Hatred and Violence in the Qur’an Awareness Month: “Righteous women are therefore obedient…and those you fear may be rebellious…beat them”

The infamous wife-beating verse:

Men are the managers of the affairs of women for that God has preferred in bounty one of them over another, and for that they have expended of their property. Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for God’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against them; God is All-high, All-great. (Qur’an 4:34)

This is, of course, an extremely controversial verse, so it is worth noting how several translators render the key part of this verse, waidriboohunna.

Pickthall: “and scourge them”
Yusuf Ali: “(And last) beat them (lightly)”
Al-Hilali/Khan: “(and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful)”
Shakir: “and beat them”
Sher Ali: “and chastise them”
Khalifa: “then you may (as a last alternative) beat them”
Arberry: “and beat them”
Rodwell: “and scourge them”
Sale: “and chastise them”
Daryabadi: “and beat them”
Asad: “then beat them”
Dawood: “and beat them”

Laleh Bakhtiar, in a recent translation that has received wide publicity, translates it as “go away from them.” In light of this unanimity among the translators, both Muslim and non-Muslim, this seems difficult to sustain — all of these authorities got the passage wrong until Bakhtiar? But her impulse is understandable, as many Muslims today regard this verse with acute embarrassment. Muhammad Asad adduces numerous traditions in which Muhammad “forbade the beating of any woman,” concluding that wife-beating is “barely permissible, and should preferably be avoided.”

Unfortunately, however, this is not a unanimous view. The Qur’an commentary Ruhul Ma”ani gives four reasons that a man may beat his wife: “if she refuses to beautify herself for him,” if she refuses sex when he asks for it, if she refuses to pray or perform ritual ablutions, and “if she goes out of the house without a valid excuse.” Also, Muhammad’s example is normative for Muslims, since he is an “excellent example of conduct” (Qur’an 33:21) — and Aisha reports that Muhammad struck her. Once he went out at night after he thought she was asleep, and she followed him surreptitiously. Muhammad saw her, and, as Aisha recounts: “He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?” (Sahih Muslim 2127)

Wife-beating exists in all cultures, but only in Islam does it enjoy divine sanction. Amnesty International reports that “according to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, over 90% of married women report being kicked, slapped, beaten or sexually abused when husbands were dissatisfied by their cooking or cleaning, or when the women had “˜failed” to bear a child or had given birth to a girl instead of a boy.”

Aisha herself said it: “I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women.” (Sahih Bukhari 7.72.715)

Robert Spencer: Women in the Qur'an
Muslim soldiers in Cote d'Ivoire beat transgender sex workers: "He said, 'in the Qur'an it says that when you kill a homosexual you go to heaven'"
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  1. says

    if she refuses sex when he asks for it,

    If she can be punished for saying no, then it is not a request, it is a demand…

    A Quran only Mahoundian I talked to identifies the word waidriboohunna as ‘reason with’, not beat…I asked him where he got that and he wouldn’t say…I asked him how all the other translators got it wrong…He didn’t know…

  2. says

    As ststed before those who make the claim the Islam is “A peaceful religion” are not only making a false claim but they are more then dishonest. For in reality Islam is a religion of violence and killing. For example,the Quran in Sura 47 teaches “When you encounter the unbelievers strike off their heads, unill you have made a great slaughter among them…” Likewise, in the Quran in 9:122 it also teaches “The believers fight in Allah’s Cause, they slay and are slain, kill and are killed.”
    These are just two of the many parts in the Quran that instruct the believers in Islam to violence and killing. Some “peaceful religion” Islam is.
    A death cult would actually be a better was to describe this religion with along with its Quran.
    all this does,again ,bring to mind the wisdom in the words of Thomas Paine from his book THE AGE OF REASON which reads “Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.”

  3. says

    Stealth jihadists wrote the book on white washing. I am surprised they have not sued Procter and Gamble for patent infringement. Colorax that is.

  4. says

    There is always hope. The only question is how much.

    the main condition of that treaty was that all political and military power rested with Muhammad (and therefore with Islam), but that other religions would be treated fairly as long as they were loyal to Muhammad.

    I’d say there’s a pretty massive contradiction between Muhammad having all political and military power on the one hand, and other religions being treated fairly on the other. Also, the proviso, “as long as they were loyal to Muhammad” is an elephantine caveat, given Muhammad’s totalitarian ideas of loyalty.

    Are you aware of the Pact of Omar? Are you aware that it imposed manifold discrimination on non-Muslims? Did you know that the Pact is based on Qur’an 9:29? And did you know that Qur’an Sura 9 is the last or next to last Sura Muhammad produced, and thus most Muslim scholars think it supersedes and replaces earlier verses of tolerance? Have you noticed that every Islamic nation in the world discriminates, often very heavily, against non-Muslims, both socially and in law, even where Sharia law is not officially on the books?

