Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Does a husband have the right to beat his wife?

divorced family with child, divorce couple with baby

I see so many husbands beating their wives, even the in laws of the girl beat her.

I wanna know that is it allowed for a husband to beat his wife as it is so cruel. And what are the rulings of beating the wife in Islam ?

What should she do if her husband beats her constantly?

- Kanzii

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17 Responses »

  1. In a word, NO. A Muslim man is categorically NOT allowed to beat his wife.

    Some modern translators and commentators have taken Quran 4:34 to mean that a man may "beat his wife lightly" as a last resort. Their entire evidence for this rests on an interpretation of one single word in the Quran - the word "idribuhunna", which is a derivative of "daraba". They say it means "to beat", and that this beating is a symbolic act, done with a miswak.

    This is a mistaken translation/interpretation. As far as a man "beating" his wife with a miswak, that's nonsense. She would laugh at him. It's ridiculous. Even my five year old daughter would laugh at me and think it was a joke.

    To make sense of this, we need to look back and see how the classical commentators understood Quran 4:34. The word "daraba" and its derivatives are used in many other places in the Quran in ways that do not mean "beat". "Daraba" is one of those words that has many meanings in the Arabic language. It is used at times in the Quran to mean travel, or separate, or to set forth. Very few of the classical commentators understood it to mean, "beat". That is a modern phenomenon.

    It's self-serving and cynical, in my opinion, to translate the word as "beat" in this one instance, while translating it differently in all other Quranic instances.

    It is more appropriate to understand it either as, "separate from them", or, "set forth to them", meaning set forth the terms of marriage to them very clearly (and the possibility of divorce).

    And in fact this is what the Prophet (sws) did one time when his wives disturbed him greatly. He separated himself from them until they realized the seriousness of the situation.

    See this excellent analysis - "Beat Them?" - in which the author discusses Quran 4:34 at length and breaks down the meaning of the words.

    How can we know for sure what Allah means in this ayah? The first rule of tafsir is to interpret the Quran using the Quran. So all we need to do is look at other verses of the Quran, and then look at the Sunnah.

    Allah says, "Among His signs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquillity and contentment with each other. He places in your heart love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are signs for people who think." (30:21)"

    Furthermore, Allah tells us in the Quran, "do not transgress, God does not like the aggressors” 2:190

    As for the Messenger of Allah (sws), he said, "Could any of you beat your wife as he would a slave, and then lie with her in the evening?" (Bukhari and Muslim). There are other traditions in Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad bin Hanbal and others, to the effect that he forbade the beating of any woman, saying: "Never beat God's handmaidens."

    So it's very clear contextually that beating women/wives is not allowed, and we must interpret Quran 4:34 appropriately.

    Here's another article that analyzes the word "daraba" in great detail and concludes that it cannot be translated in this ayah as "beat". Be warned that the article is quite long. "On the unlawfulness of wife beating in Islam."

    Wael Editor

  2. "Islam says to hit a woman lightly"

    Sister this is actually a mis translation of the word 'daraba'. Read the above post by brother Wael and read the link on that post too. So it is not true that Islam in any way condones hitting. And Muslims are supposed to show mercy and compassion to one another, especially to ones spouse. That has been clear.
    So without a doubt it is wrong. To all those men (or even women) who hit their spouse and justify themselves Islamically, ask yourselves when did the Prophet (SAW) hit anyone except possibly in retaliation. Which of his wives did he hit? None. SubhanAllah so what gives any person the right to hit their spouse or anyone except in danger.

    Our bodies are going to testify against us on Yawmul Qiyaamah. Our tongues against those we slandered, our feet against haraam places we walked to and our hands against those we unlawfully hit.

    Allah swt knows best - and I pray He (Swt) forgives us all and saves us from His punihsment,

    Sara Editor

    • Peace be upon you.

