Wife Beating, Quran Verse 4:34

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah is High, Great. [Quran Verse 4:34] 

EXPLANATIONMen are managers in a household, not in general sense. These are gradual steps in the case of a wife who is not faithful to her husband. These rules were allowed to save a failing marriage, not as a means to control one’s wife on a day to day basis. 

Circumstances under Which This Verse Was Revealed
Saeed bin Rabi slapped his wife Jabia because of some problem. Her father took her to Nabi (S.A.W.), complaining about his son-in-law. Nabi (S.A.W.) stated that there should be equal retribution. Jibrael (A.S) came down with this verse “Men are …”; Nabi (S.A.W.) called them and said:”I desire something whilst Allah desires something else and there is goodness in what Allah desires. 

The verse starts by saying, “Men are protectors and maintainers of women…” The word used in Arabic for protectors and maintainers is ‘qawwam’ (plural qawwamoon) which implies a person who safeguards and takes care of a woman. The next clause “guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded” is also significant because it creates a condition for the next sentence that follows, implying that a woman should not expose her body to somebody who is not her ‘mahram.’ And finally it says, “As for women of whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and remain apart from them in beds.” These verses are clearly about infidelity, short of adultery itself. And for a woman who is not faithful to her husband, the husband should first take the approach of admonishing her, if that doesn’t work he should stop sleeping with her, and if all else fails, he may beat her in order to save the marriage. The summary of the verse is that if a husband is working hard and financially supporting his wife, the least he should expect is that his wife remains faithful to him and not fool around. The next verse also recommends that “[4.35] And if you fear a breach between the two, then appoint judge from his people and a judge from her people; if they both desire agreement, Allah will effect harmony between them, surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.” The emphasis is on efforts to save a troubled marriage, and the verse should not be misconstrued to allow a husband to beat his wife whenever he chooses. 

This verse has be read in light of the explanation that Prophet Muhammad himself had provided. As Maududi has written, “Whenever the Prophet (peace be upon him) permitted a man to administer corporal punishment to his wife, he did so with reluctance, and continued to express his distaste for it. And even in cases where it is necessary, the Prophet (peace be upon him) directed men not to hit across the face, nor to beat severely nor to use anything that might leave marks on the body. (See Ibn Majah, ‘Nikah’).” The Arabic word used is ‘zarb’ which is used in the sense of ‘hit.’ And as Prophet Muhammad taught, it has to be so light that it shouldn’t leave any mark. The idea is to admonish and to get the person to understand that the marriage is in serious trouble. 

The Quran clearly says, “Live with your wives in a good manner. If you dislike them in any manner, it may be that you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good for you” (Quran, 4:19). So, God commands man to be good to his wife even if he dislikes her. What more can be said? Even the biggest feminist wouldn’t come up with a statement like that! 

There are also many Hadiths which one needs to take into account: 

“Admonish your wives with kindness”. 

“A Muslim must not hate his wife; and if he be displeased with one bad quality in her, then let him be pleased with another that is good”. 

“Do you beat your own wife as you would a slave? That must you not do”. 

“I (Muaviyah b. Haidah) said, “O Apostle of God! What is my duty to my wife?” He said, “That you give her to eat as you eat yourself, and clothe her as you clothe yourself; and do not slap her in the face nor abuse her, nor separate yourself from her in displeasure.” 

“Give your wife good counsel; and if she has goodness in her, she will soon take it, and leave off idle talking; and do not beat your noble wife like a slave”. 

Muhammad said, ‘Beat not your wives.’ Then Omar came to the Rasul (Muhammad) and said, ‘Wives have got the upper hand from hearing this.'” 

“He is the most perfect Muslim whose disposition is best; and the best of you are they who behave best to their wives”. 

“A virtuous wife is a man’s best treasure.”


17 thoughts on “Wife Beating, Quran Verse 4:34

  1. Ali Lovesdoughnuts April 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm Reply

    “The summary of the verse is that if a husband is working hard and financially supporting his wife, the least he should expect is that his wife remains faithful to him and not fool around. ” whats the need to resort to violence alot of women work now anyway if he was a good Muslim man don’t you think he would forgive or ask for divorce instead of beating his wife I mean could you imagine your own mother being beaten up by his father their is never a good reason for a man to beat his wife if she is being disobedient he should ask for a divorce and leave her.

