Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Does the Qur'an Say Men Can Beat Their Wives?

Critics of Islam often claim that the Qur’an allows Muslim men to beat their wives into submission. Meanwhile, Westernized Muslims assure us that Islam promotes women's rights and the equality of men and women. Who's right? Let's turn to the Qur'an to see what Allah says about violence against women. Consider three translations of Surah 4, Verse 34 of the Qur'an:

Qur'an 4:34 (Pickthall)—Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret what Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great.

Qur'an 4:34 (Shakir)—Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.

Qur'an 4:34 (Ali)—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 guard. 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): For Allah is Most High, Great (above you all).

This verse speaks for itself, but here are a few quick observations.

First, the wife doesn't need to actually disobey her husband in order for him to beat her. He simply needs to fear that she will disobey him ("those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct"). Thus, Allah grants Muslim men the right to beat their wives based on their own subjective feelings.

Second, the beating seems to be the last step in a series of increasingly harsh punishments. If a Muslim fears disobedience from his wife, he should first warn her (that her duty is to obey her husband). If his fears persist, he should next banish her to a separate bed. Finally, if he continues to fear disobedience, he should beat her into submission.

Third, notice that Yusuf Ali adds the word "lightly" in parentheses. The word "lightly" isn't in the Arabic of this verse. According to Islam, the Qur'an is perfect and clear. Isn't it interesting that Muslim translators believe that they can improve the Qur'an by watering down its teachings?

Fourth, if a wife "returns to obedience" (i.e., if the husband's fear of disobedience subsides), the husband is supposed to stop punishing her. This suggests that he should continue beating her until he becomes convinced that he has nothing to fear.

There are numerous important ahadith and commentaries on the topic of wife-beating, but the emphasis here has been on what the Qur'an says. As we have seen, the Qur'an (which claims to be perfectly clear in its commands) tells Muslims that they should beat rebellious wives (or potentially rebellious wives) into submission, perhaps after warning them and banishing them to separate beds. Hence, as embarrassing as this is to Western Muslims, the Qur'an certainly allows men to beat their wives.

For more on women in Islam, visit Answering Islam's "Women" page.


nightowl said...

So, if I understand this correctly, not only are men allowed to beat their wives, they are instructed to use sex (banishment from the marriage bed) as a weapon? Don't marriage counselors strongly advise NOT to do this? That is, if you want to have a happy, healthy marriage...

Radical Moderate said...

Nightowl I don't know about marriage counselors but this is just common sense. Something that Allah seems to be short of.

To be honest, this type of advice would work in 7th century Arabia, when a woman survival was dependent on her husband and or family.

However in modern society this kind of marital advice is just nonsensical.

Muslim men be forewarned, if you follow Allah advice you will drive your wife out of your arms and into the arms of another man.

Muslim while you are busy yelling at your wife, just remember there is another man who will speak to her tenderly.

Muslim while you are busy banishing your wife to her bed with out affection. Just remember there is a man out there who would love to take your wife into his bed.

Muslim while you are busy beating your wife, just remember there is a man out there who will take her in clean her wounds, and then kick your ass for hurting her.

RMuhammad said...

Let's not forget Sura 38:44 and the tafsir on this aya which makes it 100% clear that Muhammad's 'holy' god advocates for wife-beating:

[We said], "And take in your hand a bunch [of grass] and strike with it and do not break your oath." Indeed, We found him patient, an excellent servant. Indeed, he was one repeatedly turning back [to Allah ]. Sura 38:44

And now for the tafsir:

(And (it was said unto him): Take in thine hand) O Job (a branch) of 100 spikes of grain (and smite therewith) and SMITE WITH IT YOUR WIFE, Rahmah the daughter of the Prophet Joseph, (and break not thine oath) this is because he vowed before that if Allah were to cure him, he would FLOG HIS WIFE 100 LASHES because she said something which did not please Allah. (Lo! We found him steadfast) in trial, (how excellent a slave! Lo! he was ever turning in repentance (to his Lord)) he is ever obedient to Allah and betaking himself to Allah's obedience.


And [We said to him], ‘Take in your hand a bunch of twigs, or some blades of grass, and smite therewith, your wife — for he had sworn to smite her a hundred times on one occasion when she was late in coming to him — and do not break [your] oath’, by not smiting her: so he took a hundred rushes and smote her with them once [and that sufficed to fulfil his oath]. Truly We found him to be steadfast. What an excellent servant!, [was] Job. Indeed he was a penitent [soul], always returning to God, exalted be He.

