Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Muhammad and Wife Beating:

Catching Muslims In Another Lie Pt. 2

Sam Shamoun

We proceed from where we previously left off.

The Embodiment of the Quran Or A Walking Contradiction?

Islamic tradition depicts Muhammad as the perfect expression of the Quran,

(And verily, you are on an exalted (standard of) character.) "It has been mentioned to us that Sa`d bin Hisham asked `A'ishah about the character of the Messenger of Allah, so she replied: `Have you not read the Qur'an?' Sa`d said: `Of course.' Then she said: `Verily, the character of the Messenger of Allah was the Qur'an.’” `Abdur-Razzaq recorded similar to this and Imam Muslim recorded it in his Sahih on the authority of Qatadah in its full length. This means that he would act according to the commands and the prohibition in the Qur'an. His nature and character were patterned according to the Qur'an, and he abandoned his natural disposition (i.e., the carnal nature). So whatever the Qur'an commanded, he did it, and whatever it forbade, he avoided it. Along with this, Allah gave him the exalted character, which included the qualities of modesty, kindness, bravery, pardoning, gentleness and every other good characteristic. This is like that which has been confirmed in the Two Sahihs that Anas said, "I served the Messenger of Allah for ten years, and he never said a word of displeasure to me (Uff), nor did he ever say to me concerning something I had done: `Why did you do that?' And he never said to me concerning something I had not done: `Why didn't you do this?' He had the best character, and I never touched any silk or anything else that was softer than the palm of the Messenger of Allah. And I never smelled any musk or perfume that had a better fragrance than the sweat of the Messenger of Allah.” Imam Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara' said, "The Messenger of Allah had the most handsome face of all the people, and he had the best behavior of all of the people. And he was not tall, nor was he short.” The Hadiths concerning this matter are numerous. Abu `Isa At-Tirmidhi has a complete book on this subject called Kitab Ash-Shama'il. Imam Ahmad recorded that `A'ishah said, "The Messenger of Allah never struck a servant of his with his hand, nor did he ever hit a woman. He never hit anything with his hand, except for when he was fighting Jihad in the cause of Allah. And he was never given the option between two things except that the most beloved of the two to him was the easiest of them, as long as it did not involve sin. If it did involve sin, then he stayed farther away from sin than any of the people. He would not avenge himself concerning anything that was done to him, except if the limits of Allah were transgressed. Then, in that case he would avenge for the sake of Allah.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Q. 68:4; bold emphasis ours)

Which explains why he is set forth as the example, the role model, for others to emulate and pattern themselves after:

Ye have indeed in the Apostle of God a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in God and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of God. S. 33:21 Y. Ali

and you are certainly on the most exalted standard of moral excellence. S. 68:4 Maududi

Moreover, the claim that Muhammad never hit his wives is repeated elsewhere:

Sunan Ibn Majah

The Chapters on Marriage

It was narrated that 'Aishah said: "The Messenger of Allah never beat any of his servants, or wives, and his hand never hit anything."

Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1984

Arabic reference: Book 9, Hadith 2060 (

However, such is not the case since, contrary to what Ibn Kathir reported above, Muhammad did in fact hit women, specifically his child bride Aisha:

Muhammad b. Qais said (to the people): Should I not narrate to you (a hadith of the Holy Prophet) on my authority and on the authority of my mother? We thought that he meant the mother who had given him birth. He (Muhammad b. Qais) then reported that it was 'A'isha who had narrated this: Should I not narrate to you about myself and about the Messenger of Allah? We said: Yes. She said: When it was my turn for Allah's Messenger to spend the night with me, he turned his side, put on his mantle and took off his shoes and placed them near his feet, and spread the corner of his shawl on his bed and then lay down till he thought that I had gone to sleep. He took hold of his mantle slowly and put on the shoes slowly, and opened the door and went out and then closed it lightly. I covered my head, put on my veil and tightened my waist wrapper, and then went out following his steps till he reached Baqi'. He stood there and he stood for a long time. He then lifted his hands three times, and then returned and I also returned. He hastened his steps and I also hastened my steps. He ran and I too ran. He came (to the house) and I also came (to the house). I, however, preceded him and I entered (the house), and as I lay down in the bed, he (the Holy Prophet) entered the (house), and said: Why is it, O 'A'isha, that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware would inform me. I said: Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He STRUCK ME ON THE CHEST WHICH CAUSED ME PAIN, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you? She said: Whatsoever the people conceal, Allah will know it. He said: Gabriel came to me when you saw me. He called me and he concealed it from you. I responded to his call, but I too concealed it from you (for he did not come to you), as you were not fully dressed. I thought that you had gone to sleep, and I did not like to awaken you, fearing that you may be frightened. He (Gabriel) said: Your Lord has commanded you to go to the inhabitants of Baqi' (to those lying in the graves) and beg pardon for them. I said: Messenger of Allah, how should I pray for them (How should I beg forgiveness for them)? He said: Say, Peace be upon the inhabitants of this city (graveyard) from among the Believers and the Muslims, and may Allah have mercy on those who have gone ahead of us, and those who come later on, and we shall, God willing, join you. (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 2127)

It is ironic that of all the wives, it was Aisha who got hit when she is the one who purportedly claimed that Muhammad never hit a woman!

In striking Aisha, Muhammad showed that he was not the best example for others, and that he did not implement the very rules he imposed upon his followers. The fact is that Muhammad’s reaction violates the Quran and his own sunna. After all, wasn’t it Muhammad who stated that the men who beat their wives are not the best Muslims?

Riyad as-Salihin

The Book of Miscellany

Iyas bin 'Abdullah reported:

Messenger of Allah said, "Do not beat Allah's bondwomen." When 'Umar came to Messenger of Allah and complained saying: "The women have become very daring towards their husbands," He gave permission to beat them. Then many women went to the family of the Messenger of Allah (wives) complaining of their husbands, and he (the Prophet) said, "Many women have gone round Muhammad's family complaining of their husbands. Those who do so, that is, those who take to beating their wives, are not the best among you".

[Abu Dawud]. (; underline emphasis)

And no matter how one chooses to interpret Q. 4:34, whether they take the procedures prescribed in how a man is to deal with a rebellious wife as successive steps, as indicated by the following translation,

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband's absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband's property, etc.). As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great. Hilali-Khan

Or a range of options to choose from, irrespective of the order, Muhammad still ends up violating his own instructions.

If one opts for the first interpretation, then Muhammad disobeyed the words of his deity since he chose to hit Aisha when he was supposed to admonish her first. If the latter explanation is adopted then Muhammad still failed to live up to his own standards, since he chose the harshest course of action instead of doing that which was more merciful and compassionate. After all, hurting his child bride, as opposed to lovingly rebuking her, wasn’t the best course of action, but the harshest and cruelest step he could have taken. This, therefore, indicates that Muhammad wasn’t the loving and merciful human being that Muslims paint him out to be.  

Suffice it to say Muslim polemicists have come up with a response to Muhammad physically lashing out on his child bride, one which we will address in the next section.