Jul 11, 2011

Domestic Abuse Within Muslim Community

By Fahima Mahmood

According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, one in every four women will experience domestic violence. Sadly, as Muslims we know or have heard of a couple that are in a domestic dispute. Domestic abuse among Muslims is apparent among those who believe Islam allows violence or the beating of women. They take one or two ayats of the Qur’an, often reading part of it, to showcase their point that they are right in beating their wife.

So what does the Qur’an say about beating your wife? In surahAn-Nisa, ayat34, it states “As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, caution (and warn) them (against the specific faults, at first), refuse to share their beds (next), beat them (lightly, at the very last); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of angering them).”

This means if you fear your wife committing a sin or is behaving poorly, talk to her about her actions.Proceed to give her a warning if she doesn’t listen. If that doesn’t work, separate from the bed, which means relations shouldn’t take place. If she continues, then you may resort to light force. The light force that is used should not cause bleeding, breakage, swelling or damage to her skin. The light force should also not be applied to any sensitive part of her body.

Of course, giving these implications it’s difficult to carry out any beatings. Following these guidelines will only permit you to tab her on the shoulder or arm and nothing else. To follow through with the use of light force, if you can call it that, might not be effective at all.

If using light force or separating from the bed will not correct the behavior or cause a worse reaction than it shouldn’t be used. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, throughout his life never used light force on any of his wives. His never raised his hand or voice to any of his wives and his companions followed his example.

It’s also important to note that this ayat of the Quran refers to sins such as adultery. According to sharia law, those who commit adultery are punished by stoning. Rather than letting your wife go commit adultery, it was permissible to follow what the ayat states above. This doesn’t mean to use light force on your wife for not ironing your shirt or having dinner ready.

The Qur’an doesn’t condone violence or beating of women. If you are unhappy with your wife, talk to her first and then stop relations before you proceed to use light force, which is nothing more than tapping her. In fact, it was the saying of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), "Do not beat Allah's bondwomen. Those who do so, that is, those who take to beating their wives, are not the best among you.''

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)


Asalaamalaikum Warahmat ALLAH Wabarakatu, JazakAllah kheir for bringing up an important topic. But even 'Light Force' doesn't even accurately explain. There really is no physical force justified in Islam for ANY man to take action against ANY woman. The Sunnah is the proof, there is no proof in the Sunnah for even a light force. We can't practice Islam by the Quran alone without the guidance of Rasullilah salAllahu alayhee wasallam. If we study the lives of the Prophets' peace be upon them we look at Prophet Ayuub, Job- alayhee sallat wasallam. Look what happened when he lost everything and found out his wife was selling her hair to make money for them to survive. Remember what happened? Prophet Ayuub with his weak body, weak voice but a heart of maximum potential a human can have of love for Allah made an oath that he would raise his hand to his wife. He was also the most patient of men, of people. It was surprising to read that he had said something of this nature in Tafsir Ibn Kathir..but we can't stop there with the story and assume to undertand it like that. We delve into it, when we read that it was out of his love for his wife that it caused him so much more emotional pain to see her sacrificing her life to care for him, even her own feminine beauty which perhaps was a sight he enjoyed during his misery of being 'terminal'. He didn't want to see her being humiliated by others as he was. So this 'threat' was a 'threat of words' which can not in any way be compared to the abusive men we have in this world today towards their wives. It wasnt not emotional abuse of words either. She never feared him. Nor did he ever want to instill fear in her. Unlike with what goes on with Domestic Violence today in our world, in our Ummah. When Prophet Ayuub, alayhee salaam, regained in strength by the will of Allah- Allah told him to go head and grasp 100 pieces of grass and to strike his wife once out of a symbol that one's oath should not be disregarded. This ofcourse was an act of mercy because think of how soft grass was/is..? Now put 100 of those small grains of grass together? Softer than a toothbrush, a miswak! He then gently tapped his wife. But not out of anger, or disappointment..out of sticking by his word and for this to be a lesson in Islam of keeping oaths. Does this mean that they didn't live happily ever after and that he wasnt a righteous husband? NO. It means even if a man threatens to beat his wife, he has ZERO justification in doing so. With that we can go back to the ayah in Surat anNisaa' and understand that the words BEAT or FORCE should be eliminated in the English understandings and replaced with the word 'tap' or 'lightly tap' & even in Arabic- although no words of the Quran should EVER be changed by people- there should be more efforts to make this ayah clear by our scholars in light of the Quran& Sunnah...JazakAllah their for bringing more awareness to this, I hope it doesn't go on deaf ears. May Allah rectify the Ummah of Rasullilah saAllahu alayhee wasallam who  NEVER hurt a woman or a child& NEVER promoted it. EVER.

Asalaamalaikum, thank you for your article
discussing this important topic in our community. However I find the premise of
“proceeding to the use of light force” very troubling. No amount of force against
women is ever justified in Islam. I know that those who abuse their wives,
daughters, mothers, etc. use ayat 34 in Surah An-Nisa to justify their actions
and those who refute this interpretation often use the Sunnah of the Prophet
(pbuh). But I find it extremely troubling that this verse continues to be
misinterpreted this way and that even here, it is deemed “acceptable” to use “light
force” in any situation, ever. I would argue that the interpretation of this
verse is flawed from the beginning. Obviously I think we can all agree that
this verse provides a series of ways to deal with severe marital problems, each
one being more serious than the last: talking, boycotting of intimacy, and
finally daraba. For the purposes of
this verse, this word is often translated as “beat” or some other use of force.
This word however is used several times in the Quran (I believe it is up to 5
separate times) and NONE of those uses are ever understood as “beat.” Most are
translated or understood to mean “leave,” “separate,” or “strike out” as in “strike
out on a journey.” There are some jurists who understand this verse to mean
divorce or separate, instead of beat, for this very reason. Furthermore, if we
are truly to use the Prophet’s example, this is how he reacted when faced with
defiance. First he talked to his wives; then boycotted sleeping with them; and
finally, offered divorce. In fact, divorce makes far more sense as an
interpretation than “light force,” because, as mentioned in the article, light
force such as a tap on the shoulder or arm hardly seems like an escalation in
consequences. The unfortunate interpretation of the word daraba to mean beat is the reason for this unnecessary controversy
and horrific violence against women in the name of Islam. In addition, it is
absolutely inexcusable to continue this misunderstanding of Quran and Sunnah
and perpetuate the misinterpretation by even suggesting that the verse could
mean anything resembling “beat”, lightly or otherwise. It allows for the flawed
logic that if a man is weak and cannot follow the great example of the Prophet
and does in fact “lightly” beat his wife, then he has not done anything wrong.
The fact of the matter is that Allah is always just, and Allah would never make
an unjust action lawful. Abuse is abuse and abuse is unjust; that is common
sense and we need to quit making excuses for the perpetrators of domestic

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