Gender equality in Islam vs the menace of domestic violence – 1

By Ayeza Haider

Ramadan is the month of Quran and Muslims all over the world are refreshing their links to the divine message. The message of Quran is crystal clear; all human beings are children of one Allah, born to one parents (Adam and Eve) and we should live on this earth as one community, the human race. If we do that, human beings will find peace and there would be no fear or sadness for anyone. No person would be subservient to any other person or dependent on anyone else for his needs. All matters will be taken care of in the light of the divine guidance and man-made laws would perish. The social justice system would be implemented on this earth and the world would be lit with the light of divine guidance. The abilities of each individual would be nurtured so that he would gain his best potential in this life and achieve a never ending, eternal life of happiness and success in the hereafter. This is the gist of what many scholars have compiled from their study of Quran and that is the straight path, the Sirat e Mustaqeem which will lead us to the paradise which is promised to us, in this world and in the hereafter.

Quran is such a living miracle that no matter how many times you go through it, you are never satisfied and each time you ponder on any issue, you find new guidance, new light which you had missed earlier. A huge barrier we non-Arabs find in our study is the dependency on translations because Arabic is not our mother tongue and even those of us who try to learn some level of Arabic are hindered in its understanding because apart from technicalities, we do not know the phrase of the language which is an integral part of Quran study as the language in which it was first revealed was the pure language of Arab Bedouins so it is beyond our reach now. Many scholars of yesteryears like Muhammad Asad spent years of their life in the deserts of Arabia and learnt the pearls of Arabic from Bedouins so his translation of the Holy Quran depicts that phrase of the language but still, it is a difficult translation for us.

In today’s world, another young scholar Nouman Ali Khan is trying to explore the beauty of this miraculous language and trying to share his love of this Quranic Arabic with us. People like me are hooked on to his lectures and at times we are amazed by the in depth analysis he presents in his research. I invite all of my readers to listen to him and read his books as they are huge blessings in our times where the main focus is on the grammatical analysis and meaning of each and every word of Quran, keeping in view its chapter, its background, its context and especially the subject that it is focusing on. It is a vast treasure and a treat for the new generation to enjoy the light and non-judgemental way NAK tries to get his message through keeping in mind the time and era in which we are living. He is definitely no saint and we can differ from his opinion in any matter that does not satisfy us but the work he is doing is simply too marvellous to ignore.

I will share only one topic today because it is an issue that raises too many questions and disturbs too many egos and that is ‘Domestic violence carried out in the name of Islam’. The overall study of Quran states unambiguously that men and women are born equal and they enjoy same status in the eyes of Allah who is the creator of both of them. They get equal opportunities in this world to earn their position in the hereafter and they can get best position only due to their sincere efforts to live according to Islam to please their Lord. There are no favours to any particular gender from Allah, just different roles according to their different physiques. The roles are according to the social needs and for the survival of human race. No one is superior or inferior!

Now the problem arises when there is one part of Quran, Surah An Nisa where in verse 34 it is stated that men are Quwaam of women and later in the same verse it is stated that in a situation where a wife is becoming rebellious, you can hit her. I have seen and heard both religious and secular people misinterpreting this verse and either abusing it or distorting it to the extent so as to change the whole concept of a happy family life that Allah wants us to enjoy in this world. As I stated in the beginning, the highest aim of our existence is creating a peaceful society where the rights of each and every individual are safe guarded according to the commandments of Allah. The basic unit of society is the family and if there is unrest in this unit, you will find unrest in the whole society. So we have to thrash out this matter and digest its essence once and for all, in order to regain the equilibrium which has been lost due to the misinterpretation of this verse alone. Secular people hate this verse because it shows that wives are inferior to husbands who can beat them so they are disillusioned by the whole Quran. How can Allah be unfair to wives and allow domestic violence?

On the other hand, the religious section has distorted it so much to their own benefit that the men have become dictators in their own houses and simply lost the beauty and love that should come with the relationship of a husband and wife. I personally feel that religious men are to be blamed more for this misinterpretation because they let their own wishful thinking exaggerate their role given to them by Allah. Nowhere in the Sunnah or teachings of our Prophet (PBUH) do we find any shred of evidence which justifies that sick behaviour. It’s most disastrous effect on society was oppressed wives who were scared of their husbands and fearful of their fate in case they made any mistake which could lead to domestic violence. It also caused anger, hate and resentment in women which naturally arises after getting abused at the hands of a person who was supposed to be their protector and lover. The end result: hatred being passed on to the kids, emotionally disturbed children, broken houses and damage to the overall fabric of society. That is why I’m writing the explanation which I found with NAK because even the misinterpretation of this single verse of Quran has deeply damaged the fabric of our society for generations and it’s high time that we understand what the divine verse actually means and build our family life on a positive note instead of cutting the very branch of the tree on which rests our whole society.

Now, in the words of Nauman Ali Khan, this verse belongs to Surah An Nisa and a lot of legal instructions are being given here like: A) polygamy B) inheritance C) punishment  D) who is it haraam for you to marry etc. What is common in these topics, the most unusual and exceptional cases are being discussed here! For example take polygamy, verse 3 says, “If you are raising orphan girls (they are not your mehram) you are allowed to marry one of them or two of them, or three of them or four of them (in order to avoid violating them so if the urge becomes too strong, marry them instead of abusing them).” But let’s see how many of Muslims are raising orphan girls today in a way that gives them the right to marry four of them? I don’t want to side track my main topic but I can’t help myself because I have witnessed these mullahs sitting in T.V shows, selling this verse to the masses and misinterpreting it by quoting only half the verse which says, “ ….so marry one or two, or three or four”. They hide the truth from the people without explaining that this is an exceptional case and that the whole verse or sentence clearly states “If you fear for the orphan girls…..” It is not a general instruction to Muslim men to go ahead and marry four women without any reason just to satisfy their cardinal desires. This is what Allah told the scholars of Bani Israel that they should not sell Allah’s verses cheaply but that is exactly what today’s mullahs are doing.

Anyway let’s get back to the topic in An Nisa and another unusual case, “….Allah has forbidden for you, your mother, your daughters, your aunts….” Again this is not a normal case. Who wants to marry their mothers or daughters or sisters or nieces or aunts etc.? This order is absolutely for some disturbed psychopath kind of weird people who used to practice this in ancient times. Usually many laws are made for criminals instead of normal law abiding people in order to check their madness. They cover the periphery of the society instead of the main body. That is what Surah An Nisa is doing. It is talking about some crazy extreme situations.