Following are excerpts from a program with Saudi cleric Muhammad Al-'Arifi, which aired on LBC TV on September 9, 2007.
Muhammad Al-'Arifi: Men beat women more often than women beat men. I said that some women beat their husbands because this happens, but it is rare, and there is no need to hold conferences on wives who beat their husbands. I believe this is less prevalent, because by nature, the body of the man... In most cases, Allah made the body of men stronger than the body of women. Therefore, you and your sister... You may be taller than your mother, right? If your mother is ill, you may be able to carry her, but she cannot carry you. Allah created women with these delicate, fragile, supple, and soft bodies, because they use their emotions more than they use their bodies. Therefore, while the man may use beating to discipline his wife, she sometimes uses her tears to discipline him. He gets what he wants by screaming, while she gets what she wants from him by crying and displaying emotions. For men, women's emotions may be fiercer than the strike of a sword.
First, "admonish them" – once, twice, three times, four times, ten times. If this doesn't help, "refuse to share their beds." In such a case, the husband does not sleep with his wife, or, in other words, he is angry with her. He gives her the silent treatment, refusing to talk to her. If he comes to eat, and she asks him: "How are you?" – he doesn't answer. If she asks him: "Do you want anything?" – he doesn't answer. He distances himself from her in bed and in conversation, he does not sleep with her, but goes to sleep in another room. He shows her that he is angry with her. If this does not help – if the admonishing did no good, and when he goes to sleep in another room, she says: "Thank God, he's gone. Now I've got the whole bed to myself, I will sleep alone in bed and roll over at night as much as I like." If neither method worked with her, what is the third option?
Guest: "And beat them."
Al-'Arifi: That's right. How is this beating performed? What do you think?
Guest:: Light beatings.
Al-'Arifi: Light beatings in what way?
Guest:: For example, I wouldn't beat her in the face...
Al-'Arifi: Beating in the face is forbidden, even when it comes to animals. When a person is beating an animal... Even if you want your camel or donkey to start walking, you are not allowed to beat it in the face. If this is true for animals, it is all the more true when it comes to humans. So beatings should be light and not in the face. Some religious scholars say: "He should beat her with a toothpick." I happen to have a toothpick with me. A man who is angry with his wife because she doesn't get it... If he says to her: "Watch out, the child has fallen next to the stove," or: "Move the child away from the electrical socket," and she says: "I am busy" – then he beats her with a toothpick or something like it. He doesn't beat her with a bottle of water, a plate, or a knife. This is forbidden. The scholars said he should beat her with a toothpick. Check out how gentle the toothpick used for beating is. This shows you that the purpose is not to inflict pain. When you beat an animal, you intend to cause it pain so it will obey you, because an animal would not understand if you said: "Oh camel, come on, start moving." The camel does not understand such things, unless you beat it. A donkey understands nothing but beatings, but a woman, a man, a child, and so on, are generally more affected by emotions than by other things. If you beat her with a toothpick, or if you beat her lightly with your hand, and so on, it is meant to convey: "Woman, it has gone too far. I can't bear it anymore." If he beats her, the beatings must be light and must not make her face ugly. He must beat her where it will not leave marks. He should not beat her on the hand... He should beat her in some places where it will not cause any damage. He should not beat her like he would beat an animal or a child - slapping them right and left. Unfortunately, many husbands beat their wives only when they get mad, and when they start beating, it as if they are punching a wall – they beat with their hands, right and left, and sometimes use their feet. Brother, it is a human being you are beating. This is forbidden. He must not do this.