Kuwaiti sheikh instructs how to beat one's wife in online fatwa

According to a recent report published by MEMRI, Kuwaiti Sheikh Othman al-Khamis posted an online fatwa instructing Muslim husbands on how to beat their wives, thus providing a religious justification for domestic violence.
Photo Credit: MEMRI

According to a recent report published by MEMRI, Kuwaiti Sheikh Othman al-Khamis posted a fatwa online where he instructed Muslim husbands on how to beat their wives. He provided a phased strategy of steps a husband should take before beating her and presented it as a last resort after nothing else works. Nevertheless, Sheikh al-Khamis did provide religious justification for wife beating.

Citing the Quran, Sheikh al-Khamis proclaimed that if a wife disobeys her husband, a husband should admonish her: “He does not move beyond admonishment unless he despairs of this means and his wife did not benefit from the admonishment.” Afterwards, if she still does not obey him, Sheikh al-Khamis instructed that a husband should not share his bed with his wife: “This is kept within the home. In other words, he refrains from having sex with her. This is what this means. He continues to live in the same house with her but refrains from having sex with her.”

According to Sheikh al-Khamis, this is a psychological measure to be used against the wife and if it works, “all praise be to Allah.” However, if not, at that point, Sheikh al-Khamis noted that a husband should beat his wife. He claimed that the beatings should not be hard: “He should not beat her like he would a man. It is more of a psychological beating, the purpose of which is to humiliate the wife. The purpose of the beating is to teach her that he is cross and angry.” According to him, some of the ancient Muslim scholars said that he should even beat her with a twig for the beating is not the goal: “The goal is to make her feel that he is upset. He shouldn’t break her bones and he should not beat her in the face.”

Sheikh al-Khamis is not the only Muslim religious scholar to encourage wife beating as a last resort. Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradhawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, ruled: “If a husband senses that feelings of disobedience and rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his best to rectify her attitude by kind words. If this approach fails, it is permissible for him to beat her lightly. To be specific, one may beat only to safeguard Islamic behavior and if he the husband sees deviation only in what she must do or obey in relation to him.”

Both of these scholars base this ruling upon Quran 4:34: “Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.

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