Religion, Women & Hermeneutical Shifts

Proceedings of the International Conference on Social science, Humanities and Education

Year: 2018


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Religion, Women & Hermeneutical Shifts

Aayesha Rafiq



Religious texts are subject to human interpretation which often results in wrong understanding of the meaning of the original text. Human interpretation is influenced by social, economic political and personal circumstances. Qur’anic interpretations have almost always been done by Muslim men and classical Islamic legal compendiums always written by men. This paper delves around a popular conception about Islam especially in the Western world that by virtue of verse 4:34 of Quran ‘husbands can beat their wives’ in certain circumstances. This portrays Islam as a religion which oppresses women and does not give women their fundamental rights as human beings. By discussing the whole text of verse 4:34 of Quran contextually, conceptually and linguistically it is argued that Qur’anic text must be reinterpreted and re understood here. This discussion also has its roots in Islamic jurisprudence under the notion of ‘legal capacity’. Many jurists have categorized women as having ‘deficient legal capacity’ and men as having ‘perfect legal capacity’ thereby reinforcing the idea that Islam treats men and women unequally. Considering the overall perspective of Quran on status of women it is very clear that Islam gave numerous rights to women of 7th century Arabia and hence to the women of the world at large and raised their status by granting them numerous financial rights such as right to own property, inheritance rights, maintenance rights, right to get haq e meher and mata at talaq. Also if they are divorced but are nursing the child of the ex husband they enjoy right of maintenance up to two years and if children are under the custody of former wives husbands shall continue to bear complete financial burden of children. Besides these financial rights there are numerous places in Quran where men have been asked to treat women with respect and affection and same is exhibited in Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).