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General Questions regarding the often mentioned Verse 4:34

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  • Abdal Hakim
    replied
    Re: General Questions regarding the often mentioned Verse 4:34

    Originally posted by Inquisitiveness1 View Post
    Ah, okay. That makes sense to me. Thanks for the explanation.


    What I meant is: Does the Qur'an state that "men are the qawwāmūn over women" as an absolute (i.e. every man is a qawwām over a woman)? The reasons subsequently given for that phrase are that men have been bestowed something (physical strength presumably) that women lack and that they have financial means. My question though is that obviously in real life, you can have woman who are the breadwinners of the household and in more rare cases, you can have a wife who is physically stronger or more battle-adept than her husband, so I would assume that in those cases, the woman is a qawwāmaẗ over the man. There can also be cases where they provide equally for the family and play an equal "leadership" role in the household. From my overt reading of the verse though, it seems like it is making a blanket statement that men are (always) the qawwāmūn in the relationship because the man (always) is the breadwinner and stronger physically. I don't deny that more often than not, men are since they still usually are the breadwinners and physically strongest of the household, but not in every case, especially in the modern day. That's what I meant by does the verse take the line as an absolute that is always true or as a general statement that generally applies since generally speaking men are indeed stronger and still even to this day men generally are the (main) breadwinners of the household. I assume that Islam, while having a notion of gender roles, does not see it as haram for a woman to be the breadwinner (although it might be uncommon).


    But does she have an obligation to obey any command given? Is there a certain subset or field of demands that must be obeyed rather than any command? If she disagrees with something, is it sinful for her to resist and or protest it if she has solid grounds? Does a man have license to not listen to his wife, where in the same situation, but reversed, the wife must listen to her husband? And related to my second overall question earlier, if the woman is the breadwinner and/or stronger physically, does the situation reverse? Would the man have to listen to her and/or would she not have to obey him?
    Does the Qur'an state that "men are the qawwāmūn over women" as an absolute (i.e. every man is a qawwām over a woman)?
    A woman's husband (or her father, if she's unmarried) is qawwam over her; not that "every" man is qawwam over every woman.

    The reasons subsequently given for that phrase are that men have been bestowed something (physical strength presumably) that women lack and that they have financial means.
    True. The Qur'anic words here are actually a bit more mysterious: فضل الله بعضهم علی بعض "Because Allah has made one of them excel the other" . We do not know what that means exactly. That doesn't necessarily have to mean physical strength; though physical strength can be included as part of what it means.

    I personally do not think physical strength is the main issue here. Elephants are physically stronger than all of us humans, but they are not our leaders.

    It can mean that men are in general better leaders or that they think more practically and objectively; whereas women are more emotional and hence less suitable for this function. Or else, it can just mean that Allah has preferred men for this task, without further complication.

    My question though is that obviously in real life, you can have woman who are the breadwinners of the household and in more rare cases, you can have a wife who is physically stronger or more battle-adept than her husband, so I would assume that in those cases, the woman is a qawwāmaẗ over the man.
    According to the shari'ah, a man is obliged to support his family financially. A woman has no such obligation. So, if a man spends on his wife and children, he's doing his duty. If a woman spends on her husband and on her children, that's considered charity. Basically, the money a man earns, belongs to his family also; whereas the money a woman earns, belongs to her alone.

    As far as gender roles are concerned, the "general rule" is that men must provide for their families. Women must stay at home and take care of children; and do other household duties.

    Now, every general rule admits exceptions, and this one does also. There are cases where the husband becomes paralysed or handicapped. Or that he tries hard but the money he earns is not enough. The wife, in such cases, can choose to work and to provide for the family. There are other cases where the wife becomes paralysed, or she has to remain in hospital for some reason. So, in these cases, the husband has to stay at home for some time, take care of children, cook for the family, etc. So, yes, it's a general statement. It says that most of the time, it must be so. Not that it must always be so.

    There are other instances of this in the Qur'an:

    "Mothers shall suckle their children for two whole years; that is for those who wish to complete the suckling." (2:233)
    Not all mothers can breastfeed their own children, and the nursing period doesn't have to be two whole years in all cases necessarily.

    Here again, you have a verse that looks like a blanket statement, but it is describing the norm. It is not telling us "how things should always be" but "how things should be in most instances".

    While having a notion of gender roles, does not see it as haram for a woman to be the breadwinner (although it might be uncommon)
    It's not haraam for a woman to work outside of the house (unless the work itself is haraam, or unless her husbands forbids her).

    But, nevertheless, a woman working outside of the house is an exception, not a rule. Some of the fuqaha say that she should work only when she has to (she needs the money to support herself and her family; or the community needs her profession) Likewise, she should not neglect her duties as wife and mother, in order to do something that is not her duty.

