Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Does the Quran Sanction Wife Beating?

It is a question that has vexed many minds. Muslims claim that the Quran does not sanction such a brutal act against the women. Critics of Islam say that it does sanction harsh punitive measures against, and beating of, wives, who defy their husbands and do ugly things that they are not at all supposed to do. In this connection, they cite verse 4:34 of the Quran, which reads:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).” (Trans. by Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

The translation of the same verse by Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall reads:

“Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.”

A close reading of both the translations draws our attention to one important point, it being: Yusuf Ali’s translation has the words “the husband’s” in it, but Pickthall’s translation does not. That Ali has added this word in a parenthesis proves the fact that it does not exist in the Arabic version of the verse and that he has added it to his translation in order to hide a truth of gigantic proportion. We shall discuss this truth momentarily.

We find that Allah has mainly done the following three things through the Quran:

(1) prohibited idols worshipping;

(2) retained certain Pagan practices that were to His liking;

(3) abolished certain social practices of the pagans, which He disliked, and

(4) introduced some customs or practices that were not present among them, but He wanted them to follow them in their lives after they became Muslims.

We have stated the above facts so that the readers can easily understand what we are going to state in the following paragraphs of this narrative.

In the pre-Islamic days, the eldest sons of the Pagans inherited their fathers’ widows with the flocks and the tents. Incest between sons and stepmothers thus was not only lawful but obligatory.’1 Since this pagan practice was highly obnoxious, Muhammad retained it in the Quran to subtly, systematically and effectively avenge the betrayals, insults and hardships the women in the homes of his grandfather and uncle had inflicted on him, when he was living with them. With this intention in his mind, he had Allah reveal verses, permitting all Muslim men to punish all the women under their control, be they their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters. One verse reads:

“Your wives are as a tilth unto you: So approach your tilth when or how ye will: But do some good act for your souls beforehand; and fear Allah, and know that ye are to meet Him (in the Hereafter) and give these (good) tidings to those who believe.” [Q 2:223]

The translator was dishonest here. He intentionally rendered nisaa as “wives” rather than “women” to mislead the Muslims and other readers of the Quran. The word “nisaa” in the verse includes wives, slave-girls, and all other women over whom men exert financial control.

Effectively permitting the Muslim men to rape their women (“Approach your tilth “where,2 when or how ye will”), but only after doing some good to compensate for the heinous crime they are about to commit, Allah also told His beloved followers what we read in verse 4:34, quoted above.

Though this verse has received notoriety due to the notion that it allows the Muslim men to beat their “wives,” but hardly anyone has truly understood its true meaning and implications. To make our contention clear, we emphasize the following:

  • This verse, 4:34, is part of a Sura that is titled “Women,” or “An-Nisaa” in Arabic.

  • The word ‘husbands” is not in the original; instead, we find “men” in it.

  • The word “wives,” or azwajaka in Arabic, is not in the original either; instead, we see :Nissa” or “women.”

  • This verse has no connection with those that precede and follow it. In other words, it is not contextual and the instruction it contains stands on its own.

Keeping these facts in mind, what do we find in the verse? It says that the Muslim men are the protectors and maintainers of women, as they support them financially (and in Muhammad’s time and in many parts of the third world today, men commonly support their fathers, mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters, if they cannot support themselves). Therefore, women under the men’s patronage should obey them and guard what Allah wants them to guard (that is, their private parts). But if men simply “fear” disloyalty and bad behavior from their women, they must first warn them. If they still feel fear, they must refuse to sleep with them. And if their fear persists, the men must beat them. However, if the women “return to obedience” — presumably, extinguish the fear — then the men must not seek “means of annoyance,” — presumably, further punishment — against them.

Question is: Could Allah have given such an open and obnoxious permission to men to beat, and not to have sex with, those women who depend on them for their survival?

We leave the question to the readers’ imagination for an answer. But as far as we are concerned, we are sure this instruction came from the mind of a sick man, who not only consigned his Pagan blood relatives, including his father and mother, to the fire of Hell, he also permitted the Muslim men to beat, and have sex with, all the women they support with their means.


