Islam and wife beating

Islam and wife beating

Wife beating is fully sanctioned in Islam.
Before the familiar PC brand paint brush comes out to portray me as another Islamophobe hellbent on marring the Fantasia of the religion of peace, let’s see why I make that claim:

Firstly, the infamous verse from the Qua’ran seemingly giving men justification to beat their wives : 4:34.

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

Here the notion of feminism , that men and women are equal, is dismissed. As Allah clearly says men are in charge of women. Which is clearly not equality. To claim otherwise is disagreeing with Allah’s eternal word. However, I digress. 4:34, according to this translation gives men a clear indication they are justified in Allah’s eyes to ‘beat’ their wives. The most famous tafsir is that of Ibn kathir. I have used his to clarify this verse.

beat them) means, if advice and ignoring her in the bed do not produce the desired results, you are allowed to discipline the wife, without severe beating. Muslim recorded that Jabir said that during the Farewell Hajj, the Prophet said; (Fear Allah regarding women, for they are your assistants. You have the right on them that they do not allow any person whom you dislike to step on your mat. However, if they do that, you are allowed to discipline them lightly. They have a right on you that you provide them with their provision and clothes, in a reasonable manner

Ibn `Abbas and several others said that the Ayah refers to a beating that is not violent. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that it means, a beating that is not severe.

So it is clear here, the meaning derived from this tafsir of the verse is one is allowed to strike his wife, albeit not severe in order to ‘discipline her’. This is still domestic abuse. Doing it however lightly, in whatever place, doesn’t neutralise the fact this is domestic abuse. The principle is still the same. The man intends to raise his hand to his wife, he is abusing her. Case closed. It DOESN’T matter if you don’t leave scars, think about the mental, emotional and internal scars a woman feels knowing her husband has subjected her to domestic violence. The Qua’ran allows a man to hit his wife.

The sahih Hadith on how Muhammad interpreted this verse is found in his infamous farewell sermon :
Ibn Majah 3,9,1851

It was narrated that: Sulaiman bin Amr bin Ahwas said: “My father told me that he was present on the Farewell pilgrimage with the Messenger of Allah. He praised and glorified Allah, and reminder and exhorted (the people). The he said: ‘I enjoin good treatment of women, for they are prisoners with you, and you have no right to treat them otherwise, unless they commit clear indecency. If they do that, then forsake them in their beds and HIT THEM, but without causing injury or leaving a mark IF THEY OBEY you, then do not seek means of annoyance against them. You have rights over your women and your women have rights over you. Your rights over your women are that they are not to allow anyone whom you dislike on treat on your bedding (furniture), not allow anyone whom you dislike to enter your houses. And their right over you are that should treat them kindly with regard to their clothing and food.

Another references to this Sermon is
Sahih Muslim. Kitab al-Hajj. Hadith 159

Muhammad calls the women ‘prisoners’ and makes it clear that if they commit a fault, they are allowed to be disciplined by their husband. Firstly, this is pretty much establishing the role men play in contrast to women in Muhammad’s eyes. The whole point according to the 4:34 is to discipline the wife in order to make her obedient to her husband again. As Allah says, ‘the righteous women are devoutly obedient’ (4:34). This does not match up to 21st century morale , where domestic violence is seen as something thoroughly deplorable and is a criminal offence. This MAY have been applicable and morally reasonable to people in the 7th century, but the world has moved way on. It is wrong to reconcile such 7th century moral groundings to the developed 21st.

To the Muslims who say it isn’t a big issue, because Allah gives 2 steps first and it was just as a last resort, look at this Hadith:

Sunan Abu Dwaud Book 11, Number 2141:

Narrated Abdullah ibn AbuDhubab:
Iyas ibn Abdullah ibn AbuDhubab reported the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) as saying: Do not beat Allah’s handmaidens, but when Umar came to the Apostle of Allah (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 (peace_be_upon_him) complaining against their husbands. So the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: Many women have gone round Muhammad’s family complaining against their husbands. They are not the best among you.

Clearly Muhammad gave the order for the women to be beaten because they were disobedient. It shows the aim of 4:34 is to reinstate the wife’s meek submissive and unswerving obedience to her husband. Notice Muhammad did not advise to complete the first two steps of 4:34, he skipped straight to the last step. And even though Muhammad is seemingly unhappy with the outcome , ( which is hypocritical in itself as he gave permission) he still allowed this, which shows 4:34 is to be applied literally.

