44
votes

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 claim true? Are they misrepresented or quoted out of context?

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  • When I do a text search on the reddit link in the post I do not find that quote or even the word Surah. However I did find this link that might help with that quoted phrase: ruqaiyyah.karoo.net/articles/beating.htm – Chad Jun 13 '12 at 18:07
  • -1 because the quote in your question is not in the link for the supposedly notable claim on Reddit – Chad Jun 14 '12 at 12:57
  • @Chad The link is on Reddit. Click on the link in the question. Then click on the title "Stay classy, Islam" - that'll take you to the screenshot. – Green Noob Jun 15 '12 at 2:57
  • 1
    An awful lot of square brackets there, why not post the actual quote in full to leave less room for interpretation? – colmde Dec 7 '16 at 11:51
  • 1
    @colmde: The square brackets actually appear in many of the translations I've seen. I think (I don't read Arabic myself) that this is because many words don't have exact 1:1 translations to English, so the brackets attempt to give more context. – jamesqf Dec 8 '16 at 6:35
36
votes

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.

  • 3
    @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. – JasonR Jun 13 '12 at 11:29
  • 6
    The Skeptics Annotated Bible uses the Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall translation. If anything, I think this is a more moderate translation. – JasonR Jun 13 '12 at 17:44
  • 4
    Whether or not actual beating is encouraged, at least one phrase is pretty clear: "[...] made the one of them to excel the other". That's pretty misogynistic right there. – Lagerbaer Jun 18 '12 at 21:22
  • 3
    "As with any text written in a poetic style, and based on mysoginistic viewpoints, the interpretation is up to the reader." -- That's your speculation. – Sakib Arifin Dec 7 '16 at 14:08
  • 2
    @Sklivvz Firstly, he didn't provide any reference for his claim "As with any text written in a poetic style, and based on mysoginistic viewpoints". Secondly, he is cherry picking translations. Thirdly, he is linking to a website that is far from a scientific reference. – Sakib Arifin Dec 7 '16 at 18:23
34
votes

The passage in question is this one:

الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ۚ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا

—Surah 4. An-Nisaa, Ayah 34

The source page goes on to helpfully offer the following interpretations of the above passage in four reputed translations of the Quran.

From Muhammad Asad's The Message of The Qur'an (1980):

MEN SHALL take full care of women with the bounties which God has bestowed more abundantly on the former than on the latter, and with what they may spend out of their possessions. And the righteous women are the truly devout ones, who guard the intimacy which God has [ordained to be] guarded. And as for those women whose ill-will you have reason to fear, admonish them [first]; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek to harm them. Behold, God is indeed most high, great!

From Muhammad Farooq-i-Azam Malik's Al-Qur'an: Guidance for Mankind (1997):

Men are overseers over women because Allah has given the one more strength than other, and because men are required to spend their wealth for the maintenance of women. Honorable women are, therefore, devoutly obedient and guard in the husband's absence what Allah require them to guard their husband's property and their own honor. As to those women from whom you fear disobedience, first admonish them, then refuse to share your bed with them, and then, if necessary, beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further actions against them and do not make excuses to punish them. Allah is Supremely Great and is aware of your actions.

From Marmaduke Pickthall's The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (1930):

Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath men 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.

From Yusuf Ali's The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary (1934):

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 guard. As to those women on whose part ye 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 Great (above you all).

Three out of the four translations use the word beat while the fourth prefers scourge. Both the modern translations prefer beat. As for scourge, the following is a current dictionary definition:

  1. historical Whip (someone) as a punishment
  2. Cause great suffering to

Re: "historical", considering that Pickthall's translation is from 1930, here's the entry for scourge from the 1913 Webster:

  1. To whip severely; to lash.
  2. To punish with severity; to chastise; to afflict, as for sins or faults, and with the purpose of correction.
  3. To harass or afflict severely.

Wikipedia has a (generously referenced) page dedicated to Islam and Domestic Violence with sections on interpretations that support/do not support wife-beating. From the "to beat" section:

Some Islamic scholars and commentators have emphasized that beatings, even where permitted, are not to be harsh or some even contend that they should be "more or less symbolic." According to Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Ibn Kathir, the consensus of Islamic scholars is that the above verse describes a light beating.

