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Q 4:34 pokes a hole in 'God's last message' hypothesis.

Reader comment on item: Linda Sarsour, The Left's Latest Star
in response to reader comment: Islam must accept apostasy as an option, or it will never be feminist (or even fair)

Submitted by Prashant, Jul 13, 2017 at 12:55

Dear Dr Pipes:

Your reader C T from the USA cites Quranic verse 4:34 and asserts that unless apostasy is allowed verse 4:34, permanently subjugates women under men. Verse 4:34 clearly says that affairs of the women should be managed by men. There are many translations/interpretations of this verse and all of them more or less mean that affairs of women be managed by men.

I think this verse pokes a hole in the Islamic "Quran is God's last book" hypothesis. Everything in this universe happens on Gods command. So if today's women are educated and more able than the women of the past, it must be God's will. So verse 4:34 implies that no matter how capable a woman becomes she has to find a husband who can manage her affairs (or she should remain a single). Even further, since this husband can marry up to four women, he might be able to manage the affairs of four women each very competent by herself. This is somewhat (or even entirely) absurd.

The correct remedy out of this wisdom is that perhaps all Quranic advice was appropriate for the 7th century when it was compiled but is not necessarily and literally valid any more. But if a part of Quranic advice is not valid today then Quran cannot be God's last infallible word.

This is like a "damned if I do and damned if I don't" situation.

The remedy is to admit that no religious advice --as much as we want it to be true for ever-- is true for ever. And every advice is subject to interpretation. I hate to say this but it almost leads to the Hindu view of life in which God promises that He appears in the world as often as needed and renews his advice (Bhagwat Gita 4-7 and 4-8: Whenever the righteousness declines, I come to the world to over and over again to reestablish righteousness and destroy the wrong doers.). It is not my purpose to preach Hinduism here but Muslim scholars may like to consider this alternate view.


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