Quran Read-A-Long: The Cow 236-242 Reminds Us that Using Our Reason with God in Mind Will Lead to the Effective Execution of Social Justice

Again, these divorce laws never cease to amaze me in their understanding of social justice. A man, according to his means, must provide for his divorced wife (presumably, so long as she is not being supported by another). I would like to point out though that these laws are most effective and necessary in a society in which men work and women, well, women work too but not necessarily for a paycheck. In many societies today I would argue that, barring a prenuptial agreement, a woman should get diddlysquat when she is divorced (if she initiates it or doesn’t keep up her end of the marriage) because she is entirely capable of making her own way, getting a job, supporting herself, etc.

Okay, perhaps diddlysquat is a little harsh. It’s not easy to live 40 years unemployed and then suddenly work to support yourself, with no 401k (not that anybody has those anymore anyway) or experience. However, I do think that a divorced woman in a society that allows her to, should be required to work to support herself, even if she still requires assistance from her previous husband. But those are my opinions which are only relevant in certain societies. In the days that the Quran was revealed, for a long time afterward and in many places today, this is still a necessary law. It’s also spun in a surprisingly nice way: if it happens that things don’t work out with your wife, be a good person and support her in whatever way you are able.

The God-Consciousness in reference to the social injunctions again underscores the importance of interacting with each other in such a way that God would approve. As this has been a theme so far I imagine that it will continue to be one, and Asad’s note points out that prayer is the most intimate form of God-consciousness – hence its place here.

This entire talk then ends brilliantly: with God providing commands this way so that people can use their reason. In what way, I would ask? And then answer, vaguely. The amount of alimony hasn’t been specified, the acceptable legal behavior hasn’t been specified (so far), and I think that’s because of exactly what the Quran states here: that God doesn’t want to solve all of our problems for us and sort out every little detail. He wants us to use our reason and be good people. We can do this most effectively by keeping Him in our minds and always acting in accord with the knowledge that he is watching us and knows what’s in our hearts.

Please feel free to comment, correcting or adding to what I’ve said here.

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The Cow 236-242

236. You will incur no sin if you divorce women while you have not yet touched them nor settled a dower upon them; but [even in such a case] make provision for them – the affluent according to his means, and the straitened according to his means – a provision in an equitable manner: this is a duty upon all who would do good. 237. And if you divorce them before having touched them, but after having settled a dower upon them, then [give them] half of what you have settled – unless it be that they forgo their claim or he in whose hand is the marriage-tie* forgoes his claim [to half of the dower]: and to forgo what is due to you is more in accord with God-consciousness. And forget not [that you are to act with] grace towards one another: verily, God sees all that you do. 238. BE EVER mindful of prayers, and of praying in the most excellent way;* and stand before God in devout obedience. 239. But if you are in danger, [pray] walking or riding; and when you are again secure, bear God in mind – since it is He who taught you what you did not previously know. 240. AND IF any of you die and leave wives behind, they bequeath thereby to their widows [the right to] one year’s maintenance without their being obliged to leave [the dead husband’s home].* If, however, they leave [of their own accord], there shall be no sin in whatever they may do with themselves in a lawful manner.** And God is almighty, wise. 241. And the divorced women, too, shall have [a right to] maintenance in a goodly manner:* this is a duty for all who are conscious of God. 242. In this way God makes clear unto you His messages, so that you might [learn to] use your reason.

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Quran Read-A-Long: The Cow 232-235 Speaks of Child Support and Waiting After Divorce

Note

I would like to begin by noting that the translation provided below is that of Asad, who is often quoted by some of Quran Read-A-Long’s finest participants. I figure I should switch to his translation and see if that helps facilitate my understanding a little. I think that my copy of the Quran is very nice, but let’s mix it up a bit.

Child Support

Verse 233 seems to support precisely the modern notion of child-support. Not only is the woman allowed to continue to nurse her child for two years regardless of having divorced the child’s father (I’m guessing that the implication here is that the child belongs to the father, not the mother, when the parents part ways and so the woman has to be allowed to see the child), but the father must be able to provide for all the children he sires.

Today we try to hold fathers accountable for their children, but it can be hard to do so due to lack of funds for paternity tests or even being able to find those fathers. By making it part of the Quran, this obvious social necessity becomes linked to God, final judgment and the afterlife, thereby providing in most cases the necessary incentive for becoming responsible for one’s children. We’ve seen this already – making a necessary social action part of a holy text from God means that it is more likely to be obeyed.

