Does Islam Allow Wife-Beating?

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Question: Does the Quran say, "And beat your wives?" (refer to ayah #34 in Surah An-Nisa, chapter 4)

NOTE: It is a clear fact, Islam forbids any kind of oppression or violence against women (or men for that matter).
Yet, it cannot be denied that there are some Muslims who do not really follow Islam - and what is worse, there are those who try to justify their violent behavior toward women (and others) by giving incorrect interpretations to Islam's teachings.

It is necessary, therefore, for us to explore what Islam really does say about these matters and then provide proofs for the believers to bring about correct understanding and better living for all of us.

Please Read This Special Update (and share it with others right away): Islam Forbids All Forms of Oppression
The Quran orders men to "Protect and Defend - ALL WOMEN"

{..And 'dharabah' them}
Bringing light to the Treatment of Women in Islam
-- by yusuf estes

There is a word used in the Arabic that carries a much wider meaning than the word "hit" or "beat" in English. This word is often mistranslated as "beat lightly" It would be better understood as the English term "percuss" (Percuss - a light tap or thump) - an action doctors use while examining patients upper torso - light tapping while listening to their backs or chests.
(ref: explanation of surah An-Nisa, verse 34)


So many questions about treatment of women in Islam - and what Muslim men do with their wives.


What about the treatement of the women in Islam. Why does the Quran tell men to "wadhribu hunna" - "Does this mean to "beat their wives"? (chapter 4, verse 34)

Answer: No, it does not. (read this answer slowly and carefully)

Statement - before we begin with this one: The prophet of Allah, Muhammad, peace be upon him, tells us Allah has said,
"Before the creation of the universe, I forbid that I would oppress and I hate when anyone oppresses."


Let us consider a very basic understanding of the advent of Islam and the reason for it to be revealed in the time and place where it came. Here is a brief, yet clear statement of purpose with the coming of Islam:

Treatment in Relationships - in Islam, it is all about treatment; how you treat your Lord; how you treat His messenger; how you treat yourself; how you treat your family; how you treat others; how you treat your enviornment - it is always about treatement.

We must keep in mind the condition of the people who were without the guidance of Almighty God and how they had strayed far away from the message that came with Adam, Abraham, Moses and other great prophets, peace be upon them all.
The ignorant and selfish mentality the prevailed throughout the Arab lands did not allow women even the most basic of rights and the treatment of women was abhorent. Women were being treated as property, even less than the status of livestock. They were offered in trade or taken in marriage without consent or consideration for their feelings at all. The customs of the people at the time were far away from anything we might imagine today.

Statements in the Quran pertaining to the treatment of the women came to improve their condition and to raise their status to a level of balance alongside of men. Islam came to change the hearts of the people and show them the proper way to worship Allah and to interact with each other.

Now let us review the proper method of providing answers for Islam in general.

First we would say, "Thank you for asking about Islam. It is our committment to try our best to provide answers to questions to the best of our ability. However, sometimes we come across questions for which we do not have answers. In this case we will refer you to others who may be able to provide you with proper answers."

Second, we remind ourselves and the one questioning Islam to be aware, we as Muslims, must never lie about anything, especially our religion.

Third, we do have the original text of the Quran and the preserved teachings of Muhammad, peace be upon him. This enables us to verify exactly what was said, intended and taught by Muhammad, peace be upon him, as being the religion of Islam.

Fourth, I would like to remind myself and all who read this in the future that not all questions are purely questions. Some contain statements and implications, that may or may not be true.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind anytime we discover something in the answers to actually be better than what we already have, we should be committed to change our position and accept that which is true over that which is false and take that which is better for that which is inferior.

After taking all of the above into consideration, if we find that the answer to this question provides us with a better approach to understanding what Almighty God has provided us with as a way of life on this earth and in the Next Life, we should then make the logical decsion to begin to worship Him on His terms.

Having said that, let us now look to the particular verse in question in the original text (Arabic), followed by the phonetic sounds in Latin letters and then finally, followed by a translation of the meaning to the English language by experts in both Arabic and in Quranic meanings.


Ar-rejalu qawwa muna 'alan-nisa'a bima fadhdhallahu ba'dhahum 'ala bi'dhi wa bima anfaqu min amwalihim. Fas-saliHatu qaintat HafaTHatul-lilghaybi bimaa HafiTHal-lahu, wal-lati takhaafuna nushuza hunna fa'iTHuu hunnaa wa hjuruu hunna fiil-lmadhaa ji'i wadhribu hunna. Faa'in aTa'nakum flaa tabghuu 'alayhinna sabiilan. Innal-laha kaana 'aliyaan kabiira(n).

One Explanation (tafsir) given of this surahc (chapter 4:34) according to some scholars is:
“Men are the support of women as God gives some more means than others, and because they spend of their wealth (to provide for them). So women who are virtuous are obedient to God and guard the hidden as God has guarded it. As for women who are averse in behavior, talk to them suasively, leave them alone in bed and tap them (like a doctor would tap a patient - lightly), if they open out to you, do not seek an excuse for blaming them. Surely God is sublime and great.”

