On an English-language call-in show aimed at Muslims living in Europe and Africa, an Egyptian Muslim cleric provided detailed instructions on how to punish a disobedient wife, including beating her with a stick or pen.
“Allah says: ‘Sleep in beds apart, and beat them,’” says Dr. Mahmoud Al-Denawy.
“When it comes to beating,” Al-Denawy says, “He should never beat her harshly.”
Answering a question from "sister Hagar from Norway," the cleric provided more wife-beating instructions: “He should never raise his hand. He should never beat her on her face. But he can use something very simple – like a siwak [dental stick] or something like this pen.”
“The beating should not lead to breaking her arm or a tooth. He should avoid this, because the Prophet [Mohammed] urged us and told us that when you beat someone, you should never beat him or her on his or her face. This is because the face is owned by Allah,” he added.
The June 17 broadcast was discovered by the Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI) which posted a transcript of two minutes from the segment on its website this week.
During the show, Al-Denawy chastises critics of Islam who suggest his faith is harsh, but his detailed beating instructions may undercut that argument.
“Indeed, many people take this as something [with which] to stab Islam and to stab Muslims,” he says. “They [critics] say: Here Islam is calling for the beating of wives. Islam is urging Muslims… There are so many sayings and many misconceptions about this, but they forgot an important thing: Allah says that if there is a problem – or a lady, for example, who is disobedient, she has a bad behavior, for example – the husband should do his best to correct her,” he says.
And how to correct her? Before the beating, the husband can try to fix the issue by “admonishing” her and “leaving her bed.”
“For example, he shouldn’t sleep with her. He should sleep in a separate room, or whatever. And, at the end…Allah says: ‘Sleep in beds apart, and beat them,’” the cleric says.
This Egyptian is not the only Muslim cleric promoting corporal punishment in the framework of a marriage.
In 2004, MEMRI published a study which surveyed similar statements made by Islamic religious figures in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Middle East.
The influential Sheikh Yousef Qaradawi, a spiritual guide for the Muslim Brotherhood and host of the popular show on Al Jazeera “Shariah and Life,” has supported “light” beating.
MEMRI pulled this quote from one of his books: “It is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts. In no case should he resort to using a stick or any other instrument that might cause pain and injury.”
Here is the show segment courtesy of MEMRI: