Women, Hijab, Marriage, and Violence
Excerpts from book "Al-Halal wal-Haram fil Islam" by Yusuf al-Qaradawi
The Halal and Haram in Marriage
- No Monasticism in Islam
- Seeing the Woman to Whom One Proposes Marriage
- Prohibited Proposals
- The Consent of the Girl
- Women to Whom Marriage is Prohibited
- Marriages Prohibited by Reason of Fosterage
- In-Law Relationships
- Sisters as Co-Wives
- Married Women
- Mushrik Women
- Marriage to the Women of the People of the Book
- The Prohibition of a Muslim Woman's Marrying a Non-Muslim Man
- Temporary Marriage (Mut'ah)
- Marrying More than One Women
- Justice Among Wives - A Condition
- Why Marriage to More than One Woman in Permitted in Islam
- Niqaab or Hijab
- Nurturing Daughters
- Khulaa (Asking for Divorce)
- Violence Against Women
- Does Quran allow wife beating?
As long as he possesses the means to marry, the Muslim is not permitted to refrain from marriage on the grounds that he has dedicated himself to the service or the worship of Allah and to a life of monasticism and renunciation of the world.
The Prophet (peace be on him) noted a tendency toward monasticism among some of his Companions. Declaring this to be a deviation from the straight path of Islam and a rejection of his sunnah (recommended practice), he thereby rid Islam's conceptual framework of such a Christian notion. Abu Qulabah narrated "Some of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be on him) decided to relinquish the world, forsake their wives, and become like monks. The Prophet (peace be on him) told them with asperity, People before you perished because of their asceticism; they made excessive demands on themselves until Allah brought hardships on them: you can still see a few of them remaining in monasteries and temples. Then worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him, perform the Hajj and the 'Umrah, be righteous, and all affairs will be set right for you." (Reported by 'Abdur Razzaq, Ibn Jarir, and Ibn al-Mundhir.)
Abu Qulabah said the following verse was revealed concerning them: O you who believe! Do not make haram the good of things which Allah has made halal for you, and do not transgress; indeed, Allah does not like transgressors. (5:90 (87)) Mujahid narrated, "Some people, including 'Uthman Ibn Maz'un and 'Abdullah Ibn 'Umar, intended to renounce their wives, castrate themselves, and wear coarse clothing. Then the above verse and the verse following it were revealed." (Reported by Ibn Jarir in his Tafsir.)
It is reported by al-Bukhari and others that three people came to the Prophet's wives and asked how the Prophet (peace be on him) conducted his worship. When they were told about it, they seemed to consider it but little, saying, "What a difference there is between us and the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him), whose past and future sins have been forgiven him by Allah!" One of them said, "As for me, I will always pray during the night." The other said, "I will have nothing to do with women and will never marry." When the Prophet (peace be on him) heard about this, he explained to them their error and deviation from the straight path, saying, I am the one who fears Allah the most among you, yet I fast and I break my fast, I pray and I sleep, and I marry women. He who turns away from my sunnah has nothing to do with me. S'ad Ibn Abi Waqqas said, Allah's Messenger (peace be on him) objected to 'Uthman Ibn Maz'un living in celibacy. If he had given him permission (to do so), we (others) would have had ourselves castrated. (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) Addressing the young men of all times, the Prophet (peace be on him) said, 'Young men, those of you who can support a wife should marry, for it keeps you from looking at women and preserves your chastity.' (Reported by al-Bukhari.) From this statement some scholars have inferred that marriage is obligatory for the Muslim who is able to support a wife and that the avoidance of it is not permissible, while other scholars add the further condition for its obligator ness that he should be afraid of falling into sin.
In fact, it is not befitting that a Muslim should refrain from marriage out of fear of poverty or of not being able to meet his obligations. He should make every possible attempt to find employment, seeking help from Allah, for He has promised to help those who marry in order to protect their chastity and purity. Says Allah Ta'ala: "And marry those among you who are single and the virtuous ones among your slaves, male or female. If they are in poverty, Allah will enrich them out of His bounty".... (24:33) And the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said, "There are three who have a right to the help of Allah: the one who marries out of the desire to live a chaste life, the slave whose master has agreed to his buying his freedom when he wishes to pay the sum, and the one who fights in the cause of Allah." (Reported by Ahmad, al-Nisai, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and al-Hakim.)
The eye is the messenger of the heart; when the eyes meet, the hearts and the souls of man and woman may meet as well. Muslim reported Abu Hurairah as saying that a man came to the Prophet (peace be on him) and told him that he had contracted to marry a woman of the Ansar. "Did you look at her?" the Prophet (peace be on him) asked. "No," he said, 'Then go and look at her,' said the Prophet (peace be on him), 'for there is something in the eyes of the Ansar,' meaning that some of them have a defect of their eyes
Al-Mughira Ibn Shu'bah said, I asked for a woman in marriage and Allah's Messenger (peace be on him) asked me whether I had looked at her. When I replied that I had not, he said 'Then look at her, for it may produce love between you.' I went to her parents and informed them of the Prophet's advice. They seemed to disapprove of the idea. Their daughter heard the conversation from her room and said, 'If the Prophet (peace be on him) has told you to look at me, then look.' I looked at her, and subsequently I married her. (Reported by Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, and Darimi.)
The Prophet (peace be on him) did not specify either to Mughirah or to the other man how much of the woman they were permitted to see. Some scholars are of the opinion that looking is limited to seeing the face and hands. However, it is permissible for anyone to see the face and hands as long as no desire is involved; therefore, if asking for woman in marriage is an exemption, obviously the man making the proposal should be able to see much more of the woman than that. The Prophet (peace be on him) said, "When one of you asks for woman in marriage, if he is able to look at what will induce him to marry her, he should do so." (Reported by Abu Daoud.)
Some scholars have gone to one extreme or another in relation to this permission, but the best course seems to be the middle one. One researcher considers it quite appropriate in our time that the man who is proposing be allowed to see the woman as she normally appears before her father, brother, and other muharramah. He says: In the context of the above hadith, he may even accompany her, together with her father or some other mahrem as chaperone, on her usual visits to relatives or to public places, while clad in full hijab. (Hijab denotes the proper Islamic dress. (Trans.)) In this way he will have the opportunity to get an insight into her reasoning, behavior, and personality. This is a part of the meaning of the hadith, "...to look at what will induce him to marry her." (Al-Bahee al-Khooly, Al-Mar'ah Bain al-bayn al-bait wal-Mujtamah'.)
