Family Life in Islam

By: M. Ramadan

The first responsibility of every Muslim and Muslimah, other than to oneself, is to one’s family, because Allah () says in the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): [Believers! Ward off yourselves and your households a fire [hell] whose fuel is men and stones in the charge of fierce and stern angels who never disobeys Allah’s commands and do as they are commanded] [66/6].

Marriage in Islam

[!] Responsibilities Before Marriage

Islamic teachings and practices help every Muslim and Muslimah to establish his or her own’s family and to secure it on the right path. The following directives facilitate observance of marital responsibilities:

[1st.] Both spouses should seek to get married purely for Allah’s pleasure and in order to fulfill the purpose of marriage in Islam.

[A] Marriage is for Allah’s pleasure.

Marriage in Islam has aspects of both ‘ibadah [worship] of Allah and Mu’amalah [transactions between human beings].

(1) In its ‘Ibadah aspect, marriage is an act pleasing to Allah because it is in accordance with his commandments that husband and wife love each other and help each other to make efforts to continue the human race and rear and nurse their children to become true servants of Allah. Marriage is a part of Iman [faith] and it is a part of the Sunnah of Rasul Allah [saas]. Rasul Allah [saas] said: [Marriage is my Sunnah. Whosoever keeps away from it is not from me].

(2) In its Mu’amalah aspect, marriage being a lawful response to the basic biological instinct to have sexual intercourse and to procreate children, the Shari’ah has prescribed detailed rules for translating this response into a living human institution reinforced by a whole framework of legally enforceable rights and duties, not only of the spouses, but also of their offspring.

To please Allah [swt] you have to examine your Niyyah [intention]: Why am I getting married? What do I really want in a spouse? Where do I want to go in life? What kind of life do I want to have?

The Purpose and Goals of Marriage

(1) Protecting one's modesty and dignity, keeping away from evil and keeping one's own evil away from people.

Marriage serves to protect one's modesty and dignity, to lower one's gaze and to attain Taqwa [fear of Allah]. Rasul Allah [saas] assured the bounty of Allah to those who wish to get married and live a pure and clean life: [Three groups of people Allah obliged Himself to help them: Mujahid in the cause of Allah, a worker to pay his debt, and the one who wants to marry to live a chaste life] [Tirmidhi]. Rasul Allah [saas] encouraged Muslims to marry, and to marry early. Anas bin Malik reported that Rasul Allah [saas] said: [When a man marries, he indeed perfects half of his religion. Then he should fear Allah for the remaining half] [Bukhari]. He also said: [O young Men, those among you who can support a wife should marry, for it Restrains the eyes from casting (evil glances), and preserves One from immorality].  

(2) Procreation (Children):
One of the most important purposes of marriage is to continue and increase the population of the Muslims.  Rasul Allah [saas] said: [Marry, for I will outnumber the other nations by you on the day of Al-Qiyamah] [Ibn Majah – Sahih]. It should be stressed that the goal is not simply to produce any child that will live in the next generation. It is to produce righteous children who will be obedient to Allah and who will be a source of reward for their parents after they die.  Thus it is the responsibility of Muslim parents to seek the means of giving their children the training and education they need not just to grow, but to succeed as Muslims worshipping and obeying Allah. 

(3) Building a well-integrated Muslim community: Every Muslim and Muslimah should be able to effectively carry out their responsibility as caretakers (khalifah) of earth. They should share the common goal of building a well-integrated Muslim community and be able to work harmoniously towards it. Paying attention to build homes is the most important means of building a Muslim society. The society is formed of the households and families that form its building blocks. Households form neighborhoods, and neighborhoods form societies. If the building blocks are sound, the society will be based on the laws of Allah, standing firm in the face of enemies and filled with goodness that evil cannot penetrate. Allah () says in the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): [Allah had chosen Adam and Noah, the family of Abraham, and the family of ‘Imran above all people of the world, they all belonged to the same chain and were the offspring of one another] [3:34]

