Quran and women
A new translation challenges traditional interpretations
July 9, 2007
Preface and Introduction to the Sublime Quran, translated by Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar (Kazi Publications, 2007). "This first ever English translation of the Quran by an American woman is unique in many ways. First of all, it is formatted as the Quran (meaning “Recitation”) was received in oral transmission and not as it is read in book format. Secondly, the translator uses formal equivalency for the first time in a translation of the Quran. She uses a scientific method in translation, the same method used for the most part in the translation of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Her approach to translation is logical and uniquely different from the other translators because she uses reason..."
Preface to the Sublime Quran
After having spent many years studying the various English translations of the Quran and realizing the sincere efforts of the translators in this great, divinely blessed task, it has become clear to me that English translations lack internal consistency and reliability.
Clearly no translation of the Quran can compare in beauty and style with the original Arabic, which has been described as: “by turns, striking, soaring, vivid, terrible, tender and breathtaking.”1 However, I found, when the context is the same, if the same English word is not used for the same Arabic word throughout the translation, it becomes difficult for someone who wants to learn to correlate the English and the Arabic to be able to do so. In other words, the twenty or so English translations put emphasis on interpreting a Quranic verse without precisely representing the original Arabic word. For example, in one translation, the English verb “to turn” is used for over forty-three different Arabic words and the noun “sin,” twenty-three.
For the Muslim, the Quran is the Word (Logos) of God much as Jesus is the Word of God for Christians. Just as a Christian believer wants to learn as much as possible about the life of Jesus, so the Muslim wants to know more about each word that God chose for His revelation through the Quran. This realization, in turn, prompted this present translation, an attempt to give the sense of unity within the revelation to a non-Arabic speaking reader.
The method used by English translators of the Quran to date is to start at the beginning of the sacred text and work through translating until the end. I used the same method in translating over thirty books before I earned a Ph. D. in educational psychology much later in life. Armed with this science, I began this translation as a scientific study to see if it was possible to apply these principles to a translation by finding a different English equivalent for each Arabic verb or noun in order to achieve a translation of a sacred text that has internal consistency and reliability.
As I am unlettered, so to speak, in modern Arabic, I relied upon my many years of tutoring in classical Quranic Arabic grammar. It was at that time that I had become familiar with the al-Mujim al-mufahris. The Mujim lists every Arabic root and its derivative(s) found in the Quran as verbs, nouns and some particles (adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions or interjections). Each time a specific word appears, the relevant part of the verse containing that word is quoted with reference to Chapter and Sign (verse). They are listed under their three-letter or four-letter roots. I transliterated the words according to the system of transliteration developed by the American Library Association/ Library of Congress 1997 Romanization Tables in preparing an accompanying Concordance.2 I then found a viable English equivalent that I would not repeat for another Arabic word. I found that there are 3600+ different Arabic verbs and nouns, excluding most prepositions, that appear at least one time in the Quran. Only in some 50+ cases was it necessary to use the same English word twice for two different Arabic words. For example, there are two different Arabic words for parents, or the number “three,“ or the word “year,” and three for the word “time.”
For every Arabic verb’s perfect (past tense), imperfect (present and future tense), and imperative form, the same basic English equivalent is used adjusted according to whether it is past, present or a command. A different English equivalent is used for a verbal noun, an active or passive participle, and a noun, again, adjusted according to its usage. The English equivalents for these verbs and nouns are then studied in context and, where necessary for correct meaning, an alternative equivalent that has not been previously used elsewhere in the text is used. This resulted in 5800+ unique English equivalents. I then added the some 50,000+ particles (adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions or interjections not listed in the the Mujim) to complete the data base.
Beginning this process seven years ago with the words instead of the first sentence, I later learned that this was much the method, called formal equivalence, used in the translation of the King James Version of the Bible first published in 1611 CE. This translation, then, is one of formal equivalence in order to be as close to the original as possible. This is the most objective type of translation, as compared to a translation using dynamic equivalence, where the translator attempts to translate the ideas or thoughts of a text, rather than the words, which results in a much more subjective translation.
Another distinction between this translation and other present English translations arises from the fact that this is the first English translation of the Quran by an American woman. Just as I found a lack of internal consistency in previous English translations, I also found that little attention had been given to the woman’s point of view.
While the absence of a woman’s point of view for over 1440 years since the revelation began, clearly needs to change, it must be acknowledged that there are many men who have been supportive of the view of women as complements to themselves, as the completion of their human unity. To them, I and other Muslim women are eternally grateful. They relate to women as the Quran and Hadith intended. The criticism women have is towards those men who are not open to this understanding, who are exclusive in opposition to the Quran and Sunnah’s inclusiveness.
