Following are excerpts from a sermon by Egyptian cleric Galal Al-Khatib, which aired on Al-Rahma TV on December 24, 2008.
Galal Al-Khatib: One of the husband's rights is to discipline his wife if she is disobedient. What does the word "disobedience" mean? Disobedience is to leave the house without the husband's permission, to refuse to obey the husband in bed, to speak to the husband impolitely, or to do the opposite of what he likes. All these are forms of disobedience. Religious law has instated several measures of disciplining a disobedient wife. These measures must be followed consecutively. You cannot jump to the third measure before despairing of the second, and you cannot jump to the second before despairing of the first. The order must be followed. The first measure for reforming a disobedient wife is to admonish her. The husband should talk to her gently, reminding her of God, and reminding her that if she wants to enter Paradise, she must obey him. He must tell her that by pleasing her husband, she pleases God, and that his rights supersede the rights of her parents.
Okay, if admonishing doesn't work, the next measure is "banishment." Some say that the wife should be banished from his bed, while others say he should refrain from having sex with her, although I do not agree with the latter view, because having sex is one of the rights of the husband, so how can he discipline her by depriving himself of sex? It's enough if he refrains from smiling and saying nice things to her, and instead, he gives her the cold shoulder, but he has the right to have sex with her, even during banishment.
Okay, he's tried admonishing, he's tried banishment – but nothing. Her emotions are numb, and she says: Good riddance. So what is the next measure? "...and beat them." Beating. The Prophet Muhammad said that the beatings should be light, and that one should avoid the face, or the sensitive areas, which might lead to broken bones, or might leave a mark that would spoil her beauty, whether on her face or anywhere on her body. Beatings that draw blood, or break bones, or leave a scar, a black mark on the skin, or any obvious mark, which would make people know that she was harshly beaten – this is forbidden.
How should the beatings go? Maybe a light slap on her shoulder, or maybe a not-so-light pinch, or a kind of gentle shove. He should make her feel that he wants to reform her, and let her know that he is displeased with her. It is like saying: None of the measures that work with sensitive people work with you. A word would be enough for any wife with lofty morals, but with you, words do not help. Then he attempts a new direction, appealing to her femininity and emotions, by making her feel that he doesn't want her or love her. When this doesn't work, he says to her: With you, I have reached a stage which is only appropriate for inhumane people – the stage of beating.
Beating is one of the punishments of religious law. What kind of people are beaten? Virgin adulterers, both men and women, are beaten as a means of discipline. Who else is beaten? A person who committed an offense and was sentenced by the judge to beatings. Who else is beaten? Someone who committed a crime. By beating his wife, the husband is saying: You've committed a grave sin that merits beatings.
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