If the man's intention of marriage is sincere, he is permitted to see the woman with or without her and her family's knowledge. Jarir ibn 'Abdullah said concerning his wife, "(Before marriage) I used to hide under a tree to see her."
From the hadith concerning al-Mughira we understand that the father of a girl cannot, out of deference to custom and tradition, prevent a suitor who is in earnest from seeing her, for customs and traditions must be governed by the Shari'ah. How is it possible that the Divine Law should subjected to the whims of human beings? On the other hand, however, neither the father, the suitor, or the fiancee can stretch this permission to such an extent that the young man and woman, under the pretext of betrothal or engagement, go to movie theaters, clubs, and shopping places together without being accompanied by a mahrem of hers, a practice which has become common today among Muslims who are fond of imitating Western civilization and its customs.
It is likewise forbidden to the Muslim to propose to a woman who is already betrothed to a brother Muslim; the one whose proposal has already been accepted has acquired a right which must be safeguarded in consideration of goodwill and affection among people, especially among his brother Muslims. However, if the first suitor terminates his betrothal or gives the second suitor his permission, there is no harm in proceeding with it.
Muslim reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said, "A Believer is a brother to another Believer. It is therefore not lawful for him to outbid his brother in buying something or to propose to a woman when his brother has done so, unless he gives him permission." And al-Bukhari reported that the Prophet (peace be on him) said, "A man must not propose to anther man's betrothed unless he withdraws or gives him permission."
The father of a girl must not delay marriage of his daughter if a proposal is received from a man of equal status who is of sound religion and character. The Prophet (peace be on him) said, "Three matters should not be delayed: salat when its time comes, burial when the funeral has arrived, and the marriage of a single woman when a man of equal status has proposed." (Reported by al-Tirmidhi.) He further said, "When someone with whose religion and character you are satisfied asks for your daughter in marriage, accede to his request. If you do not do so there will be corruption and great evil on the earth." (Reported by al-Tirmidhi.)
(1) The father's wife, whether divorced or widowed. During the period of jahiliyyah such marriages were allowed. Then Islam prohibited them, for once a woman is married to a man's father she acquires the status of his mother, and this prohibition is out of honor and respect for the father. Moreover, as this inviolable prohibition leaves no room for sexual attraction between the son and his step-mother, they are able to develop a relationship of respect and honor.
(2) The mother, including the grandmothers on both sides.
(3) The daughter, including the granddaughters from the son or daughter.
(4) The sister, including the half, and step-sisters.
(5) The paternal aunt, whether she is the real, half, or step-sister of the father.
(6) The maternal aunt, whether she is the real, half, or step-sister of the father.
(7) The brother's daughter, i.e., his niece.
(8) The sister's daughter, i.e., his niece.
All these female blood-relatives are a man's muharramat and he is mahrem to his corresponding female relatives. Marriage to any mahrem whomsoever is permanently prohibited. The reasons for this prohibition are as follows.
(A) Entertaining any sexual thoughts concerning such close relatives as one's mother, sister, and daughter is instinctively abhorrent to human nature; there are even certain animals which avoid mating with such closely-related animals. The respect a man feels for his aunts is like the respect he has for his mother, and likewise uncles are regarded as fathers.
(B) Since the family must live together in intimacy and privacy but without incestuous relations, the Shari'ah intends to cut at the roots of any sexual attraction among such close relatives.
(C) Since there is natural love and affection among such close blood relatives, the intent of the Shari'ah is to expand the circle of love and kinship by prohibiting incest and thereby directing the man's search for women outside the family. Thus each marriage extends the sphere of love, bringing new people within this ever-expanding network of affection: "And He has put love and mercy between you." (30:21)
(D) The natural sentiments of love and affection between a man and the above-mentioned female relatives must be kept strong forever. If marriage were permitted between such relatives, it would cause jealousies, dissensions, and the disruption of families, destroying the very sentiments of love and affection which give cohesiveness and permanence to the family structure.
(E) The offspring of marriages to such close blood relatives would most probably be defective and weak. Moreover, if physical or mental defects are present in the members of a family, they would become more pronounced among the children of such marriages.
(F) The woman needs someone to champion her rights and support her case against her husband, especially when relations between the two of them become strained. If those women who could defend her became rivals, how would this be possible?
However, the prohibition of marriage based on fosterage is effective only if the suckling occurred before the time of weaning; that is, when milk was the primary source of food. Another condition is that the child has suckled his fill on five separate occasions, a fill being defined as when the child leaves off suckling of his own accord. After a survey of all the ahadith on this subject, the fixing of five sucklings as the minimum seems to be the preferred view.
(10) Foster sisters: Just as a woman become a mother to a child by virtue of suckling, likewise her daughters become his sisters, her sisters his aunts, and so on. The Prophet (peace be on him) said: "What is haram by reason of genealogy is haram by reason of fosterage.'' (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)
Thus the foster-sisters, foster-aunts, and foster-nieces are all muharramat and marriage to them is permanently prohibited.
(12) The step-daughter: A man cannot marry his step-daughter (his wife's daughter by a previous marriage) if sexual intercourse has taken place with her mother, his wife. However, if a man divorces his wife without having had intercourse with her, it is permissible for him to marry her daughter by a previous marriage.
(13) The daughter-in-law: That is, the wife of the real son, not that of the adopted son. In fact, Islam abolished the permissibility of the system of legal, formalized adoption, because this is contrary to fact and to reality, resulting in the prohibiting of what is essentially halal and the permitting of what is essentially haram. Allah Ta'ala says: ...Nor has He made your sons by adoption your (real) sons. Those are simply words from your mouths....(33:4) meaning that it is merely an expression of the language which does not alter reality nor transform an outsider to the family into a blood relative.
These three types of female relatives are forbidden in marriage in order that peaceful relationships may be maintained among the in laws.
