How to Beat Your Wife Properly

by Luke Muehlhauser on September 19, 2010 in Islam,Video

Is this radical Islam, or mainsteram Islam?

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

mojo.rhythm September 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm

God, I hope its not mainstream. Otherwise I think certain blanket generalisations of Islam, contrary to Fyfe, are called for after all.

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Michael September 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Video: Wellesley, Massachusetts Public School Students Learn to Pray to Allah.

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Tshepang Lekhonkhobe September 20, 2010 at 12:02 am

At least this idiot says that the beating should not leave marks. Sounds more like a spanking to me :-)

On a more serious note, the title is really shocking. It’s as hard to swallow as some parts of the Bible. Amazing the amount of crap one can find in human brains.

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Joel September 20, 2010 at 1:12 am

Luke,

I think that a correction needs to be made. Whether the despicable ideas propounded in the video are representative of mainstream Islam or not, you must understand that such barbaric views are not radical; they are fundamentalist. It is precisely because the fundamentalists interpret the Koran literally and take its words are fundamentall true, instead of metaphorical, that we get this kind of nonsense. The radicals are the ones pushing for change and for non-literalism.

The media keeps advertising the problem as radicalism, but there’s nothing radical about taking the so-called holy book literally. Fundamentalist Christianity, by the same logic, but more obviously, is the problem; radical Christianity with all the quakers and ecunmenical preachers, is not the problem.

In any case, I think we should be judging Islam by its 1) Holy books, 2) its psychological effects, and 3) its sociological effects.

In particular, we shouldn’t be too quick to resort to metaphorical readings of the Koran, or the Bible. Their fundamental ideas are immoral, in a way the (say) Humanity Manifesto or the Quaker Declaration of Pacifism is not. No one needs to be metaphorical about those, to avoid the barbaric ideas. And if we establish the fact that the Koran (or the Bible) is indeed the source of those people’s beliefs on wife-beating etc, and of their subsequent actions, we may condemn Islam per se, for what it teaches.

Honestly, the idea that religion is acceptable because moderate versions of them exist simply reflects badly on religion. It means that the less seriously people take religion (e.g. in Scandinavia), the better their society.

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Hendy September 20, 2010 at 8:27 am

Weird — call me crazy but did anyone else notice:

- no “veil/hood” when the video first started (side view, wearing a red/white hat and exposed sides of face/back of neck) and then he is wearing it after the host transitions to him.

- I almost swear that his bear looks shorter and more uniform from the side when the video first starts than from the front. From the side, it barely seems like it would obscure view of his neck, but from the front it looks like it’s well down into his shirt even at a neutral head position (looking straight/not down)

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Bram van Dijk September 20, 2010 at 8:34 am

On a more serious note, the title is really shocking. It’s as hard to swallow as some parts of the Bible. Amazing the amount of crap one can find in human brains.

That proves it! It must have been divine inspiration!

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Brian_G September 20, 2010 at 9:42 am

Did you guyes listen to the video all the way through? You can’t just beat your wife any time you want. It only allowed when she refuses to have sex. So at least it’s done for a good reason.

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svenjamin September 20, 2010 at 10:58 am

Right, the wife must be lightly beaten for not having sex, and only as a last resort, because otherwise the husband would have no choice but to commit adultery. I can’t think of any other possible options here. I mean, doing what those western infidels do and trying to actually please the women so she will have sex with you is entirely out of the question.

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Haecceitas September 20, 2010 at 10:58 am

Brian_G,

I don’t know, it could be just a particular spin that this Islamic teacher puts to it. It seems clear that the primary Quranic basis for this practise is found in Quran 4:34 but it doesn’t seem to make much sense to “punish” a wife that doesn’t want to sleep with you by forcing her to sleep in a separate bed. (This is the course of action that the Quran recommends before one is to resor to beating.)

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MauricXe September 20, 2010 at 11:26 am

I remember when I first saw this I told myself:

Time to convert to Islam.

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vanilacrmcake September 20, 2010 at 12:23 pm

^
..woaaa there cowboy

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Jeff H September 20, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Joel,

I agree with you that fundamentalism is the source of these sorts of terrible ideas. But I have to question some of your statements:

1) Let’s imagine a religion that has a holy book that has misogynistic statements in it, but that every single member of the religion takes the book metaphorically, and thus they are not themselves misogynists. Do you still think that such a religion should be condemned?

