Beat your Wives or "Separate from Them"? (Qur'an 4:34)

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(Pictured above) Qur'an verse 4:34 in Arabic script.
According to the majority of Qur'anic translators and the Arabic lexicon[1], the Arabic phrase Idri-boo-hunna which appears in Qur'an 4:34 (highlighted in blue) means "beat them".

This article analyzes the apologetic claim that the Qur'an (surah 4:34) does not tell men "to beat them (i.e. their wives)," but rather to "separate from them" or to "strike them out."

Introduction[edit]

This article was written by non-Muslim Arabs in response to the strange translation of the verb darb (meaning "hit" "beat" or "strike") that has been presented on a few websites which claim to have "modern" translations of the Qur'an.[2]

There is no argument made here against progressive thinking, this is something that should be encouraged. The objection and the need to respond lay in the fact that, rarely, are these arguments used in an attempt to "reform" Islam. It is only logical to conclude that you cannot reform something if you deny there was ever a problem with it to begin with.

These apologetic arguments are clearly directed at non-Muslims who are ignorant of Islam, as any Muslim who has an adequate command of the Arabic language or is familiar with the hadith and tafsir text related to this issue, will find the claim being presented to be ridiculous.

An example of this can be found in the case of Laleh Bakhtiar, an American Muslim apologist. She too has incorporated this error into her "translation" of the Qur'an, a translation which the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) refused to sell in their bookstore.

The fact that Islamic scholars and followers of mainstream Islam in general reject these claims so easily leave them with only one use, and that is to use as misinformation against valid criticism of Islam.

Apologetic Claim[edit]

The following verse (4:34) does not mean "to beat them," but rather to "separate from them" or to "strike them out."

"Men are overseers over women, by reason of that wherewith Allah hath made one of them excel over another, and by reason of that which they expend of their substance. Wherefore righteous women are obedient, and are watchers in husbands absence by the aid and protection of Allah. And those wives whose refractoriness ye fear, exhort them, and avoid them in beds, and beat them; but if they obey you, seek not a way against them; verily Allah is ever Lofty, Grand." [3]

Agreed-Upon Translations[edit]

As we can see below, almost all Qur'anic translators have translated the term as "beat them".

Yusuf Ali:

"....As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all)." [4]

Pickthal:

"...As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great." [4]

Shakir:

"...and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great." [4]

Al-Hilali & Mohsin Khan:

"....As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great." [4]

Dr. T.B. Irving:

"...Admonish those women whose surliness you fear, and leave them alone in their beds, and [even] beat them [if necessary]. If they obey you, do not seek any way [to proceed] against them. God is Sublime, Great." [5]

Muhammad Sarwar:

"...Admonish women who disobey (God's laws), do not sleep with them and beat them. If they obey (the laws of God), do not try to find fault in them. God is High and Supreme." [4]

Rashad Khalifa:

"....If you experience rebellion from the women, you shall first talk to them, then (you may use negative incentives like) deserting them in bed, then you may (as a last alternative) beat them. If they obey you, you are not permitted to transgress against them. GOD is Most High, Supreme." [6]

Abdul-Majid Daryabadi:

"...And those wives whose refractoriness ye fear, exhort them, and avoid them in beds, and beat them; but if they obey you, seek not a way against them; verily Allah is ever Lofty, Grand." [3]

E.H. Palmer:

"...But those whose perverseness ye fear, admonish them and remove them into bedchambers and beat them; but if they submit to you, then do not seek a way against them; verily, God is high and great." [7]

Muhammad Ayub Khan:

"...And those whose rebellion you fear, admonish them and leave them alone in the beds, and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; God is surely High, Great."

Ahmed Raza Khan:

"...the women from whom you fear disobedience, (at first) advise them and (then) do not cohabit with them, and (lastly) beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek to do injustice to them; indeed Allah is Supreme, Great." [8]

Hassan Qaribullah & Ahmad Darwish:

"...Those from whom you fear rebelliousness, admonish them and desert them in the bed and smack them (without harshness). Then, if they obey you, do not look for any way against them. Allah is High, Great." [4]

Mahmud Y. Zayid:

"...and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great." [9]

Muhammad Asad:

"...And as for those woolen whose ill-will" you have reason to fear, admonish them [first]; then leave them alone in bed; then beat them and if thereupon..." [4]

Qur'anic Meanings[edit]

Apologists attempt to back up their claim that darb does not mean "to beat them" (i.e. their wives) in verse 4:34 by providing us with several other verses in the Qur'an which contain the word darb, being used to describe an action other than "to beat" or "to strike" (which are both very similar in Arabic):

  1. To travel, to get out: See Qur'an 3:156; Qur'an 4:101; Qur'an 38:44; Qur'an 73:20; Qur'an 2:273
  2. To strike: See Qur'an 2:60,Qur'an 2:73; Qur'an 7:160; Qur'an 8:12; Qur'an 20:77; Qur'an 24:31; Qur'an 26:63; Qur'an 37:93; Qur'an 47:4
  3. To beat: Qur'an 8:50; See Qur'an 47:27
  4. To set up: Qur'an 43:58; See Qur'an 57:113
  5. To give examples: See Qur'an 14:24, Qur'an 14:45; Qur'an 16:75, Qur'an 16:76, Qur'an 16:112; Qur'an 18:32, Qur'an 18:45; Qur'an 24:35; Qur'an 30:28, Qur'an 30:58; Qur'an 36:78; Qur'an 39:27, Qur'an 39:29; Qur'an 43:17; Qur'an 59:21; Qur'an 66:10, Qur'an 66:11
  6. To take away, to ignore: See Qur'an 43:5
  7. To condemn: See Qur'an 2:61
  8. To seal, to draw over: See Qur'an 18:11
  9. To cover: See Qur'an 24:31
  10. To explain: See Qur'an 13:17