Post-Marriage Behavior

Verse 234 releases the woman from her husband after an appropriate period of time, and I imagine this is referring to a sexual situation. Not intercourse, per se, but based on an earlier verse the waiting period between her divorce and being with another man seemed to be very practical – enough time to make sure she wasn’t pregnant with the original husband’s child. Are there other reasons for this particular period? So after this proper waiting time the woman can do what she wants pending that it’s legal. Does that include sexual intercourse? What is Islam’s policy on premarital sex when you’ve already been married once? What if you had divorced the man do to sexual disatisfaction? Wouldn’t it be prudent to investigate that situation a little more thoroughly before diving into another marriage? I imagine that what would be legal is discussions about marriage with another man. Is flirting acceptable? What about kissing (for each of these things I mean after the prescribed period)?

Interesting that this leads into a talk of what a man can do in this situation: appropriately insinuate his interest in a woman (if it’s long-term and marriage guided), but not anything blatant because that would be a violation of the period post-divorce. However, God knows what you intend. The interjection of God is appropriate here (not that it would be inappropriate anywhere in the Quran or in life!) but particularly because the verses are telling us to behave properly while being the appropriate judges of what is proprietous behavior. We can do that, the Quran tells us, so long as we keep God in mind as we act. Certainly, that is a rule of thumb for all behavior. Keep God in mind as you make decisions and choices and you should make the right ones. God knows what you’re thinking and will be merciful and forgiving.

Thanks for reading along! Can you answer any of my questions? Correct anything I said erroneously or just add anything helpful for me and other readers?

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The Cow 232-235

232. And when you divorce women, and they have come to the end of their waiting-term, hinder them not from marrying other men if they have agreed with each other in a fair manner. This is an admonition unto every one of you who believes in God and the Last Day; it is the most virtuous [way] for you, and the cleanest. And God knows, whereas you do not know. 233. And the [divorced] mothers may nurse their children for two whole years, if they wish to complete the period of nursing; and it is incumbent upon him who has begotten the child to provide in a fair manner for their sustenance and clothing. No human being shall be burdened with more than he is well able to bear: neither shall a mother be made to suffer because of her child, nor, because of his child, he who has begotten it. And the same duty rests upon the [father’s] heir. And if both [parents] decide, by mutual consent and counsel, upon separation [of mother and child], they will incur no sin [thereby]; and if you decide to entrust your children to foster-mothers, you will incur no sin provided you ensure, in a fair manner, the safety of the child which you are handing over. But remain conscious of God, and know that God sees all that you do. 234 And if any of you die and leave wives behind, they shall undergo, without remarrying,* a waiting period of four months and ten days; whereupon, when they have reached the end of their waiting-term, there shall be no sin in whatever they may do with their persons in a lawful manner. And God is aware of all that you do. 235 But you will incur no sin if you give a hint of [an intended] marriage-offer to [any of] these women, or if you conceive such an intention without making it obvious: [for] God knows that you intend to ask them in marriage.* Do not, however, plight your troth with them in secret, but speak only in a decent manner; and do not proceed with tying the marriage-knot ere the ordained [term of waiting] has come to its end. And know that God knows what is in your minds, and therefore remain conscious of Him; and know, too, that God is much-forgiving, forbearing.

Paul Doesn’t Want Christians Getting Married in Corinthians 7 Because the World is Ending

My latest Nashville Free Press column for No Holier Than Thou is out, and it’s all about the Apocalypse, the impending end of the world and the Christian and Mayan predictions about such things. It also has a brief analysis of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, chapter 7 in which he says marriage isn’t a great idea.

You can read it by clicking HERE. The article is called, “In Case of Rapture, I Owe You Ten Dollars.” Feel free to leave comments there, here or in both locations if you really want to show me some love (or hate).

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Enjoy some Fun with the Bible posts.

Bride Wars with Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway is Cute but Predictable

I did not go to this movie voluntarily. My girlfriend had been asking me for weeks. I finally succumbed on Friday night by using two free Fandango movie passes to get us tickets for a ‘date-night,’ not something we get many opportunities to do. We met for dinner, got popcorn and candy (though I wasn’t too keen on sharing my candy) and then settled in to watch Bride Wars. Good old Friday night date style…ish. Other than a gay couple – or two chummy male friends? – I was among very few men, all of whom were there with their ladies, presumably by force, coercion or bribery.

