Islam and domestic violence
Conservative interpretations of Surah, An-Nisa, 34 in the Qur'an regarding marital relationships find that hitting a woman is allowed. Broader interpretation of the term does not support hitting a woman, but separating from her. Variations in interpretation are due to different schools of Islamic jurisprudence, histories and politics of religious institutions, conversions, reforms, and education.
Domestic violence among the Muslim community is considered a complicated humans right issue due to varying legal remedies for women by nation, the extent to which they have support or opportunities to divorce their husbands, cultural stigma to hide evidence of abuse, and inability to have abuse recognized by police or the judicial system.
Definition of Domestic Violence 
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, domestic violence is: "the inflicting of physical injury by one family or household member on another; also: a repeated or habitual pattern of such behavior."
Coomarswamy defines domestic violence as "violence that occurs within the private sphere, generally between individuals who are related through intimacy, blood or law…[It is] nearly always a gender-specific crime, perpetrated by men against women." It used is as a strong form of control and oppression.
Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime with the abuser usually someone known to her.
Woman in Islam 
Many Muslim women are required to wear a veil, hijab or burqa. The rules vary significantly by nation, from strict modesty observance to lax rules about being covered. Karin Ask and Marit Tjomsland write that "the veil, for the colonizers but also in the vision of contemporary Western political culture, is the most visible marker or the 'otherness' and 'inferiority' of Islamic societies."
In the United States, some Muslim women find wearing a veil is empowering as a symbol of Islamic religion or culture, while others find wearing a veil or hijab degrading. About 48% of Muslim women in the United States don't cover their hair, while 43% wear head scarves all of the time.
In Iran a woman who is unveiled in public could be fined or put in jail. Also in Turkey women wearing a hijab outside a campus will be fined or sent to jail.
Degree of equality 
In Woman’s Identity and the Qur’an, Barazangi interprets that the Qur’an says men and women are equals because "as Fazlur Rahman (Islamic scholar) asserts: 'Equality of the sexes is institute in the Qur’an (4:1, 7; 60:12; 49:10; 96:1-4) for a Muslim society to achieve Adl (justice) and Qist (fair play) (1996, 17)". Aisha Abd al-Rahman, a woman Koranic scholar, explains that Islam is not based around differences between men and women, so issues between the sexes should not be brought up for consideration.
Conservative interpretations of the Qur’an find men to be the physical and intellectual superiors of women, both ontologically, since woman is considered to have been created for his pleasure, and moral-social, with the "completeness of mental ability, good counsel, complete power in the performance of duties and the carrying out of (divine) commands." Conservatively, women are considered unfit for any work or activity because of their physiology and child-bearing ability. The women's role, then, is to oblige to be subjected to man, by which alone she can have any meaningful identity. Rather than derived from Qur’an’s teachings, this attitude comes from Muslim exegetes and Qur’an commentators, such as Tabari (d.923), Zamakhashari (d. 1144), Baydawi (d. 1286), al-Suyuti (d. 1505), based upon their personal perspective.
Asma Barlas, author of "Believing women in Islam,” asserts that as many recent studies reveal, women's status and roles in Muslim societies, as well as patriarchal structures and gender relationships, are a function of multiple factors, most of which have nothing to do with religion. She argues that the history of Western civilization should tell us that there is nothing innately Islamic about misogyny, inequality, or patriarchy; and yet, all three often are justified by Muslim states and clerics in the name of Islam. Camilla Fawzi El-Sohl and Judy Mabro also support this position, saying the status of Muslim women "solely in terms of the Qur’an and/or other Islamic sources [are] all too often taken out of context." Also, it is imperative to examine that a lot of inequality and discrimination derive not from the teachings of the Qur’an but from the secondary religious texts, the Tafsir (Qur’anic exegesis) and the Ahadith (s. hadith), which are narratives purportedly detailing the life and practices of the Prophet Muhammad.
Barazangi claims that “this capacity [rereadings and reinterpretations of Qu’ran] for moral and rational derivation of a meaning from the eternal words and the immediate acting on the derived meaning to change one’s behavior is what qualifies a human being as a Muslim by choice, that is, a self-identified Muslim,” believing that interpretation should be open to more than select elite males.
Quran An-Nisa 
Surah An-Nisa, 34 passage on the social interaction between husbands and wives defines the husband and wife relationship in Islam, with interpretation subject to debate among Muslim scholars (or 'jurists').
- Interpretations that support discipline
Conservative translations find that Muslim husbands are permitted to act what is known in Arabic as Idribuhunna with the use of "light force," and sometimes as much as to strike, hit, chastise, or beat.
