Waiting to exhale

I saw this video a long time ago but stumbled upon it again today. In the video, an imam giving khutbah explains to the men how to beat their wives. According to the imam, when one buys a car, they receive a manual with it; similarly, Quran is the manual from the Creator. A man “must not be ashamed before other nations of the world to admit that wife beating is part of our religious law, because these nations are still in their days of ignorance.” Western people are encouraged to draw wisdom from this “wondrous verse” and acknowledge that there are women “with whom life is impossible without beatings.”

Watch the whole video here.

Here is another video describing the correct steps.

I think Muslim Feminists must encourage the readings of alternative interpretations of this verse in question. There is of course Edip Yuksel‘s interpretation, another view on Alif Laam Meem, and Zuhura also discusses this verse here.

Now  exhale!


33 thoughts on “Waiting to exhale

  1. Salaam Alaikum,

    I can’t access those videos on my bb, but I did notice the uploader puts his web address as http://www.islam.shit

    • Metis says:

      Oops! Really?! Sugar!

      This video was on YouTube a couple of years ago, maybe it is still there. I found it on MetCafe while looking for something on wife beating. Good news is that people like this man are banned from giving individual khutbahs even in the KSA now. Every imam has to submit their khutbah to a committee for pre-approval. The committee scans each khutbah for misogyny, political fervour, sexism or racism etc. It started a couple of years ago and I’m really happy.

  2. Metis says:

    Safiya, That is so strange because on my computer, the uploader’s web address is islameyat.net and his name appears as AbdulQader.

  3. unsettledsoul says:

    Just as the bible was used as reason to keep slaves, so too the Quran is used as reason to oppress us.

    What a hateful culture of men who support this. Their women are the ones we need to be voices for.

    And they say there is no need for feminism in Islam?!

  4. Sumera says:

    Suppose there was no manual for the wives who end up marrying donkeys like him…

  5. susanne430 says:

    Yes, dude, you do need to be ashamed. And, no, dude, I won’t ever call that verse “wondrous in nature.”

    If that French woman really wanted to be ordered around, beaten and ruled by men, she could have found PLENTY of idiot men to do this for her, couldn’t she?

    The three types of women who deserve their beatings is fantastic! What about those husbands who do wrong? Are condescending to their wives? Who are paying more attention to video games and the computer (talking to women on social networking sites) than spending time with their wives and numerous children?

    Even my born-and-raised Arab Muslim friend admitted that men are more immature and disobedient than women. Why in the world did Allah not know this fact and make WOMEN in charge of beating the (immature and straying) men in order to get them back in line??


  6. unsettledsoul says:


    AMEN!!! LOL

  7. Becky says:

    I’m with unsettledsoul in that, AMEN Susanne! Couldn’t agree more!
    There are some twisted people out there….

  8. mariam says:

    salam 🙂
    there is a Farsi quote that say : Az mast ke bar mast chon digari nist
    “whatever happens to us is our fault, because there is no other (responsible for us)”
    when there are women who live with type of men, how we can expect progress?

  9. Sophia says:

    Ah… so I’m not a living, thinking, feeling human being – I’m a car. It all makes sense now. I could make some naughty jokes using auto-repair terms, but I shall refrain. I’m a proper lady (oops, car), after all.

    In regards to the 2nd vid, how exactly does one beat a woman without bruising her? I’m super pale – I get bruises from shaking people’s hands! My view – at my admittedly early stage of research – is that the relevant verse has been mistranslated and/or reinterpreted in a way that favors subjugating women, something that appears systemic in the traditional interpretation of Islam.

  10. Lat says:

    The Quran is not a ready made manual to solve our everday problems.Muslims should stop doing this stupid assessments.They should grow up.Obviously their mothers didn’t do their jobs well.

    In eastern cultures men have a tendency to hit women as the men and women are culturally brought up to think that husbands or fathers are masters of the house and so have the right to discipline their wives or women of the house.Most of the time they don’t even have to raise their hands at all.That’s the maximum level a man is culturally, at least the Indian way,is given permission to do.For those who do more than that then they are nothing but abusing the women.If men still don’t get it,then they should be locked up behind bars and put in rehabilitating programmes.Those sheikhs are definitely in need of it!

  11. sarah says:

    I agree with the interpetation on Alim Laam Meem, to beat is only one possible meaning and it is not the fist step, it is the last. If a man was really following the quote he would hit a wife after fist speaking to her, then if the behaviour continues (I suppose lewdness), then he should remove himself from her bed. If he has not done points one and two he should not jump straight to point three.

    I disagree with Lat on the eastern cultures part. Domestic abuse has existed in probably 99% of cultures. It was prevalent in the west for a long time and it is only in the past generation when women have achieved greater economic and legal freedom as well as the ability to control her reproductive cycle, that women are begining to be more vocal on the topic. Even now it does exist amongst the ‘west’.

