Everything you wanted to know about Islamic 'wife beating', but didn't have the courage to ask!
Following are excerpts from a television show in which Saudi scholar Jassem Al-Mutawa hosts Muhammad Al-Hajj, who is introduced as a "professor of Islamic faith at the Jordanian University." This show originally aired in 2002 on the Iqra TV channel, and was rebroadcast on April 6, 2013 on an Iqra channel that targets European audiences and broadcasts in French, English, and Arabic. Jassem Al-Mutawa is currently president of Iqra TV.
"Sometimes, Family Disciplining Is Misunderstood, And Therefore, In The Modern Era, There Is A Lot Of Domestic Violence"
Jassem Al-Mutawa (holding several long wooden rods in his hand): "Today, we will discuss imposing discipline in the family. Sometimes, family disciplining is misunderstood, and therefore, in the modern era, there is a lot of domestic violence, carried out by means of rods such as these. As a result, marital relations disintegrate, leading to instability and divorce. Family disciplining is a right of the husband toward his wife, and vice versa.
"There is a saying that goes: 'the rod is for the disobedient.' What do you think – is that true or false? This is a little rod. Let's take the big one, here. This is not a rod to be used on the disobedient. Now let's take a look together at this big rod here. Some husbands and wives keep a rod like this at home. Someone once said to me: 'I have a long rod at home' - a rod just like this one – 'and whenever my wife does something wrong, look what I do to her with this rod.' So 'a rod for the disobedient' is not a correct notion. On the contrary, it destroys our lives and our homes. We need to deal with our problems through dialogue and mutual understanding.
"With some wives, it helps to use harsh words, and with others, it doesn't. With some wives, it helps to talk calmly, using nice words. With some – if you talk to them harshly, they become even more stubborn, and the problem gets worse. With others, it is exactly the opposite – if you talk to them calmly, they don't get it and the problem gets worse. So you cannot determine a law, such as: 1+1 =2."
"There Must Be A Remedy" For "The Problem Of A Rebellious Wife"
Dr. Muhammad Al-Hajj, professor of Islamic faith at the Jordanian University: "A car cannot be driven by two people – only by one. Islam placed the steering wheel of the family in the hands of the husband. Problems within the family are dealt with in the Koranic verse regarding relationships: 'Men are the guardians of women.' Allah says: 'As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, do not share their bed, and beat them.'
"The punishment is restricted to cases of rebellion, in which a family life becomes a living hell. In such cases, in order to deal with the problem of a rebellious wife... There must be a remedy for such a problem. So, this progression [in punishment] has been determined: First, as soon as the husband begins to fear disobedience – before actual disobedience has even occurred – the stage of admonishment begins.
"If she persists in her rebelliousness, one reaches the next stage – which is refusing to share her bed, as a way of making her feel that I am not pleased with her behavior. If she persists, and the husband gave her another chance – and sometimes months or even years pass by, yet she continues to be rebellious... The wisdom of Islam is manifest in the existence of a further method: that of non-harsh beatings."
Jassem Al-Mutawa: "What is the difference between the harsh and non-harsh beatings?"
Dr. Muhammad Al-Hajj: "Harsh beatings leave marks upon the body or the face, and therefore, it has been decreed that one must not hit the face. So one must not hit the face, and one must not administer beatings that cause fractures or wounds. That is what our jurisprudents have decreed in their writings."
"I think it would be immoral to go so far as to say that a wife may punish her husband by beating him, because this would be undermining the authority of the husband. Islam has spared the wife the need to use her hands to beat, in order to preserve her femininity, her honor, and her moral values."
"Ibn Abbas Wrote... That The Husband Should Beat His Wife With A Handkerchief... Other Scholars... Claim That He Should Beat Her With A Toothpick"
Jassem Al-Mutawa: "Ibn Abbas wrote, in his exegesis, that the husband should beat his wife with a handkerchief. Is it conceivable for a man to beat his wife with a rod, like we saw at the beginning of the show? No way. He must beat her with a handkerchief. The interpretation of Ibn Abbas is, in fact, extreme. There are other scholars who claim that he should beat her with a toothpick, because the point of beating is not to take revenge upon her or to be mean to her.
"A husband who beats out of revenge or meanness is committing a sin. The aim of the beatings is to convey a message: Oh so-and-so, I'm not pleased with your behavior. Start behaving yourself and be good. Otherwise, why would Ibn Abbas have said we should beat with a handkerchief? Can you believe such a thing?"
"Today, The Westerners Criticize Us About Wife-Beating In Islam, But No [Muslim] Woman Has Died As A Result Of Her Husband's Beating"
"Today, the Westerners criticize us about wife-beating in Islam, but no [Muslim] woman has died as a result of her husband's beating. And if it does ever happen in our societies, it is considered very rare, and all the newspapers talk about it. Meanwhile, according to the latest U.N. statistics, from 1999-2000, every 12 seconds, a wife is beaten by her husband in the U.S. in some cases, these beatings lead to the woman's death.
"When the Westerners criticize us about our issues, we must be confident and talk about their own issues. Even though the Koran [permits wife-beating], we have no cases of death resulting from it, and if there have been any, it is rare. On the other hand, in the West, they do not have the Koran or the Sunna, yet every 12 seconds, a woman is beaten by her husband."
"Islam Has Given Woman The Right To Have Her Husband Beaten By Someone Acting On Her Behalf"
"Islam takes into consideration woman's mentality and biological build. The woman is built weaker than the man. If Islam gave a woman the right to beat her husband – by Allah, the husband would break her, right? A woman cannot compete with her husband's muscles. However, Islam has given woman the right to have her husband beaten by someone acting on her behalf. So the husband is beaten by another man, and the battle is waged between two men, not between a man and a woman.
"Therefore, if the husband humiliates his wife, the woman can turn to the courts, and the judge will rule what the woman deserves. If the woman wants her husband to be beaten – he will be, but he will be beaten by court order. That way, the battle will be waged between the husband and the courts, and not between the husband and the wife, within the household."
"Some Woman Suffer From A Mental Disorder Known As Masochism... Such A Woman Must Be Dealt With Harshly"
"We all know that some men suffer from a mental disorder known as sadism, and that some woman suffer from a mental disorder known as masochism. What is the cure for such disorders? Beatings. Such a woman must be dealt with harshly.
"One of the jurisprudents even said that it is possible that this verse was conveyed for those suffering from these diseases. If a man is married to a woman suffering from sadism [sic] – let him beat her. The beatings constitute treatment in her case.
"A psychiatrist friend of mine once told me that sometimes people come to him with marital problems, in which the woman suffers from that disease. He advises the husband to beat her in a certain way, and the problem is solved. The Koran deals with such problems."
"We Must Learn How To Apply The Rulings Of Islam"
"Brothers and sisters, there is no need for concern. Our religion is glorious, and the verses of the Koran impart absolute justice. They are not unjust toward either the woman or the man, but we must learn how to apply the rulings of Islam."