Islam and domestic violence

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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. 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 human rights however, it has been considered Haraam (prohibited) to harm one’s spouse.


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]

Coomaraswamy 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]

In 1993, The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defined domestic violence as:

Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation.[4]

Islamic texts[edit]

In the Quran[edit]

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

The interpretation of Surah An-Nisa, 34 is subject to debate among Muslim scholars, along with the various translations of the passage which can read 'strike them' or '(lightly) strike them' or 'beat them' or 'scourge them', depending on the translator.[5] Quran 4:34 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) strike them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).

Quran interpretations that support domestic violence[edit]

Hajjar Lisa[6][7] claims Shari'a law encourages "domestic violence" against women when a husband suspects nushuz (disobedience, disloyalty, rebellion, ill conduct) in his wife.[8] Other scholars claim wife beating, for nashizah, is not consistent with modern perspectives of Qur'an.[9] Some conservative translations find that Muslim husbands are permitted to act what is known in Arabic as Idribuhunna with the use of "Strike," and sometimes as much as to hit, chastise, or beat.[10]

In some exegesis such as those of Ibn Kathir(1300-1373AD) and Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari(839-923AD), 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[11][12] [nb 1][nb 2] give her a light tapping with a Siwak.[15] Contemporary Egyptian scholar Abd al-Halim Abu Shaqqa refers to the opinions of jurists Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani(1372-1449AD) and al-Shawkani(1759-1839AD) who state that hitting should only occur in extraordinary cases.[16] Ibn 'Abbas, The Cousin of the Prophet, is recorded in the Tafsir of al-Tabari for verse 4:34 as saying that beating without severity is using a siwak (small toothbrush) or a similar object.[17]

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.[18]

Some Islamic scholars and commentators have emphasized that hitting, even where permitted, is not to be harsh[11][19][nb 3] or some even contend that they should be "more or less symbolic."[21][nb 4] According to Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Ibn Kathir, the consensus of Islamic scholars is that the above verse describes a light beating.[13][23] 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."[16]

Quran interpretations that do not support domestic violence[edit]

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 Quran 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).[24] However, in his native Urdu translation of verse 4:34, he translates idribuhunna as "strike them."[25]

Laleh Bakhtiar postulates that daraba is defined as "to go away."[26] This interpretation is 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] However, this translation is negated 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 striking them with a Siwak(Toothbrush) (e.g. in Qur'an 2:7337:93, 8:12, 8:50, 47:4 and 47:27).[non-primary source needed]


The discussions in all four Sunni law schools institutionalised the viewpoint of the Quranic exegetes by turning wife-beating into a means of discipline against rebellious wives.[29]

Hanafi view[edit]

Ayesha Chaudhry has examined the pre-colonial Hanafi texts on domestic violence.[29] Her findings are as follows. The Hanafi scholars emphasised the procedure of admonishing, abandoning and hitting the wife. The Hanafi jurists say that it is the husband's duty to physically discipline his wife's disobedience (nushuz). They permitted the husband a lot of leeway in the severity of the beating. The Hanafi scholars assert that the husband is allowed to hit his wife on the condition that the hitting would maintain her soundness (bi-shart as salama). This implies a hitting that would not cause bruising, bleeding or broken bones. However the husband would not be legally liable if the hitting were to cause wounds or broken bones. However, the husband would be morally blameworthy. Within this framework the Hanafis emphasised the need of following the sequence of admonishment, abandonment and hitting.[30]

Al-Kasani added that the admonishment contains two steps: gentle admonishment and then harsh admonishment. However, jurists faced a paradox with the abandonment step, since it would cause injustice to the husband as he would not be able to enjoy his sexual rights over the wife if he abandoned her. Al-Kasani ruled that a husband can abandon his wife verbally and not necessarily sexually. This means that the husband can simply force his wife to have sex. Al-Kasani pointed out that marital rape is allowed in Islamic law.[31] Other Hanafi scholars were also comfortable with marital rape. Ibn Nujaym states that as long as a wife is in her husband's house she is entitled to maintenance since he can force her to have sex with him. Al-Nasafi adds that if a wife dies during sex, the husband is not liable. Al-Nasafi also understood this to be the position of Imam Abu Hanifah.[32]