Evidently, they have searched through the Qur'an for any verses which contain a derivative of the verb darb and then have compared their meanings, concluding that there are ten different meanings for the verb darb and something other than "to beat" can be applied to verse 4:34. Each of these differing usages of the verb darb will be thoroughly analyzed through the verses supporting them.

Once you have studied all those verses, you will find that they do not effect the interpretation of verse 4:34 whatsoever, and that the verb darb was indeed correctly understood and translated as "beat".

In fact, all the other verses presented which contain darb are actually using the term figuratively. For example, "hit the sky" is a figurative expression; nothing can literally "hit" or "crash" with layers of gases, it is meant to be understood as "fly high through" the sky. These Muslims will claim that this is a "different meaning" for the word "hit." So when someone says "I'll hit you," in actuality they meant "I'll fly high through you."

Yes, shockingly, this is their "logic". We will go through each of the usages in this list, and prove that none of them alter the meaning of the word darb when used against a woman (the wife).

Comparison with English Usages[edit]

First of all, there is a very important concept that needs to be understood: The meaning of many verbs differ according to the objects they are applied to. Using the word "hit" in English as an example, which also means darb, we will do exactly as the apologists have done, and will extract ten different meanings from the verb "hit."

Ten Meanings for "Hit"[edit]

The ten meanings are as follows (note that the nouns in the brackets are the objects to be hit):

  1. Go through (Road)
  2. Click (Mouse)
  3. Drink (Bottle)
  4. Land (Target)
  5. Reach (Market)
  6. Press (Brakes)
  7. Go (Beach)
  8. Fulfil (Spot)
  9. Demonstrate (Streets)
  10. Win (Jackpot)

Interpretations:[edit]

  1. When someone "hits the road," it means he "departed" or "went through the road." It surely doesn't mean he got a hammer and hit the road. Does "hit the woman" mean "go through the woman"?
  2. When someone says they will "hit the Mouse," they mean to say they will "click on the mouse." Does "hit the woman" mean "click on the woman"?
  3. When someone says they'll "hit the bottle," what they really mean is, they'll "drink the bottle" or "drink alcohol heavily." Does "hit the woman" mean "drink the woman"?
  4. When a darts player "hits the target," he didn't get the dart board and break it, he simply shot the dart and it "landed on the target." Does "hit the woman" mean "land on the woman"?
  5. When an author's book "hits the market," it means the book "reaches the market." Does "hit the woman" mean "reach the woman"?
  6. When someone says they'll "hit the brakes," it doesn't mean they'll break the braking pedal, but rather it mean they'll "press on the brakes" to stop the car. Does "hit the woman" mean "press on the woman"?
  7. When a family "hits the beach," they didn't fall from the 11th floor and "crash" into the beach, but they "went to the beach." Does "hit the woman" mean "go to the woman"?
  8. When someone says its fine but it didn't "hit the spot," they mean to say its fine but didn't fulfill their needs. Does "hit the woman" mean "woman fulfilled my needs"?
  9. When someone says the activists "hit the streets," it means the activists "demonstrated in the streets." Does "hit the woman" mean "demonstrate to the woman"?
  10. When someone says they "hit the jackpot" it actually means they "won the jackpot." Does "hit the woman" mean "win the woman"?

As you can clearly see, each of those sentences require a different interpretation of the word "hit", which is applied accordingly to the object used in combination with it. With all these supposedly "different meanings" of the word "hit" in mind, what is your understanding of the sentence "I will hit my woman?"

It still has no other meaning than "I will beat my woman."' The difference between, for example, "hit the road" and "hit the woman", is the object to be hit, and not the meaning of "hit" itself.

Apologist logic[edit]

This is the "logic" used by apologists to defend the Qur'an:

Maybe a new device, with the name of "Xiner" will be around, and "hitting the Xiner" will mean "powering-on the Xiner."

  1. "Hit the Xiner" means "power-on the Xiner"
  2. Both statements "hit the woman" and "hit the Xiner" use the word "hit"
  3. Therefore, "hit the woman" can also mean "power-on the woman" or "energize the woman"

The above, clearly demonstrates the irrationality of this reasoning. The meaning of "hit" depends on the object to be hit. The sentence "hit the Xiner" does not, under any circumstance, change or add a new meaning to the word "hit". This is a non-sequitur argument. The repetition of the word "hit" in the two phrases does not make a connection between them, as each one is being used in a different expression, and its meaning is only correctly understood from its own context, and not the other's. Therefore the conclusion reached is irrelevant.

The problem here is that they derive the meaning of darb from a "packaged" expression. The whole expression is what gives it meaning; breaking up an expression and deriving new meanings from its verb is not a logical thing to do. If they see this as logical, then they must agree "I'll hit my woman" in English also has ten different possible interpretations (Go through, Drink, Click, Land....etc). It should be understood that:

  1. When the object named "road" is hit, the whole statement means "go".
  2. When the object named "Xiner" is hit, the whole statement means "power-on the Xiner".
  3. When the object named "woman" is hit, the whole statement means "beat the woman".

