Does Islam allow husbands to beat wives?

Many men misinterpret a verse of the Holy Quran to derive a meaning that Islam allows husbands to beat wives in certain conditions. We have explained it in detail.

Women in Islam

Islam gives a special place to women be it a mother, sister, wife, or a daughter. 

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: Paradise is beneath the feet of your mother. – Sunan an-Nasa’i 3104

Sisters were given the right to the inheritance which was not given to them before that.

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: The best of you are those who are the best to their wives. –  Riyad as-Salihin 278

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: Whoever has three daughters and is patient towards them, and feeds them, gives them to drink, and clothes them from his wealth; they will be a shield for him from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.'” –  Sunan Ibn Majah 3669

Quranic regarding beating wives

Many people have misinterpreted the meaning of the following verse to claim that Islam allows husbands to beat their wives. Let me reproduce the verse; 

If you sense ill-conduct from your women, advise them ˹first˺, ˹if they persist,˺ do not share their beds, ˹but if they still persist,˺ then [as the last resort] beat them. – An-Nisa 4:34

Does Islam allow husbands to beat wives?

Interpretation of the verse

1- Islam describes three levels of dealing with wives. If one’s wife is persistently misconducting with the husband, then he should advise her and make sure that matters get settled.

2- However, if she does not agree then he can separate his bed and not sleep with her.

3- However, if none of these make her realize her mistake, only then he can be a little harsher towards her. Disciplining one’s wife gently is the final resort.

The earliest commentators understood that the beating was to be light enough not to leave a mark, should be done with nothing bigger than a tooth stick, and should not be on the face.

The beating stands as a warning, not a punishment. Islam does not allow husbands to punish their wives by beating them as explained above.

What can wives do if husband beats her?

Now if a husband beats her wife hard, she has the right to seek the help of her guardian or the court for a divorce. The guardian is in the best position to judge her case and advise her accordingly.

If the matter goes to the court and the domestic violence is proven, the Islamic court would not take a moment to approve if requested by the woman.

Prophet Muhammad’s behavior with wives

This ayah is however misinterpreted and those who want to exploit Islam say that men have been given the right to be cruel to women and beat them up.

If this was the case, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ would have beaten up his wives and told his companions that women are inferior and men can and should beat them.  Prophet Muhammad ﷺ always remained kind towards his wives and preached the same.

Aisha رضي الله عنها said: Prophet Muhammad ﷺ never beat anyone with his hand, neither a woman nor a servant. – Sahih Muslim 2328

Conclusion

In a nutshell, Islam allows beating your wife gently but that too in extreme circumstances when you have exploited all other means to discipline her as explained in verse (4:34) of the Holy Quran.

However, Islam does not encourage the behavior of hitting women. So, it is an act that has been allowed in extreme circumstances but not encouraged.

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