Ibn al-Humam believed that a husband can whip his wife with only ten lashes.[32] However, al-Nasafi put the maximum limit at 100 lashes.[33] Al-Nasafi also ruled that if a wife dies from the beating the husband is not liable as long as he does not exceed 100 strikes. However, if he exceeds 100 lashes then he is considered to have crossed the limit of discipline into abuse and he would have to pay blood money (diya).[34] Ibn Nujaym and al-Haskafi also ruled that a husband cannot be punished with the death penalty if he kills his wife while disciplining her. He only owes blood money.[35]

Generally, the Hanafi scholars envisioned minimal court intrusion into domestic life. The bulk of their legal rulings concentrated on protecting husbands from court in case the wife died at his hands. Hanafi scholars also discouraged public inquiries into the private lives of men. Ibn Nujaym cited two hadith as proof for this stance. One hadith states "Do not ask a man why he hit his wife." In another hadith, Muhammad "forbade a woman from complaining against her husband."[35]

The evidence of judicial records from the sixteenth century onwards show that Ottoman judges who followed the Hanafi school allowed divorce because of abuse. This did this partially by borrowing rulings from other schools of thought and partially by blending abuse with blasphemy since they reasoned a "true Muslim would not beat his wife."[36] A number of women in the 1920s-1930s left Islam to obtain judicial divorce because Hanafi law did not permit women to seek divorce in case of cruel treatment by a husband. Mawlana Thanawi reviewed the issue and borrowed the Maliki rulings which permits women to seek divorce because of cruelty by the husband. He expanded the grounds of divorce available to women under Hanafi law.[37]

Views of other schools of jurisprudence[edit]

According to Ayesha Chaudhary, unlike Hanafi scholars who were more interested in protecting a husband's right to hit his wife for disciplinary purposes, the Malikis tried to stop husbands from abusing this right.[29] The Maliki scholars only allowed striking a rebellious wife with the purpose of rectifying her. They specified that the strike should not be extreme or severe, must not leave marks or cause injury. The Malikis held that a husband would be legally liable if the hitting led to the wife's death. They also did not allow a husband to hit his wife if he did not believe the hitting would cause her to stop her disobedience.[38] The Shafi'i scholars upheld the permissibility of wife beating but encouraged avoiding it and did not hold the imperative "wa-ḍribūhunna" to mean an obligatory command. The views of the Hanbali scholars are a mix of the positions of the other three law schools.[29]

Undesirability of beating[edit]

Jonathan A.C. Brown says:

The vast majority of the ulama across the Sunni schools of law inherited the Prophet's unease over domestic violence and placed further restrictions on the evident meaning of the 'Wife Beating Verse'. A leading Meccan scholar from the second generation of Muslims, Ata' bin Abi Rabah, counseled a husband not to beat his wife even if she ignored him but rather to express his anger in some other way. Darimi, a teacher of both Tirmidhi and Muslim bin Hajjaj as well as a leading early scholar in Iran, collected all the Hadiths showing Muhammad's disapproval of beating in a chapter entitled 'The Prohibition on Striking Women'. A thirteenth-century scholar from Granada, Ibn Faras, notes that one camp of ulama had staked out a stance forbidding striking a wife altogether, declaring it contrary to the Prophet's example and denying the authenticity of any Hadiths that seemed to permit beating. Even Ibn Hajar, the pillar of late medieval Sunni Hadith scholarship, concludes that, contrary to what seems to be an explicit command in the Qur'an, the Hadiths of the Prophet leave no doubt that striking one's wife to discipline her actually falls under the Shariah ruling of 'strongly disliked' or 'disliked verging on prohibited'.[39]

According to Honour, Violence, Women and Islam, and Islamic scholar Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry, Muhammad condemns violence against women, by saying: "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."[40][41][42]

Restraint in 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)[43]

Scholars and commentators have stated that Muhammad directed men not to hit their wives' faces,[44] not to beat their wives in such a way as would leave marks on their body,[44][nb 5] and not to beat their wives as to cause pain (ghayr mubarrih).[21] Scholars too have stipulated against beating or disfigurement, with others such as the Syrian jurist Ibn Abidin prescribing ta'zir punishments against abusive husbands.[45]

In a certain hadith, 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."[46][47] The same hadith has been narrated with slightly different wording.[48] In other versions of this hadith, only beating the face is discouraged.[49][50]

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."[51]

Incidence among Muslims[edit]

Domestic violence is considered to be a problem in Muslim-majority cultures,[52] but because women conceal signs of abuse 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.[53]