The ten interpretations that have been given for the word hit, are in fact very similar to those which apologists have provided from the Qur'an as "different meanings of the word darb."

The only way for "hit" to have multiple meanings in verse 4:34 is if it has been used more than once, against a human being, with different interpretations; for example, when "hit the woman" is found in the Qur'an to mean both "beat her" and to "abandon her," which is not the case.

Taking this into account, verses referring to hitting only parts of a human will not do the job sufficiently, as it can be claimed that when the Qur'an says "hit your feet" it simply means to "start walking"; thus verses mentioning the hitting of "ears" and "necks" will be dismissed. Although most of them do support the meaning "beat", the verses which mention hitting a whole human-being will be our only guide.

What has been explained here, can also be applied in Arabic, as even the expression "hit the road" is found in Arabic as "hit in the land", which means to "travel through the land." One of the most frequent Arabic expressions is also to "hit an example," which means to "give an example." So now, with this understanding, we can delve into the real work.

Commentary[edit]

Most of the verses containing the ten different meanings which have been given by the apologists are using the verb darb (hit) not against human beings, but rather "hitting the land," "hitting an example," "hitting the truth"... etc. While in the few verses that darb was used against a human being, it meant to "beat" or "strike," which confirms our understanding of the use of darb in verse 4:34.

What will be discussed now is how the meaning of darb is not altered by its different interpretations in the given verses. We will present the transliteration, and word-by-word literal translation of the statement in Bold in each verse, which is the place where darb (hit) and its object (i.e. Land) are used; and above each verse you'll find the name of the object being hit. For example, if we encounter a phrase such as "hit an example," we will literally translate it as is, not as "give an example" like the standard Qur'anic translations. Although this translation may sound strange, it will make the object to be hit, easily identifiable for the non-Arabic speakers.

We translated all the verses for no other reason than to show that each time "darb" is used and has a different meaning than to "beat," it is not against a human being, but against other material and non-material objects. And each and every time it is used against a human, it had no other meaning than to "beat".

Please Note:

  1. The verses which mention hitting a whole human body will have their title in red.
  2. We will skip the meanings of number 2 [to strike] and number 3 [to beat] that are provided by the Islamic sites, as they already confirm that women are beaten, and they will be discussed at the end, once we are finished with meaning number 10.
  3. You do not have to go through all of the verses covered. You can simply read the first verse in each of the eleven sections and the ones with a red title. The reason why all of the verses have been refuted, is to make the argument against these "modern translations" complete and comprehensive.


Meaning number 1: To travel, to get out[edit]

Verse: 3.156 Object: Land

O ye who believe! Be not like the Unbelievers, who say of their brethren, when they are traveling through the Earth or engaged in fighting: "If they had stayed with us, they would not have died, or been slain." This that Allah may make it a cause of sighs and regrets in their hearts. It is Allah that gives Life and Death, and Allah sees well all that ye do.


Transliteration: Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo la takoonoo kaallatheena kafaroo waqaloo li-ikhwanihim itha daraboo fee al-ardi aw kanoo ghuzzan law kanoo AAindana ma matoo wama qutiloo liyajAAala Allahu thalika hasratan fee quloobihim waAllahu yuhyee wayumeetu waAllahu bima taAAmaloona baseerun

daraboo is derived from darab, meaning "hit". Fee literally means "in". Al-Ardi means "the land". Thus, the whole statement daraboo fee al-ardi says "hit in the land" meaning something like "hit the road", which doesn't give a new meaning for "hit" (darab) at all.

Also, there was never something like "hit in the sea" or "hit in the city" to mean go through them. "Hit" gives that meaning only when it is against "land." It's a known expression.


Verse: 4.101 Object: Land

When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers May attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies.


Transliteration: Wa-itha darabtum fee al-ardi falaysa AAalaykum junahun an taqsuroo mina aIssalati in khiftum an yaftinakumu allatheena kafaroo inna alkafireena kanoo lakum AAaduwwan mubeenan

darabtum fee al-ardi literally meaning "you (plural) hit in the land"


Verse: 38.44 Object: Grass

And take in thy hand a little grass, and strike therewith: and break not (thy oath)." Truly We found him full of patience and constancy. How excellent in Our service! ever did he turn (to Us)!


Transliteration: Wakhuth biyadika dighthan faidrib bihi wala tahnath inna wajadnahu sabiran niAAma alAAabdu innahu awwabun

biyadika dighthan faidrib bihi literally meaning "take in your hand a little grass, and strike therewith"


Verse: 73.20 Object: Land

Thy Lord doth know that thou standest forth (to prayer) nigh two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or a third of the night, and so doth a party of those with thee. But Allah doth appoint night and day in due measure He knoweth that ye are unable to keep count thereof. So He hath turned to you (in mercy): read ye, therefore, of the Qur'an as much as may be easy for you. He knoweth that there may be (some) among you in ill-health; others traveling through the land, seeking of Allah's bounty; yet others fighting in Allah's Cause, read ye, therefore, as much of the Qur'an as may be easy (for you); and establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity; and loan to Allah a Beautiful Loan. And whatever good ye send forth for your souls ye shall find it in Allah's Presence,- yea, better and greater, in Reward and seek ye the Grace of Allah: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.


