There are two divergent schools of thought as to what constitutes the Islamic view of wife abuse. One modern school, following the Western feminist perspective, argues that the Qur’an legitimizes wife abuse by putting females under the hegemonic control of males. This is because the Qur’an is the ideological blueprint of Islamic patriarchy and formulates its social and legal relationships. The Qur’an allows men to marry up to four wives, maintain concubines, and control their wives and daughters within the family, depriving them of freedoms that women enjoy in modern democratic societies. In addition, women in Islamic countries are supposed to obey their husbands and cover their hair, faces, and bodies at home and in public. Worse yet, the Qur’an allows men to apply some form of corporal punishment to their rebellious wives. Finally, the Qur’an does not accord females equal rights in relation to education, inheritance, child custody, employment and remuneration, and legal witness and testimony. All these measures of the Qur’an have led to the rise of wife abuse in Islamic countries which continues at the present time. The remedy against wife abuse is to opt for modern egalitarian social and legal relationships in Islamic countries.
The second school is of the Islamic traditionalist genera and persuasion. The proponents of this school base their arguments on early and medieval Islamic sources, the majority of which have been written, constructed, and deconstructed by the Muslim men of the pen (ulema). These traditional Islamic sources approach the issue of wife abuse not within the construct of abuse per se, but in terms of the control of the female spouse as advised by the Qur’an. The intellectual thrust of this school is that Allah has put men in charge of women and allows husbands to control their wives through different means and methods that include even corporal punishments. The ‘‘inequalities’’ that the Qur’an advises are for the enhancement of marriage and the family institutions because women are the ‘‘weaker’’ sex, who need men’s supervision at home and in public. Thus, the Qur’an does not condone wife abuse per se but allows husbands to control their wives for the good of the family.
There is a third emerging modern school of thought among Muslim intellectuals and academics that argues that wife abuse is a reality that is hard to deny in many Islamic countries. There are indeed verses of the Qur’an that, when read in isolation from the rest, sound as if female spousal subordination has been ordained by the text—for example, verse 34 of the chapter al-Nisa (The Women), which traditionally reads, ‘‘Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So the good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded.’’ The verse continues, advising husbands how to deal with their ‘‘rebellious’’ (nushuz) wives, saying, ‘‘As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to bed apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great.’’ Verse 34 is one of the most controversial verses in the Qur’an because not only has it historically sealed the fate of women as dependent on men from birth to death, it has also provided a powerful means for those who see wife beating as the legitimate right of husbands to control their wives. This defense of wife beating is being practiced by and has been documented among some Muslim emigrant groups in Great Britain and a number of other western European countries.
The position of the third school is that the traditional reading of verse 34 is now defunct on several grounds: (1) It does not say that Allah has put all men in charge of all women, but only those men who spend their wealth to support their womenfolk (e.g., wives, daughters, widowed mothers); (2) it does not allow husbands to indiscriminately beat their spouses but makes corporal punishment the last resort for husbands who have exhausted other options for dealing with their rebellious wives; and (3) it is an integral part of the chapter al-Nisa that discusses spousal rights, duties, and responsibilities to one another. Approached from this perspective, the third school argues that verse 34, when read uncritically, seems to allow beating as a legitimate form of wife abuse in the Qur’an.
The feminist scholars have countered the third school on several grounds. First, they argue that verse 34 has centuries of tradition behind its application as the Qur’an’s allowance for the use of corporal punishments against wives, rebellious or not. That is why wife beating and other abusive practices continue not only inside Islamic countries, but also among Muslim emigrant groups. Second, the defense of those who beat their wives is verse 34, whose traditional readings support the use of corporal punishment and do not accept the validity of the interpretive nuances that the third school has proposed. Third, a husband can claim that he has used the beating as the last resort as it is advised by the Qur’an. Thus the remedy against wife beating as advised by verse 34 is not in the interpretive nuances that the third school proposes, but in criminalizing such measures through modern and secular laws that Islamic countries must adopt in replacing the Islamic Shariah Law.
