By Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar
06 May, 2015
I entered my marriage almost 19 years ago with full awareness of the many verses of Quran and Hadith that specify on the obedience of wives towards husbands.
Ibn Maajah (1853) narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Abi Awfa said: When Mu’aadh came from Syria, he prostrated to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) who said, “What is this, O Mu’aadh?” He said, I went to Syria and saw them prostrating to their archbishops and patriarchs, and I wanted to do that for you. The Messenger of Allaah (S) said, “Do not do that. If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allaah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no woman can fulfil her duty towards Allaah until she fulfils her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.”
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.
I did not, for once regarded them as a symbol of oppression or an inequality concept that condemned me as a slave. Rather, they reflected an organisational concept where there must be a leader to steer the direction of the family.
It is with these principles and structures that I continued to pursue my education up to the tertiary level. Every decision at every level was consulted with my husband, who listened and understood my passion. And vice versa. The family is built on a hierarchical system, but my husband integrates it with the spirit of musyawarah or discussion, which is also derived from al-Quran.
The Problem with Feminism
Are leaders to be equated with dictatorship? Is the opposite word of a leader, a slave?
No, despite what the proponents of human rights, the feminists and modern values would like you to believe.
These are the problems of feminism. They are constantly at war with men, viewing gender roles with deep prejudices and disregarding the facts that many women who choose to follow the system in Islam, are successful and contented.
Muslim women are family centred. They do not view women’s emancipation as dividing women and men through arbitrary numbers of equality. They do not envelope feminism that separates them from their husband and family. They are proud of their roles as mothers, wives, homemakers, professionals and technocrats. They respect domestic sphere. And they continue to envelope the progressive world in fully embracing the religious values, without any doubt.
There’s no denying that we have irresponsible and abusive men around. But this should not be made into conclusion that women are always under siege simply because they have men living under the same roof, and religious values are to be blamed. Especially when there’s no hard data to prove it.
The recent fiasco of marital rape is one good example. It started with the launch of digital rape awareness campaign by a feminist group All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) and DAP Damansara Utama assemblywoman Yeo Bee Yin with the tagline “No Excuse to Rape”. 3000 rape cases were reported in a year. No figures were stated with regards to how many portion of it are marital rape.
And suddenly Islam is at the centre of the polemic again, with the above hadeeth said to be the ‘encouraging’ and ‘allowing’ marital rape. No facts or data to back it up. Just like multilevel marketing, some parties started to bring forth individual testimonials to support their claims.
Where is the Evidence?
There is no statistic to prove that the practice of marital rape first, is highly prevalence among the Malay Muslim, and secondly, the Muslims who resorted to domestic violence did so because of the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. It might well be because they did not follow the tenets of Islam in the first place, that require husbands to be kind and protective to women.
While a few parties from the feminist advocates are hell bent trying to portray the hadeeth of Rasulullah SAW on the obligation of wife towards husband in a negative light as well as the source of ‘ domestic violence’, they forgot to see across the globe that in non-Islamic countries, which of course has nothing to do with the hadeeth, the prevalence of domestic violence is alarming too. These countries are said to be providing better equal rights to women as compared to this part of the world.
The report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), Violence against women stated in 1 in 3 women in Europe is a victim of violence including domestic/intimate partner violence. 1 in 20 women has been raped.
In Malaysia, the latest statistic of women in 2014 Malaysian Demographic Profiles gave the figure of women between the age of 15-24 years as roughly 2.5 million. With the 3000 rape cases reported per year, by comparison, it translated into roughly 1-2 cases of rape in every 1000 women (and this does not include women from 25 years and above which will make the ratio even lower).
Thus, to say that Islam may contribute to prevalence of domestic violence and rape is a claim unsubstantiated and full of slander.
Underreporting of cases among Muslim women because of religion obligation? Yes, it’s a possibility. But that was also the phenomenon in the study Europe which stated “ What emerges is a picture of extensive abuse that affects many women’s lives, but is systematically under-reported to the authorities,” the report, which was written after interviews with 42,000 women across the union.
In US, The Huffington Post reported more dramatically, the number of women who died due to intimate partner/husband crime almost doubled the numbers of American soldiers who died in the war of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Obsessing With the Law Rather Thantar
I am not in any way proud of the relatively lower rape cases in Malaysia. We view it seriously and that’s why Wanita ISMA has been organising programmes to educate teenagers through our campaigns to youth e.g Say No to Zina, as rightly mentioned by AWAM, 70% of rapes happen in safe places like at home, at school, a friend’s house.
Islam is syumul, and therefore it presents the whole spectrum of law of everything. The hadeeth that describes on the need for wife to be as much as possible ready to satisfy sexual need of a husband, is at the other end of spectrum to show that husband has only the legal wife to turn to for comfort. In normal situation, a lot of husband-wife relationships are ladened with mutual respect and love. The hadeeth, in no way, says it’s okay for husband to cause hurt and injury in the process as this is against the syarak.
Feminism’s obsession to insert law enactment into the sphere of domestic life raises many concerns. We already have under the penal code Section 375A, which states that a husband can be charged with causing hurt or fear of death, to his wife or any other person in order to have sexual intercourse with her. A few months ago, the act of caning a child was suggested to be criminalised although, we already have the Children Act 2001 for the case when a child is physically abused causing injuries. It’s mind boggling that we need to have more laws that are to deal with non-inflicting injury practices as if home, is the centre of all crimes, and law is the only method to deal with it. Focus on education, focus on prevention of rape as well as adultery and have convincing data before you assume a religious or cultural practices are the root causes of issues.