Dr.Usama Hasan of London has written an excellent and well-researched article on the 'wife-beating' verse in the Quran. I am enclosing his message below, and the article is provided as an attachment.
There was an excellent thread started by Sister Se7en on this topic earlier, but I'm a bit too rushed to dig it up. It may be worth it to link that to this thread as well.
as-salamu 'alaykum / Peace be upon you.
I thought I'd share this newly-finished 17-page article with you, about the "beat your wives" verse of the Qur'an. It is available at my blog (URL below), and also attached to this email. There is a two-page summary at the beginning. http://unity1.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife-the-quran-hadith-and-domestic-violence/
My conclusion is simple: God and Muhammad, peace be upon him, clearly wished to ban domestic violence, as numerous hadiths indicate. The verse was always known to be a temporary compromise, an extremely limited concession that required minimum use of violence, if at all. "New" findings are:
1. Numerous hadiths say emphatically, "Don't beat your wives." The Qur'an apparently says, "You may beat your wives." This apparent difficulty must be resolved. The verse is perhaps the most quoted by critics and enemies of Islam, the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.
2. The article tries to highlight a basic and serious flaw with the way many Muslims read and teach the Qur'an, including some preachers and clerics. Helping to correct this problem will, God-willing, open the way to dealing with numerous other controversial issues and "problematic" ayahs and hadiths.
3. Many issues around human rights and women's rights, gender-equality, dhimmitude etc. may be fruitfully-addressed along similar lines.
If you find the work of value, I would be grateful if you could help circulate it as widely as possible, and publicise its conclusions. I also look forward to your feedback and constructive criticism.
With love and thanks,