1. Her marriage tie is broken either because of the death of her husband or because of divorce;
2. She has completed the period of waiting ('iddah) ordained by Allah. For a pregnant woman this period ends when she delivers the baby. If she is widowed but not pregnant, the period of 'iddah is four months and ten days, while if she is divorced and it is not known whether or not she is pregnant, the 'iddah is three menstrual cycles. This 'iddah relates to the woman who has menstrual periods; for a woman who does not menstruate, the 'iddah is three months. Allah Ta'ala says: "And divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly periods. And it is not permissible for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day." (2:228) "...and As for those who have no further expectation of menstruation among your women, if you are in doubt, the waiting period is three months, as well as for those who have no menses. And for those who are pregnant, their period is until they deliver their burdens." (65:4) And, "For those of you who die and leave behind widows, they shall wait concerning themselves for four months and ten days..." (2:234)
Of these fifteen categories of female relatives to whom marriage is prohibited, fourteen are mentioned in Surah al-Nisa: "And do not marry those women whom your fathers married, except what is past; indeed, it was an indecency and an abomination, and an evil path. Forbidden to you are your mothers and your daughters, and your sisters and your father's sisters and your mother's sisters, and your brothers' daughters and your sisters' daughters, and your foster mothers and your foster sisters, your wives' mothers, your stepdaughters under your guardianship born of your wives to whom you have gone in—and if you have not gone into them there is no blame on you—and the wives of your sons proceeding from your loins, and that you should marry two sisters at one time, except what is past; indeed Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (4:22-23) The prohibition against being married to a woman and any of her aunts at the same time is derived from the hadith cited above.
mushrik (mushrik denotes someone who commits shirk, or ascribes partners to Allah by his polytheistic beliefs or idolatrous practices. - Trans.), that is, who worships idols or associates other deities with Allah, is also among those who are prohibited. Allah Ta'ala says, "And do not marry mushrik women until they believe, for a believing bondmaid is better than a mushrik woman, even though you may admire her. And do not marry (your girls) to mushrik men until they believe, for a believing bondsman is better than a mushrik, even though you may admire him. They (mushrikeen) invite you to the Fire, but Allah invites you to the Garden and to forgiveness by His grace....(2:221)
This verse proclaims that a Muslim man may not marry a mushrik woman nor may a Muslim woman marry a mushrik man, because there is a great, unbridgeable gulf between the two systems of belief. Islam invites people to the Garden of Paradise, while shirk (idolatry or polytheism) leads them to the Fire of Hell. While Muslims believe in God, His messengers, and the Hereafter, mushrikeen associate others with God, reject His messengers, and deny the Hereafter. Marriage means living under one roof in harmony and love; how then would it be possible for such conflicting beliefs and practices to co-exist peacefully together in one abode?
Tolerance of such a degree is a characteristic of Islam which is hardly to be found among other faiths and nations. Despite the fact that Islam takes the People of the Book to task for their unbelief and error, it permits the Muslim to marry a Christian or Jewish woman who may, as his consort, the mistress of his house, the mother of his children, the source of his repose, and his companion for life, retain her own faith—all this, while the Qur'an says concerning marriage and its mystique, "And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell with them in tranquility, and He has put love and mercy between you....(30:21)
However, a warning is in order here. In order of preference, a believing, practicing Muslim woman who loves her religion is preferable to a nominal Muslim woman who has inherited Islam from her parents. The Prophet (peace be on him) said, "Get the one who is religious and prosper." (Reported by al-Bukhari.) It is also obvious that a Muslim woman, regardless of who she is, is better suited to a Muslim man than a woman of Christian or Jewish faith, regardless of her merits. If a Muslim man has the slightest suspicion that a non-Muslim wife might affect the beliefs and attitudes of his children, it becomes obligatory on him to exercise caution.
If the number of Muslims in a country is small—for example, if they are immigrants residing in a non-Muslim country—their men ought to be prohibited from marrying non-Muslim women because, since Muslim women are prohibited from marrying non-Muslim men, their marriage to non-Muslim women means that many Muslim girls will remain unmarried. Since this situation is injurious to the Muslim society, this injury can be avoided by temporarily suspending this permission.
Thus, while a Muslim man is permitted to marry a Christian or Jewish woman, a Muslim woman is not allowed to marry a Christian or Jewish man. There are many sound reasons for this difference. First, the man is the head of the household, the one who maintains the family, and he is responsible for his wife. And while Islam guarantees freedom of belief and practice to the Christian or Jewish wife of a Muslim, safeguarding her rights according to her own faith, other religions, such as Judaism and Christianity, do not guarantee the wife of a different faith freedom of belief and practice, nor do they safeguard her rights. Since this is the case, how can Islam take chances on the future of its daughters by giving them into the hands of people who neither honor their religion nor are concerned to protect their rights?
A marriage between a man and woman of different faiths can be based only on the husband's respect for his wife's beliefs; otherwise a good relationship can never develop. Now, the Muslim believes that both Judaism and Christianity originated in divine revelation, although later distortions were introduced into them. He also believes that God revealed the Taurat to Moses and the Injeel to Jesus, (Taurat refers to the original scripture revealed to the Prophet Moses by God, and Injeel to the Prophet Jesus. These are not to be confused with either the existing Torah or Old Testament, or the four Gospels of the New Testament. (Trans.)) and that both Moses and Jesus (peace be on them) were among the messengers of Allah who were distinguished by their steadfast determination. Accordingly, the Christian or Jewish wife of a Muslim lives under the protection of a man who respects the basic tenets of her faith, her scripture, and her prophets, while in contrast to this the Jew or Christian recognizes neither the divine origin of Islam, its Book, or its Prophet (peace be on him). How then could a Muslim woman live with such a man, while her religion requires of her the observance of certain worships, duties, and obligations, as well as certain prohibitions. It would be impossible for the Muslim woman to retain her respect for her beliefs as well as to practice her religion properly if she were opposed in this regard by the master of the house at every step.
It will be realized from this that Islam is consistent with itself in prohibiting the Muslim man to marry a mushrik woman, for since Islam is absolutely opposed to shirk, it would obviously be impossible for two such people to live together in harmony and love.
The Prophet (peace be on him) then recited this verse to Marthad and said, "Do not marry her." (This story is reported by Abu Daoud, al-Nisai, and al-Tirmidhi.)
Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala has permitted Muslims to marry chaste believing women or chaste women of the People of the Book. Similarly, He has made marriage lawful to men on the condition that they seek it "in honest wedlock, not in lust." (4:24). Accordingly, if someone does not accept this command from the Book of Allah, nor considers it binding, he is a mushrik (As we saw in Chapter One in the discussion concerning Allah's sole right to legislate the halal and haram for His servants, anyone who disobeys or disregards this explicit command of Allah Ta'ala is considered a mushrik or an associator), and no one will agree to marry him except another mushrik. If someone accepts this command as binding, but despite this he marries a fornicatress to whom marriage has been prohibited, he becomes a fornicator himself.
