Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gender Interaction in Islam and Muslim Homosexuals

I've often wondered what the Islamic injunctions are on lesbian Muslims' interactions with other (Muslim) women. When around female homosexuals, can heterosexual Muslim females show their hair and other body parts that're allowed to be seen by other women? What exactly is their legal status in Islamic thought? I know they're not "supposed to exist," so no discussion of female homosexuality exists in early/medieval scholarship, but what about today? Would they be treated as "males" (God, this sounds so wrong to say! But I promise I have a point. Just read on. Thankz.), since they, like heterosexual males, can be attracted to females, or are they still treated as females? But speaking of attraction ... actually, turns out, Islamic scholarship allows people to be attracted to or to desire someone of the same sex--just don't act upon that desire. We'll talk about this in another blog entry, though. For now, dear qrratu, please just stick to this issue of homosexuality among Muslims and how they are to "behave" around others, especially of members of the same sex and/or gender.

According to the Islamic rules on gender interaction, women are required to cover only from navel to knee when around other women. Men have to cover from navel to knee wherever they are, whether around women or men. But the idea behind the women's ruling is that they may have to nurse a child in the company of other women, so to forbid them from showing their chests, too, would cause them unease in such situations. They therefore do not have to cover their chest even when not breastfeeding.

A teacher of mine once shared something very interesting with her students in a class on Islamic Law, during a discussion on gender interactions and how the classical/medieval rules are dealt with in contemporary times with new situations and questions, especially that of modern media (how is gender interaction supposed to work online, for example? Does a female need a chaperone when chatting with an unrelated male online? Or when emailing him? What about when Muslims seek their marriage partners online: do their online "hang-outs" need to be chaperoned, since mainstream (Sunni) Islam prohibits women and men to be alone with each other even during their meetings to determine whether they want to spend the rest of their lives with each other? Things like this.) She said that she had gone to a Muslim camp, and, of course, the males and the females had separate tents to stay in. And there was at least one lesbian Muslim there, who didn't keep her sexual identity a secret any longer. (Most of them do.) But unfortunately, there were too many questions for the other women to let her stay with them, so she had to leave. The questions included: "Can we show our hair in front of her? Should she be sleeping in the men's tent or the women's tent? How do we behave around her? Should we give the lesbian her right to stay with us and enjoy the camping experience at the expense of making every other woman here uncomfortable?" And, of course, she wouldn't be allowed in the men's tents because she's not a man or a male. They had to kick her out of the camp so that everyone could be comfortable.

Basically, how are orthodox/mainstream Islamic rules regarding gender interactions negotiated by Muslim homosexuals, especially Muslim female homosexuals? I imagine the answer(s?) might be one (some?) of the following:

1. Psssh - there's no such thing as lesbian Muslims! They don't exist, dude. [But we know they exist. Whether you approve of their sexuality or not isn't the point here; it's their interactions with other women that is of interest to me. Besides, you didn't answer the question.]

2. No, lesbian Muslims may not interact with or hug other women because they (the lesbians) have the tendency to fall in love with other women, and when people fall in love--the same way that when men and women fall in love-- it results in something called "fitna" (social chaos, disorder in society!), which is precisely why men and women are not allowed to interact with each other in "Islam" unless they are being chaperoned by some adult(s).

3. Yes, lesbians may interact with and even hug other (Muslim) women because, even if they do fall in love with the heterosexual women, it's not like they can have babies! So there'll technically be no fitna. That occurs only and only when the "lovers" are of opposite sexes. Besides, male sexuality is stronger, more dangerous than female sexuality, and the main reason women and men don't mingle--or are not supposed to--is because of men's hypersexuality. But, obviously, there's no such thing is female hypersexuality, so there's no issue here. [Yet, we know this is totally untrue, this claim about "men's sexuality being more dangerous than female sexuality." For evidence, please click here.]

I hope everyone noted that all of these potential answers imply that lesbians, whether Muslims or not, are just ready to jump on any woman available to them. But unfortunately, these potential responses do actually reflect the reality of the way that answers are framed by Muslim clerics and even scholars. For more on how people always imagine homosexuals indulging in sexual activities and thoughts but basically never imagine the same when heterosexuals are in question, please click here. No, folks, homosexuals aren't always looking for opportunities to sleep around! They're normal people like you and me and other heterosexuals, and it's extremely offensive to them when we center our thoughts and responses that address them or issues about them on our false belief that they are more sexually active than heterosexuals. But this is beside the point. We should discuss this another time--do remind me, please.