In deference to Surah 4:34, many nations with Shari'a law have refused to consider or prosecute cases of "domestic abuse."[54][55][56][57] 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.[58] The Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body of Pakistan that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam, has recommended authorizing husbands to ‘lightly’ beat disobedient wives.[59] When asked why is beating a wife lightly permitted? The chairman of Pakistan's Council of Islamic Ideology, Mullah Maulana Sheerani said, "The recommendations are according to the Quran and Sunnah . . You can not ask someone to reconsider the Quran".[60] 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.[61][62] 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.[63] In 2013 Saudi Arabia approved a new law on domestic violence, which sets penalties for all types of sexual and physical abuse, in the workplace and at home. Penalties can be up to a year in prison and a fine up to 13,000 dollars. The law also provides shelter for the victims of domestic violence.[64]

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.[65] 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.[41] 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.[66] Afghanistan is the only country in which the female suicide rate (at 80%) is higher than that of males.[67] Psychologists attribute this to an endless cycle of domestic violence and poverty.[68]
Bangladesh According to a WHO, United Nations study, 30% of women in rural Bangladesh reported their first sexual experience to be forced.[69] About 40% report having experienced domestic violence from their intimate partner, and 50% in rural regions report experiencing sexual violence.[70]

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).[71]

About 90% of women in Bangladesh are practicing Muslims, which indicates that many Muslim women are victims of physical domestic violence in this country.[72] 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.[73]

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".[74] 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.[75][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.[76]

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.[77]

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.[78]

India Muslim women in medieval India were subservient. They were devoted to their husbands and would bear the physical and psychological violence inflicted on them by their husbands or in-laws. Sultan Nasir-ud-din refused to provide his wife with a servant after her fingers were burnt while baking bread for him. She never expressed her complaint again. Mughis tortured his wife, the sister of Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq, to death. During the rule of Sikandar Lodi a husband was reported to have used force on his wife after he falsely accused her of stealing a jewel. Khwaja Muazzam was known for his mistreatment of his wife whom he eventually murdered.[79] In one account narrated by Tavernier a physician once threw his wife off a roof. She sustained broken ribs but survived. On the second occasion, the physician stabbed his wife and children to death but the governor whom the physician was working under did not take any action.[80]

A collection of legal documents and contracts from the time of Akbar, called Munshat i Namakin, reveal that Muslim brides would often make four stipulations in their marriage contracts. If the husband violated these conditions, the wife would be entitled to divorce. These were conditions such as the husband would not marry a second wife or take a concubine. Another condition was that the husband would not beat the wife in a way which would leave a mark on her body, unless she was guilty of a serious offence. A miniature from the time of Akbar's reign shows a husband lashing his wife on the buttocks with a stick. This reflects the stipulation found in marriage contracts of that time which were against beating in such a way that it would leave any mark on the body.[81] One 17th century Muslim marriage contract from Surat, examined by Shireen Moosvi, contained a stipulation by the bride, Maryam, that her husband, Muhammad Jiu, would give her a specific amount of maintenance. The amount of maintenance which was specified in it indicated that the couple belonged to the lower middle class. However, the marriage contract contained no stipulation against wife-beating. This reflects that women of that socio-economic class were expected to submit to any kind of violence by their husbands.[82]

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.[83][84] 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.[71]

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.[85]

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.[86]

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.[85]

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.[87]

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.[76] Islamic scholars[88] 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.[89]
Pakistan A 2011 report claims 80% of women in Pakistan suffer from domestic abuse.[90] A 2004 study claimed 50% of the women in Pakistan are physically battered and 90% are mentally and verbally abused by their men,[91] while other reports claim domestic violence rates between 70% to over 95% in Pakistan.[92][93] Earlier studies from 1970s to 1990s suggest similar incidence rates of domestic violence in Pakistan.[94][95][96] In Pakistan, domestic violence occurs in forms of beatings, sexual violence, torture, mutilation, acid attacks and burning the victim alive (bride burning).[97]

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.[98] Over 90% of Pakistani women consider domestic violence as a norm of every woman's married life.[99]

Between 1998 and 2003 there were more than 2,666 women killed in honor killings by a family member.[100]

The Thomson Reuters Foundation has ranked Pakistan third on the list of most dangerous countries for women in the world.[101]

Gaza Strip In one study, half of 120 women interviewed in the Gaza Strip had been the victims of domestic violence.[102]
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia’s National Family Protection Program estimates that 35 percent of Saudi women have experienced violence.[103] 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.[104]
Syria One recent study, in Syria, found that 25% of the married women surveyed said that they had been beaten by their husbands.[105] 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.[106]
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.[107]

