Husband and wife in Islam… Rights and duties

Bottom of Form

Introduction

The Muslim family is the basic pillar in the structure of the Muslim society. The Muslim family is the fortress of this society and its security and safety valve.

Islam has paid great attention to the family system and enacted a tight system for it that entailed rights for and duties on its members. Islam has also regulated marriage dealings, nafaka (alimony), mirath (inheritance), children upbringing and parents’ rights. Islam has also made love and affection between husbands and wives to make stronger bonds between them and the family and impose discipline among the members of the Muslim family because this strengthens the society. This love and affection also spread important human and social values between the sons of the society and that is how the Islam elevates the society in a civilized way that is unparalleled and steers it away from chaos, moral disintegration and loss of ansab (lineage).

Pillars of family in Islamic civilization

The family in the Islamic civilization is built on two important components; man and woman or husband and wife. They are the basis for forming a family and bringing offspring from which the nation and the society are formed. God Almighty says: “O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women.” and says:” And Allah has made for you from yourselves mates and has made for you from your mates sons and grandchildren and has provided for you from the good things.

Islam has taken extreme care of these two pillars and thus put a water-tight legislation governing the marital relationship and put clear outlines for each of them including their rights and duties. Islam has also divided roles between spouses so that each of them can do his/her role in building the family and contributing to building the human society.

Islam has first ordered marriage and the aim behind this is to preserve the human kind and provide the society with good members to be Allah’s caliphates on earth and take over building and inhabiting on it. Islam also aimed from marriage to immunize the individual and the society from vice and moral degradation. The Prophet (PBUH) said addressing the young men: “O young people! Whoever among you can marry, should marry, because it helps him lower his gaze and guard his modesty (i.e., his private parts from committing illegal sexual intercourse etc.), and whoever is not able to marry, should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual desire.”[1]

When some young men thought of being dedicated to worship and staying away from women, they were blamed by the Prophet (PBUH), who ordered them not to do. This was told in a story narrated by Anas Ibn Malik, as he says: “A group of three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet (PBUH) enquiring how the Prophet (PBUH) worshipped (Allah). When they were informed about that, they considered their worship insufficient and said, ‘Where are we compared to the Prophet (PBUH) since his past and future sins have been forgiven.’ Then one of them said, ‘I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever.’ The other said, ‘I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.’ The third said, ‘I will keep away from women and will never marry.’ Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) (upon hearing the incidents, summoned them and) asked, ‘Are you the same people who said so-and so? By Allah! Indeed, I am the one who fears Allah the most amongst you, and the most pious of you; yet, I fast and break my fast, I pray and I sleep, and I marry women. So, he who opposes my Sunnah, is not from me.” [2]

Monasticism in modern age

Humanity has served itself wrong because of this short-sighted thinking of those who wanted to relinquish life and prohibited marriage on themselves. The wise men in Europe, even, in the modern history, when saw that monasticism only produces corruption in the dark, prohibited it after 15 centuries of chaos and deficiency. A number of priests and deacons had to rape children, male and female until this phenomenon became famous in Europe and the States and hundreds of them tendered their resignation or were fired and the church was distressed by these deviations and sexual assaults. Our gracious religion has helped us avoid all this and made us feel comfortable from these desperate experiences and bitter pains. [3]

Purposes of marriage

Islam wanted marriage for couples to achieve spiritual tranquillity for the individual so that they can find an outlet for their feelings and sentiments in a way that drives them to be creative and giving. Marriage is also a shelter for the two spouses through which each of them resort to the other as a partner in moments of isolation. God Almighty says: “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” With these three qualities; tranquillity, love and mercy, marital happiness is achieved in Islam.

Selection of marriage partner in Islam

Islam has ordered the two spouses to be selective when choosing each other. God Almighty says: “Marry those among you who are single, or the virtuous ones among yourselves, male or female.”. The Prophet (PBUH) also orders would-be husbands to choose the right match of would-be wife. He says: “women may be sought in marriage for one of four considerations: her wealth, beauty, social status or her strong faith. Choose the one with faith so that you may prosper.”[4] He also orders the would-be wife to be selective when choosing her husband, using the same criteria: “Should a man whom you find satisfactory with regard to his honesty and strength of faith propose to you for marriage, then give him (your daughter) in marriage. Unless you do that, there is bound to be strife and much corruption in society.”[5]

There is no doubt that selection on this basis would benefit the human society, as it will bring a good generation as a result of this marriage between these two good people. The siblings of this lovely family would be rightly served in light of Islamic moral values and principles.

. Marriage contract in Islamic legislation

As the marriage contract is very important, there should be things that precede it to maintain its durability and survival. The Islamic legislation even more did not pay that attention to any contract as it did to the contract of marriage. It put certain rules for it. Marriage starts with engagement and this period is meant to bring closer the two spouses in a way that permits the two f partners to know each other better. In light of the success of this engagement, it is to be decided whether to go ahead with this marriage or not.

