Sheik 'Abd Al-Hamid Al-Muhajir spoke on Syrian TV about wife-beating in Islam. The following are excerpts:
Sheik Al-Muhajir: A woman looks for power and security in a man. He should be strong and rough. He should be masculine and defend her. She wants protection. A woman, any woman, feels in the depths of her heart the need for male protection. Notice this point. This is the reason that, as the Koranic verse says, "Men have authority over women." They don't have this authority in order to beat women but in order to protect the women's rights.
As for wife-beating in Islam, as the claims and accusations go ? these accusations are false, because even the Koranic verse refers only to a disobedient wife, "As for those from whom you fear disobedience admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them."
Meaning, first you must admonish, and this refers to a disobedient wife. A disobedient wife is a wife who's arrogant regarding the truth; she opposes truth, justice and loyalty, and endangers her family.
The admonishing of a wife may take months and years. If the admonishing doesn't help and the wife continues to behave whimsically and continues with her falsehood, this endangers the progress of humanity.
Then comes the stage of sending her to a separate bed. In this case, the man fights her using her femininity. It is said, "Send them to beds apart." If this does not help either, and the wife does not return to the path of truth, it is said, "And beat them." The beatings must not be hard, and according to some interpretations, the beatings are done with a toothpick.
But when does the beating come? The beating comes after the admonition, which lasts a long period of time, and after sending the wife to another bed. Only after this does the beating come. And to whom? To the disobedient wife and disobedience is disregard for the truth. A wife who endangers her husband and her own life ? What's better, that she gets slapped or that she ruins her family, herself, and society?