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The “Great Mind” of a “Wife-Beating” Author By: Joe Kaufman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, June 16, 2008


Within the worldwide Muslim community, there are a number of actions that most clear thinking individuals would consider barbarous towards women. They include stonings, honor killings, clitorectomies (female circumcisions), forced clothing (hijabs, burkas, etc.), and wife-beatings. While many Muslims have suggested that these acts are cultural rather than religious tenets of Islam, one Islamic scholar, Jamal Badawi, has written a book using the religion to justify the latter act. If he feels this way, one has to ask why so many Muslims, including female Muslims, continue to embrace him and his teachings.

This month’s edition of Southern California In Focus, a publication subsidized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), features an interview with Jamal Badawi, a popular speaker at many North American Muslim functions, whilst sporting a picture of him on the homepage of its website. The title of the piece is ‘Catching up with one of the world’s greatest minds.’ In it, Badawi discusses what he perceives to be the state of Islam in both the United States and Canada, where he is currently living. What is not discussed are his controversial views about the treatment of women.

Attached to the page containing the In Focus interview are images of the covers of three books Badawi has authored. One of the books, Gender Equity in Islam, is his most widely known work, mainly for its justification of the beating of wives by their husbands.

In the book, Badawi wrote, “In the event of a family dispute, the Qur’an exhorts the husband to treat his wife kindly and not to overlook her positive aspects. If the problem relates to the wife’s behavior, her husband may exhort her and appeal for reason. In most cases, this measure is likely to be sufficient. In cases where the problem continues, the husband may express his displeasure in another peaceful manner by sleeping in a separate bed from hers. There are cases, however where a wife persists in deliberate mistreatment of her husband and disregard for her marital obligations. Instead of divorce, the husband may resort to another measure that may save the marriage, at least in some cases. Such a measure is more accurately described as a gentle tap on the body...”

He then quoted directly from the Quran to exhibit the origins of his beliefs. He stated, “As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds (and last) beat them (lightly).” Badawi described this as a “permissible beating” and said that Islamic jurists have determined that this could be performed by means of a miswak (small toothbrush).

Badawi wrote Gender Equity in Islam under the aegis of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), an organization whose leaders have called for the destruction of Israel and the United States and who was raided in May of 2002 for alleged terror-related activity. The book was published, in 1995, by American Trust Publications (ATP), a subsidiary of “unindicted co-conspirator” of the 2007 Dallas Hamas financing trial, the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT).

Indeed, Badawi has been tied to the most radical of Muslim organizations. Currently, he is a board member of CAIR-Canada and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Like NAIT, both CAIR and ISNA were named as “unindicted co-conspirators” of the 2007 trial, as was Badawi himself.

Another group Badawi is associated with is Islam Online (IOL), a website that supports suicide bombings, mandates terrorist attacks against American troops, and discusses how to behead humans. Badawi is an IOL Shari’ah (Islamic law) Scholar and has written fatwas (legal decisions) on a number of issues for the site.

In one fatwa, ‘Wife Beating in Islamic Perspective,’ dated April of 2004, Badawi repeated nearly word for word what he stated in his book. But instead of referring to the abuse as a “permissible beating,” he called it a “permissible striking” and a “light striking.”

With respect to polygamy, another form of spousal abuse, in the May 2005 IOL fatwa, ‘Having a Second Wife in Western Countries,’ Badawi wrote, “[W]hy would a particular person want to have a second wife, even though it might be acceptable or legitimate under the Islamic Shari’ah? Because there is also a spirit of why polygamy has been permitted even though it has not been codified in the Qur’an... If the Western world reciprocated to Muslims in the West the same kind of tolerance and acceptance of autonomy in issues pertinent to religious practice, including marriage, I think polygamy would be quite legitimate, and there would be no contradiction between what is permissible under the Islamic Shari’ah and what is permissible under the Western laws.”

Badawi also has his own radio show hosted on IslamiCity, a website that repeatedly calls for the murder of Jews and repeatedly “curses” Jews and Christians.

On one of his shows, titled ‘Marital Relations V (Husband’s Rights),’ he cited the “Prophet Muhammad,” saying that husbands have “claims” on their wives, as if they were property, and that one of the “basic criteria” for wives to be eligible to reach “paradise” (Heaven) is that they must “obey” their husbands.  He labeled Muhammad’s statement, “If I were to command any human being to prostrate [bow] before any other human being, I would have ordered the wife to prostrate before her husband, because of his claim on her,” a “Prophetic saying.”

And on his IslamiCity show, titled ‘Marital Problems,’ with examples from his religious texts, he went into detail about how a husband should come to beat his wife. He stated the following:

“[In] case of persistent defiance and lack of cooperation on the part of the wife, in a way that threatens the integrity of the family, there is a measure to be taken, what you might call a phased discipline that could be implemented.

“The first one that the verse mentions is kind exhortation... The husband could go to her, could appeal to his intimate relationship with her, appeal to love and affection. He may appeal to the fear of G-d and, being G-d conscious, remind her of her duty, as Islam prescribes, and the need to protect her future and the future of the family... to respond to reasonable requests and reasonable exhortation on the part of her husband.

“Well, needless to say that the majority of cases, any wife or woman who is reasonably decent and [a] reasonable person is very likely to respond to this kind type of approach, softer type of approach. But again, we know that not every woman would be that sensitive, that decent...

“So the second measure that the passage mentions is also the possibility of suspending [his] intimate relationship with the wife... Some jurists say not even to sleep in a different bed, but simply not to approach the wife for [an] intimate relationship. The idea behind it is to try to bring that haughtiness – being haughty, rebellious, inconsiderate, unreasonable – to bring this down to a reasonable level by showing that... one cannot accept this kind of relationship or treatment...

“Now, again, if this doesn’t work, which would be in [a] lesser number of cases, what to do? Divorce? If the first and second step does not work, well, there is one more thing, which may be resorted to as a last resort, just within the private relationship between husband and wife, before divorce, to avert the possibility of divorce. It need not be useful in all cases, but in some cases it may be, and that is a light and symbolical chastisement...

“It’s not just because somebody got angry or had a bad day or anything of that sort. It really deals with a situation of serious infraction, serious breaking of orders and discipline within the family. Like some jurists indicated that some of the cases of rebellion would be like a wife who just leaves her husband’s house and stays in some other place, refuses to respond to any request or reasonable or fair demand on his part...

“[C]hastisement should be such that it can never lead to injury or even leave a mark on the body... [A] great companion of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, Ibn Abbas... he said, “What chastisement with what?” He was himself wondering... it has to be very light, should not leave a mark, and even in that case what could be used? He said a miswak... something like a toothbrush. Imagine chastising with a toothbrush... [A] slight thing like that might lead the wife to throw herself in her husband’s arm and cry, and that might mend the situation rather than going through a drastic action like divorce.”

For Southern California In Focus to refer to Jamal Badawi as “one of the world’s greatest minds” is to ignore the violence that Badawi defends and rationalizes. And given the fact that the Board President and former Managing Editor of In Focus is Asma Ahmad, a woman, is doubly troubling. No doubt, Muslim women across the globe are suffering, because of what Badawi and his ilk have used their religion to write and say.

The lead story for this month’s In Focus is ‘A Few Good Men: American Muslim women bemoan lack of ‘good’ male suitors.’ Pictured on the cover is a sad girl in a wedding dress. It’s no wonder Muslim women are finding it hard to locate good men, when people like Badawi and his supporters exist only to ruin their lives.


Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the founder of CAIR Watch.


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