By Shah Tajamul
Islam ardently abhors all forms of violence –domestic, physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious and sexual — against women. In the Islamic schemata, marriage is a sacred bond or holy tie which provides peace, compassion, fairness, comfort, tranquility and protection. So there is no possibility of any kind of abuse, pain, shame and bitterness in this blessed bond of marriage. Allah (SWT) eloquently describes this beautiful relationship in His holy book, Al Qur’an:
“Among His signs is that He created for you mates of your kind so that you acquire peace from them, and He created between you love and mercy. Verily, in this (system of creation) there are signs for those who meditate”. (30:21)
In this verse of the Holy Qur’an, Allah (SWT) clearly expresses that there should be love and mercy between husband and wife. But unfortunately, these days, in many cases there is little love care and sympathy between husband and wife despite the clear Qur’anic injunction and thrust on love between man and wife. At times, the husbands, for whatever reasons, kill their wives without feeling any guilt and shame. This is abhorrent in Islam for Islam does not allow husbands to beat, kill and humiliate their wives under any circumstances. Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:
“O Believers, treat women with kindness even if you dislike them; it is quite possible that you dislike some, which Allah (SWT) might yet make a source of abundant good’’.(4:19)
In another place, Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Book:
“Your wives are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them”. (2:187)
The above Quranic dictums clearly and evidently point out the pious nature of the relationship between husband and wife and commands men and women to respect each other. The main objectives of the sacred relationship of marriage are to preserve human life from extinction, maintain physical or mental well being and religious harmony.
However, many critics wrongly attempt to denigrate Islam as being oppressive towards women despite the fact that an entire chapter titled “The Women” (Al-Nisa) is devoted in the Qur’an in respect and reverence of women. It is Islam which granted equal rights to women and emancipated them from the darkness of pre Islamic times where women were treated as mere chattel, having no rights (social, political economic and religious rights) whatsoever.
One can find the best example of the husband-wife relationship based on love, care, justice, clemency and mutual understanding from the life of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). In one of the traditions Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“The most perfect of believers is one who is best in character or behavior, and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”.
But, these days, many husbands, with chests poking out order, humiliate their wives about petty things like “Where is food?”, “Where are clothes?”, “Why don’t you do this?”, “Why don’t you do that?”,”Why don’t you be quiet?” and so on. They wrongly think that Islam has given them license to treat their wives like servants or slaves. All those husbands who think of such filth must know that their wives have to nothing to do for then and if they want someone to do household chores, they should hire domestic helps. It is not a requirement for wives to wash clothes, prepare dishes, cook food, clean homes and so on. But if they (wives) do that out of love, this would constitute blessings and for them front of Allah (SWT). In fact, majority of the Muslim scholars— Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam al-Shafi’e and Imam Malik–, are of the opinion that serving one’s husband in terms of housework is not mandatory. Instead, it is only among noble manners. The Qur’anic verse, “Arrijalu Qawwamuna Alan Nissa”, does not mean that men are the commanders of their women, but that they are caretakers or protectors of their women and responsibilities are to them.
Hadrat Aisha (RA), the wife of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), was asked, “What did the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) use to do in his house?”. She replied, “He did what one of would do in his house. He mended sandals and patched garments and sewed” (Adab Al- Mufrad).
A good number of educated people think that helping their women in and with housework makes them “feminine” without realizing the fact that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) himself did this in his house. Such people who are not willing to help their wives are acting against the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and will definitely find their places among oppressors or tyrants on the Day of Judgment.
No one here in this transient World is perfect; every human being is imperfect and also has good and bad traits. So one should not be judged or hated only on the basis of bad attributes but should be judged or liked on good traits as well. In terms of the relationship between husband and wife, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said, “A believing man (husband) should not hate a believing woman (wife). If he dislikes something in her character, he should be pleased with some other trait of hers”. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) strongly criticized those husbands who beat or hit their wives and then have intimate relations with them later. He himself never hit his wives during his life span, even though they had disagreements with him and held diverse views or opinions .When one of the companions asked Messenger of Allah about a husband’s liability or responsibility towards his wife, the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said, “Give your wife food when you eat food, clothe her when you clothe yourself, do not scorn her, do not malign her and do not beat her”.
Many opponents of Islam say that if Islam criticizes all forms of violence against women then what does the Qur’anic verse 4:34 means? The word “Wadribuhunna” in this verse is derived from the Arabic root word “Daraba”, commonly interpreted to mean “beating or striking”, which in reality has over fifty derivations, meanings and definitions, such as— ‘to separate’, ‘to travel’, ‘to regret’, ‘to oscillate’, ‘to ignore’, ‘to take away’ and so on. This means the word “Daraba” provides us a number of other meanings, including “to separate” which is more credible within the context of the Qur’anic verse 4:34. If a wife or a husband feels any complication with regard to the marital relationship or feels any disloyalty with each other, it is better if they are separated from the respective partners or spouses. Hence, the word cannot, in any circumstance, be interpreted to authorize the beating of women. Such an understanding also runs against the core values of Qur’an and Hadith. The Lebanese educator and journalist Abd al-Qadir al-Maghribi in his essay—Muhammad and Woman said: “He [Muhammad (pbuh) prohibited a man from beating his wife and noted that beating was not appropriate for the marital relationship between them’. In a nutshell and essence then Islam abhors and forbids any king of violence against men and accords and demands that utmost respect be accorded to them.
—The author is a student of Islamic Studies and a Junior Research Fellow. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org