(4) Pleasure:
Islam is the religion of the Fitrah, the religion, which is consistent with the natural instincts and needs of mankind. Marriage is the institution, which fulfills this desire and channels it in ways pleasing to Allah Most High.  Allah () mentions this attraction in the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): [The love of the desires for women, sons, … has been made attractive to people] [3/14] Rasul Allah [saas] said: [Women and perfume have been made beloved to me of this world of yours and my peace of mind is in the prayer] [Ahmad & others: Sahih]. The desire of men and women for each other is an urge, which needs to be fulfilled. If it is left unfulfilled, it will be a source of discord and disruption in society.  The Prophet said, [No Muslim man has gained a benefit after [the religion of] Islam better than a Muslim wife who is a cause of his pleasure whenever he looks towards her]. Since the family is the nucleus of Islamic society, and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence, Rasul Allah [saas] insisted upon his followers entering into marriage [Whichever of you is capable should marry for it will aid him in lowering his gaze and guarding his body (from sin).  As for the one who is not capable, fasting is his protection] [An-Nasaa’i – sahih]. The Shari’ah prescribes rules to regulate the functioning of the family so that both spouses can live together in love, security, and tranquility.

[2ND.] Criteria for Selecting a Marriage Partner:

Muslims can choose a spouse for many reasons but piety is considered the best reason.

(1) Al-Deen [Religion]:

[1st.] Qualification of a pious woman in the Qur’an:

Allah himself has described those qualities most loved by Him in the Qur'an. 

(A) Allah [swt] enjoins Muslims to select partners who are good and pure (Tayyib). He () says in the Qur'an (interpretation of the meaning): [Women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity] [24:26]. 

(B) [It may be, if he divorced you (all), that Allah will give him in exchange consorts better than you, who submit (Muslims), who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship (in humility), who travel (for faith) and Fast] [66/5]. 

(C) Among the four known perfect women was Maryam. Allah loved her because of her religious qualities: [O Maryam! Worship your Lord: prostrate yourself, and bow down (in prayer) with those who bow down][3/43].  

(D) Another was the wife of Pharaoh: [And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe, the wife of Pharaoh: behold she said: 'O my Lord, build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden][66/11].

[2nd.] Qualification of a pious woman in the Sunnah: 

In the Ahadith there are numerous accounts of the virtuous attributes of a pious woman: 

(A) Abu Huraira reported that Rasul Allah [saas] said: [A woman may be married for four reasons: for her property, her status, her beauty and her religion; so try to get one who is religious, may you be blessed] [Bukhari, Muslim]. If a spouse is chosen merely for his or her attractiveness or socioeconomic status, the likelihood is that those attributes will be the sum total of the marriage. If we want to have healthy Muslim families then Deen has to be first. 

(B) In another hadith, Rasul Allah [saas] said: "The whole world is a provision, and the best object of benefit of the world is the pious woman] Rasul Allah [saas] said: [Do not marry women because of their beauty; their beauty may spoil them. Do not marry them because of their money; their money may oppress them. But marry them because of their piety (Deen). And a slave girl, deaf, but pious is better]. [Ibn Majah].

(c) In a beautiful tradition the Prophet (peace be upon him) has given the most important point that should weigh with every Muslim in selecting his bride: [Whoever marries a woman solely for her power and position, Allah will only increase him in humiliation. Whoever marries a woman solely for her wealth, Allah will only increase him in poverty. Whoever marries a woman because of her beauty, Allah will only increase him in ugliness. But whoever marries a woman in order that he may restrain his eyes, observe cautiousness, and treat his relations kindly, Allah puts a blessing in her for him and in him for her]. 

(D) These aspects are beautifully explained in a tradition of the Prophet. It is narrated by Anas that Rasul Allah [SAA] said: [One who marries has already guarded half of his religion, therefore he should fear Allah for the other half]. The Prophet considered marriage for a Muslim as half of his religion because it shields him from promiscuity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality etc., which ultimately lead to many other evils like slander, quarreling, homicide, loss of property and disintegration of the family. According to the Prophet (peace be upon him) the remaining half of the faith can be saved by taqwa. 

(E) Also, about this characteristic, Rasul Allah [saas] said: [It is upon you to seek the one of piety]. 