Personally, I feel much more comfortable condemning misogynists for being misogynistic, rather than condemning a religion for having “fundamental ideas” that are immoral. By condemning the religion as a whole, you would only be resisting the potential for the religion to change by anchoring it to a certain interpretation. That seems counter-productive to me.

2) What evidence do you have that people who take a holy book metaphorically are “less serious” about their religion than those who take it literally? That would suggest that people like Origen and Augustine of Hippo, who did not believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, were somehow “not serious” about their religion. And that, to me, just doesn’t make sense.

Again, by assuming that metaphors are less serious than literal interpretations, you’re anchoring the religion to a certain interpretation that you see as more correct. And inasmuch as that interpretation is detrimental to society, it’s again counter-productive.

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electrobob September 20, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Guys, Islam is a religion of peace…. unless you don’t sleep with it. :D

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Almost Chris September 20, 2010 at 6:35 pm

And who says chivalry is dead? What a gentleman!

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Joel September 21, 2010 at 1:56 am

Jeff H,

1) Of course, a religion whose adherents who pick ala carte from their holy book, resulting in the religion being rather humane and ethically modern, is better than a religion whose adherents don’t. But it does say something about the religion, where ala carte cherry picking is needed in the first place. An idea can be judged in itself and by its effects on people, so I do think valid condemnation can be had against the idea itself, even if its effects are negated.

2) I agree that the fundamentalist reading is not necessarily the true reading of a holy book. But I do think a case can be made for the fundamentalist reading being the main reading:

I) The authors wrote the book as non-fiction. This is consistent with out knowledge of all religious texts; they were all, at their genesis, taken literally; this suggests that the authors meant their books to be literal. Further, the Bible and the Koran were both assembled seriously, and much text was excluded; this seems like the preparation of a serious book meant to be taken at face value, rather than the preparation of a fiction text. Mohammed, being a well documented historical figure, we know meant his pronouncements to be taken at face value.

II) People through the ages have used the book as literal non-fiction. Religion would be inconsistent with itself if the metaphorical reading suddenly became upheld as primary.

III) The fundamentalist reading makes more sense as a divine revelation, insofar as divine revelations make sense. Assuming that God wished to reveal himself through a text, would it not make mroe sense to be direct and clear with the stupid humans, who are always killing and raping each other, instead of resorting to easily misunderstood fiction? Commands do not go well with fiction.

IV) The fundamentalist reading is simpler. This is empirically supported, I think, by the fact that the religious thorughout history have always interpreted the book literally.

V) Religious texts are not published as fiction, unlike my Crime and Punishment, which is obviously meant as literature, and is not in fact telling me to go out and be some murderous ubermensch.

Thus, I think the fundamentalist reading is the “correct” one. In any case, the metaphorical readings do not always escape some questionable ideas (e.g. what does “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” mean metaphorically?). It also makes little sense to have a religion revolve around a book that anyone can interpret anyway they like.

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Beelzebub September 21, 2010 at 3:59 am

Oh, well, that’s a relief.

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Jeff H September 21, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Joel,

I) That’s debatable. It’s first of all a generalization (“they were all…taken literally”), and with the little knowledge we have about most authors, it’s difficult to really assess their motives. I will grant you that Mohammed probably meant himself to be taken literally. But you’re also once again conflating “seriousness” with “literalness”. Jesus often spoke in parables, which are obviously fictional, but it doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying to convey a serious message. Not all “fiction” is trivial, and not all “non-fiction” is serious.

II) People through all the ages have taken their religious books in all sorts of fashions. I’ve already mentioned Origen and Augustine for the Christian tradition. Jews have the Kabbalah tradition, and Muslims have the Sufi tradition. The latter two are mystic traditions that certainly are serious but are not at all literal in their interpretation. So religion is not inconsistent for changing to a metaphorical view, since religion was never of a homogeneous viewpoint to begin with.

III) Again, you’re making assumptions. Needless ones. You’re assuming that these books are meant to be taken as divine revelation, and that this also implies divine commands. There is nothing inherent about religion that would justify these assumptions. In fact, I would sleep much better at night if I knew that no one took these religious books as divine revelation – and I would like to encourage people to shift in that direction.