In some exegesis such as those of Ibn Kathir and Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, the actions prescribed in 4:34 are to be taken in sequence: the husband is to admonish the wife, after which (if his previous correction was unsuccessful) he may remain separate from her, after which (if his previous correction was still unsuccessful) he may hit her [nb 1][nb 2] or give her a light tapping. Contemporary Egyptian scholar Abd al-Halim Abu Shaqqa refers to the opinions of jurists Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani and al-Shawkani who state that hitting should only occur in extraordinary cases.
A translated passage by Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali and Muhsin Khan in 2007 defines men as the protectors, guardians and maintainers of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Upon seeing ill-conduct (i.e. disobedience, rebellion, nashuz in Arabic) by his wife, a man may admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means.
Some Islamic scholars and commentators have emphasized that beatings, even where permitted, are not to be harsh[nb 3] or some even contend that they should be "more or less symbolic."[nb 4] According to Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Ibn Kathir, the consensus of Islamic scholars is that the above verse describes a light beating. Abu Shaqqa refers to the edict of Hanafi scholar al-Jassas (d. 981) who notes that the reprimand should be "A non-violent blow with siwak [a small stick used to clean the teeth] or similar. This means that to hit with any other means is legally [Islamically] forbidden."
- Interpretation that does not support hitting
Indicating the subjective nature of the translations, particularly regarding domestic abuse, Ahmed Ali’s translation of the word Idribu is to forsake, to avoid, or to leave. His translation of verse 4:34 is: …As for women you feel are averse, talk to them cursively; then leave them alone in bed (without molesting them), and go to bed with them (when they are willing) (emphasis added).
As Laleh Bakhtiar found out by reading Edward William Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon, a 3,064-page volume from the 19th century, among the six pages of definitions for daraba was "to go away."
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.
Undesirablity of beating 
Scholars and commentators have stated that Muhammad directed men not to hit their wives' faces, not to beat their wives in such a way as would leave marks on their body,[nb 5] and not to beat their wives as to cause pain (ghayr mubarrih). Scholars too have stipulated against beating or disfigurement, with others such as the Syrian jurist Ibn Abidin prescribing ta'zir punishments against abusive husbands. In several hadidths, the Prophet forbade wife beating.
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)"
In another hadidth the Prophet said:
“Approach your tilt when or how you will, give her (your wife) food when you take food, clothe when you clothe yourself, do not revile her face, and do not beat her. (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Number 2138)" 
Some jurists argue that even when beating is acceptable under the Qur'an, it is still discountenanced.[nb 6][nb 7][nb 8] Ibn Kathir in concluding his exegesis exhorts men to not beat their wives, quoting a hadith from Muhammad: "Do not hit God's servants" (here referring to women). The narration continues, stating that some while after the edict, "Umar complained to the Messenger of God that many women turned against their husbands. Muhammad gave his permission that the men could hit their wives in cases of rebelliousness. The women then turned to the wives of the Prophet and complained about their husbands. The Prophet said: 'Many women have turned to my family complaining about their husbands. Verily, these men are not among the best of you."
Incidence of domestic violence among Muslims 
Domestic violence is considered by many to be a problem in Muslim-majority cultures, but because women hide their bruises and don't report domestic abuse to authorities, the incidence in many Muslim-majority countries is uncertain, but believed to be great by Muslim feminists. According to Pamela K. Taylor, co-founder of Muslims for Progressive Values, such violence is not part of the religion, but rather more of a cultural aspect. In the academic publication Honour, Violence, Women and Islam edited by Mohammad Mazher Idriss and Tahir Abbas, it is said that there is no authority in the Qur’an for the type of regular and frequent acts of violence that women experience from their abusive husbands. Furthermore, the actions of many Muslim husbands lack the expected level of control in two elements from the verse, admonishment and separation. The separation dictates not only the physical separation, but also abstinence from marital sex.
|Nation||Information on Incidence|
|Bangladesh||Statistics from four United Nations studies show that 16-19% of the women (age less than 50) were victims of domestic abuse within the previous 12 month period. 40-47% of the women had been subject to domestic violence during some period of their life. The studies were performed in villages (1992, 1993), Dhaka (2002) and Matlab (2002).
Since the majority of women in Bangladesh are practicing Muslims, this indicates that many Muslim women are victims of physical domestic violence in this country. From a World Health Organization (WHO) study, of which Bangladesh was 1 of 10 participating countries, it was found that less than 2% of domestic abuse victims seek support from the community to resolve abusive situations, primarily because they know that they won't receive the support they need to remedy the issue.
