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October 23, 2006

Killing Me Softly...

The title of this post is from a song (which I actually detest) by Roberta Flack. It seems appropriate for the subject of this post: the radical Islamic mindset when it comes to their womenfolk. From an op ed in the Washington Post, written by Asra Q. Nomani (hat tip Blue Crab Boulevard):

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. When dealing with a "disobedient wife," a Muslim man has a number of options. First, he should remind her of "the importance of following the instructions of the husband in Islam." If that doesn't work, he can "leave the wife's bed." Finally, he may "beat" her, though it must be without "hurting, breaking a bone, leaving blue or black marks on the body and avoiding hitting the face, at any cost."

Such appalling recommendations, drawn from the book "Woman in the Shade of Islam" by Saudi scholar Abdul Rahman al-Sheha, are inspired by as authoritative a source as any Muslim could hope to find: a literal reading of the 34th verse of the fourth chapter of the Koran, An-Nisa , or Women. "[A]nd (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them," reads one widely accepted translation.

The notion of using physical punishment as a "disciplinary action," as Sheha suggests, especially for "controlling or mastering women" or others who "enjoy being beaten," is common throughout the Muslim world. Indeed, I first encountered Sheha's work at my Morgantown mosque, where a Muslim student group handed it out to male worshipers after Friday prayers one day a few years ago.

Verse 4:34 retains a strong following, even among many who say that women must be treated as equals under Islam. Indeed, Muslim scholars and leaders have long been doing what I call "the 4:34 dance" they reject outright violence against women but accept a level of aggression that fits contemporary definitions of domestic violence.

Western leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, have recently focused on Muslim women's veils as an obstacle to integration in the West. But to me, it is 4:34 that poses the much deeper challenge of integration. How the Muslim world interprets this passage will reveal whether Islam can be compatible with life in the 21st century. As Hadayai Majeed, an African American Muslim who had opened a shelter in Atlanta to serve Muslim women, put it, "If it's okay for me to be a savage in my home, it's okay for me to be a savage in the world."

Not long after I picked up the free Saudi book, Mahmoud Shalash, an imam from Lexington, Ky., stood at the pulpit of my mosque and offered marital advice to the 100 or so men sitting before him. He repeated the three-step plan, with "beat them" as his final suggestion. Upstairs, in the women's balcony, sat a Muslim friend who had recently left her husband, who she said had abused her; her spouse sat among the men in the main hall.

At the sermon's end, I approached Shalash. "This is America," I protested. "How can you tell men to beat their wives?"

"They should beat them lightly," he explained. "It's in the Koran."

He was doing the dance.

Beating her without breaking bones or leaving bruises? It reminds me of that scene in The Grifters, where Anjelica Huston's shady character is beaten by her mobster boss with a sack of oranges because it doesn't leave any marks. He caught her skimming money from what she was supposed to give him from discarded racetrack tickets.

Think about it: This is a culture that deems it to be acceptable to beat one's wife if she is not behaving the way one would like. What does that say about their behavior toward the rest of civilization? As Gaius from BCB says in his post:

There is a problem with extremism and Islamism, which should not be confused in any way, I think, with the religion of Islam itself. Rather it is with a secular movement enforcing extreme notions and interpretations in order to gain secular power. This is hiding behind the mask of religion to advance an unholy agenda.

I'm still waiting for everyone to get it.

Show Comments


"They should beat them lightly," he explained. "It's in the Koran."

it is so sad...

so mindless...

this post was truly moving, and yet, i feel somewhat powerless to help.

voting to rebuke the liberal folly can help...

Posted by: hnav at October 23, 2006 07:49 PM

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