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Breaking the Interpretive Monopoly: A Re-Examination of Verse 4:34

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As verse 4:34 is central to the Qurānic paradigm on gender relations, the question of "wife-beating" has become a contentious issue in Islamic scholarly discourse. Does "wadribuhunna", a verb in imperative form that is read to authorize the "beating", "striking", or "scourging" of a wife, actually give husbands divine sanction to beat their wives? If so, upon what basis or authority does one derive such a meaning? First, this paper examines the historical development of certain misogynistic concepts that became embedded in Islamic academic discourse as a result of the classical exegetes' commentary on this verse, which were undoubtedly influenced by the patriarchal paradigm of the medieval period from which they were produced. Second, this paper utilizes the classical exegetes' own purported methodology to reinvestigate the meanings of this verse in a way that can reconcile its practical application with the Qurān's egalitarian ideals and Islam's conception ofGod's absolute justice.


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