The Change This campaign is an initiative of a Muslim women’s charity that claims that Muslim men who think that the Koran allows them to beat their wives are “manipulating” the real teachings of Islam, which they think forbids wife-beating.
I am all for a campaign to persuade Muslim men not to beat their wives. But here we come up to the perennial problem: denying that the texts of the Koran and Hadith regarding wife-beating say what they clearly say is not reform; it is just deception. It may play well with non-Muslims who don’t know what those texts say, but it won’t convince any wife-beating Muslim husband to stop beating his wife: he knows that “the Koran says it’s okay.”
The infamous wife-beating verse:
Men are the managers of the affairs of women for that God has preferred in bounty one of them over another, and for that they have expended of their property. Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for God’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against them; God is All-high, All-great. Koran 4:34)
This is, of course, an extremely controversial verse, so it is worth noting how several translators render the key part of this verse, ÙˆÙŽØ§Ø¶Ù’Ø±ÙØ¨ÙÙˆÙ‡ÙÙ†Ù‘ÙŽ, waidriboohunna.
Pickthall: “and scourge them”
Yusuf Ali: “(And last) beat them (lightly)”
Al-Hilali/Khan: “(and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful)”
Shakir: “and beat them”
Sher Ali: “and chastise them”
Khalifa: “then you may (as a last alternative) beat them”
Arberry: “and beat them”
Rodwell: “and scourge them”
Sale: “and chastise them”
Daryabadi: “and beat them”
Asad: “then beat them”
Dawood: “and beat them”
Laleh Bakhtiar, in a recent translation that has received wide publicity, translates it as “go away from them.” In light of this unanimity among the translators, both Muslim and non-Muslim, this seems difficult to sustain — all of these authorities got the passage wrong until Bakhtiar? But her impulse is understandable, as many Muslims today regard this verse with acute embarrassment. Muhammad Asad adduces numerous traditions in which Muhammad “forbade the beating of any woman,” concluding that wife-beating is “barely permissible, and should preferably be avoided.”
Unfortunately, however, this is not a unanimous view. The Qur’an commentary Ruhul Ma”ani gives four reasons that a man may beat his wife: “if she refuses to beautify herself for him,” if she refuses sex when he asks for it, if she refuses to pray or perform ritual ablutions, and “if she goes out of the house without a valid excuse.” Also, Muhammad’s example is normative for Muslims, since he is an “excellent example of conduct” (Koran 33:21) — and Aisha reports that Muhammad struck her. Once he went out at night after he thought she was asleep, and she followed him surreptitiously. Muhammad saw her, and, as Aisha recounts: “He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?” (Sahih Muslim 2127)
Aisha herself said it: “I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women.” (Sahih Bukhari 7.72.715)
A new campaign asking Muslim men and women to speak out against domestic violence is being launched in Scotland.
The Change This campaign wants people to report any violence they have seen or experienced.
Muslim women’s charity Amina will use Islamic teachings and an Imam to challenge the misconception that Islam allows violence against women.
The charity said it was aware of many cases where people used their religion in an attempt to justify violence.
As part of the campaign, it will be going out and speaking to men and women about the issue.
Smina Akhtar, from Amina, said she had been shocked by the way people had manipulated the teachings of Islam.
She said: “We have women coming in, phoning our helpline, time and time again and saying: ‘My husband said it’s okay, he told me the Koran says it’s okay’.
“We’re quite surprised that Muslim women are often not educated, even in Islam, because Islam does not condone violence.”
She added: “We’ll use certain Hadiths (the stories of the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad, handed down by word of mouth) – for example when the Prophet, peace be upon him, says: ‘The best among you is the one who is the best towards his wife’.
“We’ll use these and phrases within the Koran to say no – actually the Koran does not say that it’s okay for your husband to hit you.”…