The diary of a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

In Memory of the lives of 15 Makkah Schoolgirls, lost when their school burnt down on Monday, 11th March, 2002. The Religious Police would not allow them to leave the building, nor allow the Firemen to enter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Dear Alhamedi... 

Enough of the heavy geopolitical stuff. I'm starting an Advice Column.

"Dear Alhamedi

My wife won't do what I tell her. What should I do?



Dear "Inadequate from Dammam". The answer is all in the Quran. As it says there

1. Tell her to behave.
...if that doesn't work...
2. Go and sleep by yourself
...and if that doesn't work...
3. Beat her
...because that works every time


No, this isn't black humor, along the lines of Humphrey Bogart's ghost's advice to Woody Allen in "Play it again Sam"
"Dames are simple. I never met one that didn't understand a slap in the mouth or a slug from a forty-five."
Instead it's real life advice, written by Ghada Al-Hori and published in the "Al Watan" newspaper, in 2005 (and that's CE, not BC)

Punishing Disobedient Wives

Really, the title says it all, but sadly, there's far more. It's what you get when you take:
- a book written 1400 years ago
- and an absolutely literal, fundamentalist interpretation
- by someone with no sense of reality or balance
- who was "educated" at the worst Theological College in the world, the Imam University in Riyadh.
The result is the religion as practiced in Saudi Arabia, and many other parts of the world if the fundamentalists get their way.

Don't get me wrong. I am a Muslim, a believer. But, as with the Jewish and Christian religions that are based upon even older writings, all sacred scripture needs to be intepreted in the context of its time and its human as well as divine author. This fundamentalist stuff just gives me the creeps. As our "scholar" says
I find it unacceptable when some people twist the meaning of a particular verse in the Holy Qur’an — especially the one which permits a husband to beat his disobedient wife. Those who do the twisting must understand that the permission is only given under certain circumstances and that the beating is intended as a remedy for specific situations.

Just in case you thought that hitting women was just for psychotics, drunks, inadequates, muggers, losers and of course the Muttawa, you do need to appreciate that it's OK in "specific situations".

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore, righteous women are devotedly obedient and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. And to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first) and (then) refuse to share their beds (and last) beat them (lightly)...
As an anthropological insight into gender roles and behavior 1400 years ago, it's revealing. But our Imam University graduate obviously yearns for those times. He still thinks it's for real.

It is quite obvious here that Islam adopts a gradual approach starting with verbal admonishment of the wife, then seeks a period of refraining from conjugal relations and, finally, if the husband finds the situation very serious, he may strike his disobedient wife.

There's none of your liberal "shared responsibility within relationships" rubbish here. First the wife has to put up with ther husband's verbal haranguing, telling her off like a naughty child. Then when that doesn't work, he departs from the conjugal bed, which I would imagine in this case is an enormous relief to her, at least she gets a rest from his nagging for eight hours, not to mention the gropings of her ill-tempered and selfish spouse. But then, when he's tired of sleeping on the studio couch, he gets to move on a stage, and belts her.

The beating which is only prescribed in the case of disobedient wives is intended to serve as a remedy in an unusual situation. If the husband feels the wife is behaving in a disobedient and rebellious manner, he is required to rectify her attitude — first by kind words, then gentle persuasion and reasoning. Beating as a last resort must never be understood to entail using a stick or any other instrument that would cause pain or injury.

No need to use a stick. Besides, there's never one around when you need one. The fist is handier. You can still do this sort of damage, as in the case of this Saudi TV presenter, who presumably has now learnt her lesson and is much more obedient.

Psychiatrists tell us of people, including women, for whom a cure lies in beating.

Our author, Ghada Al-Hori, obviously feels the need to bring in some academic support for his argument. But I suspect these psychiatrists are imaginary, like those imaginary friends he had when he was a child. Which psychiatrists, exactly? What are their names? Hannibal Lecter, wasn't he a qualified psychiatrist? Humphrey Bogart?

The controversy over the beating of disloyal and rebellious women is part of the campaign against Islam.

Here we go again. Its the old "nobody loves us, they're always picking on us, we're the victims, we are the world's one and only true religion but everyone's just horrid to us" moan. You hear it all the time in Saudi but can avoid it in the UK if you choose your mosque carefully, these whingeing imams make you feel you are in a religion for losers. They'll never appreciate that Islam gets a bad press because certain of our "brethren" fly into skyscrapers and blow up trains and chop peoples' hands off and say it's OK to beat women, all in the name of Islam.

There is a passage in the Jewish and Christian scriptures, (Deuteronomy 21.18-21) that says:

If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

The Jewish and Christian religions moved on from this a long time ago, some millenia in fact. You don't see piles of battered corpses of youths in baseball caps and trainers at the gates of Western towns. Their religions have kept the most important parts, and left the historical stuff behind. So have the majority of sensible Moslems around the world. So why do we in Saudi Arabia treat the Quran so literally? And why are we surprised when the rest of the world think we're completely mental?

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