This post was inspired by Feminism in Faith by Zainah Anwar
If anyone opens up the text of the Holy Qur’an and leafs through its pages until reaches chapter 4, which is titled “The Verse of Women,” and continues on until reaches verse 34, will find the following proclamation:
“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.”
الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّـهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ۚ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّـهُ ۚ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا
the Muslim scholar and Boston University professor Kecia Ali, in her discussion of the verse and the translation, Ali points out that the three most controversial words in the verse, “qawammun” (previously translated as “guardians”),
“qanitat” (previously translated as “obedient ”), and
“nushuz” (previously translated as “disobedient”),
Must all be left untranslated.. These words require interpretations
I'm very thankful for the gift of being able to read Arabic, and understand linguistics, grammar and vocabularies as well.. Also, being able to translate and interpret the Arabic text into English with little errors; enabling to convey the context and concepts in the best adequate structure..
Certainly, the translation; Zainah had used is defective and misleading..
Certainly, the three words; Kecia mentioned are not that critical either..
Let me start by providing my own interpretation:
"(Married) Men have an advanced rank ahead of (married) women due to the privileges Allah (swt) had given them, and due to their role as bread earners.. Pious (married) women are obedient to Allah (swt), guarding their (spousal) privacy; which Allah (swt) honor.. Whom you fear them (actively) turning from (this) righteous manner; advise them, (if not working, temporarily) forsake (lust for) them, (if not working) or hurt (mainly light spanking or beats; not on the face) them.. Whenever they get back to the righteous, do not escalate further (those two punishment methods).. Allah (swt) prefer to disdain the humble mistakes.."
The whole case is about a wife to be "Obedient to Allah swt".. and "Never disclose the spousal privacies.."
This is not meant for women in general; contrarily to what had been said during the last 1400 years..
Yes, I'm not an Islamic scholar, but a Muslim Intellectual and Researcher..
Then, I need to elaborate two things: the privileges of married men and the two punishment methods..
Men to be permitted for marriage; have to be mature, bread-earner, with good manners and with basic knowledge of religion.. These four (mandatory) qualities would make men reliable and accountable to form a family and raise kids.. Then, they will add value and volume to the "Momentum of Believers"; which is the main purpose of marriage and reproduction..
On the contrary, women who want to marry, are not required to compete for the above qualities, apart from their (implicit) devotion as Muslim persons.. This is why men; across most cultures, regions and histories, were (preferred) older than their spouses; which is still traditionally exercised among more than 60% of the people today..
Abandoning the "mating" with a wife due to misbehave, is not new to our epistemic accumulations as intellectual spices.. It seems working in most cases, therefore it still commonly in use, despite any denial..!!
However, such a "punishment" would require reasonable time to convey a message, and to get the "misbehaving" wife to feel the pain due to unsatisfied "sexual" urge..
Such a period of time shall be around 100 days, as per the corresponding guidance of not to travel away from a wife for more than 3 months.. Which also would define the "bearable sexless period for married" both: women or men..
Then if such "hormonal punishment" did not convince a wife to behave better, then spanks or beats would do.. Certainly, such a physical hurt is an initiation for divorce, not for restoration and reconciliation..!!
If a woman, or man, Islamically misbehave, divorce is likely a must..
Yet divorce is another issue, with lots to tell and detail..
Then it is concluded to remind men to generally forgive small misconduction or behavior.. Their wives were their own choice; rightly done or wrong..!!
The true dilemma of Islam is the growing gap between its Arabic context and non-Arabic intelligencia.. Arabic is one of the difficult languages not only to speak, but to understand and express.. Therefore, contemporary Arabs are torn between their own shallow comprehension of Arabic literature and philosophies, and the expedite nature of technology and communications.. Simply, Arabic is declining as a language, while swiftly replaced by Anglo/Franco vocabularies and street slangs.. pronunciation is a greater confusion as well..
This is why I feel the pain and responsibility to promote the "live" interpretation of Islamic referrals, helping non-native-Arabic-Speaker Muslim to comprehend what we had..
For many complex reasons, scholars were shy to detail the issues related to spousal and intimate lives of Muslims.. This had opened a Pandora's Box for all unfit to speak loud with "dead" interpretations..