Monday, 24 August 2009

Hit 'em, but please don't starve 'em; that's un-Islamic!

There’s been a lot in the MSM about a new Afghani law that allows the marital rape of women and punishing them by beating or starving them if they refuse sex. Some commentators have said the law is (i) against the Constitution of Afghanistan, or (ii) it’s not Islamic.
What are the facts?
The Afghanistan Constitution Article 3 states:
“In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam.”
In other words, “provisions of the sacred religion of Islam” are paramount even over the Constitution.  That is, Sharia trumps the Constitution.
What does Sharia law say about this issue?  I turn to my trusty bedside companion: Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller), the “Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law”.  The Umdat is authorized, inter alia, by Al-Azhar University, the oldest university in the Islamic world and the chief centre of Sunni Islamic learning (also the co-sponsor of Obama’s recent speech to the Muslim world).
What does the Umdat say:
“m5.1:  It is obligatory for a woman to let her husband have sex with her immediately when he asks her.”
“w45.1    A woman is not obliged to serve her husband by baking, grinding flour, cooking, washing, or any other kind of service, because the marriage contract entails for her part, only that she let him enjoy her sexually and she is not obligated to do other than that”.  
Got that?  No need for her to bake a cake or grind his flour, but if he wants to put sausage in her cooker, or grind her flower, he has the right to do that, whenever he wants.
What of punishment if she refuses?   The rules don’t beat about the bush here; for those of us used to bemoaning political correctness in public discourse, there’s a refreshing frankness in the title of this provision:
“m10.12  When a husband notices a sign of rebelliousness in his wife… or he asks her to come to bed and she refuses… he warns her in words…. If she commits rebelliousness he… may hit her, but not in any way that injures her, meaning he may not break bones, wound her or cause blood to flow.  He may hit her whether she is rebellious only once or whether more than once…”. [emphasis in the original]
So, there you have it.  Clear rulings.  No mention there of starving the woman.  Just hitting her.   Got that guys: it’s ok to hit; not ok to starve her.  So in that sense the law is un-Islamic.  Hey, maybe that’s what they meant!