The same questions can be asked about male homosexual Muslims: how are they supposed to interact with other (Muslim) men? I imagine it's not as tough, though, because a man's outer piety cannot be judged to the same extent or as badly as a woman's. (Men don't have to wear a headcovering, and men don't have most of the restrictions that women have when interacting with others or in public; so the issue of "how do I behave around this Muslim gay?" may not arise to the extent that it does and can for women.)

What is also interesting is that this discussion, these questions, would in a very important way question mainstream Islamic concepts of hijab, pardah (basically hijab, but more importantly the privatization of women's bodies and sexualities), gender segregation, and other normative practices--and, I hope, compel us to ask the deeper meaning behind these issues, why they're important and why practice them, and what they mean or how they are understood in today's constantly-changing world with new questions that are emerging on an almost-daily basis.

As of now, I haven't heard any Muslim televangelists (who often happen to be men) and preachers on this issue, but I'd be interested to hear what they have to say. Not so I can follow their rules and shun my homosexual Muslim friends from my life or treat them like they're something beyond this world, but because I'm interested in the discussions about Muslim homosexuals and the sort of questions being asked and the way they are being answered. I imagine it's pretty bad, though, and my heart goes out to any gay and lesbian Muslims out there. I'm sorry that we don't treat you like real humans....

I was supposed to write on this issue of Islam and homosexuality years ago! And I'm SO sorry I haven't done that yet, y'all. But coming up on this subject: a discussion of this amazing book called Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800 by Khaled El-Rouyaheb. There is SO much information here, all of it so fascinating, much of it so shocking to the Muslim mind who was taught one thing about Islam but then some of the same Muslim scholars (all of whom are males) who developed Islamic law, all these rules on how we're supposed to be around other people and what a woman can and cannot do, are saying other things too ... it's just too interesting not to read, y'all. So, yeah, inshaAllah, the next post on homosexuality among Muslims or in Islam will be on this.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Quran's Audience as Essentially Male

Last year, I blogged on the issue of the Quran’s “audience,” which I argued was males only, women are never directly addressed in there, women are only talked “about” never “to,” and when a guideline/message is being given to women, men are asked to convey it to them. 

So for the past several months, I’ve been trying to find some Muslim scholars who address this issue, and someone recommended Farid Esack in a discussion on a different topic, and so I decided to read him. I was so, SO delighted and relieved to see that he brings up this problem of audience (he argues that the Qur’an’s “essential audience is male”), although he only mentions it and doesn’t discuss what all it actually means, or what it could mean for Muslim female readers of the Qur’an.

As Esack notes, this problem of the essential audience of the Qur’an should pose significant problems for scholars committed to gender justice; yet, this topic has received little to no attention from Muslim feminists/scholars [(“Islam and Gender Justice: Beyond Simplistic Apologia." In What Men Owe to Women: Men's Voices from World Religions, eds. John Raines and Daniel C. Maguire, p. 195). It is therefore important to engage this issue a little further and discuss its spiritual implications for the female reader of the Qur’an, as well as its significance for Muslim women activists. 
 
I, too, believe that the issue of the gender of the Qur’an’s audience has been marginalized, despite its relevance to Muslim women readers of the Qur’an and Muslim women practitioners of Islam. I want to first explain what this claim entails.
 