This ayah just cited comes after the ayah prescribing the punishment of flogging for fornicators (This punishment has been prescribed for the unmarried fornicator and his partner, while the punishment of death by stoning, if the crime is proved either by four male adult eye witnesses to the act or by self confession, has been prescribed for the married adulterer and his partner. (Trans.)): "Flog the woman and the man guilty of fornication each with a hundred stripes....(24:2)
While this is a corporal punishment, the punishment mentioned in 24:3 is a civil punishment, for depriving fornicators of the right to marry chaste women is like depriving someone of citizenship, nationality, or some other civil right as a punishment for a crime.
Ibn al-Qayyim, after explaining the meaning of the previously-cited verse goes on to say: "This explicit injunction of the Qur'an is what human nature and reason demand. Allah Ta'ala prohibits His slave (the Muslim man) to become a pimp to his wayward wife, as He made man's nature with an instinctive abhorrence and contempt for acting as a pimp. This is why, when people want to abuse someone in the most disparaging manner, they call him 'the husband of a whore;' and Allah does not permit the Muslim to be like that. Further light is thrown on this prohibition by considering the crime of the woman against her husband and society. She defiles the bed of her husband and perverts the lineage which Allah desires to preserve for the integrity and smooth functioning of society, which He counts as one of His favors upon mankind. Adultery leads to the confounding and doubting of parentage. It is thus one of the beauties of the Islamic Shari'ah that it prohibits marriage to a prostitute until she repents and demonstrates that she is not pregnant (that is, until she has a menstrual period in order to ascertain that she is not carrying a child)." (lghathat al-Lahfan, vol. 1, pp. 66-67.)
Moreover, a prostitute is a vile and degraded woman. Allah has ordained that marriage be a source of affection and mercy between the spouses. How then could a vile woman be the object of love of a virtuous man, since the partners in a marriage must be akin in their ideas, attitudes, and characters if true love and understanding are to develop between them? As vileness and virtue are antithetical to each other both by nature and by considerations of morality, there cannot even be a sympathy, much less love and affection, between the two. Indeed, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala has spoken truly in His saying, Vile women are for vile men, and vile men are for vile women; virtuous women are for virtuous men and virtuous men are for virtuous women. (24:26)
Now, in temporary marriage (known in Arabic as mut'ah), which is contracted by the two parties for a specified period of time in exchange for a specified sum of money, the above-mentioned purposes of marriage are not realized. While the Prophet (peace be on him) permitted temporary marriage during journeys and military campaigns before the Islamic legislative process was complete, he later forbade it and made it forever haram.
The reason it was permitted in the beginning was that the Muslims were passing through what might be called a period of transition from jahiliyyah to Islam. Fornication was very common and wide-spread among the pre-Islamic Arabs. After the advent of Islam, when they were required to go on military expeditions, they were under great pressure as a result of being absent from their wives for long periods of time. Among the Believers were some who were strong in faith and others who were weak. The weak ones feared that they would be tempted to commit adultery, a major sin and an evil course, while the strong in faith, on the other hand, were ready to castrate themselves, as stated by Ibn Mas'ud: "We were on an expedition with the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) and did not have our wives with us, so we asked Allah's Messenger (peace be on him), 'Should we not castrate ourselves? (The reason for this request was the desire to maintain their purity of mind and body, which was in danger of being affected by their unmet needs. (Trans.)) He forbade us to do so but permitted us to contract marriage with a woman up to a specified date, giving her a garment as a dower (mahr)." (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)
Thus temporary marriage provided a solution to the dilemma in which both the weak and the strong found themselves. It was also a step toward the final legalization of the complete marital life in which the objectives of permanence, chastity, reproduction, love, and mercy, as well as the widening of the circle of relationships through marriage ties were to be realized.
We may recall that the Qur'an adopted a gradual course in prohibiting intoxicants and usury, as these two evils were widespread and deeply rooted in the jahili society. In the same manner the Prophet (peace be on him) adopted a course of gradualism in the matter of sex, at first permitting temporary marriage as a step leading away from fornication and adultery, and at the same time coming closer to the permanent marriage relationship. He then prohibited it absolutely, as has been reported by 'All and many other Companions. Muslim has reported this in his Sahih, mentioning that al-Juhani was with the Prophet (peace be on him) at the conquest of Makkah and that the Prophet (peace be on him) gave some Muslims permission to contract temporary marriages. Al-Juhani said, "Before leaving Makkah the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) prohibited it." In another version of the hadith we find the Prophet's own words, "Allah has made it haram until the Day of Resurrection."
The question then remains—Is temporary marriage (mut'ah) absolutely haram, like marriage to one's own mother or daughter, or is it like the prohibition concerning the eating of pork or dead meat, which becomes permissible under real necessity, the necessity in this case being the fear of committing the sin of zina ?
The majority of the Companions held the view that after the completion of the Islamic legislation, temporary marriage was made absolutely haram. Ibn 'Abbas, however, held a different opinion, permitting it under necessity. A person asked him about marrying women on a temporary basis and he permitted him to do so. A servant of his then asked, "Is this not under hard conditions, when women are few and the like?" and he replied, "Yes." (Reported by al-Bukhari.) Later, however, when Ibn 'Abbas saw that people had become lax and were engaging in temporary marriages without necessity, he withdrew his ruling, reversing his opinion. (Zad al-Mi'ad,vol.4,p. 7. Bayhaqi transmitted it and Muslim as well.)
Many peoples and religions prior to Islam permitted marriage to a host of women, whose number reached tens and sometimes hundreds, without any condition or restriction. Islam, on the other hand, laid down definite restrictions and conditions for polygamy.
With regard to the restriction, it limited to four the maximum number of wives a man might have. When Ghailan al-Thaqafi accepted Islam, he had ten wives. "Choose four of them and divorce the rest,'' the Prophet (peace be on him) told him (Reported by al-Shafi'i, Ahmad, al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Abi Shaybah, al-Darqutni, and Bayhaqi.). Similarly, some men who had eight (Reported by Abu Daoud in his Musnad.) or five wives at the time of embracing Islam were told by the Prophet (peace be on him) to retain only four (Reported by Ahmad, al-Darimi, Ibn Hibban, al-Hakim, and the compilers of Sunan (Abu Daoud, al-Nisai, and Ibn Majah).)
The case of the Prophet (peace be on him), who himself had nine wives, was exempted from this by Allah for the sake of da'wah (the propagation of the message of Islam) during his lifetime and because of the need of the Muslim ummah after his death.
