As i was working out at the gym today the News Screens flashed at me from all main Australian Broadcasters. It revealed two Muslim women from the group called “Hizb Ut Tahrir” having a discussion about if and how it is justified for a man to physically hit his wife or not. In the video the two women talk about different interpretations of a certain verse in the Qur’an and they take out a Siwak (toothbrush) and tap each other with it to indicate this is the “beating” that is accepted, though not encouraged according to some Islamic opinions.
The video made all mainstream news and as i was working out i did indeed shake my head at this moment because it seems that Muslims are often the ones that shoot themselves in the foot by having such discussions and leaving the grounds of interpretation open far and wide.
Yet in a way, it’s actually good that this video was released and the Media published it because, let’s face it, we as Muslims and Islam as a faith already have a deplorable reputation and that bar could barely be raised any lower sadly, but at the same time it has opened up a discussion and dialogue about a huge problem, not necessarily in the Muslim community but in the Australian community at large, and that is domestic violence.
Now theologically, without a shadow of a doubt, beating your wife, or in fact anyone for that matter is absolutely unacceptable and a widely condemned action from an Islamic standpoint and this is the important crux of the discussion because all we are seeing right now are superficial opinions and snippets of dialogues that scrape the surface of this troubling detail.
What we need to do, or i need to do for that matter, is get to the core of the matter and we must examine, if indeed this action of “wife beating” is an accepted practice of Islam- the religion- and if i can convince you that it is not, then we can clearly make a distinction on whether or not this person is acting in accordance of not only the laws of his religion but also the laws of the land that he lives in and in this case we’re talking about Australia.
Now let us start with the verse in Question, which is found in the Qur’an. Chapter 4, verse 34. “Men are the supporters of women by what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend from their wealth. So righteous women are obedient, guarding in absence what Allah would have them guard. But those from whom you fear rebellion – advise them; forsake them in bed; and (finally) strike them. But if they heed to you , seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.“
The verse in question from its origins has been open to much interpretation, confusion and dissension upon Islamic scholars and believers alike, yet this verse as a standalone doesn’t carry with it enough information on whether this language is that of symbolism or one of absolute literal instruction. The Hadith literature that at times further clarifies some of the more ambiguous verses of the Qur’an can shed more light on certain topics and this topic of “wife beating” is widely covered.
What we now need to do is observe if the founder of Islam, the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (pbuh) followed the above instructions literally, did he hit his wives? Did he endorse hitting women? If he is a role model on how a man should treat his wife and if he was the living, breathing and walking Qur’an – we must then assume that if the above verse was literal, that he would then indeed beat his wives.
Our first piece of evidence comes from one of Muhammads wives, her name was Aisha. This woman later came to be a massive collector of Hadiths (sayings of Muhammad) that have been preserved for the last 1300 years. In one Hadith that is actually rarely cited we see something that is very clear cut and absolute. She states in the Hadith Below:
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, did not strike a servant or a woman, and he never struck anything with his hand.
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2328,
Not only that, Muhammad himself convinced a woman not to marry a man because he had a reputation of beating women. She had three men make proposals to her and Muhammad helped her measure up who would be the most suitable. One man was poor, the other was a wife beater and the third was pious. It was stated:
Allah’s Messenger said: So far as Mu’awiya is concerned, he is a poor man without any property. So far as Abu Jahm is concerned, he is a beater of women, but take for marriage instead Usama b. Zaid. (The Pious man)
Source: Muslim, Book 009, Number 3526:
When a companion of Muhammad approached him and asked how he should treat his wife, Muhammad responded with a very simple and clear instruction.
I went to the Apostle of Allah 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.
Source: Abu Dawud, Book 11, Number 2139:
Yet one of the greatest evidences that beating is clearly not allowed or mandated in Islam is a historical event that occurred with Muhammad and his wives. There was a situation that ensued where Muhammad was dissatisfied with his wives, they were charged with jealousy amongst each other and conspired against their husband in order to “get even” about certain woes they felt in regards to their relationship. Clearly, if Muhammad had the green light in his book to “beat” his wives for “disobedience” then this would have been the perfect opportunity for him to recite this verse and then get physical!
Yet this never happened. This particular event was called the “Incident of I’la”.
Thereupon, he vowed that he would keep away from his wives for a month in order to show them that the worldly life was unimportant for him, to teach them a lesson, to decrease the jealousy among them and to measure their love of and loyalty to him.
After this vow, he started to live in the arbor called Mashraba. This was a small humble room with a straw bed, a pillow stuffed with bark and his food items were barley and water. His companions were convinced he had divorced his wives and they wept at his poor form while indicating the high figures of Persia and Rome lived like Kings.
Yet this was his way of dealing with supposed “disobedient” wives. He had already advised them and spoken to them, he then separated himself from their beds for an entire month and he did not lay a single hand on them before, during or after this event.
Source: Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 63, Narration 212
So given the above information we can clearly see something is amiss. If the Prophet of Islam and the verbal communicator of the Qur’an never beat his wives, then how is it possible that this verse can be taken literally? This is why a Muslim man who intends on following their Prophet in his treatment to his wives should live by his ideals, which was NOT to beat them- ever! Muslim men that use this verse in their holy book to legitimize them beating their spouses are not only cowards, they have a clear and negligible misunderstanding of their own faith and their own Messenger.
Not only is this abhorrent and debasing action clearly unacceptable within the context of religion, it is clearly unacceptable within the society of which we live in. In Australia domestic violence is a major issue. According to the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre :
“On average at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia. One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence since the age of 15.”
These statistics are alarming, it indicates that in Australia alone 56 women are KILLED in domestic violence incidents yearly and a staggering one in three women has experienced physical violence from the age of 15. That is approximately 4.5 million Australian women.!
So let us not pretend this is a “Muslim issue” and let’s not make it a Muslim issue as the media seems to be stipulating that domestic violence is an ESPECIALLY Muslim problem, it most definitely is not and the majority of the domestic violence cases in Australia are not being conducted by men reading Quran 4:34.
In Australia it is illegal to beat your wife, period. It is a highly intolerable action that should be dealt with in accordance to the law, yes the Australian law. Protections are already in place for women that encounter domestic violence encounters and they should utilize them, whether they are Muslim or not.
Muslim women that are dealing with abusive husbands should remind them of the examples above, inform them that their treatment against you is not in accordance to the Messenger of Allah and make it clear that if they are believers and want to replicate Muhammads treatment of their wives to their own lives that they should not, and cannot beat you!
I hope you have read this article and gained a better understanding on how and why this problem exists not only Worldwide but also within the Muslim world. All of my sources are Authentic Islamic sources that are verified and accepted by all mainstream scholars of Islam. I ask my fellow Muslims to please discuss this situation while the heat is still on.
People are on TV boasting about wife beating and making excuses on how some elements of wife beating are okay and it clearly enables others to navigate their way through to domestic violence when all of my examples show, without a shadow of a doubt, in clear language that Muhammad never hit his wives.
Today is our day to speak out and highlight to the media, to the wider general Australian public AND to fellow Muslims that we do not accept wife beating in our theology, hence in our lives. We reject it and we are law abiding citizens that stand by the laws of our land and our religion.
Peace and blessings be upon you.