Although a husband and wife, who form a joint family
life, share and cooperate in running the affairs of their house, they may
have different opinions over certain matters. A man might feel that it
should be he who should decide about family affairs, with his wife's indisputable
agreement. At the same time his wife may object to her role as the obedient
party. Arguments and rows may then start because both parties attempt to
establish their authority over the other. The best solution to such a problem
is that both should try to refrain from acting as superior to the other,
and try to resolve their problems through dialogue and deep understanding.
This would only be feasible if both of them stop being stubborn.
Some men order their wives to do many things and if
are confronted with resistance, they think it right to become annoyed,
to punish or even to physically hurt their wives. This approach is not
correct at all. The men of the 'Age of Ignorance', who lacked humanity,
used to hurt and beat their wives.
"The revered Prophet (SA) banned the beating of women,
unless in special circumstances when punishment becomes wajib (obligatory)."
"The Prophet (SA) also stated: 'I am astonished at
a man who beats his wife, whereas it is he himself, more than his wife,
who deserves a beating. O people, do not beat your women with sticks because
such an act has Qisas (reprisal)."
Oppressing a woman who has wishfully married her husband,
who seeks comfort and tranquility with him, and who expects her husband
to share with her problems, is not right. In fact Allah entrusts a woman
to her husband through marriage and a man's mistreatment with his wife
would be unfaithfulness towards Allah's trust in him.
"Imam Ali (AS) stated: 'Women are entrusted to men,
and as such are not owners of their fortunes and misfortunes. They are
with you like a trust of Allah; so do not hurt them and do not make (the
life) difficult for them'."
A man who hits his wife, inflicts such damage on her
soul that she might suffer from a complex; and the family love and warmth
would almost definitely fade away. How can a man maintain a sound marital
relationship with his battered and degraded wife? This is really shameful.
"The Prophet (SA) of Allah stated: 'O you (men)! How
can any of you beat his wife and there- after embrace her'?" 
A man, unless having a particular right over his wife,
similar to those to be mentioned in this chapter is not lawfully permitted
to force his wife into doing anything or to resort to physical punishment
upon her disobedience. For instance a woman, lawfully is not duty-bound
to carry out housework such as cleaning, cooking, washing up, childcare,
knitting, sewing, etc. Although the majority of women do carry out these
works of a housewife on their own, these are not mandatory. Men should
be grateful to their wives for their work in the house. Therefore, no man
has the right to question or punish his wife when faced with her refusal
to carry out the house- keeping chores.
Islam recommends physical punishment of one's wife
only in two cases where his rights are violated:
Case 1: A man is Islamically and lawfully allowed
to seek sexual satisfaction and pleasure from his wife and to derive all
sorts of enjoyment from this relationship. His wife is lawfully duty-bound
to yield to her husband's sexual desires. If a woman refuses to satisfy
her husband, the husband should initially persuade her in an orderly manner.
However, if a man feels that his wife is trying to be malicious to him,
and if he cannot tolerate the situation, then by observing the prescribed
stages can punish her.
Allah states in the Holy Qur'an: "...And (as to}
those on whose part you fear desertion admonish them. and leave them alone
in the sleeping places and beat them; then if they obey you do not seek
a way against them; surely Allah is High Great (4:34)."
Therefore, the Quran allows beating one's wife as
the final stage of punishment, in the event of unreasonable behaviour of
a woman with regard to the sexual desires of her husband.
The first stage is giving advice. Secondly, the man
should avoid sharing her bed or turn his back towards her, and in this
way he should show his anger. If nothing positive happens at the end of
the second stage and still the woman continues to refuse her husband, he
is permitted to beat her (lightly).
A man, however, is not permitted to surpass the prescribed
limit and resort to oppression. Men are reminded of the following:
(a) The aim of physical punishment of one's wife should
be a way of education and not that of taking revenge.
(b) Hitting should be done by hand or by using a thin
and light wooden stick.
(c) Hitting to the extent that results in changing
the color of the skin (to blue or red) is not permitted and is punishable
by the payment of a Diyah (fine).
(d) Hitting of sensitive parts of the body such as
the eyes. head, stomach, etc is not permitted.
(e) Physical punishment should not be so hard as to
create hatred and ill-feeling between the couple, or to drive the wife
towards more disobedience.
(f) A man (who intends to punish his wife in this
manner) should remember that he is to live with his wife and that the family
love should not be destroyed.
(g) A man is not allowed to hit his wife if there
are legitimate reasons for her non-compliance with his wishes. For instance,
if she is in the state of menstruation, fasting in the month of Ramadan
being in ihram (garb for Hajj pilgrimage), or if she is sick. These
are acceptable reasons and a man cannot punish his wife for not complying
with his wishes on these occasions.
Case 2: A woman can go out of the house only after
obtaining her husband's permission. Going out without permission is lawfully
not allowed and committing it is a sin.
A tradition has been reported that the Prophet (SA)
did not allow any woman to go out of her house without her husband's permission.
"He stated: 'Any woman who goes out of her house without her husband's
permission, would be subjected to the curse of all the angels in the heavens
and all those who see her, be they jinn or human, until the time she returns
(to her home)'."
This is the right of any husband which must be observed
by their wives.
But men should not be too strict with their wives
on this account. It is better for them to allow their wives to go out whenever
This right of men is not meant to be a show of strength
or an attempt at putting pressure on their wives, but a means of preventing
women from going to undesirable and unsuitable places.
Being too strict, not only is not useful, but may
affect the family relationship, or even drive a woman towards disobedience
A man must stop his wife from going to corrupt and
unsuitable places and gatherings. It is a religious obligation for women
to obey their husbands. A disobedient woman can be punished by her husband.
Here again the punishment should be carried out in stages.
A woman, however, can go out of the house on specific
occasions without her husband's permission and men are not permitted
to hurt their wives in such cases:
(a) Going out of the house for learning the necessary
commandments of religion.
(b) Going out of the house for Hajj when she possesses
the necessary financial means and ability to perform Hajj.
(c) Going out of the house to repay a debt provided it is not possible to repay without going out of the house.
 Mustadrak, vol 2, p 550.
 Bihar al-Anwar, vol 103, p 249.
 Mustadrak, vol 2, p 551.
 Wasa.il al-Shi'ah, vol 14, p 119.
Ibid, p 154.