Clearly the intention of the Quran is to see man and woman as complements of one another, not as oppressed-oppressor. Consequently, in the introduction and translation, I address a main criticism of Islam in regard to the inferiority of women, namely, that a husband can beat his wife (4:34) after two stages of trying to discipline her.
In addition, when words in a verse refer directly to a woman or women or wife or wives and the corresponding pronouns such as (they, them, those), I have placed an (f) after the word to indicate the word refers to the feminine gender specifically.3 Otherwise, in the Arabic language (as in Spanish), the masculine pronoun may be used generically to include both male and female human beings.
In regard to 25:62, all English translations checked by the translator agreed with the translation given by Yusuf Ali except the translation by Arberry. There is a significant difference between the translations which has to be brought to the reader’s attention. Yusuf Ali translates: “And it is He Who made the night and the day to follow each other: For such as have the will to celebrate His praises, or to show their gratitude” (25:62). This example says that the individual can will to praise God or show their gratitude to God or can will not to. This contradicts many verses of the Quran that point out: “But they will not remember unless God will,”(74:54; see also 76:30; 81:29 among others). Arberry translates 25:62 in the following way: “And it is He who made the night and day a succession for whom He desires to remember or He desires to be thankful.” This present translation follows what Arberry has understood.
When an English speaker reads the translation of the Quran, it is not clear which are the Qualities and Attributes of God that he or she may be reciting. This present translation recognizes them by presenting the definite article (the) with a capital letter. In this way, one can make the connection between one of the Attributes of God they are reciting and a Quranic verse in which it appears.
Words not appearing in the Arabic, but necessary for English, have been put in italics along with interpretative words or phrases to clarify the context. An example is that often the Quran refers to someone’s being struck blind, deaf and dumb. The meaning refers to someone who is “unwilling to see, hear or speak,” not someone who is physically disabled. Therefore, I have added in italics the word “unwilling.”
Another unique aspect of this translation in comparison to other English translations is to present a translation of the Quran that is universal, for all times, related to the Quran's eternality and not to it as a text frozen in the time period of its revelation. To this end, there are no parenthetical phrases further interpreting and elaborating a verse, thus allowing the translation to be free of any transient political, denominational or doctrinal bias.
In addition to the translation being unbounded by time, in several sensitive cases, the word chosen to translate an Arabic word is also of a universal rather than a particular nature. This then broadens the perspective and scope of the Quran so that it becomes inclusive rather than exclusive to one particular group of people. In other words, in this way a larger audience can relate to its message. Examples of this would be the translation of the derivatives of k f r, literally meaning: To hide or cover over something. Most English translations use the verb “to disbelieve” making the active participle “one who disbelieves” or “one who is an infidel.” In the present translation the more inclusive viable terminology is used, namely, “to be ungrateful,” the active participle being “one who is ungrateful.”
The Quran itself declares its timelessness and universality. Therefore, its understanding or interpretation must also be eternal and for all time, inclusive of all of humanity rather than exclusive to one group of people. Applying the above criterion to the word aslama, “he who submits,” in the eight times that it appears in the form of islam, it is translated according to its universal meaning as “submission,”and the forty-two times that its form as muslim, it is translated according to its universal meaning, “one who submits.” Or zakat usually translated as alms does not give the universal meaning of the Arabic. Zakat has been translated in the present translation as “purifying alms” because the important aspect of paying the religious tax is that it purifies the rest of one’s wealth.
At this point I should say that there will be those who see me as a person having a particular Muslim point of view. Let me assure the reader that I am most certainly a Muslim woman. I have been schooled in Sufism which includes both the Jafari (Shia) and Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafii (Sunni) points of view. As an adult, I lived nine years in a Jafari community in Iran and have been living in a Hanafi community in Chicago for the past fifteen years with Maliki and Shafii friends. While I understand the positions of each group, I do not represent any specific one as I find living in America makes it difficult enough to be a Muslim, much less to choose to follow one sect or another. However in this translation I have not added any indication of differences in interpretation between the sects so that it does represent the majority view. At the same time, I have chosen to continuously engage in the greater struggle of self-improvement. This is the beginning stage of the Sufi path and I cannot even claim that I have moved beyond that. God knows best.
