To say “Islam allows domestic violence” shows the lack of understanding of what Allah SWT and His messenger peace be upon him have taught. Allah in the Quran says to follow the patterns of the prophet:
لَقَد كانَ لَكُم في رَسولِ اللَّهِ أُسوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَن كانَ يَرجُو اللَّهَ وَاليَومَ الآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثيرًا
There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah oftenQuran 33:21
Following the sunnah(teachings/traditions) of the prophet is an important part of a Muslims everyday life, and this is one of those teachings:
حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يَحْيَى، حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنْ هِشَامِ بْنِ عُرْوَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لأَهْلِهِ وَأَنَا خَيْرُكُمْ لأَهْلِي وَإِذَا مَاتَ صَاحِبُكُمْ فَدَعُوهُ ” . قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ غَرِيبٌ صَحِيحٌ مِنْ حَدِيثِ الثَّوْرِيِّ مَا أَقَلَّ مَنْ رَوَاهُ عَنِ الثَّوْرِيِّ . وَرُوِيَ هَذَا عَنْ هِشَامِ بْنِ عُرْوَةَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم مُرْسَلٌ .
The best of you is the best to his wives, and I am the best of you to my wivesJami at Tirmidhi 3895
This saying of the prophet peace be upon him encourages caring for your wives. It does not promote violence towards them, the prophet loved his wives and never beat them. Even Aisha, one of his beloved wives said:
حَدَّثَنَاهُ أَبُو كُرَيْبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو أُسَامَةَ، عَنْ هِشَامٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ مَا ضَرَبَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم شَيْئًا قَطُّ بِيَدِهِ وَلاَ امْرَأَةً وَلاَ خَادِمًا إِلاَّ أَنْ يُجَاهِدَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَمَا نِيلَ مِنْهُ شَىْءٌ قَطُّ فَيَنْتَقِمَ مِنْ صَاحِبِهِ إِلاَّ أَنْ يُنْتَهَكَ شَىْءٌ مِنْ مَحَارِمِ اللَّهِ فَيَنْتَقِمَ لِلَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ .
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) never beat anyone with his hand, neither a woman nor a servantSahih Muslim 2328a
If as a Muslim you’re supposed to follow the patterns of the prophet, why then would you go and ignore a hadith about how he never laid his hands on a woman?
There is a verse that is quoted constantly by non-Muslims as a “got you“. Within the verse it says “But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them” (Quran 4:34). The part of this verse that is quoted is “Strike them” which someone could take entirely wrong as if it is promoting domestic abuse. Except as you’ve already seen, the prophet peace be upon him was against the hitting of your wife, he would advise against it saying:
حَدَّثَنَا عَلِيُّ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، حَدَّثَنَا سُفْيَانُ، عَنْ هِشَامٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ زَمْعَةَ، قَالَ نَهَى النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنْ يَضْحَكَ الرَّجُلُ مِمَّا يَخْرُجُ مِنَ الأَنْفُسِ وَقَالَ ” بِمَ يَضْرِبُ أَحَدُكُمُ امْرَأَتَهُ ضَرْبَ الْفَحْلِ، ثُمَّ لَعَلَّهُ يُعَانِقُهَا ”. وَقَالَ الثَّوْرِيُّ وَوُهَيْبٌ وَأَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ عَنْ هِشَامٍ ” جَلْدَ الْعَبْدِ ”.
How does anyone of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then he may embrace (sleep with) her?Sahih Bukhari 6042
Also, it’s quite easy to ignore the next part of that verse which explains “But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them” to suit the hateful narrative some more. The Quran is giving simple instructions to handle a situation where the wife becomes disobedient not to her husband, but to Allah.
If she is not following the commands of Allah SWT that say “So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard” then these instructions are to be followed, not one immediately after the other, but they are meant to be done after constant actions of disobedience over a long period. The idea is to not reach the point beyond “forsaking them in bed” if you pass that point it’s permissible to try and correct the disobedience with a symbolic gesture, a light tap as if to give the last warning saying “return to the obedience of Allah” a tap which is not meant to hurt/harm your wife in any way. A tap that should not be anywhere near her face as the messenger of Allah explains:
حَدَّثَنَا مُوسَى بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادٌ، أَخْبَرَنَا أَبُو قَزَعَةَ الْبَاهِلِيُّ، عَنْ حَكِيمِ بْنِ مُعَاوِيَةَ الْقُشَيْرِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَا حَقُّ زَوْجَةِ أَحَدِنَا عَلَيْهِ قَالَ ” أَنْ تُطْعِمَهَا إِذَا طَعِمْتَ وَتَكْسُوَهَا إِذَا اكْتَسَيْتَ – أَوِ اكْتَسَبْتَ – وَلاَ تَضْرِبِ الْوَجْهَ وَلاَ تُقَبِّحْ وَلاَ تَهْجُرْ إِلاَّ فِي الْبَيْتِ ” . قَالَ أَبُو دَاوُدَ ” وَلاَ تُقَبِّحْ ” . أَنْ تَقُولَ قَبَّحَكِ اللَّهُ .
