Islam and domestic violence

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This article is about Islam and domestic violence. For other related topics, see Outline of domestic violence.
On March 23, 2013, members of Alif Laam Meem, a national Muslim fraternity based at the University of Texas at Dallas, stood up against domestic violence as Muslims and as men of Dallas.

The relationship between Islam and domestic violence is disputed. Even among Muslims, the uses and interpretations of sharia, the moral code and religious law of Islam, lack consensus.

Conservative interpretations of Surah An-Nisa, 34 in the Qur'an regarding marital relationships find that hitting a woman is allowed. Other interpretations of the verse claim it 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.[1]

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.


Main article: 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."[2]

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.[3]

Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, declared in a 2006 report posted on the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) website that:

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.[4]

Islamic texts[edit]

Main article: An-Nisa, 34
Use, by country, of Sharia for legal matters relating to women:
  Sharia plays no role in the judicial system
  Sharia applies in personal status issues
  Sharia applies in full, including criminal law
  Regional variations in the application of sharia

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'). Quran 4:34 reads,

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and separate from them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.

— Qur'an 4:34, [5]

The reason why this Quranic verse is considered relevant to domestic violence is that many translations of the above passage read 'strike them' or 'beat them' instead of 'separate from them'.[6]

Narrated Umar ibn al-Khattab: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife.

The above hadith is da'if (weak) according to Al-Albani.[7]

Narrated 'Ikrima: Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon 'AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle came, 'Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" When 'AbdurRahman heard that his wife had gone to the Prophet, he came with his two sons from another wife. She said, "By Allah! I have done no wrong to him but he is impotent and is as useless to me as this," holding and showing the fringe of her garment, 'Abdur-Rahman said, "By Allah, O Allah's Apostle! She has told a lie! I am very strong and can satisfy her but she is disobedient and wants to go back to Rifa'a." Allah's Apostle said, to her, "If that is your intention, then know that it is unlawful for you to remarry Rifa'a unless Abdur-Rahman has had sexual intercourse with you." Then the Prophet saw two boys with 'Abdur-Rahman and asked (him), "Are these your sons?" On that 'AbdurRahman said, "Yes." The Prophet said, "You claim what you claim (i.e.. that he is impotent)? But by Allah, these boys resemble him as a crow resembles a crow,"
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Zam'a: The Prophet said, "None of you should flog his wife as he flogs a slave and then have sexual intercourse with her in the last part of the day."
Interpretations that support discipline

Many scholars[8][9] claim Shari'a law encourages "domestic violence" against women, when a husband suspects nushuz (disobedience, disloyalty, rebellion, ill conduct) in his wife.[10] Other scholars claim wife beating, for nashizah, is not consistent with modern perspectives of Qur'an.[11] Some 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.[12]

In some exegesis such as those of Ibn Kathir and Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, the actions prescribed in Surah 4:34 above, 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[13][14] [nb 1][nb 2] or give her a light tapping.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19]

Some Islamic scholars and commentators have emphasized that hitting, even where permitted, are not to be harsh[13][20][nb 3] or some even contend that they should be "more or less symbolic."[22][nb 4] According to Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Ibn Kathir, the consensus of Islamic scholars is that the above verse describes a light beating.[15][24] 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."[18]

Interpretation that does not support hitting

Indicating the subjective nature of the translations, particularly regarding domestic abuse, Ahmed Ali's English translation of the word idribu is "to forsake, avoid, or leave."[citation needed] His English 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).[12] However, in his native Urdu translation of verse 4:34, he translates idribuhunna as "beat them."[25][source needs translation]

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 one definition was "to go away."[26] This translation is further supported by the fact that the word darabtum, which means to "go abroad" in the sake of Allah, is used in the same Surah (in 4:94) and is derived from the same root word (daraba) as idribuhunna in 4:34.[27] This translation is negated however by the fact that most definitions of daraba in Edward William Lane's Arabic-English Lexicon are related to physical beating[28] and that when the root word daraba and its derivatives are used in the Qur'an in relation to humans or their body parts, it exclusively means physically beating or striking them (e.g. in Qur'an 2:7337:93, 8:12, 8:50, 47:4 and 47:27).

Jurisprudence and reality

In deference to Surah 4:34, many nations with Shari'a law have refused to consider or prosecute cases of "domestic abuse."[29][30][31][32] In 2010, the highest court of United Arab Emirates (Federal Supreme Court) considered a lower court's ruling, and upheld a husband's right to "chastise" his wife and children physically. Article 53 of the United Arab Emirates' penal code acknowledges the right of a "chastisement by a husband to his wife and the chastisement of minor children" so long as the assault does not exceed the limits prescribed by Shari'a.[33] In Lebanon, KAFA, an organization campaigning against violence and the exploitation of women, alleges that as many as three-quarters of all Lebanese females have suffered physically at the hands of husbands or male relatives at some point in their lives. An effort has been underway to remove domestic violence cases from Shari'a driven religious courts to civil penal code driven courts.[34][35] Social workers claim failure of religious courts in addressing numerous instances of domestic abuse in Syria, Pakistan, Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, Iran, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.[36]

