Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's Not What You Might Be Led To Think

I want to take over from where I left off in the comment section of the previous lead zeppelin post:

In regards to THIS article:

Wife-beating OK under sharia law, just don’t leave marks

According to a ruling by a Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates, Islamic sharia law allows a man to “discipline” his wife and children so long as he doesn’t leave physical marks.

The judgment was made in the case of a man who slapped and kicked his daughter and slapped his wife. He injured them both slightly and left bruises on them both.

I don't know how the hell any form of physical discipline can be administered without leaving some kind of mark, however slight that mark may be. I'm sure that maybe it's possible for a skilled hand, but I'll remain skeptical for now.

The federal court in Abu Dhabi, capital of the UAE, said that their bruises were evidence that the father went too far and abused his legal rights.

The reported that in the case of the wife, it was the degree of severity that put the man in breach of the law. But his daughter was 23, and therefore too old to be disciplined by her father, the court said. He claimed he did not mean to harm either of them.

The Sharjah court of first instance fined the father for abuse. The decision was upheld by Sharjah's court of appeals but he appealed against the verdict at the federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi.

Please note: the husband/father in question was found to be in violation. Funny how this part didn't end up in the headline, because this is the element that matters the most, along with the statements of the courts and Islamic scholars:
Jihad Hashim Brown, head of research at the Tabah Foundation, said: "It's unlawful in sharia – if taken in its entirety – to injure one's wife. It's unlawful to insult the dignity of one's wife. That is if we look at the tradition as a whole: the Qur'an, the hadith and writings of Islamic jurists."
Under sharia law beating one’s wife is an option to prevent the breakdown of the family and should only be used as a substitute to resorting to the police. Love and respect, according to Dr. Jassim al-Shamsi, dean of the college of law at UAE University, are more important among husbands and wives than any discipline.

(emphasis mine)
Now, let me explain something, as it has been explained to me in the past by devout, strictly adherent Muslims:

In Islam, the man is charged with the obligation to attend to the protection, upkeep, and preservation of the family. It is he who must answer most strongly before God for any failings. So, it makes sense that any God-fearing man would not want to be found derelict in this duty on judgement day.
Just like it makes no sense to assign responsibility without authority, authority without effect makes no sense, either.
(Imagine being charged with a massive amount of responsibility, under threat of eternal damnation, and then being told that if something goes wrong you aren't allowed to do shit about it. Who would sign up for that job? Most importantly, what would be the state of society in general if nobody had responsibility for anything? Into this vacuum, steps the faith.)

What I see here, and in the words of the scholars, along with the explanations of Muslims I have known, is a tough line to walk.
It's not a perfect world, and there are few perfect people to pair into perfect marriages. No scholar or holy man can look into the crystal ball and reveal all the various combinations of issues that may arise, in many forms, in any of the households among the billions of individuals who reside within them.
By default, therefore, a man has some effectual authority...

... but not outside of the principles that are established, to quote again:
"It's unlawful in sharia – if taken in its entirety – to injure one's wife. It's unlawful to insult the dignity of one's wife. That is if we look at the tradition as a whole: the Qur'an, the hadith and writings of Islamic jurists."

Quite clearly, there is no carte blanche in Islam for wife beating.
Just as there isn't one in Christianity, despite that the Bible calls for women to submit to their husbands.
But it's still done, and various cultures throughout the world that claim any number of principle faiths contain it.

(From what I've seen, the Muslim men are as fearful of irate/displeased wives as any one of us are. As one tells me: 'Woman is Woman, no matter where she's from.')

What shocks me is how people will allow their understandings of Islam to be formed by inaccurate headlines or ignorant preachers with an agenda, but they would never allow a Jew or Hindu to inform the world about Christianity.


Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

From the UAE article about the same item:
The wife suffered injuries to her lower lip and teeth, and the daughter had bruises on her right hand and right knee. The court ruled that the bruises were evidence that the father had abused his Sharia right.

According to Islamic law, a man has the "right to discipline" his wife and children, which can include beating them after he has exhausted two other options: admonition and then abstaining from sleeping with his wife. Although scholars differ in their definition of "beating", all agree it must not be severe.
Sharjah Court of First Instance fined the father Dh500 for abuse. The decision was upheld by the Sharjah Court of Appeals on February 14. He appealed against the verdict at the Federal Supreme Court.

500 Dirham is less than $150 dollars.

So, if he'd slapped her silly, or beaten her with something that hadn't damaged her teeth and lips, it's legally OK-- so long as he'd yelled and refused to sleep with her, first.

NOT seeing this as bad reporting on the Guardian's part.

Here's some transcripts from MEMRI, taken from the Egyptian media and Al-Jazeera, indicating that while wife-beating is agreed to be allowed, the details vary wildly. (Here's a sermon from another Egyptian preacher.)
"Okay, he's tried admonishing, he's tried banishment – but nothing. Her emotions are numb, and she says: Good riddance. So what is the next measure? "...and beat them." Beating. The Prophet Muhammad said that the beatings should be light, and that one should avoid the face, or the sensitive areas, which might lead to broken bones, or might leave a mark that would spoil her beauty, whether on her face or anywhere on her body. Beatings that draw blood, or break bones, or leave a scar, a black mark on the skin, or any obvious mark, which would make people know that she was harshly beaten – this is forbidden.

