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['Aalim Network QR] Ayat 4:34

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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\

Salaamun Alaykum,

  The following question about an ayat of the Qur'an that purports to 
allow beating of a woman, appeared on the ABDG, and was forwarded to the 
ABDG-A.  The answer was kindly provided by Dr. Liyakat Takim.  The ayats 
of the Qur'an referred to in the question and answer have been reproduced 
in between.


Mustafa Rawji


>There is an ayat from the quran that I would like to understand better.
>The ayat is 4:34.  This ayats seems to allow a man to beat a woman.  This
>concept is one I have much difficulty accepting or even justifying.  I
>have done a bit of research on it for the class I teach in madressa, but
>I still have a problem explaining it.
>Any input would be helpful


Sura Nisa (Chapter 4)

  Verse 33:  And to everyone We have appointed heirs of what parents and 
near relatives leave; and as to those with whom your right hands have 
ratified agreements, give them their portion; surely Allah is a witness 
over all things.

  Verse 34:  Men are maintainers of women because Allah has made some of 
them excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good 
women are therefore obedient , guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; 
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.

  Verse 128:  And if a woman fears ill usage or desertion on the part of 
her husband, there is no blame on them if they effect a reconciliation 
between them, and reconciliation is better, and avarice has been made to 
be present in the (people's) minds;  and if you do good and guard, then 
surely Allah is aware of what you do. 


Salaamun 'Alaykum,

You will note that verse 4:33 talks of men's obligation to women, i.e. the
responsibility of maintainance. To avoid disharmony, verse 4:34 suggests
steps to be taken to resolve disputes. As Allama Tabatabai remarks in his
Tafsir: The steps are to be taken gradually and in a particular order. If
the wife is of ill-conduct then 1) she is to be verbally advised and
admonished. If that doesn't work, then 2) suspend sexual contact by say
refusing to share the same bed and only, as a last resort, very light form
of physical correction is to be undertaken. Allama Tabrisi in his Majma
al-Bayan quotes a tradition from Imam al-Baqir (A.S.) stating that this
should be done with a miswak (kind of toothbrush in modern times). There
is absolutely no justification in this for the domestic abuse or violence
that many Muslim men resort to these days. Indeed, all commentators are in
agreement that the third form of corrective measure should be undertaken
only as a last resort and should be very mild. 

It should also be noted that the Qur'an gives precedence to the state of
order and emphasizes the importance of retaining it.  Also, even if the
third solution is reached, it should not lead to conjugal violence or
struggle, rather the whole objective of the verse has to be borne in mind,
that of returning to marital harmony. AS verse 4:128 states, "Peace is
better" i.e. peace and making amends are the goals, not violence and

The second solution (beds apart) also suggests that before the third step is
reached, there is a need for 'a cooling-off period'. Most Muslim men who
resort to violence never follow the steps required in the Qur'an.
>For further details, pls see Allama Tabataba'i's Tafsir al-Mizan, Tabrisi's
Majma' al-Bayan. Amin Wadud-Muhsin also has a very interesting book entitled
Qur'an and Woman. 

And God knows best

Yours in Islam


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