Home > Islam > An Exegesis of Those Three Koran Verses Every Woman Should Know

An Exegesis of Those Three Koran Verses Every Woman Should Know

There is another video that David Wood has produced. It is about the Koran’s teaching regarding women. I do not know what percentage of Muslims in the world interpret the verses in his video the way he does, but I am going to provide here my interpretation. The verses from the Koran which I wish to discuss are: 2:223, 2:282, and 4:34.

I think that one of the problems with Islam, generally speaking, is the interpretation of the Koran and not the Koran itself. Muslims have allowed the Koran to replace the Bible. The Koran claims to confirm the Bible, not to replace it. (Koran 3:3,4; 5:48; 10:38; 41:43) Those Muslims who have discarded the Bible have disobeyed the teachings of the Koran regarding the Bible. Unlike the first generation Muslims who “believed all the Scripture” (Koran 3:119) and received the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians (Koran 29:46; 42:15), they have rejected the Bible, thus becoming “disbelievers in truth” and have “wandered far astray.” (Koran 4:136,150,151) They believe what their religious leaders tell them without ever doing any research to verify if what they are being told is indeed true in contradiction of what the Koran clearly teaches them not to do.

And pursue not that of which thou hast no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing or of (feeling in) the heart will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). (Koran 17:36, Yusuf Ali)

The sheikhs and imams tell them that the Bible has been corrupted and can no longer be trusted, but the Koran says that the Bible manuscripts which existed in the seventh century were believed and received by Muhammad and the Muslim community. It tells Christians to “judge by the Gospel.” (Koran 5:47) There are manuscripts of the New Testament which date back to the fourth century. There are fragments of New Testament manuscripts which date back to the second century. The Christians of Muhammad’s day used the Greek Septuagint. There are fourth century manuscripts of this Greek translation of the Old Testament in existence today. There are textual variants among the ancient manuscripts of the Bible. I do not deny that. As for textual variants in the Koran, there are at least 26 different Arabic versions of the Koran. See my blog, Shame on the Imams and Islamic Scholars!

In order to properly understand the Koran, therefore, one must also read and study the Bible.

It is not (possible) for any human being unto whom Allah had given the Scripture and wisdom and the prophethood that he should afterwards have said unto mankind: Be slaves of me instead of Allah; but (what he said was): Be ye faithful servants of the Lord by virtue of your constant teaching of the Scripture and of your constant study thereof. (Koran 3:79, Pickthall)

Before I begin the exegesis of these three verses from the Koran, watch David Wood’s video.

The first verse he comments on in the video is Koran 2:282, but I will start by discussing Koran 2:223 first.

Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye will, and send (good deeds) before you for your souls, and fear Allah, and know that ye will (one day) meet Him. Give glad tidings to believers, (O Muhammad). (Koran 2:223, Pickthall)

The way David Wood interprets this verse it would seem that Muhammad wanted men to treat their wives like sex toys that they can pick up, play with, and put down whenever they please. He quotes hadiths written down over 200 years after Muhammad died. Muhammad died in 632. Maybe Muhammad did say those things, but I still question the authenticity of all of those hadiths. I have been told by my grandparents and parents about some things that my great-grandparents have said and done, but I cannot produce an entire encyclopedia of their deeds and actions based on what little I have been told about them. The compilers of those hadiths have allegedly done that 200 to 300 years after Muhammad died. Among the Sunni Muslims, the most important collections of hadiths are the compilations by Bukhari (810-870) and Muslim (815-875). Realistically speaking, these compilations of hadiths are really a massive collection of hearsay. So, I do not give much credence to them. I do not think that David Wood should give much credence to them either.

To me, it does not matter much which sexual position a man assumes with his wife. I think that anal sex and oral sex are disgusting, but whether it is sex from behind, in front, or the woman lying on her back is a matter for them decide between themselves.

Since Muslims are supposed to accept the Bible as well as the Koran, this passage from St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians is relevant here.

1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (I Corinthians 7:1-5, NKJV)

A man has authority of his wife’s body and a woman has authority over her husband’s body. A woman, therefore, has just as much right to request sex from her husband as a man has to request sex from his wife. I think that the Koran is saying essentially the same thing in this verse.

O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you). Lo! Allah hath been a watcher over you. (Koran 4:1, Pickthall)

“Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim (your rights) of one another.” A man claims his sexual rights from his wife in God. A woman, likewise, claims her sexual rights from her husband in God. The Koran teaches that men and women have similar rights, but a man is a degree above his wife.

Women who are divorced shall wait, keeping themselves apart, three (monthly) courses. And it is not lawful for them that they should conceal that which Allah hath created in their wombs if they are believers in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands would do better to take them back in that case if they desire a reconciliation. And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise. (Koran 2:228, Pickthall)

The Bible teaches equality of the sexes, too.

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:26-29, NKJV)

Both men and women who believe in Jesus Christ and have been baptized are “one in Christ Jesus,” “Abraham’s seed,” and “heirs according to the promise.”

God in the Bible states that both believing men and believing women are “heirs of the kingdom” in the afterlife in Galatians 3:29 and in this verse from St. Peter’s First Epistle.

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (I Peter 3:7, NKJV)

In the Koran, it says that believing women will be rewarded in the afterlife, just as believing men will be rewarded.

And do not covet that by which Allah has made some of you excel others; men shall have the benefit of what they earn and women shall have the benefit of what they earn; and ask Allah of His grace; surely Allah knows all things. (Koran 4:32, Shakir)

Both men and women will have what their “souls desire” and what their “eyes find sweet.”

Enter the Garden, ye and your wives, to be made glad. Therein are brought round for them trays of gold and goblets, and therein is all that souls desire and eyes find sweet. And ye are immortal therein. (Koran 43:70,71, Pickthall)

The Bible also teaches that the man is “a degree above” his wife.