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.[77]

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."[20] 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."[108]

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.[73]
Egypt The Egyptian Penal Code was amended to no longer provide impunity (legal protection) to men who married the women that they raped.[109] In 2020 protests have been mounted against Article 237 of the Egyptian Penal Code which allows for a lesser punishment for men who kill their wives than for other forms of murder.[110]
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.[85][111]

The government has laws that support violence against women in the case of adultery, including flogging, imprisonment and death.[85]

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.[111]

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.[89] 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,[112] domestic violence is not explicitly prohibited in Pakistani domestic law[113][114] 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."[96] 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.[115] In Pakistan, "police often refuse to register cases unless there are obvious signs of injury and judges sometimes seem to sympathise with the husbands."[96]

In 2008 campaigners said that at a time when violence against women is rampant in Pakistani society this so-called women's protection bill encourages men to abuse their wives.[60] 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[116] but subsequently failed to be passed in the second chamber of parliament, the Senate, within the prescribed period of time.[117] 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.[118] After the passage of Eighteenth constitutional amendment, the matter pertaining to the bill became a provincial issue.[119] 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.[120] The bill was eventually passed for Islamabad Capital Territory on Feb 20, 2012.[112][119][121][122]

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.[53]
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.[123]
Tunisia In Tunisia, domestic violence is illegal and punishable by five years in prison.[124]

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.[125][nb 10]


Though some Muslim scholars, such as Ahmad Shafaat, contend that Islam permits women to be divorced in cases of domestic violence.[20] Divorce may be unavailable to women as a practical or legal matter.[126]

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.[127]