    • sincereadvisor April 21, 2012 at 3:25 am Reply

      Ali, the husband can and should forgive his wife! My point was that the verse refers to “hitting” one time (like a slap on the wrist, not beating) and only as a last resort in trying to save a marriage. The alternative would be divorce, which is now increasingly common. Isn’t it better and less cruel than divorce? A wife cam also hit her husband if he is being unfaithful to her. My wife kicks my ass all the time 🙂

      • ali May 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm

        Oh okay my bad .didn’t know what you meant apologises!
        I hope Allah keeps you and your wife’s marriage in happiness and tranquillity! inshallah.

  2. Herman November 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm Reply

    Okay, as Islam is perfectly fair, please show me the part in the Koran which tells women to beat husbands from whom these women fear desertion.

    Moreover, why does Muhammad assume here that the MAN IS RIGHT & THAT THE WOMAN IS WRONG? Consider the following conversation:

    Husband: “Even after refraining from sex, I still fear desertion by you.”
    Wife: “I have no intention of deserting you.”
    Husband: “Despite your allegation, I still fear desertion by you & therefore I shall obey Allah & beat you.”

    This brings me to another point. Sincereadvisor writes: “and if all else fails, he may beat her…” There is no “may” in the Koranic verse given. The “may” was added by Sincereadvisor being not completely sincere. Allah commands men to beat their wives, if certain conditions have been met. This is horrible, of course.

    Tellingly, Sincereadvisor provides no comment on this important part of the verse:
    “because Allah has made some of them to excel others…” THIS EXPLAINS WHY MUSLIM MEN CAN BE SO CRUEL & UNFAIR TO WOMEN — MUHAMMAD & HIS GOD TELL THESE MEN THAT THEY ARE BETTER THAN WOMEN. The sad plight of many Muslim women is well known.

    • sincereadvisor December 17, 2012 at 4:53 am Reply

      I apologize for the late response. I have been away from my blog for some time. Keep in mind the subject. What Quran says is this: ” guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard.” So it’s a not a simple case of desertion, but a case of woman guarding her “private parts” of the body or engaging in very lewd behaviour, which is how Muslim scholars have traditionally interpreted it. In other words, Islam does not allow a husband to hit his wife unless the marriage has deteriorated to such an extent that despite verbal admonition and then separation the wife continues to indulge in this behaviour. Once again, the actual word Quran uses is “hit” in Arabic and not “beat,” which can tantamount to slap on the wrist.

  3. Pete Frens February 4, 2013 at 8:46 pm Reply

    Even hitting the wife as a last resort is barbaric. Any religion that promotes hitting the wife is horrible and the Qur’an does not say to only hit her once. You say the Qur’an uses the word hit well any husband could then say the Qur’an even allows him to hit his wife with a bat because that is what hit can mean. I find it so interesting that Muslims always try to justify the and make it sound a lot less then what the words actually mean.
    Definition of HIT http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hit
    transitive verb
    a : to reach with or as if with a blow
    b : to come in contact with
    c : to strike (as a ball) with an object (as a bat, club, or racket) so as to impart or redirect motion
    a : to cause to come into contact
    b : to deliver (as a blow) by action
    c : to apply forcefully or suddenly

    Synonyms for hit http://thesaurus.com/browse/hit
    Part of Speech: verb
    Definition: strike
    Synonyms: KO, bang, bash, bat, batter, beat, belt, blast, blitz, box*, brain*, buffet, bump, clap, clip, clobber, clout, club, crack, cudgel, cuff, dab, ding, flail, flax, flog, give a black eye, hammer*, hook, jab, kick, knock, knock around, knock out, lace, lambaste, larrup, lather, let fly, let have it, lob, nail, pellet, pelt, percuss, pop, pound, punch, rap, ride roughshod, slap, smack, sock, stone, swat, tap, thrash, thump, thwack, trash, uppercut, wallop, whack, whang

    • sincereadvisor February 5, 2013 at 4:14 am Reply

      I do not see what is so “barbaric” about it. Let’s say, your wife is flirting with another man. You admonish her to stop. She doesn’t care. Then you stop sleeping with her, hoping she would come to her senses. That doesn’t help either. What’s the alternative? Divorce? How is it less barbaric, especially if you have kids? Your family life is ruined. Your children will lose a mother or a father, which can create other kinds of social problems. And financially, neither you nor your wife will be better off, unless she marries someone richer. So, isn’t a slap on the wrist, chest or shoulders, as a means to show her that you do want to keep her as your wife, a much better option? Keep in mind that a lot of women want this type of possessiveness from their husband. And if that doesn’t work, then surely your marriage is over, and there is nothing that can be done about it.