    You wrote,

    I like to think that there is hope because there is a strong intellectual tradition in Islam (especially Sufism)that has a lot of merits.

    Sufism is of some interest, though Sufis have been involved in jihad, so they should not be overrated. Many Sufis have no problem with some of the totalitarian tenets of Islamic law. As to there being a strong intellectual tradition in Islam, well, okay, but compared to what? Compared to every other major culture in the world, Islam does not by any means have a strong intellectual tradition. It has an incredibly weak intellectual tradition.

    Robert Reilly, in his book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind, argues persuasively and without rancor that by and large Islam shut down philosophy and independent reason about a thousand years ago. When Muslims first burst out of Arabia to conquer, they were largely innocent of philosophy and of the high culture of the civilizations they invaded, and hence did not know whether to reject those cultures, which included disciplines of rational reflection. It took time for Islamic scholars to draw out the implications of their own totalitarian traditions, but they did, about a thousand years ago, and to a not insignificant extent succeeded in shutting down within Islam philosophy and the culture of independent reason. The only thing left to do was to work out the details of Islamic jurisprudence on the basis of the Islamic traditions.

    Is there hope? Of course. Reilly thinks so. But it remains true today that with 1.5 billion people, Muslims have produced almost no Nobel prizes in the sciences. With 1/100 of the population of Muslims, Jews have produced something like 100 times as many Nobels in the sciences. That means any given Jew is 100 x 100 = 10,000 times as likely to produce a Nobel in the sciences as is any given Muslim. We are talking about a night and day difference in cultures.

    You wrote,

    Parts of the OT are just as expansionistic (Joshua) or as race-obsessed (Ezra) as the Qur’an

    The Qur’an is not race-based, though there is significant Arab imperialism in Islam. And Joshua was not as expansionistic as Islam. Joshua promoted no open-ended project to subjugate under the rule of Jewish law everyone in the world until the end of the world. In a single century after the death of Muhammad, Islam conquered by the sword all of North Africa, much of the Middle East, and got to the edges of India. Now that’s expansionistic.

    You wrote,

    My point still stands that there are many Muslims who do not like the idea of an Islamic state…

    Yes, but polls of Muslim opinion (Pew, for example) show that a majority of the globe’s Muslims support at least some of the totalitarian tenets of Islamic law.

    You wrote,

    if these people do not see Islam as a religion of violence, and they seek a textual understanding to explain why these things done in the past were, but are no longer permissible, then it is our responsibility to support that;

    Yes, but not at the expense of deluding ourselves that the core texts of Islam can reasonably be shown to support such a textual understanding. If you know the core texts of Islam — not just the Qur’an but the canonical hadith collections, you know their overwhelmingly predominant thrust is totalitarian. If you know the earliest Muslim biography of Muhammad, you know he was a totalitarian. We might have some duty to support those “Muslims” who want nothing to do with Sharia law, but we should not kid ourselves about their chances of ever becoming dominant in the world, given the fact that they are in denial about the clear content of their own core texts, their own founder, their own history, and the current nature of Islam around the globe today.

    If one looks at the reports of human rights organizations, which region of the globe, bar none, has the worst human rights record of any other? Far worse than sub-Saharan Africa, than Asia, or than any other region? The core Islamic region of the Middle East.

    We have to take our heads out of the sand. We can have hope, but it should be based on realism.

  5. says

    Above, the sand-thrower whom I will call “e33be” attempted to morally equate the TaNaKh with the Islamic trilogy.

    That was a very silly thing to do in this particular thread. Because when we look at man-woman relations, there is simply no equivalence whatever to be drawn between the Biblical and the Islamic texts.

    There is absolutely NO text, anywhere in either the TaNaKh or in the Christian scriptures, that in any way resembles or parallels Quran 4: 34.

    There are some few texts in the Hebrew and in the Christian scriptures that can be read as permitting physical discipline of *children*; but *none* that command or permit or could reasonably be read as requiring/ condoning a man’s physically hitting and hurting his *wife*.

    Furthermore: there is actually, in the *historical* portions of the scriptures, no account of any of the major Biblical figures carrying out a wife-beating.

    In Genesis, *Sarah* beats her maid Hagar; but Abraham does not, so far as one can see, lay a finger on either woman. *None* of the patriarchs nor any other well-known personage is ever shown beating his wife. Jacob, Solomon, David, all had a difficult time of it, domestically; but none of them is shown taking up a stick and walloping a recalcitrant or rebellious or otherwise annoying wife. They mostly seem to have shaken their ears and shrugged their shoulders and let her be.