.The Islamic legislation also provides Ishhar (announcement) for the nikah (marriage) contract to be valid. The wisdom behind this is that announcement is very important from an Islamic perspective because it achieves religious and worldly interests. So, announcement of a marriage contract should be publicized and announced to fend off apprehensions and doubts.

Islam has made certain guarantees for the marriage contract to procure happiness of the two spouses and bring goodness to the families of the two partners. Islam has given family leadership (Qawamah) to husbands, based on their capabilities and potential. God Almighty says: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means.”. This Qawamah also entails a would-be husband to pay a dowry for the would-be wife. God Almighty says: “give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift.” Islam has also made nafakah (spending on your wife’s clothing, food, treatment and housing) and ordered husbands to deal with them on footing of kindness and equity. God Almighty says: “live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.”

On the other hand, Islam has ordered wives to obey their husbands and this right is a very important right that wives should observe.

Thus Islam has made rights for both the husband and the wife towards each other as well as rights and asked both of them to deal with the other justly and cooperate in their common life and then has drawn a straightforward path on how to deal with any relevant differences and problems. Islam has also permitted divorce as a final solution when both the husband the wife feels it is quite difficult to establish God’s laws and live with the other partner the way God Almighty wanted. [6]

 
 


[1] Al-Bukhari from Abdullah Ibn Ma’sud: Nikah book, chapter titled “If you cannot get married, fast (4779)”, Muslim: Nikah book: (1400)

[2] Al-Bukhari: Nikah book, (4776)  Muslim: Nikah book: (1401)

[3] Look: Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Salih: Human rights in Quran and Sunnah and their applications in Saudi Arabia, p. 134

 
 

[4] Al-Bukhari from Abu Huraira: Nikah book, chapter of equal matches in religion (4802), Muslim: Breast feeding book, chapter istihbab nikah zat al-Din (1466)

[5] Al-Termizi: Nikah book from Allah’s messenger: chapter should you find a man with satisfactory faith, marry him (1004), Ibn Majah (1967), Al-Hakim (2695) Al-Albani said: good, look: Al-Silsilah al-Sahiha (1022)

[6] – Look: Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn Salih: Human rights in Quran and Sunnah and their applications in Saudi Arabia, p. 135-138

 

 

 

 

The Ideal Muslim Woman and Her Husband

(An Excerpt from the Book “The Ideal Muslimah: The True Islâmic Personality of the Muslim Woman as Defined in the Qur’ân and Sunnah”): By Dr. Muhammad ‘Ali Al-Hashimi

Marriage in Islam

In Islam, marriage is a blessed contract between a man and a woman, in which each becomes “permitted” to the other, and they begin the long journey of life in a spirit of love, co-operation, harmony and tolerance, where each feels at ease with the other, and finds tranquility, contentment and comfort in the company of the other. The Qur’an has described this relationship between men and women, which brings love, harmony, trust and compassion, in the most moving and eloquent terms:

(And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your [hearts] . . .). 

This is the strongest of bonds, in which Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) unites the two Muslim partners, who come together on the basis of love, understanding, co-operation and mutual advice, and establish a Muslim family in which children will live and grow up, and they will develop the good character and behavior taught by Islam. The Muslim family is the strongest component of a Muslim society when its members are productive and constructive, helping and encouraging one another to be good and righteous, and competing with one another in good works.

The righteous woman is the pillar, cornerstone and foundation of the Muslim family. She is seen as the greatest joy in a man’s life, as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“This world is just temporary conveniences, and the best comfort in this world is a righteous women.”1 

A righteous woman is the greatest blessing that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) can give to a man, for with her he can find comfort and rest after the exhausting struggle of earning a living. With his wife, he can find incomparable tranquility and pleasure.

How can a woman be the best comfort in this world? How can she be a successful woman, true to her own femininity, and honored and loved? This is what will be explained in the following pages:

She chooses a good husband

One of the ways in which Islam has honored woman is by giving her the right to choose her husband. Her parents have no right to force her to marry someone she dislikes. The Muslim woman knows this right, but she does not reject the advice and guidance of her parents when a potential suitor comes along, because they have her best interests at heart, and they have more experience of life and people. At the same time, she does not forego this right because of her father’s wishes that may make him force his daughter into a marriage with someone she dislikes.

There are many texts that support the woman in this sensitive issue, for example the report quoted by Imam Bukhari from al-Khansa’ bint Khidam:

“My father married me to his nephew, and I did not like this match, so I complained to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He said to me: ‘Accept what your father has arranged.’ I said, ‘I do not wish to accept what my father has arranged.’ He said, ‘Then this marriage is invalid, go and marry whomever you wish.’ I said, ‘I have accepted what my father has arranged, but I wanted women to know that fathers have no right in their daughter’s matters (i.e. they have no right to force a marriage on them).'” 2 

At first, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told al-Khansa’ to obey her father, and this is as it should be, because the concern of fathers for their daughters’ well-being is well-known. But when he realized that her father wanted to force her into a marriage she did not want, he gave her the freedom to choose, and saved her from the oppression of a father who wanted to force her into an unwanted marriage.

