Posted on November 5, 2004

Wife Beating: An Arab How-To

MEMRI, FrontPage, Nov. 5

On October 5, France expelled Algerian-born Imam Abdel Qader Bouziane for telling a French magazine that Muslim husbands may beat their wives. This follows the sentencing on January 14 of the Egyptian-born Sheik Muhammad Kamal Mustafa, the imam of the mosque of the Spanish city of Fuengirola, Costa del Sol, for publishing a book that explains that wife-beating is in accordance with Shariah law.

Sheik Yousuf Qaradhawi, one of the most influential clerics in Sunni Islam and head of the European Council for Fatwa and Research and the International Council of Muslim Clerics, has also advocated wife-beating on multiple occasions in his 1984 book “The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam,” and on his weekly Al Jazeera program, which is popular among the surging number of European Muslims who increasingly look to religious leaders from the Middle East for religious guidance. This is particularly true with the growth of viewers watching Arab TV stations, available on satellite TV in Europe, which frequently airs shows dedicated to teaching a husband how to beat his wife. The following examples on this subject can be viewed at

Egyptian Professor Sabri Abd Al-Rauf of Al-Azhar University appeared on Iqra TV on September 13, and explained that “beating [one’s wife] doesn’t mean beatings with a rod or beatings that draw blood . . . The beatings are intended to instill fear . . . and declaring that he isn’t satisfied with this wife.”

Speaking on Syrian TV on July 26, Sheik Abd Al-Hamid Al-Muhajir explained that the Koran stipulates when a husband can beat his wife: “The Koranic verse refers only to a disobedient wife . . . First you must admonish . . . Then comes the stage of sending her to a separate bed . . . If this does not help either . . . it is said, ‘and beat them’ . . . What’s better, that she gets slapped, or that she ruins her family, herself, and society?”

Sheik Muhammad Al-Mussayar, an Egyptian professor at Al-Azhar University, was interviewed about wife beating on Iqra TV on June 7. He described what kind of woman should be beaten: “She is a wife who rebelled against her husband’s advice, and abandoning her in bed did not help.”

As a member of the Egyptian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Sheik Yousuf Al-Badri explained on Egypt’s Dream2 TV on September 1,”I use beatings [on my children], but symbolically. The same goes for women: ‘Admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them . . . ’ There are beatings in the Koran and in the Sunna . . . This means we’re allowed to beat.”

On August 26, Qatar TV aired a panel discussion that included Dr. Ibrahim Elias, and the Director of The Women’s Development Society, Imam Bibars, who discussed a study she performed in the Arab world: “I’d like to say that I found something that took me by surprise. I call it ‘a culture of the electricity cable.’ The men in the study did not know one another, but they all used to beat their wives with electricity cables. These cables are large and they would beat their wives.” In defense of beatings, Dr. Elias, a lawyer, explained, “If you beat your wife and it’s only light beatings in order to set things straight — that’s it . . . We tell him, ‘They are not considered an assault, but discipline.’ “

Responding to the question, “What do you mean by light beatings?” he gave an example of when a man should be beat his wife: “For example, a man comes home from work and finds his wife watching TV. She doesn’t even get up to make him food. He tells her once, twice, and asks again. If only once he would raise his voice and beat her, she would get up to prepare food for him and by the next day she’d be obedient. This will last for a week and when she forgets, he will remind her.”

The following day on the same channel, a religious leader detailed three types of women who deserve beatings: “The first type is a girl who was brought up this way . . . The second type is a woman who is condescending towards her husband . . . With her, too, only a rod will help. The third type is a twisted woman who will not obey her husband unless he oppresses her, beats her, uses force against her, and overpowers her.”

Unfortunately, the examples mentioned in this article are the rule, not the exception. TV shows dedicated to husbands beating their wives can be viewed regularly on Arab TV.