Monday, December 19, 2011

Real (Muslim) Men don't beat their wives

I am gonna start off by saying something very clear and incontrovertible on my position as an Ahmadi Muslim:  I do NOT believe in beating women, ever.

Now then, I just watched a 2 1/2 hour long debate between 2 Ahmadi Muslims and 2 anti-sharia proponents in the UK a while back.  Here's the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTYrjFE6Rcg&feature=share

The 2 opponents main opponents arguments were based mainly upon the practices of the present so-called Islamic regimes but entirely ignored what the Qur'an had to say and what the Prophet (saw) said and did while the Ahmadis used mainly those as their sources for stating their truth.  The main points of contention they would come down to, the opponents, are for another blog post.

However, one main point of contention that kept coming up for a bit which just got under my skin was the supposed Islamic teaching of beating.  The opponents did not know much about the Qur'an so an audience member had to point out the particular verse which supposedly mentions beating and when he said it too, it was shortened and misquoted but it was probably not intended.  Previously and thereafter, the Ahmadis spent a good deal of time pointing out how Muhammad (saw) did not beat his wives nor do Ahmadis practice such barbarism who claim to be following this true view of Sharia.

With the verse being given, it was explained not only that the etymology of the verse in Arabic not only implies that a wife who is considered in the situation is a violent, abusive, and dangerous person to his husband but also that "beating" is actually not beating but a symbolic chastisement b/c it cannot hurt or leave a mark on the woman.  Furthermore, it is stated as a final response to continued abuse after several other conciliatory measures.

B/C he didn't remove the word "beating" from his sentence or put it with "not allowed" or something similar, the opponents jumped on it w/o mercy and totally forgot that in practice, it was not practiced by the original example of Islam, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), or that it is stated as a last resort.  Forget entirely that the woman in question is a woman who is also physically abusive.

HOWEVER, the one thing that kept annoying me was they didn't get the point the first Ahmadi who was explaining the verse was trying to make by explaining that the verse is saying beating w/o hurting the other person and w/o leaving a mark is allowed and the other Ahmadi had to explain it which I will do here in my own words as I too have heard this explanation previously.  He stated it in more simpler terms, that you can beat them but if you hurt them or bruise them, even slightly, you're going to hell.  I'd like to elaborate on that.

The second Ahmadi points out that there are many laws around the world outright forbidding certain actions, some in great constitutions and treatises on human rights and such but those actions still continue in great numbers unfortunately.  After the Civil War, slavery was disbanded but people were still super racist towards blacks; the fact that they had to have a Civil War to disband slavery makes a point of how simply banning something is not as simple a solution as it is made out by the opponents of Islam who launch allegations against Islam for supposed human rights violations.

Islam with somethings has gradually brought down certain practices that it considers wrong b/c somethings are much more ingrained that they require a gradual deconstruction.  That is, they are made so arduous and contradictory in practice that either they are practiced in extreme circumstance or done away with altogether

Polygamy for example is limited to 4 wives and each wife must be given equal treatment and that's not a simple each woman gets her own room, they would require their own residences with its own kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc.  Economically, it is hard enough for most people to take care of one wife.  They are to love them equally as well, something that is very difficult for most people all around.

Slavery too is something that makes absolutely no sense if you talk about its practice in Islam; they cannot be burdened with something you do not participate in also or they must be paid for what they are asked to do and they must live the same way and wear the same clothes and eat the same food. Hitting a slave requires giving him freedom and freeing a slave will save a person from hell fire. Someone from antebellum south would just look at a Muslim w/ a slave funny if they ever saw one.

Similarly, with the supposed beating of women in Islam, the Quranic verse is as follows:

[4:35] Men are guardians over women because Allah has made some of them excel others, and because they (men) spend of their wealth. So virtuous women are those who are obedient, and guard the secrets of their husbands with Allah’s protection. And as for those on whose part you fear disobedience, admonish them and leave them alone in their beds, and chastise them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Surely, Allah is High, Great.

First, It has already been made point that disobedience in the Arabic here is a much stronger word which implies abuse and violence, not simply "I'm not making you a sandwich."  Second, the measures for which one seek peace with ones wife are a step by step process, first discussing their behavior, then separating from them, and then to "chastise" them.  Where the argument beat w/o leaving a mark comes from is partly the Arabic (the first Ahmadi explains that it is more of like restraint of the person so they realize what they are doing is hurting, we are after all talking about a violent person) and partly the ahadith and it states that if one comes down to this, they can "beat" but they can't hurt them or leave a mark.  What is giving a beating w/o hurting someone?  Its like a one-handed clap, its absurd and meaningless.

Similarly, the practice of beating one's wife which was prevalent before Islam is being deconstructed here and abolished b/c its been made a contradiction or a parody of itself as is making a slave not really a slave, just a person who lives in your house and you pay for his services or more wives aren't more fun, they're an aneurysm waiting to happen.  Some old time writers on fiqh have suggested you use a toothbrush or feather but all they do by saying such things is make a bigger mockery of the act and a lot more emphasis of the symbolism, not a justification for beating in Islam.  As the second Ahmadi put it, you can "beat" your wife but if you hurt her, you'll go to hell.  Why beat her then?
 
If you want the words straight from the Prophet's (saw) mouth, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) stated clearly "those who BEAT their wives are NOT the best of men" which from him carried the equivalent weight of a black hole in the fabric of the universe, that is to say you couldn't go around what he said and you had to do it even though in the English language and our modern culture, it sounds like something very easily subverted, it isn't.

I will say another thing which is very clear and incontrovertible in my opinion:  Those who use this verse to beat their wives are absolutely IGNORANT of what the Prophet (saw) taught and what the Qur'an is teaching (which is the same thing, mind you) and those men are absolute SCUMBAGS, i.e. not the best of men >.>

So to sum up the points:

1. Even if your wife is abusive, reconciliation is the best first option.
2. reconciliation is a step by step process.
3. If all else fails, you can beat them if SOMEHOW you develop a machine that tickles people or throws jolly ranchers and reese's at them when you beat them instead of hurting them or leaving bruises.
4. If 3 not possible, go back to 2.
5. If the separation is long enough, it becomes divorce as that is the method for that as well.

On number 3, I was reminded last night of a humorous sketch from Monty Python and the Spanish Inquistion, they seem to have the right idea, though THE COMFY CHAIR seems like its pushing it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSe38dzJYkY

On another humorous note, regardless of how energetic I'm getting here, the 2 Ahmadis were cool as cucumbers regardless of how riled up the crowd got or how heated the debate got.  Their opponents on the other hand could only get more fumed and raise their voices.  It would raise especially a few more decibals when the Ahmadis would say something that totally contradicted what they said or when the crowd would say something totally contrary to what they stated.  I loled a few times.