April 18, 2013

My Message to the Misconceptionist: Responding to Nonie Darwish 1

Filed under: Religion and society — by Zuhair @ 1:28 pm


On Marriage and Divorce:

Marriage in Islam is not slavery for the woman. How can it be so when the woman does not have to work to earn her bread, when she is entitled to an allowance from her husband, of which she can spend for herself alone? I further mention in passing, the dowry is not the purchasing of the woman’s body. This could not be farther from the truth and if you think about it, there are cultures where the dowry is given by the woman. Does this then mean that the woman is ‘purchasing’ her husband’s body? Darwish claims that she knows this because scholars say it. I’d like to know the name of the scholar who would say something like this.

Whoever believes that a woman is nothing but an object of pleasure for her husband has either been in an unhappy marriage or knows someone who has.  All I can say in response to this is that Islam did not make her an object but her husband did. Any woman who is treated correctly and fairly by her husband would disagree with the idea.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “The most perfect man in his faith among the believers is the one whose behaviour is most excellent; and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.”[At- Tirmidhi]. [1]

Darwish further speaks about a woman’s right to divorce in Islam. It is true that women are not as freely allowed as men to ask for divorce. This is because they are easily affected by their emotions, especially during a pregnancy or menstruation.  In fact the husband is not permitted to ask for a divorce when his wife is having her period either. However if a woman is being mistreated by her husband and is very unhappy in her marriage, it is her right to ask for a divorce; and a judge who is following Islamic Law correctly is obligated to grant her permission.

Another reason a woman is restricted in asking for divorce is that a woman may be able to marry a man for his dowry and then simply ask for a divorce shortly after the marriage contract is signed. Therefore, she would be able to keep the dowry and leave the man. This would be unfair to the man.

Furthermore, regarding divorce, if you look at divorce statistics worldwide, the divorce rate in the West is very high. This is because divorce is dealt with very freely and occurs over issues that can be worked out between husband and wife. If such a high divorce rate is a positive thing, think of the effect it has on the society as a whole and more importantly, I invite you to think of the children who are caught in between divorces and broken marriages.

Finally, it is untrue that in Islam a man may beat his wife without having to answer for it. He is not allowed to hurt his wife in anyway and no good man, whether Muslim or otherwise would do so.

Bahz bin Hakim reported on the authority of his father from his grandfather (Mu’awiyah ibn Haydah) as saying:

I said: Messenger of Allah, how should we approach our wives and how should we leave them? He replied: Approach your tilth when or how you will, give her (your wife) food when you take food, clothe when you clothe yourself, do not revile her face, and do not beat her.[2]

If a Muslim wife misbehaves with another man, it is the right of her husband to speak to her about it. If she does not listen to him, he may sleep in a separate bed and if she still does not listen, he can hit her on her shoulder, but not hard enough to leave a mark. If she still proves to be stubborn, he can file for a divorce.

How is any of this unfair to the woman? Moreover, if the man is misbehaving with another woman, his wife can leave him. A woman in Islam is given her rights, despite what individuals like Darwish might think. A man is permitted to take more than one wife if he likes, but a woman can divorce him, if she dislikes it. Furthermore, a woman can include, in her marriage contract her not wanting him to take another wife. When he signs the contract, he will have to abide by it.

Another right, a woman has in Islam is that when she is married; she can in no way be forced to speak of her past. Her husband does not have this right on her. Therefore, if a bride is found not to be a virgin, the man she has married can leave her but has no right to ask her about her past or turn her in. Any good man might try to look past her past or if he finds himself unable to do so would file for a divorce but will do his very best to preserve her reputation and not publicly declare her a sinner.


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Amal Ahmed Albaz

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