(F) [Choose carefully for your seed. Marry those who are equivalent (or “qualified”) and give to them in marriage] [Ibn Majah and others and it is Sahih].

The characteristic of piety applies to the groom just as much as to the bride. The guardian of the woman should make this his first and top priority just as the man looking for a wife should make it his.  Rasul Allah [saas] said: [If someone with whose piety and character you are satisfied with comes to you, marry to him. If you do not do so, there will be trials in the earth and a great deal of evil] [At-Tirmidhi and others and it is Hasan].

In Conclusion: The choice of a marriage partner is one of the most important decisions a person will make in his or her lifetime.  It should not be taken lightly, nor left to chance or hormones.  It should be taken as seriously as any other major decision in life, with prayer, careful investigation, and family involvement. Rasul Allah [saas] said: [Choose the best for your generation because [the failure of a single] generation can lead to a crisis] [Ibn Majah]

(2) Character and Behavior

In Surat Al-Noor [verse 26] Allah establishes the relation of this issue to marriage: [Bad women are for bad men and bad men are for bad women.  And good women are for good men and good men are for good women] [24:26]. One of the important issues of character in the spouses is the quality of Wudd [kindness and lovingness and compassion]. 

(3) Child-Bearing: Rasul Allah [saas] said: [Marry the loving/friendly, the child-bearing for I shall outstrip the other nations with your numbers on the day of Al-Qiyamah] [Ahmad, Abu Daud and others and it is Sahih].

(4) Virginity: There are many Hadith which recommend a man marry a virgin woman such as the following: [Marry virgins for they have sweeter mouths, more productive wombs and are more pleased with less] [Al-Tabarani and it is Hasan]. Other narrations indicate that she is more likely to be pleased by a man and less likely to be devious and deceiving.  Once, when Jabir married an older and previously married woman, Rasul Allah [saas] said to him: [Why not a virgin?  You could have played with her and she with you].

It is preferred for a person not to marry his daughter except to a virgin man if she has never been married before.  ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab once heard about a woman who was married to an elderly man and he said:  [O people, fear Allah and marry a man to a woman who is similar to him and marry a woman to a man who is similar to her].

(5) Beauty

This characteristic has a certain role to play since one of the purposes of marriage is to keep both spouses from sins.  The best way to do this is to have a strong attraction between the spouses.  Although this is something, which surely grows over time, initial impressions can in come cases become an obstacle to a successful marriage. Rasul Allah [saas] separated Qais ibn Shamas from his wife in the famous case of Khul’a and her stated reason was that he was exceedingly displeasing to her.  There are many Hadith, which urge the prospective spouse to get a look at the other before undertaking the marriage.  Once a companion told him [SAA] that he was going to get married.  Rasul Allah [saas] asked if he had seen her.  When the man said no, he [saas] said: [Go and look at her for it is more likely to engender love between the two of you] [Ahmad and others and it is Sahih]. Umar ibn Al-Khattab once said:  [Do not force your young girls to marry an ugly man, for they also love what you love].  Ibn ‘Abiden (a famous faqeeh from last century) said: [The woman should choose a man who is religious, of good character, generous and of ample wealth.  She should not marry an evildoer.  A person should not marry his young daughter to an old man and an ugly man but he should marry her to one similar]. Beauty has its role, but remember that it is way down on the priority list under piety, character and Deen.  When a person puts beauty above all else, the results can be disastrous. This is one of the big reasons that young people seeking to get married must be helped by more mature family members in making their choice.

[!!] Responsibilities after Marriage

(3) The husband-wife relationship is a spiritual relationship and sustains and generates love, kindness, mercy, compassion, mutual confidence, self-sacrifice, solace and succor. In Islam the healthy marriage begins with a strong practice of Islamic tradition and spousal selection based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The couple has to agree to resolve problems based on the principles of Shari’ah. So Preparation for marriage should include stringent study of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, particularly with regard to family life; the development of an Islamically based family personality and the building of communication skills. Good marriage preparation affords the couple an opportunity to learn about their obligations as parents based on examples in the Qur’an and Sunnah.