    It may also be said that whereas the sharia of Islam plainly permits marital *rape* – a man coercing his wife to have sexual intercourse – the great rabbis of the Hebrew tradition explicitly *anathematised* marital rape; all marital relations, they plainly and clearly argued, must take place by mutual consent, and neither physical nor psychological coercion were permitted to be employed; the woman had right of refusal (and, at the same time, a right to *enjoyment*…the ancient verse reading ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ was …with a depth of insight and grace that any woman, reading it, can only be astonished by… interpreted by the rabbis to mean that a husband must endeavour to see that his wife attains satisfaction, that is, sexual climax, *before* he himself attains it…).

    For an illuminating discussion of how and why this wife-beating verse in Islam points to the fact that the basic *assumptions* of Islam are different from Biblical assumptions, see this article by ‘Spengler’ that appeared in Asia Times:


    Wife-beating, sharia, and Western law
    By Spengler

  6. says

    Thank you dumbledoresarmy, I have filed your Sufi references for future use. Also the Spengler article. Also filed links to your two comments, both fascinating.

  7. says

    Islam is no more peaceful than other religions, but it isn’t that much more violent. I may be mistaken but there is quite a bit of inciting violence in the Old Testament against idolaters and foreign nations. I think all religions contain elements that would shock a child. While the Qur’an does say these things Muhammad dealt peacefully with ‘People of the Book’ (Jews and Christians) when the constitution of Medina was established; like in other religions there are many contradictory examples which must be reconciled; traditionally they reconciliation has been heavily weighted towards violence and patriarchy, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Just the fact that Muslim scholars try to find a less divisive interpretation for this verse shows that there is a willingness to follow the true message of religion and not the one dictated by those in power. There is a hope for reformation, just like what happened with Christianity, and they need our help, because there is no hope of ‘disproving’ Islam just like Darwinists cannot disprove Christianity with evolution, there is something very resilient about one’s beliefs and by dismissing an entire religion you lose an ability to help and influence things for the better.

    PS: I have heard people say the Prophet never hit any of his wives, but I hadn’t heard this Hadith about Aisha, thanks to the author for including it.

  8. says

    The commenter I’ll call “e33be” wrote,

    Islam is no more peaceful than other religions, but it isn’t that much more violent.

    The point is, the violence of Islam and of its core texts is in service to an expansionist, totalitarian theocratic program. None of the other major religions has in its core texts such a program. Only Islam. None of the other religions has as a core tenet the demand to impose its own form of religious law on the whole world, including on non-believers.

    Bernard Lewis, eminent historian of Islam and the Middle East, says Islam imposes, without limit of time or space, the duty to subjugate non-Muslims

    In The Political Language of Islam, p. 73:

    “…it is the duty of those who have accepted them [Allah’s word and message] to strive unceasingly to convert or at least to subjugate those who have not. This obligation is without limit of time or space. It must continue until the whole world has either accepted the Islamic faith or submitted to the power of the Islamic state.”

    Lewis also wrote long ago about Islam’s inherent totalitarianism.

  9. says

    I see exactly what you mean; I like to think that there is hope because there is a strong intellectual tradition in Islam (especially Sufism)that has a lot of merits. Your quote from Lewis is good, and the part about “or submitted to the power of the Islamic state” actually relates to the treaty I mentioned; the main condition of that treaty was that all political and military power rested with Muhammad (and therefore with Islam), but that other religions would be treated fairly as long as they were loyal to Muhammad.

    One major difference I think is that the Qur’an was written by one man over a considerably shorter period of time than the Old Testament. Parts of the OT are just as expansionistic (Joshua) or as race-obsessed (Ezra) as the Qur’an, but these weren’t so much canonical texts as they were part of an ongoing theological dialogue. Some of these passages were used to justify terrible acts, but not anymore because by studying our religion and identifying it’s core tenets we have come to have a better understanding of what is so persuasive and powerful about it. My point still stands that there are many Muslims who do not like the idea of an Islamic state and who find other things far more inspirational in their religion; if these people do not see Islam as a religion of violence, and they seek a textual understanding to explain why these things done in the past were, but are no longer permissible, then it is our responsibility to support that; this doesn’t mean we apologize for everything Islam has done or will do, but it does mean we should try to properly understand the struggles of other people of faith.

  10. says


    re our Mohammedan spin-doctor’s assertions about Sufis and Sufism.

    it is two *Sufis* who have made some of the most horrifying statements about the purpose of the dhimma.