And to the claim that Muhammad disliked it and never hit a woman :

Sahih Muslim Book 4 Hadith 2127
…Why is it, O ‘A’isha, that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware would inform me. I said: Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you? She said: Whatsoever the people conceal, Allah will know it…

Sahih Muslim Book 9, Hadith 3506

…he found Allah’s Apostle (Peace be upon him) sitting sad and silent with his wives around him. He (Hadrat ‘Umar) said: I would say something which would make the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) laugh, so he said: Messenger of Allah, I wish you had seen (the treatment meted out to) the daughter of Khadija when you asked me some money, and I got up and slapped her on her neck. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) laughed and said: They are around me as you see, asking for extra money. Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) then got up went to ‘A’isha (Allah be pleased with her) and slapped her on the neck, and ‘Umar stood up before Hafsa and slapped her saying: You ask Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) which he does not possess. They said: By Allah, we do not ask Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) for anything he does not possess. Then he withdrew from them for a month or for twenty-nine days…

Both are classified as ‘sahih’
Sunan Ibn Majah Book of Chapters on Marriage Number 1986

It was narrated that Ash’ath bin Qais said:
“I was a guest (at the home) of ‘Umar one night, and in the middle of the night he went and hit his wife, and I separated them. When he went to bed he said to me: ‘O Ash’ath, learn from me something that I heard from the Messenger of Allah” A man should not be asked why he beats his wife, and do not go to sleep until you have prayed the Witr.”‘ And I forgot the third thing.”

It is clear Muhammad struck Aisha, his favourite child wife. Which showed he had no qualms about physically implementing the last stage of 4:34, as in his view , Aisha sneaking out of the house constituted as ‘disobedience’ and it was perfectly okay for him to punish Aisha by hitting her chest, which yet again may not have caused her physical marks, but clearly left a lasting impression on her as she remembered to comment about it years later.

And to those agreeing with the interpretation of the scholars, that it should be done lightly and leave no marks, have a look at this appalling video.

Does he leave marks ? No. The severity of the hitting can differentiate as what constitutes ‘lightly ‘ to another man differs. Again, how can you beat someone lightly without leaving marks?

For the claim that it is only done in severe cases, such as infidelity from the wife, 4:34 does NOT specify what circumstances, merely ‘wives whom you fear arrogance ‘ which can be applied to any situation. There is no restriction or specification of what offence a wife can commit to deserve a beating, which means it’s up to the husband. This is further evidenced by the Hadith :

Sunan Abu Dawud Book 11, number 2142

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: a man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife.

This Hadith clearly shows it is not only allowed in exceptional circumstances , but very menial ones too. As Muhammad said , a man will not be asked WHY he beat his wife, meaning no one is owed an explanation and he is completely justified.

This is appalling to anyone with a working moral compass. It is completely illogical to anyone to deny Islam sanctions domestic violence in any way.

Thank you to the person who helped construct this article for me. Your clarity and insight was very helpful. You know who you are.

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4 thoughts on “Islam and wife beating

  1. Wonderful writing, thankyou. You have clarified my thoughts as to why I fear Islam, and tha manner in which our “leaders” ignore the threat, preferring to ignore, mollify and appease.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay. Here’s a response by Jonathan Brown to your lies and distortions:

    “”Ironically, the unstated assumptions that many readers today would generally see as encasing the ‘literal meaning’ of 4:34 were shared by none of the pre-modern ulama. They are, in fact, totally foreign to the Islamic tradition. Reading the verse as an unambiguous legitimization of spousal abuse assumes that the Quran should be read in isolation and that duties should be derived from it unmediated. Yet no pre-modern Muslim school of thought ever advocated that (except perhaps the early Kharijite extremists), and Islamic modernists who claim they do this today cannot manage to do so consistently. On the contrary, Muslim sects agreed that the Qur’an had to be read through the prism of the Prophet’s teachings as expounded by the ulama, who then disagreed endlessly on what those teachings should be. The ulama who articulated the Islamic tradition, as Amina Wadud correctly observed, were men. Taken as a whole, however, their reading of Qur’an 4:34 was characterized by neither the interests of patriarchy nor what is sometimes imagined to be an untempered indifference to violence. Rather, the most salient theme in the ulama’s writings across the centuries has been one of restricting almost completely the apparent meaning of the verse. This seems to have appeared with the first, infallible interpreter of God’s revelation, the Messenger of God himself. Canonical Sunni Hadith collections quote the Prophet at first teaching his followers: ‘Do not strike the female servants of God.’ Only when his lieutenant Umar complained about Medinan women disrespecting their husbands (as opposed to the more submissive Meccan wives to whom they were accustomed) did the Prophet allow hitting them. The Hadith continues, describing how a wave of seventy (i.e., many) women subsequently came complaining to the Prophet about their husbands. This led him to declare that those men who beat their wives ‘are not the best of you,’ adding, ‘The best of you will not strike them’ in some versions of the Hadith. The canonical Sunni Hadith collections also include recollections of the Prophet’s Farewell Sermon, given on Hajj in what would be the final year of his life. One of the parting pieces of wisdom he leaves his follow- ers is the commandment to ‘Fear God as concerns your womenfolk, for indeed you took charge of them with God’s assurance.’ The Prophet further explains that only if a wife allows herself to converse with men against her husband’s wishes or, in another version of the Hadith, commits some grievous transgression (fahisha mubayyina, a phrase with sexual innuendo) can the husband strike her, and then only ‘with a light blow that leaves no mark.’ Another sound Hadith has the Prophet further discourage striking one’s wife, imploring his followers, ‘Would one of you beat his wife like a slave and then sleep with her at the day’s end?'” All available evidence of Muhammad’s own conduct shows a complete aversion to domestic violence. As recorded in the canonical Hadith col- lections, Aisha recalled that ‘The Messenger of God never struck anything with his hand, not a woman and not a slave, except when making war in the path of God.’ […] The vast majority of the ulama across the Sunni schools of law inherited the Prophet’s unease over domestic violence and placed further restrictions on the evident meaning of the ‘Wife Beating Verse.’ A leading Meccan scholar from the second generation of Muslims, Ata’ bin Abi Rabah, counseled a husband not to beat his wife even if she ignored him but rather to express his anger in some other way. Darimi, a teacher of both Tirmidhi and Muslim bin Hajjaj as well as a leading early scholar in Iran, collected all the Hadiths showing Muhammad’s disapproval of beating in a chapter entitled ‘The Prohibition on Striking Women.’ A thirteenth-century scholar from Granada, Ibn Faras, notes that one camp of ulama had staked out a stance forbidding striking a wife altogether, declaring it contrary to the Prophet’s example and denying the authenticity of any Hadiths that seemed to permit beating. Even Ibn Hajar, the pillar of late medieval Sunni Hadith scholarship, concludes that, contrary to what seems to be an explicit command in the Qur’an, the Hadiths of the Prophet leave no doubt that striking one’s wife to discipline her actually falls under the Shariah ruling of ‘strongly disliked’ or ‘disliked verging on prohibited.’ It became received opinion among Sunni ulama from Iberia to Iran that, though striking one’s wife was permitted, other means of discipline and dispute were greatly preferred, more effective and better for the piety of both spouses. As another thirteenth-century Andalusian scholar observed, nowhere in the Qur’an besides 4:34 and in listing the Hudud punishments does God command believers to punish a person violently. Just as the Hudud punishments were meant more as signs of the grievous nature of certain offenses than as sentences to be enacted, so the command to strike a wife was intended to communicate the severity of her behaving disgracefully towards her husband, not as a license for domestic abuse. The substantive laws that the Sunni schools of Shariah articulated over the centuries followed this same mitigating course. […] Shafi’i law only allowed the husband to use his hand or a wound-up handkerchief (mindil malfuf), not a whip or stick. All schools of law prohibited striking the wife in the face or in any sensitive area likely to cause injury. All except some Maliki jurists held that the wife could claim compensation payment (diya) from the husband for any injury she sustained, and Hanbalis, the later Shafi’i school as well as the Maliki school, allowed a judge to dissolve the marriage at no cost to the wife if harm had been done. In effect, any physical harm was grounds for compensation and divorce since the Prophet had limited striking one’s wife to ‘a light blow that leaves no mark.’ Causing any injury thus meant that a husband had exceeded his rights. All schools of law agreed that if the wife died due to a beating, her family could claim her wergild or possibly even have the husband executed.
    Jonathan A.C. Brown, Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy, Oxford: Oneworld Publications, pp. 274-7.””

    I wish people would not believe dishonest people like you

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1. I’m not dishonest
      2. You are using a source that is heavily biased to Muhammad.
      3. Why did you ignore the fact Muhammad struck his wife himself ?
      4. Wife beating was not restricted to some long ago sect :http://edition.cnn.com/2016/05/28/asia/pakistan-women-light-beating/
      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/saudi-family-therapist-gives-advice-on-how-to-beat-your-wife-a7024091.html

      5. lol. Getting hit is better for the piety of both spouses? What bullshit.
      6. Like i said, not leaving a mark or hitting lightly is not the damn issue.
      7. I’ve already explained about the farewell sermon, so don’t try on that.
      8. You’re saying the great scholar ibn kathir and many others ‘took it out context ‘ lol.
      9. Don’t even get me started on patriarchy in Islam : 4:34, 4:11, 33:59, 24:31, 2:228, 2:282, 2:223, 4:3, 4:24, 53:27, 33:33, 66:5, 4:129.
      10. Hudud punishments . Disgusting. Absolutely violent. Don’t even defend .
      11. Of course you will deny hadiths that show your prophet in a bad light.
      12. Wives can be hit for any reason . Muhammad said a man will not be asked why.
      13. Lol. Being allowed to strike your wives is allowed in Islam. Period.
      14. Your merciful Allah declared hands to be cut off for stealing, nowhere in his last word does he say death to those who beat their wives. So merciful.
      15. Other people see the text ‘beat them’ and do it literally. Maybe Allah should have made his word a little clearer.
      16. It’s utterly weird that Allahs last word and the qua’ran which he says to be a clear book 12:1 needs so many interpretations , edits and scholars to give the ‘CORRECT’ interpretation . Perhaps Allah needs to try again and choose another prophet and catch up to the 21st century and say 4:34 : O believers ! It is NEVER okay to physically abuse your wife, no matter why or how lightly. That is ABUSE

      Liked by 1 person

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