Transliteration: Inna rabbaka yaAAlamu annaka taqoomu adna min thuluthayi allayli wanisfahu wathuluthahu wata-ifatun mina allatheena maAAaka waAllahu yuqaddiru allayla waalnnahara AAalima an lan tuhsoohu fataba AAalaykum faiqraoo ma tayassara mina alqur-ani AAalima an sayakoonu minkum marda waakharoona yadriboona fee al-ardi yabtaghoona min fadli Allahi waakharoona yuqatiloona fee sabeeli Allahi faiqraoo ma tayassara minhu waaqeemoo alssalata waatoo alzzakata waaqridoo Allaha qardan hasanan wama tuqaddimoo li-anfusikum min khayrin tajidoohu AAinda Allahi huwa khayran waaAAthama ajran waistaghfiroo Allaha inna Allaha ghafoorun raheemun

yadriboona fee al-ardi literally meaning "they hit in the land."


Verse: 2.273 Object: Land

(Charity is) for those in need, who, in Allah's cause are restricted (from travel), and cannot move about in the land, seeking (For trade or work): the ignorant man thinks, because of their modesty, that they are free from want. Thou shalt know them by their (Unfailing) mark: They beg not importunately from all the sundry. And whatever of good ye give, be assured Allah knoweth it well.


Transliteration: Lilfuqara-i allatheena ohsiroo fee sabeeli Allahi la yastateeAAoona darban fee al-ardi yahsabuhumu aljahilu aghniyaa mina aIttaAAaffufi taAArifuhum biseemahum la yas-aloona aInnasa ilhafan wama tunfiqoo min khayrin fa-inna Allaha bihi AAaleemun

darban fee al-ardi literally meaning "a hit in the land."


Meaning number 2 and number 3[edit]

As mentioned earlier, these will be skipped, as the interpretations provided by the Islamic sites ("to beat" and "to strike") already confirm that women are beaten, and will be discussed further at the end.

Meaning number 4: To set up[edit]

Verse: 43.58 Object: Example

And they say: are our gods better, or is he? They mention him not to thee save for disputation. Aye! they are a people contentious..


Transliteration: Waqaloo aalihatuna khayrun am huwa ma daraboohu laka illa jadalan bal hum qawmun khasimoona

ma daraboohu laka literally meaning "what they have hit for you." The thing that is hit here is, from its previous verse Qur'an 43:57, is an example.


Verse: 57.13 Object: Wall

One Day will the Hypocrites- men and women - say to the Believers: "Wait for us! Let us borrow (a Light) from your Light!" It will be said: "Turn ye back to your rear! then seek a Light (where ye can)! So a wall will be put up betwixt them, with a gate therein. Within it will be Mercy throughout, and without it, all alongside, will be (Wrath and) Punishment!


Transliteration: Yawma yaqoolu lmunafiqoona waalmunafiqatu lillatheena amanoo on uroona naqtabis min noorikum qeela irjiAAoo waraakum failtamisoo nooran faduriba baynahum bisoorin lahu babun batinuhu feehi aIrrahmatu wathahiruhu min qibalihi alAAathabu

faduriba baynahum bisoorin literally meaning "a wall was hit between them" which is understood as "a wall was stroke between them."


Meaning number 5: To give examples[edit]

Verse: 14.24 Object: Example

Seest thou not how Allah sets forth a parable? - A goodly word like a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the heavens,- of its Lord. So Allah sets forth parables for men, in order that they may receive admonition.


Transliteration: Alam tara kayfa daraba Allahu mathalan kalimatan tayyibatan kashajaratin tayyibatin asluha thabitun wafarAAuha fee aIssama

daraba Allahu mathalan literally meaning "Allah hit an example", which is a well known and frequently used expression meaning "give an example." It is important to mention that darab is used to mean "give" only when the object given is an example.


Verse: 14.45 Object: Example

"And ye dwelt in the dwellings of men who wronged their own souls; ye were clearly shown how We dealt with them; and We put forth (many) parables in your behoof!"


Transliteration: Wasakantum fee masakini allatheena thalamoo anfusahum watabayyana lakum kayfa faAAalna bihim wadarabna lakumu al-amthala

wadarabna lakumu al-amthala literally meaning "we hit for you the example."


Verse: 16.75 Object: Example

Allah sets forth the Parable (of two men: one) a slave under the dominion of another; He has no power of any sort; and (the other) a man on whom We have bestowed goodly favours from Ourselves, and he spends thereof (freely), privately and publicly: are the two equal? (By no means;) praise be to Allah. But most of them understand not.


Transliteration: Daraba Allahu mathalan AAabdan mamlookan la yaqdiru AAala shay-in waman razaqnahu minna rizqan hasanan fahuwa yunfiqu minhu sirran wajahran hal yastawoona alhamdu lillahi bal aktharuhum la yaAAlamoona

Daraba Allahu mathalan literally meaning "Allah has hit an example."


Verse: 16.76 Object: Example

Allah sets forth (another) Parable of two men: one of them dumb, with no power of any sort; a wearisome burden is he to his master; whichever way be directs him, he brings no good: is such a man equal with one who commands Justice, and is on a Straight Way?


