Author: Wise Wives
On March 3, 2013 Wise Wives held its 2nd annual conference titled Ayah 4:34 – In depth, inclusive and in context.
Dr. Tahseen Shareef introduced the Ayah to us. Please see her video here.
Below I will list lessons about the Ayah that you may not have known before from Shaikha Muslema Purmul and MFT Noha Alshugairi.
“Men are the (quawwamouna) maintainers and protectors of women by virtue of what Allah has privileged one over another and by virtue of the money men spend. Therefore the (assalehat) righteous women are God-fearing and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband’s property). As to those women from whom you fear are (nushuzahuna) recalcitrant, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) (idrabahona) strike them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, do not treat them unjustly. Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.”
- Hamza Yousef calls this ayah the most problematic Ayah in the Quran.
- “But it’s not the Ayah that’s the problem, it is the interpretations by some scholars who interpret its aspects in the wrong way,” said Noha.
- “If you look at the Quran as bits and pieces you are bound to have problems with it, you have to keep in mind that it is one big whole,” she added.
- She explained that there are two main perspectives of different types of people. One person is a believer, and that person believes in every aspect of the faith (Shariah, Sunnah, Quran…) but admits that some areas are challenging for them. Then there is another type who nitpick at the religion and say, ‘what do you mean Shariah, this is all non sense…this Ayah, and this Hadith they don’t make sense so I won’t follow them.’ These are people who come from a place of doubt and are not believers.
- She invited the room to remember that we must approach this Ayah from the perspective of a believer, it may be challenge for us today, but we must believe in it.
- “It wasn’t a challenging Ayah, however, during its revelation,” she said.
- “The ayah is meant for at time when hitting one’s wife was common practice and it came down to stop it,” she added.
- The word Quawwamouna is derived from the word Qum, meaning to stand. This is implying that men must stand up for their women as their guardians.
- They are not their controllers or rulers, they cannot act as dictators. They must remain fair, gentle and kind as directed by the Prophet (pbuh).
- “When you really look at it, what the husband owes his wife is much more than what the wife owes the husband,” said Muslema.
- Examples of Nushuz include adultery, leaving the house for days without saying where you’re going, etc.
- It has to be an extreme action and it has to be recurrent.
- The husband must be harmed by the action.
- The word “fear” in the Ayah (Takhafona) indicates that the act of Nushuz must be a real occurrence, not a mere suspicion.
- There must be proof and if the husband is wrong then he gets physical punishment (Ta3seer).
- Even though there are four Hadiths that specifically talk about not hitting your wife, and many more dispelling the whole act of abuse in general, the word Idrabahona (derived from Daraba) (strike) is in this Ayah and we must accept it. But we must understand its context.
- “Allah does not want harm on his creation…The worst interpretation of this Ayah has come in the modern era. We need to have critical thinking; it is our responsibility as Muslims. If it doesn’t make sense then we look into it further…you don’t have to be a scholar to do research,” Muslema said.
- Muslema explained that there are guidelines for the action of Daraba and when you explore each one you will find that the whole action becomes obsolete: Cannot be not injurious, must rectify the Nushuz, can’t make the situation worse, not in face, cannot cause animosity, the husband has to have been fulfilling all his obligations as a husband.
- “How can you strike someone and not cause animosity or make the situation worse…With all these guidelines and restrictions it eliminates the act all together,” she said.
- The way this Ayah is practiced around the world is challenging because it’s used as a green light to abuse women and it can be a justification for domestic abuse.
- There are numerous false translations (English, Spanish, Urdu…) of the word Daraba. Instead of strike it might say “beat,” “slap,” “hit…”
- Noha explained that Daraba doesn’t give the impression of beat, or slap, or hit, or abuse, or whip.
- The best translation of the word Daraba is “strike.” This indicates that the action is done once. Not over and over again.
- One explanation says that it should be done with a Miswak (lightweight, small wooden stick used to clean one’s teeth). Not with your hand she said, as in to say “only extend your hand (or other body parts) in a positive manner.”
- Unfortunately she has seen some people go to their Imams (religious directors) and ask how they can implement this Ayah and they tell them that they can hit their wives but not more than 40 times. These misinterpretations are deadly to Islam.
- “The idea of abuse goes against the framework of Islam’s view of marriage which is Sakina (peace) and comfort,” she said.
….Where Practice Makes Perfect
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