Asian people are blighted by so many problems….ignorance,illiteracy,poverty,corruption,religious extremism,nepotism,…ah! The list is endless.Recommend

  • Salman Arshad
    Dec 2, 2010 - 2:55AM

    @the writer:
    Why did you put all those words in parentheses in the translation of the Quranic verse ? Those words are not part of the verse and CHANGE the meaning of the verse.Recommend

  • Hamza
    Dec 2, 2010 - 6:40AM

    Atiqa thank you very much for this balanced article. Really, thank you.Recommend

  • Masroor
    Dec 2, 2010 - 9:59AM

    Yes! where Allah subhanahutaala asks to do soRecommend

  • NMS
    Dec 2, 2010 - 10:12AM

    I’d like to ask the writer who on earth she has quoted terrorist loving hate-monger Zakir Naik. Is she doing the typical picking & choosing? Does she consider him an authority? If so, does she agree that every Muslims should be a terrorist? And does she agree with the blasphemy that he supports through his warped, fallacy filled arguments?

    If not, then this is incredibly weak writing & argument. A waste of space. A typical: I am a liberal Muslim thus I MUST bring my religion into my argument somewhere. I find this as problematic as the Taliban who also pick & choose at will. At the end of the day, it boils down to interpretation, and that verse can easily be interpreted as a proper beating too. IT’S IN THERE. Address the issue please. Don’t cower behind weak critical thinking. Recommend

  • Ameer Hamza
    Dec 2, 2010 - 12:02PM

    Atika,

    i have had this discussion a few times with several people. including women, and we all agree, and i am sure you can find some semblence of fact in it, that there are some (read many) women in this world who cannot be reasoned with. they cannot be talked to. they cannot be prompted in any civilized way to do the right thing, or the Islamic thing, or the Christian thing or the kinky thing.

    Men usually beat up women not because it’s religion or narrow mindedness or because they are weak or because they are stupid. a lot of intelligent, decent and progressive men abuse women too. Some women just like it like that – the bruises, the pain, the drama. It makes them tick.

    Men usually hit women because they just deserve it, simple and straightforward. A lot of women agree to this as well.

    I think we often overlook in our arguments on spousal abuse the factor of women. have we, or you, or the organizations out there, documented the women completely to ensure that the abuse dished out to her was wrongful. I myself, several times, have often felt like killing people. we all do. So compared to that, a bruise is not that bad. :) think about it. Recommend

  • waitaminute
    Dec 3, 2010 - 1:42AM

    the comment above mine is seriously very scary. Recommend

  • Maliha Abidi
    Dec 3, 2010 - 2:54PM

    Excellently written. Perfectly precise. Love the opening and the ending especially. All the best Atika :)Recommend

  • Dec 3, 2010 - 2:59PM

    At Ameer Hamza:
    What you are talking about is pure anger. That is something you can feel even toward a man, being a man or a woman, and even toward a woman, being a man or woman. What Aitka is talking about is how married men generally tend to look to religion as a justification for wife-beating, which is illiteracy actually. Apart from that, anyone who deserves a punch in the face is a different matter altogether. If however, in such a situation, the person who deserves a punch in the face happens to be your wife, you are required by religious guidelines to exercise control. If she deserves a punch in the face, you are advised to leave her because you are not allowed to “abuse” her.Recommend

  • Dec 3, 2010 - 3:26PM

    @Anoop: We believe in Islam and for us, it is the most senible and reliable thing we can rely onRecommend

  • AHR
    Dec 3, 2010 - 4:11PM

    No it’s not justified at all. Period.
    It would have been a much better piece if you had not mentioned Dr. Zakir Naik’s name and views.
    We need to keep one thing in mind, the Quranic verses have been revealed in certain context, so people who are trying to defend wife beating by quoting Quranic verses are infact doing a dis-service to Islam and the Holy Prophet (PBUH)’s Sunnah. A great amount of importance has been laid in Quran regarding treating your wife well and has also been displayed abundantly by the last messenger. The verses most probably relate to infidelity not a normal daily behavior.
    Secondly, wife-beating is not a phenomen particular to Islam or Muslims. It happens everywhere in the world, it could happen in a marriage and could also happen in an open relationship. wherever it happens it’s deplorable. Recommend

  • Anoop
    Dec 3, 2010 - 5:09PM

    @Sardar Alam Khan,

    That doesn’t negate the fact that Wife Beating is bad, whether Islam supports it or not is immaterial. Religion is different for different people. I am sure the way you look at it is different that how your neighbour looks at Islam and practices it, or how the Taliban look at it. You may claim that the Taliban are not Muslims, blah blah blah, but the point here is they believe they are Muslims.

    So, what I am saying is when you bring in Religion to defend a point which everyone knows as true, you are doing a disservice to that cause. If you say Wife Beating is bad because it is bad, that is the best argument for it.

    FYI, I am not against Islam or any Religion, I believe there is no such thing as Religion, if you dont consider Humanity as a Religion.

    The criticize the approach but not the meaning and intent of the article.Recommend

  • Dec 3, 2010 - 7:35PM

    @Anoop: Yes from a humanitarian perspective also you are right. And Islam values humanity. It incorporates humanity. We refer to Islamic principals and teachings, because often people claiming to be Muslims also beat their wives and they don’t value women rights, though they consider themselves Muslims. So these are to correct those misconceptions of our own Muslims. I know you are not concerned with the Islamic perspective, so we simply put it, it isn’t allowed, it isn’t a right thing :-)Recommend

  • Anoop
    Dec 3, 2010 - 9:14PM

    @Sardar Alam Khan,

    I believe this can be achieved by appealing to their conscience not tell them their understanding of Religion is wrong.

    But, I understand what you are saying.Recommend

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