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Islamic Perspective:
What does Islam say about domestic violence?


Islam condemns domestic violence in any form:

Although Islam promises women protection from any form of domestic abuse but the reality in many Muslim homes is different.

The most common form of abuse is emotional and psychological abuse. In Muslim homes, this includes verbal threats to divorce, to remarry, or to take the children away if she does not do exactly as she is told. This also includes:

• intimidation and threats of harm

• degradation, humiliation, insults, ridicule name-calling

• criticism, false accusations and blaming her for everything

•  ignoring, dismissing, or ridiculing her needs, neglect and the silent treatment

• spying on her

• twisting Islamic teachings to make her feel worthless because she is a woman, telling her she is a failure and will go to hell

• restricting her access to transportation, health care, food, clothing, money

• physical and social isolation, restricting her access to friends, or social services

• extreme jealousy and possessiveness

• lying, breaking promises, destroying trust etc.

Emotional abuse can take place in public or at home.

Although it's completely contrary to the example of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the trend is to dismiss the seriousness of emotional abuse, rationalizing it as a petty argument between the spouses, and saying it's not serious unless he hits her. In reality, emotional abuse does severe psychological harm to many Muslim women. It destroys their self-esteem and makes them question their self-worth; some have mental breakdowns.

Physical abuse includes:

• pushing

• shoving

• choking

• slapping

• punching

• kicking

• beating

• assault with a weapon

• tying up

• refusing to help her when she is sick or injured

• physically throwing her out of the house; etc.

Physical abuse escalates in frequency and severity and might lead towards the death of the victim.

Sexual abuse, involving forced or violent sex. For example, a wife may not want to have sex, may be for health reasons or does not want to, but the husband may force her anyway.

These three forms of abuse are usually related and occur for a long period of time. Muslim men, just like non-Muslims, often start with emotional abuse and work their way up. Muslim women need to recognize the signs of escalating abuse (Power and Control Wheel).

Quran & Sunnah (Way of Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH):

Once a number of women came to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and complained that their husbands had beaten them. The prophet announced that men who beat their wives are not good men. The prophet also said, "Do not beat the female servants of Allah."

Life is not always a bowl of cherries. Allah specifies that a man must be kind to his wife even if he happens to dislike her (Qur'an 4-19). Allah offers a good reason as to why men should not dislike their wives. Allah says that He has placed much good in women (Qur'an 4:19).

In this regard the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), said that no believing man should hold a resentment/grudge against a believing woman. So here are the guidelines for the husband if he dislikes some things about his wife? As it might happen since no human being is perfect. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) instructed that men should look for the agreeable traits in their wives rather than focusing on their faults. (See Saheeh Muslim, chapter on advice relating to women).

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also advised men that if they wish to benefit from marriage they should accept their wives as they are rather than try to straighten them out and thus end up in divorce.


In the following verse of the Qur'an, Allah cautions men that if they retain their wives in marriage it should not be to take advantage of them. The verse reads:


"Retain them in kindness or release them in kindness. But do not retain them to their hurt so that you transgress (the limits). If anyone does that he wrongs his own soul. Do not take God's instructions as a jest" (Qur'an 2:231).

Once Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), was asked what are the obligations of husbands toward their wives? He replied: "Feed her when you eat, and provide her clothing when you provide yourself. Neither hit her on the face nor use impolite language when addressing her" (See Mishkat, chapter on the maintenance of women).


Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) equated perfect belief with good treatment to one's wife when he said: "The most perfect believer is one who is the best in courtesy and amiable manners, and the best among you people is one who is most kind and courteous to his wives" (see Tirmidhi, chapter on the obligations of a man to his wife).

Finally, the prophet, the best example of conduct said: "The best among you is the one who treats his family best."

Some of the last words of the prophet delivered during the farewell pilgrimage commands that men should hold themselves accountable before Allah concerning the question of how they treat their wives.

Therefore Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) advised men as: "You must treat them with all kindness."




There are a number of factors that make many Muslim men abusive such as:

Learning to Abuse:

Abusers are often part of a cycle, picking up the habit after watching their own fathers abuse their mothers. And later their own children learn this abusive behaviour and abuse their wives creating a vicious cycle which should be broken through awareness and interventions to stop the domestic abuse. This is an important point because the longer the Muslim community tolerates abuse, the longer it will be passed on from father to son, from generation to generation.

Cultural Reasons:

Some Muslim men accept the idea that it's normal for a man to hit his wife and that she is no more than a piece of his property.


Frustrated Husbands:

Some Muslim husbands abuse their wives as a result of frustration resulting from economic hardship, problems with the children, or an inferiority complex.



Some abuse their wives because they want them to be more "modern" and less Islamic by removing their hijab (Islamic dress), while others are abusive because they want the opposite.


Ignorance towards Islamic Teachings:

Some Muslims with superficial ties to Islam don't know that abuse is unacceptable in any form due to their weak faith, poor Islamic knowledge, and lack of interaction with the Muslim community.


Misuse of Islamic Teachings to Justify Abuse:

Tragically, some Muslim men actually use Islam to "justify" their abusive behaviour. Focusing on rituals, considering themselves to be very knowledgeable but disregarding the spirit of Islam, they wrongly use the Qur'anic verse that says men are the protectors and maintainers of women to go on power trips, demand total obedience, and order their wives around. They disregard the Islamic requirement for the head of the household to consult with other members of the family when making decisions.

Then, if their wives dare to speak up or question their orders, these men misinterpret a Qur'anic verse that talks about how to treat a disobedient wife and use it as a license for abuse.


