Men and women are considered to be spiritual equals under Islam.

“Men and women are considered to be spiritual equals under Islam: “Who so does that which is right, and believes, whether male or female, him or her will We quicken to happy life” (16:97). “If any do deeds of righteousness be they male or female and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them” (4:124)

The preservation of the (nuclear) family and social order is of utmost importance to Islam, which is why marriage is considered to be holy in Islam. As stated in the Quran, the basis of marriage is love and it is meant to make lives better.

“And among His signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and he has put love and mercy between your hearts” (30:21).

“Islam renders consent (of men and women) a necessity for a valid marriage.” (4:19).

The main purpose of marriage is seen (by most scholars and believers) as prevention of promiscuous or unlawful sexual behavior:

“They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them” (2:187).

Marriage is thus a contract. Both husband and wife face equal punishment in case of infidelity i.e. adultery. Repentance and forgiveness are possible:

“And the two who commit it among you, dishonor them both. But if they repent and correct themselves, leave them alone. Indeed, Allah is ever Accepting of repentance and Merciful.” (4:16).

“And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]…” (2:228).

Thus, the husband has the role of a breadwinner while the wife is under no obligation to contribute to the household income. In many instances, this is used as a justification for men having an upper hand in the relationship or forcing women to leave work. In practice at least in Pakistan, lack of financial support constitutes a sufficient reason for judges to rule in favour of women seeking a khula.

However, in Islam, career oriented women could not be admonished because the roots of Islam were funded by the most part by Hazrat Khadija, the first wife of the Prophet (PBUH). Not only was she the first woman to accept Islam, she retains the prestigious title of being the financial and emotional support to the Prophet (PBUH) in the hardest days of Islam. A successful business woman in her days, it should also be noted that it was Hazrat Khadija who proposed to the Prophet (PBUH).

The Quran admonishes those men who oppress or ill-treat women:

“O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them – except when they have become guilty of open lewdness. On the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike something and Allah will bring about through it a great deal of good.” ( 4:19)

The Quran repeatedly warns against the use of injurious statements by a husband against his wife (58:2-4). Similarly, with regards to child-bearing, the Quran highlights that the sex of the child depends on what God has ordained:

“To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female children to whomever He wills and bestows male children to whomever He wills.” (42:49)

Does Islam allow wife beating?

The history of segregation, cultural traditions that have no basis in Islam (example: marriages to the Quran in Pakistan), male control of religious texts and interpretation, as well as domination of religious leadership, have led to manipulation of religious edicts for the selfish interests of certain groups of men. Many religious scholars and abusers use the infamous ‘wife-beating’ verse to justify physical abuse. The hotly debated verse states that a rebellious woman should first be admonished, then abandoned in bed and ultimately “beaten” – the most common translation for the Arabic word “daraba” – unless her behaviour improves.

New research proves that is a gross misinterpretation by a patriarchal society. When Laleh Bakhtiar read Edward William Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon, a 3,064-page volume from the 19th century, for the tenth time, she found a definition that made sense – among the six pages of definitions for daraba was “to go away.” “I said to myself, ‘Oh, God, that is what the prophet meant,’ ” said Bakhtiar. “When the prophet had difficulty with his wives, what did he do? He didn’t beat anybody, so why would any Muslim do what the prophet did not?” She thinks the “beat” translation contradicts another verse (4:128), which states that if a woman wants a divorce, she should not be mistreated. “Given the option of staying in the marriage and being beaten, or divorcing, women would obviously leave”, she said.

This translation is further supported by the fact that the word “darabtum” is used in the same Surah (4:94), which means to “go abroad” in the sake of Allah and which is derived from the same root word (“daraba”) as “idribuhunna” in 4:34. In the context of the above verse the most appropriate meaning is ‘to separate’ or ‘to part’. Otherwise, it is inviting the likelihood of a divorce without any reconciliation procedure. Such a step would blatantly contravene the Qur’anic guidance shown in verse 4:35 below.  Therefore, a more accurate and consistent translation of the above verse would be: “[…]as for those women whose animosity or ill-will (nushuz) you have reason to fear, then leave them alone in bed, and then separate; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek a way against them.”(4:34)

Many religious scholars and abusers use the infamous ‘wife-beating’ verse to justify physical abuse. The hotly debated verse states that a rebellious woman should first be admonished, then abandoned in bed and ultimately “beaten” – the most common translation for the Arabic word “daraba” – unless her behaviour improves.New research proves that is a gross misinterpretation by a patriarchal society.

Other Ahadith or Ayat corroborating that Islam is against Domestic Violence

Asad, Muhammad. (1980). The Message of the Qur’an. Gibraltar: Dar al-Andalus, p. 110, footnote # 45, cited by Asad

The Prophet said, “Never beat God’s handmaidens (female believers).”

10 -Fath al-Bari, vol. 9, p. 249.

Aisha is reported to have said, “The Prophet never beat any of his wives or servants; in fact, he did not strike anything with his hand except if he were to struggle in the cause of God.”

Allah Almighty loves those who restrain anger:

“Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good. (3:134)” “…Do not retain them (i.e., your wives) to harm them…(2:231)”

Narrated Mu’awiyah al-Qushayri: “I went to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) and asked him: What do you say (command) about our wives? He replied: Give them food what you have for yourself, and clothe them by which you clothe yourself, and do not beat them, and do not revile them.  (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Number 2139)”

Islamic Scholars

“Under no circumstances is violence against women encouraged or allowed in Islam. There are many examples in Quran and Ahadith that describes the behavior of Muslims towards husband and wife. The relationship should be one of mutual love, respect and kindness.”

Excerpt from Domestic violence -Islamic perspective by M. Basheer Ahmed, M.D.

“Under no circumstances is violence against women encouraged or allowed. The holy Qur’an contains tens of verses extolling good treatment of women. Several specifically enjoin kindness to women (2:229-237; 4:19; 4:25). These verses make it clear that the relationship between men and women is to be one of kindness, mutual respect, and caring. Some verses, where Allah calls men and women “protecting friends of one another,” refer to the mandated atmosphere of mutual kindness and mercy in the marital home (30:21; 9:71). Others show disapproval of oppression or ill treatment of women.”

Excerpt from Ending Domestic Violence in Muslim Families by Sharifa Alkhateeb
Unfortunately, many societies that are predominantly Muslim have cultural values that conflict with this understanding of equality (examples: harem culture in the Arab world, feudalism in South Asia, etc). In some cultures, women have an inferior position as evidenced by limited legal rights or limited involvement in society. According to M. Basheer Ahmed, M.D. (Domestic violence -Islamic perspective): “Arabian society at the beginning of Islam sanctioned appalling violence towards women. Far from giving permission for wife beating Allah prohibited or at least severely curtailed excessive violence against women. Allah repeatedly says in the Quran to show love, kindness and warns that they should not harm their wives even after divorce. Allah has even forbidden us to call each other by bad names and to humiliate. The abusive behavior does not reflect the kindness and love for their spouses. Still, some men justify their behavior knowing that they are disobeying Allah’s guidance…”