By Dr. Lutf ur Rehman, Nashville, USA
Recently in Pakistan, the Punjab Assembly passed a law which would make it easier for the women to report domestic violence, abuse and physical harm by their husbands to the police. The “Council of Islamic Ideology” (CII) opposed this law and presented the so called Islamic view on this subject. Their views have been widely reported in the Western press such as CNN, BBC and Washington Post etc. According to the learned Islamic Scholars of the council husbands are permitted to beat their wives “lightly” as a last resort to bring them into obedience.
Speaking to reporters, the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology, Muhammad Khan Sherani, said a “light beating” should be a last resort.
“If you want her to mend her ways, you should first advise her. … If she refuses, stop talking to her … stop sharing a bed with her, and if things do not change, get a bit strict,” Sherani said, according to Pakistan’s Express-Tribune newspaper.
If all else fails, he added, “hit her with light things like handkerchief, a hat or a turban, but do not hit her on the face or private parts.”
The council, also known as the CII and made up of Islamic clerics and scholars who advise Pakistani legislators, said it was “un-Islamic” for women to leave an abusive relationship and seek refuge in a shelter. The CII strongly opposed Punjab’s law, and said it wanted to weigh in with its own proposal.
“A husband should be allowed to lightly beat his wife if she defies his commands and refuses to dress up as per his desires; turns down demand of intercourse without any religious excuse or does not take bath after intercourse or menstrual periods,” the report states, according to Pakistan’s Express-Tribune newspaper.
Reached by phone, a CII official confirmed the report to The Washington Post, but stressed that some changes could still be made to the document before it is forwarded to lawmakers for review.
CNN reported that the proposal also calls for a beating if a woman does not wear a hijab, if she interacts with strangers, speaks too loudly or gives others cash without her husband’s permission, according to the newspaper.
It also suggests bans on various activities, including women fighting in wars. But it allows women to participate in politics and become judges, and proposes that the need for a guardian for women of age is not required.
The proposal also says that women should not be permitted to receive non-relatives or foreign officials, and they should not use birth control pills without asking their husbands.
Proposals by the Council of Islamic Ideology are recommendations and are not applicable unless passed by legislators.
Of course there was the usual hue and cry opposing these proposals.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah rejected the proposals, saying: “Islam does not allow any violence, whether against women or children.”
Lawyer and human rights activist Asma Jahangir told Geo TV that the proposals amounted to “the humiliation of women.”
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan termed the proposals “ridiculous”, and recommended the abolition of the CII.
Why they did it? According to the BBC report, the CII proposals were a response to a women’s protection law passed by the Punjab government in March.
That law wanted to make it easier for female victims of domestic violence to report abuse, and introduced procedures to keep the perpetrator away from the victim until the dispute was resolved.
The CII was opposed to the law, and declared it un-Islamic.
The Punjab government has delayed enacting the law – even though the CII’s rulings are not binding.
This mockery of the religion of Islam is being played on the world stage every day, not just on this one issue but all matters concerning human rights. The women and children are a favorite target of these scholars of the religion. Sanctioning of domestic violence, polygamy, child labor, child marriage, lack of consent of the women in marriages, requiring male guardian and his consent for the marriage of girls, prohibition of women in the workplace, confining them to the homes of their male guardians, strict and draconian enforcement of hijab, denying them the right to be a witness in legal matters, placing the burden of proof on the woman in case of rape, and reduced share in inheritance are just a few from a very long and scary list.
Muslims living in the West try to present a reformed view of Islam but a careful analysis shows that almost all Islamic scholars living in the West also hold the same views. They just put up a good show. Their presentation is much more polished and their words are carefully chosen but at the end of the day they all believe in child marriage and the right of the husband to beat his wife.
Why it is so hard for the Muslims living in the West to explain these issues? Why they are unable to categorically say that the religion of Islam does not sanction child marriage and domestic violence? In today’s world when human rights have been recognized at a global level and have become a part of the political charter of every country, why Muslims are still struggling to accept them?
There is only one reason. Muslims, for as far back as I can see, get their religion not from their Holy Book, “Quran” but from their scholars. The obedience of their religious leaders is the single most important value. They do not question them. The tradition of scholarly discussion or expression of your opinion is not just frowned upon, it is severely punished. Those who engage in dissent can be killed, or expelled from the following, or socially isolated. Muslims do not know what is written in the Quran nor are they willing to study the life of the Prophet Muhammad. They worship their religious leaders and do not even care for God or His Word or His Prophet!! They are willing to kill their own children if their leader says so.
So let us look at the life of the Prophet Muhammad and see how he dealt with the women. His first marriage was with a woman of 40 years of age. She was a wealthy woman who owned her business and employed the Prophet. Both came to a mutual understanding and got married. A true love story!! This marriage lasted for 25 years until Khadija’s death. Another wife of the Prophet owned a business of leather products. Another of his wife was a teacher of religion. More than 2,000 ahadith are narrated by her. According to the Prophet, “learn half of the religion from Ayesha”. After the death of the Prophet, Ayesha was active in the politics of Medina and even fought a war against the rival faction. So this is the Prophet whom Muslims claim to follow and yet they are against the women working, owning businesses or preaching in the mosque. They want to wrap the women in a tight hijab and confine her to the home. They claim that even the voice of the woman comes under hijab. She should not talk to anyone but family. In the time of the Prophet, the Muslim women used to accompany their men to the wars and tended for the wounded and the sick. There were no restrictions on them. This is the creation of our religious gods of today.
If we keep accepting the distorted and perverted views of our religious leaders, then of course we will believe in domestic violence. The issue of wife beating is a cultural one. But our ignorant religious leaders insist that God allows a husband to beat his wife. They place the root of the problem in the Holy Quran. On the one hand we proclaim that the religion of Islam and its Prophet are a mercy for the entire mankind and on the other hand we allow a husband to beat his wife in the isolation of her home when he is the physically stronger party and no one is there to protect her. How vulnerable and fearsome is the situation for a wife who is the captive of such an abusive husband. And then we allow it on the basis of Quran and refuse to take action against the husband. Let me be very clear. There is no place in the Holy Quran where God has permitted a husband to beat his wife. This is the creation of the religious leaders of Islam. The Prophet did not allow it, the Quran did not allow it and most certainly God did not allow it. But the ignorant leaders of religion allow it!! And since the Muslims worship these fallible, ignorant leaders that have no knowledge of the religion and are concerned with their own well being, they are unable to accept even common sense decent human rights.
So what is the solution? God says in the Holy Quran that He would not change the condition of a people unless they themselves make an effort to change it. Unless Muslims stop worshiping their religious leaders and unless they develop the habit of questioning them, nothing will change. Islam is in the Quran. You, I and everybody can get a copy of the Quran. Go read it. Whenever you hear nonsense from the leaders of religion, go check it in the Quran. You will be surprised how many times they were lying.