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.”
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.
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