Channel: Jonathan Brown
“Husbands should take good care of their wives, with (a) [the bounties] God has given to some more than others and with what they spend out of their own money. Righteous wives are devout and guard what God would have them guard in their husbands’ absence. If you fear high-handedness (b) from your wives, remind them [of the teachings of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. (c) If they obey you, you have no right to act against them: God is most high and great. If you [believers] fear that a couple may break up, appoint one arbiter from his family and one from hers. Then, if the couple want to put things right, God will bring about a reconciliation between them: He is all knowing, all aware.” (Surat An-Nisa’ (The Women) V34-35 – Muhammad Abdel-Haleem)
“If a wife fears high-handedness or alienation from her husband, neither of them will be blamed if they come to a peaceful settlement, for peace is best. Although human souls are prone to selfishness, if you do good and are mindful of God, He is well aware of all that you do.” (Surat An-Nisa’ (The Women) V128 – Muhammad Abdel-Haleem)
(a) Bi is interpreted as instrumental rather than causal.
(b) The verb nashaza from which nushuz is derived means ‘to become high’, ‘to rise’. See also verse 128, where the same word is applied to husbands. It applies to a situation where one partner assumes superiority to the other and behaves accordingly.
(c) This signifies a single blow, as is clear from the circumstances of the revelation of this verse. See also Abdel Haleem, Understanding the Quran, 46–54
speak a little bit about Leon Claremont and the programs that they do. Again we're very delighted to have them here with us and for arranging Dr. Brown's visit Jihad Turk
smilla rahmanir rahim salat wa salam ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa ala and he was talking to Jemaine said Mr. Ajay Kumar Mottola.
Does that Camilla thanks to Omar and also to chef Noman, who understand us traveling in Buxton. And then I think we'll be making the Hajj this year for inviting us and welcoming us to share with you. Some of our visiting scholars band Claremont is a new accredited Islamic graduate school at Claremont School of Theology. And we offer degrees in Islamic Studies and Islamic leadership. And the way that we offer those degrees is to bring the top scholars in the field from around the country, from institutions like Georgetown, where Dr. Brown is, as well as places like Duke and Stanford and Berkeley and Yale.
And have them teach the course that they're the leading expert in and, and to do so in a way that's convenient for them, that they don't have to leave their institution for a whole semester. They come for one week, and they teach intensively two thirds of the class face to face and then the rest is online spread out over the course of the semester. And we're able to in this fashion, combine two classes in one week and two classes in the next week. So in a two week period, you get four classes, the face to face portion of four classes. And for the student is only committed for a full time student two weeks a semester, the rest is online. And at the end of a two year period, you'll have
an MA in religion, Islamic Studies and leadership which is a good balance between
Islamic Studies traditionally and where seminary so we can we bring Muslim faculty and scholars to teach from an internal perspective, but also an academic perspective.
Information on on traditional Islamic sciences of filth and Hadith and Quran and, and his Islamic history as well and Tafseer. But also we have classes on on leadership, how to counsel the youth, how to give a good hookah, something that our communities always in need of also how to be successful as a community leader. So we have courses, it's almost like a management course a nonprofit management course for, for the Muslim community. So I just wanted to thank the Institute of knowledge, for it is a pillar of learning and an education in Islamic education here in Southern California. And we're looking forward to bringing regularly some of our visiting faculty. Maybe a
couple times a year, I think Dr. Overmyer angiomas is going to be coming in February and we're looking to schedule a time for him to visit with you as well, at that time.
Dr. Jonathan Brown, who is the speaker for this evening is a professor at Georgetown University. And his specialization is Hadeeth the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed and he's teaching a class for us on the life times and teaching of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu sallam.
He's an author of many books. He's done his doctoral work in the compilation of Sahih Muslim and say body. He's written a book on Hadeeth as well. He's done a very short introduction to the life of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu sallam, and his most recent book, which I we caught shift for Honza Betty reading when we entered this evening, it's called misquoting Mohammed. So Lola, honey Salaam. So
with with no further I asked Jonathan before coming up and said, well, anything else I should mention about you said, I really like South Asian food. So other than that, with that introduction, please welcome Dr. Jonathan Brown.
So I want to echo
out the beloved Mr. Tom Miller, Amanda Rahim in and hamdulillah will be in Estonian or Salatu was Salam ala l mursaleen. While early he was so happy
I won't use this thing because
I don't know how to put it on my head. First of all, second of all, looks like Ted Talks or something like that. So I'll just use this one. So
thank you for inviting me. Thanks to the band program for inviting me. And thank you for
hosting this event. I was flattered to see
One person holding my book
holding is pretty close to reading
thumbing through maybe disapprovingly or No, we'll see.
So I'm very honored and happy to see that people were interested in the, I'm actually going to talk about something today that I deal with in the book. And so if you want more information on it, you can look in I think it's the last chapter of the book. And
it's actually something that we, you know, it's a it's, you know, life as a Muslim. It's interesting every week, every week, there's something new in the news, there's a new thing to be, you know, we're, you know, some Muslims doing this, some Muslims doing that somebody says this about Islam, somebody says that about Islam. But this last week, I think there was the it was the NFL that was in the news, the NFL is in the news, because of
spousal abuse or domestic violence.
I don't actually watch any sports. So I have no idea who these people are. But Muslims also know about the issue of domestic abuse. Not only because, like every community, it's a reality in our community and a reality that that we have to combat. And it's very much the teachings of our Prophet lays out saddam, and the teachings of our God.
And the tradition of our scholars that we should
prevent, by all means, possible.
Members of families from from physically harming each other, because it is not, not the tradition of our of our Prophet, they sought Islam. So I wanted to talk actually today about this, this verse of the Quran, verse 434, that probably everybody knows about because and I say this, you know, not from a perspective of criticizing the crown, obviously, but I think that in a lot of ways, this verse is the most problematic verse for Muslims in the modern world. Why? Well, it's not a headache. You know, headaches are really even if you have very, very sound headache, it's it's almost always subjective. There could be there's a possibility there's a mistake, it's possibly the wording is
wrong or there's been a mistake, it's not as epistemologically certain as the words of the Koran, the Quran, you cannot avoid you can't get around it. You can't say it's not authentic.