Islam does not want to impose an unbearable burden on women by forcing them to marry a man they dislike, because it wants marriages to be successful, based on compatibility between the partners; there should be common ground between them in terms of physical looks, attitudes, habits, inclinations and aspirations. If something goes wrong, and the woman feels that she cannot love her husband sincerely, and fears that she may commit the sin of disobeying and opposing this husband whom she does not love, then she may ask for a divorce. This is confirmed by the report in which the wife of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, Jamilah the sister of ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy, came to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have nothing against Thabit ibn Qays as regards his religion or his behavior, but I hate to commit any act of kufr when I am a Muslim. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Will you give his garden back to him?” – her mahr had been a garden. She said, “Yes.” So Allah’s Messenger sent word to him: “Take back your garden, and give her one pronouncement of divorce.”3

According to a report given by Bukhari from Ibn ‘Abbas, she said, “I do not blame Thabit for anything with regard to his religion or his behavior, but I do not like him.” 

Islam has protected woman’s pride and humanity, and has respected her wishes with regard to the choice of a husband with whom she will spend the rest of her life. It is not acceptable for anyone, no matter who he is, to force a woman into a marriage with a man she does not like.

There is no clearer indication of this than the story of Barirah, an Ethiopian slave-girl who belonged to ‘Utbah ibn Abu Lahab, who forced her to marry another slave whose name was Mughith. She would never have accepted him as a husband if she had been in control of her own affairs. ‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) took pity on her, so she bought her and set her free. Then this young woman felt that she was free and in control of her own affairs, and that she could take a decision about her marriage. She asked her husband for a divorce. Her husband used to follow her, weeping, whilst she rejected him. Bukhari quotes Ibn ‘Abbas describing this freed woman who insisted on the annulment of her marriage to someone she did not love; the big-hearted Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) commented on this moving sight, and sought to intervene. Ibn ‘Abbas said:

“Barirah’s husband was a slave, who was known as Mughith. I can almost see him, running after her and crying, with tears running down onto his beard. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said to ‘Abbas, ‘O ‘Abbas, do you not find it strange, how much Mugith loves Barirah, and how much Barirah hates Mughith?’ The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said (to Barirah), ‘Why do you not go back to him?’ She said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, are you commanding me to do so?’ He said, ‘I am merely trying to intervene on his behalf.’ She said, ‘I have no need of him.'” 4

The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was deeply moved by this display of human emotion: deep and overwhelming love on the part of the husband, and equally powerful hatred on the part of the wife. He could not help but remind the wife, and ask her why she did not go back to him, as he was her husband and the father of her child. This believing woman asked him, whether he was ordering her to do so: was this a command, a binding obligation? The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), this great law-giver and educator, replied that he was merely trying to intercede and bring about reconciliation if possible; he was not trying to force anybody to do something they did not wish to.

Let those stubborn, hard-hearted fathers who oppress their own daughters listen to the teaching of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)!

The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of her religion has wise and correct standards when it comes to choosing a husband. She does not concern herself just with good looks, high status, a luxurious lifestyle or any of the other things that usually attract women. She looks into his level of religious commitment and his attitude and behavior, because these are the pillars of a successful marriage, and the best features of a husband. Islamic teaching indicates the importance of these qualities in a potential husband, as Islam obliges a woman to accept the proposal of anyone who has these qualities, lest fitnah and corruption become widespread in society:

“If there comes to you one with whose religion and attitude you are satisfied, then give your daughter to him in marriage, for if you do not do so, fitnah and mischief will become widespread on earth.”5 

Just as the true Muslim young man will not be attracted to the pretty girls who have grown up in a bad environment, so the Muslim young woman who is guided by her religion will not be attracted to stupid “play-boy” types, no matter how handsome they may be. Rather she will be attracted to the serious, educated, believing man who is clean-living and pure of heart, whose behavior is good and whose understanding of religion is sound. No-one is a suitable partner for the good, believing woman except a good, believing man; and no-one is a suitable partner for the wayward, immoral woman but a wayward, immoral man, as Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has said:

(Women impure are for men impure, and men impure for women impure, and women of purity are for men of purity, and men of purity are for women of purity . . . .) 

This does not mean that the Muslim woman should completely ignore the matter of physical appearance, and put up with unattractiveness or ugliness. It is her right – as stated above – to marry a man for whom her heart may be filled with love, and who is pleasing to her both in his appearance and in his conduct. Appearance should not be neglected at the expense of inner nature, or vice versa. A woman should choose a man who is attractive to her in all aspects, one who will gain her admiration and respect. The true Muslim woman is never dazzled by outward appearances, and she never lets them distract her from seeing the essence of a potential spouse.