And take in your hand a bundle of thin grass and strike therewith (your wife), and break not your oath.) Ayyub, peace be upon him, got angry with his wife and was upset about something she had done, so he swore an oath that if Allah healed him, he would strike her with one hundred blows. When Allah healed him, how could her service, mercy, compassion and kindness be repaid with a beating So Allah showed him a way out, which was to take a bundle of thin grass, with one hundred stems, and hit her with it once. Thus he fulfilled his oath and avoided breaking his vow. This was the solution and way out for one who had Taqwa of Allah and turned to Him in repentance.


muhammed habeeb said...

0 ''My heart is muhammed_$wallallahu alaihivasallam. And my life is exist for muhammed swallallah.and my all.all.all.alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll.and my god is your god allah.because I sure that iam in a right way.'' this is the words of a muslim .our prophet is deserved it because he lived for us.not for selfish.iam stopping because if I start to tell about honr:prophet the organaiser of the knowledge,..most mercy....most good charecter in the world.the miracles of prophet is also proved scientefically..if I tell about him need infinity pages......because he is a unique man.the allah gived quran to muhammed swallallahu alaihivasallam.which not promot to beat women. Be cause I know that from prophet muhammed swallallahu alaihivasallam

muhammed habeeb said...

* Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) commands a man, who glances a woman, which stimulates his sexual instinct to return home to his family [if he is a married man] and approach his wife. This should facilitate him to satisfy his sexual desires in a lawful and proper manner. By the same token, he would be deterred from the trap of satanic way of seduction. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said, which read as follows:“ A woman approaches in a shape of Satan and walks away in the same shape. Therefore, if a [married man] notices [physically] something of a woman that arouses him [sexually], let such a man go back to his home and approach his wife. Doing so would cool him if” [21]

* Islam commands both spouses to satisfy their personal [sexual] desire with each other when either spouse is interested to do so. Islam bans a woman to refuse her husband's request to satisfy his needs. If a woman denies her husband's request, he may be led to evil thoughts searching for unlawful sources of satisfaction, or else, he would develop mental pressure. Both such situations are detrimental, both physically and mentally. Islam, therefore, is insistent on this issue. Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said, which read as follows:“ If a man calls his wife to sleep with him and she does not respond, causing him to be angry with her, angels will [continue] to curse her until the morning” [22]

Alyaa Ghanema said...

In Islam It is absolutely forbidden to hit your wife for any reason . if you get angry with her first tell her if she did not respond , sleep in another room away from her . if she did not respond you can hit her hands in painless manner only . what great is Islam

Paige.Hetherington said...

Dear Alyaa,

I am certain that many Muslim husbands do not use physical violence against their wives, and I am glad that in your family this behaviour is condemned.

Millions of your fellow Muslims, however, do not live in your world and are subject to the teaching of the Qur'an that instructs husbands to use the following progression to correct their supposedly wayward ("nushuz") wives:

1. Reprove her through verbal instructions.

2. Alienate her and deprive her of intimate relations and affection. Remembering that this injunction was given at a time when polygamy was widely accepted and practiced so that not sleeping with one of your wife was a way to humiliate her in front of her peers and family.

And if she's not repentant after all that, then...

3. Beat or strike her in the hope that this final and extreme last resort will convince her to come back into line with.

I don't mean to offend your sensibilities or imply that you support this, but it is undeniably the instruction that the Qur'an gives.

The Bible teaches husbands a completely different approach. Christians husbands are instructed "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her." (Ephesians 5:25). Consider for a moment being married to a man who chooses to emulate the love that Jesus had for His followers, a love that was worth more to Him than His own life! I can personally testify that it's an amazing experience!

Modern Islamic scholars will argue that the word that we translate as "beat" or "strike" (ie. 'wadribuhunna') is incorrectly translated in the English and a accurate translation can probably not be found. If this is true, it is a cruel oversight on the part of Allah who has clearly known throughout time that the Qur'an would need to be translated into many languages to be disseminated.

I'm sure that the millions of women who are today being physically chastised, whether by a light tapping or beaten with a stick, could justifiably argue that untold suffering could have been avoided if Allah had just chosen a word that was easier to translate. That's a fair enough expectation, isn't it?

