Should Husbands Beat Their Wives?

According to Saudi author and cleric Muhammad Al-‘Arifi, the answer is: Yes, as long as the beating is light and not on the face. Here’s the transcript of the translation of the remarks he made on Saudi TV.

“Admonish them – once, twice, three times, four times, ten times,” he advised. “If this doesn’t help, refuse to share their beds.”

And if that doesn’t work?

“Beat them,” one of his three young advisees responded.

“That’s right,” Al-‘Arifi said.

Although he went on to explain that they shouldn’t beat them on the face:

“Beating in the face is forbidden, even when it comes to animals,” he explained. “Even if you want your camel or donkey to start walking, you are not allowed to beat it in the face. If this is true for animals, it is all the more true when it comes to humans. So beatings should be light and not in the face.”

“He must beat her where it will not leave marks. He should not beat her on the hand… He should beat her in some places where it will not cause any damage. He should not beat her like he would beat an animal or a child — slapping them right and left.”

Watch him for yourself at MEMRITV. News story here.


Well, wouldn’t the teachings of Islam justify his remarks?

Muhammad was asked about this subject: “What rights does the woman have with the man?” He replied, “He should feed her if he eats, clothe her when he dresses, avoid disfiguring her or beating her excessively or abandoning her except at home.” (hadith 7.62.77)

So, it appears to me that Al-‘Arifi has a basis in Islamic teaching that justify his counsel to Muslim married men.

This approach to animals and women also seems consistent with references like these that speak of the inferiority of women:

“Muhammad asked some women, ‘Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?’ The woman said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is because of the deficiency of the woman’s mind.’” (hadith 3.826)

Speaking to a group of women, Muhammad said, “I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.” (hadith 2.541)

I’m curious to know what Muslims make of this, especially Muslim women.

In Christianity, men are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Eph. 5). That’s sacrificial, unconditional love, not angry, violent, manipulative attempts to control. Physical violence is prohibited (1 Tim. 3). Withholding sex (as the cleric also suggests is an appropriate tool against one’s wife) is considered defrauding one’s spouse, since each spouse’s body belongs to the other (1 Cor. 7).

Marriage in Christianity is a picture of the covenant love Christ has for His people (Eph. 5). We are to treat each other with the same grace He’s treated us in saving us from the just punishment of our own sins. If we loved like that, we wouldn’t even think about resorting to physical violence.

In fact, all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of their sins are all equal in God’s sight – male, female, rich, poor, etc.. There is no superiority or inferiority according to gender, race, class, etc., since all who are born from above are equally God’s sons and daughters by faith.

Gal. 3:26-29 – “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

That’s the difference that the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes in a marriage.

NOTE: If you want to comment, please observe the following rules, or risk having your comments deleted:

  1. Please make comments which make it obvious that you actually read this entire post,
  2. AND which make it clear that you understand that while Christians aren’t without their faults (Christians disobey Scripture – even by mistreating women), the clear teachings of Christianity in the Bible do not in any way condone the oppression or mistreatment of women in any way, but in fact, categorize it as sin.

28 Responses to Should Husbands Beat Their Wives?

  1. curtismchale says:

    I was not formerly aware of the Muslim teaching on treatment of wives. I don’t hear much about that but I do hear lots about Christians oppressing women? I wonder why there is a difference?

    • The Qu’ran and Hadith allow their men and command them to belittle their wives to help train them through beatings. The Bible tells Christian Husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for it.

  2. maetricky says:

    I don’t understand this post. Is it about the Bible or Gender equality?

    Perhaps it has escaped your attention, but women are beaten in this country as well. And in supposedly christian homes. They go to church on Sunday and beat their wives on Monday. A woman is abused in America every 3 minutes, and you pretend that it is so much better? Chrisitianity is no better than Islam, we just aren’t so public about our cruelty. We Chrisitians prefer to beat our women in privacy.

    Christianity is the same side of the same coin as Islam, just further along the timeline. In the 1800’s women were regaurded as property in the Louisianna lawbooks. And today a woman won’t make as much pay as a man in the same position. Jesus may have viewed women and men as equals, but chrisitians don’t, yet.

