Saludada’s Blog

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Islam – Women (i)

4:34 Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).

Is a Translation of the verse. With one very important screw up.

The word ‘beat’ ( & lightly – which doesnt exist in the Quran at all )
We’ll get to that shortly. Lets start slowly.

Lets start with this!!

“faalssalihatu qanitatun” – Translated as “Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient”

In this verse the word “qanitatun” is translated as “devoutly obedient” or simply “Obedient” by Pickthal suggesting that righteous women are obedient to their husbands.

A quick glance through the Quran reveals the meaning of the word. The same word appears in 66:5 and this time is translated not as ‘devoutly obedient’ but simply as ‘devout’. Devout to God. Not to a husband as is suggested in 4:34.

Infact the word appears in 2:116, 2:238, 3:17, 16:120, 30:26, 33:35 ( addressing both men and women in 33:35 ), 39:9 & 66:12!! Each time being translated as devoutly obedient to ALLAH.

Moving on.
Another word oddly translated is “Nushoz” translated in the verse 4:34 as “disloyalty and ill-conduct”. The odd thing is that the verse appears again in the same Surah – appears again in 4;128 in the EXACT same context. But this time its not the the man who fears “Nushoz”!! Its the women.

4:128 If a wife fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves

Of course here we are talking about divorce.

lets recap. If a man fears “Nushoz” he is to admonish her, refuse to share beds and finally ‘beat them’ – but if a women fears the same she may seek divorce without blame. You’d think the religion that first preached equal rights for the genders wouldnt have such a glaring difference and you would be absolutely RIGHT.

Now we come to the word “idriboohunna” from Daraba ( zarab in Urdu ) which is translated as ‘Beat’. Daraba is a word of MANY meanings. I looked up a few other meanings it has in the Quran which include To travel, to get out, To set up, To give (examples) ( appears more than 10 times ), To take away, to ignore, To condemn, To seal, to draw over, To cover and To explain!!

One particularly interesting translation is “idrib”, which means “get out”. “idriboohunna” Thus means to cast them out.

So why choose one translation over the other?? Because it fits. Nushoz ( regardless of its actual meaning ) is an issue that has been addressed for both men and women. In the woman’s case the end result is divorce – only makes perfect sense that the same should be true for men. You only have to look at 4:35 to see it all more clearly.

4:35 If ye fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family, and the other from hers; if they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation: For Allah hath full knowledge, and is acquainted with all things.

So 4:34 end with divorce and 4:35 starts with Divorce. WHY anyone would wish to translate ‘daraba’ as beat in this verse is beyond me.

Besides – the Other translation makes no sense.
The “beating” is supposed to be symbolic or so they say!! So the first step is to ‘admonish’ – the second step is not to share beds, an increment from the first step and the last step is purely symbolic?? Its ridiculous!!
The first & the second steps makes sense the increment with the third and last step is a divorce.


January 9, 2009 - Posted by | Religion


  1. […] this particular analysis is mine, it was inspired by fellow Muslim blogger Saludada’s post on this […]

    Pingback by Translating the “wife-beating” verse (Qur’an, 4:34) « My struggle, my faith | May 8, 2009 | Reply

  2. well great choice by allah to choose Arabic as a medium for delivering the quran then, where a word can mean 10 things far apart, and even great scholars arent able to translate it correctly for 1400 years.


    Comment by sidharth | August 3, 2009 | Reply

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