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Was Prophet Muhammad ﷺ a wife beater?

Part 1: Muslim men who beat their wives | Part 2

Was Prophet Muhammad  a wife beater?

That was easy. Too easy.

Muslim men like to quote from the greatest Prophet  that if he scolded his wives when they questioned him, why can't they? The Prophet Muhammad  had the greatest tests in his marriage. And yes he did become upset and angry. But he never hit his wives. He never raised his hand, not once; he did not even raise his voice when verse 4:34 gave permission to do so. `Umar (ra) the khalif is another classic example of balance. His wife Attika shouted at him in front of a guest but he remained silent. His guest asked him why he put up with it and `Umar said, "she loves me, she maintains my home, cooks for me, she does all this - so why should I get angry when she complains about my shortcomings?"

It is usually too late when we remember the Prophet's  hadith"Abusing a Muslim is a sin, and killing him is disbelief," (Bukhari & Muslim). The Messenger of God would not contradict what was written in the Qur'an. A marriage is not a battlefield, albeit it is a form of jihad, one that is supposed to bring you closer to God. If your spouse is bringing you closer to divorce or the hospital, you have some decisions to make.

All acts of violence are violent
Continuing with the Prophet's words, it is a good thing to understand what is abuse and what is not. 'AbdAllah reported that the Prophet  said, "A believer is not a fault-finder and is not abusive, obscene, or coarse." (Bukhari, Book of Manners #313) This is the ruling for a relationship between believers, how do you think a husband and wife are supposed to be? Swearing at your wife/ husband is wrong. Muttering under your breath is disrespectful. Throwing a vase at them in legitimate pain is also bad and this can lead to more. Verse 4:34 talks about a one-off light strike. The detention or striking should not be on repeat. Remember that as a man what you see as "disciplinary" action or "rage" are violent to a woman. Say, hypothetically, you did hit your wife - you struck her once in hysterical anger. Stop. Move back. Apologise. Spend the rest of your time making it up to her. Restore that trust and build on that protection. You would not imagine how deep one strike affects a woman. Her children's children will feel that pain.

How this affects marriages
There is a custom in looking for a calm partner, by testing the extent of their anger. Ideally the potential partner is questioned or provoked (within reason) to check his/ her reactions. Do they explode? And in that answer is a hint of the joy to come. A woman came to the Prophet  for advice about a suitable spouse, saying, "Abul Jahm and Mu'awiah have proposed to marry me. The Prophet (by way of advice) said: As to Mu'awiah he is very poor and Abul Jahm is accustomed to beating women." (Muslim) A poor man is better than a violent man.

Does the Ideal Marriage exist?

But you were hoping it was yes. I'm sorry.

Islam deals with people the way they are. Islam does not say this is how you were supposed to be. Islam says this is how you are supposed to be, given that you behave in such a way (read that again). People are imperfectly perfect therefore never place a person on such a high pedestal that when they fail you are deeply disappointed. On the same scale, never hate a person for their mistakes. And every single person you have come across has made a mistake. Prophets are no longer with us. Our marriages are flawed and so are we, but "The most perfect Muslim in the matter of faith is one who has excellent behavior; and the best among you are those who behave best toward their wives." (Tirmithi)

Make a mental list of your Top Five favourite individuals, another list of whom you love the most and a final list of who you think you treat with the ultimate kindness. Is your spouse in that list? I'm telling you know if they aren't, you are not amongst the most perfect believers.[iv]

Dear Brothers
I don't care how you were brought up, what was 'o.k.' in your house or what cultural norms you have accepted, if you raise your hand instead of your voice, you lose all respect as a man. Your value as a leader is put to question - if you treated one woman that brutally, how will you handle other people? In Islam we are taught that Allah is extra merciful to those who show mercy to others. This goes beyond a smile and punch of flowers. As a Muslim representative of a peaceful faith you add to the statistics that claim more Muslim marriages result in domestic violence and divorce (they do). As a father you destroy the respect your children had for you, so in ten years you are faced with children who raise their voices against you and you wonder in horror - why? A modern saying is that "by the time a man realises his own father was right, he was children who think he's wrong". How you communicate with and treat the mother of your children, especially in front of them, paints a stark picture of what you are. If you have daughters and they grow up hating men, you can begin by asking yourself what you did to help.

I understand that women are "difficult" to live with - they are the opposite - although this  “difficulty” is not an excuse to drop-kick them. Allah knows it is an enormous task asking a man to be extra patient and tolerant of his wife, brothers tend to give the Chris Rock reaction 'You can never win an argument with a woman, because men have a need to make sense!'

Raise your voices, not your hands
But irrespective of the male-female stereotypes, abusive relationships emerge the moment one person feels let down or arrogant. In the mentality of the victim, men will react with greater force. By all means seek marriage counselling, ask your wife's sisters, friends, mother to talk to her. Do not resort to rolling up your own sleeves and cracking knuckles because you were told by someone that Allah said you could.

I remind the sisters too that this applies both ways. If you've got a self-righteous, obnoxious and stubborn husband - give them the cold shoulder. Please stop hitting them.

Marriage counsellor since 1996

[iv] Source: Muttaqun

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  1. Good Stuff but also people shouldn't overdo it with speech, sometimes verbal abuse is worse than physical. People also have a tendency to play mind games. Calm and rational discussion seems to be the best option, I think. Maybe even make rules as to how the couple would resolve future issues: such as no name calling or no insults or to clearly voice your thoughts.

    The best solution for them would be to look to the Quraan and Hadeeth for a solution and if not found there to think what would Nabi(saw) would have said about it.

  2. The breakdown of social relationships sometimes needs more than a reminder of ahadith or Qur'an ayat; we can build a 'victim' mentality where we think we need apologies or guilt that we can't fix something. Yeah other times it's repetitive cycles of verbal abuse - infantile behaviour in adults where nobody gives in. But, alhamdulillah ala kulli haalin.

  3. Very good article, however the trend is point to an increase in Woman on Man violence too.

  4. Men say women are complicated, and women say men are complicated. The truth is none of them are complicated. It's a part of Baba Ali's video I wrote :P

    Most of the problems in marriage are due to misunderstanding, as Baba Ali notes. Just check out the matrimonial related videos he has uploaded:


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