SINGAPORE - A lecturer offering pre-marriage courses has sparked outrage among Singaporean Muslims after advising Muslim men to beat their wives to control them.
He pulled out a chair, like this, and then started hitting the chair like it was the wife an attendee told Bikya Masr website on Sunday, November 4.
The controversy erupted after several attendees at the pre-marriage course offered at Darul Arqam, Singapore's leading association for Muslim converts, alleged that male students are encouraged to beat wives who refuse to submit to sex.
The students offered copies of the course materials supporting their allegations.
The materials quote an English translation of the Qur'an, stating as to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, first admonish them, next refuse to share their bed, and last beat them.
It also advise husbands, it is your right that they [wives] do not make friends with anyone of whom you disapprove, and wives are reminded that in the event of a marital disagreement her husband has to make the final decision and [she has] to respect it.
The course materials recommend that wives be beaten if they commit Al Nushooz.
Al Nushooz is defined in the course materials as the disobeying of the wife toward her husband and elevating herself above what Allah has obliged upon her and her raising herself above fulfilling her obligatory role.
Muslim scholars have long insisted that Islam does not condone violence against women or making a wife have sex with her husband against her will.
The word "beating" of wives is used in a verse of the Qur'an, but scholars maintain it does not mean "physical abuse".
Scholars stressed that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) generally used to discourage his followers from taking even this measure.
There is no record of the Prophet striking one of his wives; rather, he would withdraw when angered.
In Islam, the marriage of a man and a woman is not merely a financial and physical arrangement of living together but a sacred contract, a gift of God, to lead a happy, enjoyable life.
Informed of the allegations, Singaporean gender equality advocacy group, AWARE, has launched an investigation into the claims.
Photocopies of course materials, which support the students' allegations, have been passed to AWARE.
AWARE also forwarded an evidence based report to MCYS, says AWARE executive director Corinna Lim.
According to Lim, AWARE has discussed the allegations with the Minister of State for the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport (MCYS), Madam Halimah Yacob.
Muslims in Singapore are estimated between 450,000 to 500,000, making around 14 to 15 percent of the population.
The pre-marriage guidance courses, which are also supplied by other Singaporean Muslim organizations such as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) and the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM), are a compulsory requirement for all Singaporean Muslims to undertake before they marry.
The courses cost between $100-$200 each, and, according to the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) website, the courses are conducive to developing harmonious family ties' and communication skills'.