Berita Harian Malay column on disciplining wife elicits strong response, Nee Soon MP weighs in

It is now spoken of in disapproving terms.

Belmont Lay |Fasiha Nazren |Sulaiman Daud | October 16, 2017 @ 02:03 pm

Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, MP for Nee Soon GRC, has publicly responded to a controversial advice column that appeared in Singapore’s Malay language newspaper Berita Harian on Oct. 13, 2017.

The direct translation of the headline of the controversial article is, “How to Handle a Stubborn Wife”.

It is written by Ustaz Mohd Zaid bin Isahak, an Islamic scholar and Head of Dakwah Division and Imam Executive of Al-Mawaddah Mosque.

Elicited strong responses

After the Berita Harian article’s publication, some in Singapore took issue with it almost immediately, pointing out its misogynistic content.

This was so as the article mentioned the disciplining of one’s wife by resorting to beating.

The article was also subjected to disapproval by those who could not understand Malay:

However, there were also those who sought a deeper reading and to view the contents of the article in the context of religion:

This tweet points out how the layperson’s understanding could lead to article being misconstrued:

Others agree that the context is important:

English translation of the original article

For the benefit of those who want to read the Berita Harian article, here is an English translation:

1) How to handle a stubborn wife

Question: Can a husband stay away from his wife to teach her a lesson?

Answer : Allah s.w.t said: But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them…” (Surah An-Nisa: 34)

Based on the quote above, it is understood that a husband is allowed to keep his distance from his nusyuz (disobedient) and stubborn wife, but with the teachings that have been taught in the Al-Quran.

A husband must always advise his wife gently and full of reasoning, not with harsh words that can hurt her feelings.

It is also his duty to remind his wife to fulfil her commitment to Allah and prophets, as well as her husband.

However, if the wife still refuses to put in any effort, then the husband can resort to leaving his wife temporarily as a way to make her change.

This is mentioned in Surah An-Nisa, which translates to: “[then if they persist], forsake them in bed…”

As such, a husband can leave his wife to be alone in the bedroom and not acknowledge her presence (as a follow-up) and the duration cannot last more than three days as Prophet Muhammad has mentioned that “it’s not halal (permissible) for a Muslim to not acknowledge their relatives for more than three days and nights” (Hadith from Abu Daud dan Nasai).

In this context, physical punishment is allowed if giving advice and leaving her momentarily doesn’t work.

But the husband still has to abide by the Islamic law when it comes to educating (through means of physical punishment) his wife:

– Beating her without leaving a single mark on her body
– Not allowed to hit his wife’s face
– Fully certain that the act of hitting a wife will change her disobedience

If the wife has truly changed and obeys her husband, then the husband is no longer allowed to hit his wife.

Allah s.w.t said: “But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.” (An Nisa: 34).

In response to the response

After the issue blew up and besides MP Faishal’s take on the issue, Berita Harian published a follow-up Facebook post on Oct. 15 to mitigate the message of the original article.

It is written by Irwan Hadi, the head of office of the Mufti of Singapore, who said there is never grounds to assault one’s own spouse:

Irwan also provided an English translation of his writing:

A clarification was also issued by the original writer that was published on Sunday evening, Oct. 15, at 8.49pm:

Top photo via ShnapThat! flickr


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