I’m A Feminist- Can I Beat My Husband?- Part 2

22 December, 2016
Q Asslam Alaikkum, Lately, I have been getting a lot of questions in my mind. I'm a feminist. I want to know why is it that in Islam a wife must obey her husband? Just them being strong shouldn't be the reason. In fact, I wouldn’t mind my husband obeying me. Women go through a lot, and still they are meant to be under someone? Why can’t we be the superior? And my other question is--why can a husband beat his wife lightly, and the wife can’t do the same? I want to know in what ways are women lesser than men that they must obey them? Both are Allah's creation; doesn't that mean we both get the same rights?

Answer

Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Please find part two of the answer to your question below. Find the first part at the link here.

Now, to get to a very important part of your question: Why can a husband beat his wife lightly and the wife can’t do the same?

If we look to the sunnah (how the Prophet (PBUH) was the living example of the Quran) we find that The Prophet never hit a woman and never advocated for husbands to beat their wives, not even lightly. In fact, he instructed the exact opposite. Mu’awiyah al-Qushayri said:

I went to the Apostle of Allah (PBUH) and asked him: What do you say (command) about our wives? He replied: ‘Give them food what you have for yourself, and clothe them by which you clothe yourself, and do not beat them, and do not revile them’.  (emphasis added-Sunan Abu-Dawud)

However, the phrase used in the verse in question (Quran 4:34) is often translated as “beat them”. But we must look at the Arabic used in the Quran to determine the meaning.

The word used in the verse is: “wadriboohunna”. Arabic linguists say that this is derived from the root, “daraba”, which has a number of meanings; including, “beat”, “hit”, or “leave”. 

Some scholars argue that the word in this context and in the very clear light of the sunnah does not mean “beat” or “hit”, but it means “leave [them]”. It is exactly like saying someone should beat it in English-meaning leave.

Now, if your husband is beating you, it is your right as a human being to protect yourself from harm. Please seek help from your family, your community, and professionals who handle domestic abuse.

Abuse is not something you should endure, thinking Allah gives your husband the right to harm you. 

And you should also not beat or hit anyone, especially not your husband. This would also be domestic abuse, and I am sure you do not want to be an abuser or oppressor. 

Do we have the same rights?

To answer your final question, men and women get the same amount of rights but not the exact same rights, since we are not the same. For example, we don’t expect our husbands to nurse our children, as a mutual right, because he is not like the female.

This is because equity is better than equality. We must seek equity because we don’t all have the same needs.

For example, if an employer issues all right-handed scissor to its employees, but there are many left-handed employees who cannot use them; and therefore, cannot perform their jobs as well as the right-handed people; equality has occurred but justice has not.

When it comes to equity in marriage, Allah says:

{[…] And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them, and men have a degree [of responsibility] above them.} (Quran 2:228)

Allah Almighty has given us rights over men similar to the rights men have over us (equity), even though men have more responsibility in terms of providing for and protecting their families. And because they go through a lot to do that, they are due an elevated amount of respect.

While, as you correctly said, women go through a lot for their families, and for that women are also due an elevated amount of respect.

I do understand that many men take the concept of equity out of context and use it to oppress women in many ways based on some false assumptions they have about women. But we can be assured that if we see injustice, we can know that it is not Islam. 

And if injustice is being done to us, we have a right to seek justice. We also have an obligation to prevent our brothers from oppressing others.

The Prophet (PBUH) taught us to:

‘Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one.’ People asked him, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor? The Prophet said, ‘By preventing him from oppressing others.’ (Bukhari)

I hope this helps to alleviate your concerns. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Muslim Men Fight Domestic Violence in Australia

Domestic Violence: What Should The Victim Do? (Watch)

UK Muslims Discuss Feminism, Spirituality And Faith

Are You an Abusive Spouse? (Test Yourself)

Between Sisters – Yasmin Mogahed