Six: Adopting several steps to discipline one's wife:
Allah (may He be Exalted) says: "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allâh has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allâh and to their husbands), and guard in the husband's absence what Allâh orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband's property). As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful); but if they obey you, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allâh is Ever Most High, Most Great. *If you fear a breach between them twain (the man and his wife), appoint (two) arbitrators, one from his family and the other from hers; if they both wish for peace, Allâh will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allâh is Ever All-Knower, Well-Acquainted with all things." [Surat An-Nisa'] (1)
In order to treat disobedience of women, we should follow the following steps:
The first step: Lenient and kind advice, but if it does not work out, we should move to
The second step: Abandoning in bed by turning his back to her while they are in bed. However, a husband should not abandon his wife in bed more than four months and a husband should have the intention of disciplining and reforming her not to vent his anger and revenge. A husband should not abandon talking to his wife for more than three days because of the Prophet's saying: "It is not lawful for a Muslim to keep apart from his brother for more than three days." (2)
The third step: Light beating. `A'ishah, the Mother of believers, (may Allah be pleased with her) said: "Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) never beat anyone with his hand, neither a woman nor a servant, but only, in the case when he had been fighting in the cause of Allah and he never took revenge for anything unless the things made inviolable by Allah were made violable; he then took revenge for Allah, the Exalted and Glorious." (3)
When is beating permissible? The steps mentioned in the Ayah should be applied in the same arrangement: Advice when someone fears disobedience of the wife, abandonment when the disobedience appears, beating when a wife repeats disobedience and it is not permissible to start with beating at the beginning of disobedience.
Conditions of beating:
A wife insists on disobedience even after gradation in discipline as previously mentioned.
Punishment should be suitable to the mistake committed, so a husband should not hasten to abandon his wife in bed when she commits something that may be fixed by advice and guiding. Moreover, a husband should not hasten to beating his wife without trying abandonment in bed because if punishment is bigger than the mistake committed, it will be a kind of oppression.
A husband should take into consideration that the meaning of beating is treatment, discipline, and rebuke not less, so he should be lenient when he does so because it may be done by a nudge or by an Arak tooth brush and suchlike. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the sermon of the Farewell Hajj: "Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah. You too have right over them, and that they should not allow anyone to sit on your bed whom you do not like. But if they do that, you can chastise them but not severely. Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner. I have left among you the Book of Allah, and if you hold fast to it, you would never go astray." (4)
`Ata' said: I said to Ibn `Abbas: What is the meaning of "not aching beating"? He said: The using of miswak (a tooth stick) and the like in beating. (5)
Jurists said: Not aching beating is not to break any of her bones and not leave a trace on her body. (6)
If a wife is deterred and stopped disobedience, it is not permissible for a husband to continue punishing her or to punish her by words or actions because of Allah's Saying: "But if they obey you, seek not against them means (of annoyance)." [Surat An-Nisa': 34].
Beating should be effective in reform, but if it will result in more corruption, it will not be permissible. Scholars have agreed that abandoning beating and using only threatening is better because of the narration of Iyas ibn `Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Do not beat the female servants of Allah (women in general)."
`Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) came to Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) and said: Women have become very daring towards their husbands. So, the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave permission to beat them. Thereupon, many women came to the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to complain about their husbands. Then the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Many women came to the wives of Muhammad to complain about their husbands, those people who do so are not the best among you." (7)
Ibn Al Jawzy said: A man should know that the one who is not deterred by warning and threatening, lashing will not deter him and perhaps kindness is more effective than beating because beating increases the cruelty of the straying. (8(
The fourth step: If discord continues between the spouses, they should resort to two judges one of them from his family and the other is from her family provided that they should be reasonable Muslims who are acquainted with the disagreement between the spouses. They will examine the complaint of each one of them then they pass their judgment. If one of the spouses does not show inclination to reconciliation, they try to persuade the other with accepting reconciliation; as long as they are able to gather the spouses and reconcile between them, they should do so. If they reached a dead end and saw that separation or divorce should take place, they should do so.
(1) Surat An-Nisa': 34-35.
(2) Reported by Al Bukhari in the book of properties, chapter on prohibited envy, Hadith No. 6065 - 10 / 481 as reported in Fathul-Bary.
(3) Reported by Imam Muslim in the book of virtues, chapter on the Prophet's warning against sins, Hadith No. 2327.
(4) Reported by Imam Muslim in the chapter on the Hajj of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Hadith No. 3009 - 4/39 in length.
(5) Tafsir At-Tabary 8/314.
(6) Tafsir Ibn Kathir 2/295.
(7) Reported by Abu Dawud in the chapter on beating women, Hadith No. 2148 - 2/211 and Al Albany graded it as authentic. It was also reported by An-Nasa'y in As-Sunan Al Kubra, chapter on a man beats his wife, Hadith No. 9167 - 5/371, and Ad-Darimy in the chapter on the prohibition of beating women, Hadith No. 2219 - 2/198 and was graded as authentic by Husayn Salim Asad. It was also reported by Ibn Hibban in the chapter on treatment between spouses, Hadith No. 4189 - 9/499 and Al Arna'ut graded it as authentic. It was also reported by Al Hakim, Hadith No. 2765 - 2/205 and said: its chain of transmission is authentic, however Al Bukhari and Muslim did not report it, and Adh-Dhahaby agreed to his judgment on the Hadith. It was also reported by Al Humaydy, Hadith 876 - 2/386 and At-Tabarany in Al Mu`jam Al Kabir, Hadith No. 784 - 1/270.
(8) Ahkam An-Nsa' P. 82.