Is it not more appropriate to interpret the word wadribuhunna in verse 34 of the chapter of an-Nisa as separate your bed instead of beat the women?

The Details of the Question

- As a matter of fact, the word daraba also means to go on an expedition but our Prophet did not apply it.

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The part of the Quranic verse in question is as follows:

“... As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).” (an-Nisa, 4/34)

As it is seen, three sanctions are mentioned in the verse:

a. “fe iduhunna” (give them advise).

b. “wahjuruhunna” (break up with them)

c. “wadribuhunna” (hit them slightly)

If we consider the word in (c) as “to leave, to separate”, the statement in (b) should be regarded as a pointless repetition - God forbid.

Moreover, the use of the verb “daraba”, which is considered to be leaving because it means “to go on an expedition” can be used in this sense only if it is used with the preposition “fi”.

“(Charity is) for those in need, who, in Allah's cause are restricted (from travel), and cannot move about in the land, seeking (For trade or work)…” (al-Baqara, 2/273)

The phrase “darben fil-ard” in the verse above expresses “going around the earth / going on an expedition / leaving home”; the verb “daraba” is used with the preposition “fi” above and it means going on a journey, leaving home.

However, in the verse in question, the verb “daraba” is used without a preposition, which means to hit. However, it is a very extreme example given about women who rebel in a way to destroy a home and it aims to save the home from falling apart. The Prophet (pbuh) used the permission (b) in the verse, not (c); and he kept away from his wives for a month. By not using the permission to hit, he served as a model to his ummah.

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