Does the Holy Qur’an instruct us to beat women?

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect.” (Qur’an 30:21)

“And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men to your women until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you. Those invite you to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember.” (Qur’an 2:221)

 

So let us get straight to the question: Does the Qur’an allow women to be beaten?

The answer to that is within the context of sexual immorality it absolutely allows both men and women to be beaten/lashed and to allow a party of the believers to witness this.

This is our way and our revelation and we should not let the disbelievers in any way shape or form dissuade us from that which we are upon.

The proof is in the following text:

The woman or man found guilty of sexual immorality-lash each one of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment.” (Qur’an 24:2)

So yes in the context of sexual immorality women can be beaten/lashed.

We are unapologetic about it. It is our way it is what is given to us by Allah (swt).

 

What about in a marriage?  Does the Qur’an instruct us to beat women? 

Before I begin this part  I want to stress that I do not believe in forced marriages.  Even when Imam asks the woman if she consents and she does so under pressure from her parents, society, or culture it is wrong.   More must be done to educate Muslim society about the harms of doing so.

I also believe that it is important for the man and women who decide to marry each other to know as much as they can about their future partner.  Every man or woman can only be judged by the outward character or outward appearance.

From my personal experiences, I feel we do not really know anyone until we have seen them under pressure, duress, during the crisis, under strain, or when the ‘chips are down‘ -so to speak.

It is also important to understand that none of us really know the complete physiological history and makeup of any individual that we meet unless he/she divulges that history to us.

The importance of what I have stated in the last few paragraphs cannot be emphasized enough.

So now let us deal with the idea of domestic violence or the idea that the Qur’an instructs men to beat their wives.

So let us look at the verses under discussion:

“Men are the protectors of women by right of what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend in maintenance from their wealth, Thus accordingly the righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in their husband’s absence what Allah would have them, guard. But those from whom you fear nushuz (sexual immorality), first advise them; then if they persist, forsake them in bed, and finally strike them. But if they obey you, seek not means of annoyance against them. Indeed, Allah is Most High, Most Great. And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is Ever Knowing, and Acquainted with all things.” (Qur’an 4:34-35)

It is my understanding that this verse is not at all addressing all men.

  1. It is, first of all, addressing those free men who are the protectors of women, provide for them either shelter or maintenance, etc.
  2. It is not addressing those slave men who would not be the protectors of women, providing for them either shelter or maintenance, etc.

These verses  in 4:34-35 above are not addressing the following type of man:

“And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men to your women until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you. Those invite you to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember.” (Qur’an 2:221)

Due to his social status, a slave man would not be a protector and maintainer of a woman. He also would not be in any position to admonish his wife (a free woman) or refuse to share his bed (presumably her bed) and or dare to think to strike her.

I also believe based upon this text that any man who is not meeting his primary duties and requirements as a husband has forfeited his right to pursue the steps mentioned in the above verses. (Qur’an 4:34-35)

Also, understand that for those men that this verse and its various steps it is in relation to nushuz -sexual immorality.

Similarly, the Qur’an addresses women in regards to men who commit nushuz.

“And if a woman fears from her husband ‘nushuz’- sexual immorality or ‘i’radan’- (abandonment) either to physically desert her or to treat her like a nonpresence while together, there is no sin upon them if they make terms of the settlement between themand settlement is best. And present in souls is stinginess. But if you do good and fear Allah – then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” (Qur’an 4:128)

Notice it doesn’t tell the women to do any of the following:

A) admonish the husband

B) refuse to share the beds with them

C) beat them /hit them/strike them/ tap them

It is my understanding that if the woman is the maintainer and provider in this regard than the inverse of Qur’an 4:34-35 applies.

It also could be the reason the Qur’an does not detail these steps  (as in the case with the slave-man) is that women were often not in a social/economic advantage over a man.  So it may be possible that some of the steps advised to the man may not be helpful to the woman.

Dealing with nushuz- sexual infidelity privately /discreetly or making the matter known. 

So I believe that the Qur’an gives marital couples two methods of dealing with marital infidelity.

What the Qur’an does in verses 4:34-35 and 4:128 is as follows:

It is for those couples who want to try and settle the issue of sexual immorality committed by the husband/wife discreetly -with little fanfare.

Also addressed in the case of the husband is his abandonment of the wife.

What the Qur’an 24:4-9 does is those couples who want to go public with the issue of marital infidelity on behalf of the partner.  It is in this arena in which very severe consequences could await either of the partners.

We will return to the mater of settling marital infidelity discreetly shortly

However, let us first look at the severity of the matter if either party were to go public.

