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The perspective of Shari’ah on domestic violence

Mohammed Aminu Umar


Violence against women in the home has been part of human history. This issue has been a subject of fierce discourse around the globe owing to the persistent cruel or inhuman treatment meted out against women. It is as a result of this that various  international instruments such as CEDAW, UNDHR, ACHR and other domestic laws have categorically and unequivocally prohibited inter-alia all forms of domestic  violence; yet women continue to suffer different forms of violence at home. Although the notion is always that Islam supports and encourages domestic violence  forgetting that it is not peculiar to only Muslims as many societies have lived without a feeling that it was nothing wrong. In the Muslim homes however, violence  and coercion are erroneously used as a tool of control knowing fully that marriage in the Islamic context is a means of tranquility, protection, peace and comfort. The  method adopted in this work is a doctrinal approach based mainly on works of both learned authors and other authors on papers and internet sources. In an attempt to do that, this paper discusses briefly the biblical and western view point on domestic violence within the human right framework. As the topic implies, the writer  discusses the sharia’h view point on spousal abuse as a form of violence that was  attributed to Islam and also explains the controversy surrounding Quran 4: 34  which is the verse that some Muslims rely on to justify their cruel conduct against women. This paper finally concludes that the practice of violence against women should be best attributed to a patriarchal or traditional belief and not to Islam. It is opined also that our criminal laws especially section 55 of the Penal Code seems to support and encourage this spousal abuse as they make provision justifying the infliction of grievous harm on a wife. In view of the aforesaid, the writer suggests, inter-alia, the expunging of the section to avoid giving license to men in chastising their wives.

Key words: Domestic, perspective, Shari’ah, Violence.