Naved and Perrson write in their article "Factors Associated with Physical Spousal Abuse of Women During Pregnancy in Bangladesh" that women who are pregnant are more likely to be abused. A study on Pakistan Rural Access and Mobility Study (PRAMS) data showed that 67% of perpetrators were husbands or partners". Bangladesh was found to be one of the countries with a high rate of domestic violence resulting in death during pregnancy by a United Nations study.[nb 9]
|Egypt||From a United Nations national study in 1995, 13% of the women (age 15-49) were victims of domestic abuse within the previous 12 month period. 34% of the women had been subject to domestic violence during some period of their life. In a 2004 study of pregnant women in El-Sheik Zayed 11% of the women (age 15-49) studied were victims of domestic abuse within the previous 12 month period and, also, during some period of their life.|
|Indonesia||From a United Nations study of Central Java, 2% of the women (age 15-49) were victims of domestic abuse within the previous 12 month period. 11% of the women had been subject to domestic violence during some period of their life.|
In Iran the nature of domestic violence is complicated by both a national culture and authoritative state that support control, oppression and violence against women.
A World Health Organization (WHO) study in Babol found that within the previous year 15.0% of wives had been physically abused, 42.4% had been sexually abused and 81.5% had been psychologically abused (to various degrees) by their husbands, blaming low income, young age, unemployment and low education.
In 2004 a study of domestic violence was undertaken by the Women's Center for Presidential Advisory, Ministry of Higher Education and The Interior Ministry of capital cities in Iran's 28 provinces. 66% married women in Iran are subjected to some kind of domestic violence in the first year of their marriage, either by their husbands or by their in-laws. All married women who were participants in this study in Iran have experienced 7.4% of the 9 categories of abuse. The likelihood of being subject to violence varied: The more children in a family or the more rural the family lived, the greater the likelihood of domestic violence; Educated and career women were less likely to be victims of abuse. 9.63% of women in the study reported wishing their husbands would die, as a result of the abuse they have experienced.
|Morocco||In Morocco, the most common reason women seek to end a marriage is to extricate themselves from a situation in which they are vulnerable to domestic violence, as 28,000 acts of domestic violence was reported between 1984 and 1998.|
|Pakistan||A 1987 study conducted by the Women's Division and another study by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in 1996 suggested that domestic violence takes place in approximately 80% of the households in the country. In Pakistan, domestic violence occurs in forms of beatings, sexual violence, torture, mutilation, acid attacks and burning the victim alive (bride burning).
According to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in 2002, over 90% of married Pakistani women surveyed reported being kicked, slapped, beaten or sexually abused when husbands were dissatisfied by their cooking or cleaning, when the women failed to bear a child, had given birth to a girl instead of a boy, or had an illicit affair.
|Palestine||In one study, half of 120 women interviewed in the Gaza Strip had been the victims of domestic violence.|
|Saudi Arabia||In some recent high-profile cases such as that of Rania al-Baz, Muslim women have publicized their mistreatment at the hands of their husbands, in hopes that public condemnation of wife-beating will end toleration of the practice.|
|Syria||One recent study, in Syria, found that 25% of the married women surveyed said that they had been beaten by their husbands. Another study found that 21.8% of women have experienced some form of domestic violence; 48% of the women who experienced some form of violence had been beaten.|
|Turkey||From a United Nations study in East and South-East Anatolia in 1998, 58% of the women (age 14-75) had been subject to domestic violence during some period of their life; some of the women in the sampling had never been in a relationship which might have otherwise resulted in a higher statistic.|
Laws and Prosecution 
According to Ahmad Shafaat, an Islamic scholar, "If the husband beats a wife without respecting the limits set down by the Qur'an and Hadith, then she can take him to court and if ruled in favor has the right to apply the law of retaliation and beat the husband as he beat her." According to Honour, Violence, Women and Islam, and Islamic scholar Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry, Muhammad condemns violence against women, as he says: "How loathsome (Ajeeb) it is that one of you should hit his wife as a slave is hit, and then sleep with her at the end of the day." However, laws against domestic violence, as well as whether these laws are enforced, vary throughout the Muslim world.
