In the name of Allāh,
the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Peace and Blessings of Allāh on Mohammad.
Allāh–the Glorious and the High,
Lord of the worlds
Mohammad–who brought the world
to our feet and eternity to our arms.
ISLAM & WIFE-BEATING
The wife has rights upon the husband and the husband has rights upon the wife. The wife has the right that the husband feed, clothe and house her, and treats her kindly. The husband has the right that the wife protects his property, preserves her chastity, and raise children in the best manners and education.
That husbands and wives are garments to the other–(Qur’an 2:187) to beautify, protect, comfort, and conceal each other’s faults, this alone shows that there is no indiscriminate beating of the wife.
Allāh says, “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 annoy-ance)”–(Qur’an 4:34.Fear of “disloyalty” would stem from an act contrary to mutual agreement, as marriage is).
(A child who is more prone to forgetfulness, is not an example of role model, and not “contracted” to moral behavior is spanked for misdemeanor, made to stand in a corner, or/ and sent to bed without supper; if a woman reports, truthfully or not, that she was assaulted, her male partner is thrown in jail; if one commits an offence he/ she is fined or thrown into prison. So where is the problem if Islam imposes corporal discipline for the wife who is required to be a role model and is obligated to moral conduct?
Partners in a business are required to fulfill their obli-gations. If one party lacks in his responsibility/duty or does not wish to fulfill it he is to sever his partnership; he cannot expect to abdicate his role and yet receive the rewards of the business.
Marriage is a sacred covenant. The wife (or husband) that does not fulfill her responsibility cannot expect to receive the benefit from the marriage. Such a wife is to leave the marriage. In requiring the man to be patient and continue supporting her –and to even seek arbitra-tion– while she abdicates her duty Islam is being tolerant with her, giving her time to reform, and trying to save the marriage.
These three steps required by Islam –admonishing her; avoiding her bed; and lightly beating her– which is a drawn-out process, high-lights the wife’s stubbornness in reforming and observing her part of the marriage con-tract; all the while receiving the benefit of the contract. Under such a strain to the man this light chastisement can hardly be deemed un-just or severe to the woman. She brought it onto herself. And to avoid it she could leave before it reaches the final stage).
A Muslim is not even allowed to hate his wife much less beat her–(Muslim Vol. 2, #3469).
Chastisement is only for the wayward wife, and only as a last resort (and only if the husband is not himself wayward, for women have rights similar to those against them–Qur’an 2:228).
(That a wife, who is able to, can “beat” the wayward husband, the Prophet advises against this1 –perhaps be-cause it may lead to ridicule from his male counterpart; which might lead him to become criminal against his wife. While a “beaten” wife can also become criminal she may less likely be so on account of women being softer at heart, less likely to be ridiculed by her counter-part, and have greater concern and care for her family).
This chastisement is not to be of a brutal nature. Muhammad Ali has noted, “The Prophet is reported to have said: “You have a right in the matter of your wives that they do not allow any-one whom you do not like to come into your houses; if they do this, chastise them in such a manner that it should not leave an impression. (Tirmidhi 10:11).” Thus very light chastisement was allowed only in extreme cases.”
The wife has the right to leave the husband if she fears cruelty from him–(Qur’an 4:128).
That the Prophet never beat any of his wives is evidenced from this hadith in which Bokhari re-cords a long narration in which ‘Umar’s wife told him that his daughter, Hafsa, “argues with Allāh’s Apostle (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) so much that he remains angry for a full day.” Whereupon ‘Umar went to Hafsa who admitted, “we argue with him.” To which her father advised her “Don’t be betrayed by the one who is proud of her beauty because of the love of Allah’s Apostle (peace be on him) for her (i.e. ‘Aisha).”(Bokhari, Vol. 6, # 435).
It is doubtful ‘Aisha and Hafsa would have “argued” with the Prophet and to the extent that “he remains angry for a full day” if he was beating them.
Significantly, chastisement of the wayward wife would seem almost impossible to be carried out. For, if the wife fears cruelty from her husband and/or if she is wont to be out of the marriage she can leave before the situation reaches the third stage of chastisement.
Regarding this wife-beating of the Qur’an one Christian quarter on the Internet tries to use it to denigrate Islam.
While Islam allows this light chastisement of the wayward wife (and, as shown, only if the husband is not himself wayward, and the wife has rights as that against her) what does the Bible say about wives (good and wayward)?
The Biblical God (and Jesus as Christians say Jesus is God) decreed: “Unto the woman (Eve), he (God) said: …and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”–(Gen. 3:16).
And while PAUL commands husbands to love their wives, he demands that wives “submit” themselves to their husbands “as it is fit in the Lord”–(Col. 3:19, 18); and “As the Church is subject unto Christ,SO LET THE WIVES BE TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS IN EVERY THING”– “And the wife see that SHE REVERENCE HER HUSBAND”–(Ephesians 5:22-23, 33.The man being told to love his wife does not mean she is free from bondage. People also “love” their dogs and other pets and even bequeath fortunes to them. And Paul also instructs masters to be kind to their slaves–Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1). “Let the woman learn in SILENCE with ALL SUBJECTION. But I SUFFER NOT A WOMAN TO TEACH, NOR TO USURP AUTHORITY OVER THE MANbut to beIN SILENCE–(1Tim.2:11-12).
Clearly, the permission to employ whatever methods are necessary to “rule” over the wife and to bring/keep her in “silence and in “all subjection’ are inherent and enshrined in these words of God and PAUL.
To take the matter further, authority for employing corporal punishment to discipline the rebellious wife who does not “desire” to be “ruled” over in “silence” and with “all subjection” may be gleaned from the Biblical verses on child-rearing, God (and as Christians say Jesus is God, then Jesus) says: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes;” “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying;” “Withhold not cor-rection from the child: for if you beatest him with the rod, he shall not die, Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell”(and without doubt every “Christian” husband wants to deliver his stubborn/ rebellious wife’s “soul from hell”)–(Proverbs 13:24; 19:18; 23:13-14).
Perhaps a survey of Christian women/wives of all Christian denominations can be conducted to find out how many were “beaten” into “silence” and “all sub-jection.”
Surely, not all the “battered” wives in Western coun-tries are non-Christians.
1. Al-Hakim, cited in, Mubarak Ali, The Muslim Handbook, p. 288.