There are scholars who have proposed that short of replacing the Islamic legal tradition with modern secular laws, the remedy against wife abuse has a mechanism in the Qur’an itself. Accordingly, the Qur’an has two kinds of verses, as specified by verse 7 of the chapter al-Imran. It reads, ‘‘He it is Who hath revealed unto thee [Muhammad] the Scripture wherein are clear revelations—They are the substance of the Book—and others [which are allegorical].’’ Although the verse warns that all revelations are from Allah and believers are to take them as valid in their totality, there are those who try to explain the allegorical ones in a way so as to cause dissension among Muslims despite the fact that no one other than Allah knows the true meaning of the allegorical verses. The question is, which verses are the essence of the Qur’an and which ones are allegorical?
This question is not new but has been debated throughout Islam’s long history without any definite resolution. However, traditionally speaking, Muslims believe that the Qur’an in its totality is a divine revelation whose injunctions the faithful must apply to their daily lives as earnestly as possible. Accordingly, one cannot arbitrarily pick and choose.
In modern times the debate has resurfaced because many Islamic countries are going through stages of modernity and development as they try to adapt to the global forces of a free market economy and its social and legal relationships based on secular laws. Thus scholars of the third school have proposed that those verses relating to social and legal aspects of marriage and the family carry in them allegorical aspects, as, for instance, verse 34 of al-Nisa discussed above. Other allegories relate to polygamy, divorce procedure and alimony, child custody, distribution of inheritance, and witness and testimonial rights of women, as well as those related to crime and punishment categories. Thus, allegorical aspects in such verses allow for time and social factors to enter into the interpretation process. For example, despite the fact that the Qur’an does carry injunctions concerning slavery, polygamy, and harsh punishment measures, to name but a few, many Islamic countries have abolished these practices altogether. This is because many Islamic countries have come to the realization that these measures no longer apply to the modern social and legal relationships that they want to construct for a functional engagement with the rest of the modern world. Thus, one could argue that verse 34 carries allegorical aspects that allow the verse to be subjected to reform. Islamic countries could prohibit wife beating as a practice that no longer has any utility behind its application.
The General Theological Thrust of the Qur’an toward Wife Abuse
The Qur’an does not condone any form of wife abuse because it is a form of transgression against the text’s enunciated principle of righteousness and moral conduct. Accordingly, because it is Allah who is the source of all animate and inanimate power in all its manifestations; because it is Allah who entrusts power to, or deprives it from, whomever the Almighty chooses; and because it is Allah who entrusts all with varying degrees of power, it is incumbent on women and men of faith to utilize their shares of entrusted power for the highest amount of common good. Those who use their power to regularly abuse others (including their spouses) violate both the spirit and the letter of the Qur’anic advice that people of faith follow the route of righteousness and moral conduct (‘amal saalih) in dealing with others. The verses of al-Nisa remind Muslims that Allah has entrusted married women to the ‘‘benevolent supervision’’ of their husbands, provided that the husbands are the principal breadwinners and spend their wealth for the maintenance of their wives. As to why this has been the case, the position of the Qur’an is not all that clear. Some verses give this impression that the power differential has been ordained by Allah, while some others seem to be saying that it is not the power differential that is the source of wife abuse, but the manner of its utilization. There are scholars who have argued that power-related verses seem to suggest that Allah uses the power differential as a deliberate measure for testing what the Qur’an calls the ‘‘impure human inclinations’’ (nafsi ammareh) that everyone possesses in varying degrees. Accordingly, access to power in conjunction with one’s impure inclinations opens for some the road to abusive behavior, including spousal abuse.
The thrust of the Qur’an is that the faithful must recognize the fact that any course of action that one takes, be it good or evil, is consequential. The Qur’an is adamant that Allah watches over everyone as the ultimate judge (qaazi al-quzaat), who does not look kindly on those who regularly abuse their allotted shares of power. To the rhetorical question as to why there is the evil of abuse in this world, the response of the Qur’an is that Allah wants to check the level of people’s transgressions against the Qur’anic injunctions. In due time, the Almighty takes action against the transgressors who raise Allah’s wrath. This is so because Allah is the ‘‘mightiest of all the tyrants’’ (qaasim al-jabbaarin) and at the same time is also ‘‘the most compassionate and kindest of all’’ (alrahmaan al-rahim) to those who use their power and wealth for the betterment of self and others in society. This divinely ordained principle of reward and punishment applies to the husband-wife duo, but more so to husbands because of power differentials between the spouses as discussed above. Simply put, the Qur’an reminds husbands that if they abuse their wives, they will have to face the wrath of the Almighty. Fear is a powerful anti-abuse factor in the Qur’an.
