In Islam, God has legislated many things for Muslims who believed in Him with no partner or mediator. These legislations are to guide them to the best way of how to know and deal with God, how to deal with each other and everyone in all situations, through Qur’an as well as sunnah (Prophetic traditions). Indeed, one of the most clear Islamic legislations that were distinguished where those regarding women who used to be greatly underestimated in pre-Islamic periods. We can understand the full issue in light of divine context and Prophetic traditions. Let’s discover together: Does Islam Allow striking women!?
Women in Comparison: Before & After Islam
At the time of Qur’an revelation, women, for example, as prevailed in pre-Islamic periods, were deprived from their simplest rights like the right to inherit. Also, they were to be part of brother in laws’ belongings once the husband dies. So generally, women before Islam were more of a commodity than human being, life partner or someone who has rights and choice. Islam came and gave women their rights to inherit, never compelled to work. Moreover, men are to provide for them housing, food and expenses whether a father, brother, or, if married, a husband as best as they can as enjoined by God. That is why men’s share in inheritance sometimes is higher than women’s.
Generally speaking, Islam elevated, honored women and gave them their rights as God clarified through Qur’an and Sunnah. Prophet Muhammmad peace be upon him said:
The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” [Sunan Ibn Majah] (1)
Also, companion Ali, Prophet Mohammad’s cousin said; “Whoever honors women is but a noble; i.e. an honorable, man, and whoever insults or humiliates women is but depraved.”
Women Striking in Divine Context
In light of the above mentioned situation, to discuss one of the legislations mentioned in Qur’an that has a great misconception, we need to understand its meaning in divine context and in prophetic practice as well, and also to understand whether it is obligatory, or only permissible; all in light of what has been mentioned before. So this legislation is mentioned in the Verse:
And those (wives) whom you fear their recalcitrance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [if they persist then finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, God is All Exalted and All Grand.” [Qur’an 4-34] (2)
Thus, we understand from God’s words that if the wife becomes arrogant with her husband, he has to advise her. If the advice has no good result, then, he has to sleep on his other side not facing her in bed. Then, if she insists, there comes “striking”. So, what about striking?
Women Striking Prophetic Practice
As for Prophet Mohammad’s practice, he’s never beaten anyone or thing except when he was at war for the sake of God as narrated by ‘Aishah who said:
The Messenger of Allah never beat any of his servants, or wives, and his hand never hit anything.” [Ibn Majah] (3)
It was also narrated by Abdullah bin Zama that the Prophet (ﷺ) said,
None of you should flog his wife as he flogs a slave and then have sexual intercourse with her in the last part of the day.” [Bukhari] (4)
And when prophet Mohammad peace be upon him was asked whether a Muslim is excused to strike his wife, He said:
Do not beat Allah’s bondwomen.” When ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) came to Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and complained saying: “The women have become very daring towards their husbands,” He (ﷺ) gave permission to beat them. Then many women went to the family of the Messenger of Allah (wives) complaining of their husbands, and he (the Prophet (ﷺ)) said, “Many women have gone round Muhammad’s family complaining of their husbands. Those who do so, that is, those who take to beating their wives, are not the best among you.” [Abu Dawud] (5)
This shows it is not obligatory, but merely permissible.
Rules of Women Striking in Islam
For more clarification for the above-mentioned explanation, striking has rules. The hadiths to come tell a lot about some of them:
1. Beating lightly:
‘Amr bin Al-Ahwas Al-Jushami (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that he had heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying on his Farewell Pilgrimage, after praising and glorifying Allah and admonishing people,
Treat women kindly, they are like captives in your hands; you do not owe anything else from them. In case they are guilty of open indecency, then do not share their beds and beat them lightly but if they return to obedience, do not have recourse to anything else against them. You have rights over your wives and they have their rights over you. Your right is that they shall not permit anyone you dislike to enter your home, and their right is that you should treat them well in the matter of food and clothing.” [At- Tirmidhi] (6)
2. Not on the face:
It was also narrated by Mu’awiyah bin Haidah (May Allah be pleased with him):
I asked Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): “What right can any wife demand of her husband?” He replied, “You should give her food when you eat, clothe her when you clothe yourself, not strike her on the face, and do not revile her or separate from her except in the house.” [Abu Dawud] (7)
3. Non Acute:
Abdullah Bin Abbas, one of the most knowledgeable companions, and other scholars explained the verse earlier mentioned in the article concerning the last step in dealing with arrogant wife as permissible to do, saying: the striking is to be moderate one; i.e, non acute. Hassan Al-Basry explained it: non-effective.
So, in a word, God honored women and legislated rules that set limits dealing with them. God’s legislation: Qur’an and prophetic interpretation kept their rights and dignity in all cases.
(1) Prophet’s Saying (Hadith).
(2) Verse (4-34) of Qur’an (English Interpretation of Meaning).
(3) Prophet’s Saying (Hadith).
(4) Prophet’s Saying (Hadith).
(5) Prophet’s Saying (Hadith).
(6) Prophet’s Saying (Hadith).
(7) Prophet’s Saying (Hadith).