Does Islam allow men to beat their wives?

But the Qur’an says to strike!

“Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instill conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.”

One of the most common claims made by Islamophobes is the misconception that Islam allows for men to beat their wives with impunity. This is typically based on verse 4:34 of the Qur’an, where men are instructed to deal with a wife’s persistent misconduct by first persuading and advising them, followed by deserting the marital bed, before being given permission to take the last resort of darb—a word that literally means ‘to hit’ in the Arabic language

However, not only is this verse being misinterpreted, there is a mass of evidence that points to the contrary when it comes to the relationship between spouses.

  1. Islam affirms that marriage must be based on love and mercy:

“And amongst God’s signs is that He created for you spouses from amongst you and placed between you love and mercy”

(Qur’an 30:21)

  1. Islam unequivocally condemns all forms of cruelty and abuse:

The Prophet ﷺ state that “there is to be no harm nor reciprocating of harm.”

(Sunan Ibn Majah, 2341)

  1. Domestic violence is explicitly forbidden in Islam:

“Do not strike the female servants of God.”

(Sunan Abi Dawud 2146, Sunan al-Darimi 2122)

“Do not hit them and do not revile them.”

(Sunan Abi Dawud 2144)

In one incident, the Prophet ﷺ invoked God’s wrath upon a man who beat his wife.

(Musnad Ahmad (1303))

  1. The Qur’anic verse (4:34), often used to justify hitting wives, CANNOT be understood to permit any violence.

The famous early Makkan Qur’anic exegete said about verse 4:34:

“A man does not strike his wife, rather he may only show his anger.”

Ataa ibn Abi Rabaah

  1. The Prophet ﷺ NEVER raised his hand against his wives.

His wife, Aisha (RA) said he “never once hit a servant, a woman, nor struck anything with his hand.”

(Sunan Ibn Majah, 2060)

All Islamic texts and the incidents from the Prophet’s life clearly and unequivocally forbid any type of violence against women.

Read more in “Women in Islamic Law: Examining Five Prevalent Myths” by Nazir Khan, Tesneem Alkiek and Safiah Chowdhury