Daraba Dabble


Islam is a religion of peace, is it not?

The answer to that would be yes, but it is not. The correct answer would be it is but it is being misinterpreted by its followers. And as such, the doings of Muslims have allowed anti-Muslims to further feed fuel to the Islamophobic fire as depicted above.

Many Muslim men think it is their right to beat their women if they have wronged the former. I have been quoted Surah an-Nisaa’ verse 34 (hereinafter referred to as Surah 4:34) which have been quoted again, by Islamophobists, below:


In Malaysia, the number of reported cases of domestic violence hovers at around 3,500 annually. I emphasise on the word reported because there still exists the stigma about reporting and how the victim would be viewed by both family members and the society at large. With the recent video of a domestic violence act taking place in the state of Penang going viral, many comments were made about the video; ranging from “Islam does not permit wife-beating” to “maybe she deserved it.” Some even said, “He shouldn’t have kicked her. He should have used the siwak as the Prophet had taught.”

I believe it is time to clear this misconception and confusion so no one can belittle Islam – the religion of peace that places the welfare and rights of women in so many verses.


In Surah 4:34, the verse was interpreted by many as such:

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand

The Quran uses the Arabic word qawwamuna in the beginning of this verse, so it reads “Men are the qawwamuna of women.” The word qawwamuna means to continuously stand over something (e.g. a guard or a caretaker) or to maintain something. The closest single word in English to the root qawwam is probably guardian. The grammatical form of qawwam combines the concepts of physical maintenance and protection as well as responsibility. The word denotes no superiority but responsibility. A correct translation of “qawwamuna a’ala aln-nisa” would therefore be “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women“. To use “in charge” is quite a loose translation.

So a husband must be a protector/guardian and maintainer of his wife. It is important to note that the expression “men are qawwamuna over women” only describes the relationship between husband and wife within the family. The expression does not refer to the relationship between men and women in general.

Abu Hurairah r.a narrated that the Prophet said: “The most perfect of the believers in their belief are those with the best manners, and the best of you are those who are best with their wives.” (Sahih Bukhari)

Therefore, why does Surah 4:34 allow wives to be beaten by their husband? Well, it does not! It ends with the sentence “….Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.” Characteristically, this reminds men that if they misbehave God is watching over them and will deal with them. It is relevant here to mention the story of how the Prophet once saw Ibnu Mas’ud with his hand raised, about to hit his slave. The Prophet cried out, “God has more power over you than you have over him“, so Ibnu Mas’ud dropped his hand and set the slave free. In the theme under discussion it is important to observe that four successive verses end in the following ways: ‘God has full knowledge of everything . . . ’ (4:32), ‘God is witness to everything . . . ’ (4:33), ‘God is most exalted and grand. . .’ (4:34) and ‘God is all knowing, all aware. . . ’ (4:35).

The Arabic word used is Surah 4:34 is “idribuhunna” which is derived from the word “daraba” which means “hit” or “beat.” The problem is, not all words derived from “daraba” carry those meanings. The word “idribuhunna” in Surah 4:34 could also mean “leave.”

Or it could mean “strike” as in “daraba al-ma’ `ala wajhihi” which literally means “to strike the face“, but if you take that in the literal sense, then Muslims would be smacking each other’s face, when in fact this sentence refers to “striking your face with water” as in performing the ablution.

If I say to you in Arabic “daraba laka mathal,” then don’t start avoiding my hands because all I just said was “give you an example.” This word was used in Surah 14:24:

Do you not see how Allah has given the example of a good word? It is like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and whose branches reach the sky (اَلَمۡ تَرَ كَيۡفَ ضَرَبَ اللّٰهُ مَثَلًا كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً )

Another derivation of the word “daraba” is “darabtum” which means “to go forth” or “to separate” as in Surah 4:94:

Believers! When you go forth in the way of Allah…. ( يٰۤـاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اِذَا ضَرَبۡتُمۡ فِىۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ

Therefore, “daraba” can mean “beat“, “give example”, or “go forth.”

If the explanation above still fails to move the Muslim men who believe beating women is their birthright, I can quote other verses and Hadith Sahih that forbid the beating of women:

The first is Surah 4:19:

Believers! It is not lawful for you to become heirs to women against their will. It is not lawful that you should put constraint upon them that you may take away anything of what you have given them; (you may not put constraint upon them) unless they are guilty of brazenly immoral conduct. Live with your wives in a good manner. If you dislike them in any manner, it may be that you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good for you.

Next is Surah 30:21:

And of His Signs is that He has created mates for you from your own kind28 that you may find peace in them and He has set between you love and mercy. Surely there are Signs in this for those who reflect.

So do you think the beaten wife in the video deserved being pummelled as such? Even if she, hypothetically, had done something really nasty? For Muslim men, I give you Surah 3:134:

Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good.

The Prophet whom we as Muslims claim we love and whose examples we follow underscored Surah 3:134:

Narrated Mu’awiyah al-Qushayri: “I went to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) 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. (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Number 2139)”

Narrated Mu’awiyah ibn Haydah: “I said: Apostle of Allah, how should we approach our wives and how should we leave them? He replied: Approach your tilth when or how you will, give her (your wife) food when you take food, clothe when you clothe yourself, do not revile her face, and do not beat her. (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 11, Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah), Number 2138)”

What about the right to beat a wife but not on the face? Let us examine the two Hadiths regarding this matter:

Narrated Salim: “… Omar said: ‘The Prophet forbade beating on the face.’ (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Hunting, Slaughtering, Volume 7, Book 67, Number 449)”

Narrated Abu Hurairah: “The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: When one of you inflicts a beating, he should avoid striking the face. (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 38, Prescribed Punishments (Kitab Al-Hudud), Number 4478)”

Neither narration above provides any proof about beating the wife being as alright as long as it is not on the face. The striking can be used when disciplining our children, but stresses on avoiding striking the face. The importance of this is underscored in the following Hadith:

“He who has no mercy towards younger ones, and does not acknowledge the honour of our older ones, is not one of us.” [At-Tirmidzi]

There have you, why you cannot strike, beat, pummel, kick, beat lightly, beat but not the face, the woman whom you love enough to marry her and promised to protect and provide for her, taking that responsibility from her father or guardian, as in the Ijab performed during marriage.

Abu Hurairah reported: “I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: One is not strong because of one’s wrestling skillfully. They said: Allah’s Messenger, then who is strong? He said: He who controls his anger when he is in a fit of rage. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Virtue, Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Relationship (Kitab Al-Birr was-Salat-I-wa’l-Adab), Book 032, Number 6314)”

And I leave you with, again, what Allah SWT has commanded us:

Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good.

If you still think it is your birthright to beat your wife, I suggest you beat up her brothers too…if you are a man.

Courtesy of zaufishan.co.uk

One Reply to “Daraba Dabble”

  1. My friend’s dad had a very big issue whenever any of his child is getting married, more so the daughters over the boys. His argument, ‘penat-penat kita jaga elok-elok berpuluh tahun, senang-senang nak bagi kat orang lain’, which to a point, I concur. A loving dad, and thankfully, to my knowledge at least, so far, his daughters are happily married.

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