A Muslim cleric in Spain who wrote a book describing how to beat your wife without leaving marks has been ordered by a judge to study the country's constitution and the Declaration of Human Rights for six months, the newspaper La Vanguardia reported.
Muhammad Kamal Mustafa, the imam of a Fuengirola mosque in southern Spain, received a 15-month prison sentence and a $2,600 fine in January 2004 for inciting Muslim men to physically abuse their wives in his book Women in Islam.
Often first-time offenders with sentences under two years have them suspended, however the judge decided Mustafa was "socially dangerous," according to La Vanguardia, and sent him to prison.
Mustafa remained in jail for 22 days and was released on the condition that he take the course. He is supposed to concentrate on Articles 10, 14 and 15 of the constitution "and with special focus on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
The Saudi-born cleric was brought to a Barcelona court in July 2000 by dozens of women's groups who were outraged by his book. "We just wanted to say, 'Enough already!'" Ana Maria Perez del Campo, president of the Federation of Separated and Divorced Women in Spain, told WomenseNews, a feminist Web site. "You can't just come here and say it's okay to beat women."
In his book, Mustafa interpreted the controversial verse from the Koran. Verse 4:34, called the "Women's Verse," is translated by the Muslim scholar Yusuf Ali, with his additions in parentheses:
"...As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but, if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance)."
The verse has deeply affected Muslim women since the founding of Islam in the seventh century. In medieval times, it provided them with security by requiring the man to support and protect his family. In modern times, the literal translation provides men with religious backing to beat their women, however some Muslim feminist groups interpret the verse differently.
The Saudi-born cleric said he opposed violence against women and that his book was only interpreting these koranic verses. In Saudi Arabia, Muslims follow the rigid Wahhabi sect of Islam, which interprets the Koran literally.
In his book, Mustafa wrote that "the blows should be concentrated on the hands and feet, using a rod that is thin and light so that it does not leave scars or bruises on the body."
Two Spanish Muslim groups renounced his book, including the Islamic Cultural Council of Catalonia, saying that the Koran condemned violence against women.
Some 3,000 copies of the book, which were distributed after it was published in 2000, were removed from Islamic cultural centers around Spain.
An estimated 500,000 Muslims make up the largest group of foreigners living in Spain, with a majority of them Moroccans who immigrate to find work. More than 300,000 of them reside in the country legally.
Andalucia is the city with the largest number of Muslims and is also home to the mosque where Mustafa preaches.