Does Islam Promote Violence against Women?

By: Abdullah Abdeen

  • | Wednesday, 2 March, 2022
Does Islam Promote Violence against Women?

     There are many factors that have a big impact on forming the family and consequently the society as a whole. Some of these factors might be economic, political, cultural or even behavioral. Violence is one of the social phenomena that has a profound influence on humanity. According to the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, violence against women may be defined as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”[1]

 There are different types of violence; physical, psychological, and domestic. As for physical violence, it involves hurting or trying to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, burning, pinching, slapping, biting, denying medical care or using other physical force. However, psychological violence includes insulting, contempt, causing fear by intimidation or forcing isolation from friends, family, school and work. It is considered one of the most dangerous types of violence, as it is almost intangible and does not leave physical marks on the body.  

As for domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse or intimate partner violence, it refers to any pattern of behavior that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. It encompasses all physical, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This is one of the most common forms of violence experienced by women globally.[2]

Recently, voices raised and claimed that Islam promotes violence against women, citing the Quranic verse reading, “And if you sense ill-conduct from your women, advise them first, if they persist, do not share their beds, but if they still persist, then discipline (hit) them gently”.[3]

However, it is important to note from the outset that when we seriously contemplate the verses of the Glorious Qur’an in there totality (6236 verses), we fully realize that the word violence “’unf” (violence) is not mentioned at all in it. The main problem with those who use this verse to condemn Islam is that they quote it out of its context. Having examined the verse, we would find that the Qur’an give men three methods to correct the wife’s behavior. These are to be followed in the order they have been mentioned in the Quranic verse. So, the verse states if the husband faces disobedience from his wife, the he should first talk to her and advise her gently. If the wife remains stubborn and unwilling to change her behavior, then the husband is allowed not to share bed with her. If this admonition fails to produce any effect, gentle beating only is allowed as a last resort, of course, in a manner that does not affect the body or cause any hurt or injury to the skin or the bones. As for slapping or hitting the face, it is absolutely forbidden. This is proved by the Hadith narrated by Mu'awiyah bin Haidah (May Allah be pleased with him): I asked Messenger of Allah: "What right can any wife demand of her husband?" He replied, "You should give her food when you eat, clothe her when you clothe yourself, not strike her on the face, and do not revile her or separate from her except in the house".

Muslim scholars have unanimously agreed that the verse does not, at all, mean hitting violently but just gently as a form of cultivating the manner. The Prophet (PBUH) said in a lengthy hadith, “... Fear Allah regarding women for you have got them under Allah’s security and have the right to intercourse with them by Allah’s word. It is a duty upon you towards them not to allow anyone whom you dislike to lie on your beds but if they do beat them, but not severely”.[4]

On the occasion of the International Day of Eliminating Violence against Women, the Grand Imam Prof. Ahmed al-Tayyeb posted on his Facebook page that “violence against women is legally prohibited as the Prophet (PBUH) said ‘Woman are counterpart of men.’ His eminence added that the Islamic Shariah has honored women as mothers, daughters, sisters and wives and made them equal to men in terms of rights and duties. Al-Azhar Al-Sharif also considered violence against women a kind of violation of human rights and an obstacle against progress and development. Islam also stressed the prohibition of all forms of aggressive behavior that hurts relationships and feelings especially between the spouses. A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) said, "Allah’s Messenger never struck anything with his hand unless he was struggling in the cause of Allah [jihad], nor did he ever strike a servant or a woman.”.[5]




[2] Nurah Bin Hassan, al-‘Unf al-Usary wa subul ‘Ilagih fi dawa al-Qur’an al-Karim wa al-Sunnah al-Nabawyah, p 1014

[3] The Qur’an: 4; 34

[4] Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitab Al-Manasik Wa'l-Hajj, chapter 624

[5] Ash-Shama'il Al-Muhammadiyah, Book 48, Hadith 6.

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