Transliteration: Wadaraba Allahu mathalan rajulayni ahaduhuma abkamu la yaqdiru AAala shay-in wahuwa kallun AAala mawlahu aynama yuwajjihhu la ya/ti bikhayrin hal yastawee huwa waman ya/muru bialAAadli wahuwa AAala siratin mustaqeemin

Wadaraba Allahu mathalan literally meaning "And Allah has hit an example."


Verse: 16.112 Object: Example

Allah sets forth a Parable: a city enjoying security and quiet, abundantly supplied with sustenance from every place: Yet was it ungrateful for the favours of Allah: so Allah made it taste of hunger and terror (in extremes) (closing in on it) like a garment (from every side), because of the (evil) which (its people) wrought.


Transliteration: Wadaraba Allahu mathalan qaryatan kanat aminatan mutma-innatan ya/teeha rizquha raghadan min kulli makanin fakafarat bi-anAAumi Allahi faathaqaha Allahu libasa aljooAAi waalkhawfi bima kanoo yasnaAAoona

Wadaraba Allahu mathalan literally meaning "And Allah has hit an example."


Verse: 18.32 Object: Example

Set forth to them the parable of two men: for one of them We provided two gardens of grape-vines and surrounded them with date palms; in between the two We placed corn-fields.


Transliteration: Waidrib lahum mathalan rajulayni jaAAalna li-ahadihima jannatayni min aAAnabin wahafafnahuma binakhlin wajaAAalna baynahuma zarAAan

Waidrib lahum mathalan literally meaning "and you, hit for them an example."


Verse: 18.45 Object: Example

Set forth to them the similitude of the life of this world: It is like the rain which we send down from the skies: the earth's vegetation absorbs it, but soon it becomes dry stubble, which the winds do scatter: it is (only) Allah who prevails over all things.


Transliteration: Waidrib lahum mathala alhayati aIddunya kama-in anzalnahu mina aIssama-i faikhtalata bihi nabatu al-ardi faasbaha hasheeman tathroohu aIrriyahu wakana Allahu AAala kulli shay-in muqtadiran

Waidrib lahum mathala literally meaning "and hits for them an example."


Verse: 24.35 Object: Example

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass: the glass as it were a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His Light: Allah doth set forth Parables for men: and Allah doth know all things.


Transliteration: Allahu nooru aIssamawati waal-ardi mathalu noorihi kamishkatin feeha misbahun almisbahu fee zujajatin aIzzujajatu kaannaha kawkabun durriyyun yooqadu min shajaratin mubarakatin zaytoonatin la sharqiyyatin wala gharbiyyatin yakadu zaytuha yudee-o walaw lam tamsas-hu narun noorun AAala noorin yahdee Allahu linoorihi man yashao wayadribu Allahu al-amthala liInnasi waA ahu bikulli shay-in AAaleemun

wayadribu Allahu al-amthala literally meaning "And Allah hits the examples."


Verse: 30.28 Object: Example

He does propound to you a similitude from your own (experience): do ye have partners among those whom your right hands possess, to share as equals in the wealth We have bestowed on you? O ye fear them as ye fear each other? Thus do we explain the Signs in detail to a people that understand.


Transliteration: Daraba lakum mathalan min anfusikum hal lakum mimma malakat aymanukum min shurakaa fee ma razaqnakum faantum feehi sawaon takhafoonahum kakheefatikum anfusakum kathalika nufassilu al- ayati liqawmin yaAAqiloona

Daraba lakum mathalan literally meaning "hit an example for you."


Verse: 30.58 Object: Example

verily We have propounded for men, in this Qur'an every kind of Parable: But if thou bring to them any Sign, the Unbelievers are sure to say, "Ye do nothing but talk vanities."


Transliteration: Walaqad darabna liInnasi fee hatha alqur-ani min kulli mathalin wala-in ji/tahum bi-ayatin layaqoolanna allatheena kafaroo in antum illa mubtiloona

darabna liInnasi fee hatha alqur-ani min kulli mathalin literally meaning "We have hit in this Quran for every example for the people."


Verse: 39.27 Object: Example

We have put forth for men, in this Qur'an every kind of Parable, in order that they may receive admonition.


Transliteration: Walaqad darabna liInnasi fee hatha alqur-ani min kulli mathalin laAAallahum yatathakkaroona

Walaqad darabna liInnasi fee hatha alqur-ani min kulli mathalin literally meaning "And we have hit in this Quran from every example for the people."


Verse: 39.29 Object: Example

Allah puts forth a Parable a man belonging to many partners at variance with each other, and a man belonging entirely to one master: are those two equal in comparison? Praise be to Allah! but most of them have no knowledge.


Transliteration: Daraba Allahu mathalan rajulan feehi shurakao mutashakisoona warajulan salaman lirajulin hal yastawiyani mathalan alhamdu lillahi bal aktharuhum la yaAAlamoona

Daraba Allahu mathalan literally meaning "Allah hit an example."


Verse: 43.17 Object: Example

When news is brought to one of them of (the birth of) what he sets up as a likeness to (Allah) Most Gracious, his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief!


Transliteration: Wa-itha bushshira ahaduhum bima daraba liIrrahmani mathalan thalla wajhuhu muswaddan wahuwa katheemun

bima daraba liIrrahmani mathalan literally meaning "in the examples hit by the Merciful."