The equal treatment mentioned here pertains to the rights of the wives, not to the love the husband feels towed them, for equality in the division of love is beyond human capacity and any imbalance in this regard is forgiven by Allah Ta'ala who says: And you will not be able to do justice among (your) wives, however much you may wish to. But do not turn away (from one of them) altogether....(4:129) This is why the Prophet (peace be on him) used to divide his time among his wives equally, saying, "O Allah, this is my division in regard to what I can control. Then do not take me to task regarding what Thou controllest and I do not control" (Reported by the compilers of Sunan.), referring to the attachment and affection which he felt for one particular wife. And when he planned to go on a journey, Allah's Messenger (peace be on him) would cast lots among his wives, and the one who was chosen by lot would accompany him. (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)
Islam recognizes the needs and interests of all people, of individuals as well as groups. And among human beings one finds that individual who has a strong desire for children but whose wife is barren, chronically ill, or has some other problem. Would it not be more considerate on her part and better for him to marry a second wife who can bear him children, while retaining the first wife with all her rights guaranteed?
Then there may also be the case of a man whose desire for sex is strong, while his wife has little desire for it, or who is chronically ill, has long menstrual periods, or the like, while her husband unable to restrain his sexual urge. Should it not be permitted to him to marry a second wife instead of his hunting around for girlfriends?
There are also times when women outnumber men, as for example after wars which often decimate the ranks of men. In such a situation it is in the interests of the society and of women themselves that they become co-wives to a man instead of spending their entire lives without marriage, deprived of the peace, affection, and protection of marital life and the joy of motherhood for which they naturally yearn with all their hearts.
Only three possible alternatives exist for such surplus women who are not married as first wives:
(1) to pass their whole lives in bitter deprivation, (2) to become sex objects and playthings for lecherous men; or (3) to become co-wives to men who are able to support more than one wife and who will treat them kindly.
Unquestionably, the last alternative is the correct solution, a healing remedy for this problem, and that is the judgment of Islam: And Who is better than Allah in judgment, for a people who have certain faith? (5:53 (50) )
For this is the Islamic "polygamy" which people in the West consider so abhorrent and to which they react with such hostility, while their own men are free to have any number of girlfriends, without restriction and without any legal or moral accountability, either in respect to the woman or to the children she may bear as a result of this irreligious and immoral plurality of extra-marital relationships. Let the two alternatives—plurality of wives or plurality of illicit affairs — be compared, and let people ask themselves which is the proper course of action, and which of the two groups is correctly guided!
Hijaab (purdah) is not a garment nor just one specific action. Actually, hijaab is a set of laws governing the interaction between males and females. It is thus evident that the laws of hijaab are not restricted to women alone. Rather, even men must abide by the laws of hijaab. The detailed laws of hijaab include the levels of interaction that are permissible or forbidden between the different categories of males and females, the type of attire that one must adopt, the degrees of permissibility for a woman to leave the precincts of her home, etc.
In order to understand the concept of hijaab in Islam, and its importance, the most important aspect is to first and foremost rid the mind of Western influences, indoctrination and propaganda. One should also not be affected by the personal whims and opinions of apologetic Muslims who talk out of Western influence rather than on the basis of correct knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Men in HijaabSome of the laws of hijaab pertaining to males are the following:
- A man may not even look at a female who is not his mahram. Allah Ta’ala declares in the Qur’an: “And say to the Believing men to lower their gazes (from strange women) and protect their chastity” (Surah An-Noor:30).
- If genuine necessity requires that a man should communicate with a non-mahram woman, it should be from behind a curtain. Allah Ta’ala declares: “And if you should ask them for something, ask them from behind a curtain” (S33:V53).
- A man may not be in a secluded place with a non-mahram woman (even though he is not communicating with her) except if her mahram is present. This will include places like the office, car, etc. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “A man must not be in a secluded place with any woman except that her mahram is present with her” (Mishkaat).
Women in HijabAll these aspects mentioned under the hijaab of men apply to women as well. However, the most fundamental law of hijaab for women is declared in the following declaration of Allah Ta’ala: “And you women remain firmly within your homes” (Surah Ahzaab:33). Thus a woman must remain within her home and only emerge for that which the Shariah has allowed.
The West will term this aayah as an oppression of women (Allah forbid) and will insist upon women having their “freedom” to be shoulder to shoulder with men in every walk of life. A Muslim will not be affected by such slogans. Allah Ta’ala has ordained clear roles for men and women. The Western concept of “freedom” is alien to Islam. According to Western “values,” a woman is free to walk almost naked in public, she is free to hug another man who is regarded as a “family friend” and kiss him — all in the presence of her husband and she is free to do other acts that the Shariah has denounced. Thus a Muslim should simply ignore the West and their slogans as the “values” they cherish are those mentioned above. Following the West will bring upon us the consequences which they are suffering: Every year more than 132 000 women report being raped in the USA alone — and more than half know their attackers.
Apologetic Muslims or Muslims weak in Imaan will look for a dozen ways to re-interpret or distort the meaning of this aayah. However, the practical tafseer of this aayah, as was demonstrated in the golden era of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) and the Khulafa-e-Raashideen (the rightly guided caliphs) , bears ample testimony to the fact that a woman’s place is indeed the home and she may only leave the precincts of the home for aspects allowed by the Shariah. When women realised this and upheld their responsibility at home, the Imaam Bukharis, Imaam Ghazalis and Imaam Raazis of the time were reared. But when women demanded “equality” with men, the children of the nanny and the T.V. were reared.
Some Reasons for Women leaving HomeThere are several reasons for which a woman can leave the home, attired in the manner prescribed by Shariah. Among them are:
- There is no one to support her and her children and she has no option but to leave the home to earn a basic living. She will however have to uphold all the laws of hijaab that have been mentioned under the hijaab of men. If she has any other option, such as working from home, or the assistance of any relative or other person, and this enables her to make ends meet, she may not leave the home to work.
- She may also leave the home to visit her parents, relatives, the sick and for other similar purposes.
- In general, she may leave the home for any need which the Shariah has recognised as a valid need. This includes spiritual needs, such as Haj or material needs, as explained above.
- There are however, various aspects that certainly do not qualify as needs and a woman who truly observes hijaab or purdah will certainly refrain from. Some of these aspects are:
- Roaming the market place just for “shopping.” “Shopping” in the context that it is often used is to roam around and “see what is for sale.” If there is no male at home who can provide the household requirements, a woman may leave the home to do so, observing the laws of hijaab.