From the "not to beat" section on a different possible translation of the word in question (idribu) to possibly mean "go away" rather than "beat":

This translation is negated however by the fact that most definitions of daraba in Edward William Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon are related to physical beating and that when the root word daraba and its derivatives are used in the Qur'an in relation to humans or their body parts, it exclusively means physically beating or striking them, e.g. in Qur'an 2:7337:93, 8:12, 8:50, 47:4 and 47:27.

(I have not followed up on any of the provided references.)

Finally, a legal interpretation from the UAE (2010):

A court in the United Arab Emirates says a man is permitted under Islamic law to physically discipline his wife and children as long as he leaves no marks and has tried other methods of punishment, the country's top court ruled.

(In the case being ruled on, a man caused injuries that left marks on his wife and daughter and was therefore convicted.)


In conclusion, yes, this passage (Surah 4:34) of the Quran advises men to physically discipline (possibly "lightly") their disobedient wives.

12
votes

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 interpretation:

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.

4
votes

According to Wife Battery in Islam: Comprehensive Understanding of Interpretations Violence Against Women Volume 13 Number 5 May 2007 pages 516-526.

It is possible to classify the understanding of the Qur’anic verse 34 of Al Nisa chapter on wife beating into four schools of interpretations.

The first is an interpretation that sees wife beating as permissible if a wife does not obey her husband (Al- Samharani, 1989, pp. 155-163).

The second interpretation understands Islam as permitting wife beating but with conditions of consideration for her safety (Abu Shaqah, 1994; Al-banna, 1997).

The third interpretation regards Qur’anic Verse 34 of Al Nisa chapter to be addressing exceptions when wife beating is allowed because it is generally unacceptable (Sisters in Islam, 1991).

The fourth and last interpretation uses linguistic rules to show that Verse 34 of Al Nisa chapter has been misinterpreted and does not even refer to beating when using the Arabic word idribuhunna (Mernissi, 1991; Suliman, 2001).

The reference gives the verse as:

As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill conduct (nushuz), admonish them, refuse to share their beds, and beat them.

The first 3 of the described schools of thought agree with the above translation, but there is a 4th that considers it a mistranslation.

School 4: Interpreting Verse 34 of the Al Nisa Chapter in the Qur’an As Using the Arabic Word Idribuhunna to Mean Something Other Than Hitting

School 4, unlike the above interpretation, views Verse 34 to be a reconciliatory one with the specific purpose of restoring marital harmony. The sequence of the ideas in Verses 34 and 35 in the Al Nisa chapter indicate such a purpose. Verse 34 prescribes what should happen if the woman is the initiator of ill conduct, and Verse 35 deals with the situation when the conflict is between the two partners in the marital relationship. The Qur’an in both verses outlines legitimate behavior to avoid persistent disharmony within the marital situation and to prevent divorce.

School 4 interpreters believe that the word idribuhunna in Verse 34 of Al Nisa chapter does not mean “hit/beat/strike them even lightly” given the general spirit of the Qur’an, hadith, and sunnah. This school considers that the logical sequence in the verses would be nullified by prescribing a behavior that is not reconciliatory, such as hitting, when their general theme is to offer ways by which to return harmony to the marriage. As such, many within this school have gone to the etymology of the word idribuhunna to better understand the meaning of Verse 34.

In consulting an Arabic dictionary, one often returns to the three-letter origin of the word to understand its various meanings. In the case of idribuhunna, the threeletter origin is , or daraba. There is a list of meanings ascribed to the word daraba, only one of which means hit. The other meanings related to the word include to travel the earth, to beat, to set up, to give examples, to take away, to condemn, to seal, to cover, to explain, to have sex, to create monetary coins, and to multiply in a mathematical formula (Mernissi, 1991, pp. 158-159; Muslim Women League, 1991; Suliman, 2001, p. 132). Table 1 includes some examples of the multiple meanings of the word daraba as it is used in the Qur’an (see Table 1). The various meanings of the word daraba provide evidence that when the Qur’anic verse uses the word idribuhunna, it refers to isolation, separation, or parting.

