Wife-Beating and the Koran

The Washington post had an interesting little article/transcript on Wife-Beating and the Koran

Since I pointed out on Surah 4 that Muslim men are supposed to beat their wives when they go astray I might as well include this rather dishonest counterpoint which seems to be written by a Muslim woman who doesn’t take her book at face value.

Here is an excerpt from the article.

McLean, Va.: In your article, you argue for a non-literalist interpretation for Sura An-Nisa. How can it now be interpreted to avoid the misogyny that it breeds when it contains, quite specifically, the word ‘beat’ (in Ali and Pickhall’s translation). Is there a way to argue, as Fazlur Rahman does, that the essence of the Qu’ran is what matters and that we must read it in a way that lets us extract universal principles? If so, how could we understand the essence of this Sura?

Asra Q. Nomani: The Koran also talks about slavery and slaves, but the Muslim world didn’t continue that practice (except perhaps in the underbelly of society). We have allowed for contextual understanding of many verses of the Koran, including the literal readings that tell us to slay the the “pagans” and never befriend Jews and Christians. If we allow ourselves, we understand that those words were written at a specific political time of tribal and political rivalry. As I wrote in the article, 4:34 was progressive for the 7th century. Let’s continue that progressive spirit to the 21st century and say “zero tolerance” to any physical discipline of a woman, gentle or not. And I think that is in fact the spirit of what the scholar Fazlur Rahman encouraged us to do. I believe the essence of the sura was to improve the condition for women in the 7th century to a standard that men of that time could accept. We have now risen to a higher standard.

That’s all well and good, but fundamentalist Islam will never permit such a watered down reading of any text.
By the way don’t miss the fact that Asra W. Nomani points out the “the literal readings that tell us to slay the the “pagans” and never befriend Jews and Christians.” Looks like I’m not so far off on a literal reading after all.
–Skeptik Out