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Jeff H September 21, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Continued…(sorry for such a long response!)

IV) Other than your mistake in saying that the books have always been interpreted literally, I agree that a simple, straight-forward, literal interpretation is simpler. But simplest is not always best, or even most accurate.

V) Of course not. But there is a difference between “fiction” and “non-literal.” This is far too simplistic, especially when we’re dealing with traditions that have been passed down for centuries. People today view “myth” as synonymous with “falsehood”, but this misses out on the way people have used myths and religious traditions for millenia. And of course, even with Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, there are deeper messages and themes involved than a simplistic, straight-forward reading would show. The meaning of a book and the meaning of the words in that book are not at all one and the same. So I don’t see any justifiable reason to say that the literal interpretation is the “correct” one, nor do I see any inconsistency in encouraging religious people to come to a deeper understanding of their own texts while ridding themselves of a naive urge to interpret it literally.

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al friedlander September 22, 2010 at 11:59 am

“In fact, I would sleep much better at night if I knew that no one took these religious books as divine revelation”

“I agree that a simple, straight-forward, literal interpretation is simpler. But simplest is not always best, or even most accurate.”

Jeff H,

What would Christianity be based off then? If the Bible is meant to be interpreted by our individual/metaphorical lenses, how would we know what is correct? Nothing would be clear as crystal, and that would scare me, because I’d want to avoid going to hell (if I were religious)

-Thanks

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Jeff H September 22, 2010 at 6:14 pm

What would Christianity be based off then? If the Bible is meant to be interpreted by our individual/metaphorical lenses, how would we know what is correct? Nothing would be clear as crystal, and that would scare me, because I’d want to avoid going to hell (if I were religious)

Well, to be honest, I could really care less on how to resolve those questions. There are plenty of religious people who take their respective religions in a less-than-literal sense, and I’m sure they have answers for them. If I had to guess, most of them would likely say, “you won’t know for sure what is correct”, which is a much more reasonable position than “our 2000 year old book tells us the exact literal truth!” And many moderate religious folks don’t believe in hell, so that’s not really an issue, either. Life isn’t “clear as crystal”, so why should we expect religion to be?

But my point is, as an atheist, I don’t really care how they resolve those questions. But 1) I do want to encourage more reason rather than less reason (even if I do believe that religion is unreasonable as a whole, there are definitely different degrees of reasonableness within the religious spectrum), and 2) I don’t want to encourage the notion that being literal (and simplistic) is better than being metaphorical (and perhaps more complex or nuanced). I’d rather people use their brains just a little bit more and come up with ideas that don’t involve them killing me for being an infidel. But maybe that’s just me.

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al friedlander September 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm

“If I had to guess, most of them would likely say, “you won’t know for sure what is correct”, which is a much more reasonable position than “our 2000 year old book tells us the exact literal truth!””

“I do want to encourage more reason rather than less reason”

“I’d rather people use their brains just a little bit more and come up with ideas that don’t involve them killing me for being an infidel. But maybe that’s just me. ”

No, I agree with you. Questions answered, ty

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travis green December 7, 2010 at 4:50 am

you did not explain how to beat my wife

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Michael April 4, 2011 at 4:51 am

Not sure the terms “mainstream Islam” and “radical Islam” are particularly helpful. What would be more helpful would be to ask, “does this represent true Islam?”
This way, we don’t worry about the behaviour of Muslims themselves, because a lot of Muslims in the West would never even think of beating their wives (though unfortunately yes i do know some who have). Instead, we focus on exegeting the Qur’an properly to see if this is what true Islam teaches.

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allâh has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allâh and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allâh orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband’s property, etc.). As to those women on whose part you see ill­conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allâh is Ever Most High, Most Great.” (An-Nisa 4:34)

Actually the word for beat in this verse is not to ‘tap lightly’ or anything like that.
The original arabic word is from root of to beat up, see here http://www.answering-islam.org/Women/beat_them.html
And also see here for more detail on proper exegesis of just this one verse and its context http://www.answering-islam.org/Silas/wife-beating.htm

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Toyona December 26, 2011 at 7:05 am

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