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According to Quran and Sunnah


The Prophet, Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him (saaws - peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "Abusing a Muslim is a sin, and killing him is disbelief." (Bukhari and Muslim)

"The Prophet never beat any of his wives or servants; in fact, he did not strike any living being with his hand except in the cause of Allah or when the prohibitions of Allah had been violated, and he retaliated on behalf of Allah." (An-Nasaa'i)

The Prophet Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said: "When the people see a cruel person is committing aggression, and do not prevent him, it is likely that Allah would afflect them with His chastisement." (Abu Dawud, Tirmithi, An-Nisaa'i)

The Prophet Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him said: "Allah does not punish the individuals for the sins of the community until they see the evil spreading among themselves, and while they have the power to stop it, do not do so." (Ahmad)

Allah, swt, commands the believers to "Enjoin the good and forbid the evil." (see Qur'an 3/104, 3/110, 9/71)

The Only Way to Beat ...

The only way to beat a wife or child, is to do so in a way that does not risk physical harm to the person and it should only be done after the committing of something serious such as flagrant disobedience (disobedience only to that which is halal [permissible according to Islam]).

T. Al-Qurtubi, Vol. 15, p. 212
During the ailment of Job, his wife used to beg for him and Satan told her a word of disbelief to say and she told her husband (Job), so he became angry with her and took an oath to strike her one hundred lashes. So Allah ordered Job to fulfil his oath by striking her with the bundle of thin grass.

Prophet Ayûb (Job) Peace be upon them was informed how to beat his wife in this particular instance, in a way such that he would not harm her, yet still fulfill his misguided oath:

The Noble Qur'an - Sâd 38:44
[To Job]: And take in your hand a bundle of thin grass and strike therewith (your wife),...

The Noble Qur'an - Al-Baqarah 2:224
And make not Allâh's (Name) an excuse in your oaths against your doing good and acting piously, and making peace among mankind. And Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Knower (i.e. do not swear much and if you have sworn against doing something good then give an expiation for the oath and do good).

The Prophets Peace be upon them are an example to mankind. From the above ayat and other hadith, we take the knowledge that the verse, "beat your wives" in The Quran refers to strikes with something relatively soft such as a bundle of thin grass or at worst a thin, flimsy stick. The beating is not to be done with severity. Please note that judgement can be impaired while a man is angry, and so it is recommended that he does not do it while angry. It is likewise haram (prohibited) for a woman to abuse her husband or children.

Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #276, Narrated Amr ibn al-Ahwas al-Jushami
Amr heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say in his farewell address on the eve of his Last Pilgrimage, after he had glorified and praised Allah, he cautioned his followers: 'Listen! Treat women kindly; they are like prisoners in your hands. Beyond this you do not owe anything from them. Should they be guilty of flagrant misbehaviour, you may remove them from your beds, and beat them but do not inflict upon them any severe punishment. Then if they obey you, do not have recourse to anything else against them. Listen! You have your rights upon your wives and they have their rights upon you. Your right is that they shall not allow anyone you dislike, to trample your bed and do not permit those whom you dislike to enter your home. Their right is that you should treat them well in the matter of food and clothing.

Unlike some non-Islamic societies, Islam does not consider it abuse to gently strike someone in response to flagrant disobedience to clear instructions. At most, such gentle beatings cause embarassement and bring clarity as to the seriousness, in hopes to repair and revitalize the relationship and guide the person back to Islam. Although a wife or child can both be beaten (always lightly as mentioned throughout this article), this does not in any way imply that wives are to be treated as children, as the situations and conditions are entirely different.

The Noble Qur'an - An-Nisaa 4:34
...As to those women on whose part you see ill­conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance)....

Hadith - Dawud, Narrated As-Saburah
[Also recorded by Ahmand and al-Hakim. Al-Syuti has give in a notation signifying that it is authentic. Al-Albani has graded it hasan. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 2, p. 1021.]
The Prophet said: Order your children to pray at the age of seven. And beat them [lightly] if they do not do so by the age of ten.  And separate them in their bedding.

Men can also be beaten, and should be in an Islamic government, for certain crimes such as public drunkeness, by other men. These beatings are stronger than what is done in the home, as they are in response to crimes in society.

