A Muslim chaplain in the Canadian Army has given the all-clear to serviceman who feel obliged to beat their wife (or wives, as the case may be). Iqbal al-Navdi, one of few Muslim clerics in North America with the authority to issue fatwahs, is a well-respected professor of shariah law and jurisprudence.
Back in February of 2015, Navdi delivered a speech on the importance of the family in society and in Islam. In it, he spent some time covering one issue that is controversial in the West, though not so much so in the Muslim world: wife beating. Here is what Verse 34 of Surah Al-Nisa’ in the Quran 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], strike them [lightly]. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.
Navdi clarified that while the Quran allows husbands to beat their wives, the beating should only happen as part of an attempt to resolve conflict between the two and always happen in private. I don’t know about you, but to me that still sounds pretty barbaric, not to mention illegal under western codes of law.
Here’s a partial transcript from his lecture beginning around 19:20 in the video that follows:
In Islam as [inaudible] Qadar says many rulings (احكام) of the Islamic Law (الشريعة) in Islam, in Quran, [are] given just in concept, in brief, rights? But the family issue is covered by Quran in a very detailed way. Not only what we should do, but even what you do if face some problems. How [do] you solve it.
So in that sense for example we see that the protection of family is covered by Islam in three layers,right?
The first layer is – solve the problem mutually between husband and wife, right? In many times it happens that in these days and Glory be to Allah, meaning (يعني) when we are attacked, right? and Islam is criticized that Islam promotes suppose wife beating, right? and so many things.
So many people when they translate the word fa-idribuhunna (فاضربوهن) they translate, change the meaning of it. [inaudible]
Me, of example, I want to say one thing. First thing is that the is the ruling (حكم) of the Quran. It is existing. I can not change it. But I need to know from the messenger of Allah (رسول الله) peace and blessing be upon him (صلى الله عليه وسلم) what it means? How [do] we implement it? Do we have an example from messenger of Allah (رسول الله) peace and blessing be upon him (صلى الله عليه وسلم) that he ever used this order? Right?
So it means what? It means only that Islam is saying that the husband and wife issue and relation is so sacred, is so important, it must not be exposed to others. It supposes to be solved among each other. It is the first layer.
And this is the point where for example Quran says if you are taking the issue, and Hadith says, if you are doing this thing, you can beat or can leave [avoid sleeping with the wife]. But why? Just keep the issue among each other.
But the second layer is what? If it is not working make mediation, right? What? Bring one person from husband, one person from wife and they will do what? And Quran says what? إن يريدا إصلاحا يوفق الله بينهما If they are trying to make reconciliation (صلح) Allah will enble them to do this thing, right?
After that when the issue is not working then it will go to legal system, or it will go to court, it will go to other way. So what happen? In our situation most of the time we used last step first time, right?
What is arguably most shocking about these remarks is that the speaker is one of the moderate leaders of Islam in North America. He is well-respected in the Muslim community. The speech was delivered, moreover, at a “mainstream” Muslim gathering attended by hundreds of Muslim men.
Cross-posted at Constitution.com