'Islam permits ill treatment of women' is an invective often hurled at Islam. statistics from around the Islamic world is brought forth to establish the claim. people often forget that the permission and the prohibition in islam is not taken from the cultural norms prevailing in any geographical area in the world, But from the guidance, The Almighty has sent down to man.
Let's see what the primary text of Islam 'Quran' has to say about the treatment of wife,
"O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them - perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good."
- (Holy Quran 4:19)
Imam Ibn Kathir writes in commentary(tafsir) of this verse,
"Allah said, (And live with them honorably), by saying kind words to them, treating them kindly and making your appearance appealing for them, as much as you can, just as you like the same from them. Allah said in another Ayah,
And they have rights similar over them to what is reasonable 2:228 . The Messenger of Allah said, (The best among you is he who is the best with his family. Verily, I am the best one among you with my family.) It was the practice of the Messenger of Allah to be kind, cheerful, playful with his wives, compassionate, spending on them and laughing with them. The Messenger used to race with `A'ishah, the Mother of the Faithful, as a means of kindness to her. `A'ishah said, "The Messenger of Allah raced with me and I won the race. This occurred before I gained weight, and afterwards I raced with him again, and he won that race. He said, This victory is for that victory."
Indeed this verse speaks loads about the kind treatment of wives in Islam at another instance Prophet Muhammad(salAllahu alayhi wa-sallam) is reported to have said :
"The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives."
- (Ibn-Hanbal, No. 7396)
Also, Abu Hurairah(radhiAllahu anh) narrated,
“The Messenger of Allah said: ‘Be kind to women.’”
- (Sahih Bukhaari 3153; Sahih Muslim, 1468).
Once The Prophet stated eloquently using metaphors :
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "Treat women nicely, for a women is created from a rib (or is like a rib), and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion, so, if you should try to straighten it, it will break, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain intact. So treat women nicely."
- (Sahih Bukhari Volume 4 : Book 55 : Hadith 548)
Although, the above citations are more than enough to draw accurate inferences regarding the treatment of wife in Islam, in this article, I'll probe the very oft cited Islamic texts that are used by zealot Islamophobes to prove that Islam sanctions beating of wife simultaneously we'll see the kind treatment of wife prescribed by Islam.
Probing so-called violent teachings of Islam regarding treatment of wives:
1. Quran 4:34 : "..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 turn to obedience, Seek not against them, means (of annoyance)..."
Firstly, one shouldn't cherry pick few verses of the Quran to reach a conclusion; This ain't the appropriate way of studying Islam, In factually, a sincere researcher would take the entire Quranic exegesis and entire Islamic morale concernig wife in consideration to reach any conclusion, this is to say, that one shouldn't forget to consider atleast the Quranic verse 4:19 which quite explicitly says "...live with them in kindness.." and the Prophetic statement that best among the Muslim Ummah are those who are best to their wives.
Secondly, this Quranic verse 4:34 isn't applicable in every condition, rather it's applicable only in certain extereme condition, this verse is talking about the disloyal women and here the disloyal means the one who "disobeys him, ignores him, dislikes him, and so forth" (See Ibn kathir's tafsir on this verse) the other sets of scholars say that here disloyal means those women who sink below dignity of a modest and chaste woman, the latter interpretation is too an inference made from the tafsir of Ibn Kathir on the first part of this verse. Moreover, the beating is the last option after Admonishing & sharing bed.
Thirldy and most importantly, the "beating" referred in this verse is more for a psychological impact on the wife and the purpose is only to maintain the chastity and mutual love and affection, rather than a physical attack on her as the Prophet Muhammad(salAllahu 'alayhi wa-sallam) said :
"Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah. You too have right over them, and that they should not allow anyone to sit on your bed whom you do not like. But if they do that, (in that case) chastise them in a way that leaves no mark (i.e. not severe). Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner."