“The woman or man found guilty of sexual immorality -lash each of them with a hundred lashes, and do not be taken by pity for them in the religion of Allah, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a group of the believers witness their punishment. (Qur’an 24:2)

“And those who accuse chaste women and then do not produce four witnesses – lash them with eighty lashes and do not accept from them testimony ever after. And those are defiantly disobedient, Except for those who repent thereafter and reform, for indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. And those who accuse their wives sexual immorality and have no witnesses except themselves – then the witness of one of them shall be four testimonies swearing by Allah that indeed, he is of the truthful. And the fifth oath will be that the curse of Allah be upon him if he should be among the liars. But it will prevent punishment from her if she gives four testimonies swearing by Allah that indeed, he is of the liars. And the fifth oath will be that the wrath of Allah be upon her if he was of the truthful.” (Qur’an 24:4-9)

So this is a scenario laid out for those husbands/wives accusing each other of sexual immorality and they decide to go public with it.

  1. The man will need to produce four witnesses or be beaten/lashed with 80 lashes and his testimony may never be accepted again.
  2. The man has not four witnesses but swears an oath by Allah four times and the fifth is he invokes the curse of Allah upon himself if he is lying.

Just pause for a moment and think of the gravity of what that would entail. To solemnly wish for the curse of Allah (swt) upon oneself.  A gravity beyond imagination.

3. If the woman is willing to match her husband with the solemn oath and that the fifth is that she invokes the curse of Allah upon herself (a grave matter with everlasting consequence) than her testimony will invalidate that of her husband.

The matter will be up to them if they choose to reconcile after this embarrassing ordeal. If they choose reconciliation may Allah (swt) will put mercy and love between them.

Now, what happens if the couple wants to deal with marital infidelity discreetly?

“Men are the protectors of women by right of what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend in maintenance from their wealth, Thus accordingly the righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in their husband’s absence what Allah would have them, guard. But those from whom you fear nushuz (sexual immorality), first advise them; then if they persist, forsake them in bed, and finally strike them. But if they obey you, seek not means of annoyance against them. Indeed, Allah is Most High, Most Great. And if you fear dissension between the two, send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is Ever Knowing, and Acquainted with all things.” (Qur’an 4:34-35)

Now to me, it is rather obvious that the text is even addressing repeat offenses of sexual immorality, indecency.  In other words, the issue of nushaz -sexual immorality with the wife is a reoccurring affair.

So several things are advised.

  1. Verbal Communication: Very Strong admonishing. Be very stern with your words and your feelings about what transpired.

Notice it doesn’t tell you a number or a limit in the number of times you should try this measure.

2. Non-Verbal Communication: Another psychological tool is employed. To not share intimacy with them, to not show them affection. Let it be known through this lack of personal touch that you are absolutely enraged over this.

Notice it doesn’t tell you a number or a limit in the number of times or duration that this should be tried.

3. Non-Verbal Physical Communication: ‘Strike them‘.

Now before I go into my understanding of  “wa-id’ribuhunna” I want to say unequivocally that I do understand that the man is being given permission to strike his wife.

To me it doesn’t mean the following:

“to go on strike”
“to initiate the divorce”
“something metaphorical”

However, “wa-id’ibuhunna” does not mean nor can it mean to ball up the fist and punch someone. It would be a really desperate person with extremely poor exegesis that would try and make that case.

I think at this point a husband who has caught his wife in an act of marital infidelity even after deciding to remain married to her (which he is not obliged to do), after admonishing her, catching her doing it again (showing his disdain by showing lack of empathy) and then finally catching her doing it again.  I think even before these steps are advised the very least that a dignified man whose heart is filled with hurt, pain, and outrage would do in this situation is to strike his wife.

I would also understand it as ‘to slap his wife‘.

Now again if a person cannot understand the context and the scenario that is being mentioned here that is a problem with them.  A dignified and honorable man who is working providing for his wife, taking care of her needs only to have the indignity visited upon him that his wife committed sexual immorality, not once, not twice but three times now.  Anyone who has any concept of justice (even that woman’s own mother) would slap her.

You the hypocrisy and irony of all of this?   I am from the United States and in my culture if this situation was reversed and a woman was working two to three different jobs, putting food on the table, paying the bills, raising the kids, dressing them and preparing them for school, and the man was receiving all these benefits from this woman and he turned around and cheated on his wife and she found out, the very least he could expect is a slap across the face at the least.

Now I have no issue with the “wa-id’ribuhunna” being understood as to strike or to slap.  However, there are other English translations and anyone who has an understanding of language knows full well that some words carry stronger meaning than others.

I understand strike to mean: hit forcibly and deliberately with one’s hand not being balled up.

I understand beat to mean: hit (a person or an animal) repeatedly and violently so as to hurt or injure them-with one’s hand being balled up.

I understand hit to mean: bring one’s hand into contact with (someone or something) quickly and forcefully.

I understand tap to mean: to hit something gently

You may look at all the different verb forms of dad ra ba here:

http://corpus.quran.com/qurandictionary.jsp?q=Drb#(4:34:29)

You can see an instance of the word here:

“We said, “And take in your hand a bunch of weeds and strike (fa-iḍ’rib) with it and do not break your oath.” Indeed, We found him patient, an excellent servant. Indeed, he was repeatedly turning back to Allah.” (Qur’an 38:44)

When Muslims do not have water to make ablutions for prayer we are allowed to use dry earth. Now I would encourage you to watch @ 3:53 minutes into the video.