The husband-wife relationship is to be based on Islam and not merely on sexual compatibility or on no way denigrate it or forsake it for convenience or out of weakness. So it is essential that every Muslim and Muslimah determine the importance of Islam in his or her lives prior to marriage. Each individual’s level of religiosity will affect decision-making, problem solving, daily practices and fulfillment of religious obligations. It was narrated that Rasul Allah [saas] said: [Whoever is submissive to the likes and dislikes of a woman will be thrown by Allah into Hell] [A man’s sin is as great as his wife’s ignorance] [Shame on a man who becomes his wife’s slave] [Al-Firdausi].

According to Islamic Shari’ah, marriage should be entered into for the sake of Allah. Marriage is, therefore, ‘Ibadah (worship). Allah’s guidance should be sought on all matters, particularly the decision to marry and who to marry. Likewise, when we experience problems we must call on Allah to help us through the trying times. Allah says in Surat Ghafir: [And your Rabb [Lord] said: Invoke Me (believe in Me alone and ask Me anything) I will respond to your (invocation). Verily, those who scorn My worship (i.e., they do not believe in My Oneness or ask Me), they will surely enter hell in humiliation] [40:60].

As Muslims, we believe that Allah wants the best for us, and that His Prophet (s.a.w) illustrated this through his own life. So note that by following the advise of our own Creator, and that of His beloved servant, we can only be successful.

A Happy Conjugal Houshold

In order to promote a cheerful and successful life in the newly established nest of the newly weds, Islam has provided guidance in defining the relationship between husband and wife and in distributing the rights and obligations arising from this relationship. Let us now set out to consider the obligations imposed by Islam upon the husband toward his wife, and then proceed to discuss those of the wife toward her husband.

[1ST.] Common Rights Between the husband and the wife:

There are some rights which each of the two spouses has over the other.  These include:

[1] The right to enjoy each other [2] the right to inherit from each other [3] And the right of confirmation of the lineage of their children.

[2ND.] Rights of the Wife/Obligations of the Husband:

Allah said in the Qur’an: [And for them (women) similar to what is upon them according to what is right] [2/228]. Commenting on this verse, Ibn Katheer wrote that the spouses have similar rights upon one another and each must do his or her best to fulfill the other’s rights.  In the Farewell Pilgrimage, Rasul Allah [saas] stated: [And beware of Allah concerning women.  You have taken them as a trust from Allah and have made their bodies lawful to you by the word of Allah.  You have the right upon them that they no allow anyone in your house that you dislike.  If they do that, you may hit them in a way, which does no harm.  They have a right over you for sustenance and clothing according to what is right] [Muslim].


(1) Support [Nafaqah]: A husband is responsible for the entire cost of the household: food, clothes, a comfortable, independent accommodation, suitably furnished, relaxed atmosphere and all other material needs. Allah says: [And upon the father is the mother’s sustenance and her clothing according to what is reasonable.  No person shall have a burden on him greater than he can bear] [2/233]. Ibn Katheer commented that the above verse implies that the husband must provide for the wife without extravagance or the opposite, according to his ability and the standards set by his society at his time.  When a man asked Rasul Allah [saas]: [What is the right of our wives upon us?] He [saas] answered: [That he should feed her whenever he eats and cloth her whenever he clothes himself, that he not hit her face, that he not call her ugly and that he not boycott her except within the house] [Ibn Majah]. A woman is even allowed to take from her husband’s property without his knowledge if he falls below this basic level of supporting her.  In a Hadith recorded in Muslim and Bukhari, Rasul Allah [saas] told Hind Bint ‘Utbah, after she complained that her husband, Abu Sufyan, was stingy and was not maintaining her and she asked if she could take from his property without his knowledge: [Take was is sufficient for you and your child according to what is customary] [Muslim & Bukhari]. Support of one’s wife is one of the most important obligations of the husband.  It is one of the distinguishing aspects of “husbandhood”.  Allah said in the Qur’an: [Men are in charge of women because of what Allah has given to some more than others and because they support them from their property] [4/34].