This school employs two arguments to its view that the word idribuhunna in Verse 34 of Al Nisa chapter does not refer to wife beating. The first points out that when the Qur’an intended to express beating as a directive for punishment, it used the word al-jald (lashing/flogging) instead of daraba (Suliman, 2001, p. 138). This is clear in Qur’anic verses such as, “The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each of them” (Al-Nur: 2). The second argument provides a meaning of the word idribuhunna from an historic example of the Prophet’s life; in this example, the word means to stay away from or divorce (Mernissi, 1991, p. 157).

So there is not universal agreement that "beat them" is the correct translation of the Quranic verse, although it is the tradition school of thought. The oldest reference that the author points to as having a different interpretation is from 1987.

-1
votes

The claim is mostly false.

The quote in question is Quran verse 4:34 which according to the standard Quranic text says:

Quran beat women verse

The most widely circulated translation (Yusuf Ali's translation) of this verse says:

Yusuf Ali: 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 guard. As to those women on whose part ye 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, great (above you all).

According to Islamawakened.com, the literal translation of the verse is:

الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا

Transliteration: Alrrijalu qawwamoona AAala alnnisa-i bima faddala Allahu baAAdahum AAala baAAdin wabima anfaqoo min amwalihim faalssalihatu qanitatun hafithatun lilghaybi bima hafitha Allahu waallatee takhafoona nushoozahunna faAAithoohunna waohjuroohunna fee almadajiAAi waidriboohunna fa-in ataAAnakum fala tabghoo AAalayhinna sabeelan inna Allaha kana AAaliyyan kabeeran zoom

Literal (Word by Word): [The] men (are) protectors of the women because Allah (has) bestowed some of them over others and because they spend from their wealth. So the righteous women (are) obedient, guarding in the unseen that which Allah (orders) them to guard. And those (from) whom you fear their ill-conduct then advise them, and forsake them in the bed and set forth to Then if they obey you then (do) not seek against them a way. Indeed, Allah is Most High, Most Great.

The word translated as beat is waidriboohunna (see the strong text above) which derives from the The triliteral root ḍād rā bā (ض ر ب). It has been translated as "to go away" (and the like) or "beat" (and the like) in different translations of the verse in question (majority of them translate it as "beat" or the like).

And the condition for beating is not disobedience, it's nushoozahunna which means ill conduct. The currently accepted answer seems to have cherry picked a translation without any prior research.

Reference to translations of the Quran

  • 1
    This answer's chosen translation is no less cherry-picked than the other answers. An appropriate answer to this question would include a review of the top five used translations. Essentially, what are most people reading, and therefore assumed to be believing. – fredsbend Dec 17 '16 at 16:38
  • 3
    Christians do the same word-bending, hoping to make distasteful verses more palatable. You show the most used translation (which says 'beat'), then resort to a literal translation (not meant for typical reading) and a tenuous word study to call that wrong. Cherry picking. – fredsbend Dec 17 '16 at 17:18
  • 4
    I read about 20 of the translations here. You're wrong by a lot. At least 16 of them said 'beat', 'hit', or 'scourge'. – fredsbend Dec 17 '16 at 17:23
  • 5
    Saying the claim is mostly false is wishful thinking. Presumably (and a safe presumption), translators put some scholarship behind their translations. And when 80% of these scholars translate a unique way we can call that a scholarly consensus, not an appeal to majority. Your answer is misleading, and I think intentionally so, due to bias. – fredsbend Dec 17 '16 at 19:12
  • 4
    @MohammadSakibArifin-I think you need to add more details about the the root word "DaRaBa" used in different meanings throughout Quran to make your answer more precise since it is said that "DaRaBa" is the number-one multi-meaning word in Arabic and different meanings are found to be ascribed to it in various sections of the Quran. Some of the meanings are "To travel, to get out", "To strike", "To beat", "To set up", "To give", "To take away, to ignore", "To condemn", "To seal, to draw over", "To cover", "To explain"! – pericles316 Dec 18 '16 at 11:19

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