    So, yes, a woman can work and she can contribute to the family, but this must be an exception, not the rule.

    But does she have an obligation to obey any command given? Is there a certain subset or field of demands that must be obeyed rather than any command?
    The scholars differ on this issue as well.

    The first opinion is that yes, she is obliged to obey all commands given to her by her husband, as long as the commands do not contravene the shari'ah. So if a husband tells his wife to bring tea, - seeing that bringing tea is not a haraam action - she must obey him; and she would be sinning, if she were to disobey.

    The second opinion is that obedience in women is generally a virtue and a desirable character-trait. So, if the husband tells her to bring tea, it is good for her to go and bring tea; rather than starting an argument: "i.e. Why don't you bring it yourself?"

    According to this second view, she wouldn't be sinning in the religious sense, if she didn't bring tea, to use the example above. Even though, she would still be doing something that is not desired, i.e. displeasing her husband by not carrying out an order that is neither haram nor beyond her capabilities. Also, in family and financial matters, a woman should follow her husband; as he is the head of the household, and he is the one that has to make the important decisions, not her.

    Both opinions are based on the Quran and on the ahadith, it's just that they interpret them differently. I mentioned the two; so that you can know they exist; and so that you can see which one makes more sense to you.

    There are two cases in which the ahadith tell us that a disobedient woman is cursed by the angels. From here, we can conclude that it is "obligatory" for her to obey her husband at least in these things; and that she would be sinning if she were to refuse him in these:

    1) If a husband calls his wife to bed, she shouldn't refuse without a valid reason. Also a woman must not fast voluntarily without her husband's permission; this has to do with the same right that her husband has to her body.

    2) If the husband tells her not to go out of the house, she must obey. In other words, she must never go out of the house without her husband's knowledge and consent.

    If she disagrees with something, is it sinful for her to resist and or protest it if she has solid grounds?
    No, it is not sinful at all to do so. Humans cannot be carbon copies of one another, and it is natural for a wife to disagree with her husband. In these cases, she should feel free to express her opinion and even to argue with her husband.

    According to a tradition, Umar and his wife were argued on some matter. Umar's wife answered him back. Umar was offended. But his wife told him, "The Messenger of Allah is better than you, and yet his wives answer him back". Umar went to ask his daughter and another of the Prophet's wives, and they confirmed this: "That we express our opinions openly; but he commands us to do something, we obey."

    Does a man have license to not listen to his wife, where in the same situation, but reversed, the wife must listen to her husband?
    Yes. That's what it means. If a man is persuaded that his wife is saying the right thing, then can choose to listen to her. If he's not persuaded, well he doesn't listen. But the reverse is not true: A wife has to listen to her husband, even if she's not persuaded that this is the right thing to do.

    And the reason is obvious: It is better to have an unwise leader than to not have a leader, or than to have two leaders with equal power. A 50-50 arrangement doesn't work. So in a family where the husband and the wife have equal authority (and neither has the right to the final say), what happens if they disagree on something and neither can persuade the other? Their disagreement will never be resolved. They will have to argue all the time; and this means they can hardly make any decisions promptly and wisely. This will eventually threat the stability of their family.

    And related to my second overall question earlier, if the woman is the breadwinner and/or stronger physically, does the situation reverse? Would the man have to listen to her and/or would she not have to obey him?
    No. From an Islamic perspective, we can't reverse things that are ordained by Allah.

    If a woman provides for her family, she is doing something that is not her duty. And if refuses to listen to her husband (in some matters at least), she is neglecting something that is part of her duty as a wife. One cannot neglect one's own duties, in order to do someone else's duties.
    Last edited by Abdal Hakim; 29-01-16, 02:07 AM.

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  • Winter
    replied
    Re: General Questions regarding the often mentioned Verse 4:34

    Originally posted by Inquisitiveness1 View Post
    Ah, okay. That makes sense to me. Thanks for the explanation.


    What I meant is: Does the Qur'an state that "men are the qawwāmūn over women" as an absolute (i.e. every man is a qawwām over a woman)? The reasons subsequently given for that phrase are that men have been bestowed something (physical strength presumably) that women lack and that they have financial means. My question though is that obviously in real life, you can have woman who are the breadwinners of the household and in more rare cases, you can have a wife who is physically stronger or more battle-adept than her husband, so I would assume that in those cases, the woman is a qawwāmaẗ over the man. There can also be cases where they provide equally for the family and play an equal "leadership" role in the household. From my overt reading of the verse though, it seems like it is making a blanket statement that men are (always) the qawwāmūn in the relationship because the man (always) is the breadwinner and stronger physically. I don't deny that more often than not, men are since they still usually are the breadwinners and physically strongest of the household, but not in every case, especially in the modern day. That's what I meant by does the verse take the line as an absolute that is always true or as a general statement that generally applies since generally speaking men are indeed stronger and still even to this day men generally are the (main) breadwinners of the household. I assume that Islam, while having a notion of gender roles, does not see it as haram for a woman to be the breadwinner (although it might be uncommon).


