in category Family, Gender and Sexuality

Can men beat their wives in Islam?

1 Answer
Doesn't the Qur'an say: "As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them, refuse to share their beds, beat them..." (4:34)?
1 Answer
1 Helpful
0 Unhelpful
In a Nutshell:
Islam did not permit "beating" of wives - that is forbidden. It did however permit the husband to strike them discipline them for various marital infractions. It forbade husbands abusing them, causing them harm or injury. The two notions, disciplining and abusing, are quite different and it is a mistake to conflate them. One also has to remember in the Islamic civilisation men have authority over their families and are educated to wield such authority responsibly.


Every civilisation has permitted disciplining processes - some place it in the hands of heads of families, others with state, others with clergy and so on. Some apply physical punishments, some cage people whilst others seek to rehabilitate.

The Qur'anic verse 4:34 sets out the marital disciplinary process of where a wife is rebellious or licentious, both being fundamental violations of the marriage agreement through: discussing the problem, separating marital beds or striking/hitting them.

Beatings are never disciplinary punishments and are abusive - they are then forbidden as per the famous prophetic hadith "laa darrar wa la deraar".

Ibn Ishaq narrates the prophet(saw) in his farewell sermon stated:

[wives] should not commit any open or licentious indecencies. If they do, then God permits you to separate rooms from them and to hit them, but not severely.

The verse cannot be interpreted to mean beatings as it would be in conflict with such clear evidences and injunctions.

Juristic Positions

The historic perspectives of Islamic scholarship reflects the above view.

All the madhabs (schools of Islamic law) prohibited striking the wife on the face or any sensitive area that may cause injury or harm. All the madhabs with the exception of some Maliki jurists opined the wife could claim a compensation payment (diya) for any injury.

The Shaffii madhab permitted the husband to only use his hand or a handkerchief (mina malfuf), not a whip, stick or other instrument that could cause injury or harm.

The Hanbalis, Malikis and later Shafiites permitted a judge to dissolve the marriage if she suffered harm.

In sum, the jurists believed any physical harm or injury was grounds for compensation and divorce.

The Islamic Civilisation

In an Islamic civilisational context, the husband is seen in a similar manner to how Christians used to see him, as "lord of the manor".

A certain degree of legislative authority is delegated to him by the state to act as judge in minor matters within his household and to enact disciplinary punishments.

More significant issues are managed at a state level. In this context disciplining family members makes perfect sense, addressing infractions locally rather than flooding the state judiciaries with such cases, working well for over a millennium under the various caliphates.

However with the destruction of the Ottoman Caliphate, Safavid empire and Mughal rule in the past century or so, the Islamic civilisations have been replaced by secular governments who have conflicting ideological perspectives to Islam, with no judicial oversight into such matters, no schooling or education, and no moral direction, resulting in confusion and abuse of such rules and even roles.

Secular Liberal Civilisations

In secular liberal societies where the state has appropriated all authority and husbands are reduced to workers with little to no judicial authority which they can exercise in their own homes over their own families, such practices have become abnormal.

Worse, the transition to only the state disciplining people, caging them rather than physically punishing them, have become an accepted social norm.

Both of the latter two positions are little more than subjective values which are assumed to be factual - a hidden assumption of many critics.

To confuse two different civilisational approaches is little more than erroneous and mistaken.


Islam forbade "beating" of wives. Through diffusion of judicial authority husbands are permitted to discipline family members, including wives and children, for various infractions. It forbade abusing them or causing them harm. The two notions, disciplining and abusing, are quite different and it is a mistake to conflate them.

User Settings

What we provide!

Vote Content

Great answers start with great insights. Content becomes intriguing when it is voted up or down - ensuring the best answers are always at the top.

Multiple Perspectives

Questions are answered by people with a deep interest in the subject. People from around the world review questions, post answers and add comments.

An authoritative community

Be part of and influence the most important global discussion that is defining our generation and generations to come

Join Now !

Update chat message


Delete chat message

Are you sure you want to delete this message?