- Joining the gym or “health club.” This is the latest craze, where niqaab clad women also have found it fashionable to go to such places which are dens of great fitna. If exercise is indeed the intention, avoid using the electrical appliances and physically do the work of the machines. Also reduce the workload of the maid and do that yourself! Laughable? Ridiculous? For those who do not mind getting entangled in all types of terrible marriage-breaking fitnas, it is ridiculous. For those who value their Imaan, treasure their hayaa and are truly in purdah, it is a practical solution. Certainly, some form of physical exercise within the confines of the home can also be undertaken.
- Attending social events, competitions, fairs and the like, whether organised by a cigarette company or a Muslim organisation. In the case of the latter, using the name of Islam does not make the gross intermingling and various other violations of Shariah tolerable. Rather it makes it much worse.
Hazrat Anas (radiyallahu anhu) reports Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, "The person who successfully brings up two daughters until they reach maturity, then on the day of Qiyamah (Judgement) Myself and that person will be like this (Rasulullah r) indicated closeness by bringing together his index and middle fingers) (Sahih Muslim)
Imam Bukhari (rah) has brought several ahadith in his book Adabul Mufrad, stating that the person, who has two or three daughters, and he gives them an Islamic upbringing then those very daughters will become a shield for him from the fire of Jahannam (Hell).
It has been recorded in Abu Dawood, the famous compilation of Hadith, the person who brings up three daughters, gets them married, and thereafter maintains affable relationship with them; will enter Jannah (paradise).
With regards to kindness and fairness Islam has ensured that boys and girls are treated equally. We should not unjustly discriminate between our children on the basis of their gender.
Hazrat Saad bin Abi Waqqas (radiyallahu anhu) was a wealthy Sahabi. He had only one daughter. Incidentally he became so ill that there remained no hope of his survival. Rasulullah (sr) visited him during this illness. He spoke to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) saying, I have abundant wealth and my heir is just one daughter, I desire to bequest two thirds of my wealth in charity. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) replied, "No", Saad (radiyallahau anhu) then offered half his wealth in charity, Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) again refused and instructed him to bequest just one third and remarked that too is plenty, he further stated that to leave your heirs in a financially healthy position is much better than leaving them dependant on others. (Bukhari /Muslim)
Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) practically demonstrated to this Ummat how a father should care for and treat his daughter. It was the infinite wisdom of Allah Ta'ala that dictated the progeny of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) would continue only through his daughter Fathima (radiyallahu anha). Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) had the deepest love and compassion for her and thus use to say, "Fathima is a portion of my flesh, whosoever hurts her, certainly hurts me"
When Fathima (radiyallahu anha) use to visit Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) he use to stand up to embrace and welcome her, kiss her on the forehead and seat her beside him.
Another remarkable gesture of compassion for his beloved daughter was that whenever Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) used to go on journey then the last person he used to greet was Fathima (radiyallahu anha) and upon returning, he would meet her first.
The books of Ahadith are also replete with stories of how Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) used to play with and enjoy his two grandsons Hasan and Husayn (radiyallahu anhuma). This was all the result of the fervent love and time he had for his beloved daughter Hazrat Fathima (radiyallahu anha).
May Allah Ta'ala grant us the ability and realisation to cherish the valuable lamps that we have in our homes and emulate Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) in treating them.
In the terminology of Shariah (Islamic Jurisprudence) it refers to the termination of a Nikah (marriage) in exchange for something using the word Khula. (Fathul Qadeer v.4 pg.58)
Khula is just like any other mutual transaction, which is contracted by offer and acceptance.
If a woman, after having tried, cannot come to common grounds with her husband, and all avenues of reconciliation have been exhausted, then she may ask her husband for Talaaq (divorce). The husband in such circumstances should be reasonable and issue the talaaq.
The method of talaaq is to say to the wife, "I have divorced you," when she is not in the state of menses and the husband has not copulated with her in that clean period. Thereafter, he should allow her to complete the Iddat. It is very unfortunate to note that many people are unaware of these rulings and their implications and in extreme anger blurt out the dreaded words of talaaq thrice. There is only regret as the husband and wife cannot reconcile unless she marries someone else, consummates that marriage and the second husband thereafter issues her a talaaq should that marriage not work out.
However, if the husband is not happy to issue a talaaq then the wife has the option of offering a monetary exchange or anything of value in lieu of divorce. If the husband accepts, then the wife will be free of the marriage bond. The Hanafi Jurists have counted Khula as Talaaq-e-Baain (irrevocable Talaaq). The procedure for Khula would be, the wife should say to her husband, "Release me of my marriage by way of Khula in exchange of eg. R1000." The husband will then say, "I have released you from the marriage by way of Khula."
Allah Ta’ala says in the Holy Quran:
"If you fear that they (husband and wife) are not able to keep the limits ordained by Allah, then there is no sin on either of them in that which the wife gives (in lieu of freedom). These are the limits ordained by Allah. And whosoever transgresses the limits of Allah, then such are the wrong-doers."
(Surah Al Baqara verse 229)
Allah Ta’ala clearly states that there is no harm for the wife in such a case to pay something for a divorce.
Ibne Abbas (radiyallahu anhuma) reports that the wife of (the Sahabi) Thabit ibne Qays (radiyallahu anhu) came to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and said, "O Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), I have no complaints about the character and piety of Thabit, but I fear ungratefulness (of my husband) after accepting Islam." Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) asked her, "Are you prepared to return to him his garden, (which he had given as mahr)?"
She replied in the affirmative. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) then asked Thabit (radiyallahu anhu) to accept the garden and divorce her.
(Sahih Al Bukhari)
This Hadith also clearly expresses the permissibility of Khula.
The Fuqaha (Jurists) have mentioned: -
1. The husband should not ask for more than what he had given as mahr if the wife is at fault.
2. It is highly reprehensible for the husband to take anything if he is at fault. This is based on Verse no. 20 of Surah An-Nisaa, which states: -
And if you intend to replace a wife by another and you have given one of them a qintaar (great amounts) (as Mahr), take not the least bit of it back. Would you take it wrongfully without a right and (with) a manifest sin."
It is commonly heard nowadays that husbands demand thousands of rands/dollars from the wife. Such people should really ponder over this ayah. May Allah Almighty guide us all
Many homes are burning with the flames of anger, arguments and fights. Emotional and physical abuse have become a norm in many a Muslim domain. Women are often on the receiving end of this painful, resentful plight. To add to the pain her confidence and self-esteem are broken down to such an extent that she is often made to be the guilty party.