In addition, this verse of the Quran, which I'm sure you know, when it Takapuna issues the whole na,
five, the Han na YG, Rihanna film Adagio, whether gahanna
while in a hotel room, for that type of violation, Alejandro civetta in the LA Cana allien Kabira.
verse says, first, it talks about, you know, men are the responsible for caretakers of women, because of how God has favored some over others, and by what we assume men spend out of their money on women. And then that righteous women are, are good or goodly and and, and pious and chaste. And then it talks about women who aren't who who do not manifest those characteristics and says that those women have whose new shoes, new shoes, the Arabic word of whose new shoes you are certain.
And issue is a difficult word to define. But I think usually it's maybe egregious disrespect or egregiously inappropriate behavior might be a good translation those women have whose new shoes you are certain, first, admonish them, then abandon them in their beds. And, you know, there's some little kids in the audience, that general you know, you would not do it, Gemma, you would not do a nica with your wife, and then finally, strike them.
the woman the woman at any point desists from her behavior, seek no other path against her. Indeed, God is high and mighty. So this is the, the reverse of the crown at least of my kind of a little bit of expanded translation. And there you may have come across some people who try and argue that the word thought about here and this verse doesn't mean to strike or to hit. I think those I, I wish that were true because I'm gonna have to have the discussion about the verse and we could all go home and eat you know, no, no, no. How are you eating the day? Eat?
Here, how about that that's tasty food that we can all go home and eat that we won't have to worry about it. The fact of the matter is that I think that
in one sense, the the Sunnah of the prophet actually makes it clear that this verse is talking
About striking and so we have to Muslims have to deal with this.
And I think one of the questions that comes into Muslims mind in, in the US is, or in the West is, how could God say this? How is it that how could God say this? How could God instructs men to strike their wives.
And a kind of subset of that or sub objection to this is,
you know, my teachers, they tell me that this doesn't really mean that men should strike their wives. This means that, you know, you can only hit your wife with a with a, you know,
rolled up handkerchief or something like that. And
but that's why then why is why doesn't the crane say that? Why is the crane say striker strike them? Why isn't it say strike them really lightly or strike them but only with a roll of handkerchief?
Finally, why? Let's say let's say that sometimes it is okay for a husband to strike his wife, why would God allow this give men this excuse? If he knows men are going to abuse this excuse? If he knows men are going to abuse this excuse? Why would Why would God create that open the door even just a little bit for this?
So these are, inshallah I'm going to try and discuss these, these topics this evening. Bismillah.
Now, to begin this discussion, it's very important that we address something basic that I think we all often take for granted in in the English language.
Which is what does it mean when a book or a speaker says something literally? Right? So if you were to say to say to someone someone tells you said Hey, what's up with the Quran? How come the Quran says husband should strike their wives? You say no, it doesn't really say that. It says, you know, if I understand it in the context, and this is nobody says they're going nuts, it strike them. It literally says that you'll probably hear someone they say literally says that. Be very, very, very wary of this word. Literally. Anytime somebody says literally, your brain, you know, red lights should start going off in your brain. Like lawyers say, you know, whenever somebody says clearly,
it's not clear what they're what they're actually talking about no one.
There's actually no such thing as literal meaning there is no such thing as literal meaning.
Why is that? You could say, Oh, wait, look, let's take a sentence. Then strike them.
We can look up the words them, then we can look up the word strike, we can look up the word them in a dictionary. That's the literal meaning. Except, as anyone who's ever tried to read Shakespeare knows the meaning of words changes over time.
So in Sherlock COVID, Sherlock Holmes mysteries have ever read Sherlock Holmes, he always says, Watson, I'm going to do my toilet. Now, you like
talking about this, you know, just excuse yourself. Because back, then toilet, and you're going to go and shave and brush your hair, it doesn't. And then it's like, you know, people always looking for, for cleaner, more polite ways to talk about what they're really doing. So eventually, toilet came to me, but we understand it. And now we say I'm going to the bathroom. And probably 5060 years from now going to the bathroom, we really grow. So we'll say something like, I'm going to go to some room. I don't know, who knows what we'll say. The point is, the meaning of words changes over time.
Second of all,
context is always part of how we understand something we read or say or hear said, and what when we talk about literal meaning what we're really talking about is something else. It's called scholars of language communication called evidence, meaning, evidence, meaning and by the way, here, Muslim scholars were about, you know, 1200 years ahead, and they said, there's what's called VA here, va hiddenness, the evident meaning of the text, that the meaning that comes to you quickest, most immediately, the meaning that you arrive at with the least number of steps in your mind.
That's the evidence meaning. Now, the evident meaning is oftentimes very different from the dictionary, meaning, you know, when you go and look up words, for example, if somebody says, You know, I,
I'm sorry to use this example, a lot, but it's a good way. If somebody if you're walking in a dark alley at night, and someone comes out with a gun and says, Give me your money, give me all your money.
You know, literally, dictionary wise, all my money would be all my liquid assets, and I'd have to go to the ATM machine, get my money in the bank account, if they go and liquidate, liquidate my 401k or whatever like that. That's not what the person means. They didn't give me what's in your wallet. And they mean probably give me your watch and stuff like that as well. We don't you don't sit there and go through a calculation you might you know immediately what they mean. That's the evident meaning. It's actually very different from the dictionary meaning
The evident meaning is determined by your culture, by context, by tone.
And I love you know, I love movies like The Naked emergency The Naked Gun movies or, you know, airplane, these movies are so funny because they're oftentimes the jokes are about people who don't underscore outside or making fun of the they're outside the culture that understands evident meaning. So when somebody says,
you know, there's news from the hospital, person says hospital, what's that? other person says, Oh, it's a building, it has patients in it, and there's doctors and nurses, you know, he means like, What's the news or the hospital? That the joke is that the person is literally saying, What's the hospital?
