M. Arnez, Empowering women through Islam: Fatayat NU between tradition and change, J. Islamic Studies, 2010 (doi), writes:

[Indonesian women's organization] Fatayat NU strongly moves against a gender-biased interpretation of Islamic sources ... As several interviewees have pointed out, these 'biased interpretations' are one reason why women, who seek counsel from counsellors of Fatayat NU, often simply accept being beaten by their husbands, considering their inferior position to men as something given by God.

This does not seem what Allah has intended.

Qur'an 4:34 seems to give husbands a considerable degree of power over their wives, up to and including beating them in some form. While there's a whole bunch of fine print, it's unclear (a) whether the Muslim spouses would even be aware of the fine print, and (b) whether a husband who's in the mindset "I need to beat my wife now" is capable of conducting his beating in a restricted and controlled way.

Suppose a husband beats his wife and and believes his actions are Sharia compliant; he may or may not be correct in his belief. I'm wondering what actions the wife can take.

Question: If a Muslim woman were beaten by her husband who believes his actions are Sharia compliant, how can she rectify the situation?

I'm interested in what actions she can take to stop this from happening. E.g., divorce (talaq), contacting an imam or social worker, engaging in self-defence, acting less rebellious (i.e., do whatever her husband tells her to do).

If it happened to me, I'd want to just disappear. I have no desire to spend my life wondering if today's a day I'm going to be beaten; if next time it will remain Sharia compliant; etc.

1 Answer 1


Divorce in islam is allowed for a reason, which is specially to protect women from this kind of behavior, here is a quote from al-islam.org, a direct answer to your question :

It may be asked: What must a wife do if her husband beats her, does not provide her nafaqah, makes life hard on her, does not correctly perform his sexual duties, torments and harasses her, curses and swears at her, and even refrains from divorcing her? Do you tell her to have patience and “grin and bear it” until her death arrives? Why have women not been given the right to divorce in such cases, so that they may be freed of their torturous prison?

In answer it is said: Islam is based upon justice, fairness, and human rights; thus it never allows or approves of such indecent and oppressive behavior. Islam greatly opposes such mannerisms and defends the rights of women.

In such cases, a woman must approach the team of arbitrators and ask them to advise and council her husband and induce him to observe justice and fairness, and to perform his duties. If they are successful, she continues her life with him and if he does not see the light and amend his ways, she must advance her complaint to a canonical Islamic judge or family court.

The judge summons the offending husband and demands that he refrain from oppression and abuse and that he perform his duties. If he does not accept, he is obligated to divorce her. If he refuses to do so, the judge himself divorces them and forcefully takes the wife’s rights from her husband.

Running away is not fair to the husband, even though he was a bad husband he should get a proper chance to try better, as if he ends up divorced he might learn from his mistake and became better next time.

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