In the Qur’an, women are always addressed by the hunna (they (feminine)) pronoun while the men are addressed by the kum (you (general but often masculine, based on the textual context) pronoun. Islamic feminism has not only not attempted to answer this question, but it seems to have neglected to bring it up in any discussions of gender and the Qur’an, other than in Farid Esack’s works (discussed below). Wadud and Barlas discuss God’s gender and point out that because the Qur’an avows that ‘there is none like unto [God],’ the Qur'an establishes that God is Unique, hence beyond representation, and also beyond gender since gender is nothing but a representation of sex”(Asma Barlas, Believing Women in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an, p.100). They, like other scholars, address the issue of God’s gender as being neutral, and many Islamic feminist scholars argue that even when the Qur’an seems to be addressing  only men—that is, using male pronouns—it is in fact addressing all genders, because the Arabic kum can mean “you all (masculine)” or “you all (general”) while kunna means “you all (feminine).” As Mohammad Ashrof writes, 
all the injunctions of the Qur'an are equally applicable, whenever human or people etc. are mentioned, to both men and women. Many Qur'anic verses subsume women and men in the broad terms of 'human being' or 'people' ('insan', 'nas'). Though these words take masculine pronouns in Arabic, and are often translated into English as "mankind" or "men," in Arabic they are gender-neutral and apply to/include women as well, as with the term "humankind" in English (Islam and Gender Justice p.87).
Thus, unless the Qur’an otherwise implies that it is speaking directly to men only, it can be assumed that it is addressing all Muslims. Yet, verses such as 4:19 pose a dilemma, for it reads: “O you who have believe, it is not lawful for you [kum] to inherit women [al-nisaa] by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them [hunna] in order to take [back] part of what you [kum] gave them unless they [feminine] commit a clear immorality. And live with them [hunna] in kindness. For if you [tum] dislike them [hunna] - perhaps you [antum] dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” Although this is not the only verse in which such a conversation between God and the (male) reader takes place, this can be seen as representative of the Qur’an’s approach at presenting guidelines: it uses men as a medium through which it conveys messages to women, never directly speaking to women but speaking to men about women. 

 Now, I will discuss two main possible reasons why the Qur’an never directly addresses women and, at the same time, explain why these reasons are problematic and are in fact not convincing.

The first reason of the Qur’an’s non-address to women may be due to the social views that the pre-Islamic Arab society held of women. However, this explanation humanizes (read: masculinizes) God: the speaker of the Qur’an is not just any male, certainly not a ghair mahram (unrelated) male [[A mahram male is anyone whom a Muslim woman is prohibited from marrying, such as her brother, father, son, grandfather; the opposite of mahram is a ghair-mahram, someone whom a woman would be able to marry, such as a cousin, a far relative, or a stranger]],  but it is God, the genderless Creator. Thus, to suggest that the Qur’an does not address women directly because it may have raised problems for Arab males, as they heard their wives, daughters, sisters being addressed directly with the pronoun “you” by a “stranger” also implies that God is a male who is not to refer to women directly. Is it really possible that the Arabs would have found this—the act of their God referring to women directly—unacceptable?

Second, the Qur'an/Islam brought many radical social changes in the Arab society not just regarding its views of women, such as the burial of daughters, but also regarding the religious ideals of the society, such as forbidding the worship of idols. It therefore begs the question of why the Qur’an did not attempt to change the idea that women can never be directly addressed by speakers. [In other words, it seems to have been selective in which views/ideals to change, and this selection was likely not arbitrary.] Additionally, such a claim destabilizes the popular Muslim claim that the Qur'an is for all times, all societies, as not all societies and certainly not in all times have societies found women to be private entities who are never to be addressed by un-related male members of the community. 

This problem of the essentially male audience leads to a more profound theological, ethical, and spiritual question: what does God's non-address of women suggest about the spiritual and ethical relationship with God that the Qur’an expects of its readers in general but its female readers in particular? Can women truly attain closeness with God the way men can? This is not to insinuate that the relationship that men are theoretically able to form with God is necessarily better and should be the standard against which women’s relationship with God is measured, but it is to point to the lack of an immediate link between God and His female readers of the Qur’an. Women are not the direct audience of the Qur’an the way men are, and a message has to be conveyed to women through a medium. The Qur’an’s non-address of women may be understood as grounds for the belief that women are inherently spiritually lacking, thus explaining why the Qur’an never directly addresses them. Yet, this cannot be assumed because the Qur’an does not present women as spiritually lacking or spiritually inferior to men; it in fact insists that the only measure of superiority among people is their piety (49:13). As for Muslim women activists, the Qur’an’s non-address to women raises another issue: if a woman is not the direct recipient, the direct audience of her Creator’s Word and needs a medium (a male) through which God can communicate with her, would the Qur’an support her direct involvement in society? That is, does she need a medium for her activism as well? If they clearly need an intermediary between themselves and God, must they not have one also when making demands on society or when calling for social changes in their society per their current status?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why Muslim Women Are Re-interpreting the Qur'an (event)

