Wife Beating in the Qur'an

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The Qur'an's fourth chapter, An-Nisaa' النساء, deals with a number of issues relating to men and women, and the relationship between husband and wife. Amongst these issues is the issue of when it is permissible for a husband to physically strike or beat his wife. One verse in particular, 4:34, lays out a three-scheme for how husbands, fearing nushuuz نشوز or disobediance from their wives, are to deal with them. In summary the steps are to first admonish her, then banish her to a different bed, and finally to beat her. The admonition is layed out in a matter-of-fact, very practical way, and it can thus be assumed that the Qur'an's audience was not highly disturbed nor surpised by this holy injunction for domestic violence. Over the centuries the mufassirun have taken up this verse and different scholars from different schools have come to different conclusions on the meaning of the verse vis-a-vis the three-step formula and what the meaning is exactly of nushuuz. All of the traditional scholars agree, however, that one way or another beating is an option that is available to the man. Modern progressive Muslims, under the influence of modern secular liberalism and its firm conviction that wife beating is never acceptable, have however rejected this tradition. Rather, they have sought a number of strategies to come to the conclusion that the Qur'an, and Islam as a whole, does not allow wife beating. These strategies include appeals to the hadith, appeals to peculariar juristic decisions, and linguistic reinterpretation of the verse, going so far as to lie about the meaning of the word "daraba" in this verse.

Surah 434.gif


The Qur'an takes up the issue of wife beating in two seperate passages. The first is Quran 4:34:

Yusuf Ali translation: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah 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 Allah 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 Allah is Most High, great (above you all).

Pickthall translation: Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.

Shakir translation: 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.

Sahih International translation:Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

All of the agreed upon, relied upon Muslim translations of this verse into English agree that this verse instructs men on when and under what circumstances they are commanded to beat their wives. The verses sets out a three-part program for men dealing with "nushuuz" or disloyalty/disobediance. The three steps outlined are to first to admonist or sternly advise them to stop, then to seperate in the bedroom from them (somehow, commentators take up the question of what this means) and then, finally, to beat them. Yusuf Ali adds the word "lightly" to his translation, a word which is not found in the text of the verse. Rather, this word is found in the Farewell Sermon of the Prophet and a number of Hadith relating to the issue of wife beating. The particular turn of phrase here is "ghayr mubarrih" غير مبرح, a phrase meaning something like "not violently" or "not intensely." The scholarly consensus around this verse and the related traditions is that it is allowed and even instructed from Allah to strike a disobedient wife, however this strike must not cause grievous damage. The definitions of "grevious" or "serious" damage is subject to discussion by the commentators. The cause of the revelation, as will be seen below, leaves no doubt however that despite Muhammad's own wish on the matter it is the will of Allah that men strike their disobedient lives.

A second verse deals with the issue but much more obliquely.

They will say, "Exalted are You! You, [O Allah], are our benefactor not them. Rather, they used to worship the jinn; most of them were believers in them." But today you do not hold for one another [the power of] benefit or harm, and We will say to those who wronged, "Taste the punishment of the Fire, which you used to deny." And when our verses are recited to them as clear evidences, they say, "This is not but a man who wishes to avert you from that which your fathers were worshipping." And they say, "This is not except a lie invented." And those who disbelieve say of the truth when it has come to them, "This is not but obvious magic." And We had not given them any scriptures which they could study, and We had not sent to them before you, [O Muhammad], any warner.

ibn Kathir notes on this verse that Allah gave Ayub (Job) the option to hit his wife with a bundle of twigs without having to carry out his promise to beat her 100 blows:

(And take in your hand a bundle of thin grass and strike therewith (your wife), and break not your oath.) Ayyub, peace be upon him, got angry with his wife and was upset about something she had done, so he swore an oath that if Allah healed him, he would strike her with one hundred blows. When Allah healed him, how could her service, mercy, compassion and kindness be repaid with a beating So Allah showed him a way out, which was to take a bundle of thin grass, with one hundred stems, and hit her with it once.
Tafsir of ibn Kathir on Qur'an 38:41-44

This verse was later used in hadith and Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) to discuss alternatives to several hadd punishments in the case of frail, vulnerable people. These discussions, however, did not very often touch on the propriety of rightness of wife beating; discussions on this topic tended to proceed from the discussions around 4:34.

Linguistic Analysis of Verse in Arabic

The operative clause in Quran 4:34 reads:

ٱلرِّجَالُ قَوَّٰمُونَ عَلَى ٱلنِّسَآءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ ٱللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَآ أَنفَقُوا۟ مِنْ أَمْوَٰلِهِمْ ۚ فَٱلصَّٰلِحَٰتُ قَٰنِتَٰتٌ حَٰفِظَٰتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ ٱللَّهُ ۚ وَٱلَّٰتِى تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَٱهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِى ٱلْمَضَاجِعِ وَٱضْرِبُوهُنَّ

"And those whom you fear their disobedience, admonist them, seperate from them in the bedrooms, and beat them."

This is the three-part path of spousal discipline the Qur'an offers husband. Transliterated into Latin letters it reads:

r-rijālu qawwāmūna ʿalā n-nisāʾi bi-mā faḍḍala llāhu baʿḍahum ʿalā baʿḍin wa-bi-mā ʾanfaqū min ʾamwālihim fa-ṣ-ṣāliḥātu qānitātun ḥāfiẓātun li-l-ghaybi bi-mā ḥafiẓa llāhu wa-llātī takhāfūna nushūzahunna fa-ʿiẓūhunna wa-hjurūhunna fī l-maḍājiʿi wa-ḍribūhunna

The first piece reads: r-rijālu qawwāmūna ʿalā n-nisāʾi bi-mā faḍḍala llāhu baʿḍahum ʿalā baʿḍin wa-bi-mā ʾanfaqū min ʾamwālihim ʾ ٱلرِّجَالُ قَوَّٰمُونَ عَلَى ٱلنِّسَآءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ ٱللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَآ أَنفَقُوا۟ مِنْ أَمْوَٰلِهِمْ which translates as "Men are in power/in charge of women by nature of what Allah has favored them one over the other and due to what they (the men) spend of their wealth."

r-rijālu--The men

qawwāmūna--In charge of/in power over

ʿalā--on, here with qawwāmūna meaning "of" or "over"

n-nisāʾ-- The women

The next piece reads: fa-ṣ-ṣāliḥātu qānitātun ḥāfiẓātun li-l-ghaybi bi-mā ḥafiẓa llāhu فَٱلصَّٰلِحَٰتُ قَٰنِتَٰتٌ حَٰفِظَٰتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ ٱللَّهُ "And the righteous women, the obedient women, guard in hiddiness what Allah has guarded", usually meaning that they dress modestly.

