Is there a narration about Hz. Umar’s getting permission from the Prophet (pbuh) to beat women? Will you inform me about the hadith of the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the issue?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

According to what is reported from Iyas Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abu Dhubab, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Do not beat women." Hz. Umar entered into the presence of the Prophet and said, "Women have started not to obey their husbands."

Thereupon, the Prophet (pbuh) allowed men to beat their wives. This time, many women went to the wives of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and started to complain about their husbands. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"Many women come and complain to the wives of Muhammad about their husbands. Those who beat their wives are not the good ones among you." (Abu Dawud, Nikah 42. See also Ibn Majah, Nikah 51)

It is necessary to express this first: In the Islamic community of that day, the instructions of the Islamic system sometimes conflicted with the cultural residues of Jahiliyya system in this field. The instructions of the Islamic system and the residues of Jahiliyya culture conflicted in other areas too. As a matter of fact, the hadith above shows one of them. This state continued until new values and institutions settled in the Islamic community and conscience of the Muslims.

According to Allah’s order, "live with them (women) on a footing of kindness and equity…" (an-Nisa, 4/19), it is necessary to utter soft and sweet words and treat women kindly in order to get well with them. According to the criterion imposed by the Prophet, the best person is the one that treats his family members well and gets on well with them. In order to strengthen this criterion, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "I am the person who treats his family members in the best way." (Tirmidhi, Manaqib 63; Ibn Majah, Nikah 50). As a matter of fact, "He did not beat any servants, did not slap any of his wives and did not beat anyone with his hand." Hz, Aisha, who was his wife for ten years, said it. (Ibn Majah, Nikah)

That the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) laughed and made jokes with his wives, ate and drank together with all of them by meeting in one of the houses of his wives, racing with Hz. Aisha at least twice, inviting Hz. Aisha to watch the show of Abyssinians, his putting up with the troubles caused by his wives from time to time due to being women are the best examples of getting on well with women advised in the verse.

That those who treat women well are valuable people and those who treated them badly are mean people, and that a person needs to act like a child in his house and like a man outside are sound criteria imposed by Islamic scholars.

The original form of the hadith translated as "Do not beat women" is "Do not beat Allah's female slaves." With that statement, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) means that everybody is Allah’s slave; men are male slaves and women are female slaves.

Slaves are the people that need to be protected. They are entrusted to us by Allah. They cannot be beaten or insulted.

Women, who are regarded Allah's female slaves, are also divine trusts. As it is seen the word "jariya (female slave)" is not used in order to despise them but to protect them.

When the Prophet (pbuh) prohibited beating women, men started to act more understandably toward them. However, when some women saw the support of the Prophet (pbuh), they got spoiled. They started to act boldly toward their husbands. Hz. Umar informed the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about it. The Messenger of Allah gave the permission to beat women based on the permission in a verse.

This time, men acted excessively and harmed women. The women had to take refuge in the Prophet (pbuh) again and complained about their husbands again. The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Those who beat their wives are not the good ones among you."

This incident shows us that man cannot get rid of extremism. Neither women nor men can easily find the moderate way. It is exemplary that some women Companions who felt the support of the Prophet started to stand up to men and that some Companions who got the permission to beat women overstepped the limits.   

What is understood from the orders of the Prophet (pbuh) above is as follows: It is essential for the husband and wife to get on well. It is not manliness to beat a woman when she makes a mistake.

The permission to beat given to man is a delicate prescription. Therefore, it should be used only when necessary and in sufficient dose.

Dhahabi, the great scholar, narrates how Hz. Umar, whom we know to have a stern temper and who got the permission to beat women from the Prophet (pbuh) in person, acts regarding the issue according to a weak narration as follows:

During the caliphate of Hz. Umar, a man went to the house of the caliph to complain to him about his wife, whose acts he did not like. He sat in front of the door and waited for Hz. Umar to come out. Just then, he heard a noise. Hz. Umar's wife started to shout at the caliph but Hz. Umar kept silent. When the poor man heard it, he thought, "If that is the case with Umar, the leader of the believers, who is famous for his uprightness and toughness, how can he find a solution to my problem?" Just as he was leaving, Hz. Umar came out and called out:

"What is the matter? What do you want?" The man replied, "O leader of the believers! I came to complain to you about my wife’s bad-temper and her disrespect to me. Then, I heard your wife uttering harsh words to you; so, I gave up the idea of complaining and returned. I said to myself, ‘If that is the situation of the leader of the believers, how can he find a solution to my problem?"

Thereupon, Hz. Umar said to the man,

"O my brother! I put up with her because of her rights over me. She cooks my food, bakes my bread, washes my clothes, breast-feeds my child… and yet none of them is her duty; and then she is a comfort to my heart and keeps me away from forbidden deeds. Therefore, I put up with what she does."

When the man heard this, he said, "O leader of the believers! It is the same with my wife."

Thereupon, Hz. Umar consoled the man by saying, "Then, O my brother! Be patient with her, indeed this life is short!" (Dhahabai, al-Kabair, p. 179)

Some hadiths about treating women well:

"One of you tries to beat his wife as if he is beating a slave though he will probably sleep in the same bed as her at night." (Bukhari, Tafsiru surah (91)1; Muslim, Jannah 49)

"You should not bear a grudge against your wife. If you do not like one of her traits, you will like another trait of hers." (Muslim, Rada` 61)

Muawiya Ibn Hayda narrates: I asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) "O Messenger of Allah! What are women’s rights over us?" He said,

"One should feed her as he feeds himself and clothe her as he clothes himself; he should not strike her on the face nor disfigure her, and he should not abandon her in bed except in the house as a form of discipline." (Abu Dawud, Rada` 41; Ibn Majah, Nikah 3)

"The best one of the believers in terms of belief is the one with the best temper. The best of you is the one who treats his women in the best way." (Tirmidhi, Rada` 11; Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 15; Ibn Majah, Nikah 50)

"The world consists of a temporary benefit. The most beneficial thing in it is a religious woman." (Muslim, Rada` 64; Nasai, Nikah 15; Ibn Majah, Nikah 5)


-    Women have been entrusted to men by Allah.
-    Those who beat women are ill-tempered, impatient and bad people.

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