-(Sahih Muslim 1218, Sunan at-Tirmidhi 1163, Ibn Maajah 1851)
Also, we find in tafsir of ibn kathir on this verse,
(Fear Allah regarding women, for they are your assistants. You have the right on them that they do not allow any person whom you dislike to step on your mat. However, if they do that, you are allowed to discipline them lightly. They have a right on you that you provide them with their provision and clothes, in a reasonable manner.) Ibn `Abbas and several others said that the Ayah refers to a beating that is not violent. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that it means, a beating that is not severe.
So, the serene conclusion is that this beating referred in this verse is merely for sake of renovating the modesty, loyalty of a women this is a rational act because ill conduct of the wife may lead to chaos in the relationship. This is analogous to spanking children when all else fails and they must learn a lesson in obedience for their own protection and success. The purpose of this beating her is only to discipline and never retaliation or with desire to hurt by any means. Islam forbids severe beating as punishment. As, the Prophet said:
“None of you should beat his wife like a slave-beating and then have intercourse with her at the end of the day”.
- (Sahih Bukhari, Hadith 4908)
This sort of light chastisement is quite effective with two kinds of women as psychologists have determined :
(A) Strong willed, demanding and commandeering women. These are the type of women who like to control, master and run the affairs of their husbands by pushing them around, commanding them and giving them orders.
(B) Submissive or subdued women. These women may even enjoy being beaten at times as a sign of love and concern.
G. A. Holdfield, a European psychologist, in his book 'Psychology and Morals' writes,
"The instinct of submission strengthens at times, in the human being so much that a submissive person will enjoy seeing someone overpowering him, over-ruling him and 82 being cruel to him. Such a submissive person bears the consequences of his submission due to the fact that he enjoys the pain. This is a wide spread instinct amongs two men, even if they do not realize it. For this very reason, women are well known for bearing more pain than men. A wife, from this type of women, becomes more attracted and admiring of her husband when he beats her. Nothing,on the other hand, will sadden some women, as much as a soft, very kind and very obedient husband who is never upset regardless of being challenged!"
Also, we must take this interesting narration into consideration,
It is narrated that the women of the Sahaabah used to argue and debate with them, and indeed this is the way in which the Mothers of the Believers [i.e., the Prophet's wives] used to act with our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), as 'Umar ibn al-Khattaab said to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): "We Quraysh used to control our women, but when we came to the Ansaar we found that they were a people who were controlled by their women. So our women started to adopt the ways of the Ansaari women. I got angry with my wife and she argued with me and I did not like her arguing with me. She said, 'Why do you object to me arguing with you? By Allaah, the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) argue with him...'"
- (Sahih Bukhari 4895; Sahih Muslim 1479)
Hafiz Ibn Hajar, said discussing the lessons to be learned from hadeeth :
"This indicates that being harsh with women is something blameworthy."
- (Fath al-Baari 9/291)
2. Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: The Prophet (pbuh) said: A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife.
- Sunan Abu Dawud Hadith 2142
Firstly, Isnad(chain of the narrators) has been criticized by various scholars because Abdul Rahman al Muslee is weak in the chain & no one said he is trustworthy.
Let's have a glimpse of views of scholars regarding this hadith:
i) Ibne Hajar Asqalani weakened him in Tahdheeb at Tahdheeb 6/304 ii) Imam Ibn al Qattan said this is not authentic in "Byan al Waham al abhaam (5/524) iii) Imam adh Dahabee said :In it Abdul Rahman muslee is not known" Meezan al Aitedaal (2/602) iv) Shaykh Ahmad shakir said in tehqeeq of Musnad Ahmad 1/77 Chian is weak v) Shaykh Shoaib al Aranoot weakened this hadith in his tahqeeq of Musnad Ahmad vi) Shaykh Al Bani Weakened in "Irwa al Ghulail 7/98 vii) Albani, viii) Ahmad Shakir, ix) Shuaib Arnaut in their respective Musnad and x) Ibn Kathir in Musnad al-Faruqi 1/182
Secondly, even if this had been an authentic hadith, it wouldn't prove itself as a violence regarding wives because of the following reason :
1. One cannot just isolate a single hadith to reach any inference because this ain't the proper way of studying Islam one ought to take Islamic rulings regarding these issues and they're (a) Beating the wife is last resort(Quran 4:34) (b) That beating shouldn't leave any mark(Sahih Muslim 1218) (c) The kind of beating allowed in Islam isn't at all severe(Tafsir Ibn Kathir on 4:34) implying that this beating is mere for a psychological impact for sake disciplining the wife.