But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (I Corinthians 11:3, NKJV)

So, I disagree with David Wood regarding his interpretation of Koran 2:223. The Koran says that women have similar rights to those of men, but a woman’s husband is a degree above her. A woman has just as much right to her husband’s body as her husband has a right to hers according to both the Koran and the Bible. As for “rough sex,” the Koran tells men to live with their wives in kindness. (Koran 4:19) That means that a man should not abuse his wife sexually or in any other way.

The first verse he comments on is the next one I will discuss. It is also from the Second Surah, Koran 2:282.

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. But if he who oweth the debt is of low understanding, or weak, or unable himself to dictate, then let the guardian of his interests dictate in (terms of) equity. And 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 witnesses, so that if the one erreth (through forgetfulness) the other will remember. And the witnesses must not refuse when they are summoned. Be not averse to writing down (the contract) whether it be small or great, with (record of) the term thereof. That is more equitable in the sight of Allah and more sure for testimony, and the best way of avoiding doubt between you; save only in the case when it is actual merchandise which ye transfer among yourselves from hand to hand. In that case it is no sin for you if ye write it not. And have witnesses when ye sell one to another, and let no harm be done to scribe or witness. If ye do (harm to them) lo! it is a sin in you. Observe your duty to Allah. Allah is teaching you. And Allah is knower of all things. (Koran 2:282, Pickthall)

Here, in this passage, it takes two women to equal the witness of one man. One must remember that this was written in the seventh century. Arab women in the seventh century were not well-educated and were treated very poorly by men. Islam was bringing to the Arab world a higher standard for the treatment of women. So, due to the lack of education that women had then, it would have been wise to require two witnesses in lieu of every man’s witness in a business transaction.

As for the valuation of women in respect to men, look at this passage from the Old Testament Septuagint.

1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them, Whosoever shall vow a vow as the valuation of his soul for the Lord, 3 the valuation of a male from twenty years old to sixty years old shall be — his valuation shall be fifty didrachms of silver by the standard of the sanctuary. 4 And the valuation of a female shall be thirty didrachms. 5 And if it be from five years old to twenty, the valuation of a male shall be twenty didrachms, and of a female ten didrachms. 6 And from a month old to five years old, the valuation of a male shall be five didrachms, and of a female, three didrachms of silver. 7 And if from sixty year old and upward, if it be a male, his valuation shall be fifteen didrachms of silver, and if a female, ten didrachms. (Leviticus 27:1-7, LXX)

A woman, according to this text, is valued at three-fifths the value of a man if she is between twenty and sixty years of age (vs. 3,4), at half the value of a man if she is between five and twenty years of age (v. 5), at three-fifths the value of a man if she is between a month old and five years old (v. 6), and at two-thirds the value of a man if she is sixty years old or older (v.7).

This Old Testament law was abrogated by the coming of Christ. So, we no longer observe it. It applied to the children of Israel and not to the descendants of Esau or any others who may have been worshipers of the one true God at that time. (Job was a descendant of Esau.) The law was temporary. The commandment in Koran 2:282, likewise, applies to seventh century Arab women, but not to twenty-first century educated women. That is my opinion. (I do not care what the hadiths say. They are largely just a collection of hearsay.)

The last verse he comments on is Koran 4:34.

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 good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great. (Koran 4:34, Pickthall)

Here it says that “men are in charge of women.”  Muhammad Sarwar translates the Arabic here: “Men are the protectors of women.” That is probably a better translation. However, the concept of a man being in charge of his wife is also taught in the Bible.

But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (I Corinthians 11:3, NKJV)

“Good women are the obedient.”  The Bible teaches the same thing.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the Church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24, NKJV)

1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the Word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel —  4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. (I Peter 3:1-6, NKJV)

The Koran teaches that men should live with their wives in kindness (Koran 4:19) and are over their wives in kindness (Koran 2:228). It also says:

And of His signs is this: He created for you helpmeets from yourselves that ye might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo! herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect. (Koran 30:21, Pickthall)

The Koran says that God ordained between a man and his wife “love and mercy.” The Bible teaches the same thing.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:25-33, NKJV)

3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things —  4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. (Titus 2:3-5, NKJV)

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34,35, NKJV)

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36, NKJV)

The part of this verse that David Wood focuses on is the latter part of the verse.

As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great. (Koran 4:34, Pickthall)

The Koran says that a man should admonish his wife if he thinks that she will be rebellious and “banish them to beds apart.” In other words, stop sleeping with a rebellious wife. It also says to “scourge them.” The word translated “scourge” is the Arabic word, iḍ’ribū. It is translated “strike” as when Moses struck the rock in the wilderness and water gushed out and in other places in the Koran it is translated “set forth.” It most probably means in this verse to strike the rebellious wife, but not repeatedly as in a fist-fight. In order to accurately understand what this verse is teaching, one must keep in mind all of the other teachings in the Bible and in the Koran regarding how a man should live with his wife. He must strike her lovingly, mercifully, and in kindness. That is to say, one should tap her gently thus expressing non-verbally his displeasure with her behavior. Mohsin Khan and Yusuf Ali translated this word “beat” and add in parentheses “lightly.” I think that based upon all of the other teachings in the Bible and the Koran, this verse is telling a man to “tap his wife lightly” if she is rebellious, but not to beat her to a pulp. “Men are the protectors of women.” They are not supposed to be abusers of women.

Anyway, it is as I have said many times before, the problem is the interpretation of the sacred texts and not the texts themselves. If there are Muslims who are interpreting the Koran the way David Wood does, they are in just as much error as he is in interpreting it.

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