So this idea of the pert You know, one of the people is kind of clueless about to evident me, and this is endless possibility for jokes. Why am I getting into all this? Because when somebody comes up to you and says, The Quran literally says something, you immediately have to ask yourself, how is it that we should understand the Quran?
How is the crown Understood?
Is the crown understood based on evident meaning?
Or is the Quran always engaged at more at deeper levels at more profound levels at more derivative levels, and that's the case the crane is always engaged at a deeper level. And this is a function of the very nature of the Quran as a text, the craft of the text that is revealed in time it's revealed in, it's totally wrapped up in the events of the prophets life or lays out so that it's completely wrapped up in the questions that are posed to him in the challenges that the Muslim community faces in the defeats their victories, their fears, their hopes.
Some verses of the Quran are universal. But after the honeymoon,
the believers are felicitous this, those verses they just they soar above time they soar above circumstance.
But there's other verses that are
wrapped up in the life of the Prophet.
You know, when the TED Becca Avila had been watered, who said who is Abdullah? Who's Abu lahab?
What is the talk the Why is why has Hans perished? What is this talking about?
This you have to know the context.
When when, when people in the West think of Scripture, they think of the Bible. And the Bible is a text that is it is a very well, it's a cornerstone of the Western literary canon. It is one of the two or three big cornerstones. It defines the way we think in the United States in the West, when we think about what a text or a book should be, it has a beginning and as an end, each book has its chronological. You can follow it. There's a plot.
You can you can, you know, there's not parts that are mixed up in time. There's not parts that aren't set very clearly against their background in the life of you know, Moses or Joshua or or Jesus. That's not the nature of the Quranic text acquainted that Quranic text is this segment of divine consciousness. It's like a stream of consciousness that is caught up in the temporal world, caught up in the world of man.
And that's always how Muslims understood it.
There is no Muslim sect, no Muslim school of thought. Not Sunni, not Shia, not even a smiley.
That reads the Quran alone.
All Muslim sects, no matter how far out you go on the spectrum, they always read the Quran through Does anybody know what they read it through? They do it through a lens. Does anyone know what that lens is?
the Sunnah of the Prophet they read it through the Sunnah of the Prophet.
And now sometimes you'll hear about you know, Quran only movement or grant only groups.
The my biggest objection to Quran only groups is that you cannot read the Quran alone. It's impossible.
There are words in the Quran phrases in the Quran that don't exist anywhere else. They don't they only appear once in the Quran, like the discussion of the heart, those alladhina you that Haruna Azerbaijan,
there's no other way to understand what this means, except from the traditions of the Prophet. They thought that I mean his companions that explained this is a man who says to his wife, you're like the back of
My mother to me, there's no other way to understand this. You have to rely on the Sunnah of the Prophet.
And it is the Sunnah of the Prophet, and the way of the early Muslim community and the tradition of the scholars who built on their understanding of the Koran. It is that lens through which we read the Quran, and it is that lens that takes us away from the evident meaning to the intended meaning of the text is very important. When the Quran says in the meta mushy Guna nudges.
The Quran says, indeed polytheists are nudges. We all know what that just means, right? You're probably all Hana fees, I'm guessing. So you very have a good understanding of and that just means if you if you go and you shake hands with Mr. nudges, and Mr. hedges has just come in from his jog and he's nice and sweaty, and nice to meet you shake. What are you going to have to do now?
You have to go wash your hands. You can't pray. Okay, if you sit there and Mr. NET just is eating food with you. You know, putting finger in his mouth, he's taking more food and he's reached over to your food and things like that. Now what can now what do you do?
Can you marry Mrs. nudges?
No. Does anybody does anyone remember from the life of the Prophet though sometimes I do remember instances where he shakes you know, I would call obtenido. Gotta go wash Oh, that's the that would have just made my shirt and adjusted, I have to go can't touch anything, I have to go wash my hands. Does anyone remember instance, in the life of the Prophet where that happens? Anyone no instance where he doesn't want to eat food with mushy corn, or doesn't want to let them into his mosque to talk to him.
So how do we know that this verse cannot sorry, cannot be literal, we cannot be the evident meaning we know it because the son of the Prophet shows us It has to be another meaning.
And this is where Muslim scholars with exception of a very few in the early period, that's what they all understood this versus meaning. It's not the bodies of the Muslim mushrikeen that are ninjas. It's their beliefs, their their their beliefs are filthy, not their bodies. We know this because the Prophet never acted in a way that their bodies were filthy. And that's the principle that Muslim scholars came up with is called the hodel adhamiya that all the human body, us in its default state is pure.
It's important to remember this, it is very important to remember this. When you think about the grant and when people ask you about the court hand. Because if you're a regular, let's say English speaker American person
for you a far fetched meaning.
A meaning that's really pushing it. Explanation that's really pushing it is one that is distant from the evident meaning.
Have a statement or a piece of writing. So if you say to somebody,
it's actually there's actually an interesting case in a legal case where
a police officer started interrupts the robbery, and one of the guys robbers has a gun and the police officers Give me the gun.
And one of the robbers says the other one, let him have it.
So what does he mean? Does he mean let him have the gunners you mean? Let him have it right shoot him.
This is very This is it's kind of a this is a good example. This is not pushing it if the the robber says no, no, I meant let him have the gun.
But if I meant, you know, if the robber said,
Let me try and think of something you know.
Give it to them good. The Robber said give it to him, buddy.
And then he went in court. He said no, I didn't mean shoot him five times. I meant, you know, give it to him. Good. You know, you know, give it to him. Yes. Good. Give him the gun. Then everyone in the jury is gonna say Oh, yeah, right. No, no, no, that's pushing it that's too far.
That's how we interact with each other in language. But when you have a text like the Qur'an, that is always read through the Sunnah of the Prophet, you have to look at what the Sunnah of the prophet is telling you to understand the intended meaning of the text. And in that case, the intended meaning of God's words, is not necessarily the one that's closest to the evident meaning. It is the one that is best supported by the evidence of the other verses of the Qur'an of the Sunnah of the profit of our, our understanding of the overall teachings of Islam. This is what tells us the intended meaning of the of the Quran.
