Reason and Religion: An Analysis of Violence in the Qur'an and Its Impact on Islam

Essay by bzyUniversity, Bachelor'sA, April 2006

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One of the most heavily debated verses in the Qur'an is in the surāh dealing with women. One of the verses in the fourth surāh states that: "Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other...Good women are obedient...As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them" (4:34). Some western translations contain interpretations of this verse that are easier to digest, but the text clearly states that there is some sort of physical violence involved. Although most Muslim women have husbands that would never lay a hand on them, for the ones that are beaten by their husbands, this verse is a difficult part of the Qur'an to come to terms with. Some of these women ask themselves each day whether the violence against them is truly justified by their religion. This question of justification however, is difficult, perhaps even impossible to answer when one is dealing with religious texts and beliefs.

Nevertheless, this uneasiness and confusion can have grave implications on faith in Islam.

The Book of Genesis tells us that it took God only six days to create the universe, the earth, the sun, the plants and animals, and the first two people. It is not surprising that this explanation is immediately met with a bit of skepticism. However, most believers approach this scripture with the belief that "days" is open to interpretation and that six days could in fact be six million years. If we look at the Qur'an, which is taken by Muslims to be the infallible Word of God, it is here that the fundamental difference lies between the Qur'an and other religious texts like the Old Testament and New Testament. Whereas those texts are human works thought to...