Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:
And as for those on whose part you fear disobedience, admonish them and leave them alone in their beds, and chastise them.(Surah an-Nisa’, 4:35)
This teaching of Islam stops men from beating their wives in the following ways:
- The Holy Prophet sas gradually removed domestic violence from society throughout his Prophethood. His sas final guidance on this subject was during the Farewell Pilgrimage, where he sas enjoined good treatment of women and said:
You have no right to treat them otherwise, unless they commit clear indecency (ٍة مبين ٍة فاحش). If they do that, then forsake them in their beds and hit them, but without causing injury or leaving a mark.(Sunan Ibn Majah, vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1,851; Sunan at-Tirmadhi, vol. 1, Book 7, Hadith 1,163)
2. A husband can only hit his wife if she wishes to remain in the relationship with him. Islam gives women the right to divorce at any time and for any reason; she is not required by Islam to justify her reasons to anyone (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book 68, Hadith 24; Fiqh Ahmadiyya, vol. 2, p. 87). If the husband is abusive, she can press criminal charges against him, and if the husband is found guilty, then the qadi [judge] can hold him accountable for his crime. If the wife is at fault, she can seek a divorce from the qadi and does not have to specify her reason. A husband can only hit his wife if she chooses to stay with him.
3. A husband can only hit his wife after going through the stages of “admonish them” and “leave them alone in their beds.” The cooling off period taught here prevents a man from hitting his wife in an emotional state. This verse prevents a man from hitting his wife under any normal circumstances. It is only in extreme circumstances that such drastic measures become permissible.
4. A husband can only hit his wife in a way that does not physically harm her, “without causing injury or leaving a mark.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1,851; Sunan at-Tirmadhi, vol. 1, Book 7, Hadith 1,163)
5. The Holy Prophet sas also forbade striking a woman on the face, saying:
Do not strike her on the face.(Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 11, Hadith 2,137)
The hitting that is permitted is only symbolic; it is less of a physical punishment than an emotional one. A man can hardly beat a woman if he is not permitted to injure her or leave any mark on her body. This shows that the purpose of hitting is as an expression of extreme emotional displeasure. For example, friends are often rough in lighthearted fun and hit one another, while not taking any offense. For instance, once when Hadrat ‘Aishah ra was caught by the Holy Prophet sas in a some- what comical misunderstanding, she said:
He (the Holy Prophet) gave me a nudge on the chest which I felt.(Sahih Muslim, Book 11, Hadith 132)
This was a playful expression between a loving couple that neither took as hitting, as she ra explained elsewhere:
However, if friends become serious, then even a small hit is extremely offensive. Between friends, the severity of a blow is of little significance, the intention behind it is what matters. When Islam allows a husband to hit his wife, though it is light and cannot cause any physical injury, the emotional effect of his expression of displeasure is the purpose. The command of “leave them alone in their beds” is only a punishment for the wife because of the emotional effect of his expression of dis- pleasure. Similarly, the act of hitting one’s wife is a punishment primarily because of its expression of displeasure. This is the most extreme way a husband is permitted to express displeasure to his wife.
In commentary of the Surah an-Nisa’ 4:35, Hadrat Musleh Mau‘ud ra writes:
In case of disagreement between the husband and wife, the husband has no right to chastise or punish the wife except for manifest immorality. In such a case four respectable residents of the neighborhood must testify that she has been actually guilty of immoral conduct. He must, however, begin by admonishing her. If she persists in her conduct he should separate from her for a period which must not exceed four months. This means discontinuance of conjugal relations but the husband will still be bound to maintain the wife. If the period of separation exceeds four months, the husband will be compelled by law to resume conjugal relations with the wife. If the discontinuance of conjugal relations also has no reforming effect on her conduct and the testimony of four righteous men of the neighborhood is forthcoming, she may be chastised by the husband but her bones must not be injured and no bruise or mark should be left on her body. All this, however, is prescribed only in cases of manifestly immoral conduct (فحش). A husband has no right to punish his wife for other faults or neglect of duty.(Ahmadiyyat or the True Islam, p. 238, 239)
Hitting one’s wife is only permitted when:
- If the wife is guilty of manifest immorality.
- If the husband and wife still decide to stay together and try and salvage the marriage.
- If the husband has first cooled off.
- Only if the husband strikes her in a way that does not harm her. It is almost impossible to envision a situation where this could practically happen, which is why this teaching is to demonstrate what can be done in the most extreme of cases.
As an analogy, let’s relate hitting one’s wife to eating pork
- Islam only allows eating pig under the most extreme conditions, when one is starving (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:174);
- Islam only allows hitting one’s wife under the most extreme conditions, , if she is guilty of manifestly immoral conduct (ٍة مبين ٍة فاحش).
Even if a person can eat pig, he is not allowed to fill his stomach with it.(The Holy Quran with English Translation and Commentary, p. 224)
Quran with English Translation and Commentary, p. 519)
It is extremely unlikely that a person will ever face the Islamic conditions needed to eat pig, most people never face starvation in their lives. It is extremely unlikely that a man will ever face the Islamic conditions that allow him to hit his wife. The main causes of domestic violence in society are alcohol and anger; Islam forbids alcohol entirely and forbids acting in anger by enforcing a cooling off period. If we removed alcohol and anger as factors from each case of domestic violence observed in society, there would no longer be domestic violence.
Short answer: As eating pork is forbidden in Islam, hitting one’s wife is forbidden in Islam.