Then he should tell her he loves her, and doesn't want to have to beat her, but she leaves him no choice, because she's not moral enough.
Um... sound a little familiar to anyone else who knows about spouse abuse?

Jade said...

It seems that people who want to hit their spouses can pull text from a variety of religious teachings to "justify" their actions, and there are just as many people who pull text from the same teachings to back up why it's wrong.

It's all in interpretation.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Christianity: lead/love your wife as Christ lead/loves the Church.

Islam: 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). Quran 4:34

They do both talk about blemishes...but one talks about sacrificing yourself to prevent them on your wife, and the other talks about not hitting her too hard.

We really can't go "everyone's done it" here.

Gino said...

have you read the link in its entirety?

the 'beating' should be to get her attention, not to harm her. thats not a beating, if you ask me.
especially when the woman is free to divorce at will and never is required to submit to physical authority.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Which one? The last one, originally in English, and which is the most mild? Or the first three, which were for local consumption?

Did you get to him saying of the acceptable beating that "it should provide an energetic demonstration of the anger, frustration and love of the husband"?

From a site that wants to be the modern face of the faith?

A nice, solid open-handed slap will not leave a mark even on my very easy to bruise skin. Get that to the back of the head and you'll come up swinging. Heck, my hopefully-soon-to-be-ex brother in law did the same, he just favored bouncing her off of walls. Not leaving marks is easy if you've got the right twist of mind.

Shoot, there's even a lot of articles about how horrible wife abuse is on that last site.

And still... yep, totally OK to hit her, so long as you yelled and refused to sleep with her first. And it's in keeping with direct quotes.

(Side note- check out what they mean by divorce. That's HUGELY complicated, with some groups not allowing it at all.)

Gino said...

i guess we all see what we want to see.
what i'm saying is that i dont see a religion that justifies beating women in our sense of what 'wife beating' means.

but the haters will grab that headline and run with it to justify unrightous motives of their own.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Possibly we have different notions of "wife beating." In my world, the classic movie slap is a MAJOR issue-- it shows a weakness or disorder of thought on the part of the slapper.

Perhaps you envision the classic modern "beaten wife" with all those highly cinematic black eyes and swollen lips?

I know both exist-- mine is just more common. (Possibly because women generally can't leave their husbands black and blue without getting unsupportive attention.)

In the most mild form I linked, it is suspiciously similar to what you do with disobedient kids who won't listen and keep doing dangerous things. Even considering Islam's traditions of marrying children, that's too far.

Brian said...

Going back to my comment on the previous thread...I don't think this (the "no marks" standard) is telling about Islam per se (I don't know--and don't really care to know--enough about the finer theological points of Islam to have an informed opinion on that), but I do think it says a great deal about the civic culture, values, and legal system of the UAE. I.e., that they draw the line on domestic violence in a much different place than I (and I imagine most non-wife-beating westerners) do.

Gino said...

not sure where you draw the line,brian, but when two people aregue, and one pushes the other out of the way in order make an exit from the situation, that one can be charged with domestic violence.
and to me, thats bullshit.

i think our own 'line drawing' needs some working on, as well.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

*light bulb*

Ah, so that's the direction you're looking! No wonder it wasn't making sense to me....

Intent, perhaps? There's an obvious difference between "get me out of here" and physical discipline-- isn't there a similar framework in non-family law?

Brian said...

"...There's an obvious difference between "get me out of here" and physical discipline--"


I'm not going to pretend that there aren't marginal cases, but I think there is a general standard of non-initiation of physical violence that most reasonable people (at least in liberal western democracies) can agree upon.

And beyond that, context matters a lot. If, for example, I was cornering my wife (who, though she is pretty damn tough--lots of yoga--I have about 8 inches and 75 lbs on) and she felt threatened by that, shoving her way past me would be completely justified. (If that is considered domestic violence in some jurisdictions, then I would agree it's bullshit.) Me shoving her would probably be judged more harshly, and rightly so.

I don't read anything in the story about the UAE ruling that seems to apply a comparable set of standards to men, unless they left out something about the limits of what a man can view as a transgression that threatens "breakdown of the family."

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

If that is considered domestic violence in some jurisdictions, then I would agree it's bullshit.

Yes, it can be-- usually judges or prosecutors trying to make a name for themselves.
There's a series of commercials that drives me nuts that basically says you should teach your son to never, ever, ever offer violence to a female.
Sometimes, as in the words of Uncle Iroh: No, she's crazy, and she needs to go down.

Gino said...

i've always operated with the understanding that if i felt i had to strike her, i was with the wrong woman in the first place.

the 1st wife tried to push my buttons once, daring me, threatening me with jail and shit.

i just laughed at her, and warned her that if i got dragged away, she would need to find somebody else to pay her rent and grocery bill, cause i wouldnt be apologizing, and i sure as hell wouldnt be back with her.

she never pulled that button pushing shit again after that.

Bike Bubba said...

Hey, if you want to talk about something that (wordplay intended) will leave a mark, ignore this and google "honor killings."

It's also worth noting that various imams will have various interpretations of the passage cited. I could see some arguing that if, say, she was in a burqa, those marks wouldn't show, would they?

Gino said...

i've addressed honor killing here before. shall i repost?

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

This might interest you. Via Elders of Zion.