Examining Issues in the Koran
Terry W. Spade
The Koran provides guidance and moral direction for the followers of Islam. This paper examines how the Koran addresses several societal and cultural issues including: the status and treatment of women, the use of alcohol, suicide, the charity and help for the needy, dietary restrictions, and the justification of jihad. These are all specifically addressed in the Koran and this paper will cite the specific Sura from the English translated version of the Koran written by N.J. Dawood (2003). Conclusions will be drawn as to the nature of the Koran.
To Muslims, the Koran is believed to be The Word of God written down by the Prophet Muhammad over 1400 years ago. The Koran is a source of answers to many common questions concerning faith, God, life, death, and the after-life. Guidance for living everyday life can also be found in the Koran. Social issues are specifically addressed and include the treatment of women and the needy, the use of alcohol and dietary restrictions. This paper explores how the Koran specifically addresses these issues and several others and draws some conclusions as to the nature of the Koran itself.
The Koran outlines rules that all followers of Islam are required to obey. There are rules as to how they should live their lives and even specifically how to treat women. Many people outside the Muslim faith see Islam as being demeaning and suppressive towards women, pointing out that the Koran allows for the beating of women as punishment. Muslims would argue that the guidelines are necessary to protect women. One does not have to read very far into the Koran to find this topic addressed. “Women shall with justice have rights similar to those exercised against them, although men have a status above women” (p. 33). Clearly men are “above” women as defined by the quoted passage. How does this status influence the treatment of women and why would God place men as superior to women? According to the Koran, it is for the protection and care of women. “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them” (p. 64). This can be interpreted to mean that it is a man’s duty to go out and earn income so that he can take provide for women in his care. Further reading reveals that while obedience from women is expected, their lower status allows men to dole out harsh punishment for those even suspected of disobedience. “Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them” (p. 64). Men have been given the task of caring for and protecting women. Women in turn have been given the task of being obedient to men, knowing that disobedience is seen as disobeying God’s word and will lead to swift and severe punishment from her superior male counterpart. A true follower of the faith should know that her insubordinate actions go against God’s word. Therefore, for her good, it is the duty of the man to ensure those under his care remain true to the faith. The Koran also defines further rights for women to prevent abuse beyond fair punishment. “If a woman fear ill-treatment or desertion on the part of her husband, it shall be no offense to seek a mutual agreement, for agreement is best” (p. 74). This passage gives women the opportunity to seek help should she feel that she is being treated unfairly by her husband.
The Koran clearly defines the status of women. The following few paragraphs investigate how the status of women influences their treatment by men, specifically in regards to the issues of marriage, divorce, and polygamy. Rules regarding marriage are found throughout the Koran. The Koran tells men which women they are permitted to marry and which women they are...
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