      In the Saheeh of al-Imam Muslim [ra], in the volume 4, chapter of suplications at graveyards, Hadeeth Number 2127:

      On the authority of the mother of believers 'Aishah. She said: When it was my turn for Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) to spend the night with me, he turned his side, put on his mantle and took off his shoes and placed them near his feet, and spread the corner of his shawl on his bed and then lay down till he thought that I had gone to sleep. He took hold of his mantle slowly and put on the shoes slowly, and opened the door and went out and then closed it lightly. I covered my head, put on my veil and tightened my waist wrapper, and then went out following his steps till he reached Baqi'. He stood there and he stood for a long time. He then lifted his hands three times, and then returned and I also returned. He hastened his steps and I also hastened my steps. He ran and I too ran. He came (to the house) and I also came (to the house). I, however, preceded him and I entered (the house), and as I lay down in the bed, he (the Holy Prophet) entered the (house), and said: Why is it, O 'A'isha, that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the all Subtle and the all 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.........Continued.

      This is the only time that the prophet[saw] struck his wife, but there are other narrations of the companions doing so.

      • About this hadith, it is widely mistranslated. The Arabic term used in the hadith is "lahada". Imam Nawawi in his Sharh states that:

        The word "lahada" according to the lexicographers means, "to push" (dafa'a).

        The usage of the word "struck" is not a correct translation. Rather, the phrase should be translated as (as Gf haddad said):

        - He pushed my chest with a push that made me sore

        Secondly, this calls to an important matter that is related to the Hand imposition of the Prophet - Allah bless him - because it is a gesture associated with driving away evil influence (waswâs) and conferring blessing as the following reports show:
        1. Ubay ibn Ka`b said: "There occurred in my mind a sort of denial which did not occur even during the Days of Ignorance. When the Messenger of Allah - Allah bless and greet him - saw how I was affected, he slapped me on the chest. I broke into a sweat and felt as if I were looking at Allâh in fear."

        (Sahih Muslim)

        Other commentators have said that it can also mean, "to poke". So it could have been that he poked her in the chest. This causes some pain but cannot be considered injurious or abusive in any way.

        As far as the Sahabah, they were not infallible or protected from sin as was the Prophet (sws).

        And Allah knows best.

        Wael Editor

  3. Astaghfirullah!!!!!!!!!!! Without becoming polemic or anyhting, but spreading lies about the holy Prophet is a sin and reporting details about his intimate life!! Has Sayeda Khadija ever done that?

    With all respect, but Rassul Allah never stroke anyone or pushed anyone.

    Sorry, but its true


  4. The people who wrongly reported Sister Aisha having said the Prophet beat her who have

    somehow obviously started a false chain of hadith.

  5. Where is my last post about the gun issue? I have posted it after this here and it is still not visible

    on the main page. Don't understand that sorry.

  6. I meant my recent comments have not been posted. Not that I accuse you of deleting.


    • Jannah, did your comments have any links in them? If the comment has more than two links it gets diverted to the spam folder. Sometimes we spot them and save them, but sometimes they get lost in the mix.

      Wael Editor

  7. sister why would her in laws want to beat her if you don't mind me asking why do you think they beat her.

  8. If they can beat us lightly so why not we?

    • If you read the post, you will see that I do not believe that men are allowed to beat their wives under any circumstances.

      Wael Editor

      • Salam Wael,

        I read through what you posted in the link and the model presented by that article doesn't work. The model that works is if the Quran says to beat them. I'll provide two examples with each model:

        1) In the model presented by the article where the wife need not obey the husband:
        The man is responsible for provision and the woman is devoutly obedient to Allah. The couple has kids, and the husband is a good provider. He asks that she take care of his children in his absence but she feels that she must obey Allah and not her husband. She spends most of her time worshiping Allah.
        The kids are barely fed, mostly neglected. When the husband goes out she does not go out with him but worships instead. In this model the husband has no right for her to obey him. Since she is not guilty of an immoral act he may not advise her either, nor leave her bed, nor abandon her. Basically the husband has no right to do anything, the husband's needs are not met, the children's needs are not met and there is no marriage nor does the model provide a solution.