Hadith - Al-Muwatta 28.27
Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Said ibn al-Musayyab and from Sulayman ibn Yasar that Tulayha al-Asadiya was the wife of Rushayd ath-Thaqafi. He divorced her, and she got married in her idda-period. Umar ibn al-Khattab beat her and her husband with a stick several times, and separated them. Then Umar ibn al-Khattab said, "If a woman marries in her idda-period, and the new husband has not consummated the marriage, then separate them, and when she has completed the idda of her first husband, the other becomes a suitor. If he has consummated the marriage then separate them. Then she must complete her idda from her first husband, and then the idda from the other one, and they are never to be reunited."

Hadith - Sahih Al-Bukhari 2.391, Narrated Abdullah bin Umar
He (Prophet Muhammad) Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him pointed to his tongue and added, "The deceased is punished for the wailing of his relatives over him." 'Umar used to beat with a stick and throw stones and put dust over the faces (of those who used to wail over the dead).

Hadith - Bukhari 3:509, Narrated 'Uqba bin Al-Harith
When An-Nuaman or his son was brought in a state of drunkenness, Allah's Apostle Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him ordered all those who were present in the house to beat him. I was one of those who beat him. We beat him with shoes and palm-leaf stalks.

The permission from Allah swt for beatings is conditional, in that it must be done according to Qur'an and Sunnah and not according to ones nafs (lower desires/ emotions/ irrationality).

Wife Abuse

"The most perfect Muslim in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best toward their wives." (Tirmithi)

How can it be said that a man is the protector of his wife, if he intentionally strikes, chokes, pushes or is violent in any way that results in her physical injury or bruising?

The Noble Qur'an - An-Nisaa 4:34
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allâh has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allâh and to their husbands), and guard in the husband's absence what Allâh orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband's property, etc.). As to those women on whose part you see ill­conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allâh is Ever Most High, Most Great.

The Prophet, saaws, advised one Muslim woman, whose name was Fatimah bint Qais, not to marry a man because the man was known for beating women:

Hadith - Sahih Muslim
"I went to the Prophet and said: Abul Jahm and Mu'awiah have proposed to marry me. The Prophet (by way of advice) said: As to Mu'awiah he is very poor and Abul Jahm is accustomed to beating women"

It is haram (prohbited) for a man to ever strike the face of a Muslimah, for any reason, or to any degree. This statement is not a support for abusing women in a way that may potentially harm her, but a condementation of striking the face:

Hadith - Sunan of Abu Dawood, Narrated by Mu'awiyah al-Qushayri
Mu'awiyah asked: Apostle of Allah, what is the right of the wife of one of us over him? He replied: That you should give her food when you eat, clothe her when you clothe yourself, do not strike her on the face, do not revile her or separate yourself from her except in the house.

Verbal Abuse

The word translated as "abuse" that is frequently mentioned in the Sunnah, includes verbal abuse.

Hadith - Sunan of Abu Dawood, Narrated by AbuJurayy Jabir ibn Salim al-Hujaymi
I saw a man whose opinion was accepted by the people, and whatever he said they submitted to it. I asked: Who is he? They said: This is the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him). I said: On you be peace, Apostle of Allah, twice. He said: Do not say "On you be peace," for "On you be peace" is a greeting for the dead, but say "Peace be upon you". I asked: You are the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon you)? He said: I am the Apostle of Allah Whom you call when a calamity befalls you and He removes it; when you suffer from drought and you call Him, He grows food for you; and when you are in a desolate land or in a desert and your she-camel strays and you call Him, He returns it to you. I said: Give me some advice. He (saaws) said: Do not abuse anyone. He (saaws) said that he did not abuse a freeman, or a slave, or a camel or a sheep thenceforth.

The Noble Qur'an - AlAhzab 33:58
And those who annoy believing men and women undeservedly, bear on themselves the crime of slander and plain sin.

Hadith - Bukhari's Book of Manners #313, Ahmad, Ibn Hibban, and Hakim
... 'Abd Allah reported that the Prophet of Allah, upon him be peace, said, "A believer is not a fault-finder and is not abusive, obscene, or course."

Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi
“A believer is never a person who scoffs at others, calls them names, or utters vulgar and obscene phrases”

Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Surah An-Nisa

(Imam Ibn Kathir is the leading commentator on the Qur'an)

Allah ordered the wife to obey her husband and prohibited her from disobeying him, because of the enormity of his rights and all that he does for her. The Messenger of Allah said,

"If I were to command anyone to prostrate before anyone, I would have commanded the wife to prostrate before her husband, because of the enormity of his right upon her."

Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said,

"If the man asks his wife to come to his bed and she declines, the angels will keep cursing her until the morning."

Muslim recorded it with the wording,

"If the wife goes to sleep while ignoring her husband's bed, the angels will keep cursing her until the morning."

This is why Allah said,

"As to those women on whose part you see ill conduct, admonish them (first)".

Allah's statement,

"abandon them in their beds,"

`Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas said "The abandonment refers to not having intercourse with her, to lie on her bed with his back to her.'' Several others said similarly. As-Suddi, Ad-Dahhak, `Ikrimah, and Ibn `Abbas, in another narration, added, "Not to speak with her or talk to her.'' The Sunan and Musnad compilers recorded that Mu`awiyah bin Haydah Al-Qushayri said, "O Allah's Messenger! What is the right that the wife of one of us has on him''

The Prophet said,

"To feed her when you eat, cloth her when you buy clothes for yourself, refrain from striking her face or cursing her, and to not abandon her, except in the house."

Allah's statement,

"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;

"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.

Punishment for the Abuser

If, for instance, a man hits the woman and causes bruises or broken bones, the punishment may be that the same or similar may be done in return.

The Noble Qur'an - 3:126
And if you punish (your enemy, O you believers in the Oneness of Allâh), then punish them with the like of that with which you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently, verily, it is better for As-Sâbirin (the patient ones, etc.).

The retribution for abuse should not exceed the original abuse.

Hadith - Sahih Muslim
"If two people abuse each other, the fault lies upon the one who began the abuse unless the wronged one transgresses."

More rewards for no violence

Hadith - Sahih Al-Bukhari 4.255, Narrated Abu Burdas father

The Prophet (saaws) said, "Three persons will get their reward twice. (One is) a person who has a slave girl and he educates her properly and teaches her good manners properly (without violence) and then manumits and marries her. Such a person will get a double reward. (Another is) a believer from the people of the scriptures who has been a true believer and then he believes in the Prophet (Muhammad). Such a person will get a double reward. (The third is) a slave who observes Allah's rights and obligations and is sincere to his master."

Action Items for the Muttaqun:

  • Follow the best example, that is of the Prophet Muhammad (saaws), who never struck his wives.

    • "The Prophet never beat any of his wives or servants; in fact, he did not strike any living being with his hand except in the cause of Allah or when the prohibitions of Allah had been violated, and he retaliated on behalf of Allah." (An-Nasaa'i)

  • If you are suffering from abuse, contact a sheikh (Islamic scholar who is well-versed in Qur'anic Arabic and the study of Qur'an and Sunnah) for guidance.

  • Aspire to the engagement of an Islamic state in which Quran and Sunnah is the law of the land, in which fair trials are held in accordance with Islam, where crimes such as abuse are properly punished, and crimes such as public drunkedness can be punished with a beating with something such as palm leaves .

    • When living in a non-Islamic state, do not invoke the punishment of beating for crimes (such as against abusers) without the criminal's willingness to accept the Islamic punishment by Muslims.

    • If you have abused or otherwise broken Islamic law, submit (this is the meaning of "Islam" - to submit) to an Islamic shariah court and to its ruling for Islamic punishment for the crime.

    • Never turn Muslims over to a non-Islamic state (such as to report abuse) unless at the particular moment you have a serious threat to your wellbeing and no Muslims are available to help you; it is permissible to call the local police as a means to avoid the greater sin of allowing yourself or others to be seriously physically harmed. Once the abuse has taken place, remove oneself from the abusive environment instead of reporting a Muslim to a non-Muslim police force and court system. One should naturally avoid engaging in any activity that is considered illegal activity wherever he lives, while at the same time not compromising his deen (way of life) of Islam. If his environment does not allow him to practice the fundamental requirements of his religion, he should make hijrah.

Remember... Allah, subhana watala, sees everything we do!

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