(2) Kind and Proper Treatment: The husband has to be kind and forgiving, and must treat his wife in a tender and loving manner so as to achieve mutual understanding. The treatment expected from the husband, whether or not he is on good terms with his wife, is clearly laid down in the Qur'an: Allah says [And consort with your wives in a goodly manner for, if you dislike them, it may well be that you dislike something, which Allah makes a source of abundant good] [4/19]. Commenting on this verse, Ibn Katheer wrote: [That is, have kind speech for them, deal with them with kind deeds and in a beautiful manner to the best of your ability.  In the way that you love that from them, behave in that way towards them.  As Allah has said, "They have rights similar to those upon them according to what is right" [2/228].  He [swt] also said: [And treat them [women] kindly] [IV, 19]. In the Ahadith OF Rasul Allah [saas] we see: [The best among you are those who are kindest to their wives and I am the best of you to my wife]. He also said: [Fear] Allah, [fear] God in the matter of women. They are weak partners, a trust from Allah with you; and they are made by the divine word permissible for you]. He also says: [Whoever of you whose wife behaves in a disagreeable manner and he responds by kindness and patience, Allah will give him rewards as much as Job will be given for his patience]. Patient behavior was the practice of Rasul Allah [saas], even when his wife dared to address him harshly. Once his mother-in-law- saw her daughter strike him with her fist on his noble chest. When the enraged mother -in-law began to reproach her daughter, the Prophet smilingly said, "Leave her alone; they do worse than that." And once Abu Bakr, his father-in-law, was invited to settle some misunderstanding between him and Aishah. The Prophet said to her, "Will you speak, or shall I speak?" Aisha said, "You speak, but do not say except the truth." Abu Bakr was so outraged that he immediately struck her severely, forcing her to run and seek protection behind the back of the Prophet. Abu Bakr said, "O you the enemy of herself! Does Rasul Allah say but the truth?" Rasul Allah [saas] said, "O Abu Bakr, we did not invite you for this [harsh dealing with Aishah], nor did we anticipate it] [The believers with the most perfect faith are those who have the best disposition and are kind to their wives] [Tirmidhi]

(3) The husband be relaxed with his wife, and cheer her up with his humor or by making agreeable jokes. Rasul Allah [saas] in spite of his lofty status, used to play with his wife. He ran in competition with Aishah. Sometimes she won, and other times he won. And once, hearing an Abyssinian entertainment team playing outside the home, Rasul Allah [saas] said to Aishah: [Would you like to see them?] When she agreed, he sent for them and they came and performed in front of his door. Rasul Allah [saas] stretched his hand, putting his palm on the open door and letting Aishah’s chin rest on his arm so that she culd see comfortably. A while later Rasul Allah [saas] asked Aishah: [Enough?] She said: [Silence!]. Another while later He asked: [Enough?] and the answer was again: [Silence!]. But when He asked her for the third time: [Enough?] she agreed: [Yes] and the team went away on a gesture from the Prophet. He then said: [The most perfect belief is that of those who are best-mannered and most tender with their wives]. Rasul Allah [saas] also used to say: [Surely Allah does not love a rough person who is boastful, and rude to his wife]. A Bedouin widow once described her husband: [He came always with a smile and left with a greeting. When he was hungry he ate whatever was found, and did not bother when something was missing!].

(4) Physical Relations:

In Sahih Ibn Hibban, the following was narrated: [The wife of ‘Uthman ibn Madh’oon complained to Rasul Allah [saas] that her husband had no need for women.  During the days he would fast and at night he would pray.  Rasul Allah [saas] asked him: “Am I not the best example for you to follow?”  He answered: “Certainly, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you.”  Rasul Allah [saas] then told him:  [As for you, you pray during the night and you fast during the day.  Certainly, your wife has a right upon you and your body has a right upon you so pray and sleep and fast and break your fast]. It is of supreme importance that the husband endeavor to handle the matter of sex relations with skill, care and understanding. He should not regard his wife as an object for his own enjoyment alone but as a partner with whom he should always seek mutual bliss, satisfaction and fulfillment. He should always approach her with love and tenderness. The husband should always have due regard for his wife’s feelings and should endeavor to let her reach the degree of full satisfaction in this respect.