I grew up in the United States with a single parent, a Christian, American mother. My father, an Iranian, lived in Iran. I was an adult before I came to know him. He was not religious, but spiritual, devoting his life as a physician to help to heal the suffering of people.
My mother was not a Catholic, but she sent me to a Catholic school. At the age of eight I wanted to become a Catholic, to which she had no objection. When I was twenty-four, I went to Iran for the first time as an adult, not speaking a word of Persian, with my former husband and our children. I began taking classes taught in English at Tehran University. The classes on Islamic culture and civilization were being taught by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. One day he asked me what religion I followed, and I said that I had been brought up as a Christian. He said: Well, now that you are in Iran and your father is Muslim, everyone will expect you to be Muslim. I said: I don’t know anything about Islam. He said: Well, learn! And that was the beginning of my journey culminating in this translation.
The English speaking reader will find another difference from previous translations, and that is the translation of the active participle when used nominally and not as an adjective. Active participles indicate the person or thing undertaking the action of the verb. Instead of creating English words that would not readily resonate with the reader, the translator has used “one who” for the animate and “that which” for the inanimate. The caution to the reader, however, is that this translation should be read with a “fresh eye” and rather than expecting an English equivalent as used in previous translations.
In terms of presentation, all English translations of the Quran presently available translate and present the translation Sign by Sign (or verse by verse), much like a translation of the Old or New Testament. As the Quran was revealed in the oral tradition and is still recited in Arabic as it was revealed, this English translation is arranged to match the Arabic oral recitation.4
The number and name of each Chapter (surah) appears on the side of each page of the translation along with the Stage (manzil, division of the Quran into seven parts so it can be read in its entirety in a week), Part (juz or para, division of the Quran into thirty parts so that the entire Quran can be read during the month of Ramadan), Section (ruku, an indication to bow the head), and the Signs (ayah) on that page. Putting this information on the side instead of at the top of the page furthers the sense of the oral tradition of the Quran and the importance of its recitation
There are various marks used in the science of recitation that are marked in the English translation as well so that one can read the English translation as one listens to the recitation. This will be even more useful in the bi-lingual edition to follow. There, also, the English translation will be more exact for those who wish to learn Quranic Arabic. That translation will distinguish between 2nd person singular (i.e., thee, thou, thine) and 2nd person plural (you) which the present translation does not do. This is by special request from English speaking readers who find it difficult to relate to the usage of thee, thou and thine and the relevant verb forms.
The numbering of Signs used in this translation is based on the Kufi numbering system.5 The number of words and letters found in the Table of Contents are based on Kashf al-asrar by Abdullah Ansari. The translation is based on Hafs version of the reading of Asim which is the most popular reading throughout the Islamic world.6
Therefore, this translation differs from previous English translations in that there has been a conscious attempt to present a translation of the sacred text that has internal consistency and reliability. It is the first English translation by an American woman who includes the view of women in the Signs (verses) wherever relevant. The translation is consciously a universal, inclusive one widening the relevance of the sacred text to a larger community. The translation is presented line by line in a larger font size so that it can be read and understood more easily while listening to the Arabic recitation.
Let is also be said that this translation was undertaken by a woman to bring both men and women to equity so that the message of fairness and justice between the sexes can be accepted in Truth by both genders. God knows best.
While I have personally been blessed by my contacts with the most understanding and compassionate of men in my lifetime, and I have never found myself in a situation of being physically threatened or beaten, reading about and hearing first hand stories of women who have, I felt the deep sense that I am essentially and spiritually one with them by my very existence. The question I kept asking myself during the years of working on the translation: How could God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, sanction husbands beating their wives?
The feeling, however, did not rise to the surface until the day I first publicly presented the results of this translation of the Sublime Quran at the WISE (Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equity) Conference (November, 2006) where 150 Muslim women from all over the world had gathered to discuss the possibility of forming a Women’s Islamic Council. I gave the logic as to why the word “to beat” in 4:34 has been a misinterpretation. At the end of the session, two Muslim women approached me. They said that they work in shelters for battered women and that they and the women in the shelters have been waiting for over 1400 years for someone to pay attention to this issue through a translation of the Quran. The heavy weight of responsibility suddenly fell upon my shoulders. I had to publish my findings as soon as possible to initiate a dialogue with the exclusivists. Hopefully the initiating of a dialogue will further open the minds and awaken to consciousness and conscience those men who place their hand on the Word of God giving themselves permission to beat their wife.
I ask for the forgiveness of the One God for any errors in this translation, at the same time that I ask for His blessings.
