Palestinian Cleric Sameeh Hajaj Explains Wife-Beating in Islam: Not on the Face, No More than 10 Blows, Avoid Permanent Marks
Palestinian Cleric Dr. Sameeh Hajaj discussed wife-beating in a TV interview, saying that it was permitted as a last resort only, after admonitions and forsaking the wife's bed had failed. Speaking on the Palestinian Authority's official TV channel, Hajaj, who according to his Facebook page, holds a Ph.D. in the jurisprudence of shari'a politics and is a preacher with the Ministry of Endowments in Gaza, said that it was permitted to beat the wife only with a "miswak" dental twig or a kerchief, that no more than ten blows were allowed, and that it was forbidden to beat her on the face. "If you want to beat her, beat her on the leg, on the back, on places where it doesn't leave a permanent mark," he said in the November 24 interview. "Beatings are intended solely to convey a message to the wife: 'I'm angry at you. Period! End of story!'"
Sameeh Hajaj: "On the issue of [wife] beating – let me start by relating a story pointing to the Quranic verse: 'As for those women on whose part you fear rebellion – admonish them, refuse to share their beds, and beat them.' A young man's wife was angry with him, so she went to stay with her parents. Various people intervened to get her to return home. Finally, they succeeded. Now, this many wanted to take vengeance upon his wife, so he locked her in the bathroom. She was a woman from a respected family, yet he locked her in the bathroom for 25 days. In the morning, he would bring her a pita bread, a plate of red peppers, and some beatings with a hose. In the evening, he would bring her a plate of red peppers, a pita bread, and some beatings with a hose. This went on for 25 days. On the 25th day, he forgot the bathroom door unlocked, and the woman fled to her parents' home. 'Why did you do this?' they asked, and he responded: 'Haven't you read the Quran? It is God who said: "As for those women on whose part you fear rebellion-- admonish them, refuse to share their beds, and beat them."'
Host: "He took only the part about 'and beat them,' ignoring the beginning of the verse."
Sameeh Hajaj: "Well said. It should be a gradual process. Even if he had followed the gradual process, he shouldn't have beaten her like that. With regard to admonishing – let's assume that the husband feels that his wife is lying. At first, he should admonish her, citing verses and hadiths to impress upon her the prohibition against lying. If the admonishing does not help, he should leave the conjugal bed. It means that they should sleep in separate beds, not separate rooms – in order to avoid letting the children sense that there is tension between the man and his wife."
Host: "This might affect them psychologically."
Sameeh Hajaj: "That's right. The third stage... if admonishing and leaving the bed did not help, we reach the third means, which is beating."
Host: "How should this means be used?"
Sameeh Hajaj: "Well asked. The Islamic scholars said that the beatings should be carried out either with a miswak dental twig or with a kerchief. There should be no more than 10 blows."
Host: "One should not use a rod or a hose."
Sameeh Hajaj: "No, and it is forbidden to hit the face. When we use a kerchief or a miswak for the beatings... The Prophet Muhammad said: 'Do not hit her in the face, and do not make her ugly.' If you want to beat her, beat her on the leg, on the back, on places where it doesn't leave a permanent mark."
"According to our understanding of Islam, the beating is intended solely to convey a message to the wife: 'I'm angry with you. Period! End of story!'"