Verse: 59.21 Object: Example

Had We sent down this Qur'an on a mountain, verily, thou wouldst have seen it humble itself and cleave asunder for fear of Allah. Such are the similitudes which We propound to men, that they may reflect.


Transliteration: Law anzalna hatha alqur-ana AAala jabalin laraaytahu khashiAAan mutasaddiAAan min khashyati Allahi watilka al-amthalu nadribuha liInnasi laAAallahum yatafakkaroona

watilka al-amthalu nadribuha liInnasi literally meaning "and these are the examples that we hit for the people."


Verse: 66.10 Object: Example

Allah sets forth, for an example to the Unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut: they were (respectively) under two of our righteous servants, but they were false to their (husbands), and they profited nothing before Allah on their account, but were told: "Enter ye the Fire along with (others) that enter!"


Transliteration: Daraba Allahu mathalan lillatheena kafaroo imraata noohin waimraata lootin kanata tahta AAabdayni min AAibadina salihayni fakhanatahuma falam yughniya AAanhuma mina Allahi shay-an waqeela odkhula aInnara maAAa aIddakhileena

Daraba Allahu mathalan literally meaning "Allah has hit an example."


Verse: 66.11 Object: Example

And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh: Behold she said: "O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong"


Transliteration: Wadaraba Allahu mathalan lillatheena amanoo imraata firAAawna ith qalat rabbi ibni lee AAindaka baytan fee aljannati wanajjinee min firAAawna waAAamalihi wanajjinee mina alqawmi aIththalimeena

Wadaraba Allahu mathalan literally meaning "And Allah has hit an example."

Meaning number 6: To take away, to ignore[edit]

Verse: 43.5 Object: Admonition

Shall We then take away from you the Admonition because ye are a people extravagant?


Transliteration: Afanadribu AAankumu aIththikra safhan an kuntum qawman musrifeena

Afanadribu AAankumu aIththikra literally meaning "shall we hit the admonition from you." Again, this is a known expression.


Meaning number 7: To condemn[edit]

Verse: 26.1 Object: Humiliation

And remember ye said: "O Moses! we cannot endure one kind of food (always); so beseech thy Lord for us to produce for us of what the earth groweth, -its pot-herbs, and cucumbers, Its garlic, lentils, and onions." He said: "Will ye exchange the better for the worse? Go ye down to any town, and ye shall find what ye want!" They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah. This because they went on rejecting the Signs of Allah and slaying His Messengers without just cause. This because they rebelled and went on transgressing.


Transliteration: Wa-ith qultum ya moosa lan nasbira AAala taAAamin wahidin faodAAu lana rabbaka yukhrij lana mimma tunbitu al-ardu min baqliha waqiththa-iha wafoomiha waAAadasiha wabasaliha qala atastabdiloona allathee huwa adna bia athee huwa khayrun ihbitoo misran fa-inna lakum ma saaltum waduribat AAalayhimu aIththillatu waalmaskanatu wabaoo bighadabin mina Allahi thalika bi- annahum kanoo yakfuroona bi-ayati Allahi wayaqtuloona aInnabiyyeena bighayri alhaqqi thalika bima AAasaw wakanoo yaAAtadoona

waduribat AAalayhimu aIththillatu literally meaning "and the humiliation was hit on him." The humiliation is what was hit, not Moses himself.

Meaning number 8: To seal, to draw over[edit]

Verse: 18.11 :Over the ears

Then We draw (a veil) over their ears, for a number of years, in the Cave, (so that they heard not):


Transliteration: Fadarabna AAala athanihim fee alkahfi sineena AAadadan

Fadarabna AAala athanihim literally meaning "we have hit over their ears," which is a common expression in Arabic that means "we will make your ears hear nothing." Just like "hit your feet" can mean "start walking." What was hit here was the ears, not the people themselves.


Meaning number 9: To cover[edit]

Verse: 24.31 Object: Veils and Feet

And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.


Transliteration: Waqul lilmu/minati yaghdudna min absarihinna wayahfathna furoojahunna wala yubdeena zeenatahunna illa mathahara minha walyadribna bikhumurihinna AAala juyoobihinna wala yubdeena zeenatahunna illa libuAAoolatihinna aw aba-ihinna aw aba-i buAAoolatihinna awthabna-ihinna aw abna-i buAAoolatihinna aw ikhwanihinna aw banee ikhwanihinna aw banee akhawatihinna aw nisa- ihinna aw ma malakat aymanuhunna awi aIttabiAAeena ghayri olee al-irbati mina aIrrijali awi aIttifli allatheena lam ya haroo AAala AAawrati aInnisa-i wala yadribna bi-arjulihinna liyuAAlama ma yukhfeena min zeenatihinna watooboo ila Allahi jameeAAan ayyuha almu/minoona laAAallakum tuflihoona

This verse mentions the verb darb twice. In the first occurrence, it says walyadribna bikhumurihinna AAala juyoobihinna literally meaning "and they should hit their veils over their bosoms," which also does not reflect that the word darb means "cover" as has been alleged. If it were, then it should be written as such: "and they should hit themselves with their veils over their bosoms."

In the second occurrence, wala yadribna bi-arjulihinna literally means "they should not hit their feet;" and here "hit" is meant literally as "hit" or "strike."


