28 September 2009

There is NO such thing as wife beating in Islam

Something that really bums me out is when non-muslims think that wife-beating is allowed in Islam. What sickens me even more is when Muslims (with the term used veeery loosly) themselves think it's OK. Anyway, I did some research on it and have found this long read but interesting read written by somebody called Osama Abdallah who has compiled Ahadith and Iyat on the subject. The post is taken from this site.

Wife beating anytime and for any reason is never allowed in Islam. There is however a questionable condition where Allah Almighty seems to allow the husband to beat his wife, and that is after he gives her two warnings to stop showing ill-conduct and disloyalty.

Let us look at Noble Verses 4:34-36 "(34). 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).
(35). If ye 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 hath full knowledge, and is acquainted with all things.

(36). Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good- to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess: For Allah loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious;"
The Arabic word used in Noble Verse 4:34 above is "idribuhunna", which is derived from "daraba" which means "beat". The issue with all of the Arabic words that are derived from the word "daraba" is that they don't necessarily mean "hit". The word "idribuhunna" for instance, could very well mean to "leave" them. It is exactly like telling someone to "beat it" or "drop it" in English.

Allah Almighty used the word "daraba" in Noble Verse 14:24 "Seest thou not how Allah sets (daraba) forth a parable? -- A goodly Word Like a goodly tree, Whose root is firmly fixed, And its branches (reach) To the heavens". "daraba" here meant "give an example". If I say in Arabic "daraba laka mathal", it means "give you an example".

Allah Almighty also used the word "darabtum", which is derived from the word "daraba" in Noble Verse 4:94, which mean to "go abroad" in the sake of Allah Almighty:


"O ye who believe! When ye go abroad (darabtum) In the cause of Allah, Investigate carefully, And say not to anyone Who offers you a salutation: 'Thou art none of a Believer!' Coveting the perishable good Of this life: with Allah Are profits and spoils abundant. Even thus were ye yourselves Before, till Allah conferred On you His favours: therefore Carefully investigate. For Allah is well aware Of all that ye do. (The Noble Quran, 4:94)"

So "daraba" literally means "beat", or "go abroad", or "give" but not in the sense to give something by hand, but rather to give or provide an example.

Important Note: Notice how Allah Almighty in Noble Chapter (Surah) 4 He used "daraba (4:34" and "darabtum (4:94)", which are both derived from the same root. He used both words in the same Chapter, which tells me that "daraba" in Noble Verse 4:34 means to desert or leave, since that's what its derived word meant in Noble Verse 4:94. The next section below will further prove my point.

I am sure there are more Noble Verses that used words derived from "daraba" in the Noble Quran, but these are the only ones I know of so far. In the case of Noble Verse 4:34 where Allah Almighty seems to allow men to hit their wives after the two warnings for ill-conduct and disloyalty, it could very well be that Allah Almighty meant to command the Muslims to "leave" the home all together and desert their wives for a long time in a hope that the wives would then come back to their senses and repent.

Noble Verses and Sayings that support the prohibition of any type of wife beating:

The following Noble Verses and Sayings from the Noble Quran and Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him respectively seem to very well support the above interpretation:

"...Do not retain them (i.e., your wives) to harm them...(The Noble Quran, 2:231)"
Narrated Mu'awiyah al-Qushayri: "I went to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) and asked him: What do you say (command) about our wives? He replied: Give them food what you have for yourself, and clothe them by which you clothe yourself, and do not beat them, and do not revile them. (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Number 2139)"

Narrated Mu'awiyah ibn Haydah: "I said: Apostle of Allah, how should we approach our wives and how should we leave them? He replied: Approach your tilth when or how you will, give her (your wife) food when you take food, clothe when you clothe yourself, do not revile her face, and do not beat her. (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Number 2138)"

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: "He who believes in Allah and the Hereafter, if he witnesses any matter he should talk in good terms about it or keep quiet. Act kindly towards woman, for woman is created from a rib, and the most crooked part of the rib is its top. If you attempt to straighten it, you will break it, and if you leave it, its crookedness will remain there. So act kindly towards women. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Book 008, Number 3468)"
"O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may take away part of the dower [money given by the husband to the wife for the marriage contract] ye have given them, except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary 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 God brings about through it a great deal of good. (The Noble Quran, 4:19)"

"And among God's signs is this: He created for you mates from amongst yourselves (males as mates for females and vice versa) that you might find tranquillity and peace in them. And he has put love and kindness among you. Herein surely are signs for those who reflect. (The Noble Quran 30:21)"

"Women impure for men impure. And women of purity for men of purity. These are not affected by what people say. For them is forgiveness and an honorable provision. (The Noble Quran 24:26)"

Narrated Abu Huraira: "Allah's Apostle said, 'The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger. (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Good Manners and Form (Al-Adab), Volume 8, Book 73, Number 135)"

