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?
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 .
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that whoever hurts others, God will hurt him; and, whoever inflicts pain on others, God will give him pain . 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.
It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) 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&HP) had never done in any funeral before. He (PBUH&HP) ordered to bath the corpse, and he (PBUH&HP) did the funeral prayer himself. But at the end of the event, he (PBUH&HP) 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&HP) is suffering from the grave pressure. Prophet (PBUH&HP) explained that Sa’d was bad-tempered towards his family .
In another narration, it is said that the worst of people is the one who is rough to his family ; i.e., whose wife gets frightened and children hide when he arrives home, and they feel relieved when he leaves . On the contrary, as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said, the closest to the position of the prophet (PBUH&HP) before God is who behaves very well with his family and is the most beneficent to them” .
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.
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” . 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).
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] .” .
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.” .
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.” .
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.
[i] One of the prominent companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
[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.
- S. A. al-Muttaqi, “Kanz al-Ummal”, T. 9498.
- S. A. al-Muttaqi, “Kanz al-Ummal”, T. 9518.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Ilal Al-Shara'I”, p. 310.
- Al Suyuti, “Jami al-saghir”, vol. 2, p. 77.
- Al-Haythami, “Majma al-Zawa'id”, vol. 8, p. 25.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Uyun akhbar al-Rida”, vol. 2, p. 38.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 37, p. 115.
- Ibn Babawayh, "Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih", vol. 4, p. 392.
- violence in Family
- Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, T. 4507.
A wealthy man went to Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) home to visit him. While they were speaking, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) sat his grandchild, Hussain (AS) on his lap and started kissing him. The man was looking at the Prophet’s behavior toward the child in wonder. He said sadly “I have some children, but I have never kissed them.”
The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) became upset and said, “What should I do when Allah has removed mercy from your heart”.
This short story explicitly reveals Islam’s emphasis on respectful and kind behavior toward children as the builders of society’s future. This short piece of writing is going to talk about kindness to children.
We are the ones who draw the picture of our children’s lives; it is our choice to draw a beautiful or an ugly one. A child, who lives in an integrated, peaceful, and kind family, undoubtedly enjoys a more lively spirit than his other peers who do not have the opportunity to live in such families.
Psychoanalytically speaking, you might have heard a lot about the role of kindness in upbringing children, as well as its impact on their future. Now let's take a look at what Islamic leaders have said about this issue.
If you have a child or know a child around you, you might find this saying of Imam Sadiq (AS) with regard to children interesting: “Love your children and be kind to them, and if you promise them, keep your promise, for they know nobody but you as their providers”. Imam Sadiq (AS), besides emphasizing kindness toward children, draws our attention to the importance of keeping our promise to children. As children, with their pure nature, are not yet aware of the concept of breaking promises, if the older ones commit this act, they will learn from them and copy their behavior. As a result, imitating this wrong deed will have damaging effects on the child’s spirit.
In another quote from Imam Sadiq (AS), he said: “The one who kisses his child, Allah will give him a reward in the hereafter, and the one who makes his child happy, Allah will make him happy in the resurrection day”. He also said: “Kiss your children a lot because each kiss will raise your statues in front of God”.
There are a lot of narrations and traditions about kind behavior toward children in reliable Islamic sources. In the end, it is noteworthy that the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) has emphasized a lot on playing with children in a very childish way as if you are a child yourself; this point of view is a modern psychological approach which our Prophet (PBUH&HP) mentioned 1400 years ago.
The holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “be close and friendly to your children and hug them”.
Today, one of the Islamic regulations that is the cause of many prejudgments about Islam in western countries is the law of polygamy in Islam. This practice refers to a form of marriage that allows a man to have two, three, or four wives at the same time, but, on the contrary, never ever allows a woman to have more than one husband simultaneously.
In this article, you will read the philosophy behind this law from different perspectives and finally see Islam’s recommendation on that.
Polygamy was practiced long before Islam among different nations and was considered as an acceptable common deed in the history of some other faiths including Christianity and Judaism, although it is frowned upon and forbidden in their cultures now.
