The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) came in for a lot of scorn and criticism last month for suggesting that men should be allowed to “lightly beat” their wives.
During a recent interview with BBC, CII Chairman Mualana Muhammad Khan Sherani defended the council’s recommendations, saying, “These recommendations are according to the Quran and Sunnah, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s teachings. No one can dispute that.”
Sheerani explained the council’s recommendations in detail, saying, “When we draft a bill concerning women we have to consider all possible situations. If a woman does not fulfill her responsibilities in marriage first you advise her, if that doesn’t work, then you consult her relatives, if that doesn’t work then you desert her in bed. If all of this doesn’t work then lightly beating is allowed.”
Responding to criticism that the recommendations would give free rein to men to abuse their wives, Sheerani answered, “Then you tell me, what is the solution to this issue? If a woman doesn’t respond to advice, doesn’t listen to her relatives after you’ve used all the options, what should be done?”
When asked what a woman should do if a man does not fulfill his responsibilities, the CII chairman said, “First she can involve someone from the family to resolve the issue. But in the end if they feel they can’t live together she has the right to get a divorce.”
Although the council’s recommendations have sparked outrage in Pakistan as well as international media, Sheerani refused to reconsider. “Society is not the media. They’re two different things. And we will not reconsider the recommendations. This is according to the Holy Quran, you cannot ask someone to reconsider the Holy Quran.”
Last month, after media and activists poured scorn on CII’s suggestion, Sheerani softened his tone stating ‘violence’ was not permissible in the religion.
“Do not try to relate our proposal (on beating women) with violence. Light beating does not mean violence,” he explained.
“The issue has been blown totally out of proportions. Everyone condemns violence. People need to be educated to stay away from violence.”
He added that both men and women should refrain from inflicting physical violence on one another. But the CII chief did not back down on the council’s recommendations that ‘light beating’ of wives was permissible.
“If you want her (a wife) to mend her ways, you should first advise her,” Maulana Sheerani explained to The Express Tribune after his press conference. “If she refuses, stop talking to her. Still if she does not show compliance, stop sharing a bed with her, and if things do not change, get a bit strict.”
Maulana Sheerani went on to detail what he meant by ‘beating’. “Hit her with light things like handkerchief, a hat or a turban, but do not hit her on the face or private parts. And the beating should not cause any kind of physical damage or even scratches. Resort to light stuff, nothing serious.”