View Full Version : Wife Beating, Ordinance of Allah

07-02-2004, 04:01 PM
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As for those [women] from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to the bed apart and scourge them.

— Koran 4: 34

In accordance with the above revelation, when a husband calls his wife to his bed to have sexual intercourse, she must obey without a word no matter what her condition may be. She may be physically sick or simply indignant and indisposed, but that does not change the circumstance at all.

Muhammad is quoted as saying, "If a man invites his wife to sleep with him and she refuses to come to him, then the angels send their curses on her until morning." 1 Thus, the wife of a Muslim should always be ready to

come to bed and satisfy her husband's sensual desires; otherwise, she may be beaten by him and cursed by the angels of Allah, who apparently are commissioned to have a close watch over sexual affairs of a couple.

It is important to note that the word rebellion as used in the above quotation refers to any disobedience on the part of the female mate, not simply reluctance to engage in sex.If she refuses to sleep with her husband or does not obey his command, she will be admonished first, and later, the man is permitted by Allah to scourge his wife.The apologists hold that when the wife rebels against her mate, and her rebellion is of the "ordinary" nature, then she is admonished only. 2 M. 'Ali says:

It appears that confining [women] to the house is the first step, and it is when they repeat their evil deeds in the house, or do not submit to the authority of the husband and desert him, that permission is given to inflict corporal punishment, which is the last resort, and even if this step does not make them mend their ways, matrimonial relations may be ended. 3

In other words, if a woman merely resists her husband's wish or his authority, the Koran provides advice on how to handle her.If she hates her husband and resists his sensual desires, "a stronger remedy is suggested," and the husband is allowed to separate his bed or manifest his disapproval by separating himself from her while living in the same house as man and wife.Any disobedience and further misconduct of the wife beyond this degree necessitates scourging or beating followed by repudiation.

07-02-2004, 04:03 PM
Islamic jurisprudence, moreover, allows a husband to withhold the maintenance of a rebellious wife.A wife who refuses to go to bed and sleep with her man whenever he feels like it and requires her to do so is not entitled to subsistence, or even clothing or lodging. Muslim law grants the husband whose wife refuses sexual intercourse "the right to withhold maintenance from her (food, clothing, and lodging) which is normally his duty to provide." 4 The Muslim wife must be totally under the authority of her husband.She must be submissive to him and must carry out all of his commands except those which make her deny her faith. This belief is so fundamental to Islamic culture that even some educated Muslim women support it.For example, one such woman has written the following:

Man is such that he considers a good wife as the one who gives no opportunity for reproach.... She never criticizes or finds fault with her husband's whims and fancies. She places implicit faith in him and bows to her tin-god. In short, her duty is to obey unquestioningly and yield to her lord every moment of her life. 5

Another Islamic writer maintains:

As far as possible, keep the heart of your husband in your hand, and obey his slightest wish. Should he bid you stand with folded hands in his presence all through the night, then know that your welfare in this life and the next depends on your doing so.... Never do anything to vex him.Even if he should call the daytime "night," you must acquiesce. 6

Thus, blind obedience on the part of the married woman is expected by the Muslim jurisprudents.

As the quote that opened this chapter shows, the "legitimacy" of wife beating derives from the Koran, which has dictated the supremacy of men over women. The clergy, especially the exegetes and interpreters of the ******ure, hold that this superiority is due to man's higher mental ability and good counsel. "Therefore, if a man should do less than his duty to his wife, she should not be unmindful of his essential superiority." 7

Despite claims such as this, the Muslim apologists try to justify the Koranic ordinance by which a husband may beat his wife if he deems it necessary:

It cannot be denied that cases do happen when this extreme step [wife beating] becomes necessary, but these are exceptional cases and their occurrence is generally limited to the rougher strata of society where the remedy of slight corporal punishment is not only unobjectional but necessary. 8

This is far from the truth, however. Wife beating is not an exceptional case, but rather it is common practice among the poor classes in Muslim communities.Although some may say that the beating and scourging of wives by their husbands is limited to "the rougher strata of society," unfortunately, many Muslim societies, especially those in Asia and Africa, are poor.Therefore, "the rougher strata" comprises the whole, or at least the majority, of the people.

The corporal punishment ordained by Allah in the Koran is interpreted in many different ways.Some say

that it means only a light beating with the hands, such as slapping or striking with the fist. Others argue that the woman should be flogged with a whip or rod, while still other jurists maintain that the beating must be implemented in such a way that no sign of maltreatment is left on her body. The methods of beating also vary among the different geographical regions: "Wife beating is allowed by the Koran, and the method and limitations are explained by the laws of the religion." 9 Slapping, kicking, beating with fists, scourging, flogging, and hitting with sticks or rods are all mentioned in Islamic books.Each man, according to his conscience, education, culture, background, and family ties may treat his disobedient wife as he sees fit. 10 No matter what the degree or method of punishment, however, all seem to agree that a rebellious woman, one who does not submit to the sexual desires of her husband whenever he calls her to bed, must be beaten.

The law of wife-beating is a one-way street. A man may strike his wife, but the woman may not do the same. A woman is not allowed to beat her mate even if she is able to defend herself by striking back. If she does, she will be sent to jail. 11 A man may ask the Islamic judge to compel his wife to surrender to his sexual desires, but the woman cannot accuse her husband of maltreatment. If she tried, the court would reject her claim. A woman cannot file suit against her husband for beating her; no Islamic court would convene for such a claim.The man may continue the physical punishment as long as his wife does not surrender to his sexual desires. In the Arab communities, the institution is called ta'a, which means the submission of a wife to her husband's will and desire