How I wish I could attend this talk/book-signing! Anyone in or around San Francisco is encouraged to attend, if convenient or possible for them.
Join us at the ACCC [Arab Cultural and Community Center]  for a thought provoking presentation and discussion with Cornell University's research fellow, Nimat Hafez Barazangi on why Muslim/Arab Women are reinterpreting the Quran.
Summary: Muslim/Arab women have remained a passive force in changing the reality of the approximately 800 million Muslim/Arab women and the prevailing unjust practices in Islamic/Arabic thought. By reflecting on some historical reform movements, Nimat will use examples from contemporary events to argue that passive views and unjust practices concerning Muslim/Arab women remain because the premises and foundations of reform have not changed.
Nimat Hafez Barangi is a research fellow at Cornell University. Her forthcoming book: Woman's Identity and the Qur'an: A New Reading (The University Press of Florida, December 2004) was labeled by one of the reviewers as "the most radical book in the last 14th centuries of Islam". She edited Islamic Identity and the Struggle for Justice (University Press of Florida 1996, 2000) translated into Arabic, Dar Al Fikr, 1999) in which she also contributed "Vicegerncey and Gender Justice, and has published about thirty articles, essays, and book reviews.

Event Properties

Event date: March 29, 2012 06:00 pm
Event End Date: March 29, 2012 08:00 pm
Capacity Unlimited
Price Free
Location Arab Cultural and Community Center

SOURCE: arabculturalcenter.org

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Maulvi Begum Sahib: The eunuch who found her calling as a Qur'an teacher

SUKKUR: Seventy-year-old Jameela has come a long way from playing as a child with eunuchs to teaching 450 children the Holy Quran every day.



Born a transgender in March 1941, Jameela never fit in at home or at school, so when an elderly eunuch, Pasham Fakir, offered to take her away she ultimately yielded and followed him.
She continued to live in what she later called ‘sin’ until May 1972, when her brother died in a robbery. “This proved to be a turning point in my life because I started learning the Holy Quran,” Jameela told The Express Tribune.

She was born in Syed Mohammad Yakoob Shah’s household in Pishin, Balochistan. “My father had two wives: my mother was from a Syed family, while my stepmother was from a non-Syed family,” she said. “My mother died when I was four and my aunt looked after me for two years after which my father sent me to live with my stepmother in Ranchore Lines, Karachi.”

Jameela’s stepmother sent her to an all-girl middle school near their house, but the young eunuch left school when she was in class three because she used to get teased for her “attitude and strange style of walking.”
After dropping out of school, she helped her stepmother with domestic chores. “When I was 10 years old, a eunuch named Pasham Fakir came to our house and asked my mother to hand me over to him but my mother refused.”

She said that Pasham kept coming back for her and they used to talk outside the house. “Then one day I just went him without telling my mother,” she said dolefully.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Islamic Law and Women - Part I: Introduction

I'm currently writing a paper on Islamic feminism and Islamic law, and so I'm reading what I find very troubling things in Islamic law, such as early Muslim scholars'/jurists' view of women, particularly in marriage. Understandably, the concept and role of marriage back then were much different than what they are today for at least the western world, and so when we come across views that deem marriage a sort of a kingdom that's headed by the husband (king) and the wife is not the queen but the caretaker of that kingdom (household), we get upset. But this isn't actually what I'm troubled by: it's how the jurists saw me (a woman) as almost completely incapable of making a decision on my own because I lack the intellect to do so. I'll give many examples of this in the upcoming posts, which will be a series of posts on Islamic law and women, but for now, lemme give you a brief intro to what I'm doing and where I'm hoping to get with this.

Some years ago, my sister and a (Muslim) classmate of hers were having a discussion on some aspect of Islamic law. When she expressed a difference of opinion, the classmate asked her, “Have you ever read Islamic law?” – as though Islamic law is a sourcebook that you can turn to, a book at all, or a guide, something that answers all of your questions.

