From MEMRI, by way of Andy McCarthy at NRO, a fascinating interview on Egyptian TV with Muslim cleric Sa’d Arafat (Mr. McCarthy quotes it in full, and so shall I):
Interviewer: Wife beating is a serious accusation [leveled against Islam]. Let us examine this matter bit by bit.
Sa’d Arafat: Allah honored wives by instating the punishment of beatings.
Interviewer: Honored them with beatings? How is this possible?
Sa’d Arafat: The prophet Muhammad said: “Don’t beat her in the face, and do not make her ugly.” See how she is honored. If the husband beats his wife, he must not beat her in the face. Even when he beats her, he must not curse her. This is incredible! He beats her in order to discipline her.
In addition, there must not be more than ten beatings, and he must not break her bones, injure her, break her teeth, or poke her in the eye. There is a beating etiquette. If he beats to discipline her, he must not raise his hand high. He must beat her from chest level. All these things honor the woman.
She is in need of discipline. How should the husband discipline her? Through admonishment. If she is not deterred, he should refuse to share the bed with her. If she is not repentant, he should beat her, but there are rules to the beating. It is forbidden to beat her in the face or make her ugly. When you beat her, you must not curse her. Islam forbids this.
Interviewer: With what should be beat her? With his bare hand? With a rod?
Sa’d Arafat: If he beats her, the beatings should not be hard, so that they do not leave a mark. He can beat her with a short rod. He must avoid beating her in the face or in places in the head where it hurts. The beatings should be on the body and should not come one right after the other. These are all choices made during the process, but beatings are allowed only as a last resort. [...]
The honoring of the wife in Islam is also evident in the fact that the punishment of beating is permissible in one case only: when she refuses to sleep with him.
Interviewer: When she refuses to sleep with him?
Sa’d Arafat: Yes, because where else could the husband go? He wants her, but she
So: Husband beats wife for refusing sex with husband who honors wife by beating her to a pulp for refusing sex with husband who has thus honored her, and so forth, ad infinitum, or at least ad finishum of wifum. Note the interesting touch of instructing husband to beat wife everywhere but upside her head, so that wife remains attractive enough to husband that he demands sex, which wife refuses because she has been honored with a beating, whereupon she is honored once more.
Eventually husband could find he has honored wife so widely and deeply that he’s meted out an honor killing. But that may be in some other surah.