    But does she have an obligation to obey any command given? Is there a certain subset or field of demands that must be obeyed rather than any command? If she disagrees with something, is it sinful for her to resist and or protest it if she has solid grounds? Does a man have license to not listen to his wife, where in the same situation, but reversed, the wife must listen to her husband? And related to my second overall question earlier, if the woman is the breadwinner and/or stronger physically, does the situation reverse? Would the man have to listen to her and/or would she not have to obey him?
    A women can never be the leader of the house, even if she's the breadwinner. She is rewarded by Allah (swt) for what she is doing and will get her rewards from him, but it doesn't make her a leader. For example lawyers have their side kick (or whatever you call them), who get most of the job done for the lawyers, were he just has to go to court and and fight the case, does that make him less of a boss? No.

    A man job is to protect his family and not go overboard with things some people do. I mean telling your wife to cut down visiting her friends when she's neglecting her duties as a wife/mother, isn't something that's wrong from the husband. However some going overboard and telling their wives they can't call their parents (for no reason) then that's a little too extreme and shows someone who's abusing their power. However the wife only obeys commands that isn't going against Allah (swt). Generally you have to obey him even on the extreme things, however this will eventually result in resentment and eventually divorce, so the husband needs to know his own limits.

    Leave a comment:


  • TCKMuslima
    replied
    Re: General Questions regarding the often mentioned Verse 4:34

    Originally posted by Inquisitiveness1 View Post
    Ah, okay. That makes sense to me. Thanks for the explanation.


    What I meant is: Does the Qur'an state that "men are the qawwāmūn over women" as an absolute (i.e. every man is a qawwām over a woman)? The reasons subsequently given for that phrase are that men have been bestowed something (physical strength presumably) that women lack and that they have financial means. My question though is that obviously in real life, you can have woman who are the breadwinners of the household and in more rare cases, you can have a wife who is physically stronger or more battle-adept than her husband, so I would assume that in those cases, the woman is a qawwāmaẗ over the man. There can also be cases where they provide equally for the family and play an equal "leadership" role in the household. From my overt reading of the verse though, it seems like it is making a blanket statement that men are (always) the qawwāmūn in the relationship because the man (always) is the breadwinner and stronger physically. I don't deny that more often than not, men are since they still usually are the breadwinners and physically strongest of the household, but not in every case, especially in the modern day. That's what I meant by does the verse take the line as an absolute that is always true or as a general statement that generally applies since generally speaking men are indeed stronger and still even to this day men generally are the (main) breadwinners of the household. I assume that Islam, while having a notion of gender roles, does not see it as haram for a woman to be the breadwinner (although it might be uncommon).


    But does she have an obligation to obey any command given? Is there a certain subset or field of demands that must be obeyed rather than any command? If she disagrees with something, is it sinful for her to resist and or protest it if she has solid grounds? Does a man have license to not listen to his wife, where in the same situation, but reversed, the wife must listen to her husband? And related to my second overall question earlier, if the woman is the breadwinner and/or stronger physically, does the situation reverse? Would the man have to listen to her and/or would she not have to obey him?
    I know you were addressing this to the brother above but I'd like to try and answer if I may.
    Islam does have specific 'gender roles', you're right. Islamically, a woman is of course allowed to have her own business or income and work (if her husband agrees) but whatever she makes is HER WEALTH alone. She is not obligated to spend anything on her husband, the household or the children. This is a very special privilege that Islam gives to women. And the husband CANNOT force her to spend her wealth on something. It is hers and hers alone to do what she wishes. Whether that's give it to her parents or spend it on makeup and shoes. Anything she DOES spend on her husband, her children she would be rewarded for it as something extra because it was not her obligation to do so.
    The husband however is OBLIGATED to spend his wealth on his wife and children and the household. It's his islamic duty and responsibility.
    So a woman (even if she's working etc) will never be the 'breadwinner' of the family. Her wealth is hers. Even if she makes more than him.

    For your second question yes of course she has the right to disagree and protest and try to convince and persuade her husband to change his mind. Even the wives of the Prophet (SAW) used to voice their opinions to him. What it means that if the husband and wife disagree. She can still make it be known she doesn't agree. But she should acknowledge and respect that he is the head of the household and so his decision has final say. It doesn't mean they have to behave like some kind of voiceless robots.

    And also for the 'striking' them question. It's not just for anything that you can hit your wife. It's for like really bad stuff. The prophet saw said in his final sermon this is for 'open lewdness' committed on the wife's part.