fa-ṣ-ṣāliḥātu--the righteous/pure/religiously observant women

qānitātun--the obediant woment

ḥāfiẓātun--femine plural active particple of "guard" id est they are guarding or they guard

li-l-ghaybi--in unseenness/occlusion/secrecy

bi-mā ḥafiẓa--of what (Allah) guarded

llāhu-- Allah

The final piece of the verse reads: wa-llātī takhāfūna nushūzahunna fa-ʿiẓūhunna wa-hjurūhunna fī l-maḍājiʿi wa-ḍribūhunna وَٱلَّٰتِى تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَٱهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِى ٱلْمَضَاجِعِ وَٱضْرِبُوهُنَّ

wa-llātī takhāfūna-- and those (feminine plural) whom you (masculine second person plural) fear

nushūzahunna-- their (feminine plural) insolence, disobedience, uprising; this word was key to understanding this verse, and the mufasirrun and jurists went to lengths to define this. For modern progressive Muslims the meaning of this word has also been important.

fa-ʿiẓūhunna--(plural command form) scold them/admonish them (feminine plural them)

wa-hjurūhunna fī l-maḍājiʿi--and sepereate from them (feminine plural them) in the bedrooms

wa-ḍribūhunna--(plural command form) beat them (feminine plural them). In modern times some translators and progressive Muslims have engaged in outright deception about the meaning of this word in this verse, translating it as things other than "beat them (the woman)." These translations are patently false; see The Meaning of Daraba.

Asbab An-Nuzuul of the Verse

The أسباب النزول or "reasons of revelation" are a genre of Islamic literature that deals with the contexts in which particular verses and groups of verses were "revealed" to the prophet. According to traditional reckoning, the verses of the Qur'an were not revealed chapter-by-chapter but rather piecemeal and then later arranged into the individual surahs of the Qur'an. As such individual verses or groups of verses have unique stories in the Islamic tradition associated with them, explaining their context.

The earliest book around Asbab An-Nuzuul is a book of the same name by Ali ibn Ahmad al-Wahidi (d. 1075 CE). He did not cover the majority of verses in the Qur'an but he did cover these verses. Al-Wahidi writes:

قَالَ مُقَاتِلٌ: نَزَلَتْ هَذِهِ الْآيَةُ فِي سَعْدِ بْنِ الرَّبِيعِ وَكَانَ مِنَ النُّقَبَاءِ، وَامْرَأَتِهِ حَبِيبَةَ بِنْتِ زَيْدِ بْنِ أَبِي زُهَيْرٍ، وَهُمَا مِنَ الْأَنْصَارِ، وَذَلِكَ أَنَّهَا نَشَزَتْ عَلَيْهِ فَلَطَمَهَا، فَانْطَلَقَ أَبُوهَا مَعَهَا إِلَى النَّبِيِّ- صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ- فَقَالَ: أَفْرَشْتُهُ كَرِيمَتِي فَلَطَمَهَا. فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ- صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ-«لِتَقْتَصَّ مِنْ زَوْجِهَا»، وَانْصَرَفَتْ مَعَ أَبِيهَا لِتَقْتَصَّ مِنْهُ، فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ- صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ-«ارْجِعُوا، هَذَا جِبْرِيلُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ أَتَانِي»، وَأَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى هَذِهِ الْآيَةَ، فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ- صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ-«أَرَدْنَا أَمْرًا وَأَرَادَ اللَّهُ أَمْرًا، وَالَّذِي أَرَادَ اللَّهُ خَيْرٌ»، وَرَفَعَ الْقِصَاصَ.

Muqaatil said "This verse came down in regards to Sa'd bin Rabi' and he was of the Nuqabaa', and his wife Habiba bint Zayd bin Abi Zuhayr, and the two of them were of the Ansar. What happened was that she was disobedient to him and he struck her, then her father set out with her to the prophet--peace and prayers of Allah be upon him--and he said "I gave my daughter to him and he hit her." The prophet--eace and prayers of Allah be upon him--said "let you take vengence from her husband." And she parted with her father to take vengence on him (by her father striking him), the The prophet--eace and prayers of Allah be upon him--said "return, Jibreel peace be upon him has brought me this" and then Allah the most High brought down this verse. Then the prophet--eace and prayers of Allah be upon him--said "We wanted one thing and Allah wanted (another) thing, and what Allah wants is good" and so ends the story.

Al-Wahidi also gives a second version of the same story:

حدَّثنا يونس عن الحسن:

أن رجلاً لطم امرأَته فخاصمته إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، فجاء معها أهلها فقالوا: يا رسول الله، إِن فلاناً لطم صاحبتنا. فجعل رسول الله يقول: القصاص القصاص. ولا يقضي قضاء، فنزلت هذه الآية: ﴿ٱلرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى ٱلنِّسَآءِ﴾ فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: أَردنا أَمراً وأَراد الله غيره.

Yunis told us through Al-Hasan: A man struck his wife, she took the case to the prophet of god peace and prayer of All be upon him, and her parents went with her and they said: "Oh Prophet of Allah, someone struck our daughter. This made the prophet of Allah say: reprisal is reprisal (meaning let the repirsal happen). And he hadn't rendered his judgement, when this verse came down "Men are in power over women....." And the messenger of Allah peace and prayers of Allah be upon him said "We wanted one thing and Allah wanted something else."


He also offers a seemingly abridged 3rd version of the story:

إسماعيل، عن الحسن، قال:

لما نزلت آية القصاص بين المسلمين لطم رجل امرأته، فانطلقت إلى النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم، فقالت: إن زوجي لطمني فالقصاص، قال: القصاص، فبينا هو كذلك أَنزل الله تعالى: ﴿ٱلرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى ٱلنِّسَآءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ ٱللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ﴾ فقال النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم: أردنا أمراً فأبى الله تعالى [إلا غيرَه]. خذ أيها الرجل بيد امرأَتك.

Isma'il said through Al-Hasan: When the verse of retribution between Muslims was revealed a man struck his wife, then they set out to the prophet, peace and prayers of Allah be upon him, then she said: verily my husband struck me, what of the retribution? He said "Retribution is between us" then as he did Allah revealed the verse of "Men are in power over women in what Allah has favored them in over eachother (4:34)." The prophet of Allah peace and prayers of Allah be upon him said: "We wanted one thing and Allah refused it (in favor of something else). Oh Man, take the hand of your wife (and leave without retribution)."

From all of these a general story can be extracted: a man hit his wife, there was a complaint against him in the community for this, and Muhammad ordered the punishment of the wife beater. The sources portray this desire of Muhammad to outlaw wife-beating as being opposed by the will of Allah (God). Allah sends down this verse in response to these circumstances, showing that contra Muhammad it is the will of Allah specifically, as opposed to the will of the prophet, that men should beat their own wives if they are disobedient.

Tafsirs of the Verse

Classical Tafsirs

Tabari (839-923)

(القول في تأويل قوله: ﴿وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ

قال أبو جعفر: يعني بذلك جل ثناؤه: فعظوهن، أيها الرجال، في نشوزهن، فإن أبينَ الإياب إلى ما يلزمهن لكم، فشدّوهن وثاقًا في منازلهن، واضربوهن ليؤبن إلى الواجب عليهن من طاعته الله في اللازم لهنّ من حقوقكم.