According to the Jewish encyclopedia: “While there is no evidence of a polyandrous state in primitive Jewish society, polygamy seems to have been a well-established institution, dating from the most ancient times and extending to comparatively modern days” .
In Christianity also, polygamy does not contradict their Scripture: “Nowhere in the New Testament is there any explicit commandment that marriage should be monogamous or any explicit commandment forbidding polygamy” .
Islam did not invent the system of polygamy, neither did it ban this tradition which was practiced unlimitedly by Arabs. Instead, it restricted it to four wives and gave it specific conditions and terms.
It is explicitly stated in the Holy Quran that:
“If you fear that you may not deal justly with the orphans, then marry [other] women that you like, two, three, or four. But if you fear that you may not treat them fairly, then [marry only] one, or [marry from among] your slave-women. That makes it likelier that you will not be unfair” (4:3).
This verse was revealed in regard to the Arabs in the period of ignorance, who were seldom free from wars and fighting, and among whom death by killing was a common occurrence. So, there was always a great number of orphans and widows among them.
Usually, the leaders of tribes and people of power and influence took the orphan girls (with their properties) as wives and behaved with them unjustly. They would often turn them out after swallowing their property; the helpless girls would become poor; neither they had any money to live on, nor was there anyone willing to marry and maintain them. The Quran, then, has reproached those Arabs very severely for this evil habit and prohibited very strongly doing any injustice to orphans or devouring their property. Allah says in the previous verse:
“Give the orphans their property, and do not replace the good with the bad, and do not eat up their property [by mingling it] with your own property, for that is indeed a great sin” (4:2) [i].
On the whole, Allah urges them to be careful regarding the orphans, so much so that if they are afraid that they would not be able to treat the orphan girls equitably and therefore do not like to take them, wives, then they had better not marry them; instead they should marry other women- two, three or four .
Both the Quran and Sunnah (the Prophet’s (PBUH&HP) and infallible Imams’(AS) tradition) clearly indicate the legitimacy of polygamy in Islam and most of Islamic Jurists and Scholars agree with that. It is noteworthy, however, that Quran’s recommendation to marry two, three, or four does not in any way imply an obligation; neither has it been seen as a necessity in any of the Islamic sects. Now we will shed light on the reasons why Islam did not absolutely abolish this tradition.
There are two different stances among Muslim scholars about polygamy in Islam; some have denied it as a general Islamic law by saying that it was suited to that specific time -i.e., the time and occasion in which the verse (4:3) was revealed- in history. The others, on the other hand, make any attempt to defend this law by reasoning it and saying its benefits; some of their arguments are:
Men’s sexual desire is stronger and lasts longer than women’s.
Women are not capable of fulfilling men’s sexual desire fully because of the restrictions they have, viz. menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, etc.
There are usually more marriageable women than men due to women’s longer lifespan and men’s more frequent fatal casualties because of the dangerous incidents that happen to them, etc.
Among these reasons, the third one -if we suppose that it existed in the past or continues to be common in the present day- is of great importance in justifying polygamy in Islam. Not only that, but it creates a right in favor of women and duty and responsibility for men and society.
Clearly speaking, if, in any case, the number of women fit to be married exceeds the number of marriageable men, then a group of women would be left without husbands and would remain deprived of the right to family life, so the law restricting marriage to monogamy will be inconsistent with this natural right. Accordingly, it is only by the provision of the law of polygamy (of course with special conditions) that this natural right is revived.
What’s more, Islam disagrees with the belief that man is a born polygamist and that his nature is at variance with monogamy. Islam, also, is against the idea that loyalty is impossible for men, and that one woman is created for one man, and one man for all women.
Polygamy, in the Islamic perspective, rises from a social difficulty and is not due to the innate nature of men. If there did not exist in society the problem of an excess of the number of women in need of marriage over the number of marriageable men, the custom of polygamy would have ceased to exist or would have rarely existed .
Now read the second part of this article to see the Islamic restrictions on the law of polygamy in Islam.