Wife Beating

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by ZamzamAcademy.com

I would really appreciate some clarification of the following ayah:

Surah 4:34 – “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”

1) Does this mean that men are NOT allowed to beat their wives even lightly UNLESS and ONLY if they suspect she has committed adultery?

2) Does the man need any proof before he does this?

3) Should the case not go to court in this case?

4) Does the wife have a right to take her husband to court if she feels she has been unjustly beaten? What are her safe guards?

Answered by: Mufti Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf

Assalamu alaykum

In the name of Allah, Gracious, High, Inspirer of truth.

All the questions are based on the notion that the verse in the Qur’an relates to the permissibility of beating the wife only in the case of the suspicion of her committing adultery. The reality is that the beating is not restricted to just this suspicion but also to the unwillingness to cooperate in matters necessary to ensure the functionality of family life. In either case, although it is an option it is not the preferred or recommended course of action.

The great exegete Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him) states:

“al-Nushuz means “to rise”. Hence a nashiza women is one who exalts herself over her husband, abandons his instructions, ignores him, and expresses contempt towards him.”

After quoting this, Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ writes, concerning this verse, in the Ma’arif al-Qur’an:

How to correct an uncooperative wife

The text turns to women who are either straight disobedient to their husbands or fail to cooperate with them in running family affairs in the recognizable manner. The Holy Qur’an gives men three methods of correcting their behavior. These are to be followed in the order they have been mentioned. “If this (i.e. the first two) gentle admonition fails to produce any effect, some corrective forms of a little beating has also been allowed as a last resort, of course in a manner that does not affect the body, nor goes to the undesirable limits of hurt or injury to the skin or bones. As for slapping or hitting on the face, it is absolutely forbidden…. But this third method of admonition, that is, beating, has been permitted as a force option in a particular mode. Right along with this option given to men, it has appeared in a hadith which means that, “The best of you will never beat their women.” Thus, (for example) such an action is nowhere reported from the blessed Prophet of Allah.
(Ma’arif al-Qur’an 2:426)

I hope this clears up the confusion.

Hence, if a wife has committed adultery, the matter may to be taken to court.

And the wife certainly has the right to go to the court to complain of excessive or undeserved beating.

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Abdurrahman ibn Yusuf