Wife Abuse Allows the Spouse to Seek Divorce According to the Qur’an
The Qur’an considers wife abuse as a form of abuse of the power that Allah has entrusted to those husbands who (1) are the principal breadwinners in the family and (2) put their wealth in the maintenance of the family and the household expenses. However, a husband who satisfies these conditions is not given a blank check to abuse his spouse or children. In fact the position of the Qur’an is that a husband who is a good provider should strive to be a good father, too. In case of conjugal, matrimonial, or parental conflicts, the Qur’an advises couples to try to resolve them through means that are least injurious to the sanctity of marriage and family life. If interventional methods of conflict resolution do not work, divorce is the last option that the Qur’an advises. During the stages of conflict resolution, couples are advised not to deviate from the road of righteous conduct toward one another, especially insofar as conjugal matters are concerned. The text warns believing men (al-muminin) and believing women (al-muminat) alike, especially if they are married to one another, that it is better for them to deal with one another based on the principles of righteousness (amali slaih), including, among others, fear of Allah (khoufallah). The Qur’an, nonetheless, allows for the dissolution of the marriage if the husband regularly abuses his wife or children or both, provided the aggrieved wife has sought divorce.
There are authentic Hadiths (revered sayings), attributed to the Prophet Muhammad and the succeeding caliphs, to the effect that such marriages were dissolved due to complaints of wives who had been subject to abuse at the hands of their spouses. Interestingly, the Qur’an does not prevent women from becoming the breadwinner and thus assuming the position of the head of the household. In practice, however, married women are considered their husbands’ wards as a matter of both law and custom in the majority of Islamic countries. Even after divorce, the Qur’an allows for the couples to reunite through remarriage. The rationale of the Qur’an is both functional and realistic on the ground that marriage and the family are two of the most important social institutions in the context of which a loving and caring home environment is established. An abusive home environment, created by abusive practices, inflicts incalculable and long-lasting damage to the husband, the wife, and their offspring.
The Qur’an Does Not Consider Women (Wives) as an Afterthought
In al-Nisa (iv: 1) the Qur’an calls on the general populace to be vigilant of their responsibilities to Allah, who created the humankind from ‘‘a Unitarian living entity’’ (al-nafsi wahid) first, and then created women and men from a ‘‘clot’’ of blood, assigning to each their shares of rights, duties, and responsibilities. By attending to these responsibilities, believers perform their duties to Allah, society, and one another. In such an ideal environment, no rationale for spousal abuse applies.
Muslim scholars are in general agreement that the Qur’an does not portray women’s creation as an afterthought that is perhaps wrongly attributed to the Bible, according to which God first created Adam and then, upon his complaints of loneliness, created Eve from Adam’s left rib. There is a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad to the effect that women, in the same manner of a rib, are crooked. Among certain Muslim traditionalist circles, this saying implies that husbands must put their wives under a strict and harsh regime of treatment because women are inherently of a crooked nature. However, there are liberal-minded Muslim scholars who reject the authenticity of this saying on the grounds that the Prophet Muhammad would not have said something that so egregiously violates the egalitarian thrust of the Qur’an in relation to women’s status in Islam. This rejection, of course, does not mean that all Muslim husbands are egalitarian minded in their treatment of their wives as advised by the Qur’an. Wife abuse in Islamic societies is a concrete reality legitimated through various means, including attributions to the Prophet Muhammad and his deputies (caliphs). In fact, there is a lengthy work of Islamic literature, the Hadith, which covers about two million sayings and deeds attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. Although most of these are of a dubious nature, they play a very important legitimating role for those husbands who abuse their wives.
