Muslim Wake Up has ato the AIDS conference and the , pointing out the dreadful condition of women in Pakistan. Of course there are many other muslim countries the author could have named too. Times are rough all over.
At one point, the author says this:
“When she gets married, and if her husband is promiscuous, it’s easy for us North Americans to legalistically claim that a woman can leave him if he isn’t pious. All is still well in our jurisprudence. “
Since I left this comment:
“If a woman suspects her husband of adultery, isn’t divorce or separation more the issue than refusal of intercourse?”
in the, I assume she is talking to me.
Although I think she is being sarcastic, I’m going to repeat the statement “All is still well in our jurisprudence”. That’s the crux of my objection and I think it’s still valid. Stringing these two arguments (MWU’s and Wadud’s) together in the context of fighting AIDS, which is what this was all supposed to be about in the first place, Dr. Wadud was saying that the religious injunction to avoid adultery was meaningless, or worse, harmful or deceptive, because evil men will still fornicate and bring disease home to their wives. Divorce, though allowed in Islam, is not an option because it’s rough for a single mother in Pakistani society. Therefore wives must have the religious right to refuse intercourse. Now tell me, we should expect the man who defies the religious law by fornicating is going to respect the (new) religious law by not forcing intercourse on his wife? I don’t see how that could be. And this will stop AIDS because the wife will actually be refusing intercourse for the rest of her life? I don’t understand. The only thing gained by such a course of action is the undermining of the sanctity of the Quran and Hadith. Arguably, that was the whole point of the exercise.
I hope I don’t sound callous. AIDS is a big problem and so is the status of women in Pakistan and in many other countries. That’s why I support the Muslim Women’s Coalition and the Sisters in Islam pro-monogamy campaign, and any other group that wants to advocate for the rights of women in society within the context of Islam. But Dr. Wadud and anybody else is barking up the wrong tree if they want to “problematize” the Quran and Hadith, as oh-so-gently put it, in pursuit of a solution to these things. And they shouldn’t be surprised if muslims in turn are hostile to it.
As an aside, Dr. Haddad deals with this issue in his review of the work of Riffat Hassan. [Update: Dr. Haddad’s review of Dr. Wadud’s ]