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Spanish Muslim Cleric on Rules For Wife-Beating
March 24, 2004
by Matt Rosenberg

A Spanish Muslim cleric outlines how wife-beating can be acceptable, in this report issued today by MEMRI on his book.

On January 14, 2004, Sheikh Muhammad Kamal Mustafa, the imam of the mosque of the city of Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, was sentenced by a Barcelona court to a 15 month suspended sentence and fined € 2160 for publishing his book 'The Woman in Islam.' In this book, the Egyptian-born Sheikh Mustafa writes, among other things, on wife-beating in accordance with Shar'ia law.

On pages 86-87, Mustafa states: 'The [wife-]beating must never be in exaggerated, blind anger, in order to avoid serious harm [to the woman].' He adds, 'It is forbidden to beat her on the sensitive parts of her body, such as the face, breast, abdomen, and head. Instead, she should be beaten on the arms and legs,' using a 'rod that must not be stiff, but slim and lightweight so that no wounds, scars, or bruises are caused.' Similarly, '[the blows] must not be hard.'

Mustafa noted in his book that the aim of the beating was to cause the woman to feel some emotional pain, without humiliating her or harming her physically. According to him, wife-beating must be the last resort to which the husband turns in punishing his wife, and is, according to the Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 34, the husband's third step when the wife is rebellious: First, he must reprimand her, without anger. Next, he must distance her from the conjugal bed. Only if these two methods fail should the husband turn to beating.

In his verdict, the judge said that Sheikh Mustafa's book contained incitement to violence against women, that today's society is completely different from society 1400 years ago, and that the sections of the book in which the sheikh wrote of wife-beating constitute a violation of the penal code and of women's constitutional rights. In his defense, Sheikh Mustafa's attorney argued that his client was not expressing his personal opinion, but only reiterating the writings of Islam from the 13th and 19th centuries.

The book, which sold around 3,000 copies in Islamic cultural centers across Spain, was removed from the shelves.

MEMRI, in case you're wondering, is the Middle Eastern Media Research Institute, a highly-respected organization often cited by major U.S. media.

Matt Rosenberg is a Seattle writer. E-mail him at oudist@nwlink.com; his Web log is at www.rosenblog.com.

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