(Un)fortunately, this is not the case: Islamic law is not a sourcebook; it is not published or codified in one text, and it does not have answers to all of our questions. Yes, it may have answers – but if anything, they go like this: “Well, according to Scholar X, this is the case, but according to Scholar Y, this is the case.” In other words, one really can’t argue that there’s one fixed solution or answer to question problem or question. And despite the claim that the doors of ijtihad have been closed since the 10th century (ijtihad = independent reasoning, or re-interpretations of a certain or all Islamic rules/guidelines, even the Qur’an), Muslim scholars have discussed the same issues – and offered different viewpoints, often contradicting each others’ – from the 7th century until today. Yes, the doors to ijtihad are believed to have been closed, but that doesn’t mean the debates have been closed, and many scholars see the illogicality in this claim and thus refuse to submit to it, refuse to let it silence their thoughts. 

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Amina Wadud = Amina "Mardud"?

So, when I was writing on Amina Wadud's Qur'an and Woman text for a class recently, I came across this lame blog that was talking nonsense about Amina Wadud and the author seemed quite proud of himself in doing so. It was so bad the author referred to Amina Wadud as "Amina Wardud" and the blog image was that one with two chicks with a caption that lamely reads, "Retards. We all know one."

Anyway, so I commented on the blog with the following post. It mostly has to do with the popular Muslim claim that "Islam is so simple, but we make it complicated. As for the difference among the different schools of thought, they're not major; they're very minor." That's not true. Some of them are very major! Anyway, here ges.

What a pitiful effort to "prove someone wrong." I'm personally not a fan of her, but that's not gonna stop me from admitting to her intelligence and intellectual capability to make an argument and then support it quite well with Qur'anic verses and logic and reason and common sense.

You, however, my dear brother in Islam, give us no intellectual arguments or support for your claim that she is what you accuse her of. You need to study Islamic law and the larger debates on virtually everything you accuse her of propagating. Did you know, for example, that the Qur'anic ayah on cutting the hands of thieves is actually a popularly disputed guideline in classical Islamic law? (They ask, for instance, what the "hand" includes and what is consider theft. And did you know that theft does NOT include your stealing something from a friend when you're at that friend's house? Yeah, shocking, I know. But it should show you and the rest of us that every single word of the Qur'an has been and continues to be up for debate.)

It is therefore ignorance on our part to assume that we can just read a Qur'anic verse and understand exactly what God meant. That's why we have different sects in Islam and, on top of that, different sub-sects and, even further, different schools of law. And, no, not all of the differences in these schools of law are "small" and "minute": many of them make a huuuuge difference. For example, the Hanafi School says that a woman does not need a walee (male guardian) in order to get married; the Shafi School makes such a marriage invalid -- or haraam, you can say! Now, suppose you do your marriage the Hanafi way: according to Shafi law, then, your children are illegitimate. Does this mean nothing to you?

And, so, that's why scholars spend and have historically spent long, tiring decades in their humble efforts to understand the Qur'an as much as they can -- and even then, they don't fail to admit that they *may* be wrong because it's humanly impossible to know what God's intentions are/were with particular verses.

So, my humble advice: don't make assumptions and conclusions without actually understanding the larger issue. Oh, and most importantly, WHICH Qur'anic verse "explicitly" states that men are superior to women? (I'm lawling right now, sorry. That's funny.) And then find at least three Muslim scholars who will agree with your claim - because, as far as I know, none of them believe that verse 4:34, if that's what you're hinting at, says or suggests that men are superior to women or that women are inferior to men.

Peace!

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Challenges of Verse 4:34

The post below is on verse 4:34, the challenges it's posed, its different translations and meanings, and how, in 4:34, the term nushooz magically means "disloyalty/ill-conduct" (because it relates to women!) but in verse 4:128, the exact same word means "desertion" (because it relates to men!) -- in verse 58:11, it means "desertion" as well. "Desertion" is the actual meaning of the Arabic nushooz, too, you see... well, that's what appears to make the most sense. I may discover many years later that I'm wrong, but I know for sure I'm right for now.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have been studying it for the past 5 years, and I still haven't made a solid conclusion about it. I want us to look at different interpretations and different translations of the verse, since it actually implies that man is the head of the woman. I want us to see how we justify the beating/hitting of women, oftentimes saying, "Oh, the man is allowed to beat his wife but only lightly! it's not like you can abuse her just like that!" etc.

Here are some of the translations of verse 4:34 (NOTE: Anything in parenthesis is the translator's explanation, understanding and is not necessarily a part of the original Arabic text.)