    It was the Sufi ‘saint’ Sirhindi, writing in India in the 17th century, who stated openly that the purpose of the dhimma was that the dhimmis “must always remain terrified and trembling” (and discusses, in sadistic detail, with an air of fiendish gloating pleasure, exactly how the dhimmis are to be crushed, exploited, humiliated and generally mistreated, in every aspect of social and political life. Sirhinid the Sufi clearly approves of – revels in – what any sane and decent human can see is a program of institutionalised, bullying cruelty).

    And it was a *Sufi*, in Morocco, at the other end of the Islamic world, who explicitly states that the purpose of the dhimma is to **kill the soul** of the dhimmi: to destroy his sense of his own identity, to destroy his independent will. In effect, to make him into a sort of sentient object of furniture, plastic, willingly submissive to his Muslim oppressors and tormentors, not even uttering the tiniest whimper of distress or complaint even when he is subjected to the grossest of cruelties. To read it is to feel nauseated.

    Durie discusses this Moroccan Muslim Sufi ‘jurist’ in the course of this interview here:


    Monday, September 20, 2010
    The Third Choice ” Interview of Mark Durie by Mark Tapson for FrontPage Magazine

    “…The “third choice” of my title is the alternative to conversion to Islam or the sword.

    “This is the choice to give up fighting, and surrender to Islam, and live as a non-Muslim under Islamic rule.

    “But there is a price to keeping your head without converting, and this is to serve Islam and to embrace your own inferiority.

    “The two most characteristic psychological traits of the dhimmi are gratitude and humility….

    “The dhimmi syndrome is analogous to that of the battered woman. {And note that this takes us back to the subject of the article posted today! – dda}

    ” An abused woman will often vigorously deny that her husband is doing anything wrong, even when her life is daily at risk from beatings.

    “She will be schooled by the violence to be grateful for any small kindness shown to her, and to insist that he loves her. All the abuse is her own fault.

    “The dhimmi syndrome causes victims to go to extraordinary lengths to preserve their worldview of denial.

    “I respect but deplore the psychological power of this dynamic.

    “Respect, because these are the strategies of survivors.

    “Deplore, because such soul-destroying strategies rob people of freedom and bind them into self-deception.

    “Indeed I was amazed to discover a Moroccan jurist who in his commentary on Sura 9:29 of the Koran said that the purpose of the dhimmi system is to “kill the soul” of the non-Muslim, so he will render willingly everything demanded of him…”.

    “…We need to recognize that handing over your worldview and allowing it to be shaped by an abuser is a terrible loss of freedom, and no good will come of it..”.

    A more detailed discussion:


    Sunday, June 12, 2011
    Dhimmitude and Ibn Ajibah on the Death of the Non-Muslim Soul

    “…Virtually without exception these [classical, authoritative Islamic – dda] scholars have regarded dhimmi status as a punitive measure. Again and again they spoke of dhimmis owing a blood debt which had to be redeemed annually in a humiliating ritual involving a blow in the neck, and sometimes also a ritual strangling…

    “…I submit is that it is not possible to find any verse or passage of the Bible which has given rise to such sustained and exceptionless contempt for a category of fellow human beings as has Sura 9:29 in the tradition of Islamic commentaries…

    (And Durie has looked at *lots* of those – dda)

    “Here I offer just one of the 69 commentaries on Sura 9:29, in translation.

    “This is the commentary Tafsir al-Bahr al-Madid fi Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Magid of Ibn Ajibah, who Wikipedia describes as an “18th-century Moroccan saint in the Darqawa Sufi Islamic lineage.”

    “Although this commentary is quite typical in its approach to explaining Sura 9:29, what is noteworthy is the psychological analysis it gives of the intended outcome of the dhimma system, namely the ‘death’ of the dhimmi’s soul..”.

    [“the dhimmi] is commanded to put his soul, good fortune and desires to death.

    “Above all he should kill the love of life, leadership and honour…

    “[He] is to invert the longings of his soul, he is to load it down more heavily than it can bear until it is completely submissive. Thereafter nothing will be unbearable for him. He will be indifferent to subjugation or might.

    “Poverty and wealth will be the same to him; praise and insult will be the same; preventing and yielding will be the same; lost and found will be the same. Then, when all things are the same, it [the soul] will be submissive and yield willingly what it should give..”.

    In other words: the dhimma is intended to condition the dhimmis to commit spiritual suicide: to be, in effect, zombies or puppets, dead-and-alive, serving the will of their Mohammedan slavemasters.

    No, if this is what Sufi mystics write, when they write about dhimmis and how to treat them, then Sufis are just control-freak sadistic Mohammedans like all the rest.