ALLAH describes Mercy and Compassion between a man and his wife in several places. How can this be reconciled with a man physically and psychologically injuring someone’s sister, daughter, cousin or niece, who is also the mother of his children, with whom he shares a home and to whom he has made solemn oaths?
Did ALLAH Command men to beat their wives?
The word commonly translated as “beat them” is
The root of this word is
A common Árabic dictionary translates this as “to hit/beat/strike”, or more accurately as “he hit/beat/struck”.
However, Qur-anic words often take a different meaning than common usage for several reasons. First, and this is common in many languages, historic uses of some words change over time. The Qur-an, of course, was revealed in stages beginning over 1400 years ago. Second, words have often have a specific Qur-anic/Islamic meaning that is either broader, narrower, or altogether different in context than its outside usage.
So does this word in fact mean strike?
We are not scholars in classical or Qur-anic Arabic, so the first possible source of difference in meaning is unavailable to our review. The second source can be analyzed in different ways. We will attempt two here. The first is an analysis of the usage and meaning of this word in other parts of the Qur-an. The second is the explanation and implementation of this ayat in the lives of the Prophet (ﺼﻟﻰﺍﷲﻋﻟﻴﻪﻮﺴﻟﻢ), his family and his companions, according to authentic narrations.
This root word, in conjugation, is found in many, many ayat (verses) of the Qur-an. Some of them will be listed here, and the reader is encouraged to investigate them in Arabic and/or in translation if necessary. Our comments are to point out that if this verb does indeed mean “strike”, “hit”, or “beat”, then only a nonsensical meaning can be taken from the verses it is found in.
– Qur-an 2.26- This is the first instance of this verb in the Qur-an. Is it saying that
ALLAH is not ashamed or shy to “strike” an example? It is translated as “use” in the AbduLLAH Yufuf Áli translation.
– Qur-an 59.22- Does this verse say ‘such are they the examples which We (ALLAH)
“beat” for mankind, that they may reflect’? The verb is translated as “propound”.
There are other examples of the pairing of the verb
and the noun
Which is translated as “similitude”, “example”, etc. Perhaps this pairing gives a metaphorical meaning to the verb. This question, as well as research into the historical and Qur-anic uses of the verb in question, should be referred to qualified scholars.
To be sure, in at least one instance in the Qur-an, the verb is used to mean “strike” or “hit”. This is in Qur-an 2.60 when ‘Moses’(ﻋﻟﻴﻪ ﺍﻠﺴﻼﻢ) is commanded to strike a rock with his staff.
At this point, though, the possible meanings of this verb seem broad, and indeed even a simple Arabic dictionary shows that it has definitions other than just “to strike, beat, or hit”.
We should refer then, to the implementation of those who understood the Qur-an best.
No human understood or understands the Qur-an better, nor implemented it better than Prophet Muhammad himself. Indeed, ALLAH Praises his example in Qur-an 33.21, and his character in Qur-an 68.4. There is a narration corroborating this fact as well. Á-isha, one of Prophet Muhammad’s wives was reportedly asked once about his character. She is said to have responded by saying that it was the impersonation of the Qur-an. 
What, then, was his implementation of the command in the central verse in question?
In another narration, he is said to never have struck a human or animal with his open hand. 
Another narration is reported from Á-isha that she disobeyed him once. He poked her with his finger until she felt pain, but no more. 
In a lengthier narration, a rumor was going around Madina that Prophet Muhammad had divorced all of his wives. He had secluded himself from all of them for a lengthy amount of time. Úmar, one of his companions, rushed to his house to collect the truth of the matter. After finally being admitted, he asked if he had, which he had not, and the narration goes on to other matters. His way of handling their misconduct, of expressing his grievance against it, and to punish it, was not through beating, hitting, or striking. 
Therefore, Prophet Muhammad, the best example of this and all of ALLAH’s Orders, clearly did not respond to it by beating, striking, or hitting his wives.
This does not close the argument, as there are other narrations regarding the verse in question.
