A popular marriage guide that has sold out in one Toronto bookstore is gaining media attention because of the book's controversial focus—how to beat and control your wife.
The book, titled A Gift for the Muslim Couple, is written by Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, who, according to the book's foreword, is a "prolific writer on almost every topic of Islamic learning."
In the book's opening, Thanvi writes that "It might be necessary to restrain her [one's wife] with strength or even to threaten her." Later, Thanvi enumerates the rights of the husband, which include forbidding his wife to leave "his house without his permission," having his wife "fulfill his desires," and insisting that he "not allow herself to be untidy ... but should beautify herself for him ..."
Even more controversial are the measures available to a husband if his wife is disobedient. Fortunately, the book notes that a husband should "refrain from beating her excessively," but he is permitted to "beat by hand or stick," "pull [her] by the ears," verbally scold her, or withhold money.
The Toronto Sun wrote about the book after a reader stumbled into it while browsing in a local shop.
The popularity of this book, which is also available on online Islamic bookstores and eBay, is all the more troubling in light of the many cases of Muslim honor killings and assaults that have surfaced recently.
In January, Mohammad Shafia, 59, his second wife, Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son, Hamed, 21, were each convicted in an Ontario court on four counts of first-degree murder for drowning four female family members in what was considered an honor killing for disobedience. The victims included Shafia's three daughters and his first wife.
In another case, presented in a UK court in January, 18-year-old Shamima Akhtar was kidnapped, beaten, and imprisoned in her home by her two older sisters and brother after she was caught kissing a white man. Prosecutor Peter Asteris told the court that this case is "about honour-based domestic violence."
An Iraqi family in Phoenix was also taken into custody Feb. 15 for allegedly beating a 19-year-old family member for resisting an arranged marriage with a 38-year-old man and for talking to another man outside school. The defendants—the victims' mother, father, and sister—stand accused of burning the victim with a spoon on the face and chest, threatening her life, cutting her neck with a knife, and tying her to her bed overnight with a rope and padlock. The victim is epileptic and has a learning disability.
The victim's mother, Yusra Farhan, told police that it was against Iraqi culture to have boyfriends.
With all these seemingly honor-related cases making headlines in the last few months alone, the prominent marriage book seems to be only adding fuel to the fire.
"I wouldn't say it's hate, but it is inciting men to hit women," said Tarek Fatah, a Muslim who argues the bookstore owner should be charged for selling the marriage guide. "This is new to you, but the Muslim community knows that this is widespread, that a woman can be beaten. Muslim leaders will deny this," Fatah added.