Meaning of the Words
For the three words fa'izu, wahjaru, and wadribu in the original, translated here 'talk to them suasively,' 'leave them alone (in bed - fi'l-madage'),' and tap lightly (percuss them), respectively,

Fa'izu (to use persuasive speech or admonishment)
Fa'izu, implies the first step should be to make clear to them using straight talk, the position they are in and what is required to comply with the teaching of Islam. This approach may be repeated until it is established she has understood and is willing to comply and come back into line with the proper expected of a Muslim woman. (comentary provided by Yusuf Estes)

Hajara - Wahjaru (do not touch or moleste them)
Hajara, he says, means to separate body from body, and points out that the expression wahjaru hunna metaphorically means to refrain from touching or molesting them. Zamakhshari is more explicit in his Kshshaf when he says, 'do not get inside their blankets.'

Daraba (tap lightly as 'percuss', not to beat)
daraba lightly tap them (women).' This view is strengthened by the Prophet's authentic hadith found in a number of authorities, including Bukhari and Muslim:

"Could any of you beat your wife as he would a slave, and then lie with her in the evening?"
There are other traditions in Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad bin Hanbal and others, to the effect that he forbade the beating of any woman, saying: "Never beat God's handmaidens."

Al-Qur'an: a contemporary translation by Ahmed Ali, Princeton University Press, 1988; pp78-79

In the past, some translators of this verse have mistakeningly used the word "beat" to represent the word "dhaaraba" in Arabic. This is not the opinion of all scholars especially Raghib and Zamakhshari as mentioned above and those who are well grounded in both Islam understanding and the English language.

Quran: (Surah An-Nisaa' [The Women] 4:34)
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend from their means (to support the women). Therefore the righteous women are devout and guard in the husband's absence what Allah 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, go back to them (in intimacy), if they return to obedience and do not seek any means of annoyance against them. Certainly, Allah is Most High, Most Great.

Other translators have offered words such as, "tap" and "pat" to represent a physical type of admonisment. While definitely coming closer to what might be acceptable in many circles than such expressions as "hit" or "beat", this still does not properly demonstrate the position and usage of such terms in relation to the first of the verse and the connection to the following passage, wherein the clear instructions deal with the women who do not come into compliance. Therefore, it likely be considered to mean: "tap lightly as a doctor would examine a patient".

And Allah is the All-Knower. (commentary from Yusuf Estes)

We understand from this some of the translations are not properly representing the spirit of the meaning. Therefore, they cannot be considered to be the representation of what has been intended by Almighty God.

Now we can properly understand that Almighty God has commanded the men to provide for the women and allow them to keep all of their wealth, inheritance and income without demanding anything from them for support and maintenance. Additionally, if she should be guilty of lewd or indecent conduct, the husband is told to first, admonish her and then she should cease this lewdness. However, if she should continue in this indecency, then he should no longer share the bed with her, and this would continue for a period of time. Finally, if she would repent then he would take up sharing the bed with her again.

Dr. Jamal Badawi (St. Mary's University, Nova Scotia) is of the opinion these (three stages) are necessary steps prior to divorce. Instead of a man saying, "I divorce you" three times in a row, he should follow this procedure before acting hastily and thereby doing something unwise and displeasing to Allah. The first step would be as mentioned above, to give her a "good talking to" and then if she continued in such unpleasing behavior, to leave the bed (not have intercourse with her) for a period of time and then finally, the last straw would be to "pat" her on the arm (as you would stroke a sheep or animal) to signify to her this is the final straw and then if she still persisted in her bad way, he could divorce her.


beat wives_NO

Regardless of the various positions and opinions, there is no permission established through the teachings of the Quran or the Sunnah (way) of Muhammad, peace be upon him, wherein one person could "beat" another person at their own discretion.


Any translations of the Quran indicating women can be beaten or abused by men is totally out of touch with the message of Islam from the rest of the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad, peace be upon him.

And Allah is All Knowing of the meanings of His ayahs (verses in Quran).

* percuss v.t. strike, tap, especially part of body in medical diagnosis.

The only form of "strking" allowed in Islam is: "Percuss: a light tap, similar to that used in examining patients."

percuss or tap lightly
Meaning of "percuss" - a striking or tapping of the body done by an examiner while diagnosing a patient; a type of tapping done for examination reasons.

The following instructions are provided for making medical examinations using the technique of "percuss":

"Method Of Examination Using Percuss"

Author: A. Chandrasekhar

Taken from Loyola Medial Education Website [click]

  • Percuss the chest all around. Stand back, have the patient cross arms to shoulder. This maneuver will wing the scapula and expose the posterior thorax. Then, have the patient keep their hands over head and percuss axilla. Then move to the front and percuss anterior chest , clavicles and supraclavicular space.

    Percuss the lung fields, alternating, from top to bottom and comparing sides.