    But i do not think that men who hit their wives would care about interpretation. They are not using the Quran as a guide for their behaviour, they are using it to justify a pattern they already followed.

  12. unsettledsoul says:

    Sarah, it does not just exist in the west, it is extremely high, statistically. The west is extremely violent towards it’s women.

    But at least we don’t still use the bible to make excuses for it, no?

  13. Metis says:

    Couple of thoughts that I have had on the subject are:

    1) If a man is really angry – and a man WILL be angry if his wife has been lewd and there is confirmation of that – then he will most probably not follow any step. It will be more spontaneous. It will also differ from one situation to another.

    2) It is true that domestic abuse can and does occur in any culture, but it is also true that at least in the modern world, *beating* is seen as an awful behaviour in the West, whereas in many Eastern cultures beating children or women and indeed even men, is not seen as something worthy of notice. I can say from experience that more often than not, Arab men will spontaneously beat anyone who annoys them. We have so many cases of men beating servants – sometimes to death, colleagues, children, sisters and even wives. It is very much part of culture. I have seen men take off their aghaal (black headdress) and use it as a whip to beat male and female servants or even teachers of their children! Beating is a very normal part of Arab and even Afghani culture.

    3) It is very possible that the word daraba actually does mean ‘beat.’ If we can argue that Islam placed a cap over unlimited polygamy, why can’t we argue that it also gave steps to men to follow before resorting to beating a wife? I know that I too have found alternative meanings of daraba but I will confess that it was mostly because ‘beat’ does not suit my contemporary Western sensibilities. But if one takes the time to read ahadith, they are full of men beating men, men beating wives, men beating daughters, men beating male and female slaves, men beating themselves! There are ahadith of Abu bakr hitting Aisha, the Prophet hitting Aisha on her chest so “it caused pain”, Abu Bakr’s SIL hitting his wives till the wooden sticks broke, Omar hitting slaves and wives, Ali hitting slaves. I know it is difficult to understand today, but that was the culture back then and I think Quran was trying to introduce steps so that by the time the situation led to beating, a man would have either cooled down enough or also in some cases would become extremely mad but if the woman was given warnings then she would have expected the outcome. Lame? I don’t know!

    4) Yes, domestic abuse is part of every culture, but when a holy book not only suggests it, but makes it imperative then things get more difficult to handle. However, like I said in point 3 above, the imperative was not to ‘beat’, but to beat if all else fails.

    5) Can men beat women today? No, I don’t think so! They shouldn’t even try because frankly Quran gives those steps to men; there is no set protocol for women to discipline their men or to retaliate!

    • mariam says:

      salam 🙂
      Dear Metis every day I come here read something new that I have never heard. ” the Prophet hitting Aisha” and others you explained are completely new for me,honestly I am shocked.how do you accept the prophet you believe in , beat his wife because it was norm that day? so if he was just doing like other men , what was difference between him and other men? why should I follow him when his moral standards are far lower than moral standards of me? do moral standards change with time and place!!!???it seems Quran lacks in setting up a universal moral framework for its followers!!
      I promise that I dont want dismiss any fact or I am not biased because of my believe in Infallibility:-) : wink :
      my meaning is why we are forced to justify near Zilion hadith and story out there and sometimes sacrify character of our prophet ?

      • mariam says:

        oooh why my marks dont turn to those yellow faces ? 😦 😦

      • Metis says:

        Mariam, you are right in many ways. I was just offering one way of looking at things; not really saying it is the only way or even the right way.

        I know what you mean about hadith, but hadith is very much part of Islam and I don’t think there will ever be a time when we can do away with it. The day Bukhari picked up his pen, Muslims were chained to hadith. This is all part of the hadith. Sahih hadith. Of course, majority will reject it; some will accept it as it is, while others will try to give alternative meanings like Yahya Snow.

        You asked “do moral standards change with time and place!!!???”

        I think, yes they do, if moral standards were stagnant and carved in stone we would have had no problems today with a lot of things that people did in the past and which were not considered immoral. Hitting, I believe is cultural and not immoral; it becomes immoral in a time or culture where it is considered abnormal and hence it is an offence and immoral behaviour in the contemporary West.

        • mariam says:

          Dear Metis I dont want take your time but my meaning was moral standards of God not moral standards in Iran 1000 years ago or today.
          I dont think God changes his morals.I am sure you have read about Koorosh e Kabir (Cyrus the Great) founder of Persian Empire.and I am sure you know how was situation of women and freedom of faith under his ruling.many of us believe he was Dhul-Qarnayn.
          so I think time and place dont influence moral standards,say in time of Adam, Moses in palace of Pharaoh or Koorosh in 3000 years ago or Prophet mohammad in Saudi Arabia 1400 years ago.
          our undrestanding from it and our resistance to accept it change in time and place depending our culture. 🙂


          • Metis says:

            Not at all Mariam, I really enjoy learning from you and the others. You aren’t taking up my time at all. It is in fact a pleasure.