And so when we read that verse that I mentioned,
diverse for 34 the quote unquote wife beating birth when you read that you don't read it through what comes to your mind first you read it What comes to your mind after you
understand the son of the Prophet and the Sunnah of the Prophet on this issue is very clear. What does he say?
install Hey Heidi, she says that Prophet, nada hadn't caught the Prophet never struck anybody via he never struck anybody with his hand except not a man, not a woman, not a servant, except in the path of jihad.
Never struck anybody. And when this, this,
first this verse is revealed that I read to you about the Regal ohana.
The context in which is revealed according to Hadeeth, and Sona, anteriormente and other books is that they
a woman comes to the prophet and complains about her husband striking her. And the Prophet says not to go in Allah do not strike the female servants of God.
Omar comes to the Prophet, depending on the version of the Hadith comes to the prophet and says, you know, the women in Medina are not, they're very,
they they're kind of
overcoming their husbands. You know, they're very like, forceful in their personalities. They're not like the women in Mecca. And so then the den is versus revealed.
And talks about how that you know, if your wife is having issues, first you had monitor, she does not desist, then you see sleeping with her she still continues then the versus your striker.
But what is the Prophet say about that? He said,
when I got laser like a theatrical, those people who strike their wives are not the best of you and another verse version of the head Ethan and was said that he couldn't hack them and they said booty. He says chaotic homeland had the best of you will not strike your wives. And in Soham Buhari, the Prophet says they saw saddam
law he actually do I had to come
in raw to gel gel, the lab, Suma you Jameer? How often are
let one of you that none of you strike his wife like he'd strike a slave, and then go and sleep with her at the end of the day.
And then his final sermon is final football at how, what is one of the things that Prophet says that as well. Sometimes he says, let's talk a lofty unicycle. Fear God as concerns your wives because you have taken them as a trust from God. They're there in your trust. And he says only if they do commit what's called what he says is that fashion will be you know, an egregious, egregious, you know, inappropriate behavior, egregious fashion,
then strike them but what only strike them that a bit later Mubarak, in a way that leaves no mark, that causes no harm.
So that's the son of the Prophet, that we have to that, that through which we read this verse, and through which every Islamic school of thought would read this verse,
which is why in the various schools of law and even now I see a lot of your students here, you know,
how complicated is, you know, how many different opinions like for example, in the Hanafi, madhhab, you can have, you know,
via rewire and you have the opinion of a man, I be hanifa the opinion of I will use the opinion of Muhammad Heston Shivani, the opinion of zophar been who they have all these opinions. So, stuff is very complicated. But across the different methods, there's a, there's the same theme over and over again.
You can only strike your wife lightly in a way that causes no harm. If you cause her harm, you're liable for the DIA, you're liable for compensating her for injuries. And according to every school except the Hanafi school, that a judge if a wife goes to a judge and says, My husband's beating me and there's witnesses or evidence that the husband's beating her or the husband confesses, the judge can do what's called to freak he can end the marriage legally, and the wife will get to keep her mother and the husband has to pay her enough aka until her Ada ends and the marriage is over.
And this is what I found very interesting in my research, that if you look at Sharia court, information about Sharia courts, whether it's in you know, Iran in the nine hundreds or under luzia, and the nine hundreds
Syria in the 1300s, or, you know, Jenny and Molly in the 1900s, or Zanzibar in the 1900s, or Yemen in the night in the mid 20th century, or Egypt in the 1920s, you always see the same thing.
husband or wife goes to the court says My husband is beating me, if there's evidence that he's beating her like physically, if there's witnesses, if the husband confesses,
end the marriage, if the woman wants, he'll end the marriage, she keeps her dowry, she gets maintenance, and the husband if there's injury has to pay to compensate the injury. And this is, for example, in the Hanafi realm of Palestine in the 17th century, there was one case where a woman has some of her teeth knocked out by her husband, and the judge says you have to pay housing, you have to pay your wife, three gold coins, because this is the deal for T.
And so it's very interesting, because in the the tradition of American law and British law, it's only in the very late 19th century in the early 20th century, that a husband can ever have to pay any money to his wife. Before then my husband, women aren't allowed to married women aren't allowed to own property. And they end there's something called in law, tort immunity, where the husband actually immune from any
case that his wife brings against him that he harmed her. It's impossible for him to be liable financially to her. But in Islamic tradition, since the very beginning, since the life of the Prophet lays out some part of the Sharia was that just because you're married to somebody doesn't mean that if you injure them, you don't have to pay for it. You can't be held accountable before the law, you're always held accountable. In Australia, in Australia, if you harm anybody
you're held accountable.
Doesn't matter if they're your wife or your husband.
The last point I want to
talk about is the last one I mentioned in my introduction,
why would God even
create the possibility of misunderstanding? Why would the God God opened the door to domestic violence at all? By having this verse?
There's two important
things I'd like you to keep in mind.
One is that violence is part of human language
is a principle in you know, study of language communications, you know, that.
Arguments is war argument is war. So when we, when human beings talk about disagreement,
and arguments we talk about we use it the language of war, you know, I have a good defense against that point. Or why are you attacking my,
what I was thinking, or so and so is launching a campaign against this idea. These are all the language of warfare. It's just I was just when I was listening on the radio yesterday about Ebola Ebola outbreak.
And people say, America is sending forces to defeat Ebola or combat Ebola.
I mean, I was thinking about how do you combat a disease? How do you fight or a disease? You know, these are I mean, I'm sure there's doctors in the room given the audience, but I mean, it's you don't fight you don't sit there and you know, punch the disease, you know, elbow the disease, right? There's you, you do other you investigate, you wipe things, and you inject things and you do also, it's really weird to in a way to think about this as fighting. But that's the way we can't help but talk about our
our arguments and our conflicts in the language of war. If you think about it's almost impossible to imagine, writing a message, or writing a book, or writing a text of any kind or giving a speech, where you never ever fall into the idiom of warfare, the idiom of violence.
