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Can my Brother Beat Up my Abusive Husband

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Daruliftaa.com

In relation to the above question, is it permissible for lets say a wife’s brother to use physical force against an oppressive and abusive husband?


In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

Marriage is a means of drawing closer to Allah Most High. It is a means to acquire chastity and god-fearing (taqwa). It is also a means of gaining peace, tranquillity, solace and comfort for each of the spouses, and the foundation of a successful society.

Allah Most High says:

“And among his signs is that He created for you partners from among your selves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He put love and mercy between you.” (Qur’an, al-Rum: 21)

The Shariah has laid down certain rights and duties upon the husband and wife. The husband has been ordered to support the wife financially and take care of her material, spiritual and physical needs, and to treat her in a proper manner. The wife has been ordered to obey her husband in everything permissible related to their marriage, and to be a means of peace and relieve him of the pressures of his day to day life. Both have been commanded by the Qur’an to deal with each other with excellence and in the best of ways (bi’l ma’ruf).

The husband has no right to be abusive or to oppress the wife (and also visa-versa). This is a tremendous sin, and a form of oppression, which the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) warned against, saying, “Oppression is darkness on the Day of Judgment.” (Sahih Muslim)

In a Hadith reported by Imam al-Bukhari, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:

“It surely very wrong that one of you beats up his wife like she is a slave and then goes and fulfils his needs in the night.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5204)

At times, the opposite is true, in that the wife is violent and abusive towards the husband.

This is also a great sin. She has been made responsible by Allah Most High to obey the husband, out of tremendous wisdom whose benefit is manifest in the personal, interpersonal, and social levels. The Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) mentioned that if the husband calls her to bed whilst she is cooking, she must stop and come to him. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi) She must not keep optional fasts nor emerge out of the house without his permission, or mutual understanding. If this is not allowed, then you can imagine what the sin will be for treating the husband inappropriately…
In light of the above, it becomes clear that it is absolutely unlawful for the wife to get her brother to use physical force against her husband even if the husband is oppressive. Islam prohibits all kinds of violence and aggression, especially when it is between the husband and the wife.

The solution when the husband is oppressive is not in asking your brother to beat him up, rather to revert to other methods which includes advising him with wisdom and beautiful preaching. If you can’t deal with the issue yourself, then the mediation of another of his family members may be more productive. If all avenues fail, then you can also ask for annulment of your marriage according to the principles outlined in the books of Fiqh, in consultation with a reliable scholar.

And Allah Knows Best

Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari
Darul Iftaa, Leicester, UK

Follow up to the above answer:


A few questions for clarification: The wife has been ordered to obey her husband in everything permissible related to their marriage. What does this mean? A Salafi da’iyee once said that “obey the husband” means that if he tells her to buy Joy brand dishwashing soap, “she’d better do it.” But what if the wife knows that Joy is not very good, that it requires her to use two times as much soap, and that it is a waste of his money or their money? What if she who is doing the dishes knows and prefers another brand? Must she still buy the money-wasting Joy b/c he says so?

Does “in everything permissible” mean that he has permission, in effect, to be a petty tyrant, even though Islam says that he really shouldn’t be that way? Does it mean if she’s cooked maqluba with eggplant and if he, at the last minute says, “I want potatoes,” she has to cook the potatoes up and the entire family has to wait for the food to be finished? Does it mean if he tells her, “I don’t want you to wear the green socks, I want you to wear the red ones,” she has to wear the red ones?

What about when it moves beyond dishwashing soap into bigger things? For example, Allah Says that men are qawwamuna over women, etc. but sometimes the man has NO COMMON SENSE when it comes to paying bills, saving money, buying or investing in the thing that is best for the family, etc. What does the wife do here? Does she assume responsibility for paying the bills b/c she knows he will be late and they will be without electricity if she doesn’t or does she sit patiently and do nothing until they are sitting in the dark? Is she allowed to have him turn over the portion of his pay check that goes to bills, rent, etc. in such a case? And to be a means of peace and relieve him of the pressures of his day to day life.
Does he, by turn, have any obligation to be her means of peace and relief from the pressures of caring for the children and the home all day, maybe even her out of home job, every day, 24 hours, and 7 days a week?