The Qur’an Does Not Portray Wives as Evil Tempters of Their Husbands
The general thrust of the Qur’an’s view of marriage is that spouses are counselors to one another, helping one another toward the best course of action in household affairs. Allah has endowed both women and men with rationality to discern between good and evil. Those who choose evil rather than good will face the consequence of their choice. For example, in al-Baqarah (i, 30–38), the Qur’an portrays Havva (Eve) and Adam as the first female and male pair created by Allah as complementary to one another and placed in Paradise for eternal life. However, Iblis (Satan) beguiled them to transgress against the one and only injunction that Allah had warned the couple to observe in Paradise. In the Qur’an, this injunction is to not eat from a certain heavenly grain. Because both gave in to their temptations and were beguiled by Satan, Allah’s wrath fell on both. Thus, Adam and Eve were expelled from Paradise to dwell on earth with all its dangers and miseries. However, once they repented, Allah forgave both and gave them dominion over earth and everything that roamed on it. The thrust of these verses is that Eve was not the primal evil ‘‘tempter’’ of Adam responsible for his fall, but one who was a victim to her own temptations, as Adam was. The Qur’an does not attribute ‘‘original sin’’ to women, married or not. By removing women from the list of ‘‘evil’’ forces tempting men to commit sin or crime, as envisioned by pre-Islamic civilizations, the Qur’an put a decisive end to the misogynist doctrine that women, especially wives, ought to be kept under a strict regime of control riddled with all kinds of social, legal, and psychological abuses.
However, as primordial Islam spread in different parts of the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, and southern Europe, coming face to face with older established civilizations, the misogynist view that women should be looked upon as the primal cause of men’s malaise started creeping into Islamic circles to the effect that within a century after Islam’s inauguration, married women were relegated to a secondary class status similar to their medieval Judeo-Christian counterparts. The general thrust of the Qur’an is that spousal abuse is not of an exclusively masculine nature, in that wives can also abuse their husbands through various means, such as, for example, deserting the conjugal bed to extort something from their husbands that they are not entitled to in the first place. Other abuses include lewdness (fahshaa), inchoate crimes, and maltreatment of the husband’s children from previous marriages. However, the husbands’ ability to abuse is of a more potent and varied nature because of the power-differential factor, as discussed above.
Qur’anic View on Spousal Rights, Duties, and Responsibilities
Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the most important repository of spousal rights, duties, and responsibilities within the institution of marriage and the family. The thrust of the Qur’an is that all believing men and women are given a set of legitimate rights (huquq) as well as duties and responsibilities (masuliyat) that they ought to perform. These are scattered among 114 chapters of the Qur’an. However, the specific chapter titled al- Nisa (The Women), as the name implies, is dedicated to women’s status. Al-Nisa contains 177 verses, one of the longest of the Qur’anic chapters, the bulk of which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in Madina shortly after his emigration to that city in 622 C.E. It covers a wide range of issues in the context of which a Muslim woman’s rights, duties, and responsibilities have been laid out. These pertain to property (al-amwal), education (tahsil al-‘ilm), marriage (al-nikah), divorce (altalaq), inheritance (al-mirath, taraka), and the family and its dynamics. Wife abuse takes place when a husband tramples upon any of these rights without any justification. What follows is a synopsis of this mechanism.
Prior to Islam, women owned property in both settled and tribal societies in the Arab Peninsula. For example, the primary Islamic sources mention women traders with financial capital in their possessions, such as Khadijah, a prominent woman in Makka who fell in love with her young employee and the future Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, and proposed marriage to him. However, there were financially abusive practices among pagan Arabs. The Qur’an prohibited such practices and provided measures that it considered legitimate with regard to the utilization of property and financial capital. For example, the Qur’an (ii: 188) advises both sexes, ‘‘And eat not up your property among yourselves in vanity, nor seek by it to gain the hearing of the judges that ye may knowingly devour a portion of the property of others wrongfully.’’ The term for ‘‘property’’ in its plural form is al-amwal (s. mal), which ranged from personal to fixed property (e.g., slaves, household items, arable land, orchards). This term is also repeated in various verses of al-Nisa as, for instance (iv: 29): ‘‘O ye who believe, squander not your wealth among yourselves in vanity, except it be a trade of mutual consent, and kill not one another. Lo! Allah is ever Merciful unto you.’’ There is no doubt that the Qur’an recognized women’s right to property ownership and allowed them to utilize their properties as they saw fit. At the same time, it warned and enjoined Muslim men and women against putting their properties to abusive practices, such as bribery, usury, loan sharking, prostitution, and gambling, which prevailed among Arab traders and commercial venturers.