It's certainly I think, impossible. If you are writing a text that is addressing a community that has it is at war, like the Muslims work, or that it is a text designed to guide mankind for all time and for all places. When mankind is always disagreeing with each other, always fighting either with words or with sticks or swords.
How do you talk to people like who have a lot who live in that world without ever using the idiom of violence. And when you use idiom of violence, that idiom can be misunderstood.
And even the New Testament, even the words of Jesus in the New Testament, which is one of the most pacifist, you can read. Even the idiom of even the New Testament, was understood by Christians in violent ways.
So one very famous early Christian scholar named origin origin he died around 235 of the common areas from the city of Alexandria. Origin he read a verse of the in the Gothic Gospel of Matthew that says, talks about those who make themselves Unix for the kingdom of heaven.
It's obviously talking about people who, you know,
you have to do it through jml have alienated Luna holla Fuji him.
That's not how Origen understood it, he actually castrated himself.
His student writing about this calls it you know, origins headstrong act, he was like, you know, got a little carried away. So he actually understood this verse is, he should castrate himself.
In another verse in the New Testament, Jesus talks about, he gives the parable, the method of a dinner party that a master is giving, and he wants to bring everybody in the neighborhood to the dinner party. This is a parable of God inviting people to the kingdom of heaven. And he said, The Master says, to his servants go into the street. And if people don't want to come to my dinner, compel them to come to my dinner, compel them to come. Some points in Christian history, they use this as justification for forced conversion for forcing people to convert to Christianity, like in the Spanish Inquisition. So they take the language of Jesus,
the language of peace and love, and it gets turned into
the excuse for violence, excuse for compulsion force. So there's never a text that is immune to being understood in a violent way.
And my last point, as is a very important point, people in the West love to talk about the problem of Islam, the problem of Muslims, they say Muslims treat women badly. Muslims are violent towards women. And you know, why look at their core and their Quran is the reason.
Is that a Showtime?
Does anybody know a reason why this is not true?
because other people also treat women badly.
Violence against women is a human problem. Do you know which country in the world had rates the worst in terms of violence against women in the whole world?
Not India, not Saudi Arabia, El Salvador. El Salvador. Do you know how many Muslims there are in El Salvador? Not very many. Okay. Latin America. Actually, two, according to the 2012 UN report is the worst region in terms of violence against women.
I didn't. And this goes to show how I think misleading public discussion in America in the West is because I didn't even know about dowry killings until, like, 2012. I didn't even know they existed. Maybe some of you are from India, you know, a dowry killings are dowry killings is when fight a husband or a husband's family kills the new wife or sometimes a wife that's been the wife for a while of the husband or the son, because she's, you know, her family didn't give enough presence or because she's not being good enough wife. According to 2012 UN report, in 2009, there were some 5600 dowry killings in India that year.
That there's there's a sometimes you know, one killing a day in Delhi alone.
And sometimes these women are burned alive.
And then the family says it was a kitchen accident and the police don't investigate.
This is a huge problem. No one in America even knows about this, because what are people in America always talking about? honor killings. Muslims are the ones Muslims are the ones who can. There's more dalry. Usually, you know, according to the statistics we have for certain years, there are more killings in India, amongst Hindus, then of all the honor killings in the Muslim world, but no one even knows about that. Because when you get to blame Muslim and talk about how Muslims are the problem, who gets off the hook, everybody else who gets off the hook, we in America get off the hook. We don't talk about violence against women in our own societies. And I was just when I was in
the UK last weekend, or maybe two weeks ago. I can't
When it was, there was I was on the tube, the underground train. And the guy next to me is reading his big, full page headline it says, Muslim convert beheads granny in garden.
Oh, wow. Turns out it wasn't a Muslim. Okay, someone, some crazy person beheaded this lady. And then there was a few days later very interesting newspaper article by a woman in a newspaper called the spectator. She says, in my neighborhood, in the last year, three women have been beheaded. nobody talked about it. Nobody cared.
Because this is important. When it's terrorism, when it's Muslims being violence, then people pay attention. But when it's ours when it's our own society,
or ism, it's important, but violence against women is the daily hum is the background hum of our daily lives. This is what she said, this is a very important statement. People don't think of and when when Muslims, when we allow ourselves to simply be the when we allow ourselves to be the center of conversation, we say, Oh, you know, please, you know, you know, let me defend Islam against your accusations that Islam is bad against is, you know, attacks women or Islam is misogynist. Islam is unfair to women.
Muslims have problems of violence against women in their communities, Muslims have problems of mistreatment of women in the United States in every country. And those problems need to be addressed by the Muslim community, we need to address those issues. But it can't be an excuse
that other people in our country don't also address the issues that they have.
Now, we can't be the scapegoat, by which other people are allowed to, to to avoid self criticism.
A colleague colleague, Christopher Lee, welcome First off,
I'm happy to answer questions or if you have any comments for the next few minutes until the Isha prayer starts inshallah.
thank you for waiting a difficult subject.
You have given as a
you know, description and justification of this worse, etc. But I suppose there is another way entirely to deal with this, which is to say that perhaps this worse, has been completely mis Translated by most
by most translators of the Holy Quran into the English language. In particular, there is one Translation by Bakhtiar who uses the phrase, strike out a new path as opposed to strike for the word that about and
translation of the Quran I realize has, you know, there's people who question how good a translation that is. But to me what's important about it, and I'm no scholar, but it has been signed off on by Azur, right, which is, you know, they have given her a fatwa or whatever, and it's included in the copy of the Quran. And, you know, you can see there's right there. So my layperson way of thinking about this issue is that if it's good enough for other, right, in all of their historical greatness, to sign off on this particular translation,
or this particular interpretation,
then why is it not good enough for a layperson, like me, and her translation, a completely eliminates the possibility of any domestic violence?
I can use notice.
I know the Laila bakhtiyar. Translation.
The I think the problem is, well, first of all,
I have a lot of affection for Eleazar as an institution, and for many of its scholars, but, you know, they
I'm not entirely confident in their review process.
