Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Men, get sweeping

Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah latest religious edict (know as a fatwa) should please many women.

The former leader of Hizbollah (and the most revered cleric among the Shia Muslims in Lebanon) declared, "The husband should never think of his wife as one of his personal belongings; something that he owns and cannot be distinguished from a piece of furniture. On the contrary, he should regard her as a human being who has rights on him the same way he has rights on her.

"Consequently, men can never restrain the freedom of women under the pretext that she is being inattentive to the household tasks.

"Thus, a man should treat his wife, as he would like her to treat him once having the power and the right to prevent him from achieving his political, cultural or religious duties. Then, let him ask himself this question: how would he feel if she used that right against him? Would he be comfortable?

"When the husband subjects his wife to a cruel and an unfair treatment deterring her from carrying out the missions that enrich her humanity and redounds to the benefit of the society she lives in, he would be diverging from the love and compassion path."

Furthermore, he argues, men should pick up a broom.

"There is no juristic rule that binds women to any household chore, and we have said also that breast-feeding babies can be a recompensed job.

"The belief that it is disgraceful for the man to manage household tasks is derived from the social culture and not from Islam."

Fadlallah has condemned honour killings and ruled that women can use violence against men to defend themselves. He also encourages women to use sex to get their husbands' approval:

"If the marital relationship lacks this sort of understanding upon which harmony could be established, the woman must work then on discovering the weaknesses of her husband such as needs, emotions, and conditions; and try to behave tactfully to embrace them and to consider them as advantageous chances to convince him of approving her social work.

"When the woman fulfils the needs of her husband, shows sensitivity to his feelings, and so on… usually, that would prompt him to accept to give her more freedom in her private as well as in her public life, and to offer her the opportunity to take actions outside the framework of the marital relationship."

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