Chicago, March, 2007
Notes to the Preface
1 Mohammad Khalifa in notes to the translator.
2 American Library Association/Library of Congress, 1997. ALC/LC Romanization Tables: Transliteration Schemes for Non-Roman Script.
3 See the excellent work by Margot Badran on “Feminism and the Quran,”“Gender in the Quran,” and “Sisters,” as well as “Gender Journeys into Arabic.”
4 There are seven famous historic reciters of the Quran. See Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, p. 478.
5 The Quran has been reprinted millions of times in Arabic throughout the Muslim world without the slightest change of a sentence, a word, or even a letter. The order of the verses has not changed, nor the 114 chapters. There are only a few discrepancies of diacritics which effect some vowels that may emphasize a different shade of meaning of specific words and a different numbering of the verses: 6239 (Kufa), 6204 (Basra), 6225 (Damascus), 6219 (Mecca) and 6211 (Medina) but they all contain the same number of words: 77,639 and the same number of letters: 323,015.
6 Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, p. 492.
Introduction to the Sublime Quran
The Quran is the Word of God for those who submit to the Will of God (muslim). Prophet Muhammad (S) did not believe that he was bringing a new religion. Rather, as the Last and Final Prophet, he was teaching “submission,” something that the First Prophet (A) had initiated. Therefore, for those who follow “submission” as their way of life, Prophet Muhammad (S) completed the message of a way of life that has existed continuously from ancient times. Submission is an open system with no beginning and no finite end. It has existed in the past but begins again in the present and goes on for an eternity making it an example of an open history -- no beginning and no end -- eternal. The message for the present, as it was for Prophets such as Abraham (A), Moses (A) and Jesus (A), is: “There is no god but God,” Who alone is to be worshiped. This is the central message of tawhid or the Oneness of God. The concept of “submission” connected itself little by little through transition from one Prophet to another, culminating in this message of the Recitation. Here the universal rules are preserved.
The Quran was revealed to the Prophet in the Arabic language and it is the Arabic of the Quran which is considered to be the Word of God. Any and every translation is considered to be, to a greater or lesser extent, an interpretation of the Quran and not the Quran itself.
For the Muslim, the Quran, meaning “Recitation,” is the eternal Word of God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (S) over a period of twenty-two years and five months. This is considered to be the greatest miracle of Prophet Muhammad (S). He was unlettered, yet he was chosen to receive the Arabic Recitation (Quran), which is considered to be unique in style, possessing a sense of unity in language and level of discourse.
During the moments of revelation and afterwards, his Companions were encouraged to memorize the verses under the supervision of the Prophet. Abdullah bin Masud narrated: God's Prophet said to me, “Recite for me.” I said: “Shall I recite it to you although it has been revealed to you?” He said: “I like to hear it from others.”1 One of the greatest acts of worship for a Muslim, then, is to memorize the Arabic Recitation. One who does so is called a hafez
During his lifetime, Prophet Muhammad (S) divided the Recitation (Quran) into 114 Chapters or “Enclosures.” These 114 Chapters each begin with the words: In the Name of God, The Merciful, The Compassionate, except for the ninth Chapter where the same words appear in the text. The 114 Chapters (or Enclosures) are divided into more than six thousand Signs or verses (aiyah)2 and 558 sections (ruku), literally “bowing of the head).” The text is organized more or less by length of chapter and is not in chronological order. For one who wants to begin to savor the Quran, it is best to read it randomly and not from beginning to end.
The Quran began as an oral recitation, and oral transmission remained important even after it was transcribed into the written form we now have. It was compiled into the form of a book by scribes who had written down the verses as they were revealed to the Prophet, verses written on pieces of parchment, leather, stone tablets, animal shoulder blades, palm leaf stems and pieces of cloth. This was done within twenty-one years of the death of the Prophet.
The Quran is the first book-length example of Arabic literature.3 It is the bridge between the pre-Islamic oral tradition that focused on narrative or poetic traditions and the written language that rapidly produced great works of prose and poetry.
The particular details and practices to be followed are found in the Sunnah -- the exemplary practice of the Prophet that was recorded in the +ad\th or Traditions. A person considers himself or herself a good example of submission if he or she follows the example or Sunnah of the Prophet -- acting and saying as he acted and said. The Sunnah consists of the sayings and actions of the Prophet and is considered to be a legally accepted way of interpreting the Signs of the Quran. The Sunnah has been compiled in six canonical works, that which the Hanafi, Hanbali, Maliki and Shafii schools of law follow; the Jafari school has a different but similar in content set of canonical works.