Now, they may well have, you know, very qualified scholars may well have looked at this book and approved of it. There are scholars, the senior scholars that I know
and have asked about this don't agree with that interpretation, that bakhtiyar interpretation, which has been advanced by others like others Hamid Abu should a man and
And it would dude amongst others.
my main problem with it is that, you know, in the Islamic tradition of interpretation, there's something called conduit between the rule of interpretation and what that mean is you can't
lie you let that lead to Turku if the Illa In other words, the evident meaning is not abandoned until it proves impossible or
you cannot do that with which is a large enough and a nun of all head in a mountain Aveda suburban algebra and algebra dyadic that means, you cannot abandon the evident meaning of a text for a non evident meaning of the text unless there's some reason that requires that or justifies that. Okay, so, if, if the Quran said in the madama shikonin digest, no sharks are polytheists are virtually filthy. And we knew from the Sunnah of the Prophet that every time he met a pagan, he went and washed his hands, and he wouldn't eat with them, etc, etc.
The evident meaning would be also the intended meaning because we have evidence if no, if I were to go and say no, no, it doesn't mean literally majestic means there's their ideas, I'd say, what justification do you have for abandoning the evident meaning for this other meeting you you only justification is your own desire.
So in the Sunnah of the Prophet, we have
Hadith in Sahih, Muslim, and tirmidhi, and Abu Dhabi,
that talk about the Prophet acknowledging that some level of striking a wife is accountable.
In addition, all the
Muslim legal scholars who came after the first generation of Muslims believe that there they didn't say this verse meant meant, you know, strike out a new path for them or, you know,
other other possible meanings. So, there's no, there's nothing that
to justify our choice of a non evident meaning
is nothing to justify, and when in that case, the only thing we're using is our, our own, what the client would call a what our own does our own whims, our own fantasies, and they may be valuable fantasies. I mean, they'd be just fancies, you know, I don't think it's right for a husband to strike his wife and hurt her.
Right? And I don't want my god and my holy book to say that to me, that's a very, I mean, I don't impugn the integrity and the intention behind that desire. But the Quran is not interpreted according to our desires, the Quran is interpreted according to the Sunnah of the Prophet, and the tradition of his teachings are laid out to them. And the traditions of his teachings are that the best of you will not strike they are that you cannot harm your wife in any way. They are that according to, for example, you know, the Shafi school that striking Your wife is makrooh to hurry, man, you know, it's a dislike to the point of almost being hard on.
But, you know, as, you know, one of my teachers in Azhar shift on a Juma who's recently been, you know,
just say come under some, I think, justified criticism for his political opinions, we won't get into that. But he, you know, he his explanation was, you know, the Quran is a book that is revealed for all people, all times every community. And he says that there are some places in the world where, you know, women won't, really won't listen to their husbands unless their husband smacks them.
That seems very strange to me and foreign to me and repulsive to me. But then again, so does marrying a 12 year old.
And there's lots of for most of human history, including in my own ancestors, direct ancestors that I know about. No one had any problem with a 50 year old guy marrying a 12 year old or a 10 year old. And to me now that seems like it makes me violently ill.
But the world doesn't run by my reactions. It doesn't run by our culture. It runs it's a it's a big place, a diverse place. And the Quran is a text for all that world.
So, you know, I asked Sherif Ali, when we were talking about this, I said, Well, what do you know, don't you think this versus you not allow gives a blank check for husbands is to harm their wives. And he says, Well, this is the job of what I'm not this is the job of Muslim scholars. They have to go out and teach people they can't strike your wife. You can't hurt your wife.
You know, if you're if you if you striker,
you can't do it you have to do it in a way that doesn't hurt her. And if you hurt her, she has every right to drag you in front of court and for years to pay for injuries. And you're gonna judge the judge can well give her a divorce and you can lose all the Dounreay. You know, you've promised her $50,000 in karma her you're going to drop $50,000 Well, karma heart You're gonna pay for an Africa.
So watch it.
And one scholar Mohammed tal had been assured a famous Tunisian scholar died 1973 that kind of he's a fascinating scholar because he's a traditional scholar, we lived so long that lived into the modern world. He was a Sharia court judge in Tunisia, he says, his understanding of the verse because the verse that comes after it
after 434 is the verse really that Muslim scholars paid attention to which says, In fifth shakalaka Bane, oma Botha, common monotony welcome I mean, if you fear it's not talking about husband, now it's talking to the society, if you the court, fear that they're going to split apart, send an arbitrator from her family and arbitrator from his family. And if they want us to, to reconcile God will make that possible. So this was actually the way that Muslim scholars as judges understood their role that they were supposed to try and reconcile the couple.
And so if you're not sure, it says that the it's only the court that has the right to discipline, husband, discipline of wife or husband physically, he says, in our society today, husbands will take advantage of this verse for 34. They'll use they'll abuse it, the hermit their wives, so we need to actually teach tell husbands, it's illegal for them to strike their wives, only the Muslim judge coffee and the court, they can punish your wife for her shoes, not the husband.
I have two questions, one
in European Union, what is the best English translation of the Quran?
And in the same vein, what is your opinion about the translation by Manasa?
The second part is a question is that there is I'm sure you know, in the Quran, expression automata the
meaning of course, you know that there are some verses in the Quran that are clear intermeeting and the others are not clear. And the meaning of these verses only are Nanos.
And so then how do we
get to know what
are really the meaning of Ohara Mata Sharia?
I think I mean,
it's very hard to know what the best translation of the Quran is. I think the Mohammed Aslan one is very good. It has excellent footnotes.
He has a very clear modernist meaning, you know, he doesn't like angels. He doesn't like miracles.
But he has so many good footnotes. And he's a very, he's a great scholar. So
I liked him. ramadasa translation, but I think that, you know, you always I think people should always look at more than one translation when they read Quranic verses, because it's impossible to translate, especially a document as rich and as like elliptical as the Quran. Sometimes, you can't read it without a lot of your own mind, coloring your understanding, and that's what happens with translators. I like the ABA haleem translation, I said, translation, I like the
arbory translation. These are good to use in combination with each other. The question of automata shabby hat, versus the idea to invoke an atom
I think there's lots of verses in the Quran, especially that speak about the nature of God to speak about the afterlife, speak about the beginning of time.
