Ibrahim Hindy is the Imam of Dar Al-Tawheed Islamic Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
Here are excerpts from Ibrahim Hindy’s statements in an interview with an interview with a representative of the Renew Church (published on YouTube on March 20, 2016):
There are a couple of verses in the Quran that seem to condone something that we would find very difficult, and that is a man striking his wife under certain circumstances, so Surah [Chapter] 4 [Verse] 34, 38, 44. There seems to be allusion to that. How are those passages to be understood?[Chapter 4, Verse 34: “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.” (translated by Sahih International)]
We only need one passage of [Chapter] 4 [Verse] 44, that’s the one I would say problematic in that sometimes people do take it out of context. This verse, you know, let’s kind of, how do we interpret the Quran. Let’s go back to the basics, to the principals. We interpret the Quran based on what the prophet [Mohammad] said and did, but we also interpret the Quran based on how earliest Muslims understood it, right? So this verse talks about, you know, when there is a marriage discord, the husband should leave the bed, leave the wife in the bad for a while, and if that doesn’t work, then he could strike her, and if that doesn’t work, then to go for a divorce. Essentially this is what the verse says. Some people have, I would say, more of a liberal understanding of this verse’s interpretation, those say: the word for strike in Arabic could mean to take a path, to strike a path. So those say: This is simply to leave, both of them have to leave. I don’t really ascribe to that. I do think it is to strike. However how did Muslims really understand this? So I go back to earliest Muslims, all of them said: it means to hit the person with a twig, a small twig, like a pen or something, to hit a person with a pen. Now, someone would say: why would you do that? What is the reason of that? How that makes any sense? So the way that I look at the way that I preach about it, is that this verse is talking about, and I’m sure you have a long experience with this, where you have, you know, married couples and they are having problems, they are not communicating and all of a sudden one side says: I want a divorce. The other side says: Ow, that comes [by surprise], I didn’t expect that to happen, right? So, really it is a situation where there’s a breakdown in communication. One side doesn’t understand how bad it’s getting for the other side. So this verse is about when the verbal communication breaks down you need to still communicate in other ways. So one way to communicate is you leave the bed, so in that way the wife knows, hey, this is really getting to a point where he is even going to leave in the bed and sleep somewhere else. And if that doesn’t work, then you tap the person, this is a type of non-verbal communication, this striking with a pen, with a twig, to say: this has reached its limit, I don’t have any other avenue after this other than divorce. And if that still doesn’t work you get a divorce… so that’s how I understand the verse, and that’s how the majority of Muslims understand the verse. Unfortunately, there are some Muslims, and domestic violence is a problem in all cultures, in all countries, in this country see the statistics are terrible, the same in the United States, and the same problem, sure the statistics in the Muslim world as well, and unfortunately some Muslims probably are prone to beat their wives anyways, then after they do it they the point to this verse. So I have an extra obligation to always clarify that this verse does not condone domestic violence in any way.