Undesirablity of beating[edit]

Percentage of women aged 15–49 who think that a husband/partner is justified in hitting his wife/partner under certain circumstances, in some Arab and Muslim majority countries, according to UNICEF (2013).[37]

Scholars and commentators have stated that Muhammad directed men not to hit their wives' faces,[38] not to beat their wives in such a way as would leave marks on their body,[38][nb 5] and not to beat their wives as to cause pain (ghayr mubarrih).[22] Scholars too have stipulated against beating or disfigurement, with others such as the Syrian jurist Ibn Abidin prescribing ta'zir punishments against abusive husbands.[39] In a certain hadidth, Muhammad discouraged beating one's wife severely:

Bahz bin Hakim reported on the authority of his father from his grandfather (Mu'awiyah ibn Haydah) as saying: I said: Messenger of Allah, how should we approach our wives and how should we leave them? He replied: Approach your tilth 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. [40][41]

The same hadith with slightly different wording is: 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."[42]

Some jurists argue that even when beating is acceptable under the Quran, it is still discouraged.[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."[43]

Women in Islam[edit]

Indonesian women wearing hijab
Two Afghan women wearing chadris, a form of burqa.


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.[44] 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."[45]

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.[46]

In Iran a woman who is unveiled in public could be fined or put in jail.[47] However, in many Arab countries this is not the case.[citation needed]

Degree of equality[edit]

Muhammad believed women were inferior to men with regards to intelligence, testimony and religion[48][49][50] and that they should not be appointed to positions of public authority.[51][52] Traditional interpretations of the Quran find men to be the physical and intellectual superiors of women,[53] 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 Quran's teachings, this attitude comes from Muslim exegetes and Quran commentators, such as Tabari (d.923), Zamakhashari (d. 1144), Baydawi (d. 1286), al-Suyuti (d. 1505), based upon their personal perspective.[citation needed]

In Woman's Identity and the Qur'an, Barazangi interprets that the Quran says men and women are equals because "as Fazlur Rahman (Islamic scholar) asserts: 'Equality of the sexes is institute in the Quran (4:1,7; 60:12; 49:10; 96:1-4) for a Muslim society to achieve Adl (justice) and Qist (fair play) (1996, 17)".[54] Aisha Abd al-Rahman, a female Quranic scholar, claims that Islam is not based around differences between men and women, so issues between the sexes should not be brought up for consideration.[55]

In "Believing Women" in Islam, Asma Barlas asserts that many recent studies show that 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 and that much inequality and discrimination are not directly derived from the Quran but from the Ahadith (the second source of Islamic law) and the Tafsir (Quranic exegesis).[56] 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 that the status of Muslim women "solely in terms of the Quran and/or other Islamic sources [are] all too often taken out of context."[57]

Incidence among Muslims[edit]

Domestic violence is considered by many to be a problem in Muslim-majority cultures,[58] 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.[59] 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.[60] 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 Quran 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.[61] The separation dictates not only the physical separation, but also abstinence from marital sex.

Nation Information on Incidence
Afghanistan According to HRW 2013 report, Afghanistan has one of the highest incidence rates of domestic violence in the world. Domestic violence is so common that 85 per cent of women admit to experiencing it. 60% of all women report being victims of multiple forms of serial violence.[62] Afghanistan is the only country in which the female suicide rate is higher than that of males.[63]
Bangladesh According to a WHO, United Nations study, 30% of women in rural Bangladesh reported their first sexual experience to be forced.[64] About 40% report having experienced domestic violence from their intimate partner, and 50% in rural regions report experiencing sexual violence.[65]

Statistics from four United Nations studies, from 1990s, 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).[66]

About 90% of women in Bangladesh are practicing Muslims, which indicates that many Muslim women are victims of physical domestic violence in this country.[67] 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.[68]

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".[69] 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.[70][nb 9]

Egypt A 2012 United Nations Women's study found that 33% of women in Egypt have experienced physical domestic violence in their lifetime, while 18% report having experienced domestic physical violence in last 12 months.[71]

Another 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.[72]

According to Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights and World Bank Social Development Group's 2010 report, 85% of Egyptian women report of having experienced sexual harassment.[73]

Indonesia The World Health Organization reported sharply increasing rates of domestic violence in Indonesia, with over 25,000 cases in 2007. Nearly 3 in 4 cases, it is the husband beating the wife; the next largest reported category were the in-laws abusing the wife. The higher rates may be because more cases of violence against women are being reported in Indonesia, rather than going unreported, than before.[74][75] 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.[66]

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.[4]

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.[76]

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.[4]

The prevalence of domestic violence has been cited as a cause of high rates of suicide, mostly through self-immolation, among Kurdish women in Iran.[77]

