Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
13 August 2008updated 27 Sep 2015 2:30am

Islam – pro women’s rights?

The beating of women is not advocated in any form by the Quran, writes Zubia Malik from the UK Commu

By Zubia Malik

The most common justification for ridiculing Islam is that the religion is “backward”, particularly towards women, as a fundamental part of its beliefs. There have been many articles and incidences within the press and media suggesting that “women are treated as chattels”. And it’s true that there are certain religious scriptures which can command this.

Although women’s right encompasses many areas from education to marriage, I want to focus in particular on domestic violence. Wife abuse is something that crosses all boundaries whatever religious background or culture one may come from but there seems to be a common misconception that Islam encourages wife beating. Unfortunately, more often, the practices of some Muslims do not mesh with the teaching of the Quran and becomes an issue of culture or more often simple bad human behavior.

Many critics use a verse in Chapter 4 of the Quran that orders believers to beat their wives; so confirming Islam to be a male dominant religion. At first glance it may seem that this verse is advocating wife beating but the theme of the Chapter is to defend women’s rights, and countering injustice and oppression of women. Thus, any interpretation of verses in Chapter 4 must be in favour of the women, not the other way around. So if we reflect upon the verse carefully, the beating of women is actually prohibited by using other approaches i.e. first talk and then avoid sexual contact -providing necessary time and space for both parties to cool off and assess the situation, reflect and then come to a mutual agreement.

Personally, every time I read Chapter 4 I felt that something was wrong for people to be translating and interpreting it as the justification for wife beating. Does God, the Most Wise, really order us to beat our women? What kind of solution is that? It is in direct contrast to the verses in which God describes marriage as one of tranquility and contentment with each other.

One could easily get confused from the mixed messages being taught by the Quran. I believe that it is important to understand the essence of what is being taught by the Chapter but unfortunately the abuse of that verse in this Chapter is rampant amongst Muslim societies.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

It seems only logical that a righteous husband should NEVER get to the point where beating of the wife enters the picture. A believing couple will consult one another and agree on the best way to solve their differences as Chapter 4 and the whole scripture recommends. Beating women is no solution and the Quran does not advocate this in any form. Contrary to that, according to the Quran, the righteous believers are exemplified as the patient ones, suppressors of anger, equitable, and those who seek God’s forgiveness. So let’s ponder on this, how comfortable are we in seeking God’s exoneration, but, yet can’t pardon others?

Content from our partners
Transport is the core of levelling up
The forgotten crisis: How businesses can boost biodiversity
Small businesses can be the backbone of our national recovery