  • * *

وقال أهل التأويل: صفة الضرب التي أباح الله لزوج الناشز أن يضربها: الضربُ غيرُ المبرِّح.

  • ذكر من قال ذلك:

٩٣٧٨ - حدثنا ابن حميد قال، حدثنا حكام، عن عمرو، عن عطاء، عن سعيد بن جبير:"واضربوهن"، قال: ضربًا غير مبرح. ٩٣٧٩ - حدثنا ابن حميد قال، حدثنا يحيى بن واضح قال، أخبرنا أبو حمزة، عن عطاء بن السائب، عن سعيد بن جبير مثله.

As for the saying: "strike them (feminine them):" Abu Ja'afar said: The most high be praised means here: "Oh men, in their (feminine) disobedience, they refused to return what they are obgligated to you, so chain them in their (feminine) houses, and strike them that they might return to their duties from an obedience to Allah in what is necessary to them regarging your rights upon them.

The people of interpretation have said: "The description of the strike which Allah has allowed to the husband upon a disobedient (wife) is to strike her: the non-intense, measured strike (darb ghayr mubarrih)."

It was mentioned:

Ibn Hamid told use that Hakaam said from Umar from 'Ata' from Sa'id bin Jubayr: "Strike them (feminine them)." He said " a non-intense, measured strike (darb ghayr mubarrih)."

Ibn Hamid said, he was told be Yahya bin Wadih who said we have been told by Abu Hamzah from 'Ata' bin Sa'ib from Sa'id bin Jubayr like him.

Tafsir of Tabari on Qur'an 4:34

After the above quoted portion Tabari goes on to site multiple additional chains of narration, all attesting to the fact that disobedient women should be struck and reiterating that this strike should be "ghayr mubarrih" غير مبرح that is to say "measured, non-intense, light."

Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi(1150 – 1209)

ثُمَّ قالَ تَعالى: ﴿فَعِظُوهُنَّ واهْجُرُوهُنَّ في المَضاجِعِ واضْرِبُوهُنَّ﴾ وفِيهِ مَسائِلُ:

المَسْألَةُ الأُولى: قالَ الشّافِعِيُّ - رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ -: أمّا الوَعْظُ فَإنَّهُ يَقُولُ لَها: اتَّقِي اللَّهَ، فَإنَّ لِي عَلَيْكِ حَقًّا وارْجِعِي عَمّا أنْتِ عَلَيْهِ، واعْلَمِي أنَّ طاعَتِي فَرْضٌ عَلَيْكِ. ونَحْوُ هَذا، ولا يَضْرِبُها في هَذِهِ الحالَةِ؛ لِجَوازِ أنْ يَكُونَ لَها في ذَلِكَ كِفايَةٌ، فَإنْ أصَرَّتْ عَلى ذَلِكَ النُّشُوزِ، فَعِنْدَ ذَلِكَ يَهْجُرُها في المَضْجَعِ وفي ضِمْنِهِ امْتِناعُهُ مِن كَلامِها، وقالَ الشّافِعِيُّ - رَضِيَ اللَّهُ تَعالى عَنْهُ -: ولا يَزِيدُ في هَجْرِهِ الكَلامَ ثَلاثًا، وأيْضًا فَإذا هَجَرَها في المَضْجَعِ فَإنْ كانَتْ تُحِبُّ الزَّوْجَ شَقَّ عَلَيْها، فَتَتْرُكُ النُّشُوزَ، وإنْ كانَتْ تُبْغِضُهُ وافَقَها ذَلِكَ الهِجْرانُ، فَكانَ ذَلِكَ دَلِيلًا عَلى كَمالِ نُشُوزِها، وفِيهِمْ مَن حَمَلَ ذَلِكَ عَلى الهِجْرانِ في المُباشَرَةِ؛ لِأنَّ إضافَةَ ذَلِكَ إلى المَضاجِعِ يُفِيدُ ذَلِكَ، ثُمَّ عِنْدَ هَذِهِ الهِجْرَةِ إنْ بَقِيَتْ عَلى النُّشُوزِ ضَرَبَها. قالَ الشّافِعِيُّ - رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ -: والضَّرْبُ مُباحٌ، وتَرْكُهُ أفْضَلُ. «رُوِيَ عَنْ عُمَرَ بْنِ الخَطّابِ - رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ - أنَّهُ قالَ: كُنّا مَعاشِرَ قُرَيْشٍ تَمْلِكُ رِجالُنا نِساءَهم، فَقَدِمْنا المَدِينَةَ فَوَجَدْنا نِساءَهم تَمْلِكُ رِجالَهم، فاخْتَلَطَتْ نِساؤُنا فَذَئِرْنَ عَلى أزْواجِهِنَّ، أيْ نَشَزْنَ واجْتَرَأْنَ، فَأتَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ ﷺ فَقَلْتُ لَهُ: ذَئِرَتِ النِّساءُ عَلى أزْواجِهِنَّ، فَأذِنَ في ضَرْبِهِنَّ، فَطافَ بِحُجَرِ نِساءِ النَّبِيِّ ﷺ جَمْعٌ مِنَ النِّسْوانِ كُلُّهُنَّ يَشْكُونَ أزْواجَهُنَّ، فَقالَ ﷺ: ”لَقَدْ أطافَ اللَّيْلَةَ بِآلِ مُحَمَّدٍ سَبْعُونَ امْرَأةً كُلُّهُنَّ يَشْكُونَ أزْواجَهُنَّ، ولا تَجِدُونَ أُولَئِكَ خِيارَكم» “ ومَعْناهُ أنَّ الَّذِينَ ضَرَبُوا أزْواجَهم لَيْسُوا خَيْرًا مِمَّنْ لَمْ يَضْرِبُوا. قالَ الشّافِعِيُّ - رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ -: فَدَلَّ هَذا الحَدِيثُ عَلى أنَّ الأوْلى تَرْكُ الضَّرْبِ، فَأمّا إذا ضَرَبَها وجَبَ في ذَلِكَ الضَّرْبِ أنْ يَكُونَ بِحَيْثُ لا يَكُونُ مُفْضِيًا إلى الهَلاكِ البَتَّةَ، بِأنْ يَكُونَ مُفَرَّقًا عَلى بَدَنِها، ولا يُوالِي بِهِ في مَوْضِعٍ واحِدٍ، ويَتَّقِي الوَجْهَ؛ لِأنَّهُ مَجْمَعُ المَحاسِنِ، وأنْ يَكُونَ دُونَ الأرْبَعِينَ. ومِن أصْحابِنا مَن قالَ: لا يَبْلُغُ بِهِ عِشْرِينَ؛ لِأنَّهُ حَدٌّ كامِلٌ في حَقِّ العَبْدِ، ومِنهم مَن قالَ: يَنْبَغِي أنْ يَكُونَ الضَّرْبُ بِمِندِيلٍ مَلْفُوفٍ أوْ بِيَدِهِ، ولا يَضْرِبُها بِالسِّياطِ ولا بِالعَصا، وبِالجُمْلَةِ فالتَّخْفِيفُ مُراعى في هَذا البابِ عَلى أبْلَغِ الوُجُوهِ.

