ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has obser­ved that it was only justified for men to beat their wives ‘gently’, without humiliating them, if they needed to be disciplined.

Speaking at a press conference after a council meeting on Thursday, CII Chairman Maulana Mohammad Khan Sheerani said that Islam focused on the promotion of the family system and wan­ted societal values to be strengthened. “Men have certain responsibilities and women are given particular roles, but violence of any kind is not permitted,” Maulana Sheerani said, but then amended his statement to, “Violence by any of the spouses is not allowed under Islam.”

But when asked about the conditions under which a man could beat his wife, he outlined certain parameters. “He cannot scratch her skin, draw blood or damage any of her bones,” he explained.

The CII chief then elaborated what the council believed a man should do if his wife went against Sharia principles. “This does not necessarily mean something to do with her character alone,” he clarified, adding that the man has to follow a five-step regime that shows his displeasure before resorting to physical discipline.

Firstly, a man should express his annoyance; then — if the couple sleeps in the same bed — they should not face each other; thirdly, the man should sleep in a separate bed; and fourthly, he should sleep in a separate room. If the woman fails to mend her ways despite these rebukes, the CII chief said that her husband was then allowed to show aggression towards her, albeit gently.

“But aggression does not mean that he can slap her face, or any of the soft parts of her body. He also cannot degrade her by hitting her with something like a broom, no matter how lightly,” Maulana Sheerani added.

Throughout the presser, the CII chief was accompanied by senior council member Maulana Iftikhar Naqvi, who continued to assist Maulana Sheerani with his choice of words.

Highlighting the rights of women in Islam, Maulana Naqvi said that a man could not order his wife to prepare meals for him nor could he address her in a harsh tone, and there was no question of mistreating one’s wife in Islam.

“There is a general trend in the country that people only criticise [for the sake of criticising], but we have shown that apart from Islam, nearly all monotheistic faiths of the world grant special rights and privileges to women,” Maulana Sheerani said.

The three-day meeting was the last CII gathering before the end of the current financial year. The key agenda was discussion on a 75-page ‘Women Protection Bill’, drafted by a CII member Maulana Imdadullah. Although the bill contained 163 articles, the council could only discuss 26 of these points in its three-day session.

The bill was drafted by the CII after it rejected the Punjab Protection of Women Against Violence bill, which was approved by the Punjab Assembly was denounced by nearly all religious segments, except the Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Fiqh-i-Jaffaria (TNFJ). Led by Allama Hamid Ali Moosavi, the TNFJ had welcomed the bill and termed it a positive step to “tame the illiterates” in the country.

Even though the bill has been ratified by the Punjab Assembly, it has yet to be notified due to a backlash from clerics and conservative quarters.

Meanwhile, a similar draft, forwarded to the CII by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government, was also rejected. The CII had announced that it would prepare its own bill to highlight the rights and powers granted to women in this regard.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2016