1. R. V. C. Bodley, The Messenger, p. 226.

2. The Quran, 2:222.

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Comments Notes: Keep comments short. Our system cannot separate paragraphs. Comments must be relevant to the topic of the article. Irrelevant comments, materials, adds of other websites, pasting external articles etc. are not allowed. We may ban such nuisance posters.

Name: Anti Clot
Subject: Muslim Answers
Date: Sunday May 24, 2009
Time: 04:34:45 -0400


Muslim apologists will answer that the quran is the only holy book that explicitely orders men not to beat their wives any more if the obey. And that it is the only holy book that limits polygamy to 4 wives. They are twisting all facts until it fits into their quranic weltbild. It is a shame. While others are travelling to the moon muslims are still seriously discussing wether god sanctions wife beating or not. And in what direction to sh*t and to pray. And the question wether facebook is haram or not. It is haram, according to muslim scholars, while wife beating is halal (ok). In my opinion, islam is nothing but blasphemy because it is blasphemic to believe that god is behaving like a stupid and criminal pervert.

Name: balam
Subject: women bashing in Islam
Date: Sunday May 24, 2009
Time: 15:13:41 -0400


Mohammad had quite a few wives to control.Naturally, he to tell allah,to let him use his name,to control those desperate women in case they went astray.Hence he used the name of allah to keep musimah under control with threat of beating and no sex.Mohammad only believed in sex and savagery and not in any morality.Penis and sword should be the symbol of Islam.

Name: sur
Subject: Wife beating
Date: Sunday May 24, 2009
Time: 18:19:18 -0400


How come that even when you give the Muslims facts from their Quran, they still don't want to believe it. A normal human being would be ashamed of it , which Muslims lack.

Name: Kinana
Subject: but what type of beating?
Date: Sunday May 24, 2009
Time: 19:38:24 -0400


A Muslim scholar once explained this verse to me. He confirmed that the text does indeed say 'beat' but elaborated that the meaning differs from its true application. That is, Muslims are to apply the meaning according to the example of Mohammed and the 4 rightly guided caliphs. These men demonstrated the meaning and therefore applied this verse in their relations with their wives which needs be followed by all Muslim men. My Muslim scholar then explained that their application of 'beat' was to use dry grass or an implement no larger than a toothbrush, so the resultant beating was more a symbolic action than the infliction of physical pain. He concluded that Muslim men who do otherwise are not acting in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Comment or clarification please? Thanks

Name: vbv
Date: Monday May 25, 2009
Time: 00:06:21 -0400


Islam recommends beating of "wives" because they are nothing more than slaves bought by paying a pittance they call "meher" giving the man to use his slave-"wife" as he pleases ,beat them, divorce them at will,sexually abuse them, rape them, sodomise them without any questions being asked. And these barbarians talk of protecting their women and their honor after reducing them to abject slavery. So much for women's rights in islam!It is truly "jahilya" , this arabian cult is the most barbaric, backward, regressive and oppressive cult ever which goes in the name of "religion". Religion must have spiritual values, human values ,compassion, love forgiveness, etc. ,all of which are lacking in the barbaric arabian cult of islam.

Name: CrossedHat
Date: Monday May 25, 2009
Time: 02:32:49 -0400


Islamic marriage is nothing but a contracted institutional prostitution. The contract is in between women and the customer. Customer pays the service charge some times 50% advance or even 100% advance as they know it “Mahr”. According to the contract the customer has the right to beat lightly if the women are not agreed according to the desire of the customer. This is just like any other business contract and the matter of the contractors, why the westerners want to raise a hue and cry while they are completely ignorant about the contract terms which are always agreed by the woman and customer or by the family of the woman on behalf of her and the customer? Naturally, customer would enjoy better rights since he is paying for that. Do you want to give the right to the woman to beat the customer? Do you think there will be any business of this kind after that? Westerners are always doing conspiracy to show islam mean and now you are after this Islamic business? We know very clearly, it is jewish conspiracy against the deen of Allah and muslim will not buy it ever. Allahu Akber.

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