March 27, 2012

Book tells Muslim men how to beat and control women


Islamic Books and Souvenirs Shop

A marriage advice book, entitled  A Gift for Muslim Couple by Maulavi Ashraf Ali Thanvi, is creating an uproar in Canada. For sale at Islamic Books and Souvenirs in Toronto, the book includes advice on the ways that a Muslim husband can beat and intimidate his wife.

According to an article in the Toronto Sun, the husband is advised:

In the book’s opening pages, it is written that “it might be necessary to restrain her with strength or even to threaten her….”

Page 45 contains the rights of the husband, which include his wife’s inability to leave “his house without his permission,” and that his wife must “fulfil his desires” and “not allow herself to be untidy … but should beautify herself for him … ”

….In terms of physical punishment, the book advises that a husband may scold her, “beat by hand or stick,” withhold money from her or “pull (her) by the ears,” but should “refrain from beating her excessively.”

In a report for the Ottawa Sun Times, Ana Curic, director of communications for Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says, ”Spousal abuse is a despicable crime and the person who wrote the book should be ashamed of himself.” A new citizenship guide put out by Kenney’s office specifically mentions that savage treatment of women in Canada is forbidden.

“The guide now says, ‘In Canada, men and women are equal under the law. Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, honour killings, female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence’,” Curic said.

Canada is still reeling from the trial and conviction of the Shafia family for the “honor killing” of their three daughters and Mohammad Shafia’s first wife. According to the Toronto Star:

Mohammad Shafia, 59, his second wife, Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son, Hamed, 21, were each convicted in January on four counts of first-degree murder in what was characterized as an honour killing of four female family members as punishment for disobedience. They were handed life sentences with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Shafia’s three daughters and his first wife were found drowned in a car at the bottom of the Rideau Canal in Kingston, Ont., in June 2009.

Regarding the advice book, Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae told the Sun Times,”It’s deeply troubling, these are all things that are against the law in Canada and they fly in the face of our common morals, our sense of fairness and equality,” Rae said. “We have clear laws about forcible confinement, and with respect to abusive behaviour and physical violence – this is not how life is lived in Canada.”

The book is currently sold out at the Islamic Books and Souvenirs shop, but it’s not known how many copies were in stock — according to the Toronto Sun article, at least, the store’s owner and manager both refused to answer questions. But the book remains for sale on their website along with another, Fatwas of Muslim Women by Ibn Taymyah, which the Sun Times says, “describes the best way to circumcise a woman and explains which babies a woman is allowed to breastfeed.”

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.