  • Percuss over the intercostal space and note the resonance and the feel of percussion.
  • Keep the middle finger firmly over the chest wall along intercostal space and tap chest over distal interphalangeal joint with middle finger of the opposite hand.
  • The movement of tapping should come from the wrist.
  • Tap 2-3 times in a row.
  • Do not leave the percussing finger on chest , otherwise you will dampen the sound.
  • Stand on one side and with your flat of hand, tap the chest from top to bottom and from side to side to compare. I use this method as a screening step to identify the area of abnormality.

NOTE: The statements regarding the type of "tapping" using the word "percuss" are from Loyola Medial Education website.

Hijab | Marriage | Questions | Niqab | Women's Rights

1 COMMENTS bottom page


#15 Muhammad Huzaifa 2015-03-08 16:56
Quoting Zeynab:
I still don't understand. If Allah allowes men to hit the women lightly, as you said "like a doctor would tap a patient", what good is that? How does that solve the issue of women being disobedient. I don't think that would do anything. Therefore, I still do not agree with the idea that it is even okay for women to be hit even lightly. It does not make sence.

Please explain to me.

Thank you

For example if a man's neighbor use to abuse him everyday, what should he do, to kill him instantly? No, first to warn him by tongue and if his neighbor still continue to abuse him he should ignore him and if he still doesn't refrain from his act then according to me he should fight with him or physically hurt him! I hope you understand!
And Allah knows the best!
#14 Muhammad Huzaifa 2015-03-08 16:50
Quoting Zeynab:
I still don't understand. If Allah allowes men to hit the women lightly, as you said "like a doctor would tap a patient", what good is that? How does that solve the issue of women being disobedient. I don't think that would do anything. Therefore, I still do not agree with the idea that it is even okay for women to be hit even lightly. It does not make sence.

Please explain to me.

Thank you

Allah is giving this commandment for a Particular special situation, a situation where a wife is not listening to her husband or misbehaving him, it is where a man is allowed to implement these three steps to turn his wife to the right way! If a husband talk to her wife to make her stop misbehaving with him and she agrees then this is good, and after that husband do not allowed to tease her or make fun of her for the past misbehavior.So actually these verses are in the favor of women to prevent them from major loss(Divorce)
#13 Muhammad Huzaifa 2015-03-08 16:32
Quoting Zeynab:
I still don't understand. If Allah allowes men to hit the women lightly, as you said "like a doctor would tap a patient", what good is that? How does that solve the issue of women being disobedient. I don't think that would do anything. Therefore, I still do not agree with the idea that it is even okay for women to be hit even lightly. It does not make sence.

Please explain to me.

Thank you

Dear sister! You haven't read the whole story, in these verses Allah is teaching the method to what to do when a Wife is not behaving well or disloyal or commit some major sin, actually HE is giving the solution to this problem because Men in anger likely to beat their wives and then Divorce them.. I'm sure you would not like to get divorce directly from your husband if you have done something wrong?
And no nation can progress if its social system is not good
#12 farhadullah 2015-03-07 15:47
Outstanding information
#11 Zeynab 2015-03-01 02:19
I still don't understand. If Allah allowes men to hit the women lightly, as you said "like a doctor would tap a patient", what good is that? How does that solve the issue of women being disobedient. I don't think that would do anything. Therefore, I still do not agree with the idea that it is even okay for women to be hit even lightly. It does not make sence.

Please explain to me.

Thank you
#10 Editor 2014-10-14 19:47
Quoting Jay:
The problem is that all of your translations say

Editor: Jay, many but not 'All' translations have this problem. As a matter of fact, there are some that even use the words we have above:
"light tap"; "percuss"; "tap" etc.
So, the best thing is to always go to the original - ARABIC.
The good news for all of us is, the original of Quran, in Arabic does still exist today, just as it did over 1,400 years ago. Unlike other hold books, the exact same words can be examined and explained in today's world.
Here's our website to learn Arabic:
#9 Jay 2012-09-06 12:35
The problem is that all of your translations say
#8 shina_11 2011-07-09 12:46
i got this link from a friend, and just as comment I think Islam must be more clear to the people with fallowers specialy to non muslims, this chapter of Quran about the treatment of husband toward a wife has a diferent understanding in several countries,unfor tunately many woman have paid the price of this misunderstandin g suffering of bad treatments, a truth religon must not promove violence, it must be replaced by love, love neigbhoors has been one of the most importants commands God provided to Moses, and for neighboors we understand all people who could be near of us, includind the wife, the hsuband, the son, parents even the enemies they are also creations of God , we should show all times love to all who are around us. 1st GREAT command is Love God with all your mind, all heart and soul and 2nd Great Command is Love your partner including the enemies. by this way so The world will get really peace. __Here my humble comment, God Almighty bless all of you.__
#7 ibrahim 2011-05-19 03:15
assalam alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh, may Allah reward and strengthen the people involved on Islam for the sake of Allah and have mercy on muslims, ameen
#6 muhammad 2011-05-01 06:16
Hi ZULU . i share with YOU the same feelings.

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