Volume 30, Issue 2, Fall/Winter 2010
Ayesha S. Chaudhry
The Ethics of Marital Discipline in Premodern Qur'anic Exegesis
CONTEMPORARY MUSLIM SCHOLARS WHO SEEK TO RECONCILE GENDER egalitarian values with the premodern patriarchal Islamic tradition face a dilemma. Because the two values—gender egalitarianism and patriarchy—are fundamentally at odds with each other, scholars must choose one to privilege over the other. If the premodern Islamic tradition is privileged, then the ideal of gender egalitarianism is compromised. However, favoring gender egalitarian values at the expense of the premodern Islamic tradition leads to the loss of authority within the believing community. This essay explores the options available to Muslim scholars as they negotiate the egalitarian—authoritative dilemma in the context of the Qur'anic exegesis of the husbandly privilege to discipline wives in Qur'an 4:34.