The Muslim woman knows that the man has the right of qiwamah over her, as the Qur’an says:

(Men are the protectors and maintainers [qawwamun] of women, because Allah has given the one more [strength] than the other, and because they support them from their means. . .)

Hence she wants to marry a man of whose qiwamah over her she will feel proud, one whom she will be happy to marry and never regret it. She wants a man who will take her hand in his and set out to fulfill their life’s mission of establishing a Muslim family and raising a new generation of intelligent and caring children, in an atmosphere of love and harmony, which will not be impeded by conflicting attitudes or religious differences. Believing men and believing women are supposed to walk side-by-side on the journey of life, which is a serious matter for the believer, so that they may fulfill the great mission with which Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has entrusted mankind, men and women alike, as the Qur’an says:

( For Muslim men and women – for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are constant and patient, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast [and deny themselves], for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise – for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.) 

In order to achieve this great goal of strengthening the marriage bond, and establishing a stable family life, it is essential to choose the right partner in the first place.

Among the great Muslim women who are known for their strength of character, lofty aspirations and far-sightedness in their choice of a husband is Umm Sulaym bint Milhan, who was one of the first Ansar women to embrace Islam. She was married to Malik ibn Nadar, and bore him a son, Anas. When she embraced Islam, her husband Malik was angry with her, and left her, but she persisted in her Islam. Shortly afterwards, she heard the news of his death, and she was still in the flower of her youth. She bore it all with the hope of reward, for the sake of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and devoted herself to taking care of her ten-year-old son Anas. She took him to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), so that he could serve him (and learn from him).

One of the best young men of Madinah, one of the best-looking, richest and strongest, came to seek her hand in marriage. This was Abu Talhah – before he became Muslim. Many of the young women of Yathrib liked him because of his wealth, strength and youthful good looks, and he thought that Umm Sulaym would joyfully rush to accept his offer. But to his astonishment, she told him, “O Abu Talhah, do you not know that your god whom you worship is just a tree that grew in the ground and was carved into shape by the slave of Banu so-and-so.” He said, “Of course.” She said, “Do you not feel ashamed to prostrate yourself to a piece of wood that grew in the ground and was carved by the slave of Banu so-and-so?” Abu Talhah was stubborn, and hinted to her of an expensive dowry and luxurious lifestyle, but she persisted in her point of view, and told him frankly: “O Abu Talhah, a man like you could not be turned away, but you are a disbelieving man, and I am a Muslim woman. It is not permitted for me to marry you, but if you were to embrace Islam, that would be my dowry (mahr), and I would ask you for nothing more.”6

He returned the following day to try to tempt her with a larger dowry and more generous gift, but she stood firm, and her persistence and maturity only enhanced her beauty in his eyes. She said to him, “O Abu Talhah, do you not know that your god whom you worship was carved by the carpenter slave of so-and-so? If you were to set it alight, it would burn.” Her words came as a shock to Abu Talhah, and he asked himself, Does the Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) burn? Then he uttered the words: “Ashhadu an la ilaha ill-Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasul-Allah.”

Then Umm Sulaym said to her son Anas, with joy flooding her entire being, “O Anas, marry me to Abu Talhah.” So Anas brought witnesses and the marriage was solemnized.

Abu Talhah was so happy that he was determined to put all his wealth at Umm Sulaym’s disposal, but hers was the attitude of the selfless, proud, sincere believing woman. She told him, “O Abu Talhah, I married you for the sake of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and I will not take any other dowry.” She knew that when Abu Talhah embraced Islam, she did not only win herself a worthy husband, but she also earned a reward from Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) that was better than owning red camels (the most highly-prized kind) in this world, as she had heard the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say:

“If Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) were to guide one person to Islam through you, it is better for you than owning red camels.”7 

Such great Muslim women are examples worthy of emulation, from whom Muslim women may learn purity of faith, strength of character, soundness of belief and wisdom in choosing a husband.

She is obedient to her husband and shows him respect

The true Muslim woman is always obedient to her husband, provided that no sin is involved. She is respectful towards him and is always eager to please him and make him happy. If he is poor, she does not complain about his being unable to spend much. She does not complain about her housework, because she remembers that many of the virtuous women in Islamic history set an example of patience, goodness and a positive attitude in serving their husbands and taking care of their homes despite the poverty and hardships they faced. One of the foremost of these exemplary wives is Fatimah al-Zahra’, the daughter of Muhammad(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the wife of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (radhiallahu anhu). She used to complain of the pain in her hands caused by grinding grain with the hand-mill. Her husband ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib said to her one day, “Your father has brought some female slaves, so go and ask him for one of them to come and serve you.” She went to her father, but she felt too shy to ask him for what she wanted. ‘Ali went and asked him to provide a servant for his beloved daughter, but the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) could not respond to those who most dear to him whilst ignoring the needs of the poor among the Muslims, so he came to his daughter and her husband and said: “Shall I not teach you something that is better than that for which you asked me? When you go to bed at night, say ‘Subhan Allah‘ thirty-three times, ‘Al-hamdu lillah‘ thirty-three times, and ‘Allahu akbar‘ thirty-four times. This is better for you than a servant.”