وأقُولُ: الَّذِي يَدُلُّ عَلَيْهِ أنَّهُ تَعالى ابْتَدَأ بِالوَعْظِ، ثُمَّ تَرَقّى مِنهُ إلى الهِجْرانِ في المَضاجِعِ، ثُمَّ تَرَقّى مِنهُ إلى الضَّرْبِ، وذَلِكَ تَنْبِيهٌ يَجْرِي مَجْرى التَّصْرِيحِ في أنَّهُ مَهْما حَصَلَ الغَرَضُ بِالطَّرِيقِ الأخَفِّ وجَبَ الِاكْتِفاءُ بِهِ، ولَمْ يَجُزِ الإقْدامُ عَلى الطَّرِيقِ الأشَقِّ، واللَّهُ أعْلَمُ.
Tafsir of Fakhr ad-Din ar-Razi on Qur'an 4:34

ibn Kathir (1300-1373)


(beat them) means, if advice and ignoring her in the bed do not produce the desired results, you are allowed to discipline the wife, without severe beating. Muslim recorded that Jabir said that during the Farewell Hajj, the Prophet said; «وَاتَّقُوا اللهَ فِي النِّسَاءِ، فَإِنَّهُنَّ عِنْدَكُمْ عَوَانٍ، وَلَكُمْ عَلَيْهِنَّ أَنْ لَا يُوطِئْنَ فُرُشَكُمْ أَحَدًا تَكْرَهُونَهُ،فَإِنْ فَعَلْنَ ذَلِكَ فَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ضَرْبًا غَيْرَ مُبَرِحٍ، وَلَهُنَّ عَلَيْكُمْ رِزْقُهُنَّ وَكِسْوَتُهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوف» (Fear Allah regarding women, for they are your assistants. You have the right on them that they do not allow any person whom you dislike to step on your mat. However, if they do that, you are allowed to discipline them lightly. They have a right on you that you provide them with their provision and clothes, in a reasonable manner.) Ibn `Abbas and several others said that the Ayah refers to a beating that is not violent. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that it means, a beating that is not severe. When the Wife Obeys Her Husband, Means of Annoyance Against Her are Prohibited Allah said, فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلاَ تَبْغُواْ عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلاً (but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance),) meaning, when the wife obeys her husband in all that Allah has allowed, then no means of annoyance from the husband are allowed against his wife. Therefore, in this case, the husband does not have the right to beat her or shun her bed. Allah's statement, إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيّاً كَبِيراً

(Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.) reminds men that if they transgress against their wives without justification, then Allah, the Ever Most High, Most Great, is their Protector, and He will exert revenge on those who transgress against their wives and deal with them unjustly.
Tafsir of ibn Kathir on Qur'an 4:34

An-Nawawi (1233–1277), Reliance of the Traveller

"When a husband notices signs of rebelliousness in his wife (nushuz), whether in words, as when she answers him coldly when she used to do so politely, or he asks her to come to bed and she refuses, contrary to her usual habit; or whether in acts, as when he finds her averse to him when she was previously kind and cheerful), he warns her in words (without keeping from her or hitting her, for it may be that she has an excuse. The warning could be to tell her, "fear Allah concerning the rights you owe to me," or it could be to explain that rebelliousness nullifies his obligation to support her and give her a turn amongst other wives, or it could be to inform her, "Your obeying me is religiously obligatory"). If she commits rebelliousness, he keeps from sleeping (and having sex) with her without words, and may hit her, but not in a way that injures her, meaning he may not (bruise her), break bones, wound her, or cause blood to flow. (It is unlawful to strike another’s face.) He may hit her whether she is rebellious only once or whether more than once, though a weaker opinion holds that he may hot hit her unless there is repeated rebelliousness."

If the wife does not fulfill one of the above-mentioned obligations, she is termed "rebellious" (nashiz), and the husband takes the following steps to correct matters:

(a) admonition and advice, by explaining the unlawfulness of rebellion, its harmful effect on married life, and by listening to her viewpoint on the matter;

(b) if admonition is ineffectual, he keeps from her by not sleeping in bed with her, by which both learn the degree to which they need each other;

(c) if keeping from her is ineffectual, it is permissible for him to hit her if he believes that hitting her will bring her back to the right path, though if he does not think so, it is not permissible. His hitting her may not be in a way that injures her, and is his last recourse to save the family.

(d) if the disagreement does not end after all this, each partner chooses an arbitrator to solve the dispute by settlement, or divorce.
Tafsir of Al-Jalalayn on Qur'an 4:34

Al-Qurtubi (1214-1272)

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others

They provide for them, and from men come out rulers; princes & warriors, whereas this is not found among women.

This verse was revealed because Sa’ad ibn Al Rabee’a slapped his wife Habibah bint Zaid after she deserted him. After which, her father said: O’ Messenger of Allah, I gave him my daughter (as a bed spread for him) but he slapped her. Then the messenger said: let us judge her husband. So she left with her father seeking judgment. But then the messenger said: come back, this is the angel Gabriel has come down to me. Then Allah revealed: (we willed something but Allah willed another). And in another story: (I willed something, but Allah willed something better).

It was told that due to this incident, Sura 20:114 "…and do not make haste with the Quran before its revelation is made complete to you…" Was revealed.

Abu Raouq said: this verse was revealed because of Jamilah bint Obey and her husband Thabit bin Qais. Al Kalby said: it was revealed because of Omayrah bint Muhammad bin Muslamah and her husband Sa’ad bin Al Rabee’a…Allah has revealed that the reason why men are excelled over women because men are the providers, and hence women will benefit from that. It is also said: men are excelled over women because they have more brain ability…

and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion

If the wife hates and desert her husband

Admonish them

By using Allah’s scripture. It means to remind them of their duties, toward their husbands, which were ordained to them by Allah. The prophet of Allah (saw) said: (if I was to order someone to prostrate to another person, I would have ordered the wife to prostrate to her husband)

and leave them alone in the sleeping-places

Ibn Masud said: it is the intercourse. As said Ibn Abbas and others.

I (Al Qurtubi) said, it is a good thing; since if she loves her husband then this abandonment will be hard on her. But if she despises him, then her disobedient attitude towards him will become the more clearer.

Ibn Abbas said: to leave them alone is to tie them up in their homes just as you would tie your ride. And this is Al Tabari’s own view on this. However, Judge Abu Bakr bin Al Araby renounced Al Tabari’s interpretation on the ground of tying the wife, as he believe that Al Tabari based his view on a strange hadith regarding Asma’ the daughter of Abu Bakr who was married to Al Zubair bin Al Awaam. She used to leave her home often until people began to gossip and fault her husband for that, As a result, Al Zubair blamed his second wife for this and tied Asma’s hair and the hair of his second wife together, then he beat both of them up very severely.

