Muslim Sexual Ethics: Understanding a Difficult Verse, Qur'an 4:34: Additional Translations


YUSUF ALI: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. 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).

PICKTHAL: Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. 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.

SHAKIR: Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; 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. (Source.)

AHMED ALI: “Men are the support of women as God gives some more means than others, and because they spend of their wealth (to provide for them). So women who are virtuous are obedient to God and guard the hidden as God has guarded it. As for women you feel are averse, talk to them suasively; then leave them alone in bed (without molesting them) and go to bed with them (when they are willing). If they open out to you, do not seek an excuse for blaming them. Surely God is sublime and great.”

(Source: Al-Qur'an: A Contemporary Translation, Princeton University Press, 1988: 78-79)

Ahmed Ali’s explanatory note on his translation of this verse: “For the three words fa'izu, wahjaru, and wadribu in the original, translated here 'talk to them suasively,' 'leave them alone (in bed - fi'l-madage'),' and 'have intercourse', respectively, see Raghib, Lisan al-'Arab, and Zamakhsari. Raghib in his Al-Mufridat fi Gharib al-Qur'an gives the meanings of these words with special reference to this verse. Fa-'izu, he says, means to 'to talk to them so persuasively as to melt their hearts.' (See also v.63 of this Surah where it has been used in a similar sense.) Hajara, he says, means to separate body from body, and points out that the expression wahjaru hunna metaphorically means to refrain from touching or molesting them. Zamakhshari is more explicit in his Kshshaf when he says, 'do not get inside their blankets.' Raghib points out that daraba metaphorically means to have intercourse, and quotes the expression darab al-fahl an-naqah, 'the stud camel covered the she-camel,' which is also quoted by Lisan al-'Arab. It cannot be taken here to mean 'to strike them (women).' This view is strengthened by the Prophet's authentic hadith found in a number of authorities, including Bukhari and Muslim: "Could any of you beat your wife as he would a slave, and then lie with her in the evening?" There are other traditions in Abu Da'ud, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad bin Hanbal and others, to the effect that he forbade the beating of any woman, saying: "Never beat God's handmaidens."”