Islam, Zafar and the 4:34 Dance
After appearing on The O'Reilly Factor last week to defend Islam's treatment of women, Mr. Harris Zafar has decided to further elucidate his position in an article in which he maintains that the Koran requires us (sic) to honor rather than abuse women. The key passage, according to Zafar is "chapter 4 verse 35" of the Koran, and whether said passage sanctions or promotes the "ill-treatment" of women. Since 4:35 is a rather innocuous verse dealing rather perfunctorily with divorce, I will presume that Mr. Zafar is referring to the notorious 4:34:
Qur'an (4:34) - "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great."
As a happily married man, this verse is important to me - and my wife. The verse restricts, rather than sanctions, such behavior. It describes a process of curbing the urge to use physical force in the rare event of gross disobedience or rebellion - a vicious behavior such as adultery or stealing, not a simple disagreement. This verse presents a process of anger management, reformation and reconciliation, with the intention to heal the relationship at every step. Additionally, the Prophet Muhammad commanded not to do anything that would ever harm or leave a mark on a woman. This verse cannot be understood to justify beating, rape or any ill-treatment of women.
Qur'an (4:11) - (Inheritance) "The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females" (see also verse 4:176).Qur'an (2:228) - "and the men are a degree above them [women]"Qur'an (2:223) - "Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will..."