This abandonment is believed by many scholars to be around a period of one month.

and beat them

Allah ordered that men begin by admonishing their wives as a first step, then abandonment, then beating if they refused to repent. This is because men are responsible to straighten their wives up. The beating mentioned in this verse has to do with the kind that is not severe and used for discipline. The kind that does not break the bone. However, it is not a crime if it leads to death. In the same manner a disciplinary will beat his son or student to teach him the Quran and manners.

In a hadith in Sahih Muslim the Prophet said: (fear Allah with your wives. You were given them by Allah’s provision, and you were entrusted with their private parts by Allah’s word. You have the right that they do not allow anyone you dislike into your bed, but if they do, then beat them but not severely) the hadith. It was narrated on the authority of Jabir Al Taweel during Hajj. This means that they should not allow anyone into your home that you dislike whether relatives or foreign women.

Al Tirmithi reported that Amro bin Al Ahwas had attended the Farewell Hajj and heard the messenger of Allah say: "Lo! 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 = adultery). If they do, then refuse to share their beds and beat them WITHOUT INDECENT VIOLENCE (fadribuhunna darban ghayra mubarrih*). Then, if they obey you, 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 not allow whom you hate to enter your bed nor your house. While their right over them is that you treat them excellently in their garb and provision."

Atta asked Ibn Abbas: what is the non severer beating. Ibn Abbas answered: using a small stick or the like.

It was reported also that Omar beat his wife and said, I heard the messenger of Allah say: (No man should be asked why he beat his wife).

You need to know that Allah did not allow for beating in his book except in this situation and when the major sins have been committed. Therefore, Allah has made the disobedient of wives equivalent to the commitment of major sins.

And Allah granted this privilege to the husbands over the Islamic authorities (Rulers), and allowed it for them without the need for a judge or witnesses or evidences. They were allowed this because they were entrusted by Allah to handle to take care of their wives.

Al Muhallab said: the permission was given to beat the wives when they refuse to sleep with their husbands. By comparison, if she refuses to serve him too then he is permitted to beat her too.

Her disobedient and refusal to sleep with her husband is a ground for the husband to deny her her allowance and all of her spousal rights, along with that, the husband is allowed to admonish her; refuse to sleep with her; and to beat her. But if she repented, then all of her rights will be reinstituted. The prophet (saw) said: (Allah’s mercy is on the man who hang his beating lash (stick) and disciplined his wife).
Tafsir of Al-Qurtubi on Qur'an 4:34

Modern Tafsirs

As-Sa'di (1889-1956)

يخبر تعالى أن الرِّجَال قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ أي: قوامون عليهن بإلزامهن بحقوق الله تعالى، من المحافظة على فرائضه وكفهن عن المفاسد، والرجال عليهم أن يلزموهن بذلك، وقوامون عليهن أيضا بالإنفاق عليهن، والكسوة والمسكن، ثم ذكر السبب الموجب لقيام الرجال على النساء فقال: بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ أي: بسبب فضل الرجال على النساء وإفضالهم عليهن، فتفضيل الرجال على النساء من وجوه متعددة: من كون الولايات مختصة بالرجال، والنبوة، والرسالة، واختصاصهم بكثير من العبادات كالجهاد والأعياد والجمع.

وبما خصهم الله به من العقل والرزانة والصبر والجلد الذي ليس للنساء مثله. وكذلك خصهم بالنفقات على الزوجات بل وكثير من النفقات يختص بها الرجال ويتميزون عن النساء. ولعل هذا سر قوله: وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا وحذف المفعول ليدل على عموم النفقة. فعلم من هذا كله أن الرجل كالوالي والسيد لامرأته، وهي عنده عانية أسيرة خادمة،فوظيفته أن يقوم بما استرعاه الله به. ووظيفتها: القيام بطاعة ربها وطاعة زوجها فلهذا قال: فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ أي: مطيعات لله تعالى حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ أي: مطيعات لأزواجهن حتى في الغيب تحفظ بعلها بنفسها وماله، وذلك بحفظ الله لهن وتوفيقه لهن، لا من أنفسهن، فإن النفس أمارة بالسوء، ولكن من توكل على الله كفاه ما أهمه من أمر دينه ودنياه. ثم قال: وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ أي: ارتفاعهن عن طاعة أزواجهن بأن تعصيه بالقول أو الفعل فإنه يؤدبها بالأسهل فالأسهل، فَعِظُوهُنَّ أي: ببيان حكم الله في طاعة الزوج ومعصيته والترغيب في الطاعة، والترهيب من معصيته، فإن انتهت فذلك المطلوب، وإلا فيهجرها الزوج في المضجع، بأن لا يضاجعها، ولا يجامعها بمقدار ما يحصل به المقصود، وإلا ضربها ضربًا غير مبرح، فإن حصل المقصود بواحد من هذه الأمور وأطعنكم فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا أي: فقد حصل لكم ما تحبون فاتركوا معاتبتها على الأمور الماضية، والتنقيب عن العيوب التي يضر ذكرها ويحدث بسببه الشر.

إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا أي: له العلو المطلق بجميع الوجوه والاعتبارات، علو الذات وعلو القدر وعلو القهر الكبير الذي لا أكبر منه ولا أجل ولا أعظم، كبير الذات والصفات.
Tafsir of As-Sa'di on Qur'an 4:34

Abul A'la Al-Maududi (1903-1979)

The Arabic word qawam or qawam stands for a person who is responsible for the right conduct, safeguard and maintenance of the affairs of an individual, an institution or an organization. Thus, than is governor, director, protector and manager of the affairs of women.

Men are superior to women in the sense that they have been endowed with certain natural qualities and powers that have not been given to women or have been given in a less degree, and not in the sense that they are above them in honor and excellence. Man has been made qawam (governor) of the family because of his natural qualities and woman has been made his dependent for her own safety and protection because of her natural drawbacks. A tradition of the Holy Prophet is the best commentary on this, He said, "The best wife is the one who pleases you when you see her; who obeys your orders and who guards your property and her own honor when you are not at home. " In this connection, it is necessary to give a warning. Obedience to Allah is of far greater importance than obedience to the husband and has precedence over it. 'therefore, it is the duty of the wife to refuse to obey her husband, if and when he orders her to do a thing which amounts to Allah's disobedience. In that case it shall be a sin to obey him. On the contrary, if the husband orders her not to observe a certain voluntary religious devotion, she must obey him, otherwise her devotion will not be accepted. If the wife is defiant and does trot obey her husband or does not guard his rights, three measures have been mentioned, but it does not mean that all the three are to be taken at one and the same time. Though these have been permitted, they are to be administered with a sense of proportion according to the nature and extent of the offense. if a mere light admonition proves effective, there is no need to resort to a severer step. As to a beating, the Holy Prophet allowed it very reluctantly and even then did not like it. But the fact is that there are certain women who do not mend their ways without a beating. In such a case, the Holy Prophet has instructed that she would not be beaten on the face, or cruelly, or with anything which might leave a mark on the body. "The two sides" refers both to the arbiters and to the spouses. Reconciliation can be effected in every quarrel, if the parties concerned desire it and if the arbiters try to effect it sincerely and justly. In this verse, a plan has been put forward for settling disputes between husband and wife within the family. An effort should be made to effect a reconciliation before resorting to a court of law or making the final breach. The plan is to appoint one arbiter from the family of each spouse for this purpose. The two should probe into the real cause or causes of the dispute and then try to find a way out of it. Of course, the relatives are best qualified for it, knowing as they do the true conditions of the spouses. Allah has left it unanswered as to who should appoint the arbiters so that each spouse may appoint one arbiter from his or her relatives, if they desire to patch up their differences, or the leaders of the two families may take the initiative and entrust the work of reconciliation to two arbiters, or if the case goes to the court, it may appoint two arbiters before taking any action. There is a difference of opinion regarding the powers of the arbiters. According to the Hanafi and the Shafi `i schools of thought, the arbiters are not authorized to pass any final decree but may recommend measures for reconciliation, which tray be accepted or rejected by the spouses. Of course, if the spouses themselves authorize them to effect divorce or khula' or take any other measure, then they shall be bound to accept their decision. Hasan Basri, Qatadah and some other jurists are of the opinion that the arbiters are authorized to enforce reconciliation but not separation. Ibn `Abbas, Said bin Jubair, Ibrahim Nakha 'i, Sha 'bi, Muhammad bin Sirin and some other jurists are of the opinion that the arbiters have full authority to enforce their decision about reconciliation or separation whichever they consider to be proper.

