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I found this post on Reddit in which it is mentioned that the Quran advises men to beat their wives if they do not obey them.

This is a quote from the link:

Surah 4:34: "Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them"

Is this, and the other claims made on the site true? Are they misrepresented or quoted out of context?

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It's clear enough for German courts... spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,473017,00.html –  vartec Jun 12 '12 at 9:16
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A random German judge is not necessarily an authority on the Koran. The article states The judge rejected the application for a speedy divorce by referring to a passage in the Koran that **some have controversially** interpreted to mean that a husband can beat his wife. (emphasis mine) –  apoorv020 Jun 12 '12 at 10:31
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NY Times article - nytimes.com/2007/03/25/world/americas/… –  Tom77 Jun 12 '12 at 12:34
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@GreenNoob - I have no desire or inclination to sift through the miasma of ignorance that is involved with that discussion. Could you at least quote the line with your claim in the question please. –  Chad Jun 12 '12 at 13:06
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@The claim is in the title post (the image linked to from reddit). –  Konrad Rudolph Jun 12 '12 at 14:40
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3 Answers

up vote 26 down vote accepted

The Quran has some specific things to say about women, and how they are to be treated. These particular suras are the ones that may have some bearing on that particular belief (all emphasis mine):

4:34 Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.

4:129 Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much ye wish (to do so). But turn not altogether away (from one), leaving her as in suspense. If ye do good and keep from evil, lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

66:10 Allah citeth an example for those who disbelieve: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot, who were under two of Our righteous slaves yet betrayed them so that they (the husbands) availed them naught against Allah and it was said (unto them): Enter the Fire along with those who enter.

As with any text written in a poetic style, and based on mysoginistic viewpoints, the interpretation is up to the reader.

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@GreenNoob These are from The Meaning of The Glorious Quran by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall. I don't know if this is a particularly recognized translation. You'd have to ask a muslim about that. –  Brightblades Jun 13 '12 at 11:29
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The Skeptics Annotated Bible uses the Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall translation. If anything, I think this is a more moderate translation. –  Brightblades Jun 13 '12 at 17:44
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I can see how you would interpret admonish and banish as "give them a good beating", it's obvious –  Chris S Jun 13 '12 at 18:22
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@Chris: How so? Admonish just means to tell off, not bea; and banish to beds apart simply means don't sleep with them. I am sure most married men have had this treatment from their wives at least once! –  user7560 Jun 17 '12 at 7:55
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@user7560 my comment was sarcasm :) –  Chris S Jun 18 '12 at 10:22
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http://quran.com/4/34

Sahih International

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.

Credits:

About the Noble Qur'an

The Noble Qur'an is the central religious text of Islam. Muslims believe the Qur’an is the book of Divine guidance and direction for mankind, and consider the original Arabic text the final revelation of Allah (God).[1] All translations of the original Arabic text are thus interpretations of the original meanings and should be embraced as such.

For more information about the Noble Qur'an, you may visit its Wikipedia article.

Credits

This website was created by a few volunteers and was made possible with the will of Allah (Glory be unto Him) and with the help of the open source Muslim community online. Data sources include Tanzil, QuranComplex, Zekr and Online Qur'an Project.

The greek quran translation also has a similar translation:

http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=133&region=GK&CR=

This guy seems to agree:

http://www.bible.ca/islam/islam-wife-beating-koran-4-34.htm

Counterarguments(?):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An-Nisa,_34

http://www.flw.ugent.be/cie/bogaert/bogaert4.htm

I don't have any knowledge of the arabic language but, if words do have many different meanings, then it clearly depends on the eye (or mind?) of the beholder. If someone wants to beat his wife, he'll use the meaning that fits his purpose. If someone wants to be a "true believer", he will pat her with a toothbrush.

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Yes, most of the time it is quoted out of context. It would seem when people read this verse, their eyes go straight to the word (beat) or any other word that has some sort of power, and their eyes gloss over all the options provided before one gets to the point of beating ones wife.

The verse you are talking about is the 34th verse of Surat Annisaa' (chapter 4). It first talks about men over or being in charge of women. This means men have their responsibilities and women have theirs, the responsibility of the men is to take care, maintain them and protect them. then further on into the verse it says, the emphasis is mine:

But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance

So if you fear arrogance from them, then firstly you must advise them. If they don't listen and persist then don't go to bed with them,

forsake them in bed

but if they still don't listen and persist then finally you have the permission to strike them:

strike them

and many times those who do not know picture in their minds that when a Muslim beats his wife they picture a women with bruises all over her face and can hardly walk and... and so on. But this is not the case, and furthermore if we can solve the problem without hitting them then that is the best. Furthermore there are limitations to hitting. Like if we truly need to strike our wives, we hit them with a miswak, and we avoid the face (in Islam hitting any living thing on the face is forbidden). Furthermore it is best encouraged for us Muslims to follow the example of our Prophet, and he never hit his wives.

You may wish to see this answer on Islam.SE for further information and clarification. Furthermore I would like to mention that I am using the translation of the Quran called Sahih International, which is a reliable translation. but just like any other translation it is not always in line with the Arabic. Furthermore I would like to mention that verses from the Quran must not be followed by how one thinks it means, rather one should understand it by what it really means, people can take things out of context and make things mean things that really isn't the true meaning of the verse.

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Some of us understand that women are held sacred in Islam, but what we find offensive is that striking of any kind is ever possibly an option. If you have to strike anybody then both of you have already lost. I wouldn't feel right to even strike an animal let alone anybody else. –  maple_shaft Apr 14 '13 at 23:33
    
@maple_shaft Yes, striking is not encouraged, but sometimes it is needed, as in the case of the context of the verse, striking would be necessary only if it could save the marriage. You see the option is given so that if possible divorce can be avoided, divorce in Islam is allowable but very discouraged. if it is in ones ability to save the marriage through striking (not beating) then that is an option. But in Islam there are also many other options before one gets to that point. –  Al Ummat Apr 15 '13 at 0:24
    
This answer only cites a Islam.SE post. It'd be preferable to provide more citations within this post. –  Andrew Grimm Apr 16 '13 at 3:21
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'striking would be necessary only if it could save the marriage' - I rather fear that you've lost us there. –  Craig McMahon Apr 17 '13 at 13:47
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"... and their eyes gloss over all the options provided before one gets to the point of beating ones wife." and what point might that be? Are men also eligible for a beating (from their wives) if they commit the same wrongs? In this case it's ok to take it out of context, because, you see, the problem is that there exists such a context that allows hitting women. –  vikki May 1 '13 at 5:13
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