      When this verse was revealed, Prophet Muhammad had just decided a case in which he had forbidden a husband from ever ever raising a hand against his wife. After this revelation, the Prophet said that “I wanted one thing but God has willed something else.” And that is because God understands human nature lot better than you and me. He knows that most women want their husband to be possessive and often flirt with other men just to get their husband’s attention. The idea is for the man to keep her love in desperation, not to wound her in any way. If it works, it will be far superior to your liberal idealism with less than ideal results.

      Your word definitions are irrelevant because as everybody knows that when the meaning of a word is in dispute, you have to go to the original word in the language that it was first used. And “zarb” in Arabic gives the sense of hitting something or someone quickly rather than a sweeping blow. The purpose is not to hurt but to awaken the other person to reality and consequences of their actions.

  4. yusrarida February 21, 2013 at 4:56 pm Reply

    Alhamdulillah, very nice! i like what you say, sincereadvisor

    • sincereadvisor February 22, 2013 at 1:32 am Reply

      Thank you very much for your very nice comment.

  5. Alliya May 6, 2013 at 11:08 am Reply

    Does that mean that women who maintain themselves or spend for themselves can not be admonished or beaten.

    • sincereadvisor May 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm Reply

      This is a very good question! If you read my article, the point that I was making is that the role of a husband is to protect the family not only financially but also to keep the family together and ward off evil influences. Whether you like it or not, you will have to acknowledge that most men are possessive by nature. You may say, it doesn’t have to be this way, but, without evolving for another million or two million years, it ‘is’ the way we men are programmed, either genetically or culturally. Men also understand other men better than women, and that’s because they themselves are flirts (unless restrained by religion) and expect the same from other men. [Now, I am sure you are thinking that men are all creeps, with which I may not totally disagree with!] Their natural instinct is always to protect their own wife from other men, and if they see their wife getting little too friendly with another man, they will do whatever they can to put a stop to it. Women, on the other hand, may see their mild flirtations as friendly banter and as a way to feel attractive and popular without taking other men seriously. Each and every relationship has this tension. It’s only when it exceeds normal limits that a marriage is put in jeopardy. At this point, there are only few options left: 1. a conversation between the married couple to put the matter at ease. 2. If that doesn’t work, the husband can admonish his wife. 3. If that doesn’t work either, and the wife no longer cares about her husband’s feelings, the husband can stop sleeping with her to make a point that the relationship is in serious trouble. And finally, as a last resort, he can hit her once (not beat her, as you characterized, essentially a slap on the wrist) to deliver the final warning. After which, the couple should either reconcile or seek divorce. The force is applied not out of hatred but out of deep love, which a man has for his woman, as a desperate attempt to keep her love.

      You may not agree, but many women want their husbands to be bit possessive, assertive, and jealously guard their relationship. I don’t know how many Western movies or TV shows I have seen where the guy, unable to lay a claim on his wife or girlfriend, finally grabs her by force and tells her, “Dammit! I love you.” The heroin always melts in his arms and the scene ends with a passionate kiss. How is this any different?

  6. Pete August 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm Reply

    So can the wife beat the husband if he sleeps with someone another woman? Oh sorry no she can’t because it might be his other wife or a lady his right hand possesses,

  7. Pete August 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm Reply

    Why is it that the most abuse that happens to women is in muslim countries? Our country never heard of honor killings until we had muslims move here. So regardless if you say it’s culture, that culture came from islam. Islamic countries are the most backwards when it comes to women. In fact the oldest Muslim country doesn’t even let women have the right to drive cars. You would think that if Islam was so great then the country that had it the longest would be far ahead of any other country in the world yet what do you see. That country has been forced to stay in the stone age era by Islam itself.

    • sincereadvisor August 9, 2013 at 3:04 am Reply

      Your comment is based on the propaganda that is prevalent in the West against Islam, but if you are interested in truth and are willing to study these issues in greater detail, which I am not sure you are capable of at this present time, you will find out that the reality is far different

      The term “honor killings” was invented for Muslims, but it has nothing to do with Islam, which by the way is a global religion and not limited to “Muslim countries.” There is nothing in Islam which justifies killing a person because of one’s honor. The onus is on you to prove otherwise!

      Honor killing is nothing more than “domestic abuse,” which is far more prevalent in the West. How many American men kill their spouses every year out of jealousy or because they feel betrayed? I am willing to bet one hundred times as many. Why is this not honor killing?