Some women want to fight the abuses they face as Muslims; these women want "to retain the communal extended family aspects of traditional society, while eliminating its worst abuses, by seeking easy ability to divorce men for abuse and forced marriages."
|Nation||Laws and prosecution|
|Bangladesh||The Domestic Violence (Protection and Prevention) Act, 2010 was passed on 5 October 2010 to prosecute abusers and provide services to victims. To implement the law, research is needed to identify steps required to support the law.|
|Egypt||The Egyptian Penal Code was amended to no longer provide impunity (legal protection) to men who married the women that they raped.|
|Iran||Existing laws (Iranian Code of Criminal Procedure articles 42, 43, 66) intend to prohibit violence in the form of kidnapping, gender-based harassment, abuse of pregnant women and "crimes against rights and responsibilities within the family structure," but due to cultural and political culture do not protect women, prosecute their abusers and provide services to victims.
The government has laws that support violence against women in the case of adultery, including flogging, imprisonment and death.
Laws to better enforce existing laws and protect women against violence were placed before the Iranian parliament the week ending 16 September 2011, focusing on both protection and prevention of violence against women, including focus on human trafficking, better protection and services for abuse victims, rehabilitation (especially concerning domestic abuse) and better processes to manage questioning of female offenders. One of the keys to ultimate success is altering community cultural views regarding the use of violence against women.
|Morocco||In 1993 as a response to the women’s rights activism against aspects of Moroccan family law that are discriminatory or otherwise harmful to women, King Hassan II had instituted some modest reforms of the Mudawwana, and in 1998, he authorized Prime Minister El-Yousoufi to propose further changes. When the King Hassan died in 1999, the throne passed to his son, Muhammad VI, who committed to bolder reforms to improve the status of women. Opponents of the plan argued that this reform conflicted with women’s duties to their husbands and contravene their shari’a-based status as legal minors. However, the controversy marked by the huge competing demonstrations intimidated the government, which led to the withdrawal of the plan.|
|Pakistan||Domestic violence is not explicitly prohibited in Pakistani domestic law and most acts of domestic violence are encompassed by the Qisas (retaliation) and Diyat (compensation) Ordinance. Nahida Mahboob Elahi, a human rights lawyer, has said that new laws are needed to better protect women: "There needs to be special legislation on domestic violence and in that context they must mention that this is violence and a crime." Police and judges often tend to treat domestic violence as a non-justiciable, private or family matter or, an issue for civil courts, rather than criminal courts. In Pakistan, "police often refuse to register cases unless there are obvious signs of injury and judges sometimes seem to sympathise with the husbands."|
|Saudi Arabia||Only in 2004, after international attention was drawn to the case of Rania al-Baz, was there the first successful prosecution for domestic violence.|
|Turkey||Honor killings are now punishable by life imprisonment and Turkish law no longer provides impunity (legal protection) to men who married the women that they raped.|
|Tunisia||In Tunisia, domestic violence is illegal and punishable by five years in prison.|
Victim support programs 
In Malaysia, the largest government-run hospital implemented a program to intervene in cases where domestic violence seems possible. The woman is brought to a room to meet with a counselor who works with the patient to determine if the woman is in danger and should be transferred to a shelter for safety. If the woman does not wish to go to the shelter, she is encouraged to see a social worker and file a police report. If the injury is very serious, investigations begin immediately.[nb 10]
Though some Muslim scholars, such as Ahmad Shafaat, contend that Islam permits women to be divorced in cases of domestic violence. divorce may be unavailable to women as a practical or legal matter.
The Qur’an states: (2:231) And when you have divorced women and they have fulfilled the term of their prescribed period, either take them back on reasonable basis or set them free on reasonable basis. But do not take them back to hurt them, and whoever does that, then he has wronged himself. And treat not the Verses of Allah as a jest, but remember Allah’s Favours on you, and that which He has sent down to you of the Book and Al-Hikmah [the Prophet’s Sunnah, legal ways, Islamic jurisprudence] whereby He instructs you. And fear Allah, and know that Allah is All-Aware of everything.
Although Islam permits women to divorce for domestic violence, they are subject to the laws of their nation which might make it quite difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce.
Most women's rights activists concede that while divorce can provide potential relief, it does not constitute an adequate protection or even an option for many women, with discouraging factors such as lack of resources or support to establish alternative domestic arrangements and social expectations and pressures.
See also 
Islamic related articles
- AHA Foundation, non-profit for women's rights in western countries
- Gender roles in Islam
- Glossary of Islam
- Honor killing
- Islamic feminism
- Submission, a film by Theo van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali about Islam and domestic violence
- Peaceful Families Project, Muslim organization
- Taliban treatment of women
- Women and Islam
(See also External links below)
- Abdullah Yusuf Ali in his Quranic commentary states that: "In case of family jars four steps are mentioned, to be taken in that order. (1) Perhaps verbal advice or admonition may be sufficient; (2) if not, sex relations may be suspended; (3) if this is not sufficient, some slight physical correction may be administered; but Imam Shafi'i considers this inadvisable, though permissible, and all authorities are unanimous in deprecating any sort of cruelty, even of the nagging kind, as mentioned in the next clause; (4) if all this fails, a family council is recommended in passage 4:35."
- Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, says that "If the husband senses that feelings of disobedience and rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his best to rectify her attitude by kind words, gentle persuasion, and reasoning with her. If this is not helpful, he should sleep apart from her, trying to awaken her agreeable feminine nature so that serenity may be restored, and she may respond to him in a harmonious fashion. If this approach fails, it is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts."
- Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqee records in his Tafsir Al-Qur'an Al-Azim that "Ibn `Abbas and several others said that the Ayah refers to a beating that is not violent. Al-Hasan Al-Basri said that it means, a beating that is not severe."
- One such authority is the earliest hafiz, Ibn Abbas.
- Muhammad is attributed to say in the Farewell Sermon: "And if they commit open sexual misconduct you have the right to leave them alone in their beds and [if even then, they do not listen] beat them such that this should not leave any mark on them." Sunan Ibn Maja 1841.
- Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi comments that "Whenever the Prophet permitted a man to administer corporal punishment to his wife, he did so with reluctance, and continued to express his distaste for it. And even in cases where it is necessary, the Prophet directed men not to hit across the face, nor to beat severely nor to use anything that might leave marks on the body." "Towards Understanding the Qur'an" Translation by Zafar I. Ansari from "Tafheem Al-Qur'an" (specifically, commentary on 4:34) by Syed Abul-A'ala Mawdudi, Islamic Foundation, Leicester, England.
- The medieval jurist ash-Shafi'i, founder of one of the main schools of fiqh, commented on this verse that "hitting is permitted, but not hitting is preferable."
- "[S]ome of the greatest Muslim scholars (e.g., Ash-Shafi'i) are of the opinion that it is just barely permissible, and should preferably be avoided: and they justify this opinion by the Prophet's personal feelings with regard to this problem." Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur'an (his translation of the Qur'an).
- India and United States were also noted as countries with a high prevalence of death during pregnancy due to domestic abuse.
- The model for assessing patient safety and providing shelter, social worker and investigative support is being implemented in other Asian countries and in South Africa.
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- Bettencourt, Alice. (2000). Violence against women in Pakistan
- Rehman, I.A. (1998). The Legal rights of women in Pakistan, theory & practice. Page 9, 1998.
- Yasmine Hassan, The Haven Becomes Hell, (Lahore: Shirkat Gah, 1995), pp. 57, 60.
- In-depth study on all forms of violence against women. United Nations, General Assembly. 6 July 2006. Page 86, 87. Retrieved 16 Nov. 2011.
- Sterett, Brittany. "Tunisia Praised for Efforts To Protect Women's Rights." U.S. Department of State Bureau of International Information Programs. June 10, 2005.
- In-depth study on all forms of violence against women. United Nations, General Assembly. 6 July 2006. Page 92. Retrieved 16 Nov. 2011.
- Jones, Gavin. "Marriage and Divorce in Islamic South East Asia."
- Muḥammad, Farida Khanam; Ḫān, Wahīd-ad-Dīn. (2009). The Quran. New Delhi: Goodword. Print.
- Adelman, Howard, and Astri Suhrke. (1999). The Path of a Genocide: the Rwanda Crisis from Uganda to Zaire. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. ISBN 0765807688.
- Roald, Anne S. (2001). Women in Islam: The Western Experience. Routledge. ISBN 0415248965.
- Suad Joseph, Afsaneh Najmabadi (ed.). Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 9004128190.
Further reading 
- "Women and Violence." Welcome to the United Nations: It's Your World. United Nations Department of Public Information, Feb. 1996. Web. 07 Dec. 2011.
- Muslim Power and Control Wheel
- FaithTrust Institute (formerly Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence), a multifaith, multicultural training and education organization in the United States with global reach working to end sexual and domestic violence.
- QuranicPath | Collection of 4:34 Translations which do not use "beat/scourge/hit" (violence)
- Rania al-Baz interview shortly after the beating (Youtube)
- Dishonored killings
- For Some Muslim Wives, Abuse Knows No Borders, Washington Post
- ‘In the Book We Have Left Out Nothing’: The Ethical Problem of the Existence of Verse 4:34 in the Qur’an" by Laury Silvers