Because I used to live in Beirut, I tend to keep up with the news coming out of Lebanon. Last week I came across this article about a man in the Beirut neighborhood of Al-Tariq al-Jadideh who beat his wife to death. Her name was Manal Assi. At first glance this article appears to be nothing out of the ordinary. Men beat their wives to death all the time all over the world. It hardly qualifies as internationally important news. But then there’s a sentence in the article that made me pause.
From the woman’s young daughter about what happened:
He had a recording of the Quran being read aloud when my grandmother and aunt got to the house.
The article implies that he was still attacking her when the relatives showed up. Playing the Quran while beating his wife does not mean that he killed her because of his religion, but it does not shut that possibility out either.
Perhaps he did kill his wife because of the teachings of Islam. For example, the Quran states that beating your wife is allowed.
But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. -Quran 4:34.
And then there’s this:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife. -Abu Dawud 11:2142.
This Hadith gives blanket immunity to Muslim men to beat their wives without any punishment.
And the the Quran explicitly says it’s ok to murder your wife if she is lewd.
Those who commit unlawful sexual intercourse of your women – bring against them four [witnesses] from among you. And if they testify, confine the guilty women to houses until death takes them or Allah ordains for them [another] way. -Quran 4:15.
Even Muhammad beat his prepubescent wife, Aisha, as shown in this Hadith:
He struck me on the chest which caused me pain. -Sahih Muslim Book 004, Hadith Number 2127
Finally, there’s this Hadith, which tells the story of a husband who beat his wife so badly that her skin turned greener than her green veil.
Rifa’a divorced his wife whereupon ‘AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. ‘Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah’s Apostle came, ‘Aisha said, “I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!” -Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 72, Number 715.
While we cannot definitively say that the husband in Beirut beat his wife to death because Islam teaches men that it’s ok to beat their wives, we can say that Islam teaches men that it’s ok to beat their wives!
While there are many stories of domestic violence, rape, and murder of women and children in the Christian bible, Islam seems to bring it to a frightening level. It’s because of these teachings that women in many parts of the world are subjugated–sometimes daily–to some of the most inhumane treatments imaginable.