Wife Beating in an Islamic Perspective

Click here: IslamOnline.net Fatwa Bank – Wife Beating in an Islamic Perspective

Q:Respected scholars! Does Islam allow wife beating? Some husbands are violent and they say that the Qur’an allows them to beat their wives. Is there any logical explanation given regarding men being allowed to beat their wives, as stated in surat An-Nisa’, verse 34?

A: Commenting on this issue, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

“According to the Qur’an the relationship between the husband and wife should be based on mutual love and kindness. Allah says: “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (Ar-Rum: 21).  The Qur’an urges husbands to treat their wives with kindness. [In the event of a family dispute, the Qur’an exhorts the husband to treat his wife kindly and not to overlook her positive aspects]. Allah Almighty says: “Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.” (An-Nisa’: 19)

However, in some cases a husband may use some light disciplinary action in order to correct the moral infraction of his wife, but this is only applicable in extreme cases and it should be resorted to if one is sure it would improve the situation. However, if there is a fear that it might worsen the relationship or may wreak havoc on him or the family, then he should avoid it completely.

The Qur’an is very clear on this issue. Almighty Allah says: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more strength than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them to guard. As to those women on whose part you 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); for Allah is most High and Great (above you all). If you fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers. If they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation; for Allah has full knowledge and is acquainted with all things.” (An-Nisa’: 34-35)

It is important to read the section fully. One should not take part of the verse and use it to justify one’s own misconduct. This verse neither permits violence nor condones it. It guides us to ways to handle delicate family situation with care and wisdom. The word “beating” is used in the verse, but it does not mean “physical abuse”. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explained it “dharban ghayra mubarrih” which means “a light tap that leaves no mark”. He further said that face must be avoided. Some other scholars are of the view that it is no more than a light touch by siwak, or toothbrush.

Generally, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to discourage his followers from taking even this measure. He never hit any female, and he used to say that the best of men are those who do not hit their wives. In one hadith he expressed his extreme repulsion from this behavior and said, “How does anyone of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then embrace (sleep with) her?” (Al-Bukhari, English Translation, vol. 8, Hadith 68, pp. 42-43)

It is also important to note that even this “light strike” mentioned in the verse is not to be used to correct some minor problem, but it is permissible to resort to only in a situation of some serious moral misconduct when admonishing the wife fails, and avoiding from sleeping with her would not help. If this disciplinary action can correct a situation and save the marriage, then one should use it.”

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One Response

  1. Dear Dr. Siddiqi,
    thank you for these clarifying remarks, proving the Messenger’s (peace be upon him) and the Qu’ran’s real intentions on this topic.
    As a Christian and secular person I am trying hard to learn and understand the Muslim beliefs for quite some time now. Maybe you can elaborate a bit more on the following questions that are not meant to insult any Muslim man but result from my personal observations of their behavior:
    Why is it that so many Muslim men seem to misunderstand or misinterpret these seemingly quite clear demands? Why do many muslim men consider themselves superior to their female partners and do not “live with them on a footing of kindness and equity”, as Allah demands? Is there any cultural or social explanation for these macho type behaviors?
    May God bless you
    Olaf

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