  3. Scott W. Kay says:


    Yes, isn’t that ironic, that Christians get cast as the oppressors of women, especially in light of the passages from the Bible I quoted above. No, Christians aren’t without their faults in practice, but our Scriptures clearly teach that women are not to be oppressed, but treasured and loved.

  4. Scott W. Kay says:


    Perhaps it escaped your attention that there is a huge difference between women being abused behind closed doors in the US and it being openly encouraged in other nations. It is prosecuted as a crime in the US.

    Do you seriously mean to imply that after reading this post that I would in any way condone that kind of violence, whether from Muslims or Christians or whoever?

    Do you seriously think the Bible teaches that women should be oppressed, paid less, or treated as property? People do these things, but Scripture abhors these things just as much as you do.

    Believe me, there are plenty of Christians who view women just as highly as Jesus does, and hate the oppression of women just as much as you do.

  5. jonolan says:

    It seems to me that when other forms of remonstrance have failed to achieve positive results, that corporal punishment (beatings or spanking) should certainly be considered!

    That being said, the post and the source both imply that the woman was being disobedient. This implies a far different power dynamic between husband and wife than is either common or publicly condoned in the West. I think this deeper issue is more important than the fact that some punishments may be physical.

    I’m unsure if my wife would ever consider the possibility that she could be disobedient – because I doubt she would ever concede me the necessary level of authority in order to make it possible to be disobedient!

  6. No disrespect intended, but I would be interested in your take on these New Testament scriptures and how they apply today? I don’t want to violate your rules, so I will just post the scriptures and you can comment on them. I found your second rule to be interesting when discussing what one ancient religion teaches verses another.

    1 Corinthians 11

    2I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings,[a] just as I passed them on to you.

    3Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head,[b] since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

    I Corinthians 14

    33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
    As in all the congregations of the saints, 34women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

    I Timothy 2

    11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women[a] will be saved[b] through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

    I Peter 3

    1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.

  7. Scott W. Kay says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that when I post some outrageous news about some group sinning against others, like what is being promoted by the cleric in this story, people seem to ignore the outrage of the facts of the story, and instead seek to either disparage Christianity in general, or try to root out some perceived outrage in my own views, effectively ignoring the plain statements I have made about what I DO believe Christianity teaches about the subject – in this case, the proper treatment of women. Amazing.

  8. Scott,

    Which of the scriptures did you find offensive? I am at a loss by your response. You thought this was some kind of attack? Why?

    How did I try to “disparage Christianity”? I wasn’t looking for outrage in your own views, I was simply asking for your understanding. When you make the statement:

    Do you seriously think the Bible teaches that women should be oppressed, paid less, or treated as property?

    to many it seems you are ignorant of passages like those above. Because you are a pastor I found it unlikely you are ignorant, so I was simply asking for how you resolve your own treatment of women as equals when the Bible clearly teaches in these passages she is not.

    Are men the “masters” of women under Christianity? Is it disgraceful for a woman to speak in church? On what basis do you reject these scriptures and accept others?

    There are Christians in the US today who teach all of these things and more, basing it on their understanding of the Bible. In fact, there are those who teach women’s rights should be limited based on these teachings–even in areas like abuse.

    I was simply asking why you thought this was any different than a cleric in Islam who teaches abusive things. Westboro Baptist Church has a “scriptural” foundation for everything they teach. Do they speak for all of us who call ourselves Christian?

  9. Scott W. Kay says:


    OK, I still think you are more interested in calling a Christian on the carpet for examination than you are in denouncing the clearly radical views of a Muslim cleric, when it was this cleric who has made outrageous claims in the name of Islam, and I, as a Christian, have argued for women to be treated lovingly, and have done so in the name of Christ.

    You say:
    “I was simply asking for how you resolve your own treatment of women as equals when the Bible clearly teaches in these passages she is not.”

    I flatly reject the notion that the passages you cited above teach that women are not equal to men. They do not do that in the slightest. Scripture teaches the essential equality of men and women (see the passages I cited in the post), but Scripture assigns them different roles in marriage and in church leadership. A woman’s subordination in her role as a wife or as a non-leader of men in the church does not equal inequality any more than the vice-president’s subordinate role makes him unequal to the president as a person. Essential equality, differing roles. It’s very simple.