There is a lengthy narration surrounding the situation surrounding this verse. In it, women came to the Prophet after it was revealed to complain of abuse, and they were visibly abused. The Prophet then made the announcement that “Some of you are beating your wives. You are not the best among us.” 
Only a scholar or one with sound knowledge of Juristic and other sciences should interpret this narration with a ruling. However it is clear that Prophet Muhammad did not approve of men who beat their wives, and that doing so degraded one’s status. He also did not forbid it, so the question, which should be put to scholars, is what exactly is allowed, recommended, and forbidden?
We the authors know of only two legislated Islamic instances of physical punishment between a man and his wife. In Qur-an 38.44 Prophet Job (ﻋﻟﻴﻪ ﺍﻠﺴﻼﻢ) is commanded to beat his wife with grass. In a narration, this is to fulfill an oath he had made to his wife in anger, but not to injure her in so doing. The other is the narration for Á-isha mentioned above. In both, it is clear that the physical correction is to be a symbolic, rather than injurious call to reason.
The kind of violence that would cause pain, physical and psychological, is inconsistent with the mercy that ALLAH Commands and Describes in the Qur-an between believers. Further, upon a closer reading of Qur-an 4.34, one sees that it is even inconsistent with the context we find it in. The verse in question elaborates steps by which a husband can correct and advise his wife. The portion of the verse in question, as translated by ÁbduLLAH Yusuf Áli, is as follows:
As to those women on show part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct,
then admonish them, then refuse to share their beds, and then beat them…
The next verse contains a command for a couple on the verge of separation or divorce to seek arbitration within their families. Beating a woman injuriously is grossly inconsistent with the cautionary and diplomatic nature of the process it is supposedly legislated within.
To look even more broadly, ALLAH describes Mercy and Compassion between a man and his wife in several places (Quran5.34, et al.). Further, women’s rights of property and in divorce are delineated several times in various chapters (Qur-an 2, 3, 4, 65, et al.). Lastly, Muslims in general are commanded to be merciful and kind to each other. How can all this be reconciled with a man physically and psychologically injuring someone’s sister, daughter, cousin or niece, who happens to be the mother of his children, with whom he shares a home and to whom he has made solemn oaths?
The final facts of these arguments are two. One, in every social stratum and region of the earth, there are men who physically and psychologically injure their wives. Some of these men are Muslims. As we do not advocate it, we encourage those who would to ask them why they do this. If they will either give cultural or personal reasons for doing this, then advise them with authentic Islamic sources as proof. If they claim that it is their Islamic right or duty, ask for their proofs, and provide the information that you have.
The second closing fact is that we the authors are not scholars, of Islam or the Árabic language. We are neither legislating nor refuting Islamic rulings. We remind the reader of their duty to study Islam with at least the same standards and rigor of any subject, and to consult knowledgeable people and scholars with at least the same humility that they would consult a doctor or expert of any other field. Never should Islam be submitted to our own or others’ logic, only ALLAH’s Word is infallible in veracity and indisputability. After that, everyone should recognize that their opinion is as good or bad as everyone else’s.
As for the women of the world who suffer from abuse from their husbands, the solution is beyond the scope of this essay. We remind the reader that it is part of the reason of our creation (Qur-an 2.30) to command good and forbid evil (Qur-an 3.104,110). The method of that is described in a narration attributed to Prophet Muhammad wherein he said to stop evil first by hand (or with one’s strength), and if that is not possible, then by tongue, and if that is not possible, then in the heart, after which there is no faith. . Indeed, ALLAH Has Made clear the ways and means (Qur-an 5.3) to success in this life and the hereafter, and the Guidance to these is from him.
The good of what we have written is from ALLAH, and the evil or errant of it is from our selves and Satan. We praise and thank ALLAH and ask His Forgiveness and Refuge.
ﻭﺑﺮﻛﺎﺗﻪ ﻭﺭﺣﻤﺔاﷲ ﻋﻠﻴﻜﻢ اﻟﺴﻼﻡ