            I haven’t read much about Cyrus actually. I would like to because I want to understand who is Dhul Qarnain. I do know though that women were very strong and free in ancient Persia.

            “our undrestanding from it and our resistance to accept it change in time and place depending our culture.”

            I like that; I think there is something to learn from this sentence. In fact I think I was saying the same thing in my original comment even though I don’t think this is what I said in the next comment. I mean to say that if we accept that it was morally alright to raid unsuspecting civilian caravans back in the 7th Century Arabia because it was culturally acceptable and was even acceptable to God then we can safely argue that we are not seeking any “understanding from it” and that we are “resistant to accept it” as morally correct which is because we lived in a different time and place. Then if raids were morally acceptable, why not hitting a lewd and promiscuous wife? Why should we think it couldn’t have been morally acceptable when there is a lot that was acceptable and is not anymore?

  14. unsettledsoul says:

    Wow, thanks for your opinion on it metis. #3 and #4 really resonates with me. I think it further proves a modern/contextual, not a literal, view of the Quran is needed.

  15. Lat says:

    In one hadith,the prophet was confronted with 70 female companions who were ill-treated by supposedly pious husbands.I think this was under the heading of ‘Women of Medina’ and happened after this verse of beating was revealed.The prophet was outraged and came out and summoned the companions,berating them(men) for behaving thus and shaming them saying that ‘they are hardly the best of you’.

    This incident also shows that he didn’t outrightly say that beating of women is banned for them,just that they were not best of men,if they beat their wives.So there was a moral obligation for men not to beat their women,I think.It’s about changing perceptions and then acting accordingly to it as it serves the purpose of living in harmony.And perceptions do keep changing according to our enviroment change just like the natural world.They just don’t freeze in time.

    It’s sad that Arabian men take the beating concept very lightly.They’ve forgotten that God has equipped us with a powerful mouth,the dangerous weapon in the world so a Tamil saying goes.

    Since we’re discussing the verse in question,I said that about eastern cultures.Of course the west has seen her own share of domestic abuse,no doubt.But they don’t base it on any religious sanction for it (unlike religious muslims) at least not anymore for most of them. Just my thoughts.

  16. sana says:

    Men beat their wives (sometimes even vice versa) regardless of the quran or hadith (or bible or the vedas).If it is deep seated in the culture and if that is what a person was taught or witnessed as a child that it is okay to beat, he will do it.
    It’s just that they get to blame it on something else and to justify themselves.To say that it is okay according to our religion. I have seen so many wife beatings and (cheatings) both muslims and non muslims that I have almost become a male hater and have very little trust and faith in men, even the ‘nice” ones. I was afraid of getting married and still imagine how I would cope up if ever my husband would hit me. If once a person harms you physically or otherwise then he will do it again and always. I pray so much for those women.:(

  17. Lat says:

    The basic problem is that men, like Sana said above,do beat their wives when they get a reason.It’s not necessarily done so only when a wife is ‘lewd and promiscuous’.

    “Why should we think it couldn’t have been morally acceptable when there is a lot that was acceptable and is not anymore?”

    Does the verse in question say anything specifically to the cause of such a beating is required?
    In other words when are men allowed to beat? The way I see it they beat their women when they want to discipline them even for the slightest offence.And worse is that religious men do not take much notice of it at all. They take it as if it’s morally acceptable for all times simply because it’s there in Quran.

    So that is why I feel that people try to find a meaning that is most suited to the verse like abandoning or separate from the wife in question.Literally if you do not take a different meaning to that then you will never be able to change the mindset at all.If husbands beating were morally acceptable at 7th century Arabia then why did women voice out against it then? Why are there many hadiths to that effect?

    As far as I’ve read about the raids,it was undertaken because the muslims were left with little option as they were cut off from providing for their families by the Meccans with collaboration with the Jews of the time.The prophet is not a magician to make a table appear with food nor a fisherman to catch a giant fish to feed his followers for a month.They did what they could as they knew best for the moment.For that circumstance it was morally acceptable to them but did they make raiding caravans their lifetime achievements till they died? Is that what the prophet taught? Having a whole community depending on him,on his (devine)words is different from just his family alone.So he did it.Muslims today can learn from this history some good lessons but they cannot justify doing the same acts in the name of religion.Robbing and stuff like that’s been going on for centuries are mainly for selfish reasons but when you do so for religion, unless provoked unjustly,then it becomes morally wrong.

    Oh btw,do visit truerivers! I need your expertise 🙂 Thanks!

