Explanation of Quranic verse (4:34)
Fatwa No: 89480

Question

I have a question about the Ayah that says. "Men are the maintainers of women because Allaah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allaah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allaah is High, Great." I am concerned about the meaning of the word "beat them". Does it mean Beat them or does it have another meaning, as some other scholars say it means “turn your faces away from them”? And is it ever reported that prophet Mohammad, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, beat any of his wives?

Answer

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

The explanation of the saying of Allaah (which means): {…strike them…} is to strike them (i.e., wives) very lightly without leaving any marks or scars and this should be after having followed the steps in admonishing the disobedient wife which are mentioned in the same verse (which means): {... As for those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) strike them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance)…} [Quran 4:34] So if the wife becomes disobedient to her husband without a sound and valid excuse, Allaah has permitted many matters when dealing with such a wife:

1.     To admonish her. Allaah started mentioning the steps of dealing with a disobedient wife with the word 'admonish'. So a husband should admonish his wife and remind her of Allaah and explain to her that she has to obey him and fulfil the rights that Allaah has imposed on her in relation to him. If she does not take heed, he moves to the second step.

2.     To refuse to share the bed with her, as Allaah Says (what means): {…(next), refuse to share their beds…}, in order to show her that he is not pleased with her and annoyed by her misbehaviour. If these two steps are of no avail, then it becomes permissible for him to move to the third step.

3.     To strike her, as Allaah Says (what means): {…(and next) beat them (lightly)}, and the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) , said: "And strike them but not severely - without leaving any marks or scars." [At-Tirmithi] If the husband does strike his wife, he should bear in mind the following matters:

A.   The purpose of striking her should be to rectify her behavior, and not to take revenge or satisfy one's anger.

B.   He should not beat her severely, as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "And beat them but not severely - without leaving any marks or scars."

C.   He should not hit her on the face, as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Do not hit the face.'' [Abu-Daawood]

D.   He should not use foul language with her, and he should not refrain from sharing the bed with her except in his own house [i.e. he should not send her to her relatives house or leave the house himself], as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "Do not rebuke (or bad mouth) her and do not refuse to share the bed with her except at home."

E.    He should believe that such striking would be useful to her, that is, he should not strike her if he does not believe it will be of benefit.

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) never hit any of his wives as narrated by 'Aa'ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her who said: "The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) never hit anyone at all with his hands: he neither hit his wives nor his servants, (and never hit anyone else) unless it was in Jihaad [fighting for the sake of Allaah]." [Muslim]

Allaah Knows best.

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