There has been a lot of talk in the media, social media, among the members of the civil society and by every other Tom Dick and Harry over the statement made by Moulana Muhammad Khan Sherani saying that gentle beating of the wife is not violence. The problem with our nation is that every other person poses to be a liberal or a moderate Muslim or boldly term themselves as atheists. Regardless, everyone has a perfect command when it comes to Islam, and their conclusions are far greater than of those scholars who have spent eight years in learning the religion and ten years to be able to issue a Fatwa (Islamic Legal Order). It is not wrong to question, but irresponsible remarks on social media to such sensitive issues is not an ideal way to make a point. Instead, we should learn and explore Surah An-Nisa verse number 34 and refrain from making judgments that further dents our limited understanding.
Recently, I was asked by an ex-class mate of mine that why have I been quiet on the subject. She had read the comments of Moulana Sherani in an article covered by CNN. She being a non-Pakistani and a non-Muslim had various thoughts in her mind and was looking for answers. At the time, I remained silent and preferred not to answer her, but politely put an end to the one-sided discussion. The reason was that I did not want to speak my mind because of the limited knowledge I had on the subject. I was aware of the news making rounds all over, but my in-depth research and analysis had not reached a point where I was sure to give answers or comments with authority.
In the larger interest, it is always better to educate yourself before the need arises to act like a “scholar” which most of us do on social media. We have begun to abuse our rights and for that very purpose government like ours is in favour to make stringent laws to cover the cyberspace. People have been saying and running absurd campaigns to support women rights. While being completely ignorant of the fact that it is making a mockery out of our very own beloved religion. I am not in any way against women rights, and I will never tolerate any violence against any woman. Having said that, I still believe that our media yet again is the culprit in reporting negatively. The proposal in which the term “light beating” has been included is a 75-page document, and I am sure that there are a lot of clauses that will be understood better than unfortunately the gentle beating one. However, none of those have been highlighted extensively, of course because they would not create a lot of eyeballs for our news channels.
It all started with the Punjab Protection of Women against Violence Act 2016 that did not take Islamic viewpoints into account. Instead, it was benchmarked with different western bills that exists. The bill introduced in the Punjab Assembly included GPS tracker for violators or resulting in one-year incarceration and a fine up to Rs. 200,000. Furthermore, the 31 clauses of the new bill provide an efficient system for complaint registration and penalties for offenders. Where all this may be fine, there are still problems in terms such as a woman protection officer (WPO) may direct the defendant to move out of the house for 48 hours. If there is no male representation, it could be that the woman officer may act with biases. While the Punjab Women Bill is another debate, it is necessary to introduce laws that can be implemented and also that our protector – the police is not corrupt and are trustworthy to uphold women rights and timely provide them with justice. Currently, women are failed by law enforcers, judiciary and not just the law. We need to fix up our implementation structure first as the current law should have catered to some extent to help women from violence, but sadly, our police officials have oppressed them in the society with many cases of police brutality throughout Pakistan.
However, our main topic of discussion is the comment by CII Chief Moulana Shirani. It is the right of every woman to live a life with dignity and honour and no man shall ever deprive her of this basic standard. Nonetheless, the statement regarding lightly beating of the wife has been taken in the wrong context.
In Surah An-Nisa verse 34 Allah says “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], chastise them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.”
Remember Allah has sent Quran on this earth in Arabic and not in any other language. The English language and others are not powerful enough to translate the meanings of the Arabic of the Quran. As no direct translation can be termed satisfactory and that is the reason we have Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) and reward of reading the Quran is only in Arabic. Sunnah acts as an explanation of Allah’s words and commands and how the Almighty wants us to live our life on the earth. Nevertheless, there are a lot of translations of the Quran, and they are by the best understanding of the translators.
The word used in Surah An-Nisa verse 34, وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ means “finally chastise them”. Now some translators have translated it to beat lightly, some to strike and others as scolding or chastise. Although no one intends to translate it incorrectly, however, their understanding may have flaws but Allah is flawless, and we all belong to him. If we take an example from our beloved Prophet Muhammad’s (P.B.U.H) life, we will know that he never hit any of his wives, and he would always advise them politely and treated them with absolute respect and dignity. Hence, it is impossible that Allah or his messenger will ever want a Muslim man to act violently towards his wife.
Allah has clearly defined the manner in which a husband should deal with his wife who is disobedient. Even if the wife has crossed all her boundaries, a spouse is only to explain her politely, then stop talking, then stop sharing the bed and in the end scold her. If she then realises her mistake then start living peacefully and with love.
There are a lot of Arabic words in Quran that have several meanings used, and the same word is used multiple times but in a different context. We cannot just literally translate and assume things, but we need to study Islam in detail that includes the Quran and the Hadiths that need to be understood by a scholarly person who has firm command on the religion.
وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ is derived from “daraba”. While there are hundreds of meanings for this word varying from “tap” to “walk in stride” to “strike at something” to “set a clear example” to chastise”, the only meaning that can be assigned to something in the Quran must be according to the rules of Islam. Hence, a thorough study is necessary especially when it comes to the religion.
Moulana Muhammad Khan Sherani’s interpretation may be different, but an explanation on the subject will surely ease down a lot of nerves. Also, most importantly we all need to have firm faith in Allah – our protector and the most knowing, that He will always want the best for his people regardless of race, caste and gender.
To conclude, we should remember that good actions and its projection will leave a good impression of the country and the religion. However, bad actions will lead to an image which will assert that neither women are safe in Pakistan, nor are they safe in Islam.
Note: I have written on the subject to the best of my knowledge. May Allah forgive errors and reward for the information provided.