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What can we learn about
Islam from this woman?

"Discover the Truth's" Game

Muhammad Hitting Aisha

From Discover the Truth:

Critics of Islam who want to undermine the character of the Prophet Muhammed have accused the Prophet of beating his wife Aisha up
(December 23, 2013)

What the Apologists Want You to Believe

Although explicitly permitted by the Quran, wife-beating is extremely unpopular in Western society, to say the least.  The character of a man who hits a woman is judged to be poor, which poses a problem for apologists, given that their prophet Muhammad not only sanctioned such behavior, but purportedly engaged in it himself.

Apologists need for people to believe that any accounts of Muhammad hitting his wife are either mistranslated or fabricated. 

What They Offer as Proof

Discover the Truth mostly takes aim at Sahih Muslim 4:2127, a straight-forward account of Muhammad hitting his favorite wife, Aisha, in the chest.  Since the source of the verse is Aisha herself and the chain of narration is graded sahih (authentic), the apologists cannot deny that it occurred.  What they say instead is that the Arabic word used means "pushed away" rather than "strike".  They actually go so far as to associate it with " conferring blessings."

DTT also quotes several hadith in which Aisha purportedly says that Muhammad "never hit anything" including "servant or woman."

Much is also made about the weakness of another verse in which Muhammad says, "a man will not be asked why he beat his wife."  It is pointed out that that verse is graded daif.

Finally, 16 quotations from the Quran, Hadith and various scholars are provided to leave the impression that women are treated decently in Islam.

What They Leave Out and Why They are Wrong

DTT is correct about the verb used in Sahih Muslim 4:2127.  It can mean "to violently push," as their own citation states.  What they neglect to address is that Aisha reported that what her husband did to her caused pain, meaning that it was a physical act that harmed her (ie. spousal abuse). 

In this case, the DTT apologist is playing the role of lawyer, who claims that his client is "innocent" of beating his wife because an open hand was used instead of a closed fist.  What Muhammad did to his underage wife is still physical abuse.  The prophet of Islam acted in a moment of rage upon finding out that she had left the house without his permission.

Past translators were more candid about what occurred.  Unfortunately, even has gotten into the act of massaging the translation to downplay the violence.  They now leave out the part about pain, and refer to the physical act as being a "nudge on the chest."  However, this is not how they translate the text in other verses, such as Sunan an-Nasa'i 3964: "He gave me a shove on the chest that hurt me." (This verse is also graded sahih).

Aisha was also struck by her father, Abu Bakr, when she was with Muhammad: "Abu Bakr came towards me and struck me violently with his fist..." (Sahih Bukhari 82:282).  Again, she reports that this caused her pain... 

And again, Discover the Truth plays the role of criminal defense attorney, claiming that the beaten woman was simply "poked" and asking rhetorically: 'she was still standing wasn't she?':
A woman getting struck by a fully grown man and yet she still stands there? The fact that Aisha still stood there, not falling down from the assumed blow, proves that Aisha was not hit by her father’s fist, but poked hard by her father.  (Discover the Truth)
Classy defense, very classy indeed.  Unfortunately for DTT, Aisha was not standing, but laying down: "Abu Bakr came to me while Allah's Messenger was sleeping with his head on my thigh..." (Sahih Bukhari 82:827) "I remained motionless as if I was dead lest I should awake Allah’s Apostle although that hit was very painful."  So much for that.

So what of the hadith verses that have Aisha saying that Muhammad "never struck anything?"  For one thing, we don't know when she said this.  Secondly, these verses aren't quite as reliable as the ones in which she admits to abuse.  The collections of Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari, for example, do not contain these verses, meaning that Islam's most respected Hadith compilers rejected them as being reliably authentic. 

Interestingly, the word used by Aisha to deny that Muhammad hit women is daraba.  This is ironic because it is the same word used in verse 4:34 of the Quran, which gives men permission to beat their wives.  There, apologists bend over backwards to (falsely) claim that it doesn't mean "strike," yet, here... they freely acknowledge it.

While DTT is correct in pointing out that the verse from Abu Dawud 2142 saying, "A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife" is graded as "weak", this pertains only to the chain of narration for that particular verse.  It does not mean, as they claim that, "a Hadith being ‘weak’ means that the Prophet could not have made the statement."  That is untrue.  In fact, there is another verse from Sunan Ibn Majah 9:1986 which essentially says the same thing and is graded hasan (sufficient). 

There are also many sahih verses in which Muhammad exhibits indifference toward spousal abuse, sometimes even laughing at it (Sahih Muslim 9:3506).  In one case he ordered a badly beaten woman to return to her husband (Sahih Bukhari 72:715).  Even Aisha stated that Muslim wives suffer abuse at the hands of their husbands worse than other women (Sahih Bukhari 72:715).

Despite plenty of opportunity, it seems, there is no reliable account of Muhammad reacting with horror to a woman's beating at the hands of a man, even in his very presence.  This is inconvenient for DTT, which tries to counter by providing a list of 16 "Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad on Women" which seem to demonstrate a progressive attitude. 

Although most of the 16 sayings are irrelevant to the issue of wife-beating, a couple of Hadith verses do seem to contradict the Quran's injunction to impose physical abuse on disobedient wives.  The inconsistency has to do with timing, and is reconciled elsewhere... 

Follow the sequence of events:
"The Prophet said: 'Do not beat the female slaves of Allah.' Then 'Umar came to the Prophet and said: 'O Messenger of Allah, the woman have become bold towards their husbands? So order the beating of them,' and they were beaten. (Sunan Ibn Majah 9:1985)
That hadith verse is graded sahih.  It also appears in Abu Dawud 2141 (sahih as well).  So, first, Muhammad said to treat women kindly and not beat them; then he gave permission to beat those who "become emboldened" so that they not forget their place.

Further Reading

The Quran on Wife-Beating
Women Worth Less

Discover the Truth Propaganda Index

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