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I have altered the provocative voice to maintain only the line of thought pursued.

The answering voice, and more at length here, enough so to justify my noting that I have Martin Pembroke Harries’ permission to reprint his views here, takes an atheist’s stance in the formulation of ethics.  We’ve had some back-and-forth about circumcision, Abraham, obedience, and conscience, but here the topic around which the notes weave is grrrrrl power, which he defends well.

Other editing: I’ve added line breaks for readability and italicized the “point” voice to Pembroke’s counterpoint.

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Women are shy in the Koran and won’t perceive the crime the way a male would.

Is this a wind-up? I can’t decide whether you’re serious or a master of sarcasm.

If you are being serious, when you suggest to, say, Sheikh Hasina the prime Minister of Bangladesh, or Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the prime Minister of Argentina, or Hilary Clinton, the former US Secretary of State, that their testimony would be worth half that of yours simply because you are a man, you would be well to stand well beyond their swinging fist distance!

While the Koran authorizes beating a wife after other steps have been tried, it tells us not to maim them.  In the west, it seems there are no rules.about how to beat one’s wife.

Again, is this for real?

If so, this is what religion can do to a nominally decent man, it forces him to justify the indefensible.

Do you think that because Sharia states that you can’t break her face when you beat your wife, that is some how a reflection of the nobility of Islam?

That is so sad first of all, but monstrously embarrassing soon afterward.

And let’s be honest, there is nothing in the Quran that states you can’t break your wife’s face when you’re beating her – If you actually read the Quran 4:34, you’ll find that there is no restriction at all.

Please don’t tell me I can find on the book shelves of my local mosque library “101 Halal ways to beat your wife!”, or “How to lovingly protect your wife from the shame of her disobedience through the use of a good timely thrashing” or “Sharia Wife-beating made simple and with a Smile – avoid the face, and Carry On!”

A woman in Islam may be a wife, mother, sister, or daughter.  There is no disrespect in that.

I’ve read numerous Muslims state that there is this nominal respect for one’s OWN mother and one’s OWN sister, but once your average MENA Muslim male leaves the house, that’s where respect for women, in general, ends.

Women lead in the percentage of Muslim reverts in the United States.  If the religion was so bad for them, why would they revert?

Yes, This is the case because non-Muslim females are marrying Muslim males – for love no less!

It’s probably to please the groom’s parents more than actually believing Mohamed’s story; whereas Muslim females are forbidden to marry non-Muslim men – often at the threat of her life. Again, this a shameful example of not giving equal rights to women. If Muslim men were forbidden to marry non-Muslim women the number of ‘converts’ would plummet.

Lastly, have you got the statistic of how many ‘converts’ have subsequently unconverted? Or how many have converted only nominally in order to facilitate the marriage? Those numbers would be far less flattering wouldn’t they?

Islam disallows Muslim daughters from marrying non-Muslims.  If you have a problem with that, it’s your problem.

Well, first of all it’s the daughters’ problem.

I respect your atheism.  I want you tor respect my belief in Allah.

No. I respect *your right to believe* what you want, but there is no way you should expect me to automatically respect *what you believe*. Nor should you expect me to automatically respect your right to practice your religion if the tenets of the religion are anathema to rational social harmony – and on those grounds masking the face would be contrary to those ideals. I’ll respect what you believe with respect to Mohamed’s story and social mores only if it reflects justice, morality and rationality – and there is your problem. But it shouldn’t be a big problem, it’s only unsubstantiated religion – folklore – after all.

There are probably a number of non-religious issues upon which we might agree. For instance, I reckon chicken biryani is a food of the gods!

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Harries is entitled to his opinion, but I myself never regard folklore as trivial: language is always (always) a cultural tool and what is invented in it, whether out of necessity and the need for useful signals or out of desire or play or the want of excitement and greatness (even if only in our own heads), each language and its lore and literature becomes a suspension for cultural self-concept.

With that, I’ll take this post a little further.

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Surat 4:34:

“Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah has guarded. As for those from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great.” (Pickthall’s version of the Koran, Quran, 4:34)

The first commentary I’ve opened from web search: A Commentary on The Qur’an 4:34 By Dr. Ahmad Shafaat

Dr. Shafaat gets into the matter of entangled loyalty well with this statement on the violence involved:

“Beat them”. If even separation fails to work, then it is suggested that men use beating. To this suggestion of the Holy Qur’an there have been two extreme reactions on the part of some Muslims. The first reaction is being apologetic or ashamed of the suggestion. The second is to use it as a justification for indulging in habitual wife battering. Needless to say that both these reactions are wrong. The Quran as we believe is the word of God and is thus every word in it is full of wisdom and love. To be apologetic about any part of the Quran is to lack both knowledge and faith.

For every word to be “full of wisdom and love”, some additional exegesis seems necessary, for Dr. Shafaat continues:

In regard to the suggestion about beating, the following further points should also be noted:

a) According to some traditions the Prophet said in his famous and well-attended speech on the occasion of his farewell pilgrimage that the beating done according to the present verse should be ghayr mubarrih, i.e. in such a way that it should not cause injury, bruise or serious hurt. On this basis some scholars like Tabari and Razi say even that it should be largely symbolic and should be administered “with a folded scarf” or “with a miswak or some such thing”. However, to be effective in its purpose of shaking the wife out of her nasty mood it is important that it should provide an energetic demonstration of the anger, frustration and love of the husband. In other words, it should neither seriously hurt the wife nor reduce it to a set of meaningless motions devoid of emotions.

That power continues to reside in the man (this is a locus-of-control issue) and not in the woman (how should one of the fair sex respond to or treat a “rebellious man”?) seems less an issue than the management of the degree of violence expressed, either physically or symbolically.

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In working with thought as language behavior subject to modification by context in time plus the relative insularity of minds and the language-inventing cultures that create content and self-concept as well as a righteous sense of both license and prohibition, there’s much conversation needed about what I’ve started calling the “humanity of humanity”, i.e., mankind’s better potential in character, and in relation to that, a reconciled psychological outlook.

I have recently promoted Fazeela Siddiqui’s article in the Huffington Post, “10 Muslim Women Every Person Should Know” (March 24, 2012) on this blog and on Facebook.

It’s worth a look, especially to men who may have doubts about how tough may be the “rebellious” woman they have been otherwise so licensed to beat, they themselves having been so pandered to as to have been granted by power on high exclusive control over what many other humans might as fervently and justifiably believe ideal as an equally empowered and inclusive love and partnership.

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One more note on the laying on of hands by either partner in a marriage: when it has come to that, somebody, one or the other, please, leave the home, call a lawyer, and arrange for a separation.

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