    You say:
    “There are Christians in the US today who teach all of these things and more, basing it on their understanding of the Bible. In fact, there are those who teach women’s rights should be limited based on these teachings–even in areas like abuse.”

    Again, I repeat from the comment rules: the clear teachings of Christianity in the Bible do not in any way condone the oppression or mistreatment of women in any way, but in fact, categorize it as sin

    The so-called “Christians” who may teach these things do not do so on any solid exegesis of Scripture, and the wider church rejects any such interpretations of these passages in that manner. Those who teach in the way you suggest are considered errant and extremist in their views by the VAST majority of both egalitarian and complimentarian Christians. I hold to an evangelical complementarian view, which can be understood in more detail here:

    You say:
    “I was simply asking why you thought this was any different than a cleric in Islam who teaches abusive things. Westboro Baptist Church has a “scriptural” foundation for everything they teach. Do they speak for all of us who call ourselves Christian?”

    I (and most of the rest of Christianity) think that Westboro Baptist type people ARE in fact a lot like this Islamic cleric and those who think like him. People who teach and act like the Wesboro people are NOT representative of Christianity, but of a very errant sect that parades around under the name “Christian.” They are NOT faithful to Scripture’s teachings on a wide variety of things, including gender issues, and it’s really quite obvious so as to to not even need stating. They have no Scriptural “foundation” for what they teach. They abuse Scripture to justify their practices. Is the cleric doing that with the Quran?

    I specifically asked for Muslims to tell me what they make of this cleric’s statements, because I want to see if they view him like I view the Westboro-type extremists that attach themselves to Christianity. Just as Westboro-types do not speak for all Christians, I want to know if this cleric is considered an Islamic extremist or if he is considered in the mainstream in his comments, and thus, whether he is speaking in a manner that is faithful to the Quran or not.

  10. […] to try to include a few random pictures soon so keep an eye out. One thing I ran across today was this post. My favorite quoted quote has to be “He should not beat her like he would beat an animal […]

  11. Jerry French says:

    How lovely it would be for me if I too was able to filter my world-view through a religious prism.

    “That’s the difference that the Gospel of Jesus Christ makes in a marriage.” Yeah we get it. Christians good. Muslims bad. However, as mentioned earlier, if your wife is praying without her head covered, you better be a good Christian and shave it bald.

    Why would anyone still subject themselves to teachings of this sort? Historicity doesn’t equal sacredness. Also, how do you ultimately decide which verses of the bible to interpret literally, figuratively, and which to disregard? Surely now you have to disregard the plight of Jews in Egypt, else ignore archaeological evidence to the contrary, or risk being hypocritical in disregarding Mormonism on an archaeological basis.

    Who cares? Who really cares about any of this? How can you actually write ‘in fact’ when you don’t know ANY of this for fact? Who knows what Jesus/Osiris/Allah/Zeus is actually like, what teachings to actually believe, what precepts to actually follow?

  12. Scott W. Kay says:


    Again, I’m amazed at how easily people will set out to rip Christianity’s supposed lack of factual or reasonable basis for belief, while at the same time offering no criticism of blatant crimes against people as are being promoted by this Muslim cleric. I guess some people can’t help being opportunists, by either outright accusing or clearly implying that Christians are the ones who are the crazy-eyed radicals that have their head in the sands of ignorance, blinded by tradition.

    No one here has claimed that historicity equals sacredness. I have faith in Christ because I believe that I have reasonable reasons for doing so TODAY. My faith isn’t based on archaeology, but what I believe is divine revelation in the Bible. I believe that there is a God and that He has revealed HImself to man and that His revelation of Himself is written down. Because of this, I have faith in the words of the Bible as being true. How do we know how to understand it? Well, Christians have for centuries followed simple rules of interpretation (called hermeneutics) that make interpretation of Biblical passages quite easy to understand as either literal, figurative, etc. The process is very common-sensical.

    You are not required to believe it as I do, but you ought to at least take the time to understand – not just find reasons to pick our beliefs apart, but actually understand the reasons why we believe what we do, to see if the reasons WE believe are reasonable or not – before you decide that we are just a bunch of mindless, naive, fools.