I hope this isn’t sounding obstinate, but a group of us sisters have been asking these questions for round about 2 months now, and just can’t get an answer on them.

>>The solution when the husband is oppressive is not in asking your brother to beat him up, rather to revert to other methods which includes advising him with wisdom and beautiful preaching.

The sisters are wondering… is the sheikh saying that in the case where the husband is abusive, i.e., slapping her around and beating her, she should first resort to talking nice to him?

Answer: In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,

The issues you have raised are very important and should be understood in detail. I will attempt to discuss them in the light of Shariah, Insha Allah.

There are basically three points you have raised:

a) What does Islam say regarding the wife’s obedience to her husband?

b) What are the obligations of the husband towards his wife?

c) What should the wife do in the case where the husband is abusive?

Before answering these questions, it is worth remembering here that a blessed and prosperous marriage is based upon mutual understanding and bilateral cooperation. Spouses should strive to make each other happy and take into consideration the needs, abilities and weakness of the other.

Islam has laid down certain rights and obligations for both husband and wife. However, a sound and prosperous marriage does not work on a set of rules which are reminded to each other. The spouses should not restrict themselves to legal requirements and obligations, but should join hands in making each other’s life comfortable and peaceful as much as possible. They should assist each other in their daily affairs, and in their progress towards the hereafter, with love, affection and mutual understanding.

Coming to your questions, What is meant by “The wife has been ordered to obey her husband in everything permissible relating to their marriage” is that, she should obey her husband as long as it does not contradict the Shariah, and does not violate her own rights, such as: obeying him in his request for sexual intimacy to the degree that she is capable, not fast a voluntary fast without his permission, not emerge out of the house without his permission, not allow anyone in the house of whom he disapproves, etc

This does not mean that she has to comply with all his whims and fancies. One should understand a ruling in Shariah in context with other injunctions and principles laid down by Islam.

Islam forbids harm and abusing other people’s rights. The first thing every husband should realize is that his wife is first and foremost another Muslim. Respect, love and care are the fundamentals of every society. Therefore, if by obedience, harm is afflicted on the wife or her own rights are violated, then she does not have to obey him.

You mention about the soap and that it wastes money. If that is the case then the wife is ordered NOT to obey her husband, as wasting wealth and being extravagant in spending is contrary to the teachings of Shariah. And anyway, trivial matters like whether to cook a certain dish should not be argued about. A man should not interfere with things which are his wife’s domain.

You mention regarding the cooking of food. Firstly, a wife is not legally even required to cook for her husband. This is the case in the three schools of Fiqh and one of the two opinions in the Hanafi Madhhab. Now, if the husband comes and asks the wife to cook a certain type of food for him, then the wife is not legally obliged, but the rewards for doing so are great.

The wife may also pay the bills, etc… The Shariah only mentions that, this is the responsibility of the husband. However, if the wife feels that she needs to take this responsibility for one reason or another, then there is nothing wrong in doing so.

b) Regarding the second question, surely the husband has many obligations and responsibilities towards his wife. First and foremost he should respect her and treat her as a proper human being. Just as a wife is encouraged to be a means of peace and tranquillity for her husband, the husband is also advised to do the same. It is a two-way thing. Allah Most High says:

“And He put love and mercy between you.” (al-Rum.21)

The husband must take into consideration the amount of work the wife puts in by taking care of the household affairs and looking after the children. Surely, it is not an easy job, and that is why there are immense rewards promised for her. He should appreciate her work and at the same time assist her whenever he can.

c) Regarding the abusive husband, what I said was that there are different levels and stages here. If the wife believes that the husband will stop his oppressive ways by advising him and good preaching, then she should do that. If he is oppressive to the extent that words have no effect on him (and this is known by ones own judgment or past experience) then other alternatives, like mediation of others may be resorted to. If the wife feels that none of these methods will bear any fruit, then she can no doubt ask for the annulment of her marriage, as stated previously.

I sincerely hope that I have been able to answer all your questions.

And Allah Knows Best

[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Darul Iftaa
Leicester , UK

This answer was collected from Daruliftaa.com, which is headed by Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam Al-Kawthari. He’s based in the United Kingdom.

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