2. When the Prophet(salAllahu 'alayhi wa-Sallam) took a tiny stick and tapped one of the Muslims on the stomach to straighten the ranks in preparation for war, he "hit" him with this meaning. Contrast this to the English phrase: "beat them". The meaning is totally different. If you took a shoe lace and hit someone on the hand with it, you could properly say 'dharabtahu' in Arabic but in English you could never say that you had "beaten" that person. So, it becomes quite neccessary to study Islamic rulings regarding this issue for making any sincere inference.
Moreover, let us consider few sayings of the Prophet at instances where he was asked regarding treatment of wife.
Narrated Mu'awiyah al-Qushayri: "I went to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) and asked him: What do you say (command) about our wives? He replied: Give them food what you have for yourself, and clothe them by which you clothe yourself, and do not beat them, and do not revile them."
- (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Number 2139)
In factually, the ahadiths are replete with instructions on how to treat wives.
Narrated Mu'awiyah ibn Haydah: "I said: Apostle of Allah, how should we approach our wives and how should we leave them? He replied: Approach your tilth when or how you will, give her (your wife) food when you take food, clothe when you clothe yourself, do not revile her face, and do not beat her."
- (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Number 2138)
Once, The Prophet Muhammad(salAllahu 'alayhi wa-Sallam) was asked by Laqit ibn Sabirah(radhiAllahu 'anh) concerning her insolent tongued wife, Prophet replied :
"..ask her (to obey you). If there is something good in her, she will do so (obey); and do not beat your wife as you beat your slave-girl.."
- (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 1, Number 142)
In factually, The Prophet ordered one of his contemporary to let her wife go as he broke her arm by severe beating,
"Ar-Rubayy' bint Mu'awwidh bin 'Afra' narrated that Thabit bin Qais bin Shammas hit his wife and broke her arm --her name was Jamilah bint 'Abdullah bin Ubayy. Her brother came to the Messenger of Allah to complain about him, and the Messenger of Allah sent for Thabit and said: "Take what she owes you and let her go." He said: "Yes." And the Messenger of Allah ordered her to wait for one menstrual cycle and then go to her family."
- (Sunan an-Nasai, Vol. 4, Book 27, Hadith 3527)
This makes it further clear that Islam doesn't allow violent beating of wife, it prove the attempts of zombie faced Islamophobes as void and it exposes their sheer ignorance about Islamic morales and their deceptive and cheap tricks of maligning Islam. Phew!.
3. Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Salat(Book 4), No. 2127 - Muhammad struck his favourite wife, Aisha, in the chest one evening when she left the house without his permission. Aisha narrates, "He struck me on the chest which caused me pain."
This one is yet another desperate attempt to prove that Islam teaches violent beating of wife, though, obviously invalid because the word 'struck has been mis-translated, the arabic word here is 'lahada' which actually means 'pushed' 'pushed on the chest' (See Edward William Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon p. 2676). So, the accurate translation would be "He pushed me on my chest which caused me pain" . Secondly, the hadith has been severly misinterpreted, The Prophet didn't push her for she left house without his permission.. let's read the entire narration to make this issue clear..