(5) To Be Taught Her Religion:

A husband should also see to it that his wife has sufficient knowledge of her religious obligations and encourage her in observing her devotional duties. Of special importance are the rules pertaining to the menstrual period. Rasul Allah [saas]: [All of you are shepherds and all of you will be asked about your wards.  The ruler is a shepherd and shall be asked about his wards.  The man is a shepherd of his family and will be asked about his ward] [Bukhari]. In another version of the Hadith about the “shepherds”, Rasul Allah [saas] continues: [until the man will be asked about the people in his household:  did he establish among them the law of Allah or did he allow it to become lost?]. It is well known that Rasul Allah [saas] said that seeking knowledge is incumbent upon every Muslim mail and female.  Allah () says in the Qur’an (interpretation of the meaning): [Believers! Ward off yourselves and your households a fire [hell] whose fuel is men and stones in the charge of fierce and stern angels who never disobeys Allah’s commands and do as they are commanded] [66/6]. This Ayah is the basic principle regarding the teaching and upbringing of one’s family, and enjoining them to do what is good and forbidding them to do what is evil. There follow some of the comments of the Mufassireen on this Ayah, in so far as it pertains to the duties of the head of the household.

(1) Qatadah said: [He should command them to obey Allah, and forbid them to disobey Him, and direct them in accordance with the commands of Allah, and help them to do that].

(2) Al-Dahhak and Muqatil said: [It is the Muslim’s duty to teach his family, including relatives and female slaves, what Allah has enjoined upon them and what He has forbidden].

(3) ‘Ali (raa) said: [Teach them and discipline them].

(4) Al-Tabari (raa) said: [We must teach our children and wives the religion and goodness, and whatever they need of good manners. If the Messenger of Allah (saws) used to urge the teaching of female servants, who were slaves, what do you think about your children and wives, who are free?].

(4) Al-Bukhari (raa) said in his Saheeh: [Chapter: a man’s teaching his female slaves and wife]. Then he quoted the hadith of Rasul Allah [saas]: [There are three who will have two rewards: a man who has a female slave whom he teaches good manners and teaches her well, and teaches her knowledge, and teaches her well, then he frees her and marries her: he will have two rewards]. Ibn Hajar (raa) said: commenting on this hadith: [The chapter heading refers specifically to female slaves, and to wives by analogy, i.e., teaching one’s free wife about her duties towards Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger is more clearly essential than teaching one’s female slaves].

(6) To Defend Her Honor:

A man should be “jealous” with regard to his wife’s honor and standing.  He should defend her whenever she is slandered or spoken ill of behind her back. Rasul Allah [saas] mentioned in a Sahih Hadith that: [Three will never enter paradise… Al-Dayuth]. Al-Dayuth is sometimes translated “henpecked”) is the weak husband who has no jealousy toward his wife and other men. “Jealousy” in this sense means fervor for the boundaries of Allah and anger when they are transgressed.  Rasul Allah [saas] said: [Verily, Allah has jealousy and the believer has jealousy.  Allah’s jealousy is due to a believer committing that which He has forbidden him][Muslim]. The husband should not harbor doubts or suspicion about his wife unduly. Jealousy is indeed a natural element; and a husband is not to be too indulgent or to remain indifferent in reasonably provocative situations, and surely must guard his wife against all corruptive influences. Yet he should not allow fanciful thoughts to engage his mind and should not behave in a spying manner toward his wife. Rasul Allah [saas] said: [There is a type of jealousy which Allah loves and there is another type which Allah hates. As for that, which Allah loves, it is the jealousy, which is provoked by a legitimate cause of suspicion; and that which Allah hates is the jealousy, which is unduly aroused]. Rasul Allah [saas] once asked Fatimah, his own daugher: [What is best for a woman?] She replied: [That she should not mix with men and men should not mix with her]. Rasul Allah [saas], who was pleased with her answer, hugged her and said: [An offspring resembling its roots]. Thus a happy life depends on mutual trust between the partners; and all that has to be done is to keep away from situations that are likely to incite evil or arouse suspicion.