Why does she stay in the situation?
The violence/abuse cycle continues. A build up of anger from the husband…she treads on eggshells not to upset him … tension mounts. And over a small issue…and the storm erupts- Anger, violence, beating, abuse – screams, shouts, blood, weeping and children terrified, hearts broken, palpitating with fear…. The storm subsides ….the honeymoon period of apologies, chocolates, flowers, pleas of forgiveness or just a plateau of kindness.
The wife stays because of children? Shelter? Fear of rejection of families? Etc.
Our beloved Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), our great leader and guide, expressed such concern even in his last sermon. So MEN take heed.. Women are an Amanat…-Treat them with love, care and kindness and overlook their faults for perchance Allah Ta’ala may love something in them.
To the Women! The Oppressed! The Abused!
"Never despair in the mercy of Allah Ta’ala" Allah Himself gives women hope.
With sincere repentance from all sins, turn to our Beloved, Kind, Merciful, Loving Creator.
Make an effort to change in all aspects of life, from giving up sins, to correct dressing, from abstaining from watching haraam programmes, movies or music and other sinful habits.
Build your love and fear of Allah Ta’ala and confidence as a beautiful strong Muslim Woman.
Seek correct help and good counsel to resolve your problem.
Pray, Supplicate, raise your hands for Dua!
Allah lifts the Dua of the oppressed above the clouds and opens onto it the doors of Heaven, and Allah says: "I swear by My Honour, verily I shall assist you even though it may be after some time"
Supplicate with your precious tears for everything you desire (halaal) in a positive manner.
And Resign to the WILL OF ALLAH TA’ALA the Most Caring, Compassionate and Merciful.
Your options if suffering from violenceIt most certainly hurts seeing another sister going through the pain of physical and verbal abuse and unhappiness. You sound as if your confidence and self-esteem is broken. From what you say is inflicted on you, is most certainly unacceptable in Islaam. In fact when Zulm (oppression) is inflicted on a person, your duas reach Allah Ta’ala above the heavens and your duas are surely answered even if not immediately.
However from the ayaats recited in the Nikah khutba (from the Quraan), strong warning is given to the believers to fear Allah and not to do things that would displease Him. Furthermore one of the ayaats instructs men "to treat the women with kindness" (exemplary character/good conduct).
However despite the instructions and warnings in the Quraan and Hadith, it is sad that man persists in disobedience to his Creator and harms the creation. May Allah forgive him and guide him.
Nevertheless, there are possible solutions.
Firstly assess your situation – have you thought of possible options to stop the abuse? Say no? Protect your self? All with the intention of firmly stopping – not fighting back neither submitting and allowing out of fear? Try but ensure that you are near on exit to allow easy escape and inform some reliable neighbour, friend or family. Alternately seek intervention of a sound balanced just family member from your side to speak to someone on his side to jointly put a stop to the abuse and to build love, care and family bonding between you both. Seek intervention of a caring, rightly guided Aalim.
At the same time build your confidence by pondering on your beauty and positive qualities Allah Ta’ala has bestowed you with. Beautify yourself, indulge and spoil yourself to uplift your moods eg. Be it a new look (within something that you wanted pleasing to you etc.).
Become strong and believe you are good, smart and beautiful. Insha-Allah your husband would take interest in this new positive attitude and outlook.
Should all attempts fail perhaps seek temporary separation - not divorce with the intention of some elderly family member or Aalim. Try resolving and discussing with your husband possible options and solutions during this separation, to resolving your disputes with commitment.
However if you still consider divorce, look at long-term outcomes and feasibility. Would you manage? What is the need to separate? Would you manage financially? How would you manage? What about effects of divorce on the children? Was there ever a time that your husband was good to you and never beat you up? Is there then a possibility that he could change? Is he having an affair? Does he suffer from an inferiority complex? Or has he had a disturbing past or unfortunate experience? Was he beaten up as a child or learnt this habit from his father or other family members? Is there a financial problem?
May Allah Ta’ala resolve your difficulties, grant you the great reward of Sabr that you have made and are making and grant you lifelong happiness in this world and the next. Ameen!!!
What can you do?
Majority of Muslim men beating their wives, take cover of Quranic verses mentioning beating women. By doing so, they commit a bigger wrong of interpreting Quran for their own sinful purposes. The whole purpose of such verses was to make sure Allah's orders are implemented, not played in hands of such violent men. It is a crime against humanity, and Allah's shariat allows a woman to take the revenge as permissible by the Islamic courts of law (shariat) and Islamic principles of criminal justice.
Further, Islam comes to help such oppressed women by offering them an option to get divorce via Khulaa as mentioned above. You should seek a help from a Muslim lawyer, scholar, Police or any law authority to seek justice in this regard. Those committing such a heinous crime in the name of Islam are simply doing nothing, but earning hell for themselves forever. They must be brought to justice on this earth and hereafter.
If there is any such problem and you don't find anyone to help you, get in touch with us so that we can guide you to the right direction for solving this problem at our earliest. Our contact information is displayed on this website as well.
If you wish to help her in such a situation!This is addressed to one who sees a woman being oppressed or a victim of such violence and he/she wishes to help her.
For a woman in an abusive cycle you would need extra patience and need to give her your utmost support. You won't understand her need to be in this vicious cycle for that is currently what her life of normality is. However in this time she would have lost herself confidence and self-esteem, asking herself 'What is wrong with me?'
Help her by talking positively about her beauty, her good characteristics, her achievements. HELP HER ENJOY NATURE, IT SEEMS THAT SHE MAY BE UNDERGOING DEPRESSION. GET HER OUT OF HER DARK CORNERS HER HOME/ ROOM TAKE HER TO ENJOY A MEAL. Encourage her with positive people who would laugh and smile, encourage her to some craftwork, or home business. Help her to find alternatives to her present condition. Present to her the options if she lives with him will he change, is there a possibility will she have the capability to bear with patience sabr and make attempts to reconcile, or what of the option of separation? Will she be able to move on with her life? Allowing herself to develop emotionally and socially? Would she be able to maintain herself? Perchance she may be better off and more stable?
Pose the options and let her decide. You don't tell her what to do. In the interim advise her to obtain her legal documents, important items, monies, etc. left at her place, should she decide to go for a separation. Also to note since some husband is a drug addict or a criminal in nature, the possibility of him requiring large sums of monies is there, hence valuable items should also be removed.