Caliph Uthman and Caliph 'Ali used to authorize the arbiters appointed by theta with full powers to effect reconciliation or separation as required by the circumstances. For instance, when the case of 'Aqil, son of Abu Talib, and his wife Fatimah, daughter of 'Utbah bin Rabi'ah, was brought in the court of Caliph Uthman, he appointed as arbiter Ibn 'Abbas from the family of the husband and Mu'aviyah bin Abi Sufyan from the family of the wife and told them that they ware authorized to cause separation between them, if required by circumstances. Likewise, Caliph `Ali appointed arbiters in a similar case and authorized them to effect reconciliation between the spouses or separate them. This shows that the arbiters as such do not possess judicial powers, but if at the tithe of their appointment, the authority concerned empowers them with judicial powers, their decision shall be binding and enforced like other judicial decisions.
Tafsir of Maududi on Qur'an 4:34

At-Tantawi (1928-2010)

روى المفسرون روايات في سبب نزول قوله- تعالى- الرِّجالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّساءِ الآية.

ومن هذه الروايات ما ذكره القرطبي من أنها نزلت في سعد بن الربيع نشزت عليه امرأته حبيبة بنت زيد بن خارجة بن أبى زهير فلطمها فقال أبوها: يا رسول الله، أفرشته كريمتي فلطمها. فقال صلى الله عليه وسلم (لتقتص من زوجها) . فانصرفت مع أبيها لتقتص منه. فقال- عليه الصلاة والسلام- «ارجعوا هذا جبريل أتانى» فأنزل الله هذه الآية . وقوله قَوَّامُونَ جمع قوام على وزن فعال للمبالغة من القيام على الشيء وحفظه. يقال: قام فلان على الشيء وهو قائم عليه وقوام عليه، إذا كان يرعاه ويحفظه ويتولاه. ويقال: هذا قيم المرأة وقوامها للذي يقوم بأمرها ويهتم بحفظها وإصلاحها ورعاية شئونها. أى: الرجال يقومون على شئون النساء بالحفظ والرعاية والنفقة والتأديب وغير ذلك مما تقتضيه مصلحتهن. ثم ذكر- سبحانه- سببين لهذه القوامة. أولهما: وهبى وقد بينه بقوله: بِما فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلى بَعْضٍ. أى أن حكمة الله اقتضت أن يكون الرجال قوامين على النساء بسبب ما فضل الله به الرجال على النساء من قوة في الجسم، وزيادة في العلم، وقدرة على تحمل أعباء الحياة وتكاليفها وما يستتبع ذلك من دفاع عنهن إذا ما تعرضن لسوء. قال الفخر الرازي: واعلم أن فضل الرجال على النساء حاصل من وجوه كثيرة: بعضها صفات حقيقية وبعضها أحكام شرعية. أما الصفات الحقيقية فاعلم أن الفضائل الحقيقية يرجع حاصلها إلى أمرين. إلى العلم وإلى القدرة. ولا شك أن عقول الرجال وعلومهم أكثر. ولا شك أن قدرتهم على الأعمال الشاقة أكمل، فلهذين السببين حصلت الفضيلة للرجال على النساء في العقل والحزم والقوة. وإن منهم الأنبياء والعلماء، وفيهم الإمامة الكبرى والصغرى والجهاد، والأذان، والخطبة، والولاية في النكاح. فكل ذلك يدل على فضل الرجال على النساء» . والمراد بالتفضيل في قوله بِما فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلى بَعْضٍ تفضيل الجنس على الجنس لا تفضيل الآحاد على الآحاد. فقد يوجد من النساء من هي أقوى عقلا وأكثر معرفة من بعض الرجال. والباء للسببية، وما مصدرية، والبعض الأول المقصود به الرجال والبعض الثاني المقصود به النساء، والضمير المضاف إليه البعض الأول يقع على مجموع الفريقين على سبيل التغليب. وقال- سبحانه- بِما فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلى بَعْضٍ ولم يقل- مثلا-: بما فضلهم الله عليهن، للإشعار بأن الرجال من النساء والنساء من الرجال كما قال في آية أخرى بَعْضُكُمْ مِنْ بَعْضٍ وللإشارة إلى أن هذا التفضيل هو لصالح الفريقين، فعلى كل فريق منهم أن يتفرغ لأداء المهمة التي كلفه الله بها بإخلاص وطاعة حتى يسعد الفريقان. وأما السبب الثاني: فهو كسبي وقد بينه- سبحانه- بقوله: وَبِما أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوالِهِمْ. أى أن الله- تعالى- جعل الرجال قوامين على النساء بسبب ما فضل الله به الرجال على النساء من علم وقدرة. وبسبب ما ألزم به الرجال من إنفاق على النساء ومن تقديم المهور لهن عند الزواج بهن، ومن القيام برعايتهن وصيانتهن. قال الآلوسى: واستدل بالآية على أن للزوج تأديب زوجته ومنعها من الخروج. وأن عليها طاعته إلا في معصية الله- تعالى-. وفي الخبر «لو أمرت أحدا أن يسجد لأحد لأمرت المرأة أن تسجد لزوجها» . واستدل بها أيضا من أجاز فسخ النكاح عند الإعسار عن النفقة والكسوة. وهو مذهب مالك والشافعى، لأنه إذا خرج عن كونه قواما عليها فقد خرج عن الغرض المقصود بالنكاح. وعندنا لا فسخ لقوله- تعالى: وَإِنْ كانَ ذُو عُسْرَةٍ فَنَظِرَةٌ إِلى مَيْسَرَةٍ. واستدل بها أيضا من جعل للزوج الحجر على زوجته في نفسها وما لها فلا تتصرف فيه إلا بإذنه، لأنه- سبحانه- جعل الرجل قواما بصيغة المبالغة. وهو الناظر على الشيء الحافظ له» . ثم شرع- سبحانه- في تفصيل أحوال النساء. وفي بيان كيفية القيام عليهن بحسب اختلاف أحوالهن، فقسمهن إلى قسمين:فقال في شأن القسم الأول: فَالصَّالِحاتُ قانِتاتٌ حافِظاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِما حَفِظَ اللَّهُ. أى: فالصالحات من النساء من صفاتهن أنهن قانِتاتٌ أى مطيعات لله- تعالى ولأزواجهن عن طيب نفس واطمئنان قلب، ومن صفاتهن كذلك أنهن حافِظاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِما حَفِظَ اللَّهُ. قال صاحب الكشاف: الغيب خلاف الشهادة. أى حافظات لمواجب الغيب. إذا كان الأزواج غير شاهدين لهن، حفظن ما يجب عليهن حفظه في حال الغيبة من الفروج والأموال والبيوت. وعن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال. «خير النساء امرأة إن نظرت إليها سرتك، وإن أمرتها أطاعتك، وإذا غبت عنها حفظتك في مالها ونفسها» ، ثم تلا الآية الكريمة . و «ما» في قوله بِما حَفِظَ اللَّهُ يحتمل أن تكون مصدرية فيكون المعنى: أن هؤلاء النساء الصالحات المطيعات من صفاتهن أيضا أنهن يحفظن في غيبة أزواجهن ما يجب حفظه بسبب حفظ الله لهن ورعايته إياهن بالتوفيق للعمل الذي يحبه ويرضاه. ويحتمل أن تكون موصولة فيكون المعنى: أنهن حافظات لغيبة أزواجهن في النفس والعرض والمال وكل ما يجب حفظه بسبب الأمر الذي حفظه الله لهن على أزواجهن حيث كلف