Wife-beating in Islam

TheReligionofPeace.com
Guide to Understanding Islam

What does the
Religion of Peace
Teach About…

Wife-Beating


Question
:
Does Islam permit a man to hit his wife?

Summary Answer
:
Yes, but only if she doesn’t do as he asks.  The beating must cease if the woman complies with her husband’s demands.  Beating is also intended to be the last resort, behind verbal abuse and abandonment.

Muhammad, himself, is recorded as physically striking his favorite wife (from her own testimony).  It is not known how he treated his less-favored wives.


The Qur’an:
Sura (4:34)“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.”


From the Hadith:

Bukhari (72:715) – A woman came to Muhammad and begged her to stop her husband from beating her.  Her skin was bruised so badly that she it is described as being “greener” than the green veil she was wearing.  Muhammad did not admonish her husband, but instead ordered her to return to him and submit to his sexual desires.

Muslim (4:2127) – Muhammad struck his favorite wife, Aisha, in the chest one evening when she left the house without his permission.  Aisha narrates, “He struck me on the chest which caused me pain.”

Abu Dawud (2141)“Iyas bin ‘Abd Allah bin Abi Dhubab reported the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) as saying: Do not beat Allah’s handmaidens, but when ‘Umar came to the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) and said: Women have become emboldened towards their husbands, he (the Prophet) gave permission to beat them. Then many women came round the family of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) complaining against their husbands. So the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) said : Many women have gone round Muhammad’s family complaining against their husbands. They are not the best among you.” At first, Muhammad forbade men from beating their wives, but he rescinded this once it was reported that women were becoming emboldened toward their husbands.  Beatings are sometimes necessary to keep women in their place.

Abu Dawud (2142)“The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife.”

Ishaq 969 – Commands that a married woman be “put in a separate room and beaten lightly” if she “act in a sexual manner toward others.” According to the Hadith, this can be for an offense as petty as merely being alone with a man to whom she is not related.


Additional Notes:

Muslim apologists often squirm over this relatively straightforward Qur’an verse (4:34).  Their masterful aerobics of denial inspired us to write an article:

Wife Beating- Good Enough for Muhammad, Good Enough for You

According to Islamic law, a husband may strike his wife for any one of the following four reasons:

– She does not attempt to make herself beautiful for him (ie. “let’s herself go”)

– She refuses to meet his sexual demands

– She leaves the house without his permission or a “legitimate reason”

– She neglects her religious duties

Any of these are also sufficient grounds for divorce.

Finally, when Muslim apologists sometimes say that Muhammad commanded that women not be harmed, they are actually basing this on what he said before or during battle, such as in Bukhari (59:447), when Muhammad orders that all the men of Quraiza be killed and the women and children be taken as slaves.  (Having your husband murdered and being forced into sexual slavery apparently doesn’t qualify as “harm” under the Islamic model).

But, in fact, there are a number of cases in which Muhammad did have women killed in the most brutal fashion.  One was Asma bint Marwan, a mother or five, who wrote a poem criticizing the Medinans for accepting Muhammad after he had ordered the murder of an elderly man.  In this case, the prophet’s assassins literally pulled a sleeping infant from her breast and stabbed her to death.

After taking Mecca in 630, Muhammad also ordered the murder of a slave girl who had merely made up songs mocking him.  The Hadith are rife as well with accounts of women planted in the ground on Muhammad’s command and pelted to death with stones for sexual immorality.

In summary, according to both the Qur’an and Hadith, a woman may indeed have physical harm done to her if the circumstances warrant, with one such allowance being in the case of disobedience.  This certainly does not mean that all Muslim men beat their wives, only that Islam allows them.

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