do not strike her on the face, do not revile her or separate yourself from her except in the houseSunan Abi Dawud 2142
If her disobedience were to persist after all of those instructions set by Allah SWT, then the next course of action is to get an arbitrator to help try and solve the issues between your wife and you:
وَإِن خِفتُم شِقاقَ بَينِهِما فَابعَثوا حَكَمًا مِن أَهلِهِ وَحَكَمًا مِن أَهلِها إِن يُريدا إِصلاحًا يُوَفِّقِ اللَّهُ بَينَهُما ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كانَ عَليمًا خَبيرًا
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 themQuran 4:35
It’s clear Allah SWT is simply giving steps to preserve a marriage, and not destroy it. He does not want us to harm/hurt our wives, as we are the caretakers of them, and their supporters when it comes to wealth and well-being. Allah explains:
يا أَيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمَنوا لا يَحِلُّ لَكُم أَن تَرِثُوا النِّساءَ كَرهًا ۖ وَلا تَعضُلوهُنَّ لِتَذهَبوا بِبَعضِ ما آتَيتُموهُنَّ إِلّا أَن يَأتينَ بِفاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَعاشِروهُنَّ بِالمَعروفِ ۚ فَإِن كَرِهتُموهُنَّ فَعَسىٰ أَن تَكرَهوا شَيئًا وَيَجعَلَ اللَّهُ فيهِ خَيرًا كَثيرًا
You who believe, it is not lawful for you to inherit women against their will, nor should you treat your wives harshlyQuran 4:19
These verses continue to get overlooked when it comes to this hate-filled narrative being brought about by western liberalism.
Here we will be examining the verse in Arabic:
الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ۚ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا
Men are caretakers of women, since Allah has made some of them excel the others, and because of the wealth they have spent. So, the righteous women are obedient, (and) guard (the property and honor of their husbands) in (their) absence with the protection given by Allah. As for women of whom you fear rebellion, convince them, and leave them apart in beds, and beat them. Then, if they obey you, do not seek a way against them. Surely, Allah is the Highest, the Greatest.Quran 4:34
The word in question that is always the cause of debate is
It’s important to note that the meaning of certain words can be lost in translation from Arabic to English. This word is from the root ” ضرب ” which has several different meanings, mentioned in other verses in the Quran such as a few examples:
To Take Away or To Ignore: 43:5
To Cover: 24:31
To Condemn: 2:61
Thus we conclude that the word itself depends on its placement in the verse/sentence to understand its meaning. To say that the word means “to hit them” clean & cut shows the lack of understanding of the Arabic language. Now to further examine what the word means in Quran 4:34 we go to the tafsir of several scholars. As explained above it does NOT mean “hit them harshly/hardly“ as there is no word in Arabic in the verse that indicates this. It would be ignorant and completely dishonest to use this verse as an excuse for one to beat his wife to the point of causing her physical harm when in fact there is a conscious agreement between scholars and commentators (mufsren) that it is meant as a symbolic gesture, with no intention of causing harm but rather guidance to remember the importance of obeying Allah and to not be disobedient of Allah’s commandments upon us.
Such commentators that explain this are:
الرجل قائم على المرأة يأمرها بطاعة الله، فإن أبت، فله أن يضربها ضرباً غير مبرّح
“Men are the caretakers and it is their duty to remind them of obeying Allah if they were to be disobedient. If they (the women) refuse to listen, then he has the right to tap her, lightly with no intent of harm but rather a reminder.“Al Tabari 4:34
أمر الله أن يبدأ النساء بالموعظة أولاً ثم بالهجران، فإن لم يَنْجَعا فالضرب فإنه هو الذي يصلِحها له ويحملها على تَوْفِية حقه. والضرب في هذه الآية هو ضرب الأدب غير المُبَرِّح، وهو الذي لا يكسر عظماً ولا يشين جارحة كاللَّكْزة ونحوها فإن المقصود منه الصلاح لا غير
“Allah has ordered men to advise their wives first respectfully and nicely, then (if there is no change) to leave them from their beds (to not touch them in bed). If there is still no discipline from the wife to be better, then he is allowed to beat her. However, in this verse “beat” is meant as a symbolic gesture of tapping with no intent to physically harm her. There should be no harm done, no breaking of any bones, but rather a poke ( كاللَّكْزة ) with the intent to fix things, nothing more.“Al Qurtobi 4:34
تَّقوا اللهَ في النساءِ؛ فإنَّكم أخذتُموهنَّ بأمانةِ الله، واستحلَلْتُم فروجَهنَّ بكلمةِ الله، وإنَّ لكم عليهنَّ ألَّا يُوطِئْنَ فُرُشَكم أحًدا تكرهونَه، فإنْ فعَلْنَ ذلك فاضرِبوهنَّ ضربًا غيرَ مُبَرِّحٍ، ولهنَّ عليكم رِزقُهنَّ وكِسوتُهنَّ بالمعروفِ