    Take an honest look at the New Testament. Read the Gospels for yourself. Ask God to show you if it’s true or not. How dangerous can that be? How dangerous, though, is it to just believe nothing, when the Bible just may, in reality, be true? Or, as G.K. Chesterton said, the problem with thinking that there is no God or that God has not revealed HImself to man, is not that you’ll believe nothing, but that you’ll believe anything.

    So, who cares? Most people. And the rest ought to – for their own sakes.

  13. SLCondensed says:

    Scott, your stupidity is only eclipsed by your ignorance. I’m not ‘ripping’ Christianity at Islam’s expense. I’m ripping religion in general.

    I’ve read your bible, I know what it says, and I have decided for myself not to believe. You, however, believe the bible is true because in the bible God says the bible is true.

    Don’t try to convert me, and don’t suggest I’m ignorant because I’m not a practicing Christian. Moral truths are all relative, and I don’t think you or your institution needs to set rules on how I live.

  14. SLCondensed says:

    by the way the above is still me, just changed my displayed username

  15. Scott W. Kay says:

    SLC, I got it that you were ripping religion in general. That fact was not lost on me. I was simply responding to the assumptions you made about me and the reasons I believe in the teachings of Christianity. You are the one making assumptions about me.

    Furthermore, it’s amazing how you are offended that you thought I was suggesting that you were ignorant when I wasn’t intending that at all, and yet you appear to have felt no restraint in overtly calling me stupid and ignorant. Thanks. I guess that’s what moral relativism will do for people. Too bad people can’t even live by their own expectations of how people are to treat one other.

  16. Scott W. Kay says:

    Oh, and if “Moral truths are all relative,” then is it OK for Muslim men to beat their wives?

  17. jonolan says:


    Only if you’re an ethically bankrupt modern US “Liberal.”

  18. savedbygrace2000 says:

    It never fails, I don’t care what you talk about any topic but the second you mention the name of Jesus, people want to find fault in him, and try to rip the christian apart. with all the different beliefs out there, yet they all want to rip at the Name of Jesus, hmmm…I wonder why?

  19. SLCondensed says:

    Good God you people are dense. My comment about filtering every aspect of your lives through a religious prism really rings true with all the comments posted

  20. Scott W. Kay says:

    Good God? Do you say that through a religious prism or a non-religious prism? Exactly to whom are you referring?

    Is it too religious to ask if you think its OK for Muslim men to beat their wives? What prism do you filter your answer to that question through? Surely you must have an answer to that question.

  21. Bill Handrahan says:

    Hello Scott,
    I can’t speak for Aaron but I am a believing Christian and I would like to know what your thoughts are on the various scriptures he listed. Unless Aaron misrepresented those verses he has a valid point. It seems to me that so many times current social norms dictate what new testament scripture “Really” means. This is nonsense! Men change, GOD does not. So why do you believe that these scriptures are not to be taken literally? A wife still can be loved and respected by her husband even if she is not allowed to be in a position to teach men, or asked to cover her hair during prayers, or refrain from asking questions of others while in church, or even calling her husband master . Those scriptures teach inequality at least in those areas of life. What is the big deal? Do you think the bible teaches that the husband will be held accountable to a higher degree than his wife for what goes on in his home? As a husband I have to say thats a lot of pressure and certainly “unequal” in terms of accountabilty. ………… Face it GOD made this a 51/49 partnership with the man having the final say in virtually all matters. The downside is that he alone will answer to GOD for those decisions. With power comes responsibilities.

  22. Scott W. Kay says:


    I think we agree that men and women are equal in essence (nature), both are equally made in the image of God, both equally have access to the promises of the Gospel, etc, but that there is a difference in roles and responsibilities before God and mankind. This is exactly reflective of the essential equality but different roles of the three members of the Trinity.

    It seems that our differences really only amount to the way we talk about it. You say that there is inequality at least in the function and roles,. (i.e. when you say, “Those scriptures teach inequality at least in those areas of life.”), which I don’t have a problem with, I only prefer to refrain from talking that way because I think it lends itself to the notion that there is an essential inequality of nature, when there isn’t.