        2) In the model where the wife is obedient to the husband and he can beat her:
        The wife likes to hang out with her sister and her brother. She is not guilty of any immorality by hanging out with them. It is known that her sister is the only one that can drive and that she can be drunk at times. They plan on going to the mountain together. The husband tells her not go and first advises her that he fears that her sister may lose control of the car. She disobeys and goes anyway.
        They end up in an accident and almost over a cliff but they survive. The husband leaves her bed to negatively reinforce her to not go with her sister on a second trip. The wife goes anyway with similar consequences.
        At this point I would argue that since the husband took on the job of being this woman's Wali from her father he needs to enforce obedience. And if the girl will not listen and will not be deterred by leaving her bed then "daraba" cannot mean abandoning the marriage and refusing to be her Wali. I would expect him to beat her as she has no sense and it would prevent her from coming back as a quadrapalegic from the trip.

        If the husband is a "Wali" then one cannot be a "Wali" without obedience. It's like hiring a babysitter and placing the responsibility of the welfare of one's children on the babysitter. but then telling the children that they do not have to obey the babysitter. But then if the kid jumps out the window because he thought he could fly, one blames the babysitter for failing her responsibility of protecting the child.

        If you, or anyone, sees a flaw in the model with obedience I would like to know. Thanks.

        • I see many flaws in your arguments. A wife is not like a child who needs a babysitter. Furthermore, you can't beat a woman into good sense, as you are suggesting. A woman is a human being, not an animal. Finally, a husband does not slip into the shoes of the father as Wali. A father-daughter relationship is very different from the spousal relationship. Yes, there is the issue of protection and provision which comes from the husband in the same way it comes from the father, but there are also aspects of intimacy and mutuality. When the latter two are absent, the marriage breaks down. You can't beat them back into the marriage. You consult a 3rd party mediator to help the couple.

          • Salam Precious Star,

            Thanks for responding with arguments I'll try to address each one, if you see more issues please let me know.

            1) I wasn't implying that a wife needs a babysitter. The purpose of that example was that one cannot expect protection without providing authority to a protector. An example of disobeying a police officer or a fireman would also work.

            2) Beating someone isn't done to bring them to good sense. Advising and reasoning with the person should accomplish that and is the first step pointed in the Quran. Imposing physical punishment on someone creates fear.

            If your mother tells you not to place your hand on a hot stove and you try anyway, then her hitting your hand away is a better outcome than burning your hand on the stove.

            Not having burnt your hand you would still not understand the consequence of that action, but by making you fear getting your hand slapped your mom is preventing a worse outcome for you. You may still hate her for hitting you though.

            3) I agree the Wali role is different for a husband than a father. In the Quran men have a "degree" over women and women have similar rights to them as to what is expected of them. To me that "degree" makes sense, if protection is received by women then obedience should be given. Loss of intimacy is being prescribed as a deterrent in step two after advising.

            In terms of running a marriage and living with these verses I think it would be better to not micromanage one's wife. It would be better to make requests in the marriage and commands only when necessary. If an issue of protection arises, issue a command. Otherwise, in order to keep running the marriage smoothly, make requests and then provide with similar or better than what the wife is providing.

            Now there are people that do love micromanaging and will smack their wives at the slightest cause but they aren't going through the steps. They should be advising, leaving their beds and sleeping somewhere less comfortable and missing out on intimacy themselves.

            So, If it's a three step cumbersome process where the guy has to sleep on his own and has greater needs, I would expect him to make requests more often, and not slap his wife over the slightest issue.

            There is also the issue of wrongly handing out punishments and being an oppressing tyrant. The Quran says that oppression is worse than killing. So if a husband fears Allah I would expect him to be very careful with the rights he is given and be sure he's doing the right thing by going through the process.

            Now, keeping all this in mind I still think that verse says "beat" and not some other word. And to me this makes sense as protection and obedience go hand in hand.

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