  18. Lat says:

    I also understand there could be other versions of the raids some justifying and others not.I don’t know how far I want to believe in all.But I just wanted to highlight about it being morally wrong or right,that’s all.

  19. Metis says:

    I agree with you Lat. My point is not whether raids in the 7th C were good or bad, in fact I think they were acceptable and that is what we hear from every serious scholar on Islam. My point is that there were *reasons* for the raids – poverty, hunger etc. Raids did not ruin the goal of Islam, nor did they become the norm (although they did continue until the 1920s in the present day KSA!). Similarly, Quran actually does give a reason for disciplining your wife which is ‘nushuz.’ Personally, I am against the idea of disciplining so whether daraba is beating or abandoning or resuming sex, there are *steps* of which daraba is the last and that a man can discipline or punish his wife whereas a wife can’t.

    In the context I feel abandoning the wife fits best. I don’t even think daraba in this context means to beat. But I was trying to understand why for at least 1400 years no one came up with a alternative meaning for the word. Surely it can’t be just because everyone was patriarchal. The same scholars who talk about the high status of women in Islam have been, in the same breath, interpreting daraba as beat. I was trying to make sense of why they did that and I think the reason was that they didn’t think beating a wife was morally wrong.

    I actually think that in 200 years we will also find an alternative meaning for “then marry 2 or 3 or 4” when *we* decide that polygamy is morally wrong! My point is that there arises a need for alternative interpretations because society changes and because moral standards do change. Otherwise we would have been quite ok with getting a tap on our shoulders with a toothbrush.

  20. mariam says:

    salam Metis 🙂
    I think our undrestanding from moral issues in time and place differ but this dont mean morals change.beating wife or killing unsuspecting civilian people is immoral no matter of time and place.undrestanding this issue that”beating your slave or wife is immoral” was difficult for people in time of prophet.even today in year 2010 is diffucult as one of members of Saudi family beat his aid and killed him in London,as easy as drinking a glass of water.( but it isnot difficult for many people in the world today)
    and we people show resistance toward moral issues .because of resistance of Quraysh toward those moral standards which challenged their power and their way of life ,prophet was forced to immigrate and forced to fight with them.he never killed poor! unsuspecting! civilians.he never started the war untill he was forced by his enemies.using word that he” raid caravans” is like taking a photo from one scence of one incident withought taking into account all events before and after that scence.because of that resistance some tried to change many details of stories and produce so many Ahadith with name of prophet.( I think there are bugs in Nakhlah story)
    and sometimes write a story that never occured and suprisingly this story is accepted by most muslims.because they think it was norm that day.prophet never sacrificed moral standards for what was norm that day.
    Dr seyed Jafar e Shahidi one of great Iranian historians believes that Banu Qurayza event has never occured and is fake.in my idea he is one of most reliable contemporary historians and I am agree with him in this issue.
    enemies of prophet didnot succeed in many physical fights with him but were succeed in fight with their pen and their success countinues until today.

    and I am not sure Prophet translate Daraba to beating , it is assumption of our scholars.and there is no need to wait 200 years, polygamy is immoral today because as Quran say most of men cannot treat with equality with their wives and ofcourse God know us better than us , if polygamy is not immoral in Arabian countries at all is because of that resistance I talked about.I think for Prophet , polygamy was immoral while living with Khadijeh( so time is not issue here).if men in 1400 years ago or today assum that they can treat with their wives as prophet did , is problem of both men and women involving it.I am in wonder of their confidence 🙂

    “Metis jan, in man hastam ke inja yad migiram, shoma ostade man hastid” 🙂 🙂

    • Metis says:

      That is true, Mariam. I think we are looking at things in different ways but that neither of us is entirely wrong. I think I have unconciously developed a very Wahabi outlook 😀 Although I don’t believe in infallibility of any human being, I have no problems in accepting the Prophet as the best example for Arabians and Muslims. I guess you are doing the same through belief in infallibility.

  21. Metis says:

    One thing more I forgot to add is that I personally don’t believe that daraba translates as ‘beat’, like I mentioned in the comment above, nor did I say I was 100% sure that the Prophet meant ‘beat’ by daraba. I was only trying to understand the scholars who believe it to mean beat based on the fact that no one objected to this meaning for centuries before now.

  22. Wafa' says:

    I can not see the video because i have heard enough stupidity.
    Anyway, if this “beating” is ok in Islam, no matter the amount and the way, then there might be something wrong in our religion , so is it ?

    let me go read the other interpetation and be a bit optimistic about Islam.

  23. Lat says:

    I think not every scholar like to translate the word as beat.But they did so as you said,”that they didn’t think beating a wife was morally wrong.” But somewhere further in history,they did find it ‘wrong’ and added in parenthesis the word ‘lightly’ 🙂 And the toothbrush thing.

    Oh Metis! I’m not waiting 200 years,I already think that! 🙂

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