Living in a world filled with chaos, family problems are inevitable. Allah urges the husband to treat his wife with compassion and not overlook her good actions (Qur’an, 4:19). Where the problem has to do with the wife’s behavior, her husband may persuade her and appeal for reasons why she acted the way she did. This measure is likely to work in most cases as it’s a loving and calm approach to the problem. However if the problem continues, the husband may express his displeasure in another peaceful way such as sleeping in a separate room from his wife’s. In extreme cases, the husband may resort to a different measure in order to save the marriage if the wife persists in deliberate mistreatment. This measure is accurately described as a tender tap on the body (not the face).
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) do not share their beds, (and last) beat (tap) them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance): for Allah is Most High, Great (above you all)”, Allah says. (Qur’an 4:34)
Of course a gentle tap on the body is allowed but limited by the following circumstances:
#1. The wife must have rejected the husband’s requests on a continuous basis and refusing to fulfill her duties accurately. Although there’s Quranic and hadith justification for this, the husband should try peaceful measures first and then resort to this one when things get out of hand.
#2.The Hadith has it that it is not permissible to strike anyone’s face, cause any bodily harm, or even be harsh. The “light striking” mentioned in this hadith was interpreted by early jurists to be the symbolic use of miswak (a natural chewing stick). These jurists further said that it implies permissible striking which leaves no mark on the body. It is rather unfortunate that the so called 21ST Century we live in makes this extreme measure to include physical abuse, family violence, wife battering, and so many other atrocities that are morally and religiously wrong.
#3.The Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said “Do not beat the female servants of Allah. Some women visited my family complaining about their husbands beating them. These husbands are not the best for you; and it is a shame that one of you beats his wife like an unscrupulous person beats a slave and maybe sleeps with her at the end of the day”. (Riyadh Al-Saliheen). So this hadith is telling the men not to beat their wives out of their own unreasonable desires. The only time Islam permits the tap on the body is in extreme cases. Narrated by Al- Bukhari, the Prophet (P.B.U.H) said “…How does anyone of you beat his wife as he beats the stallion camel and then he may embrace (sleep with) her?
On a final note, the true following of the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) should make us exempt from battering our wives as it’s happening in the world today. My dear brother, use peaceful means to solve problems with your wife and give her a gentle tap on the body if she’s acting against the laws of Islam with regards to her obligations. My dear sister, obey your husband and fulfill your obligations towards him as your door to Jannah (Paradise) lies under his feet.