Rebuttal to Silas' Article "A Rebuttal of Jamal Badawi's "Wife Beating"


Bassam Zawadi



The whole issue regarding women beating in the Quran is constantly used by critics to denounce Islam. 

Here is the verse...

Surah 4:34

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what God would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For God is Most High, great (above you all).

Notice the pattern, first admonish, then leave them in bed, then the beating. These all signify emotional punishments. When the husband admonishes his wife, she will become disappointed. When he refuses intercourse with her, this will disappoint her, for it would make her realize how really upset her husband is with her. Islamic critics might be stubborn and want to take the word daraba to mean abusive beating. But let's not forget why God has sent Prophet Muhammad (Surah 16, verse 44), and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has made it clear what is meant by the word daraba in the verse. The Prophet said that it is a hitting that leaves no injury (darban ghayra mubarrih):

My last recommendation to you is that you should treat women well. Truly, they are your helpmates, and you have no right over them beyond that - "except if they commit a manifest indecency" [ fahisha mubina ]. If they do, then refuse to share their beds and hit them "without indecent violence"[ fadribuhunna darban ghayra mubarrih ]. Then, if they desist, do not show them hostility any longer. Lo! you have a right over your women, and they have a right over you. Your right over your women is that they do not allow whom you hate to enter your bed or your house. While their right over you is that you treat them excellently in their garb and provision.....Then he took the covenant from them and from us that they and we all heard and understood this from him, respectively, directly and indirectly, with his forefinger raised, and said: "O Allah! bear witness."  (Saheeh Muslim, Book of Pilgrimage)

The beating aims to cause the woman to feel some emotional pain without humiliating her or harming her physically. Wife beating must be the last resort to which the husband turns to in punishing his wife, and is, according to the Qur'an, Chapter 4, Verse 34, the husband's third step when the wife is rebellious. First, he must reprimand her without anger. Next, he must distance her from the conjugal bed. Only if these two methods fail should the husband turn to beating, and this only if he believes that it would help resolve the situation and not just out of revenge.

Unlike the Bible, the Quran gives solutions on how to stop divorce. Unlike the high divorce rates among Christians who don't have solutions on how not to divorce, we Muslims have solutions.

A Muslim woman has the right to divorce her husband if he beats her (see this and this), unlike in Christianity, the woman cannot divorce her husband unless he cheated on her. So if the husband abuses her, then this is not a valid reason for her to divorce her husband, which means she is stuck with him until the day one of them dies or cheats on the other.

This whole issue of women beating has already been discussed: 

I want to address a few arguments by Silas that have gone unanswered:

The article can be located here 

Silas said:

"A women complained to Muhammad that her husband slapped her on the face, (which was still marked by the slap).  At first the prophet said to her:  "Get even with him", but then added:  "Wait until I think about it".  Later on, Allah supposedly revealed 4:34 to Muhammad, after which the prophet said:  "We wanted one thing but Allah wanted another, and what Allah wanted is best".

My Response:

What is the source of this hadith? There are too many authentic hadiths that forbid anyone from hitting anyone on the face:

Sunan Abu Dawud

Book 033, Hadith Number 4478.
Chapter : Not known.

Narated By Abu Hurairah : The Prophet (pbuh) said: When one of you inflicts a beating, he should avoid striking the face. (authenticated by Shaykh Albany in Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith no.4493)

Book 005, Hadith Number 2138.
Chapter : Not known.

Narated By Mu'awiyah ibn Haydah : I said: Apostle of Allah, how should we approach our wives and how should we leave them? He replied: Approach your tilth when or how you will, give her (your wife) food when you take food, clothe when you clothe yourself, do not revile her face, and do not beat her. (authenticated by Shaykh Albany in Sunan Abu Dawud, Hadith no.2142)

The above narration can also be found in Al Daruqtuni's Talkhees Al-Hubayr, volume 4, narration number 1300, and Ibn Hazm's Al-Muhalla, volume 9, narration number 510, with authentic chains of transmission. 

All four commentaries of Ibn KathirSuyutiTabari, and Qurtubi said that injurious hitting is not permissible. We also see the statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him) quoted above saying the same thing: that the beating should leave no mark. So, what is the source Razi is referring to? 

Silas said:


Volumn 007, Book 072, Hadith Number 715.
Narated By 'Ikrima : Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon 'AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her ('Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle came, 'Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" When 'AbdurRahman heard that his wife had gone to the Prophet, he came with his two sons from another wife. She said, "By Allah! I have done no wrong to him but he is impotent and is as useless to me as this," holding and showing the fringe of her garment, 'Abdur-Rahman said, "By Allah, O Allah's Apostle! She has told a lie! I am very strong and can satisfy her but she is disobedient and wants to go back to Rifa'a." Allah's Apostle said, to her, "If that is your intention, then know that it is unlawful for you to remarry Rifa'a unless Abdur-Rahman has had sexual intercourse with you." Then the Prophet saw two boys with 'Abdur-Rahman and asked (him), "Are these your sons?" On that 'AbdurRahman said, "Yes." The Prophet said, "You claim what you claim (i.e. that he is impotent)? But by Allah, these boys resemble him as a crow resembles a crow."

Let's note several items from this Hadith.

1)   A woman was beaten by her husband because of marriage discord.

2)  The Muslim women were suffering more than the non-Muslim women (via Aisha's comment), note it is said in the plural.  This tells you just how good Muslim women back then really had it. Things were so bad for them, that they had to "support" each other because they were being abused in one way or another.

3)  The woman was badly bruised.

4)  Muhammad did not re-prove the man for beating his wife.  In fact, he reproached the woman for saying Rahman was impotent. Even though she was bruised, Muhammad accepted it and did not reprove Rahman. Clearly, this beating was acceptable to Muhammad.