What Does Islam Say about Women’s Rights?

The issue of women in Islam, is a topic of great misunderstanding and distortion due partly, to a lack of understanding, but also partly due to misbehavior of some Muslims which has been taken to represent the teachings of Islam. Below, we try to mention those standards according to which Muslims are to be judged taking Quran--the words of Allah, and the sayings of the Prophet (PBUH), his deeds and his confirmation as main source on information.

According to that, we can consider the position of women from a spiritual, economic, social, and political standpoint.


From the spiritual aspect, there are seven points to remember:

According to the Quran, men and women have the same spirit, there is no superiority in the spiritual sense between men and women. [Noble Quran 4:1 (An Nisa), 7:189 (Al A’raf), 42:11 (Ash Shura]

The Quran indicates that one of the most honored positions of human, is that God created them, so it means both sexes, as His trustee and representative on earth. There are many references in the Quran that reaffirm this such as in Surah Al Isra.


When the Quran speaks about the suffering of women during the period of pregnancy and childbirth, nowhere does it connect it with the concept of original sin, because there is no concept of original sin in Islam. The suffering is presented not as a reason to remind woman of the fall of man, but as a reason to respect, adore and love woman or the mother.


In terms of moral, spiritual duties, acts of worship, the requirements of men and women are the same, except in some cases when women have certain concessions because of their feminine nature, or their health or the health of their babies.


The Quran explicitly, in more than one verse specified that whoever does good deeds, and is a believer and then specifies "male or female" Allah will give them an abundant reward.


In the area of economic rights, we have to remember that in Europe until the 19th century, women did not have the right to own their own property. More than 1300 years earlier, that right was clearly established in Islamic law.


Quran mentions, "Whatever men earn, they have a share of that and whatever women earn, they have a share in that." [Noble Quran 4:32 (An Nisa)]


Secondly, there is no restriction in Islamic law that says a woman cannot work or have a profession and that her only place is in the home. In fact, by definition, in a truly Islamic society, there must be women physicians, women nurses, women teachers. And if she chooses to work, she's entitled to equal pay, not for equal work, but for work of equal worth.


Thirdly, when it comes to financial security, Islamic law is more tilted in many respects towards women. Such as:

During the period of engagement, a woman is to be on the receiving side of gifts.

She doesn't have to spend these on the household, she doesn't have to give these to her father or anyone else.


If the woman happened to own any property prior to marriage, she retains that property after marriage under her control.  And also, the woman keeps her own last name, and her own identity.

If the woman has any earnings during her marital life, by way of investments of her property or as a result of work, she doesn't have to spend one cent of that income on the household as it is entirely hers.


The full maintenance and support of a married woman is the entire responsibility of her husband, even though she might be richer than he is.

At the time of divorce, there are certain guarantees during the waiting period and even beyond for a woman's support.


If the widow or divorcee has children, she's entitled to child support.

From the social standpoint, as a daughter we find that credit goes to Islam for stopping the barbaric practice of pre-Islamic Arabs of female infanticide. Quran also condemned the chauvinistic attitudes of some people who used to greet the birth of a boy with gladness, but sadness in the case of a girl.


According to Prophet (PBUH) education is a duty on every Muslim, male and female.


As far as treatment of daughters is concerned, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Anyone who has two daughters, and did not bury them, did not insult them and brought them up properly, he and I will be like this," holding his two fingers close together.


From the marital standpoint, the Quran clearly indicates in several Surahs that marriage is not somebody getting married to his master or slave, but rather to his partner. Such as Allah mentions in Surah Rum:

"Among His Signs is this, that he created for you mates from among yourselves, that they may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect." [Noble Quran 30:21(Ar Rum)]


Secondly, the approval and consent of the girl to marriage is a prerequisite for the validity of marriage in Islam.


Husbands' and wives' duties are mutual responsibilities. They might not be identical duties, but the totality of rights and responsibilities are balanced.


When there are family disputes, first, the Quran appeals to reason and the consideration of positive aspects of one's spouse. It is mentioned in Surah An Nisa,


If a divorce becomes necessary, there are many detailed procedures in Islamic law that really knock down the common notion that divorce in Islam is very easy (just by saying three words) and that it is the sole right of man.


The Quran placed obedience to parents immediately after worship of God.


And then speaks of the mother. In a very concise statement, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Paradise is at the feet of mothers."


Quran speaks about men and women that they should cooperate and collaborate in goodness and speaks about men and women as supporters and helpers of each other, ordaining the good and forbidding the evil, establishing prayers and doing charity.


Finally, about political involvement.

We can find Muslim women making "bayy'ah" to the Prophet. (Bayy'ah as an Islamic term is somewhat analogous, to a degree, to what we would call an election, or oath of allegiance.) and that was given in his capacity not only as a Prophet, but as a head of state, as he was already the head of state in Medina.


During the reign of 'Umar, women also participated in law making.


In the most authentic collection of Hadith, Sahih Bukhari, a section is devoted to the participation of women, not only in public affairs, but in the battlefield, too, and not only as logistical support. Women carried arms, and when there was great danger to the Muslims, they volunteered to participate even in the battlefield.


Problems related to domestic violence in Muslim families are not the problems of Islam. They are problems of a lack of commitment, lack of application, or misapplication of Islamic teachings by Muslims themselves. This exemplifies a big gap that exists between the true teachings of Islam as derived from its original sources and its projected generalized image and the way some Muslims behave in the disregard of those noble teachings.


To get further information about the status of women in Islam please check out the links below.






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