    And yes, I do think that the husband will be held to a higher degree of accountability before God precisely because he does have the greater (therefore unequal) responsibility.

    Thanks for your comments.

  23. sdj4noabuse says:

    Should verbal abuse on continuous frequency count the same as physical beating? My husband is controlling in extreme measures. Maybe his family grew up in such an environment. My spouse has been less physical, but he lacks the ability to feel his insults on me and my side of the family. I am on long-term disability and have hard times taking care of myself. I pray to God thanking HIM for HIS SON and the HOLY SPIRIT who are my source of survival. He makes a mockery of that. He makes a mockery of my disability as well as my daughter’s. He makes me feel he hates my daughter and she fights to overcome her ADHD. She has a two year old son that was recently cussed while quietly watching a movie with me. I told my husband after attacking that child he needs to read Lamentations 3. There are times he tells me to put my Bibles and books away. He commanded that I not go to Bible Study last night. God has tremendously blessed this man! He is talking about abandoning me if my daughter and son are not moved out by Oct. 1 but had an original date of Sept. 25. She is a college graduate who spent four years as Prodigal Son. Now she is substituting at a middle school with autistic kids, working as a tutor for SAT, ACT tests, and is going to classes to get her teacher’s certification. I used 1 Tim to help her out of four years getting nowhere. My parents are financing much. She had moved from Brooklyn to Baltimore and had no place to go. God allowed her to come home to receive blessings as if heaven is open. My spouse seems to hate my helping a needy family member. He cusses in front of baby, insults me with my health conditions, bullies, restricts access to garage or key to front door or even foods I like to eat. A tongue lashing rather than conversation feels like I have been beat up. Power of life is in the tongue. What are some things I should do? Al-Anon is a little part of his problem. He goes to Sunday morning 7:45 AM service but drinks everyday. He acts evil to me with or without the alcohol. Can you imagine how my daughter and son feel hate?

  24. In Wonderment says:

    I Timothy 2

    11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women[a] will be saved[b] through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

    I know that selective reading is easier, and it’s easier to be judgmental about a religion that you dislike. However, the “bible” is guilty of supporting many, many, oppressive ideas, as you well know from being so learned.
    I think it would behoove you to at least put up the countering Christian scripture on the subject, and try to justify it, instead of acting as though there is no existence of sexist, pro submission writing in the “bible.”

    In the United states, Christian men are equally, actually more but we will equalize it for the sake of statistics, as viable to beat their women as are the rest of the religions’ men combined. Abuse goes beyond the borders of scripture. To suggest that beating one’s wife is some kind of law in Islam is ridiculous. Abuse is a crime of anger, and it goes beyond race, religion, or economic background.

    It’s very, very sad, really. What you’re doing, it’s very, very sad.

  25. Interesting says:

    Sorry for spamming. But for some reason I can not link it. Searching ‘there is no compulsion’ gives the link from thier site.

    Its the first one listed.

  26. freedomispriceless says:

    Of course christian men beat their wives. They are constantly told that their wives are inferior beings, who must shut-up and submit. With those thoughts, how can they ever consider their wives a person, let alone anything of worth. And this it the same thing that muslims believe. Religions treat women as less than human, and this is bound to rub off on men. I know this happens in non-religious marriages as well, but not as often. Learning to think of all people (even women) with equality will help, and it’s certainly not done in religion. Equal marriages are the least likely to result in violence. First, because the wives feel no need to become slaves of their husband, so the husband knows he can’t get away with verbal or physical abuse, even if he felt tempted to do it (which in an eqaul realtionship, their is most likely equal respect). Second, the husband in a secular marriage does not feel as if he owns his wife, like most christian men do (christian men think they are “heads’ of their wives). Third, since religion believes that men are the head/masters of women, the people in charge (men) are likely to tell the wife to stay with her assaulter. Thus, the religious women are less likely to report the assault. This sometimes leads to the murder of the wife. But these religious men feel like I do if I break a vase-my carelessness caused me to loose my posession. Luckily, secular laws are in place to put these men away for life. Murder is murder, and she is only his posession under religion, not under the law. I only know about how chrisitanity treats women, I don’t really know about other religions. I heard that muslims are even worse.

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