(7) Not to be beaten

It is the right of the Muslim wife that she is not to be struck except in the case of Nushuz (rebellion against the husband’s authority).  Even in that case, the husband is only allowed to “strike” her, but in a way which does no harm, similar to the proper disciplining of a child.  It is never lawful for him to strike her face or cause her any bruise or injury.  Allah says in the Qur’an: [And (as for) those (women) from whom you anticipate rebellion, admonish them, avoid them in the sleeping place and hit them.  If they obey you, do not desire and further way to (harm) them.  Surely, Allah is Knowing, Great] [4/34]. The word [Waddribuhunna] in Arabic means to “strike” or “hit”.  It includes everything from a tap with a tooth-stick to what in English we call beating.  The verse mentions admonition, boycotting and hitting in the case of Nushuz.  This refers to a rebellion against the husband’s authority within the marriage, which amounts to a breach of the marriage contract on her part. Ibn Taimiah said about this: [Nushuz in the verse: [And (as for) those (women) from whom you anticipate rebellion (Nushuz)] means that she is recalcritrant to her husband and she is estranged to him inasmuch as she does not obey him when he calls her to bed, or she leaves the house without his permission and other similar things in which she is required to obey him]. Many scholars have stated that the three steps must be taken sequentially, i.e, admonition then separation in sleeping and finally hitting, making hitting a last resort only in extreme situations.  Thus the vast majority of what men do to their wives in spontaneous fits of rage often over trivial issues is absolutely Haram and not sanctioned by Islam in any way.  Al-Nawawi said about his: [At the first indication of disobedience to marital authority, the husband should exhort her wife without his immediately breaking off relations with her.  When she manifests her disobedience by an act, which, although isolated, leaves no doubt to her intentions, he should repeat his exhortations and confine her to the house but without striking her… Only when there are repeated acts of disobedience may a husband strike his wife].

(8) Privacy

It is actually the right of both spouses that the other not discusses their private moments with anyone else.  Note the following Sahih Hadith: [Is there any man among you who goes to his wife, closes the door behind them, covers themselves and conceal themselves by Allah’s concealing?”  They said: “Yes.”  He then said: “Then he sits after that [with others] and says, ‘I did this and that.'”  They were silent.  He then turned to the women and said: “Do any of you talk about such things?”  They, too, were silent.  Then a young girl stood up on her toes so Rasul Allah [saas] could see her and hear her and she said: “O Messenger of Allah they [the men] certainly talk about that and they [the women] also talk about it.”  He [saas] said:  “Do you know what they are like?  They are like a female devil who met a male devil in the street and they satisfied their desires with the people looking on.”  [Abu Daud (Sahih)].

(9) Being the Head of the Household

Allah said: [Men are in charge (the managers of the affairs) of women because Allah has made the one superior to the other and because men spend of their wealth one woman. So the pious women are obedient: they guard their rights carefully in their absence under the care and watch of Allah] [4/34]. The verse seems to present a great right of the husband over the wife. The word for “in charge of” in Arabic indicates also support, protection and responsibility on the part of the husband for his wife.  This does not just mean that he is the “boss” or the dictator in the house and whatever he says goes.  Rather, it means that he has a heavy obligation to lead his family. 


(1) The first task of the wife is to create a home a soft relaxing atmosphere in which she and her husband can live together smoothly, happily and enjoyably.

(2) To Be Obeyed

Rasul Allah [saas]: [No obedience in what is sinful.  Obedience is only in what is right] [Muslim & Bukhari]. Two things are now clear: [1st.] A woman is obligated to obey her husband, and [2ND.] No Muslim may obey anyone in what is disobedience to Allah.

(3) To be faithful:

A wife must be faithful and devoted to her husband. Her loyalty is due to him first, even before her kin. She should avoid associating with undesirable or suspicous elements and should not entertain alone any male friends.