      Your comment about Saudi Arabia is rather foolish. So Islam is at fault just because it started in Saudi Arabia? What about Christianity which started in Israel-Palestine? Should we blame all the problems that we find among Christians on Israel-Palestine?

  8. Herman March 14, 2014 at 8:37 pm Reply

    sincereadvisor writes “The term ‘honor killings’ was invented for Muslims, but it has nothing to do with Islam” and “Honor killing is nothing more than ‘domestic abuse.'”

    Actually it has a LOT to do with Islam. What is an honor killing, generally speaking? It is parents or relatives killing generally not a spouse but a teenager who is rebelling, often wanting to become romantically involved not with a Muslim but instead with an nonMuslim.

    The “justification” for the subsequent killing is found in the Koran, 18:74 and 18:80. Moses is walking with another “prophet” who suddenly murders a poor child:

    18:74 So they twain journeyed on till, when they met a lad, he slew him. (Moses) said: What! Hast thou slain an innocent soul who hath slain no man ? Verily thou hast done a horrid thing.

    Moses is stunned by the immorality, as would any decent person be.

    then we read the murderer trying to justifiy the killing:

    “18:80 And as for the lad, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief”

    This is yet another passage showing INTENSE HATRED for disbelievers. Tellingly, this prophet-murderer (Khadr I believe) kills not with any foreknowledge of “disbelief” but instead with merely a FEAR of rebellion and disbelief.

    Some Muslim parents, seeking to emulate what they call “exemplary behavior” from a “prophet of god” and fearing “rebellion and disbelief” go forth to commit honor killings on their own children, to the horror of the sane world.

    Still yet another example that Islam needs to be vanquished to the trash-bin of human history.

  9. Herman May 22, 2014 at 6:28 pm Reply

    In the original post it is written: “There are also many Hadiths which one needs to take into account..” Yes, and a couple of the most important, alas, were omitted. Let me provide them:
    Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 132:
    Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Zam’a:
    The Prophet said, “NONE OF YOU SHOULD FLOG HIS WIFE AS HE FLOGS HIS SLAVE and then have sexual intercourse with her in the last part of the day.”

    Abu Dawud, Book 1, Number 0142:
    Narrated Laqit ibn Sabirah:
    I (the narrator Laqit) then said: Messenger of Allah, I have a wife who has something (wrong) in her tongue, i.e. she is insolent. He said: Then divorce her. I said: Messenger of Allah, she had company with me and I have children from her. He said: Then ask her (to obey you). If there is something good in her, she will do so (obey); and DO NOT BEAT YOUR WIFE AS YOU BEAT YOUR SLAVE-GIRL.

    Strikingly, Muhammad does not say, “None of you should own slaves, none of you should flog any slave, and none of you should flog your wife.” Nope, he doesn’t say that. Instead he encourages the Muslim men (and he addresses much of what he says solely to men) to think about how much they flog their slaves and then flog their wives to a lesser extent.

    One wonders too about what kind of wife would willingly want to have sex with someone who has just flogged her. But in backward, misogynistic Islam the man is in control, so if he wants sex, she had better give him sex (otherwise the angels will curse her, as Muhammad declared).

    Islam acts to retard human progress and should have no place in the modern world.

  10. Hmmmmmmm July 13, 2014 at 6:32 pm Reply

    There is honor killing in India . a Nonmuslim state
    there is honor killing in Israel , a Non muslim state
    There is honor killing in Sri Lanka, a non muslim state
    There is honor killing in Nepal , Myanmar, and many other non muslim states

    Honor killing has to do with these particular areas and not Islam……..

    Unfortunately These are the areas that became Muslim majority resulting in People taking the idea that these are products of islam,,, but infact they are products of Cultural, Regional Ideologies, Practices…………..

    Regarding your second comment,

    We need to make sure the Hadith mentioned are true (not false, or modified)
    Not all Ahadith are Real and Unmodified
    as Allah has promised to protect the only the Quran from modification and altering………..
    We have to believe and take in account only the Quran, Ahadhith are only meant to give us vague ideas , and platofrms on which we should tread and follow Islam………..
    There are many Ahadhith which Muhammad (SAW) never ever said! but have been created by Anti-Muslims to defame Islam…..

    I wish I knew which faith you belong to Herman, so that I could make statements about it how it deserves to be in the trash can or out of this world! Because I am sure, no religion is as perfect as Islam is! and Christianity, Judaism, Hindusim etc look like Folklores infront of Islam! with thousands of mistakes, errors and alterations!

    By the way, you are doing a great job ! Sincere advisor!

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