Maybe the the more delicate areas of human ethics, that are that are ambiguous, that are that, that that human that we can't understand in a definitive way. The 434 verse, however, is I mean, it's clearly a verse that is legal and its implication I mean, it's a it's a, it's a prescription for how to deal with a real life situation.
So I don't think that's
It can fall under the category of with the shabby hats. In my opinion.
It is, but I wanted to, I wanted to offer offer the opportunity for any of the sisters that had any question to ask one as well. So are there any questions from the sisters?
I'm going to come back to you this kind of important topic.
My students never ask questions. So I'm used to it will kind of come back to you. So think about it. But I do have one question from a sister. So it's about homosexuality. unrelated, but
this is a
sorry, this is a very important issue, I think.
Because what is the Islamic perspective on or how do you discuss the precise perspective on homosexuality?
I think you know, the Islamic. By the way, this is gonna get a little explicit.
Which I don't care about. And Muslim scholars love sexually explicit stuff. Audiences sometimes don't like it, but you know what? I don't care, you're gonna have to do with it. You want to get mad at me afterwards? Go ahead. So
the Islamic perspective on homosexuality, I think is a very good perspective. Okay. And the Islamic tradition, your desires are not a legal issue. They're not a Sharia issue. Okay. I can desire
that watch, I really desire it. But I can't take it. Okay? I can desire to commit Zina with so many people. And virtually every teenage guy desires that. I don't know about teenage girls, I'm not never been a girl. But the I can tell you teenage guys desire, a lot of things that they can do. They can't do those things.
Muslim, interestingly, Muslim scholars, when they talked about attraction of men to men or women to women, they didn't talk about that as unnatural attraction, because they, they saw that,
especially with like a young boy, that if a man is attracted to young boy, what they're they they're confused, because they see female beauty and the boy
and they they desire the boy, right? So they didn't say that's unnatural. It was it actually was natural to be attracted to the female beauty. It's just the person was kind of confused. And sometimes they talked about medical conditions that they could they could cause this. So there wasn't this in the, in the, in the especially the modern Western tradition. There's this notion of the unnatural illness of homosexuality. The word homosexual is actually coined in the the mid the mid 1800s, I think by a Hungarian or Austrian psychologist who's talking who is diagnosing this psychological ill it's something that's a disease you have in your brain, something's wrong with
you. That's not the way the Islamic tradition looked at it. Islamic tradition. This is kind of a confused but natural desire. And but you can't act on it. You can't act on it.
The Islamic tradition also it doesn't.
It's a very specific act. That is wrong that we talk about lewat the watts are the act of the people have lots of loot is according to it. Holla Decker fit double decker can Oh,
okay. I mean, they ask the question, it's not my fault. Okay. It's a very explicit, it's, and it's,
that's the wrong thing. What you feel in your heart what you desire is not wrong. I mean, it's, it can't be, it can't be wrong. It can't be it's not a crime, because you're not doing anything. And the Islamic tradition as Imam Shafi said,
or it's often attributed to the Prophet, but it's really just a jurist. statement. Muslim scholars are mythical midnight Anakin, without her will allow you to wonder, sir, if we've been commanded to rule by what people act, how they act outwardly, God knows what's in their hearts. God knows what's in their heart. So this is the Islamic perspective of homosexuality, what you're born with what you desire, this is not
anybody's business. It's, you know, you have these desires as I have desires. But if you engage in this specific Act, the watts This is a serious sin.
Like the other dude punished
However, the policy of Muslim scholars as judges and of Muslim courts has always been,
you know, you, you, you create, you let the person off as much as you can with any ambiguity as you can find. And in the case of homosexuality over the wall, it was really like, kind of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, as long as you're not going out publicly and doing something like Xena, you know, people as long as you don't go out publicly do something, it's really almost impossible for a Muslim court to to bring you in and punish you for something. This is your problem is a sin you commit the you know, you The sherea has made clear the seriousness of this sin. But it's also made clear that it's the duty of Muslim scholars as judges, as the Prophet said, to build the rule for dude Bishop ahead,
ward off to do it as much as you can, by any ambiguity you can find. Let the person go if you can find a way out, it is better for the judge to err in mercy than to Aaron severity. So that's the assigned perspective on homosexuality, as far as I understand it, uniformly.
Any questions from the sisters?
All right, I'm gonna come back to you again.
JACK laugher for the
talks with her. So the question I had was one,
you know, just Sokoloff here for kind of reminding us of the kind of linguistic context that we have to interpret the actual diction of the Quran. And also the interpretive context of the Sunnah. The question I had, and you touched on it briefly, but I just wanted to maybe be a little more explicit about, you know, if you if you've addressed it, it might not be the trajectory of your work, but specifically, the cultural context and that, say, at the time of the Navy, so most of them, you know, the culture in which he was speaking to the kind of prescription laid on the put on might have been more a refrain prescription than necessarily a prescriptive one to strike because it lays out a
number of steps that you have to do first, before you even approach or even think about striking and so that might, you know, kind of be more in line for us to see as with a general character of,
you know, gentleness, then, then we interpreted today. And the second, the flip side of the cultural context, I think, and perhaps you you deal with this in your book is, is our own context in the modern day of where this even becomes a question.
You know, I guess we could say, clearly in our society now is a question because how could you allow for violent act in a domestic situation? But clearly, it happens, and it happens very frequently, if not exceedingly frequently. So what is it that brings a question about if it's, you know, changing definitions of marital relations, social relations, a kind of
views of the public and what's allowed there and the private and what's allowed there and kind of the encroachment of the two, it seems like, you know, at a certain point, the question became relevant in a different way than simply, you know, this, this is morally wrong.
You know, so I don't know if that's clear. But just
so it's interesting that
the very nature of your question, I think, is, it's clearly it applies to this situation.
when it is controversial, or extremely?
