How to hit your wife according to Islam,
explained by the PA Mufti of Gaza Hassan Al-Laham
"Not hitting that will bring the police,
and break her hand and cause bleeding,
or hitting that makes the face ugly"
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
During a weekly Palestinian Authority TV program on social issues, the Mufti of Gaza Hassan Al-Laham discussed divorce in Islam. He explained that Allah directed men to take four steps to resolve conflicts with one's wife before resorting to divorce:
"Allah said: Warn them [the wives], and separate from them, and hit them, and bring an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family."
[Official PA TV, Feb. 8, 2016]
His essential message is that while "she became your wife, and she is under your command," nonetheless, hitting is to be used only after warning her and separating from her "in the bedroom" has failed to achieve the desired result. And then, when hitting is being used at the proper time, it should not be a severe beating:
"Not hitting that will bring the police, and break her hand and cause bleeding, or hitting that makes the face ugly."
Indeed, the hitting should "be like a joke," even reinforcing "the love and friendship" between the couple:
"This hitting is a kind of reminder that the love and friendship that Allah commanded, is still found between us (i.e., the couple)."
Other broadcasts on PA TV relating to women's rights and position in Palestinian society documented by Palestinian Media Watch:
"This woman may not and has no rights to deny him this right [to sex]... a woman must [only] leave home at the discretion of her husband... The woman should obey her husband and please him."
[PA TV, Aug. 2 and 12, 2012]
"The beating is not a severe beating, and as the experts in Islamic law said: 'Hit her with a handkerchief.'"
[PA TV, March 14, 2007]
PA TV has also broadcast a satire ridiculing the inequality of women in PA society.
The following is a longer excerpt of the PA Mufti of Gaza describing the rules for hitting one's wife:
Mufti of Gaza Hassan Al-Laham: "Allah created a solution for this (i.e., marital strife). How? Allah said: Warn them [the wives], and separate from them, and hit them, and bring an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family. [Only] after this comes divorce. The husband starts with a warning."
PA TV host: "Explain to our viewers the steps a husband should take."
Mufti: "The warning needs to be made politely by the husband to his wife, while he shows good relations, dialogue, respect and humanity. She who stands before you is a human being. She is an independent person and deserves respect. You did not buy her as a slave, nor did you buy her in the market. She is a respectable woman from a respectable family, just as you are a respectable man from a respectable family. It may be that she is from a more socially respectable family than yours, however she became your wife, and she is under your command, and is under your care, so that you should treat her according to Allah's command. The warning should be made using a good word, good treatment and a positive look."
TV host: "In order to stop the conflict from getting worse and resolve it."
Mufti: "It is a warning. When she makes a mistake he will explain: 'You shouldn't do this and that.'"
TV host: "What is the stage after the warning, honored Sheikh?"
Mufti: "'[Quran:] Warn them [the wives] and separate from them.' The separation means separation in the bedroom, in the home. Not outside. In other words, he will not show other people that there is a problem. But inside the home, at bedtime, if he separates from her and does not speak to her in the bedroom, she will ask why, and he will explain: 'You made a mistake and I am angry about it.' Perhaps this will lead to reconciliation... After the warning and separation, comes the hitting - hitting that does not make her ugly. The Prophet [Muhammad] said [in a Hadith]: 'Do not hit the face and do not make her ugly.' In other words, not hitting that will bring the police, and break her hand and cause bleeding, or hitting that makes the face ugly. No. As it is said [in a Hadith] 'If not for this (i.e., the fear of retaliation), I would give you painful blows with a small brush.' ... The hitting is not meant to disfigure, harm, or degrade. The hitting will be like a joke. He will hit her jokingly. Not a blow that breaks a bone or makes the face ugly, and he will not curse and the like. This hitting is a kind of reminder that the love and friendship that Allah commanded, is still found between us (i.e., the couple)."
[Official PA TV, Feb. 8, 2016]