Then he bid them farewell and left, after telling them this divine help which would make them forget their tiredness and help them to overcome their exhaustion.

‘Ali (radhiallahu anhu) began to repeat the words that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had taught him. He said, “I never stopped doing that after he had taught me these words.” One of his companions asked him, “Not even on the night of Siffin?” He said, “Not even on the night of Siffin.”8 

Asma’ bint Abi Bakr al-Siddiq served her husband al-Zubayr, and took care of the house. Her husband had a horse, which she took care of, feeding it and exercising it. She also repaired the water-bucket, made bread, and carried dates on her head from far away. Bukhari and Muslim report this in her own words:

“Al-Zubayr married me, and he had no wealth, no slaves, nothing except his horse. I used to feed his horse, looking after it and exercising it. I crushed date-stones to feed his camel. I used to bring water and repair the bucket, and I used to make bread but I could not bake it, so some of my Ansari neighbors, who were kind women, used to bake it for me. I used to carry the dates from the garden that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had given to al-Zubayr on my head, and this garden was two-thirds of a farsakh away. One day I was coming back with the dates on my head. I met Allah’s Messenger , who had a group of his Companions with him. He called me, then told his camel to sit down so that I could ride behind him. I told (al-Zubayr), ‘I felt shy, because I know that you are a jealous man.’ He said, ‘It is worse for me to see you carrying the dates on your head than to see you riding behind him.’ Later, Abu Bakr sent me a servant, who relieved me of having to take care of the horse; it was as if I had been released from slavery.”9 

The true Muslim woman devotes herself to taking care of her house and husband. She knows her husband’s rights over her, and how great they are, as was confirmed by the Prophet’s words:

“No human being is permitted to prostrate to another, but if this were permitted I would have ordered wives to prostrate to their husbands, because of the greatness of the rights they have over them.”10

And:

“If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would have ordered women to prostrate to their husbands.”11

‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) asked Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam): “Who has the greatest rights over a woman?” He said, “Her husband.” She asked, ‘And who has the greatest rights over a man?” He said, “His mother.”12

A woman came to ask the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) about some matter, and when he had dealt with it, he asked her, “Do you have a husband?” She said, “Yes.” He asked her, “How are you with him?” She said, “I never fall short in my duties, except for that which is beyond me.” He said, “Pay attention to how you treat him, for he is your Paradise and your Hell.”13  

How can the Muslim woman complain about taking care of her house and husband when she hears these words of Prophetic guidance? She should fulfill her household duties and take care of her husband in a spirit of joy, because she is not carrying a tiresome burden, she is doing work in her home that she knows will bring reward from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

The Sahabah, may Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) be pleased with them, and those who followed them understood this Islamic teaching and transmitted it from the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). When a bride was prepared for marriage, she would be told to serve her husband and take care of his rights. Thus the Muslim woman knew her duties towards her husband, and down through the ages caring for her husband and being a good wife were established womanly attributes. One example of this is what was said by the faqih al-Hanbali ibn al-Jawzi in his book Ahkam al-Nisa’ (p. 331): In the second century AH there was a righteous man called Shu’ayb ibn Harb, who used to fast and spend his nights in prayer. He wanted to marry a woman, and told her humbly, “I am a bad-tempered man.” She replied, tactfully and cleverly, “The one who makes you lose your temper is worse than you.” He realized that there stood before him a woman who was intelligent, wise and mature. He immediately said to her, “You will be my wife.”

This woman had a clear understanding of how to be a good wife, which confirmed to the man who had come to seek her hand that she was a woman who would understand the psychology and nature of her husband and would know what would please him and what would make him angry; she would be able to win his heart and earn his admiration and respect, and would close the door to every possible source of conflict that could disrupt their married life. The woman who does not understand these realities does not deserve to be a successful wife; through her ignorance and shortcomings she may provoke her husband to lose his temper, in which case, she would be worse than him, for being the direct cause of his anger.

The tactful Muslim woman is never like this. She helps her husband to be of good character, by displaying different types of intelligence, cleverness and alertness in the way she deals with him. This opens his heart to her and makes him fond of her, because being a good wife is a not only a quality that she may boast about among her friends, but it is also a religious obligation for which Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) will call her to account: if she has done well, she will be rewarded, but if she has fallen short she will have to pay the penalty.

One of the most important ways in which the Muslim woman obeys her husband is by respecting his wishes with regard to the permissible pleasures of daily life, such as social visits, food, dress, speech, etc. The more she responds to his wishes in such matters, the happier and more enjoyable the couple’s life becomes, and the closer it is to the spirit and teachings of Islam.

