What Is the Islamic Perspective on Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is any violent or aggressive behavior by one person against another within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner. These behaviors, used by one person in a relationship to control the other, occur in many forms; physical violence, verbal violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.

 

All these acts and behaviors are rationally condemned, but, how does Islam react to this phenomenon and what solutions does it propose?

 

No Harm to Oneself, Nor to Others

 

According to the Islamic teachings, any harm to oneself is either totally forbidden (Haram), or should be avoided and is detestable (Makruh); so is any harm to others [1].

 

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that whoever hurts others, God will hurt him; and, whoever inflicts pain on others, God will give him pain [2]. That is also true about any kind of domestic violence. Since it causes pain and harm to the victim, domestic violence is also condemned in Islam.

 

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Bad Temper is Blamed; So is Any Violence

 

It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) assisted the funeral of Sa'd ibn Ma'ad [i]. He (PBUH) did things during that funeral and respected him so much, that he (PBUH) had never done in any funeral before. He (PBUH) ordered to bath the corpse, and he (PBUH) did the funeral prayer himself. But at the end of the event, he (PBUH) declared that Sa’d is suffering from the pressure in the grave.

 

People were surprised that how come that someone who has been such dignified by the prophet (PBUH) is suffering from the grave pressure. Prophet (PBUH) explained that Sa’d was bad-tempered towards his family [3].

 

In another narration, it is said that the worst of people is the one who is rough to his family [4]; i.e., whose wife gets frightened and children hide when he arrives home, and they feel relieved when he leaves [5]. On the contrary, as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, the closest to the position of the prophet (PBUH) before God is who behaves very well with his family and is the most beneficent to them” [6].

 

These examples show that every harsh treatment with the family will be counted and will be paid afterlife. Then, it is clear that any violence, either verbal or physical, is forbidden in Islam and will be punished severely.

 

Any Physical Violence is Banned

 

Imam Ali (AS) has advised that: “the wife is really like a flower (it is fragile), put up with her in any case and accompany her nicely to have a pleasant life” [7]. It means that contrary to the rumors that Islam has permitted the husband to hit his wife, Islam has ordered to honor her and to treat her kindly; even if he no longer loves her (4:19).

 

 

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A few solutions …

 

Islamic teachings have always emphasized on the importance of the family and Muslims are advised to toleration in order to maintain the foundation of the family. Hence, in the case of a dispute between a couple, Islam invites to patience: “Whoever remains patient despite the misbehavior of his wife, God will reward him as great as Ayub's [ii] for his affliction.

 

Likewise, if a woman keeps patience despite the misbehavior of her husband, God will reward her as great as Asiya bint Muzahim (the Pharaoh's wife) [iii] .” [8].

 

When it comes to children, special attention is paid to their education. To raise well-behaved children with a good character, Islam forbids any humiliation and violence against them. Imam Ali an-Naqi (AS) said that: “Do not beat the child; just sulk with him, but not for a long time.” [9].

 

Although parents might blame their children under some conditions and in certain circumstances, they are warned against too much reproach. Imam Ali (AS) said that: “Excessive blame on anybody will increase the obstinacy.” [10].

 

It is notable that a true Muslim should also be tolerant and considerate towards other people as much as he/she is towards his family and relatives. This will be discussed further in another article.

 

Notes:

[i] One of the prominent companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

[ii] Prophet Ayub (PBUH) was afflicted by suffering for a lengthy period, but he never lost faith in God and forever called to God in prayer. He (PBUH) is known as the symbol of patience in Islam.

[iii] In the Quran, Asiya is described as the wife of Pharaoh who reigned during the time of Prophet Moses (PBUH). Unlike her husband, she was humble and accepted the faith that prophet Moses (PBUH) preached. She died while being tortured by her husband. In Islam, she is known as one of the greatest women of all time.

References:

[1].  S. A. al-Muttaqi, “Kanz al-Ummal”, T. 9498.

[2].  S. A. al-Muttaqi, “Kanz al-Ummal”, T. 9518.

[3].  Ibn Babawayh, “Ilal Al-Shara'I”, p. 310.

[4].  Al Suyuti, “Jami al-saghir”, vol. 2, p. 77.

[5].  Al-Haythami, “Majma al-Zawa'id”, vol. 8, p. 25.

[6].  Ibn Babawayh, “Uyun akhbar al-Rida”, vol. 2, p. 38.

[7].  S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 37, p. 115.

[8].  Ibn Babawayh, "Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih", vol. 4, p. 392.

[9].   http://www.hawzah.net

[10].  Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, T. 4507.