Narrated Abu Huraira: "A man said to the Prophet , 'Advise me! 'The Prophet said, 'Do not become angry and furious.' The man asked (the same) again and again, and the Prophet said in each case, 'Do not become angry and furious.' (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Good Manners and Form (Al-Adab), Volume 8, Book 73, Number 137)"

Abu Huraira reported: "I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: One is not strong because of one's wrestling skillfully. They said: Allah's Messenger, then who is strong? He said: He who controls his anger when he is in a fit of rage. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Virtue, Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Relationship (Kitab Al-Birr was-Salat-I-wa'l-Adab), Book 032, Number 6314)"

Allah Almighty loves those who restrain anger: "Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good. (The Noble Quran, 3:134)"

The Prophet forbade striking on the face:

Let us look at the following narrations about Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him:
Narrated Salim: "....Umar said: 'The Prophet forbade beating on the face.' (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Hunting, Slaughtering, Volume 7, Book 67, Number 449)"

Narrated AbuHurayrah: "The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: When one of you inflicts a beating, he should avoid striking the face. (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 38, Prescribed Punishments (Kitab Al-Hudud), Number 4478)"

These narrations do not prove the interpretation that wife beating being ok as long as it is not done on the face, because the narrations are general and do not mention any wives. The striking could be done on our children when we discipline them. In this case, the above two narrations would fit perfectly with the situation, because while we can still physically discipline our children, we are not allowed to hit them on the face.

What about the saying about striking the wife lightly on her hand with a siwak?

There is not a single Saying or Noble Verse from Prophet Muhammad or the Noble Quran respectively that mentions any such beating.

A siwak is a small piece of wood that is approximately twice as long as an index finger and as thick as a thumb, which was used 1400 years ago to brush the teeth and the bad breath.
This saying actually belongs to Imam Shafie, and not to Prophet Muhammad. Imam Shafie or Minister Shafie is a popular Muslim scholar that came 100s of years after Prophet Muhammad. I used to have the reference information to his saying about this subject, but unfortunately I lost it. When I find it insha'Allah (if Allah Almighty wills it) I will post it.

According to the Noble Quran and the Sayings of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him above, wife beating in Islam is definetly prohibited, possibly even in the case where the wife fails after she was warned twice for her ill-conduct and disloyalty.

It is definetly a valid interpretation for Noble Verse 4:34 that Allah Almighty commanded the Muslim men to desert and leave their wives, and not to physically beat them as many scholars believe.

I personally favor this non-violent interpretation, because (1) It is very well supported in Islam as clearly and unquestionably shown above; and (2) It makes more sense and seems more practical in dealing with the bad wife who insists on showing ill-conduct and disloyalty toward her husband and family.

And Allah Almighty knows best, and may He forgive me if I made any mistake here.


Banana Anne said...

Subhanallah, this is why the Qur'an is so amazing. I forgot what verse it is, but ALLAH says that some things He has made clear and some things He has made less clear. Some Arabic words have meanings that are completely unrelated, and it is very important to keep this in mind when reading the Qur'an because we might interpret it as one thing when ALLAH actually means something else. ALLAHu Alim. Thanks for this wonderful post; there are definitely some Muslims that need to be reminded of this.

hijabichica said...

What does the Qu'ran saying about punisjing your kids? Are you allowed to beat your children?

ModestJustice said...

I completely agree with your conclusion.

I don't accept ANY form of beating, even from 'mistranslated' versions of the Qur'an. It simply doesn't seem like it should be in there.

I don't think Allah swt gave men the right to beat/hit/smack/tap (lightly- and I use the word ironically) their wives in ANY instance. Not even with a toothbrush (As some claim)

Women deserve more dignity than to be 'hit' when they are disloyal, like some kind of animal.

Great post :D

Anonymous said...

if you can't take a little ass-kicking, you don't deserve to be my wife.

Zaenab said...

I wouldn't want to be your wife anon, because if my future husband ever hit me I'd hit him right back. And I would like to remind you that this blog is for females so please refrain from commenting here. Thank you.

Zaenab said...


I have removed your comment a. Because this is a blog for females and b. I don't appriciate your flippant attitude towards a serious subject.


Anonymous said...

You can't remove my comment. I have diplomatic immunity, being an Indonesian prince.

You are waging war against Indonesia, sister.

Anonymous said...

Salam alaykoum,

Dear Sister, thank you very much for this very important post. Insha'Allah your post will diminish the prejudices against our beautiful religion. Ameen.


Zaenab said...

Maria your welcome :D I'm glad some people appreciate it!

Salam :)

Ikram Kurdi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ikram Kurdi said...

