wife beating

Wife Beat­ing In The Qur’an ? Com­men­tary On Sura’ An-Nis­sa’ (4):34

It is claimed that :

    Surah 4:34 is the noto­ri­ous verse which advices Mus­lim hus­bands with regard to wives from whom they fear rebel­lion” (“wa-llaatiy takha­fuw­na nushuwza­hun­na”) even­tu­al­ly to beat them (“wa- dribuwhun­na”, and beat them!”) 

The issue of a giv­en scrip­tur­al verse and its impli­ca­tions are twain. First, there is the actu­al mean­ing of the verse. Sec­ond, there is the way in which it was received and under­stood by those who received it.

Much of the prob­lem is due to the numer­ous attempts at an Eng­lish inter­pre­ta­tion of the Qur’an and not a one being all that good. Let us look at the verse in its con­text which often neglect­ed inten­tion­al­ly for the sake of the big­ot­ed polemics. This is how it should be ren­dered into Eng­lish based on the Prophet’s (P) own words, how his Com­pan­ions (R) under­stood them, and how the tra­di­tion­al schol­ars of Islam­ic Jurispru­dence ruled accord­ing to these precepts :

Men are the vig­i­lant cus­to­di­ans of women, because of what Allah has endowed upon the one over the oth­er, in that they spend from their means. Thus are those women right­eous and devout, and pro­tec­tive in absen­tia over what Alla­has deemed to be secure. As for those from whom you fear inso­lence, (first) edi­fy them, (sec­ond) abstain from lay­ing togeth­er with them, (last­ly) beat them. How­ev­er, if they seek rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, do not be hos­tile against them. Ver­i­ly, Allah is the Exalt­ed the Great.”

Below are the rea­sons for my trans­la­tion list­ed in detail based upon the under­stand­ing of the Prophet(P), his Companions(R) and the ear­ly Mus­lim author­i­ties in jurisprudence :

(1) Men are the vig­i­lant cus­to­di­ans of women…”

al-Qawwaamoona” (sing. al-Qawwaam”) — Mean­ing vig­i­lant to and pro­tec­tive” (“Ayy : mulaaz­i­man, muHaafiTHan”)Ibn al-Man­thur, Lisaan al-‘Arab

(2) “…because of what Allah has endowed upon the one over the oth­er, in that they spend from their means”

bi-maa fa’al Allah ba‘Dahum alaa ba‘D…” (lit. In what Allah has endowed the one over the oth­er) — Mean­ing that they pur­vey for them a wed­ding dowry, and they spend duti­ful­ly upon them from their means, and they make sure that all their needs are met. That is the endow­ment Alla­has put in place for them and over them…“at-Tabari, Jaami‘u‑l Bayaan An Ta’weel Aay al-Qur’an

(3) “…Thus are those women right­eous and devout, and pro­tec­tive in absen­tia over what All?has deemed to be secure”

Be good to them, and dig­ni­fy them, for this is what was under­stood from the recita­tion of Ibn Mas’ud“ibid.

(4) “…As for those from whom you fear insolence”

an-Nushooz” — “.…is infrac­tion (‘aSyaan); tak­en from an-nas­haz’ mean­ing that which is ele­vat­ed from the earth…The mean­ing is thus : You fear her rebel­lion and haugh­ti­ness to what All?has ordained upon her in regards to com­pli­ance with her hus­band. Abu Man­Soor al-Lughawy has stat­ed, Nushooz is the hatred of either one of a mar­ried cou­ple for their spouse’. Ibn Faaris has stat­ed, A woman has com­mit­ted nushooz if she has belea­guered her hus­band, and the hus­band has com­mit­ted nushooz if he strikes her and beats her…“al-Qur­tubi, al-Jaami’u li-Ahkaami‑l Qur’an

(5) “…edi­fy them”

fa-‘iTHoohunna” — Mean­ing with the Book of All ? Mean­ing remind them of what All?has ordained upon them regard­ing being of ami­able com­pan­ion­ship and beau­ti­ful part­ner­ship with their hus­bands, and the lev­el of his sta­tus over her…“at-Tabari, op. cit.

(6) “…abstain from their beds”

And abstain­ing from the beds’ is that he should lie with her, but turn his back to her, and not have inter­course with her, accord­ing to Ibn Abbaas and oth­ers. Mujaahid said, Abstain­ing from lying with her’…al-Hasan al-Bas­ri said, For when the hus­band abstains from her bed­side, if she is lov­ing to her hus­band then this will be grieve her and she will be inclined to make things right ; How­ev­er, if she is hate­ful then her inso­lence will become man­i­fest, and it will be made clear that she is haughty.“al-Qur­tubi, op. cit.

(7) “…and beat them”

Allah has said, and beat them’ (wa-Dri­boohun­na) as an order from Allah that the hus­band should begin by edi­fy­ing the woman first­ly, then he should abstain from her, then if none of that proves use­ful then to beat…and beat’ (darb) in this verse is to beat sim­ply as a ges­ture and to not cause pain. It is not meant to break bones or to offend her dig­ni­ty as with a punch and the like. For the inten­tion is rec­on­cil­i­a­tion and not any­thing oth­er than that..and the Prophet(P) said in Saheeh Mus­lim : Fear Allah in regards to women ! For you have tak­en them in mar­riage as secu­ri­ty from Allah and inter­course with them has been made law­ful for you by the Words of Allah. And you too have rights over them that they should not allow any adver­sary to illic­it­ly fre­quent your dwelling. If they do that then you may hit them with a hit that does not hurt’

(8) “…if they seek rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, do not be hos­tile against them”

Allah has said, if they seek rec­on­cil­i­a­tion,’ mean­ing they have for­sak­en inso­lence. Do not be hos­tile against them,’ mean­ing do not respond to them in furore in words or actions. This is a for­bid­dance in regards to oppress­ing them after they have become deter­mined upon the good­ness and are firm in good con­duct. Mean­ing do not make it dif­fi­cult for them to show you love, for this is not the way to be with them.“ibid.

One can oppor­tunis­ti­cal­ly can­cel out the above in order to twist the words as they like accord­ing to their infin­i­tes­i­mal under­stand­ing, but this is a dis­hon­est polemic. If one choos­es to say that a verse from the Qur’an has a heinous mean­ing, in spite of the absolute major­i­ty of Mus­lims not shar­ing that nar­row and twist­ed under­stand­ing, this serves only the face­tious desires of that per­son­’s own twist­ed, puny brain. 

If one were to say that the Bib­li­cal verse Thou shall not kill” means that every­one must be a veg­e­tar­i­an, and a Chris­t­ian post­ed a pletho­ra of ref­er­ences to show that the absolute major­i­ty of the Church through­out his­to­ry did not share this view, yet that per­son insist­ed that it meant you could­n’t kill ani­mals either, then that per­son would be an imbe­cile. The only thing such peo­ple are doing is mak­ing an obtuse joke for them­selves which they can snick­er at in their bed­rooms and no more.

And only God knows best. Wife Beating In The Qur'an? Commentary On Sura' An-Nissa' (4):34 1Endmark







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