The Quran refers to the Recitation by different names, one of which is The Sublime Quran (al-quran azim, 15:87), the name chosen for this present translation. Being sublime refers to the Quran’s spiritual value. In its sublimity it guides and inspires beyond the material world that it transcends. This can only happen when one begins with some standard that establishes a system based in justice and fairness in order to be able to enter the world of the spiritual and intuition. One has to begin with some criterion.
Another of the names the Quran gives itself is al-furqan or The Criterion:4 The discernment between right and wrong, good and evil, lawful and unlawful, truth and falsehood. The Quran, as The Criterion, is the standard by which to determine the correctness of a judgment or conclusion. It is the measure, the reference point against which other things may be evaluated.
For the Muslim, the Prophet (S) is the living Quran; that is, he practiced exactly whatever God revealed in the Quran. If it was a command to good: fasting, daily formal prayers, pilgrimage, alms, charity, he performed these commands. If it was to prevent a wrong like drinking alcohol, gambling or eating pork, he refrained from these things. As the living Quran, the life, sayings and behavior of the Prophet serve as a model for all Muslims.
In all of the canonical works there is no reference to Prophet Muhammad (S) having ever beaten women himself. On several occasions when the issue arose, he said, as recorded in the written Sunnah or Hadith, that he opposed any such practice.5
While this translation differs in multiple ways from previous English translations (see Preface), it is the interpretation of the word “to beat” in 4:34 that this translation challenges. We begin with two premises: Islam encourages marriage and divorce, while allowed, is discouraged. The Prophet said: Marriage is half of faith. He also said: Divorce is deplorable.
The relevant part of 4:34 translated by Muhammad Asad, as an example, in the following way: “Men shall take full care of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly on the former than on the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions. And the righteous women are the truly devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has iordained to be] guarded. And as for those women whose ill-will you have reason to fear, admonish them ifirst]; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek to harm them. Behold, God is indeed most high, great!” (4:34)6
In recent translations, the last part of the verse reads as follows: “As for those of whom you fear perversity, admonish them; then leave them alone in bed; then spank them,” (4:34) while another: “If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them iof the teachings of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them.” The words “beat,” ”spank,” and “hit” are English translations of the Arabic imperative form of the verb daraba, namely, idrib, yet the Prophet never carried out this imperative.
This is the first argument for why the interpretation of the word idrib must revert to its interpretation as understood by the Prophet. Since he chose not to beat, not beating is the Sunna.
Perhaps he did not beat because he understood the word daraba to have a different meaning. This second argument, then, for why there needs to be a revert interpretation: The verb form of daraba and subsequently its imperative form of idrib has many meanings in Form I as found in Arabic lexicons like Taj al-Arus. A legal jurist would say: We have to choose the one that suits most the general Quranic principles and rules, not a meaning that contradicts them. Why chose to interpret the word as: to beat when it also can mean: to go away. This is what the Prophet did when he faced difficulties with his wives. This is the Sunnah. This is an argument accepted by inclusivists while it should be convincing to exclusivists as well.
That is, husbands in submission to God, the way of life emphasized in both the Quran and the Sunnah, have admonished their wives and left their bed, and yet their wives are still resistant. Husbands at that point should submit to God, let God handle it - go away from them and let God work His Will instead of a human being inflicting pain and suffering on another human being in the Name of God.
The third argument that seals the discussion comes from the Quran itself. When speaking about divorce, the Quran says to husbands: “And when you divorce wives and they (f) are about to reach their (f) term, then hold them (f) back honorably or set them (f) free honorably; and hold them (f) not back by injuring them (dirar: hurting, using force, harming) so that you commit aggression; whoever commits that, then, indeed, he does wrong to himself; and take not to yourselves the Signs of God in mockery; and remember the divine blessing of God on you and what He sent forth to you of the Book and wisdom; He admonishes you with it; and be Godfearing of God and know that God is Knowing of everything” (2:231). (For further information see www.sublimequran.org)
God admonishes husbands not to injure, use force, hurt or harm his wife; not to commit aggression; not to take His Signs (verses) in mockery. With 4:34 we saw a command the Prophet did not obey: He did not beat women. What about a similar prohibition that he complied with? When there was mention of divorce to his wives, he did not hold them back injuring, using force, harming or hurting them, but went away.
