Pearl of Wisdom

'Allah Almighty created the angels from light.'

Imam Ja'far ibn Muhammad al-Sadiq [as]
al-Ikhtisas, p. 109

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Question : #410 Category: Holy Qur'an
Subject: The Wife beating verse!
Question: Salaam. Can you please explane to me the wife beating verse? What's the logic behind it?
Answer: The verse (4:34) doesn't instruct you to beat your wives lightly at all, rather it means seperate from them for a period of time.
In the context of the verse the most appropriate meaning for nushuz is marital discord (ill-will, animosity etc), and for adriboo is to separate or to part. Otherwise, it is inviting the likelihood of a divorce without any reconciliation procedure.

Such a step would blatantly contravene the Quranic guidance shown in verse 4:35. Therefore, a more accurate and consistent translation of the above verse would be:
" for those women whose animosity or ill-will you have reason to fear, then leave them alone in bed, and then separate; and if thereupon they pay you heed, do not seek a way against them." [4:34]

The separation could be temporary or permanent depending on the reconciliation procedure. Such as construction is legitimate within the terms of the language and fits in very well with the divorce procedure outlined in the Quran.

The verse following the above verse gives further weight to the above translation.

"And if ye fear a breach between them twain (the man and the wife), appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they desire amendment Allah will make them of one mind. Lo! Allah is ever Knower, Aware." [4:35]

Added weight to the meanings outlined above is given by verse 4:128 quoted. Here, in the case of a man, the same word nushuz is used, but it is rendered as ill-treatment as against rebellion in the case of a woman as shown earlier in the traditional translation of verse 4:34. One find oneself asking whether since the ill-treatment is on the part of the husband, a process of reconciliation is here to be encouraged!

"If a wife fears ill-treatment (nushuz) or desertion on her husbands part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves; and such settlement is best" [4:128]

This, obviously, is a double standard and the only way to reconcile the meanings of the two verses, in the contexts they are being used, is to accept the meaning of adriboo as: to separate or to part.

According to the Noble Quran and the Sayings of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him above, wife beating in Islam is definetly prohibited, possibly even in the case where the wife fails after she was warned twice for her ill-conduct and disloyalty.

It is definetly a valid interpretation for Noble Verse 4:34 that Allah Almighty commanded the Muslim men to desert and leave their wives, and not to physically beat them as many scholars believe.

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