Muhammad b. Qais said (to the people): Should I not narrate to you (a hadith of the Holy Prophet) on my authority and on the authority of my mother? We thought that he meant the mother who had given him birth. He (Muhammad b. Qais) then reported that it was 'A'isha who had narrated this: Should I not narrate to you about myself and about the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)? We said: Yes. She said: When it was my turn for Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) to spend the night with me, he turned his side, put on his mantle and took off his shoes and placed them near his feet, and spread the corner of his shawl on his bed and then lay down till he thought that I had gone to sleep. He took hold of his mantle slowly and put on the shoes slowly, and opened the door and went out and then closed it lightly. I covered my head, put on my veil and tightened my waist wrapper, and then went out following his steps till he reached Baqi'. He stood there and he stood for a long time. He then lifted his hands three times, and then returned and I also returned. He hastened his steps and I also hastened my steps. He ran and I too ran. He came (to the house) and I also came (to the house). I, however, preceded him and I entered (the house), and as I lay down in the bed, he (the Holy Prophet) entered the (house), and said: Why is it, O 'A'isha, that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware would inform me. I said: Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you? She said: Whatsoever the people conceal, Allah will know it. He said: Gabriel came to me when you saw me. He called me and he concealed it from you. I responded to his call, but I too concealed it from you (for he did not come to you), as you were not fully dressed. I thought that you had gone to sleep, and I did not like to awaken you, fearing that you may be frightened. He (Gabriel) said: Your Lord has commanded you to go to the inhabitants of Baqi' (to those lying in the graves) and beg pardon for them. I said: Messenger of Allah, how should I pray for them (How should I beg forgiveness for them)? He said: Say, Peace be upon the inhabitants of this city (graveyard) from among the Believers and the Muslims, and may Allah have mercy on those who have gone ahead of us, and those who come later on, and we shall, God willing, join you.
Now, we should know why did he pushed her at all? That pushing was only to ward off the wrong thought(vas-vaas) that had come to her heart, it's evident from these words of Prophet (salAllahu 'alayhi wa-Sallam) “...Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?...” i.e. Allah will ask his Messenger to spend the night of Aisha’, may Allah bless turn, with some other wife. And the pushing of chest caused the pain because she was breathless at that very moment. Also, we must know that Prophet used to do this i.e Pushing of chest to ward off wrong thoughts, this is evident from few of the narrations :
"Ubbay said: There occurred in my mind a sort of denial which did not occur even during the Days of Ignorance. When the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him, saw how I was affected, was affected (by a wrong idea), he struck my chest. I broke into a sweat and felt as if I were looking at Allah in fear."
- (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 1356)
Another instance where Prophet pushed Umar(radhiAllahu 'anh)'s chest on his conversion to Islam,
- (Mustadrak al-Hakim, Hadith 4492)
1. The Messenger of Allah used to mend his own clothes or shoes and help his wives with their daily chores.
2. The Messenger of Allah was always pleasant, kind and caring to all, used to play and joke politely with his family members.
3. The Prophet used to console and comfort his wife while she suffered pain of menses(menstrual periods),
4. Had fun with Aisha(radhiAllahu anha),
- (Holy Quran 33:21)
These noble and divinely inspired teachings of Islam are very contrary than that of so-called sacred scriptures, wherein we find that Women are mere object of lust and were in factually created for this very purpose. As one of the "Sacred" text of Hinduism says,
Also, a barren women, rather I should say, a women having no son is regarded as 'discarded' one and that they are unfortune as they possess Destruction, calamity and are meant to kicked out of home as yet another "holy" text says,
While, we all know that, Mahr which is a sort of dowry given to a Muslim wife, is inheritance of a blessed Muslimah and is highly recommended in Islam, even a poor Man is asked to gift even an iron ring (only if the husband could afford); as the Most Merciful Allah says in the Quran,
"And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease."
- (Holy Quran 4:4)
On the other hand, Islam doesn't makes Dahej(the typical dowry which the women brings for in laws) a compulsion, rather Allah says that if the women of her will wants to gift you anything then take it with satisfaction. Elsewhere, Allah further says in the Quran,
"For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much - an obligatory share."
- (Holy Quran 4:7)
“Islamic virtuous deeds are not limited to honoring and respecting women, but rather, we can add that Islam is the first religion to honor and respect women. We can easily prove this by illustrating that all religions and nations, prior to the advent of Islam, caused much harm and insult to women.”
- (Gustave Le Bon, 'The Arab Civilization' page 488)