Meaning number 10: To explain[edit]

Verse: 13.17 Object: Truth and Vanity

He sends down water from the skies, and the channels flow, each according to its measure: But the torrent bears away to foam that mounts up to the surface. Even so, from that (ore) which they heat in the fire, to make ornaments or utensils therewith, there is a scum likewise. Thus doth Allah (by parables) show forth Truth and Vanity. For the scum disappears like forth cast out; while that which is for the good of mankind remains on the earth. Thus doth Allah set forth parables.


Transliteration: Anzala mina aIssama-i maan fasalat awdiyatun biqadariha faihtamala aIssaylu zabadan rabiyan wamimma yooqidoona AAalayhi fee aInnari ibtighaa hilyatin aw mataAAin zabadun mithluhu kathalika yadribu Allahu alhaqqa waalbatila faamma aIzzabadu fayathhabu jufaan waamma ma yanfaAAu aInnasa fayamkuthu fee al-ardi kathalika yadribu Allahu al-amthala

Another two instances of "darb" here: yadribu Allahu alhaqqa waalbatila literally meaning "Allah hits the truth and the vanity," as in "Allahs explains the truth and the vanity."

yadribu Allahu al-amthala literally means "Allah hits an example."


Meaning number 2 and 3 Examined[edit]

All the verses that were given by the Islamic site so far, which were intended to show that darab has a meaning other than "beat" or "strike," have not used darab against a human being. Thus, they are irrelevant to this discussion.

Again, when someone says "I'll hit my woman," it does not have any other meaning than to say "I'll beat her" Despite all the other meanings it can have when used against other objects, its use against this specific object (i.e. the human body) remains unchanged.

As has been mentioned earlier, the only way for darab to have multipile meanings in verse 4:34 is if it has been used more than once, against a human being, with different interpretations; for example, when "hit the woman" is found in the Qur'an to mean both "beat her" and to "abandon her,". Thankfully [for the truth], there are a few verses in the Quran which use darab against humans, that have also been given by the Islamic site themselves, and we shall examine them in the next two sections.


Meaning number 2: To strike[edit]

Verse: 2.60 Object: Rock

And remember Moses prayed for water for his people; We said: "Strike the rock with thy staff." Then gushed forth therefrom twelve springs. Each group knew its own place for water. So eat and drink of the sustenance provided by Allah, and do no evil nor mischief on the (face of the) earth.


Transliteration: Wa-ithi istasqa moosa liqawmihi faqulna idrib biAAasaka alhajara fainfajarat minhu ithnata AAashrata AAaynan qad AAalima kullu onasin mashrabahum kuloo waishraboo min rizqi Allahi wala taAAthaw fee al-ardi mufsideena

idrib biAAasaka alhajara literally meaning "hit the rock."


Verse: 2.73 Object: Human

So We said: "Strike him (the dead man) with a piece of it (the cow)." Thus Allah brings the dead to life and shows you His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) so that you may understand.


Transliteration: Faqulna idriboohu bibaAAdiha kathalika yuhyee Allahu almawta wayureekum ayatihi laAAallakum taAAqiloona

idriboohu bibaAAdiha literally means "beat him with part of her." The one to be beaten is the dead man [a whole human], which is the equivalent of the wife [a whole human] who is to be beaten as instructed in verse 4:34. The only possible meaning here for darab is "strike" or "beat." The mysterious translation of "separate from them" that was used instead of "beat" in 4:34 cannot be applied here, as the cow and the man were definitely not connected in any way to be "separated." On this occasion, the Islamic site also agrees with this understanding of the word darab. This verse confirms for us, that when you are told to darab a man, it means to strike or beat them. Thus, it is logical to conclude that darab against a woman will also mean to "strike" or "beat" them, not "separate".


Verse: 7.160 Object: Rock

We divided them into twelve tribes or nations. We directed Moses by inspiration, when his (thirsty) people asked him for water: "Strike the rock with thy staff": out of it there gushed forth twelve springs: Each group knew its own place for water. We gave them the shade of clouds, and sent down to them manna and quails, (saying): "Eat of the good things We have provided for you": (but they rebelled); to Us they did no harm, but they harmed their own souls.


Transliteration: WaqattaAAnahumu ithnatay AAashrata asbatan omaman waawhayna ila moosa ithi istasqahu qawmuhu ani idrib biAAasaka alhajara fainbajasat minhu ithnata AAashrata AAaynan qad AAalima kullu ona_sin mashrabahum wa allaln a AAalayhimu algham_a_ma waanzalna AAalayhimu almanna waalssalwa' kuloo min -tayyib'ati ma' razaqna'kum wama' alamoon a wal a kin k a noo anfusahum ya limoona

idrib biAAasaka alhajara literally meaning "hit the rock."


Verse: 8.12 Object: Human Necks

Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."


Transliteration: Ith yooh ee rabbuka il a almal a -ikati annee maAAakum fathabbitoo alla_th eena a manoo saolqee fee quloobi allat_h eena kafaroo aIrruAAba faidriboo fawqa al-aAAnaqi waidriboo minhum kulla bananin

faidriboo fawqa al-aAAnaqi waidriboo minhum kulla bananin literally meaning "hit over the necks and hit from them all their fingers." The first "hit" means "beat" and the second means "cut-off." Both objects here are not whole bodies, but only parts (necks and fingers), and I don't think the "modern liberal Muslims" would like to use this either, since the first is the correct meaning they reject in verse 4:34, and the second ("cut off") is no softer than "beat."