الأزواج بالإنفاق عليهن وبالإحسان إليهن، فعليهن أن يحفظن حقوق أزواجهن في مقابلة الذي حفظه الله لهن من حقوق على أزواجهن. فالجملة الكريمة تمدح النساء الصالحات المطيعات الحافظات لأسرار أزواجهن ولكل ما يجب حفظه من عرض أو مال أو غير ذلك مما تقتضيه الحياة الزوجية. هذا هو القسم الأول من النساء، أما القسم الثاني فقد قال- سبحانه- في شأنه: وَاللَّاتِي تَخافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ والمراد بقوله نُشُوزَهُنَّ عصيانهن وخروجهن عما توجبه الحياة الزوجية من طاعة الزوجة لزوجها. يقال: نشزت الزوجة نشوزا أى: عصت زوجها وامتنعت عليه. وأصل النشوز مأخوذ من النشز بمعنى الارتفاع في وسط الأرض السهلة المنبسطة ويكون شاذا فيها. فشبهت المرأة المتعالية على طاعة زوجها بالمرتفع من الأرض. والمعنى: هذا شأن النساء الصالحات القانتات الحافظات للغيب بسبب حفظ الله لهن، أما النساء اللاتي تخافون نُشُوزَهُنَّ أى عصيانهن لكم، وترفعهن عن مطاوعتكم، وسوء عشرتهن فَعِظُوهُنَّ بالقول الذي يؤثر في النفس، ويوجههن نحو الخير والفضيلة، بأن تذكروهن بحسن عاقبة الطاعة للزوج. وسوء عاقبة النشوز والمعصية، وبأن تسوقوا لهن من تعاليم الإسلام وآدابه وتوجيهاته ما من شأنه أن يشفى الصدور، ويهدى النفوس إلى الخير. قال ابن كثير: وقوله- تعالى-: وَاللَّاتِي تَخافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ أى النساء اللاتي تخافون أن ينشزن على أزواجهن فعظوهن. والنشوز هو الارتفاع فالمرأة الناشز هي المرتفعة على زوجها التاركة لأمره، المعرضة عنه المبغضة له، فمتى ظهر له منها أمارات النشوز فليعظها وليخوفها عقاب الله، فإن الله قد أوجب حق الزوج عليها وطاعته، وحرم عليها معصيته لماله عليها من الفضل، وقد قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «لو كنت آمرا أحدا أن يسجد لأحد لأمرت الزوجة أن تسجد لزوجها من عظم حقه عليها» . وقوله وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضاجِعِ أى وعليكم إذا لم تنفع الموعظة والنصيحة معهن أن تتركوهن منفردات في أماكن نومهن. فالمضاجع جمع مضجع- وهو مكان النوم والاضطجاع. قال القرطبي: والهجر في المضجع هو أن يضاجعها- أى ينام معها في فراش واحد- ويوليها ظهره ولا يجامعها. وقال مجاهد: وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضاجِعِ أى تجنبوا مضاجعهن أى- اهجروا أماكن نومهن بأن تناموا بعيدا عنهن-» . روى أبو داود بسنده عن معاوية بن حيدة القشيري أنه قال: يا رسول الله: ما حق زوجة أحدنا عليه؟ قال: أن تطعمها إذا طعمت، وتكسوها إذا اكتسيت ولا تضرب الوجه. ولا تقبح. ولا تهجر إلا في البيت» . وقوله وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ معطوف على ما قبله. أى إن لم ينفع ما فعلتم من العظة والهجران فاضربوهن ضربا غير مبرح- أى غير شديد ولا مشين- فقد ثبت في صحيح مسلم عن جابر عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال في حجة الوداع» : واتقوا الله في النساء فإنهن عوان عندكم- أى أسيرات عندكم- ولكم عليهن أن لا يوطئن فرشكم أحدا تكرهونه. فإن فعلن فاضربوهن ضربا غير مبرح» . وقد فسر العلماء الضرب غير المبرح بأنه الذي لا يكسر عظما، ولا يشين جارحة، وأن يتقى الوجه فإنه مجمع المحاسن ولا يلجأ إليه إلا عند فشل العلاجين السابقين. وقد قال- سبحانه- وَاللَّاتِي تَخافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ ولم يقل: واللائي ينشزن، للإشعار بأن يبدأ الزوج بعلاج عيوب زوجته عند ما تظهر أمارات هذه العيوب وعلاماتها وأن لا يتركها حتى تستشرى وتشتد، بل عليه عند ما يخشى النشوز أن يعالجه قبل أن يقع، وأن يكون علاجه بطريقة حكيمة من شأنها أن تقنع وتفيد. وبعضهم فسر الخوف، بالعلم أى واللاتي تعلمون نشوزهن فعظوهن . . . إلخ. وبعضهم قدر مضافا في الكلام أى: واللاتي تخافون دوام نشوزهن، فعظوهن واهجروهن في المضاجع . . . إلخ. وبعضهم قدر معطوفا محذوفا أى: واللاتي تخافون نشوزهن ونشزن، فعظوهن واهجروهن في المضاجع . . . إلخ. وجمهور العلماء على أن من الواجب على الزوج أن يسلك في معالجته لزوجته تلك الأنواع الثلاثة على الترتيب بأن يبدأ بالوعظ ثم بالهجر ثم بالضرب، لأن الله- تعالى- قد أمر بذلك، ولأنه قد رتب هذه العقوبات بتلك الطريقة الحكيمة التي تبدأ بالعقوبة الخفيفة ثم تتدرج إلى العقوبة الشديدة ثم إلى الأكثر شدة. قال الفخر الرازي: وبالجملة فالتخفيف مراعى في هذا الباب على أبلغ الوجوه. والذي يدل عليه اللفظ أنه- تعالى- ابتدأ بالوعظ. ثم ترقى منه إلى الضرب. وذلك تنبيه يجرى مجرى التصريح في أنه متى حصل الغرض بالطريق الأخف، وجب الاكتفاء به، ولم يجز الإقدام على الطريق الأشق. وهذه طريقة من قال: حكم هذه الآية مشروع على الترتيب. وقال بعض أصحابنا: «تحرير المذهب أن له عند خوف النشوز أن يعظها، وهل له أن يهجرها؟ فيه احتمال. وله عند إبداء النشوز أن يعظها أو يهجرها، أو يضربها» . ثم بين- سبحانه- ما يجب على الرجال نحو النساء إذا ما أطعنهم وتركن النشوز والعصيان فقال- تعالى-: فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيراً. أى فإن رجعن عن النشوز إلى الطاعة وانقدن لما أوجب الله عليهن نحوكم أيها الرجال، فلا تطلبوا سبيلا وطريقا إلى التعدي عليهن، أو فلا تظلموهن بأى طريق من طرق الظلم كأن تؤذوهن بألسنتكم أو بأيديكم أو بغير ذلك، بل اجعلوا ما كان منهن كأنه لم يكن، وحاولوا التقرب إليهن بألوان المودة والرحمة. إِنَّ اللَّهَ كانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيراً فاحذروا مخالفة أمره، فإن قدرته- سبحانه- عليكم أعظم من قدرتكم على نسائكم. فالجملة الكريمة تذييل قصد به حث الأزواج على قبول توبة النساء، وتحذيرهم من ظلمهن إذا ما تركن النشوز، وعدن إلى طريق الطاعة والإنابة. قال بعضهم: وذكر هاتين الصفتين في هذا الموضع في غاية الحسن، وبيانه من وجوه:الأول: أن المقصود منه تهديد الأزواج على ظلم النساء. والمعنى: أنهن إن ضعفن عن دفع ظلمكم وعجزن عن الانتصاف منكم، فالله- سبحانه- ينتصف لهن منكم لأنه علىّ قاهر كبير. الثاني: لا تبغوا عليهن إذا أطعنكم لعلو أيديكم، فإن الله أعلى منكم وأكبر من كل شيء. الثالث: أنه- سبحانه- مع علوه وكبريائه لا يكلفكم إلا ما تطيقون، كذلك لا تكلفوهن محبتكم، فإنهن لا يقدرن على ذلك. الرابع: أنه مع علوه وكبريائه لا يؤاخذ العاصي إذا تاب، بل يغفر له، فإذا تاب المرأة عن نشوزها فأنتم أولى بأن تتركوا عقوبتها وتقبلوا توبتها.

