I'm no scholar, I just post quotes from the Qu'ran, the sunnah and some ahadith, along with what's the most likely explanation by taking them literally. It's not my fault if they're bloody awful and require creative interpretation in order to be read in less awful ways. Complain with Mo. :lol:
But let's see this article anyway:
Domestic violence is not specific to a particular religious group; Australian statistics indicate that one in six women experience physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner in their lifetime.
Despite this, several recent media reports have sensationalised domestic violence within the Muslim community, and often falsely linked it to Verse 4:34 in the Qur’an.
This is a bad way to start. Of course domestic violence isn't specific to a particular group, religious or otherwise. This is a red herring: the real matter is whether the Qu'ran sanctions it, and it DOES
The contention about Verse 4:34 is particular to its English translation. There are no accurate translations of this verse, which compounds the issue for English-speakers. There are three particular words – qawwamuna, nushuzahunna, and wadribuhunna – that appear in this verse and are often mistranslated, mainly due to a lack of equivalent words in English.
Particularly problematic is how the word wadribuhunna is translated into English. A clear disagreement exists among English-language Qur’an commentators on how best to translate this word. All translations give an explicit negative connotation, and – when read out of context – further exacerbates any misunderstanding.
Qu'ran, Sura 4: Verse 34 wrote:Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.
The verb used for "strike them" is wa-iḍ'ribūhunna
. The verbal root "ḍād rā bā" (to strike, to present or to travel) is found many times in the Qu'ran. It has two possible meaning: the hit/strike/beat or to present, to show, or to travel, to go from point A to point B.
It IS used to mean "to strike" in the Qu'ran, for example in:
Qu'ran, Sura 47, verse 4 wrote:So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle],strike[their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah - never will He waste their deeds.
The word used here is "faḍarba", which has the same root as "wa-iḍ'ribūhunna". Classic Arabic uses prefixes (morphemes, i.e. part of the word which go before the root), suffixes (after the root) and even infixes (in between the letters of the root).
The particle "fa" is a prefixed "resumption" particle, which shows a sequence of event (X after Y). On the other hand "wa" is a conjuction equivalent to "and"), the form of the verb is an imperative for the second masculine pronoun ("you, men") while the suffix "-unna" is a 3rd person feminine plural object pronoun.
Arabic has gendered pronouns: there are masculine and feminine forms. The verse 34 of Sura 4 uses a masculine
subject form (the people who DO the action) and a feminine
object form (the people who ARE SUBJECTED to the action) of the pronouns, all attached to a verb which, in its TRANSITIVE form (when you have both a subject and an object) is used in the Qu'ran to mean "to strike, to beat".
The root "ḍād rā bā" CAN be used to mean "to travel, to set forth", but (and here's the catch), when used this way it is INTRANSITIVE, i.e. it has no object. It's never used to mean "to banish, to push away", i.e. the TRANSITIVE meaning of "set forth", at least not with a personal
object (i.e. to turn away, to banish someone
instance when the root "ḍād rā bā" is used with the meaning of "set forth" and with a transitive form is when it refers to a message
, like in:
Qu'ran, Sura 43, Verse 5 wrote:Then should We turn away the message, disregarding you, because you are a transgressing people?
The word used here is "afanaḍribu", with the interrogative prefix "alif" (reduced to "af") and the supplemental particle "ana", with an object at the accusative (the case, or form of a noun, of objects) which is separated
from the verb. Importantly enough the object is "l-dhik'ra" (the message, the Remainder") which is an indefinite noun in its accusative form, NOT a pronoun.
Compare and contrast when the root "ḍād rā bā" is used in:
Qu'ran, Sura 2, Verse 72 wrote:So, We said, "Strike the slain man with part of it." Thus does Allah bring the dead to life, and He shows you His signs that you might reason.
The word used here is "iḍ'ribūhu", which has the suffix "-hu" which is a 3rd person masculine singular object pronoun. Confront with "wa-iḍ'ribūhunna" and you see that in BOTH cases the object personal pronoun is attacked to the verb, as it is typical of transitive verbs with a personal pronoun in object form. The construction is the same
, which, along with the context, shows us that the meaning is very likely the same
, to strike, to beat, not "to banish, to turn away".
There's a THIRD
possible use of the root "ḍād rā bā", which is "to present, to show". However here's the catch: when the root is used in this way there's always either a double object ("to present X as Y" "to show X as Y") or a term of reference (the form, "to Z") or both.
For example in:
Qu'ran, Sura 43, Verse 58 wrote:And they said, "Are your gods better, or is he?" They did not present the comparison except for [mere] argument. But, [in fact], they are a people prone to dispute.
The word used here is "ḍarabūhu", with the now familiar suffix "-hu", the 3rd person masculine singular object pronoun. There's a second object
later, the word "jadalan", which is the accusative (object) form of the indefinite noun "argument". Furthermore there's a term of reference, "laka", which means "to you".
Qu'ran, Sura 47, Verse 3 wrote:That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood, and those who believe follow the truth from their Lord. Thus does Allah present to the people their comparisons.
The word used here is "yaḍribu", a pure verb, which means "presents", and there's both a term of reference "lilnnāsi" (to the people) and an object "amthālahum" (their comparisons).
Let's go back to the verse in question, the 34th of the 4th Sura, and analyze only the sentence which contains the progressive recommendations towards them. Here's a rough translitteration into the (extended) Latin alphabet of the Arabic script:
"wa-allātī takhāfūna nushūzahunna faʿiẓūhunna
fī l-maḍājiʿi wa-iḍ'ribūhunna
["But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them."]
Note the parts in bold, which repeat: "ūhunna" where the "ūh" part means "you" (masculine, subject) and the "unna" part means "them" (feminine, object). The verb are all in their imperative form, which implies a command.
There's a progression of commands, from an advice through words (faʿiẓūhunna, from root wāw ʿayn ẓā "to instruct, to admonish") then through denying intimacy (wa-uh'jurūhunna, from root hā jīm rā "to avoid, to forsake, to emigrate").
The context clearly excludes the meaning of "to present/to show" (there's no referent, no "to Z" structure). Is it possible that the meaning is to "turn them away", i.e. metaphorically, to reject them? No, because this use isn't attested in the Qu'ran when talking about people. It'd be non-literal, metaphorical use, which would open the gates to non-literalism in general.
So if you take the Qu'ran literally
there's no room to argue that the Qu'ran sanctions and recommends wife-beating as a response to repeated acts of "arrogance" or better yet "ill-conduct" (nushūzahunna).
What exactly does "nushūz" mean in the Qu'ran is a question for another post, but the narrative that islam is AGAINST wife-beating has no textual support.
People are welcome to force a non-literal, metaphoric
meaning over "wadribuhunna", but a) the use in other parts of the Qu'ran b) the grammar structure of sentence in the 34th verse of the 4th sura which contains the word, and c) the overall context of the 34th verse clearly suggest that the literal
meaning relates to the concept of beating/striking/hitting.
Expect another post on the concept of "nushūz", how the word is used in Qu'ran, what is said in the ahadith, how people usually interpret it, and more.