My Response:

Just because the hadith does not say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) reproved the man, that does not mean he didn't. We have already clearly established with evidence that injurious wife beating is forbidden. The point of this hadith was not to emphasize wife beating but the law regarding a woman having to have sex with another man for her to return to the husband she divorced twice. The narrator felt that it was an important part to narrate. Maybe the Prophet (peace be upon him) reproved him in private. 

Silas proved absolutely nothing from this hadith. If the hadith showed that the Prophet supported the beating, then that would be another story. On the contrary, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to warn women from wife beaters:

Saheeh Muslim

Book 009, Number 3526:

Fatima bint Qais (Allah be pleased with her) reported that her husband divorced her with three, pronouncements and Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) made no provision for her lodging and maintenance allowance. She (further said): Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said to me: When your period of 'Idda is over, inform me. So I informed him. (By that time) Mu'awiya, Abu Jahm and Usama b. Zaid had given her the proposal of marriage. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: So far as Mu'awiya is concerned, he is a poor man without any property. So far as Abu Jahm is concerned, he is a great beater of women, but Usama b. Zaid... She pointed with her hand (that she did not approve of the idea of marrying) Usama. But Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon himn) said: Obedience to Allah and obedience to His Messenger is better for thee. She said: So I married him, and I became an object of envy.

Silas said:

Badawi wrote:

<<  Among his sayings are the following: "Do not beat the female servants of Allah;" "Some (women) visited my family complaining about their husbands (beating them).  These (husbands) are not the best of you;">>>

            Badawi has misquoted the Hadith.  It is given in the Sunan of Abu Dawud.  Here is the actual quote.  

#2141 -            Iyas Dhubab reported the apostle of Allah as saying:

            "Do not beat Allah's handmaidens", but when Umar came to the apostle of Allah and said:  "Women have become emboldened towards their husbands", he (the prophet), gave permission to beat them.  Then many women came round the family of the apostle of Allah complaining against their husbands.  So the apostle of Allah said, "Many women have gone round Muhammad's family complaining against their husbands.  They are not the best among you".

            Note here that Muhammad commented on the women who were complaining to his wives:  "they are not the best among you".  Muhammad was not commenting on the husbands who beat their wives.  Muhammad had permitted husbands to beat the wives because the women became "emboldened" toward their husbands.  Muhammad censured the wives for complaining about their husbands.

            Abu Dawud's notes on 2141 are:  "This shows that wives should obey their husbands...".   On 2142:  "This means that a man tries his best to correct his wife, but he fails to do so, he is allowed to beat her as a last resort.  This tradition never means that a husband should beat his wife without any valid reason".  

My Response:

Muhammad Shams al-Haqq al-Adhim Abadi says in his commentary on the hadeeth that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was talking about the husbands who beat their wives:

أي الرجال الذي يضربون نساءهم ضربا مبرحا


Referring to the men who beat their wives in an injurious manner. (Muhammad Shams al-Haqq al-Adhim Abadi, Awn al-Mabud Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Fil Rajam, Commentary on Hadith no. 1834, Source)

Silas said:

            Here is another Hadith on wife beating from Abu Dawud:


#2142 -            Umar reported the prophet as saying:  "A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife".


            Does this sound like Umar is addressing a woman who was "tapped" by her husband?  Of course not.  Is Baidawi accusing Umar of not following the Sunnah?  And if wife beating were not according to the Sunnah, why does Allah command wife beating in the Quran?  Why did Muhammad permit wife beating in his farewell address?  Clearly, wife beating is allowed, even commanded in Islam.    

My Response:

First of all this hadith is weak due to a weak narrator named Daawood ibn Abdullah al Awdi. See Sheikh Albani's detailed discussion in Erwaa Al Ghaleel, Hadeeth no. 2034.

Secondly, even if we are to assume that this hadith is authentic, a man "not being asked" means that he would not be punished or be held accountable for beating his wife. However, the beating is only if it is according to the limitations set in Islam. (no injury, bruises, physical pain, etc.) See (Muhammad Shams al-Haqq al-Adhim Abadi, Awn al-Mabud Sharh Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab: Al Hudood, Bab: Fil Rajam, Commentary on Hadith no. 1835, Source)

Silas said:

A comment on the Hadith of Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 7, #132

            "Narrated Zam'a, "The prophet 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."""

            Note that Muhammad did not forbid beating the wife, he only didn't want her beaten as severely as a Muslim's slaves could be beaten.

My Response:

First of all, the severe beating of slaves in Islam is forbidden. Please read

Secondly, the translation of the hadith from Arabic to English is misleading. Here is the Arabic text:

  ‏عن النبي ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏قال ‏ ‏لا يجلد أحدكم امرأته جلد العبد ثم يجامعها في آخر اليوم

The appropriate translation is as follows...

The Prophet (peace be upon him said): None of you should flog his wife the flogging of a slave then have intercourse with her in the last part of the day. 

Can everyone see the difference in the meaning after we do the proper translation? The first translation appears to indicate the Muslims at the time used to beat up their slaves. However, the second translation says that one should not flog his wife the way a slave is flogged. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was using the beating of a slave as a figure of speech for the Muslims to learn from. Because it used to be common back then for people to beat their slaves up harmfully. However, Islam came and stopped this. So the Prophet (peace be upon him) was only emphasizing that the beating of the woman should not be harmful and physically injurious. 



Silas said the rest of the trash is useless and baseless. He has proved nothing. Many other Islamic sites have already dealt with this issue. I did not want Silas to have the pleasure to think he actually refuted anybody.



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