Clarifying the Permissibility of Beating the Wife
Fatwa No: 389362

  • Fatwa Date:1-1-2019 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 24, 1440
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Question

As Salamu Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. I hope you can answer my question. I have read in sura 4:34 a wife may be disciplined if she is not obedient. I ve also read about using a siwaak to do this but i am not sure that it is correct. If she is disobedient and does not change her behaviour towards her husband then using a siwaak to discipline her would not change anything. She would laugh at me when i hit her with a toothbrush. I mean a swiaak does not inflict any pain not even the slightest so how shall i make her change her behaviour with it? JazakAllahu Khayran!!!

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

The verse that you referred to is related to the Divine treatment in dealing with a rebellious and disobedient wife. Dealing with the rebellion of the wife is in steps and beating is not the first stage. Rather, it starts with preaching, and if this did not deter her, then one deserts her in bed, and if again this did not rectify her, then beating. Defining beating to be by the use of a Siwaak (a tooth stick) was attributed to Ibn ‘Abbaas  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him as reported by At-Tabari in his Tafseer.

The three steps are intended to have a moral affect on her. The purpose of beating is not to inflict a physical pain but to affect her psychologically, and the husband makes her know that he is not pleased with her. This could be more deterring than a painful beating. 

Some scholars stated that refraining from beating is more appropriate than resorting to it. Imam ash-Shaafi'i said, after mentioning the permissibility of beating a rebellious wife in order to discipline her: "If he (the husband) refrains from beating, then this is more beloved to me, as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: ‘The best amongst yourselves do not beat their wives.'" [End of quote]

It should be noted that it is possible to prevent the wife from becoming rebellious in principle, if understanding, compassion and mutual respect prevail between both spouses, and if each spouse fulfills the rights of the other. If this is done, then both spouses will be happy and the family becomes stable, and the blessing and goodness will be reflected on it, especially for the children and their nurturing.

May Allah enable each and everyone to do whatever He loves and is pleased with.

For more benefit on the Sharee’ah conditions for beating the wife, and treating her honorably, please refer to Fataawa 165041 and 374593.

Allah knows best.

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