Moral Low Ground


Hot-Selling Book, ‘A Gift for Muslim Couple,’ Advises Husbands How to Beat Wives

A hot-selling book touting itself as a marriage advice guide for Muslim couples has drawn fierce criticism for advocating domestic violence against women.

The Daily Mail reports that A Gift for Muslim Couple, written by long-dead yet prominent Indian Islamic scholar Maulavi Ashraf Ali Thanvi, claims to be a “presentation for newlyweds.” “The book… deals with the subject of marriage and after marriage relationship, as well as the various pitfalls of marriage [and] causes of breakdown,” according to the book’s blurb.

The author, who lived from 1863- 1943, is described as a conservative Islamic academic and one of the great Islamic scholars of the last century.

The book claims to examine “real-life incidents” and advises on “different aspects of family life and how to run the institution of marriage successfully.”

Part of running a successful marriage apparently involves disciplining disobedient wives.

“The husband should treat the wife with kindness and love, even if she tends to be stupid and sometimes slow,” the book advises.

However, “It might be necessary to restrain her with strength or even threaten her.”

In the event that restraint or threats don’t work, the book says the “rights of the husband” include the right to beat his wife.

Husbands may “beat by hand or stick, withhold money from her or pull (her) by the ears.” But men should “refrain from beating her excessively.”¬†

What kind of offenses warrant a good-old-fashioned Islamic beat-down? Refusal to “fulfill his desires,” being “untidy” or failing to “beautify herself for him,” as well as “leaving his house without permission.”

According to the Daily Mail, the book was spotted for sale in a Canadian bookstore, where it quickly sold out. It is also available on Islamic online bookstores.

Canadian political activist Tarek Fatah said the practice of wife-beating is widespread in Islamic culture, as it is in many other societies.

“This is new to you, but the Muslim community knows that this is widespread, that a woman can be beaten. Muslim leaders will deny this, but…,” he told the Toronto Sun.

Chapter 4, verse 4 of the Holy Quran appears to sanction the physical discipline of disobedient wives. Here are two English translations of that text:

“Men are superior to women on account of the qualities with which God has gifted the one above the other, and on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them. Virtuous women are obedient, careful, during the husband’s absence, because God has of them been careful. But chide those for whose refractoriness you have cause to fear; remove them into beds apart, and scourge them: but if they are obedient to you, then seek not occasion against them: verily, God is High, Great!”


“Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme.”

But lest Jews and Christians think domestic violence is only sanctioned by Islam, here is a verse in the Old Testament–¬†Deuteronomy 22:13-21– which prescribes death by stoning for brides presented as virgins who turn out not to be:

“Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.”

Still, it is mostly Islam that is notorious for religious-inspired violence against women. Just last week the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan released a report claiming that nearly 1,000 women and girls were the victims of “honor killings” last year.

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