Beating in Muslim Education: Overlapping Occurrences of Terms

As it has been made clear, sources of Muslim educational tradition provides both prescriptive and descriptive information on legitimate use of flogging as indispensable part of the educational process. The chart below presents a high-level outline of the intersecting instances of beating (ḍarb) in its most general sense, ʾadab or taʾdīb (in all its implications of ethics, etiquette, moral, discipline, disciplining punishment, ritual), types of religious punishments and Muslim educational theory and practice, as well as other associated terms.

Within these areas we can observe some relations, e,g.:

  1. Occurrences of beating which cannot be classified as educational violence, without having ethical implications, or without relation to a religious punishment.
  2. Areas where beating is applied as means of legal punishments within the Islamic normative framework of jurisprudence (fiqh), along their 3 main categories, overlapping with, but not exhausting:
    1. Ḥadd: the capital punishments, prescribed for practices condemned in the Qur’an (e.g. flogging for wine drinking);
    2. Taʿzīr: punishments, imposed by the Sharia judge, e.g. beating for homosexual kiss;
    3. Qiṣāṣ: the lex talionis type of a punishment (covering beating as well).
  3. Beating where it occurs within the educational area without relation to ʾadab, with no clear regulation, whereas attribution to the provisions of the normative framework is not clear (e.g. a teacher losing his nerve over an obstinate pupil).
  4. ʾAdab, that is, discipline and “refinement of character” within the area of education without implications of uses of physical violence.
  5. Disciplinary punishment (taʾdīb) within the area of education through instructive uses of beating (ḍarb) – the cases where flogging is permitted and encouraged.

Sources used for the scheme above cover a time range from the 7th century text of the Qur’an till the 15th century Ibn Khaldun. See a map of their connections below. The scheme is relational. It has to be considered that the historical timeline shows approximation, as the dates listed for each author or source are the years of death.