Thus, financial capital gave women traders a cherished and powerful position in pre-Islamic Arab society, but it is doubtful if financial prowess adequately protected women and young girls from abusive practices that had their bases in pagan Arab tribal social and legal relationships. For example, female infants were subjected to infanticide by live burial in desert sands, and widowed women were not allowed to marry outside the king group unless no suitor came forward. Men of wealth were allowed to have an unlimited number of wives and concubines. In addition, male and female promiscuity prevailed to the effect that husbands encouraged their wives to copulate with men of distinction in the hope of getting in the line of noble lineage so as to link up with powerful kin groups. The Qur’an prohibited these types of abusive conjugal practices. Similar abusive practices in relation to inheritance, education, witness, debt financing, marriage, divorce, and child custody prevailed among pre-Islamic Arabs that the Qur’an prohibited, a synopsis of which is provided below.
Women in pre-Islamic times received inheritance, but the process was mostly of an arbitrary nature. The Qur’an regularized inheritance (mirath, taraka) by making it obligatory on both parents to apportion their wealth among their sons and daughters based on a written will (wasaya). The relevant verses are scattered throughout the text and are included, for instance, in (ii: 180, 240) and (iv: 7–9, 11–12, 19, 33, 176). The verse (ii: 180) advises believers to leave a written will so that those who possess property and feel the nearing of their death can ensure that the inheritance will be bequeathed to their family members (offspring, surviving parents, and known near relatives). The verse (ii: 240) regularizes the bequeathing of provisions (nafaqa) and inheritance by a husband among his wives as he feels his death approaching. The verses (iv: 7–9) regularize the share of the male and female members of a family from their parental inheritance, whereas the verse (iv: 11) regularizes the proportioning of the inheritance between male and female members of the family. It reads: ‘‘to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females, and if there be women more than two, then theirs is two-thirds of the inheritance, and if there be one (only) then the half.’’
The verse (iv: 12) regularizes bequeathing of inheritance by a husband’s wives. It reads: ‘‘And unto you belongeth a half of that which your wives leave, if they have no child; but if they have a child, then unto you the fourth of that which they leave after any legacy they may have bequeathed, or debt (they may have contracted, hath been paid).’’ The fact that husbands could receive inheritance from their wives is, again, indicative of the fact that women did own property; property did change hands within the family passing onto the male and female offspring from both sides of the family. These verses give neither an exclusively matrilineal nor patrilineal, but a bilateral, character to the Islamic view of inheritance. However, there are verses in the Qur’an that have historically given rise to gender-based asymmetry in the distribution of inheritance that feminist scholars consider a concrete form of gender-based abuse in Islamic societies.
This has become a very sensitive issue in modern times and in a number of Islamic societies that strive for gender equity in their social and legal relationships. The battle cry is that these verses allow for unequal distribution of inheritance between the male and female family members of the deceased. There are progressive academic circles (women’s liberation and feminist and liberal-minded scholars) that also see a definite form of wife abuse in this type of inequity, which they argue must be corrected through legal changes in the Islamic system of inheritance.
Scholars who defend the Qur’anic view of differences in the apportionment of inheritance propose that the inequity exists because daughters receive, upon marriage, a certain form of matrimonial wealth (jahizah) from their fathers next to a lump sum of money or jewelry that the prospective husband promises to his wife as dowry (mahriyeh). In addition, married women receive daily household provisions (nafaqah) from their husbands. Therefore, it is only fair that sons should receive a higher proportion of the inheritance. This argument, valid as it might have been in medieval agricultural societies, is now partially defunct in those modernizing Islamic societies in which the formation of wealth and acquisition of property follow nontraditional processes and dynamics. For example, in a good number of modernizing Islamic societies (e.g., Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Iran, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria) women are highly educated and employed in different economic sectors earning wages and salaries that allow them to acquire property with all its empowering prospects.
