In the 28th Episode of his Ramadan program entitled, “Sheikh Al-Azhar Talk”, the Grand Imam, “[The Qur’ānic verse] ‘Beat them (your wives)’ is not [an absolute] instruction of beating. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had never beaten any of his wives, not even once in his life".
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Prof Ahmed Aṭ-Ṭayyeb, said that the phrase “Beat them” is not an instruction of beating. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) neither liked this behavior nor practiced it even once in his life. Unfortunately, this verse is misunderstood for a command. Also, it is believed that beating is the husband’s right, even in the case of frivolous disputes. Here, we find that Islam has been wronged twice; once when Muslims misunderstood it and applied it wrongly and once again when the West described it as brutal. He explained that the phrase "Beat them" is like the example of eating the meat of a dead animal [normally prohibited] by one who is about to die but who finds no other solution.
In the twenty-eighth episode of his Ramadan program on Egyptian TV entitled, “Sheikh Al-Azhar Talk,” he noted that the situation which Islam refers to in this context is that when the husband is a noble man who loves his wife and wants to keep her, but finds no other way [to settle a dispute] except by symbolic beating. This is like a mother's punishment of her daughter whom she loves and prefers over herself, but the circumstances would force her to apply a slight punishment, out of love and care.
The Grand Imam concluded by saying, “It is not fair that Muslim societies be condemned and accused of underdevelopment and brutality, while beating inside the family is a prevalent cultural behavior among all world peoples. He wondered whether severe beating, e.g. in the USA, that would lead to murder is advanced and civilized while permissible beating practiced under restrictions, specifications and conditions may be described as underdeveloped and brutal. He pointed to a study conducted by the National Council for Preventing Violence in America, which confirmed that one quarter of men and one sixth of women agree that the husband has the right to slap his wife in certain circumstances of ill behavior. The study also confirmed that 56% of husbands beat their wives because of their negligence in marital duties.
The Grand Imam's program is broadcast at 6:15 p.m. daily, throughout the Holy Month of Ramadan. It discusses a number of Muslim family issues, the rights established in Islam for the husband and the wife, and how to preserve the family as a basis for a solid human community.