But there is yet another question that arises out of this claim that this verse should not been taken out of context, and that is the following:

Many modern Islamic scholars argue that the beating, which some argue should be done with a 'miswak' or Arabian toothbrush of sorts, is purely symbolic and its purpose is to make the wife aware of the gravity of her misbehaviour (Haddad, 2000; Abd al Ati 1977)

As this clear instruction for husbands is a progressive process which responds to the continued refusal of a wife to submit, then how is painlessly tapping her symbolically on the hand the logical last resort in this increasingly severe discipline?

I ask you sincerely where is the reason and wisdom in a disciplinary process that follow this order:

1. Verbal lecture
2. Emotional isolation, physical alienation which results in humiliation.

Then bring in the big guns and...

3. Tap her on the hand with a toothbrush or rolled up handerchief?!?

Somehow, against all reason, a private tap on the hand is supposed to suceed where instruction and humiliation failed.

Quite simply, according to the general rules of translation, the most straight forward and obvious interpretation is often the correct one. The punishment for a wayward wife proceeds from the most gentle to the most severe punishment. This demands that the correct interpretation of the Arabic word "Wadribuhunna" must be something worse than the second stage of alienation and emotional deprivation (which is now considered a form of domestic violence.)

I am delighted that Muslim husbands are choosing to ignore the Qur'anic instructions and to love and respect their wives, and I pray that they continue to do so at all costs.

Brian Perpiglia said...

Seems very clear. Muslim men are allowed to beat their wives. When I confront Muslims with this the rationalization is invariably, " Well it is not harsh beating". Geez just a slight shot to the ribs as opposed to a full blown haymaker to the jaw. Why doesnt the Americal media hound on this. Oh my bad I forgot the American media is scared to death to criticize muslims.

JaredMithrandir said...

Sura 4 is a Median Sura which means it abrogates anything in the Meccan Suras that can be said to contradict it.

Sura 4 is the mains source of Islam's Misogony, so I find it telling that it was not given while Kadijah was alive.

I wonder if Muhammad is someone who felt insecure in his masculinity because of being supported by his wife for so long.

Shahnaaz Azeem said...

Hi. Friends. It's totally wrong to beat any one. America crime survey wrote. " in America a woman beaten by man ever five second" it doesn't matter 11 Muslim countries are not civilized like America. Muslim women doesn't work whole life man provide every thing to his family. Man some times get angry faster then woman. Who control the anger he or she is the strongest person . Who ever loses control that person lose family. Man never want to Liston he is impotent. God made man like that. Woman must not insult their husband in the public. "He is impotent". Just get Divorce Mary a normal man. That's the best way to live peaceful life. It's not Muslim or christen or any body. All books came from our creator. Some books changed by time, but still all books have same message.

313 said...

The Prophet of Allah also stated: 'None would respect women except the magnanimous ones, and none would insult them except the ignoble ones.' In addition, the Prophet (SA) of Allah stated: 'Whoever insults his family, would lose happiness in his life'." Mawa iz al-Adadiyyah, p 151.

"Imam Ali stated: 'Cope with women under all circumstances and speak to them well; (and by doing so) it may make their actions correct'." Bihar al-Anwar, vol 103, p 223.

"Imam Sajjad stated: 'It is a right of (your) wife that you treat her kindly, because she is under your surety, and you should feed and dress her, and forgive her ignorant deeds'." Bihar al-Anwar, vol 74, p 5.

"Imam Sadiq was asked: 'What rights a woman has on her husband, for which, if he acted accordingly, would be regarded as a good-doer?' The Imam replied: 'He must provide her with food and clothes and he should forgive her mistakes committed unknowingly'." Shafi, vol 2. p 139.

"The Prophet (SA) of Islam stated: 'It is obligatory for a man to provide his wife with food and clothing, and not to appear before her with an unpleasant appearance. If he did (the above mentioned), then he would take care of her rights'." Bihar al-Anwar, vol 103, p 254

The Prophet (SA) of Islam. who is the most revered person in history, used to help in the housework" Bihar al-Anwar, vo116, p 227

Ayeshah, the wife of the Prophet (SA) said :'Whenever the Prophet (SA) was free from his work, he used to sew his clothes, repair his shoes and used to work at home like other men':" Bihar al-Anwar, vo116, p 227\\30

"The Prophet (SA) of Islam stated: 'The best of your children are your daughters'." Mustadrak, vol 2, p 615

"The Prophet (SA) of Islam also stated: 'The sign of a lucky woman is that her first child is a girl'." Mustadrak, vol 2, p 614