The Muslim woman does not forget that her obedience to her husband is one of the things that may lead her to Paradise, as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“If a woman prays her five daily prayers, fasts her month (of Ramadan), obeys her husband and guards her chastity, then it will be said to her: ‘Enter Paradise by whichever of its gates you wish.'” 14

Umm Salamah (radhiallahu anha) said:

“Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Any woman who dies, and her husband is pleased with her, will enter Paradise.'” 15 

The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) draw a clear and delightful picture of the well-behaved, easy-going, loving, righteous Muslim wife, one who will be happy in this world and the next:

“Shall I not tell you about your wives in Paradise?” We said, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “They are fertile and loving. If she becomes angry or is mistreated, or her husband becomes angry, she says, ‘My hand is in your hand; I shall never sleep until you are pleased with me.'” 16 

The true Muslim woman knows that Islam, which has multiplied her reward for obeying her husband and made it a means of her admittance to Paradise, has also warned every woman who deviates from the path of marital obedience and neglects to take care of her husband, that she will be guilty of sin, and will incur the wrath and curses of the angels.

Bukhari and Muslim report from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“If a man calls his wife to his bed and she does not come, and he goes to sleep angry with her, the angels will curse her until the morning.”17 

Muslim reports from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said Imam:

“By the One in Whose hand is my soul, there is no man who calls his wife to his bed, and she refuses him, but the One Who is in heaven will be angry with her, until the husband is pleased with her once more.”18 

The angels’ curse will befall every woman who is rebellious and disobedient; this does not exclude those who are too slow and reluctant to respond to their husbands:

“Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) will curse those procrastinating women who, when their husbands call them to their beds, say ‘I will, I will . . .’ until he falls asleep.” 19 

Marriage in Islam is intended to protect the chastity of men and women alike, therefore it is the woman’s duty to respond to her husband’s requests for conjugal relations. She should not give silly excuses and try to avoid it. For this reason, several hadith urge a wife to respond to her husband’s needs as much as she is able, no matter how busy she may be or whatever obstacles there may be, so long as there is no urgent or unavoidable reason not to do so. In one of these hadith, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“If a man calls his wife to his bed, let her respond, even if she is riding her camel [i.e., very busy].”20

And:

“If a man calls his wife, then let her come, even if she is busy at the oven.”21

The issue of protecting a man’s chastity and keeping him away from temptation is more important than anything else that a woman can do, because Islam wants men and women alike to live in an environment which is entirely pure and free from any motive of fitnah or haram pleasures. The flames of sexual desire and thoughts of pursuing them through haram means can only be extinguished by means of discharging that natural energy in natural and lawful ways. This is what the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) meant in the hadith narrated by Muslim from Jabir:

“If anyone of you is attracted to a woman, let him go to his wife and have intercourse with her, for that will calm him down.”22  

The warning given to the woman whose husband is angry with her reaches such an extent that it would shake the conscience of every righteous wife who has faith in Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and the Last Day: she is told that her prayer and good deeds will not be accepted, until her husband is pleased with her again. This is stated in the hadith narrated by Jabir from ‘Abdullah:

” Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘There are three people whose prayers will not be accepted, neither their good works: a disobedient slave until he returns to his masters and puts his hand in theirs; a woman whose husband is angry with her, until he is pleased with her again; and the drunkard, until he becomes sober.'” 23  

When these hadith refer to the husband being angry with his wife, they refer to cases in which the husband is right and the wife is wrong. When the opposite is the case, and the husband is wrong, then his anger has no negative implications for her; in fact, Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) will reward the wife for her patience. But the wife is still required to obey her husband, so long as no sin is involved, because there should be no obedience to a created being if it entails disobedience to the Creator. Concerning this, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“It is not permitted for a woman who believes in Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) to allow anyone into her husband’s house whom he dislikes; or to go out when he does not want her to; or to obey anyone else against him; or to forsake his bed; or to hit him. If he is wrong, then let her come to him until he is pleased with her, and if he accepts her then all is well, Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) will accept her deeds and make her position stronger, and there will be no sin on her. If he does not accept her, then at least she will have done her best and excused herself in the sight of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). “24 

Another aspect of wifely obedience is that she should not fast at times other than Ramadan except with his permission, that she should not allow anyone to enter his house without his permission, and that she should not spend any of his earnings without his permission. If she spends anything without him having told her to do so, then half of the reward for that spending will be given to him. The true Muslim woman takes heed of this teaching which was stated by the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in the hadith:

“It is not permitted for a woman to fast when her husband is present, except with his permission; or to allow anyone into his house except with his permission; or to spend any of his earnings unless he has told her to do so, otherwise half of the reward will be given to him.”25  

According to a report given by Muslim, he (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“A woman should not fast if her husband is present, except with his permission. She should not allow anyone to enter his house when he is present without his permission. Whatever she spends of his wealth without him having told her to do so, half of the reward for it will be given to him.”26  

The point here is the permission of the husband. If a wife gives some of his money in voluntary charity without his permission, then she will not receive any reward; on the contrary, it will be recorded as a sin on her part. If she wants to spend in his absence, and she knows that if he knew about it he would give his permission, then she is allowed to do so, otherwise it is not permitted.

