But the Qur’an says to strike!

One of the most common claims made by Islamophobes is the misconception that Islam allows for men to beat their women with impunity. This is typically based on verse 4:34 of the Qur’an, where men are instructed to deal with a wife’s persistent misconduct by first persuading and advising them, followed by deserting the marital bed, before being given permission to take the last resort of ‘darb’—a word that literally means ‘to hit’ in the Arabic language. However, not only is this verse being misinterpreted, there is a mass of evidence that points to the contrary when it comes to the relationship between spouses. So, let’s take a closer look. Does Islam allow men to beat their wives?

1. Islam affirms that marriage must be based on love and mercy:

“And amongst God’s signs is that He created for you spouses from amongst you and placed between you love and mercy”

Qur’an 30:21

2. Islam unequivocally condemns all forms of cruelty and abuse:

The Prophet ﷺ said “Whoever harms others, Allah (SWT) will harm him; and whoever causes hardship to other Allah will cause hardship to him.”

Sunan Ibn Majah

3. Domestic violence is explicitly forbidden in Islam:

“Do not strike the female servants of God.”

Sunan Ibn Majah

4. The Quranic verse 4:34, often used to justify hitting wives, cannot be understood to permit any violence

The famous early Makkan Quranic exegete said about verse 4:34:

“A man does not strike his wife, rather he may only show his anger.”

Ataa ibn Abi Rabaah

5. The Prophet ﷺ NEVER raised his own hands against his wives

His wife, Aisha (RA) said he “never beat anyone with his hand, neither a woman nor a servant, but only, in the case when he had been fighting in the cause of Allah and he never took revenge for anything unless the things made inviolable by Allah were made violable; he then took revenge for Allah, the Exalted and Glorious.”

Sahih Muslim

All Islamic texts and the incidents from the Prophet’s life clearly and unequivocally forbid any type of violence against women.

Read more in “Women in Islamic Law: Examining Five Prevalent Myths” by Nazir Khan, Tesneem Alkiek and Safiah Chowdhury

Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instill conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.