You can, when there's a lot of tension around an issue, it doesn't mean that it's decided. It means that it's really contested. Okay. So just one of my professors, one of my friends is Professor he's teaching right now in Alabama. He asked his students about this incident of the guy, the NFL player who's beating his kid with a, like a switch.
And the professor asked his students a big class that how many of you ever been beaten with a switch? And basically, all them said you had and they were white black students, everything.
And he said, Well, you know, this, this NFL player, he's leaving welts on the child. And they said, yeah, that's what happens when you eat when you get hit by a switch. So it's clear that in the United States, there's actually a big debate, the big division about how whether it's appropriate to to, to strike your children to spank your children. And if you're in like an urban context, and if you're an urban American context, in a liberal context and university, you go and say you you want to spank your children, everybody thinks you're like a psychopath.
Okay, there's other parts of the country, huge parts of the country where that's totally normal. That's a very contested issue. They're very contested issue.
So you're right to point out that a lot of this tension isn't about the Qur'an. It's about our own unease with how do we understand the relationship between gender between the gender I mean, you can see this very clearly in the in the way that law in America develops. The fact that it's only in the last several decades that you even have
a court courts caring about husbands beating their wives, until the early 20th century or someplace the late 19th century. I mean, if it would, if somebody said, you know, someone's beating their wife, the court judge would never care court would never care. And then it there's so been so much changed, even since the 1960s. In how courts deal with this, at first, the approach was that police were just supposed to break up the fight, to get a nine on one call, tell, you know, try and get the couple to cool down and then go on, you know, leave. Then in the 80s, it became this movement of mandatory arrest, that if you get a 911 call, the police officer has to arrest the aggressive party,
or the primary aggressor. The problem was, then you'd have all sorts of instances where women were getting arrested, because they you know, they get upset, and they threw a hot dog at their husband and threw, like a peanut butter jar, their husband, or they kicked him in the shin. And then the husband would you know, call nine one stupidly, and the wife, we get arrested. And this is in my own state of Virginia, this is still the case in the law, where it's mandatory arrest, if the if the officer has probable cause that any assault has occurred, he has to or she has to arrest the primary aggressor. She has people with criminal records for throwing, you know, hot dog in the direction of
Or you know, a father whose kid is one case, you know, a kid was going off drunk with the car keys not listening to his father, the father went up and grabbed him around the face and said, Why are you doing this, please. And people saw him do this was on a baseball field, and they call the police the highest does the father got arrested?
You mean, imagine this. So I can't think of anybody or very few people in this country, very few reasonable people in this country think that that father should get arrested for what he did. But we create laws that make that happen, because we're in a state of great internal debate about how we understand violence within a family, the use of force within a family, whether it's husband towards wife, or whether it's parents toward children. And I think that's our
I would say almost like inability to discuss Qur'an for 34 comes from the fact that we, it's so contested that to even suggest that there's some place in the world, that there's some culture in the world where there may be times when a husband is justified in striking his wife, for us to even suggest that is so horrific for many people in our country that the you know,
the social cost of discussing this is just too high, you can't get can't even discuss it.
So I think that you're very right to say that this is, you know, a lot about the culture in which the discussion is taking place.
This is the last question. And we're, it's going to be a short one, we're looking to conclude the program in four minutes. So make the question very short. And the answer will give you more time for the answer.
Do you know anything about those, some of the states are working proactively against Sharia laws. And what are the status of that debate? I mean, I heard about some Sharia laws are being banned in some of the states.
Do you know any other details and Islamophobia on this stuff?
think if I were calling it's like I can. There's Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana and North Carolina south and I believe Georgia. There's maybe six or seven states that I can think of right now. There may be more where there have been either suggested, you know, legislation or legislation has been passed in places like Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, that prohibits Sharia, or sometimes they prohibit foreign law, because I think it was in Oklahoma that the Federal District Judge
overturn as unconstitutional. I don't know what will I'm sure I don't think that that will be appealed because it's a ridiculous law. Obviously.
You know, this is a is a big problem. It's a stupid problem. Because, you know,
I don't know anybody who's trying to make Sharia law take over America. I've never met any Muslim trying to do that. And
It really is a problem because what happens if your business in Tennessee and you have a Oklahoma and you have a contract with, you know, a bank in Malaysia or, or Abu Dhabi or Dubai that has some reference to the Sharia and the contract? What are you going to do? The judge is not allowed, technically, I guess not allowed to hear this two contracts inadmissible before the court?
Why would I do business in that state? You know, when I was doing my will, I wanted to write, you know, divide my inheritance, according to hanbali School of Law. And then I thought, if I write this, maybe by that time, Virginia will have it as my will get thrown out. So I, you know, I did say, divided up this percentage and that percentage and things like that.
It's kind of ridiculous. But what it's really saying is, you know, Muslims are not welcome here.
And I wouldn't I mean, if I lived in a state where they had that, I would mean, I would seriously consider moving out personally, but I don't know, I don't want to say what I would do. Because I think that these are kind of, they're never gonna affect Muslims in any meaningful way. They're just like, you know, a real slap in the face about where you're welcome. I think maybe Muslims just need to work to make themselves more prominent, more part of there. There's communities.
All right. And we also learned that your hunt buddy, based on your interest in your will, as well. So
we're on the thank Dr. Jonathan brown for coming out and spending this evening with us and sharing some of his expertise on the topic of both both the core and approaching our Sacred Scripture, as well as the teachings of our beloved Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Sallam just come out here. And I believe it's time for the event so and for those who came in late, we're looking to host a number of programs through band Claremont Islamic graduate school. Dr. Brown is one of the visiting scholars who hopefully will come back again in future years. We're looking possibly to host Professor Overmyer Anjum in February and possibly hosting him here Institute of knowledge as well. And we look
working closely with Institute of knowledge in Bay and Claremont in the spreading of Islamic knowledge here in Southern California. Just like welfare center, why they come to LA he will better care to and now we have some table and brochures in the back for anyone who's interested in pursuing a master's and accredited master's degree in Islamic Studies and leadership ceremony.