(4) Managing the houshold:

The management of the household is the wife’s primary responsibility. She has to take care of meal preparation, housecleaning and laundry. Whether she undertakes these tasks herself or has them done under her careful supervision, it is her task to manage them in the best interests of the family. She may expect some cooperation from her husband, but this should depend on what he can afford to do. And in managing the household, the wife should economize and avoid extravagance. She is not to give of her husband’s wealth except within the degree he approves of. Whatever she gives within this degree, she will share in its divine reward; and what she gives away beyond it will be to the advantage of her husband and to her own disadvantage on the Day of Judgment.

(5) To be too demanding:

The wife should not be too demanding; she must be contented, and appreciative of any kind gesture her husband may extend to her. She should not insist on buying expensive clothes or luxurious peices of furniture beyond her husband’s means.

(6) To be always attractive:

The wife should take care of herself in order to appear always cheerful, charming and attractive to her husband. An ancient Arab woman advised her daughter on her wedding day: [O my daughter! You are leaving the home in which you were brought up to a house unknown to you and to a companion unfamiliar to you. Be a floor to him, he will be a roof to you; be a soft seat to him, he will be a pillar for you; and be like a slave girl to him, he will be like a slave boy to you. Avoid inopportune behavior, lest he should be bored with you; and be not aloof lest he should become indifferent to you. If he approaches you, come running to him; and if he turns away, do not impose yourself upon him. Take care of his nose, his eye and his ear. Let him not smell except a good odor from you; let his eye not see you except in an agreeable appearance; and let him hear nothing from you except nice, fine words].

(7) Physical Relations:

It is the obligation of the wife to respond whenever her husband calls her to come to bed unless there is a strong reason why she cannot.  This point is clear from many hadith, among them: [Whenever a man calls his wife for his desire, let her come to him even if she is occupied at the oven] [At-Tirmidhi (sahih)] [Whenever a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses to come, the angels curse her until morning] [Al-Bukhari].

(8) Control Over Who Enters the House:

It is established from many Hadith that the wife is not to allow anyone inside if she knows that her husband does not like for that person to be in the house (male or female).  This is the second right of the husband over the wife, as Rasul Allah [saas] mentioned in the Hadith: [And that she should not admit anyone to his house except with his permission] [Muslim & Bukhari].

(9) That She Not Leave the House Without His Permission:

Allah said: [And stay in your homes and do not display yourselves like the ways of the time of ignorance.  And establish the prayer, pay the Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger] [Al-Ahzaab: 33]. The scholars of Tafseer state that, although the verse is explicitly directed at the wives of Rasul Allah [saas], the general principle applies to all Muslim women and wives in particular, that they should not leave the house except for a legitimate purpose such as going to the Masjid, seeking knowledge, shopping for household needs, etc. and that if they are married, they may not do that except with their husband’s permission. A contemporary author, Faihaan Al-Mutairi said about this:”If a man disallows his wife from leaving the house, out of fear and honor for her, then he must not let her feel that she is a prisoner in the house and that she was only created to serve him and serve the children. Instead, he must choose a day out of the week, or less or more, according to the need and ability, to walk with his wife and children in a place that is free of temptations so that they may become happy in their hearts and out of fear of boredom.  The one who studies Shari’ah finds this aspect to be very clear, that is, the aspect of one sporting with his wife and trying to make her happy. Rasul Allah [saas] went out with his wife, the Mother of the Believers, ‘Aishah and raced with her.  It is confirmed that ‘Aishah said: [Rasul Allah [saas] raced with me and I beat him.  After a while when I became heavier, he raced me and beat me and said:  This one is for that one].

(10) Housework

The duty of the wife to take care of housework such as cooking, cleaning and generally serving her husband in the house is an issue about which there are different opinions. There are many scholars on both sides of this issue as to the obligations of these services. The strongest argument that they are is the following Hadith of Husain ibn Muhsin that Rasul Allah [saas] asked his aunt if she was married.  When she answered in the affirmative, he said: “How are you with respect to him?”  She answered: ‘I do not fail in obeying him save in those things that I am incapable of doing.’  Rasul Allah [saas] told her:  “Look to how you are with respect to him for he is your paradise and your hell-fire.” Ahmad & others (acceptable according to Al-Albaani). Al-Albaani states that this Hadith is proof that a woman must serve her husband according to her ability, the first of such obligations is the bringing up of the children.



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