In many Islamic countries women are legally allowed to petition family courts to divorce their husbands, or to get child custody in cases where their husbands were to be declared unfit for that responsibility. Employed women are also legally allowed to utilize their properties the way they see it fit within the dynamics of the free economy to which many Islamic countries in North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia adhere. Thus insisting on unequal distribution of inheritance can be considered as a form of wife and/or female abuse in those Islamic societies that have adapted modern free market economies and their dynamics.
There are generic Qur’anic terms and verses on the importance of writing and learning as well as on how to write and how to document transactions. These applied to traders and merchants (male and female) who conducted local and/or long-distance trade and thus had to deal with different aspects of trade such as debt financing. For example in (ii: 282), it is stated, ‘‘O ye who believe! When ye contract a debt for a fixed term, record it in writing. Let a scribe record it in writing between you in (terms) of equity. No scribe should refuse to write as Allah hath taught him, so let him write, and let him who incurreth the debt dictate, and let him observe his duty to Allah his Lord, and diminish naught thereof.’’ The thrust of the verse is directed toward ‘‘O ye who believe,’’ addressing the general populace. It is commonly observed that this verse was to regulate the abusive aspects of pagan Arab practice in debt financing whereby the lender imposed inordinate interest on the principal of the loan. What is immediately apparent from the tone and thrust of the continuing verse is that it was either directed toward males, who, as a general rule, were more powerful than females, or those males who were more powerful than other males. Concerning this point, the verse reads further, ‘‘But if he who oweth the debt is of low understanding (safihann), or weak (zaifann), or unable himself (awla yastaiti‘u) to dictate, then let the guardian (wali) of his interests dictate in (terms of) equity.’’ The verse also provides for a witnessing procedure for future references, advising that one should ‘‘call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not (at hand) then a man and two women, of such as ye approve as witness, so that if one erreth (through forgetfulness), the other will remember. And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned.’’
Traditionally this verse has been interpreted as the Qur’an’s allowance for equating the worth of two women’s testimonies to one man’s testimonial worth provided that the male party is not mentally deficient. The traditional defense of this measure has been based in the belief that women are more emotional, irrational, whimsical, or forgetful, along with a host of other such misogynist notions. However, the verse concerns itself with incurring debt and conducting trade and commercial activities that prevailed at the time. In such a society, equating two women’s testimonies to one man’s testimony was perhaps a cautionary practice. The verse reflects an historical perspective rather than a biological ‘‘truth,’’ as traditionally the verse has been interpreted. Because it is an historical perspective, it easily lends itself to reinterpretation bound by time and social conditions. This being said, there is no doubt that this verse has been utilized to degrade female testimonial worth in Islamic court procedures, be they civil or criminal. This is a definite form of abuse that must be remedied through legal reform.
There are verses in the Qur’an which put women under men’s control and supervision, thereby allowing for the abuse of power. There are also verses that admonish both sexes—but specifically males of means and power—who abuse those who are less fortunate and less powerful. However, there are also verses that advise husbands how to deal with their rebellious wives. These verses differ in their applications, ranging from attempts to reason with a wife who does not attend to her share of duties and responsibilities, to harsher ones that may even include beating in case of nushuz (some argue that it is a deviant form of sexual arousal accomplished through a mild form of beating). Depending on one’s approach to the Qur’an and interpretation of these verses, divergent schools of thought have emerged among students of the Qur’an as to whether wife abuse has a solid Qur’anic base or is a matter of time and social conditions.
Scholars inspired by Western feminist thought and methodology argue that wife abuse has a solid Qur’anic base because Islam, like its Judeo- Christian counterparts, is a patriarchal religion designed for the propagation of patriarchal interests and institutions and as such allows husbands to subjugate and control their wives through different means and methods including beating. Scholars of the traditional school argue that the Qur’an does not condone abuse per se, but puts females under the control and supervision of males because females are inherently the weaker sex and need men’s supervision in all aspects of life. A third emerging school argues that the remedy for wife abuse is neither denial of the abuse that goes on in many Islamic countries nor a full-fledged de- Islamization process, considering the fact that wife abuse is a universal problem that takes place in other societies as well. Accordingly, the remedy for wife abuse has social, legal, and economic dimensions as well as a critical approach to the Qur’an and its views as to what constitutes married women’s rights, duties, and responsibilities in the context of which spousal abuse occurs.
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