Saturday, 11 June 2016

The Layman's Koran

If You Fear Your Wife is Disobedient . . . 

Sura 4 is a long rambling chapter in the Koran, although it bears the title "Women".  At 4.34 we read a "money quotation" which explains so much of Islamic society, social organisation, and jurisprudence.
Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the others, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them.  Good women are obedient.  They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them.  As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them.  Then if they obey you, take no further action against them.  Allah is high, supreme.
 The Islamic doctrine of women being inferior to men is grounded in their respective being-in-itself.   Allah made the one superior, the other inferior.  The authority of men over women is grounded in one gender being superior in being than the other.  Then, to this ontological distinction, making males superior to females, is added an additional (economic) justification of male superiority--filthy lucre.  Men spend their wealth maintaining women, so women owe their obedience to men.  Like a slaves.

The extent of obedience required of wives, and the corresponding extent of male superiority, is underscored by what follows: if a man fears that his wife is disobedient--that is, if he makes a subjective judgment that she may have a disobedient attitude or non-compliant will, then he must withhold sexual relations from her and beat her.

Doubtless there are many faithful, solicitous Islamic husbands who have never beaten their wives.  But what you have to wonder is whether such husbands are genuinely Islamic.  Maybe they are hypocrites: men who don't take the Koran (and, therefore, Allah) seriously.  And the fate of Islamic hypocrites is not good.  In the same Sura we read:
The hypocrites seek to deceive Allah, but it is Allah who deceives them.  When they rise to pray, they stand up sluggishly: they pray for the sake of ostentation and remember Allah but little, wavering between this and that and belonging neither to these nor those. . . . The hypocrites shall be case into the lowest depths of Hell: there shall be none to help them. [4:141]
The Islamic husband who fails to beat his wife risks being called a hypocrite, one whose Islamic faith is for ostentation, not fidelity and truthfulness.  Maybe he remembers Allah "but little".  The moderate Islamic believer is the hypocritical Islamic.  He wavers "between this and that".  The lower depths of Hell awaits him.

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