الخامس: أنه- تعالى مع علوه وكبريائه اكتفى من العبد بالظواهر ولم يهتك السرائر فأنتم أولى أن تكتفوا بظاهر حال المرأة، وأن لا تقعوا في التفتيش عما في قلبها وضميرها من الحب والبغض»
At-Tasfir Al-Wasit on Qur'an 4:34

Evidence from the Hadith

Mutliple hadith sources take up the issue of wife beating. They mostly serve to endorse and qualify the practice. As with Slavery the idea is found that not hitting your wife is a meritorious act but not necessary to be a good believer/Muslim.

First off, the hadith confirms that Muhammad did allow men to beat their wives.

Iyas b. Abdullah reported God's messenger as saying, "Do not beat God's handmaidens;" but when `Umar came to God's messenger and said, "The women have become emboldened towards their husbands," he gave licence to beat them. Then many women went round God's messenger's family complaining of their husbands, and he said, "Many women have gone around complaining of their husbands. Those are not the best among you." Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, and Darimi transmitted it.
Mishkat Al-Masabih: Volume 2, page 692
Narrated Abdullah ibn AbuDhubab: Iyas ibn Abdullah ibn AbuDhubab reported the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) as saying: Do not beat Allah's handmaidens, but when Umar came to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) 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 (peace be upon him) complaining against their husbands. So the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: Many women have gone round Muhammad's family complaining against their husbands. They are not the best among you.
It was narrated that Iyas bin 'Abdullah bin Abu Dhubab said: "The Prophet said: 'Do not beat the female slaves of Allah.' Then 'Umar came to the Prophet and said: 'O Messenger of Allah, the woman have become bold towards their husbands? So order the beating of them,' and they were beaten. Then many women went around to the family of Muhammad,. The next day he said: 'Last night seventy women came to the family of Muhammad, each woman complaining about her husband. You will not find that those are the best of you.' " (Sahih)

The beatings were so frequent a part of community life that 'Aishah is said to have complained that the believing women suffer more than any other:

Narrated '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,"

Here Muhammad seems to condone and take part of the practice.

The hadith clarify how the beatings should be conducted:

Fear Allaah regarding women for you have got them under Allah’s security and have the right to intercourse with them by Allah’s word. It is a duty from you on them not to allow anyone whom you dislike to lie on your beds but if they do beat them, but not severely.

Another hadith lays out the specifics of how far the beating can go:

Then he said: 'I enjoin good treatment of women, for they are prisoners with you, and you have no right to treat them otherwise, unless they commit clear indecency. If they do that, then forsake them in their beds and hit them, but without causing injury or leaving a mark.

Modern Views and Perspectives on the Meaning of Qur'an 4:34

The view that men should beat their wives flies in the face of modern conventions about gender relations. As such it has lead to a number of discussions and revisions in the modern Islamic community. On the one end progressive Muslims such as Leila Bakhtiar, who went so far as to mistranslate the word "daraba" in order to hide the plain meaning of the text, instructing men to beat their wives in certain situations. The Yaqeen Institute on the other hand calls the idea that men can beat their wives a "myth" while admitting in the same article that the plain meaning of the text of the Qur'an allows it. On the other hand are traditionalists such as Daniel Haqiqatjou, who defends the Qur'an by claiming that wife-beating allows authority to be "distributed across kinship groups" as opposed to being concentrated in the cold, unfeeling hands of the modern nation-state. He compares wife beating to the discipline that employers enforce on their employee by forcing them to leave the premises of the building in which they are situated with the implied threat of force from the police or company security forces. For such Occidentalist critics, the cold and calculating nature of the west means that even practices which violate human rights are preferable to the modern, western, liberal state. As Michael Cook observed over a decade ago in The Koran: A Very Short Introduction commentators who take the verse come up with a number of strategies to deal with it, but whether by embracing or "swimming against" the Western tide all of them are in one way or another engaging with western, liberal modernity.

See Also

External Links