- Men are the {qawwam} of women, because Allah has given the one more than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are {qanitat}, and guard in the husband's absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear {nushuz}, admonish them first, then refuse to share their beds, and finally {adriboo} them; but when they {ataa:} to you, then seek not against them means of annoyance: For Allah is Most High, great above you all. Source

(Note that in the above version, the original Arabic terms have been kept to show that it's these words that have been mistranslated, misinterprets, or are still open to interpretation -- or are used to justify violence against women or the inferiority of women.)

- Men are (meant to be righteous and kind) guardians of women because God has favored some more than others and because they (i.e. men) spend out of their wealth. (In their turn) righteous women are (meant to be) devoted and to guard what God has (willed to be) guarded even though out of sight (of the husband). As for those (women) on whose part you fear ill-will and nasty conduct, admonish them (first), (next) separate them in beds (and last) beat them. But if they obey you, then seek nothing against them. Behold, God is most high and great. Source

- Men shall take full care of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly on the former than on the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions. And the righteous women are the truly devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has [ordained to be] guarded. And as for those women whose ill-will you have reason to fear, admonish them [first]; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek to harm them. Behold, God is indeed most high, great.” (Translator: Laleh Bakhtiar - female.)

- Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all). (Translator: Yusuf Ali)

- Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great. (Translator: Pickthal)

- 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. (Translator: Shakir)

Source for the above three translations.

- Men are the support of women as God gives some more means than others, and because they spend of their wealth (to provide for them). So women who are virtuous are obedient to God and guard the hidden as God has guarded it. As for women you feel are averse, talk to them suasively; then leave them alone in bed (without molesting them) and go to bed with them (when they are willing). If they open out to you, do not seek an excuse for blaming them. Surely God is sublime and great. (Translator: Ahmed Ali)

More available at this link.

So, note how the term "nushooz" has been translated when it comes to women (disobedience, disloyalty, ill-conduct, etc.) ... EVEN though it literally means "to rise, to go above, to desert, give up" (see, for example, verse 58:11 of the Quran: "O you who believe! When you are told to make room in the assemblies, (spread out and) make room: (ample) room will Allah provide for you. And when you are told "inshuzoo" (to rise up), Allah will raise up to suitable ranks and degrees those of you who believe and who have been granted knowledge. Allah is well-acquainted with what you do.")

Annnnd guess what "nushooz" means when it comes to men, though. Somehow, it means "desertion" or "oppression"... as in, if the husband is being oppressive to his wife, or if he deserts her, etc. (I must say, beating your wife is oppressive. In which case verse :128 has a great suggestion for women who are being treated like that by their husbands.)

4:128 reads: "If a wife fears cruelty or nushooz on her husband's part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves; and such settlement is best, even though men's souls are swayed by greed. But if you do good and practice self-restraint, God is well-acquainted with what you do."

One must ask ... why the translation of the Arabic word "nushooz" when it comes to men and when it comes to the command/suggestion of giving up or yielding a position, but when it comes to women, it somehow magically means ill-conduct or disloyalty?

Yet, nothing in the Quran makes it obvious that the woman has to obey her husband. She's told, just like men are told, that she must be obedient to God, just as men are to be obedient to God. "Qaanit" doesn't necessarily mean obedience to man/husband: It's the same term used when God is saying that "obedient men and obedient women ... for them is reward promised by God."

Earlier scholars of Islam interpreter it to mean obedience of woman to her husband, clearly because women in most, if not all, societies are told to obey their husbands. It made sense to them, and we can't condemn them for having written volumes on the concept of obedience in Islam (of a woman to her husband).

But today, thankfully, scholars are re-evaluating the implications of verse 4:34 and are trying to figure out what exactly it means.

This link gives explanations of classical scholars, their commentary, on the same verse. It's really interesting how the author writes at the end, "Therefore, due to all of the statements and interpretations of the word “nushooz”, one can objectively state that nushooz includes the refusal of a woman to answer the husband’s call to her bed."

I'm like, ummm... okay, but this isn't from God; it's from men, humans. Why should their views be binding?

Anyway, just a little wonder. While the Quran doesn't make it obvious that man is the head of the woman, humans' translations and interpretations do;we see what the woman is viewed as when we read commentaries of every Quranic verse that pertains to women. In most cases, it's disturbing. Woman meaning wife, of course, since mothers are always giving a sublime position.
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