Mutual understanding and harmony between husband and wife cannot be achieved unless there is understanding between them on such matters, so that neither of them will fall into such errors and troubles as may damage the marriage which Islam has built on a basis of love and mercy, and sought to maintain its purity, care and harmony.

If the husband is a miser, and spends too little on her and her children, then she is allowed to spend as much as she needs from his wealth on herself and her children, in moderation, without his knowledge. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stated this to Hind bint ‘Utbah, the wife of Abu Sufyan, when she came to him and said, “O Messenger of Allah, Abu Sufyan is a stingy man. What he gives me is not enough for me and my child, unless I take from him without his knowledge.” He told her, “Take what is enough for you and your child, in moderation.”27 Thus Islam has made women responsible for good conduct in their running of the household affairs.

The Muslim woman understands the responsibility that Islam has given her, to take care of her husband’s house and children by making her a “shepherd” over her husband’s house and children. She has been specifically reminded of this responsibility in recognition of her role, in the hadith in which the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) made every individual in the Islamic society responsible for those under his or her authority in such a way that no-one, man or woman, may evade responsibility:

“Each of you is a shepherd, and each is responsible for those under his care. A ruler is a shepherd; a man is the shepherd of his family; a woman is the shepherd of her husband’s house and children. For each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for those under his care.”28  

The true Muslim woman is always described as being loving towards her children and caring towards her husband. These are two of the most beautiful characteristics that a woman of any time or place may possess. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) praised these two characteristics, which were embodied by the women of Quraysh, who represented the best women among the Arabs in terms of loving their children, caring for their husbands, respecting their rights and looking after their wealth with care, honesty and wisdom:

“The best women who ride camels are the women of Quraysh. They are the most compassionate towards their children when they are small, and the most careful with regard to their husbands’ wealth.”29  

This is a valuable testimony on the part of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), attesting to the psychological and moral qualities of the women of Quraysh which enhanced their beauty and virtue. This testimony represents a call to every Muslim woman to emulate the women of Quraysh in loving her children and taking care of her husband. These two important characteristics contribute to the success of a marriage, make individuals and families happy, and help a society to advance.

It is a great honor for a woman to take care of her husband every morning and evening, and wherever he goes, treating him with gentleness and good manners which will fill his life with joy, tranquility and stability. Muslim women have the best example in ‘A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), who used to accompany the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) on Hajj, surrounding him with her care, putting perfume on him with her own hands before he entered ihram, and after he finished his ihram, before he performed tawaf al-ifadah.30 She chose for him the best perfume that she could find. This is stated in a number of sahih hadith reported by Bukhari and Muslim, for example:

“I applied perfume to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with myown hands before he entered the state of ihram and when he concluded it before circumambulating the House.”31

“I applied perfume to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with these two hands of mine when he entered ihram and when he concluded it, before he performed tawaf,” – and she spread her hands.32

‘Urwah said:

“I asked ‘A’ishah, ‘With what did you perfume Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) at the time when he entered ihram?’ She said, ‘With the best of perfume.'” 33

According to another report also given by Muslim, ‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) said:

“I applied the best perfume I could find to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) before he entered ihram and when he concluded it, before he performed tawaf al-ifadah.”34

When the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was in seclusion (i’tikaf), he would lean his head towards ‘A’ishah, and she would comb and wash his hair. Bukhari and Muslim both report this in sahih hadith narrated from ‘A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), such as:

“When Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was in i’tikaf, he inclined his head towards me and I combed his hair, and he did not enter the house except to answer the call of nature.”35

“I used to wash the Prophet’s head when I was menstruating.”36 

‘Aishah urged women to take good care of their husbands and to recognize the rights that their husbands had over them. She saw these rights as being so great and so important that a woman was barely qualified to wipe the dust from her husband’s feet with her face, as she stated: “O womenfolk, if you knew the rights that your husbands have over you, every one of you would wipe the dust from her husband’s feet with her face.”37

This is a vivid expression of the importance of the husband’s rights over his wife. ‘A’ishah wanted to bring this to women’s attention, so as to remove from the hearts of arrogant and stubborn women all those harsh, obstinate feelings that all too often destroy a marriage and turn it into a living hell.

Honoring and respecting one’s husband is one of the characteristic attitudes of this ummah. It is one of the good manners known at the time of jahiliyyah that were endorsed by Islam and perpetuated by the Arabs after they embraced Islam. Our Arab heritage is filled with texts that eloquently describe the advice given by mothers to their daughters, to care for, honor and respect their husbands; these texts may be regarded as invaluable social documents.

One of the most famous and most beautiful of these texts was recorded by ‘Abd al-Malik ibn ‘Umayr al-Qurashi, who was one of the outstanding scholars of the second century AH. He quotes the words of advice given by Umamah bint al-Harith, one of the most eloquent and learned women, who was possessed of wisdom and great maturity, to her daughter on the eve of her marriage. These beautiful words deserve to be inscribed in golden ink.