The problem with Quranic evidence is that in most instances Daraba means to hit. It is mentioned when speaking of Musa hitting the stone (Baqara:60;A'raf:160;Shu'ara:63) to make water come out of it, or his hitting the sea to make it part (Taha:77).

In Nisa: 94;Anfal:12;Muhammad:4, Daraba is mentioned while talking about striking an enemy.

In Anfal:50;Muhammad:27 Daraba is mentioned while talking of the disbelievers hitting themselves in the afterlife.

Even most damning that those is Sad:44, in which Daraba is mentioned in a command to Prophet Ayyub, Allah asks him to use a tiny stick to hit someone without hurting them (I think he had sworn to hit his wife).

So daraba does mean to hit. But as in the example above, Allah asks him not to hurt anybody with it. It is something ritualistic I expect.

Ikram Kurdi said...

Just to clarify something, when Allah says darabtum meaning going abroad, He says "Darabtum fil Ard", which means "When you hit the Earth."

That is an old Arabic expression. They'd throw their sticks at the ground and walk whichever way it pointed. So daraba in this instance does mean hitting.

ModestJustice said...

So it's something ritualistic to hit a women when she isn't 'obeying'?

Even if it's not to hurt, it's still symbolic of control. To basically, put her in her 'place'. A sign of authority OVER her.

I'm not saying the Quran is wrong, authu'billah, but there's some very conflicting feelings over that issue, for me at least.

Ikram Kurdi said...

I think Allah has made this issue a test for us. He could have made everything completely clear, but He didn't. I don't think anyone has the final answer on this.

Anonymous said...

this is a great article. I've always known that the interpretation was taken wrongly.

Daraba has many meanings (as all words in Arabic having multiple meanings). But to mean "to leave" might be misinterpreted as well.

Wouldn't the word "itlaku" or a form of "talak" be used?

Even if the word actually supposed to mean hit, I'm aware from scholars that this is the last resort and is only meant for real admonishing behavior by the wife (fahisha).

So for example, you can;t beat just because she couldn't cook, or didn't get you something you requested, or because a man is ASSUMING she is cheating (remember the 4 witnesses).

But it may be possible for something beyond comprehension, like she's staying out late neglecting children and you, or whatever.

And even then, there are generally agreed upon rules such as how to hit.

Either way I still see beating wrong and should not be carried out on our Muslim sisters.

Any thoughts?

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Daraba means to tap lighting with an object no longer than toothstick and that is the word used in the Quran.

Anonymous said...

Thats a nice article, sis. I don't really find much logic of the "hitting" or "tapping lightly" with a Meswak either. Because then, whats the point if it's not going to hurt her so that she'd "learn a lesson." She'll probably think her husband's playing around tapping her with a toothbrush! I mean seriously, how do scholars even come up with that interpretation and agree to those ahadith!

Even if the word "daraba" doesn't mean "leave", it could mean many other things (hitting def not being one of them!). It's more annoying when sisters themselves agree to the "hitting" provided their men follow the "rules how to hit." Ugh.

Oooh theres a cool lecture by Sayed Ammar Nakshwani on the very subject! I'm gonna check that out soon!

Talib said...

I am glad you found that article on the web! I have two English language versions of the Qu'ran and they say two different things. Luckily, one of them denounces the usage of "beating" the wife altogether! Alhamdulillah! It goes on to explain what is in the article you posted. There is a book about the words that were used in the Prophet Muhammad's day (pbuh and how some words have changed meaning or are not used at all in modern arabic. For example, when I was talking to my husband about the law of Rex Talonis, which is the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth," the word in arabic for tooth can also mean "age." He asked me why I kept saying "tooth" and then I explained to him that this saying is also written in the Torah and the Old TEstament of the Bible. He said he didn't know that this ayat was talking about teeth. :D We can't always take things at face value. If it sounds a little strange, we should investigate further. There is no telling what we may find! :D

Latifah La'mees said...

Masha'Allah, Very well put :) <3 it !

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. Blame the media that enjoys framing and stereotyping people here and there. Only if they didn't do that, no one will have any clue even about what how wives are islamically treated. What a sad world.

Sarah said...

Nice post, but I am usually puzzled at the translations that say "Beat (lightly)" or whatever. I speak Arabic, have done so all my life alhamdulillah.

The best word to use for translation of "Daraba" is "Strike". "Daraba Allahu Mathalan", "God struck an example."

It also fits in with the ayah about wives well. Also you should note that "daraba" is used here and not "jalada", literally "tan" (as in "tanning someone's hide"), which is used in the ayah about fornication, meaning "whip" or "flog". So obviously women were not meant to be beaten or hit.


mars said...

Interesting article ive read about this sbjct.the article mentions that the prophet pbuh never beat his wifes,muslim men should follow his example..heres the website http://www.1stethical.com/2010/10/14/how-muslim-men-beat-their-wives-lightly/