“Fear Allah when treating your wives. If you marry them by an oath to Allah, and you are given the right to be with them by Allah, then there should be no harm between you both. There is an obligation to not be in bed with someone you hate. (if you are both fighting, do not seek them in bed but rather leave them be) – in this case, you are not on speaking terms due to her constant disobedience, so Allah instructs the husband to not be with his wife physically. If the wife was to continue in her disobedience, the husband is instructed to tap her with no intent to harm her. As your wives have rights over you, so treat them in a fair and just manner.“In Sahih Muslim narrated from Jabir ibn Abd Allah in Tafseer Al- Tabari:
It is also important to keep in mind the words of the Prophet may peace be upon him and how he instructed men to treat their wives. It is narrated by Umar Ibn Al Ahwas that he witnessed the Prophets last ceremony where he said:
ألاَ وٱستَوْصُوا بالنساء خيراً فإنهن عَوَانٍ عندكم ليس تملكون منهن شيئاً غير ذلك إلا أن يأتين بفاحشة مُبَيِّنة فإن فعلن فاهجروهن في المضاجِع وٱضربوهن ضرباً غيرَ مُبَرِّح فإن أطَعْنَكم فلا تَبْغُوا عليهن سبيلاً ألا إنّ لكم على نسائكم حقاً ولنسائكم عليكم حقّاً فأما حقكم على نسائكم فلا يُوطِئْنَ فُرُشَكم مَن تكرهون ولا يأذنّ في بيوتكم من تكرهون ألاَ وحقُّهنّ عليكم أن تحسِنوا إليهن في كسوتهن وطعامهن
O people, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.Al-Jami’s Interpretation of the Rulings of the Qur’an / Al-Qurtubi
Does Martial Rape exist within Islam?
Another common misconception is “Islam allows marital rape“. There is no allowance of “Marital rape” in Islam, as you’ve seen Allah SWT forbids force upon your wives or harsh treatment towards them, and the Prophet peace be upon him advised against abuse, and never laid a hand on his wives. Yet of course, without any understanding, someone will use this hadith to justify marital rape:
حَدَّثَنَا مُسَدَّدٌ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو عَوَانَةَ، عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ أَبِي حَازِمٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ إِذَا دَعَا الرَّجُلُ امْرَأَتَهُ إِلَى فِرَاشِهِ فَأَبَتْ، فَبَاتَ غَضْبَانَ عَلَيْهَا، لَعَنَتْهَا الْمَلاَئِكَةُ حَتَّى تُصْبِحَ ”. تَابَعَهُ شُعْبَةُ وَأَبُو حَمْزَةَ وَابْنُ دَاوُدَ وَأَبُو مُعَاوِيَةَ عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ.
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If a husband calls his wife to his bed (i.e. to have sexual relation) and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning“Sahih Bukhari 3237
Within Islam, a husband has a right to his wife, and a wife has a right to her husband, and you can’t remove these rights simply to upset your partner. If you are withholding sexual relations for no valid reason, from either your wife or your husband, it’s considered wrong. A valid reason would be something such as being sick, tired or just not being in the mood. If you are withholding sexual intimacy just for the purpose of punishing your spouse, it is considered wrong. However, force is never allowed in Islam. If a husband were to force himself onto his wife, or a wife was to force herself onto her husband, that is prohibited. You can not cause harm to your partner. A wife has full permission to seek divorce if her husband was to cause her any harm:
ذهب الامام مالك (1) : أن للزوجة أن تطلب من القاضي التفريق إذا ادعت إضرار الزوج بها إضرارا لا يستطاع معه دوام العشرة بين أمثالهما، مثل: ضربها، أو سبها، أو إيذائها بأي نوع من أنواع الايذاء الذي لا يطاق،
Imam Malik (1): The wife has the right to ask the judge to separate if she claims that the husband has harmed her in such a way that it is not possible to continue the relationship between the two of them, such as: hitting her, insulting her, or harming her with any kind of unbearable abuse.Imam Malik Fiqh Al Sunnah 2/289
The first case ever in Islam in which a woman came to The Prophet to seeking a divorce from her husband as he beat her and broke her arm was the case of Habiba bint Sahl al-Ansari. Yet another story where the Prophet despised a man who beat his wife and physically caused her harm, and granted her the right to divorce immediately.
Yahya ibn Sa’eed reported: Habeeba bint Sahl was the wife of Thabit ibn Qais and it was mentioned to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, that they were married and she was his neighbor. Thabit had struck her, so she appeared at the door of the Prophet and she said, “Thabit and I can no longer be married.” The Prophet said to Thabit:
خُذْ مِنْهَا وَخَلِّ سَبِيلَهَا
Take what she owes to you and let her go her way.Muwatta Malik – Book of Divorce– further explanation in Arabic.
Women in Islam are cherished, they are not to be abused. The Prophet peace be upon him defended those women who were wronged around him, and Allah put in place systems and rules to make sure women are treated with respect as they should be. I advise anyone before they go quoting random verses without context, to look further into things, take time, research into more than just one verse, and I know Allah SWT will guide you too.