Teach her skills on defending herself in an abusive situation if he does approach her. The honeymoon period after an abusive situation is what melts her heart to have the hope but the cycle continues. Assess her need for staying in the situation: Is it society, Not comfortable in parents home feeling like a dependant, Need to be loved and security and finance?
Encourage her with excellent choice of turning to Allah Ta'ala - "The duas of an oppressed person reaches the throne of Allah Ta'ala."
"Do not grieve Allah Ta'ala is with you.". How fortunate as with you. Help her develop and focus on becoming the beloved of Allah Ta'ala. Man lets you down, but Allah Ta'ala will never let you down.
Respected scholars! Does Islam allow wife beating? Some husbands are violent and they say that the Quran allows them to beat their wives. Is there any logical explanation given regarding men being allowed to beat their wives, as stated in Surat An-Nisaa, verse 34?
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you placed in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake.
The verse mentioned has been greatly misconceived by many people who focus merely on its surface meaning, taking it to allow wife beating. When the setting is not taken into account, it isolates the words in a way that distorts or falsifies the original meaning. Before dealing with the issue of wife-battering in the perspective of Islam, we should keep in mind that the original Arabic wording of the Holy Quran is the only authentic source of meaning. If one relies on the translation alone, one is likely to misunderstand it.
Commenting on this issue, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:
"According to Quran the relationship between the husband and wife should be based on mutual love and kindness. Allah says: "And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect." (Quran: Ar-Rum 21)
The Holy Quran urges husbands to treat their wives with kindness. (In the event of a family dispute, Quran exhorts the husband to treat his wife kindly and not to overlook her positive aspects). Allah Almighty says: “Live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.” (Quran: An-Nisaa 19)
It is important that a wife recognizes the authority of her husband in the house. He is the head of the household, and she is supposed to listen to him. But the husband should also use his authority with respect and kindness towards his wife. If there arises any disagreement or dispute among them, then it should be resolved in a peaceful manner. Spouses should seek the counsel of their elders and other respectable family members and friends to batch up the rift and solve the differences.
However, in some cases a husband may use some light disciplinary action in order to correct the moral infraction of his wife, but this is only applicable in extreme cases and it should be resorted to if one is sure it would improve the situation. However, if there is a fear that it might worsen the relationship or may wreak havoc on him or the family, then he should avoid it completely.
Quran is very clear on this issue. Almighty Allah says: "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more strength than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore, the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in the husband's absence what Allah would have them to guard. As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance); for Allah is most High and Great (above you all). If you fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers. If they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation; for Allah has full knowledge and is acquainted with all things." (Quran: An-Nisaa 34-35)
It is important to read the section fully. One should not take part of the verse and use it to justify one's own misconduct. This verse neither permits violence nor condones it. It guides us to ways to handle delicate family situation with care and wisdom. The word "beating" is used in the verse, but it does not mean "physical abuse". The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) explained it "dharban ghayra mubarrih" which means "a light tap that leaves no mark". He further said that face must be avoided. Some other scholars are of the view that it is no more than a light touch by siwak, or toothbrush.
Generally, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) used to discourage his followers from taking even this measure. He never hit any female, and he used to say that the best of men are those who do not hit their wives. In one Hadith he expressed his extreme repulsion from this behavior and said, "How does anyone of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then embrace (sleep with) her?” (Al-Bukhari, English Translation, vol. 8, Hadith 68, pp. 42-43)
It is also important to note that even this "light strike" mentioned in the verse is not to be used to correct some minor problem, but it is permissible to resort to only in a situation of some serious moral misconduct when admonishing the wife fails, and avoiding from sleeping with her would not help. If this disciplinary action can correct a situation and save the marriage, then one should use it."
Dr. Jamal Badawi, professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and a cross-appointed faculty member in the Departments of Religious Studies and Management, adds:
"If the problem relates to the wife's behavior, the husband may exhort her and appeal for reason. In most cases, this measure is likely to be sufficient. In cases where the problem persists, the husband may express his displeasure in another peaceful manner, by sleeping in a separate bed from hers. There are cases, however, in which a wife persists in bad habits and showing contempt of her husband and disregard for her marital obligations. Instead of divorce, the husband may resort to another measure that may save the marriage, at least in some cases. Such a measure is more accurately described as a gentle tap on the body, but never on the face, making it more of a symbolic measure than a punitive one.
Even here, that maximum measure is limited by the following:
a. It must be seen as a rare exception to the repeated exhortation of mutual respect, kindness and good treatment. Based on Quran and Hadith, this measure may be used in the cases of lewdness on the part of the wife or extreme refraction and rejection of the husband's reasonable requests on a consistent basis (nushuz). Even then, other measures, such as exhortation, should be tried first.
b. As defined by Hadith, it is not permissible to strike anyone's face, cause any bodily harm or even be harsh. What the Hadith qualifies as "dharban ghayra mubarrih", or light striking, was interpreted by early jurists as a (symbolic) use of siwak! They further qualified permissible "striking" as that which leaves no mark on the body.
c. The permissibility of such symbolic expression of the seriousness of continued refraction does not imply its desirability. In several Hadiths, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) discouraged this measure. Here are some of his sayings in this regard:
"Do not beat the female servants of Allah";
"Some (women) visited my family complaining about their husbands (beating them). These (husbands) are not the best of you."
In another Hadith the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is reported to have said: “How does anyone of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then he may embrace (sleep with) her?”
d. True following of the Sunnah is to follow the example of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) who never resorted to that measure, regardless of the circumstances.
e. Islamic teachings are universal in nature. They respond to the needs and circumstances of diverse times, cultures and circumstances. Some measures may work in some cases and cultures or with certain persons but may not be effective in others. By definition, a "permissible" act is neither required, encouraged or forbidden. In fact it may be to spell out the extent of permissibility, such as in the issue at hand, rather than leaving it unrestricted or unqualified, or ignoring it all together. In the absence of strict qualifiers, persons may interpret the matter in their own way, which can lead to excesses and real abuse.
f. Any excess, cruelty, family violence, or abuse committed by any "Muslim" can never be traced, honestly, to any revelatory text (Quran or Hadith). Such excesses and violations are to be blamed on the person (s) himself, as it shows that they are paying lip service to Islamic teachings and injunctions and failing to follow the true Sunnah of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)."
And Allah Almighty knows best.