The narrator says: He should ‘strike’ the soil or dust with his hands once.

This word in Arabic is daraba to strike, so it can mean to strike (daraba) as you see in the manner that the man is doing below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Mu-pozlhYw

However, many people who have axes to grind with Islam and Muslims favor the word beat because they need to paint the worst possible image of Islam and its teachings.

That being said if a woman doesn’t want slapped /strikes than it is very simple.  Do not commit acts of sexual immorality while being a married woman again and again and again.  If you can’t stand the man you are married to divorce him!

It reminds me of people who said to me, “Are you going to the Middle East? You realize if you steal they will cut off your hands! If you sell drugs they will kill you! If you rape someone they will kill you.”    I really couldn’t believe this guy was saying these things to me.

So I replied to him:  “Well, I guess if I don’t steal, sell drugs or rape anyone than I shouldn’t have any problems right?”

A man or a woman who are in an unhappy marital union can leave it any time they wish. May Allah (swt) find for them both partners who are more suitable to them than the previous ones.

Final Thoughts: 

As mentioned prior it is important for both men and women to understand and know as much as they can about someone they decide to choose as a marital partner.  The idea being that marriage is a life long commitment through all types of challenges.

The ideal of a healthy relationship is laid out in the Qur’an: 

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect.” (Qur’an 30:21)

In fact, men are to hold their wives in such esteem and respect that even to divorce them by idioms is seen as uncouth.

“Those who pronounce thihar (saying you are to me like the back of my mother) among you to separate from their wives-they are not their mothers. Their mothers are none but those who gave birth to them. And indeed, they are saying a dishonorable statement and a flat lie. But indeed, Allah is Pardoning and Forgiving. And he who does not find a slave to set free-then a fast of two months consecutively before they touch one another; and he who is unable -then the feeding of sixty poor persons. That is for you to believe in Allah and His Messenger, and those are the limits set by Allah. And for the disbelievers is a painful punishment.” (Qur’an 58:2-4)

So we can see that even using such idioms and cruel words towards one’s wife carries a heavy expiation in Islam.   One needs to free a slave or fast for 2 months back-to-back, or at the very least to feed 60 indigent people!!

We have also seen where a man brings false testimony of marital infidelity towards his wife he will either be beaten/lashed 80 times!!

Likewise, a husband who does have to resort to striking/slapping his wife should she repeat such offensive behavior should at that juncture possibly consider divorcing his wife.

It is possible that this man has married a woman who has deep psychological issues.

She could possibly be a relationship masochist.

For example, Dr. Karen Ruskin author of 10 Seconds to Mental Health says,

A relationship masochist will deliberately provoke and solicit rejecting responses from their partner to feel hurt, humiliated, and defeated,” says marriage and family therapist Dr. Karen Ruskin.

Likewise Tabitha McGurr in the article:  “The Harsh Truth Why Women Go Back to Men Who Abused Them”

She Says in the following section:

SHE GETS OFF ON THE PAIN

“There’s a huge difference between a chick who likes it rough in the sack and one who actually enjoys physical and sexual abuse. Some women choose to transcend the rough play boundary and head towards full-on violence. Every girl likes her ass spanked and hair yanked every now and then, but I’ve heard of extreme cases involving bruising, lashing, cutting, burning, vomiting, and pretty much any other atrocity you can imagine. If it’s consensual and you’re into that, then go for it, but don’t think getting off on abusive practices doesn’t have its pitfalls. Some people just take sex too far. David Carradine accidentally killed himself because of a fetish. Feel free to have sex however you want, but if it’s your choice to stay with someone who berates you just because the sex is good, therapy and major life reassessments are certainly in order.”

Source: (https://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/02/the-harsh-truth-why-women-go-back-to-men-who-abused-them)

So even after a husband has slapped his wife, and continues to exert patience and this woman is doing such things (maybe even to elicit this reaction) you may need to assess if this woman/wife/partner is having a psychotic break or if she has some deep-seated issues that need counseling.

Likewise, it is our responsibility as Muslims, especially those with platforms and voices to advocate and educate the true position of the Qur’an on this matter.  There are plenty of Muslim men in this world with deep-seated anger issues, resentment issues, power and control issues, among others, and bringing them into marital union could put a woman into serious harm.

Muslim men and women need to be educated on what are their rights/roles and responsibilities as husbands and wives.  Admittedly there needs to be more work done to improve the situation of women (all over this world).  However, we certainly do not need secular liberals, feminists, or those who do not believe in divine guidance trying to give us direction.

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. Undoubtedly in these are signs for those who reflect.”  (Qur’an 30:21)

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