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  • Inquisitiveness1
    replied
    Re: General Questions regarding the often mentioned Verse 4:34

    Ah, okay. That makes sense to me. Thanks for the explanation.

    Originally posted by Abdal Hakim View Post
    2) I didn't understand this question. Please clarify a little bit more.
    What I meant is: Does the Qur'an state that "men are the qawwāmūn over women" as an absolute (i.e. every man is a qawwām over a woman)? The reasons subsequently given for that phrase are that men have been bestowed something (physical strength presumably) that women lack and that they have financial means. My question though is that obviously in real life, you can have woman who are the breadwinners of the household and in more rare cases, you can have a wife who is physically stronger or more battle-adept than her husband, so I would assume that in those cases, the woman is a qawwāmaẗ over the man. There can also be cases where they provide equally for the family and play an equal "leadership" role in the household. From my overt reading of the verse though, it seems like it is making a blanket statement that men are (always) the qawwāmūn in the relationship because the man (always) is the breadwinner and stronger physically. I don't deny that more often than not, men are since they still usually are the breadwinners and physically strongest of the household, but not in every case, especially in the modern day. That's what I meant by does the verse take the line as an absolute that is always true or as a general statement that generally applies since generally speaking men are indeed stronger and still even to this day men generally are the (main) breadwinners of the household. I assume that Islam, while having a notion of gender roles, does not see it as haram for a woman to be the breadwinner (although it might be uncommon).

    Originally posted by Abdal Hakim View Post
    3) qānitātun or qānitātat can mean "obedient ones". But I would perhaps prefer to translate it as "devout ones", if I were to translate it. It means to obey someone but to do so willingly and wholeheartedly. Yes, the wife is generally expected to obey her husband (as the husband is the leader of the family, the same verse explains why)
    But does she have an obligation to obey any command given? Is there a certain subset or field of demands that must be obeyed rather than any command? If she disagrees with something, is it sinful for her to resist and or protest it if she has solid grounds? Does a man have license to not listen to his wife, where in the same situation, but reversed, the wife must listen to her husband? And related to my second overall question earlier, if the woman is the breadwinner and/or stronger physically, does the situation reverse? Would the man have to listen to her and/or would she not have to obey him?

    Leave a comment:


  • Abdal Hakim
    replied
    Re: General Questions regarding the often mentioned Verse 4:34

    Originally posted by Inquisitiveness1 View Post
    I apologize as I am sure this has been asked a billions times before, but I want to ask about verse 4:34.

    1) What is the intended meaning of the verb ḍaraba*?
    a) If it does really mean “to hit/strike/beat”, what are the limitations if any? Where are the limitations given, and if not from the Qur'an, is there any reason that the limitations were not included in the verse itself?
    b) If it has a different meaning, what is the real meaning and why was not a more unambiguous word used?

    2) Does the verse speak in absolutes or only in general/average terms regarding gender roles? If the latter, why was the verse not clearer on this?

    3) What exactly is meant by qānitātun? I see it commonly translated as "obedient", and the fact that the verse also has aṭa3nakum (obey you) seems to support that translation. What is meant by "obedient" then? Does a wife have to obey any orders from a husband?

    *I have at one point heard that it could mean "separate from", but from my understanding, ḍaraba only has the meaning when followed by the word 3an. Am I mistaken about that? If so, are there any Classical Arabic examples in which ḍaraba by itself clearly has the same meaning as ḍaraba 3an (lit. hit away from -> separate from)?

    P.S. If this post violates any rules, please let me know and, if you are willing, give me direction on either where to post this question, how to rephrase it to follow the rules, or just prior posts that answer the questions.
    Last edited by Abdal Hakim; 28-01-16, 05:20 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • General Questions regarding the often mentioned Verse 4:34

    I apologize as I am sure this has been asked a billions times before, but I want to ask about verse 4:34.

    1) What is the intended meaning of the verb ḍaraba*?
    a)b) If it has a different meaning, what is the real meaning and why was not a more unambiguous word used?

    2) Does the verse speak in absolutes or only in general/average terms regarding gender roles? If the latter, why was the verse not clearer on this?

    3) What exactly is meant by qānitātun? I see it commonly translated as "obedient", and the fact that the verse also has aṭa3nakum (obey you) seems to support that translation. What is meant by "obedient" then? Does a wife have to obey any orders from a husband?

    *I have at one point heard that it could mean "separate from", but from my understanding, ḍaraba only has the meaning when followed by the word 3an. Am I mistaken about that? If so, are there any Classical Arabic examples in which ḍaraba by itself clearly has the same meaning as ḍaraba 3an (lit. hit away from -> separate from)?

    P.S. If this post violates any rules, please let me know and, if you are willing, give me direction on either where to post this question, how to rephrase it to follow the rules, or just prior posts that answer the questions.

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