Verse: 20.77 Object: Road

We sent an inspiration to Moses: "Travel by night with My servants, and strike a dry path for them through the sea, without fear of being overtaken (by Pharaoh) and without (any other) fear."


Transliteration: Walaqad aw'hayn'a ila' moos'a an asri biAAib'adee faid'rib lahum -tareeqan fee albah'ri yabasan l'a takhafu darakan wala takhsha

faid'rib lahum -tareeqan literally meaning "so hit a road for them."


Verse: 24.31 Object: Feet and Veil This verse is a repeat and has already been discussed under the section 9 - To cover.


Verse: 26:63 Object: Sea

Then We told Moses by inspiration: "Strike the sea with thy rod." So it divided, and each separate part became like the huge, firm mass of a mountain.


Transliteration: Faawhayna ila moosa aniidrib biAAasaka albahra fainfalaqa faka_na kullu firqin kaalt_t awdi alAAa eemi

aniidrib biAAasaka albahra literally meaning "to hit with your stick the sea."


Verse: 37.93 Object: Human

Then did he turn upon them, striking (them) with the right hand.


Transliteration: Faragha AAalayhim darban bialyameeni

This is a great example. Here, darban bialyameeni literally means "hit them [people] with the right [hand]." According to this verse, when verb daraban is applied to humans, it means "beat" or "strike." It cannot be translated as "separate them from your right hand," as that is utterly ridiculous. The Islamic site in question, also agrees that darab here means "strike."


Verse: 47.4 Object: Human Necks

Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost.


Transliteration: Fa-itha laqeetumu allatheena kafaroo fadarba aIrriqabi hatta itha athkhantumoohum fashuddooalwathaqa fa-imma mannan baAAdu wa-imma fidaan hatta tadaAAa alharbu awzaraha thalika walaw yash a o All a hu lainta_s ara minhum wala kin liyabluwa baAA d akum bibaAA d in waaa th eena qutiloo fee sabeeli All a hi falan yu d illa aAAm a lahum

fadarba aIrriqabi literally meaning "the hit of the necks." as in "beaten on their necks," and the Islamic site once again agrees.

Meaning number 3: To beat[edit]

Verse: 8.50 Object: Human Faces

If thou couldst see, when the angels take the souls of the Unbelievers (at death), (How) they smite their faces and their backs, (saying): "Taste the penalty of the blazing Fire-


Transliteration: Walaw tara ith yatawaffa allatheena kafaroo almala-ikatu yadriboona wujoohahum waadbarahum wathooqoo AAathaba alhareeqi

yadriboona wujoohahum literally meaning "hit their faces," which is translated by the Islamic site as "beat their faces."


Verse: 47.27 Object: Human Faces

But how (will it be) when the angels take their souls at death, and smite their faces and their backs? Transliteration: Fakayfa itha tawaffat-humu almala-ikatu yadriboona wujoohahum waadbarahum

yadriboona wujoohahum literally meaning "hit their faces." Also translated correctly by the Islamic site, Just like the previous verses.

Comparing the Two Terms[edit]

Beat them and leave them are different phrases in Arabic. The arabic word idribohunna driven from the root word Darab does not have any other meaning than Beat when it comes to mean "Yadreb Ahadan" = Hit someone. Idriboohunna (أضربوهن) means beat them (for female plural). Adriboo Anhunna (اضربوا عنهن) is the one that means abandon or leave them. According to the Arabic lexicon.[1]:

Arabic Transliteration Meaning
ضرب Zarb Beat
أضربوهن (used in 4:34) Idriboohunna Beat them
اضربوا عنهن Adriboo Anhunna abandon them, leave them

Qur'an 4:34 says Idriboohunna[10] أضربوهن not Adribu Anhunna اضربوا عنهن. These two phrases have different meanings.

Conclusion[edit]

All the verses that contain darb against a human are understood to mean "beat" or "strike" that human, by their context, and this is agreed upon by these obscure "modern" translations. Why then do they consider verse 4:34 to be a special case and translate "darb" to mean "separate from them"?

If the apologists are to be believed, their arguments only prove the extreme vagueness of the Qur'an, to the extent that the credibility and works of its finest scholars are called into question. And that the Arabic language is deficient, in the sense that it could not present the Qur'an's teachings in a clear and understandable manner.

This page is featured in the core article, Islam and Women which serves as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this topic Core part.png

See Also[edit]

  • Wife Beating - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Wife Beating
  • Mistranslated Verses - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Mistranslated Verses

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Arabic Lexicon (page in Arabic language)
  2. Such as Free-Minds.org and Progressive-Muslims.org
  3. 3.0 3.1 Quran 4 the World - Quran 4:34 (Daryabadi)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Islam Awakened - Qur'an 4:34
  5. The Koran - English Translation by T.B Irving
  6. Submission.org - Quran 4:34 (Khalifa)
  7. Quran Browser - Quran 4:34
  8. Multimedia Quran - Quran 4:34 (Raza Khan)
  9. Quran 4:34 - Zayid
  10. The use of "Idriboohunna" in verse 4:34 has been confirmed by Errors in English Translations of the Quran (From the Introduction of Quran: a Reformist Translation, Brainbow Press) which itself is attempting to use the "leave them" apologetic that is refuted on this page.