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.[128]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ Hajjar, Lisa (2004). "Religion, State Power, and Domestic Violence in Muslim Societies: A Framework for Comparative Analysis". Law and Social Inquiry. 29 (1): 1–38. doi:10.1111/j.1747-4469.2004.tb00329.x.
  2. ^ Domestic Violence. Merriam Webster. Retrieved 14 Nov. 2011.
  3. ^ a b Coomaraswamy, Radhika. Further Promotion and Encouragement of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. United Nations. Economic and Social Council. 5 Feb. 1996. Retrieved 19 Oct. 2011.
  4. ^ General Assembly (20 December 1993). 85th plenary session: declaration on the elimination of violence against women. United Nations. A/RES/48/104. Archived from the original on 24 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  5. ^ "Quran 4:34". Islam Awakened. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  6. ^ Hajjar, Lisa. "Religion, state power, and domestic violence in Muslim societies: A framework for comparative analysis." Law & Social Inquiry 29.1 (2004); see pages 1-38
  7. ^ Treacher, Amal. "Reading the Other Women, Feminism, and Islam." Studies in Gender and Sexuality 4.1 (2003); pages 59-71
  8. ^ John C. Raines & Daniel C. Maguire (Ed), Farid Esack, What Men Owe to Women: Men's Voices from World Religions, State University of New York (2001), see pages 201-203
  9. ^ Jackson, Nicky Ali, ed. Encyclopedia of domestic violence. CRC Press, 2007. (see chapter on Qur'anic perspectives on wife abuse)
  10. ^ Ahmed, Ali S. V.; Jibouri, Yasin T. (2004). The Koran: Translation. Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsile Qurʼān. Print.
  11. ^ a b Grand Ayatullah Nasir Makarem Shirazi: Fatwas and viewpoints. Al-Ijtihaad Foundation. Retrieved 14 Nov. 2011.
  12. ^ Roald, Anne S. (2001). Women in Islam: The Western Experience. Routledge. ISBN 0415248965. p 166
  13. ^ a b Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, (1989) The Holy Qur'an: Text, Translation and Commentary. Brentwood, MD: Amana Corporation. ISBN 0-915957-03-5.
  14. ^ Yusuf al-Qaradawi (2013). The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam. Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust. p. 227. ISBN 978-967-0526-00-3.
  15. ^ Ibn Kathir, "Tafsir of Ibn Kathir", Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2000, 50-53
  16. ^ a b Roald, Anne S. (2001). Women in Islam: The Western Experience. Routledge. ISBN 0415248965. p. 169
  17. ^ "Tafseer al-Tabari for 4:34".
  18. ^ Khan, Muhammad Muhsin; Hilālī, Taqī Al-Dīn. (1993) Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Qur'an in the English Language: a Summarized Version of At-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir with Comments from Sahih Al-Bukhari. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Maktaba Dar-us-Salam. Print.
  19. ^ Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, Al-Nawawi, section m10.12, "Dealing with a Rebellious Wife", page 540; may hit her as long as it doesn't draw blood, leave a bruise, or break bones.
  20. ^ a b c Shafaat, Ahmad, Tafseer of Surah an-Nisa, Ayah 34 Archived 2002-03-27 at the Wayback Machine, Islamic Perspectives. 10 Aug. 2005.
  21. ^ a b Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur'an (his translation of the Qur'an).
  22. ^ Badawi, Dr. Jamal.Is wife beating allowed in Islam? The Modern Religion.
  23. ^ Kathir, Ibn, "Tafsir of Ibn Kathir", Al-Firdous Ltd., London, 2000, 50-53.
  24. ^ "Quran Surah An-Nisaa (Verse 34) with English Translation الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ۚ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا".
  25. ^ Ali, Ahmed. "34 القرآن, النساء". (in Urdu). p. 84. مرد عورتوں پر حاکم ہیں اس واسطے کہ الله نے ایک کو ایک پر فضیلت دی ہے اور اس واسطے کہ انہوں نے اپنے مال خرچ کیے ہیں پھر جو عورتیں نیک ہیں وہ تابعدار ہیں مردوں کے پیٹھ پیچھے الله کی نگرانی میں (ان کے حقوق کی) حفاظت کرتی ہیں اور جن عورتو ں سےتمہیں سرکشی کا خطرہ ہو تو انہیں سمجھاؤ اور سونے میں جدا کر دو اور مارو پھر اگر تمہارا کہا مان جائیں تو ان پر الزام لگانے کے لیے بہانے مت تلاش کرو بے شک الله سب سے اوپر بڑا ہے (34)
  26. ^ Bakhtiar, Laleh.Verse in Koran on beating wife gets a new translation.
  27. ^ Unknown author. Systematic comparison with 4:94
  28. ^ William Lane, Edward. "Arabic-English Lexicon by Edward William Lane (London: Willams & Norgate 1863)". pp. 1777–1783. Archived from the original on 2015-04-08.
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  30. ^ Ayesha S. Chaudhry (20 December 2013). Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition. OUP Oxford. pp. 103–. ISBN 978-0-19-166989-7.
  31. ^ Ayesha S. Chaudhry (20 December 2013). Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition. OUP Oxford. pp. 104–. ISBN 978-0-19-166989-7.
  32. ^ a b Ayesha S. Chaudhry (20 December 2013). Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition. OUP Oxford. pp. 105–. ISBN 978-0-19-166989-7.
  33. ^ Ayesha S. Chaudhry (20 December 2013). Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition. OUP Oxford. pp. 106–. ISBN 978-0-19-166989-7.
  34. ^ Ayesha S. Chaudhry (20 December 2013). Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition. OUP Oxford. pp. 107–. ISBN 978-0-19-166989-7.
  35. ^ a b Ayesha S. Chaudhry (20 December 2013). Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition. OUP Oxford. pp. 108–. ISBN 978-0-19-166989-7.
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  38. ^ Ayesha S. Chaudhry (20 December 2013). Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition. OUP Oxford. pp. 111–112. ISBN 978-0-19-166989-7.
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  42. ^ Chaudhry, Muhammad Sharif. Prophet Muhammad: as Described in the Holy Scriptures. Lahore: S.N. Foundation, 2007. Print.
  43. ^ Percentage of women aged 15–49 who think that a husband/partner is justified in hitting or beating his wife/partner under certain circumstances Archived July 4, 2014, at the Wayback Machine UNICEF (2013)
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  46. ^ "Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 11, Hadith 2138".
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  49. ^ Al-Baghawi. "Mishkat Al-Masabih". 2: 691. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  50. ^ "Sunan Abi Dawud, Book 11, Hadith 2137".
  51. ^ Ibn Kathir 1981 vol I: 386, Sunan Abi Dawud, Book of Marriage #1834, ad-Darimi, Book of Marriage #2122; quoted in Roald (2001) p. 167
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  59. ^ CII recommends 'light beating' for wife if she defies husband 26 May 2016.
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  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."[13]
  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."[14]
  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."[20]
  4. ^ One such authority is the earliest hafiz, Ibn Abbas.[22]
  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.[75]
  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.[125]

Further reading[edit]