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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Don’t ever use religion to justify caning women



Syerleena Abdul Rashid
The Malaysian Insider
So apparently, there are some men who think that it is completely acceptable to cane women as a measure to reprimand her of her duties as a woman.
Most Malaysians are aware that we live in a patriarchal society, a system that favours men and disregards the significance of the opposite gender.
Understandably, certain ancient religious scriptures may highlight verses that may come across as permitting a husband to “strike lightly”.
A few days ago, a local daily reported that an influential individual expressed his thoughts on the matter. “Husbands are allowed to hit their wives for the purpose of teaching without the intention to hurt them or disgrace them. This method, however, should be the last resort after all other methods fail, including reprimanding her and sleeping separately,” he said.
In other words, in order to keep women in line, husbands must shower them with blows and I don’t mean the affectionate type.
Whatever happened to discussing things or talking things over? Violence or inflicting both physical and mental harm on anyone should never be the last resort. For someone in a top-ranking position to utter detestable remarks that showcase just how misogynistic some Malaysian men are, is regrettably unflattering.
It was reported that Prophet Muhammad’s dying words were “Treat women well. You have rights over them and they have rights over you. They are your committed partners.”
This advice resonated well with his successors: Zaynab bin Ali was a noted brilliant community leader, one of the greatest during his time; Lubna of Cordoba and Fatima al-Fihri of Morocco – academics who inspired and contributed to the Golden Age of Islam and the positive ways women were treated back then.
Islam’s solution to end violence against women and preventing all forms of discrimination was embodied as a secular practice, one that could co-exist with religion.
Of course, these days, the term secular brings shivers down the spines of every conservative traditionalist who associate the word with apostasy.
Islam is a beautiful religion, one that certainly does not advocate violence or encourage men to discriminate women.
Our religion requires men to safeguard the wellbeing of women – wives and daughters, it requires men to treat women as equals and most unquestionably, be responsible for their (men) own behaviour.
Prophet Muhammad forbade Muslim men to hit women, according to hadith (Abdullah ibn Zama’ – who narrates from the Prophet): “Don’t beat your wife as if she is a slave”.
Most men tend to misuse and misinterpret the true positive teachings of Islam, endorsements created to perpetuate ill-will towards women are a gross violation to the spirit and law of Islam.
It is after all, a question of interpretation, whether it is correct or false, whether it is in line with universal value or contradicting, is something human beings must understand.
For example, in the Quran, Surah An-Nisaa 4:34-35 states: “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 to guard. As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) hit them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance); for Allah is most High and Great (above you all). If you fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers. If they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation; for Allah has full knowledge and is acquainted with all things.”
Although the word “hit” is used, it does not imply physical abuse or does it permits any form of violence towards women.
The word itself and the entire verse can be interpreted in various ways but it does not permit violence nor condone disciplining women or wives into submission. Therefore, it is especially important to read the entire section carefully and thoroughly. Interpretations must not be taken out of context nor shall it be used to justify any transgressions.
How we dress or what lifestyle choices we make or how opinionated we choose to be do not inspire or instigate any form of violence or maltreatment.
Domestic abuse and gender bigotry happens when men do not treat women with respect. It happens because our society may choose to ignore the significance of moral characteristics through civility in discourse and respecting women’s rights to self-empowerment and determination.
Our society chooses, instead, to allow men to do or say as they please without any consequences –punishment is reserved for women and commemoration is reserved for men.
Unfortunately, misogynistic remarks will continue to happen and little action will ever be taken upon those who utter such crass suggestions.
There are other alternatives than rehabilitating women through caning, try talking and identifying any grouses in a respectable and cordial manner for a change.
You know, women are excellent listeners if some men take the time and effort to learn the art of communicating.
So caning women for the purpose of training us in our duties isn’t exactly the best solution, as a matter of fact it is never a solution, but in a different context – one that might include some unspeakable fetishes, well, that isn’t something the public wants to hear and requires another article all together. 

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