Looking at the commentaries on the Quran by Maulana Maududi, Ibn Kathir, Ayatullah Tabatabie and Sayyid Qutb, only Sayyid Qutb has relevant commentary beyond the translation. He says: “Married life must be built on a spirit of mutual kindness, fairness and compassion, and this spirit must be evident even if the relationship has to be severed. Malice and ill-will (i.e., dirar, injuring, using force, hurting or harming) must not be allowed to cloud this relationship. But, this can only be attained if the parties concerned are guided by faith in God and are conscious of their accountability to Him in the hereafter. . . . Keeping a wife against her will, or mistreating her, would be akin to harming oneself, because she is a fellow human being, with dignity and feelings. A man would be doing himself injustice, too, by allowing himself to act in defiance of God’s guidance and teachings. . . . Men who abuse . . . . in order to malign or ill-treat (i.e., dirar, injuring, using force, hurting or harming) their estranged wives, are violating God’s will and subverting His instructions. Regrettably, such blatant abuse is quite widespread in many Muslim communities today, where men tend to do all they can to evade the proper conduct taught by Islam.”7
What this tells us is that if a wife wants a divorce, a husband is forbidden from harming, hurting, injuring or using force against her while if a wife wants to stay married, it is permissible for her husband to beat her!!! Recall our premise: Islam encourages marriage. If women were away of this contradiction, what woman would chose to stay married under the threat of being beaten when when she can be divorced and unharmed.
The Arabic Word of God was, is, and remains the Word of God. There is no change in the Arabic. The change is in our perception, our interpretation. The understanding of saying: go away is a revert interpretation to how the blessed Prophet understood it. Whoever believes in and follows the Sunnah should logically agree because interpreting the Arabic word idrib as beat contradicts 2:231 and fosters divorce rather than marriage, commands to immorality and prohibits morality which is one of the definitions of a hypocrite in the Quran (see 9:67)
The Sublime Quran calls out “not to take its Signs (verses) in mockery” yet through exclusivity of gender, jurists have done just that in interpreting one Sign (verse) in contradiction to another. May God forgive them their error and awaken their consciousness and conscience. If they admit that 2:231 prohibits husbands from “injuring, using force, harming or hurting” their wives, then they must logically and rationally -- not allowing emotion or irrational feelings to influence their judgment -- accept idrib in 4:34 to be in accord with 2:231 and with the Sunnah of the Prophet. “Beat them” should be reverted to the meaning as the Prophet understood it -- “go away.” This is in accord with the Criterion’s example of the blessed Prophet Muhammad (S) who did just that.
In the present translation, based on the fact that the Prophet never beat his wives clearly havaing understood the word in another sense, and noting that practices in Islam are based on what Prophet Muhammad did, 4:34 should be: Men are supporters of wives because God has given some of them an advantage over others and because they spend of their wealth. So the ones who are in accord with morality are the ones who are morally obligated, the ones who guard the unseen of what God has kept safe. But those whose resistance you fear, then admonish them and abandon them in their sleeping place; then go away from them; and if they obey you, surely look not for any way against them; truly God is Lofty, Great.
It is the hope of this translator that with the arguments presented here, the consciousness and conscience of exclusivist Muslim clerics and scholars will awaken so that they will be willing to engage in dialogue,8 a dialogue whereby they, as so many other Muslim men have done already, tie the interpretation of idrib to the Sunnah of the Prophet. Peace. Comment
Notes to the Introduction
1 al-Bukhari, Vol. VI, No.106.
2 See Table of Contents.
3 Encyclopedia of the Quran, Vol. 1, p. 316; Hanna Kassis, The Concordance of the Quran, p. xxvi.
4 The Signs are 2:53, 2:181, 2:185, 3:2, 3:4, 8:29, 8:41, 21:48 and 25:1. The Signs referring to the Torah as The Criterion are 2:50 and 21:49.
5 The Prophet said: “Do not beat the women servants of God.” He asked: “Do you beat your wife like you beat your camel, for you will be flogging her early in the day and taking her to bed at night.” Also, “the best among you are those who are best to their family and I am the best of you to my family,” and “if you act with kindness and are Godfearing, surely God is aware of all that you do.”
6 See Amina Wadud, Quran and Woman, pp 66-78 for an excellent discussion of many of the significant words in 4:34
7 Seyyed Qutb, In the Shade of the Quran, Vol. 3, p 138.
8 An example of a cleric willing to dialogue is Hujjat al-Islam Mojtaba Musavi Lari who has written an article challenging the traditional interpretation of “to beat” in 4:34 and Ayatullah Mokarim Shirazi in his online translation of the Quran into Persian translates it as: to go away.