Jordan The 2012 United Nations Women's study found that at least 1 in 5 women in Jordan has experienced physical domestic violence in her lifetime, while 1 in 7 reports having experienced domestic physical violence in last 12 months.[71] Islamic scholars[78] claim mundane domestic violence such as slapping and battering by husband orfamily members is hugely unreported in Jordan, along with other Middle Eastern countries.
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.[79]
Pakistan A 2011 report claims 80% of women in Pakistan suffer from domestic abuse.[80] A 2004 study claimed 50% of the women in Pakistan are physically battered and 90% are mentally and verbally abused by their men,[81] while other reports claims domestic violence rates between 70% to over 95% in Pakistan.[82][83] Earlier studies from 1970s to 1990s suggest similar incidence rates of domestic violence in Pakistan.[84][85][86] In Pakistan, domestic violence occurs in forms of beatings, sexual violence, torture, mutilation, acid attacks and burning the victim alive (bride burning).[87]

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 by their husbands and in-laws.[88] Over 90% of Pakistani women consider domestic violence as a norm of every woman's married life.[89]

Between 1998 and 2003 there were more than 2,666 women killed in honor killings by a family member.[90]

Palestine In one study, half of 120 women interviewed in the Gaza Strip had been the victims of domestic violence.[91]
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.[92]
Syria One recent study, in Syria, found that 25% of the married women surveyed said that they had been beaten by their husbands.[93] 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.[94]
Turkey A 2009 study published by the Government of Turkey reports widespread domestic violence against women in Turkey. In urban and rural areas, 40% of Turkish women reported having experienced spousal violence in their lifetime, 10% of all women reported of domestic abuse within last 12 months. In the 15-24 year age group, 20% of the women reported of domestic violence by their husbands or male members of their family. The domestic violence ranged from slapping, battering and other forms of violence. The injuries, as a result of the reported domestic violence included bleeding, broken bones and other forms needing medical attention. Over half reported severe injuries. A third of all women who admitted domestic abuse cases, claimed having suffered repeat domestic abuse injuries in excess of 5 times.[95]

Another 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.[72]

Laws and prosecution[edit]

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."[21] 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."[61][96] 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."[97]

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.[68]
Egypt The Egyptian Penal Code was amended to no longer provide impunity (legal protection) to men who married the women that they raped.[98]
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.[4][99]

The government has laws that support violence against women in the case of adultery, including flogging, imprisonment and death.[4]

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.[99]

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.[79] Opponents of the plan argued that this reform conflicted with women's duties to their husbands and contravene their sharia-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 With the exception of Islamabad Capital Territory,[100] domestic violence is not explicitly prohibited in Pakistani domestic law[101][102] 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."[86] 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.[103] In Pakistan, "police often refuse to register cases unless there are obvious signs of injury and judges sometimes seem to sympathise with the husbands."[86]

In 2009 a Domestic Violence Protection bill was proposed by Yasmeen Rehman of the Pakistan People’s Party. It was passed in the National Assembly[104] but subsequently failed to be passed in the second chamber of parliament, the Senate, within the prescribed period of time.[105] The Council of Islamic Ideology objected to the bill, claiming in its current form it would increase divorces and that it ignored adult male victims of domestic violence.[106] After the passage of Eighteenth constitutional amendment, the matter pertaining to the bill became a provincial issue.[107] It was re-tabled in 2012, but met with a deadlock in parliament because of stiff opposition from the religious right. Representatives of Islamic organizations vowed resistance to the proposed bill, describing it as "anti-Islamic" and an attempt to promote "Western cultural values" in Pakistan. They asked for the bill to be reviewed before being approved by the parliament.[108] The bill was eventually passed for Islamabad Capital Territory on Feb 20, 2012.[100][107][109][110]

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.[59]
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.[111]
Tunisia In Tunisia, domestic violence is illegal and punishable by five years in prison.[112]

Victim support programs[edit]

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.[113][nb 10]


Though some Muslim scholars, such as Ahmad Shafaat, contend that Islam permits women to be divorced in cases of domestic violence.[21] divorce may be unavailable to women as a practical or legal matter.[114]

The Quran 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.[115]

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.[3]

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.[116]

See also[edit]

Islamic related articles



(See also External links below)


  1. ^ 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."[15]
  2. ^ 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."[16]
  3. ^ 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."[21]
  4. ^ One such authority is the earliest hafiz, Ibn Abbas.[23]
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ The medieval jurist ash-Shafi'i, founder of one of the main schools of Sunni fiqh, commented on this verse that "hitting is permitted, but not hitting is preferable."
  8. ^ "[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).
  9. ^ India and United States were also noted as countries with a high prevalence of death during pregnancy due to domestic abuse.[70]
  10. ^ 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.[113]
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  • 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[edit]

  • "Women and Violence." Welcome to the United Nations: It's Your World. United Nations Department of Public Information, Feb. 1996. Web. 07 Dec. 2011.

External links[edit]