It was certainly better than I’d expected but, a. that’s not saying much and b. movies for which I have low expectations are almost certainly better than they would have been if I were expecting the cinematic experience of a life-time.

There were some hardy laughs, and jokes of differing style and laugh potential, depending on what makes you chuckle. So, there, I have to give Bride Wars credit. But is that enough? It was far from hysterical all the way through. The antics and shenanigans (can there be both at once?) were mildly amusing but they hardly elicited bouts of guffaws throughout. It was, to say the least from the perspective of a man who actually does enjoy romantic comedies but prefers for them to have a little something more (do they ever?), tolerable. I was not unhappy or uncomfortable being there. It wasn’t too long and I didn’t look at my watch. It kept moving quickly enough, but that brings me to my final problem.

It was predictable.

Now, I think most women, though their powers of prediction generally surpass mine, consciously ignore the inclination to predict when watching romantic comedies for fear of realizing that the vast majority of the genre is silly and not worth blue-lighting. However, I can’t turn that switch off and found the entire thing mesmerizingly predictable. Part of that is, no doubt, due to the commercials which leave little to our imaginations, and the rest is a result of the number of possible outcomes there could be (very few, in case that was unclear) and then picking up on the none-too-subtle hints that the director drops (but I don’t think means to!).

But what of it? Is it a crime to work within an inflexible genre? No. Is it my fault for going to see this movie that I had to know the end to before it happened? Partly.

So at the end of the day I’ll give this flick 5 Chocolate Salty Balls.

Chef Gets Taken Away By a Succubus in Episode 303

Succubi are pretty terrifying creatures. They steal men away and change them, hypnotizing them under their awful spells. In this episode of South Park, Chef is stolen by one and about to get married – unless of course the children can stop him.

Imaginary creatures, particularly those South Park doesn’t invent itself, have an important place on the show, helping us learn about the lessons the show wants to teach by providing us with a mythological framework in which to understand.

What did you think of this episode? What’s your favorite made-up character in South Park?

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Love is in the Air in “Clubhouses,” South Park Episode 212, When the Boys Go For It in Truth or Dare

Though the over-arching plot of this episode is about Stan and Kyle competing against Cartman and Kenny for who can build a clubhouse faster, get girls up there and play truth or dare, there is an important sub-plot as well: Stan’s parents getting a divorce.

Stan has no idea what’s going on and why his parents are getting divorced. When he asks his dad whether or not, because he hates Shelley, he can divorce his sister, his father tells him no because they’re family.

Stan replies:

“But you and Mom are family; how come you can just split up? You know what I think? I think that when you and Mom got married, you became family. And now that you are, you shouldn’t be able to leave her anymore than I can leave my sister.”

Later he says, “Divorce is stupid!”

Poor Stan. Though of course we can understand his sentiments, there are good reasons for people to get divorced – probably more good reasons than getting married, and maybe people should have thought of that in the first place. Say no to marriage! Vote yes on prop 12!

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South Park’s “Follow That Egg” Legalizes Gay Marriage

When Mrs. Garrison decides that she is ready to forgive Mr. Slave and take him back only to discover that he plans to marry Big Gay Al, she vows to prevent the legalization of gay marriage in Colorado and keep them separated forever.

To do this, she creates an experiment whereby the children in her class have to take care of an egg, and by pairing up two boys, she plans to prove that men are incapable of caring for a child. Then she’ll show the results of her “scientific” study to the governor who will have a reason to prevent the passage of the gay marriage bill without being directly responsible. Brilliant….really brilliant.

At the end of the episode, when Big Gay Al and Mr. Slave are getting married, funny enough, it is Father Maxi – a Catholic priest! – who presides over their marriage. Curious, considering that Catholicism doesn’t tolerate homosexuality, much less its sanctioning by the bonds of holy matrimony.

Personally, I think gay people should be allowed to marry, if not in church, at least legally. In fact, I don’t think that the government should have anything to do with the term marriage. I think that only religious or other institutions should concern themselves with that term. My issue is what the government does because only the government affects all people in the U.S. and has the obligation to treat us all equally.

That said, the government should ONLY have the right to grant people the status of “civil union.” Any two consenting adults should be able to join in such a union and then reap the benefits, tax or otherwise, of this union. In this way, marriage and the government have nothing to do with one another and no one has to worry or be treated unequally. You want to be married? Let your priest do it and call it whatever you want.

Do you like this episode? What’d you think? What are your thoughts on gay marriage?

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