‘Abd al-Malik said: “When ‘Awf ibn Muhallim al-Shaybani, one of the most highly respected leaders of the Arab nobility during the jahiliyyah, married his daughter Umm Iyas to al-Harith ibn ‘Amr al-Kindi, she was made ready to be taken to the groom, then her mother Umamah came in to her, to advise her, and said:

‘O my daughter, if it were deemed unnecessary to give you this advice because of good manners and noble descent, then it would have been unnecessary for you, because you possess these qualities, but it will serve as a reminder to those who are forgetful, and will help those who are wise.

‘O my daughter, if a woman were able to do without a husband by virtue of her father’s wealth and her need for her father, then you of all people would be most able to do without a husband, but women were created for men just as men were created for them.

‘O my daughter, you are about to leave the home in which you grew up, where you first learned to walk, to go to a place you do not know, to a companion with whom you are unfamiliar. By marrying you he has become a master over you, so be like a servant to him, and he will become like a servant to you.

‘Take from me ten qualities, which will be a provision and a reminder for you.

‘The first and second of them are: be content in his company, and listen to and obey him, for contentment brings peace of mind, and listening to and obeying one’s husband pleases Allah.

‘The third and fourth of them are: make sure that you smell good and look good; he should not see anything ugly in you, and he should not smell anything but a pleasant smell from you. Kohl is the best kind of beautification to be found, and water is better than the rarest perfume.

‘The fifth and the sixth of them are: prepare his food on time, and keep quiet when he is asleep, for raging hunger is like a burning flame, and disturbing his sleep will make him angry.

‘The seventh and eighth of them are: take care of his servants (or employees) and children, and take care of his wealth, for taking care of his wealth shows that you appreciate him, and taking care of his children and servants shows good management.

‘The ninth and tenth of them are: never disclose any of his secrets, and never disobey any of his orders, for if you disclose any of his secrets you will never feel safe from his possible betrayal, and if you disobey him, his heart will be filled with hatred towards you.

‘Be careful, O my daughter, of showing joy in front of him when he is upset, and do not show sorrow in front of him when he is happy, because the former shows a lack of judgment, whilst the latter will make him unhappy.

‘Show him as much honor and respect as you can, and agree with him as much as you can, so that he will enjoy your companionship and conversation.

‘Know, O my daughter, that you will not achieve what you would like to until you put his pleasure before your own, and his wishes before yours, in whatever you like and dislike. And may Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) choose what is best for you and protect you.'” 38

She was taken to her husband, and the marriage was a great success; she gave birth to kings who ruled after him.

This advice clearly included everything that one could think of as regards the good manners that a young girl needs to know about in order to treat her husband properly and be a suitable companion for him. The words of this wise mother deserve to be taken as the standard for every young girl who is about to get married.

If she is rich, the true Muslim woman does not let her wealth and financial independence make her blind to the importance of respecting her husband’s rights over her. She still takes care of him and honors him, no matter how rich she is or may become. She knows that she is obliged to show gratitude to Allah for the blessings He has bestowed upon her, so she increases her charitable giving for the sake of Allah. The first person to whom she should give generously is her own husband, if he is poor; in this case she will receive two rewards, one for taking care of a family member, and another for giving charity, as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) stated in the hadith narrated by Zaynab al-Thaqafiyyah, the wife of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (radhiallahu anhu): “The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told us: ‘O women, give in charity even if it is some of your jewelry.’ She said, ‘I went back to ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud and told him. ‘You are a man of little wealth, and the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has commanded us to give charity, so go and ask him whether it is permissible for me to give you charity. If it is, I will do so; if it is not, I will give charity to someone else.’ ‘Abdullah said, ‘No, you go and ask.’ So I went, and I found a woman of the Ansar at the Prophet’s door, who also had the question. We felt too shy to go in, out of respect, so Bilal came out and we asked him, ‘Go and tell Allah’s Messenger that there are two women at the door asking you: Is it permissible for them to give sadaqah to their husbands and the orphans in their care? But do not tell him who we are.’ So Bilal went in and conveyed this message to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who asked, ‘Who are they?’ Bilal said, ‘One of the women of the Ansar, and Zaynab (radhiallahu anha)’ The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked, ‘Which Zaynab is it?’ Bilal said, ‘The wife of ‘Abdullah.’ The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘They will have two rewards, the reward for upholdithe relationship, and the reward for giving charity.'” 39 According to a report given by Bukhari, he said, “Your husband and your child are more deserving of your charity.”40 

The true Muslim woman is always careful to give thanks for Allah’s blessings if her life is easy, and she never loses her patience if she encounters difficulty. She never forgets the warning that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) issued to women in general, when he saw that most of the inhabitants of Hell will be women, and so she seeks refuge with Allah from becoming one of them.

Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiallahu anhu) that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “O women, give charity, for I have surely seen that you form the majority of the inhabitants of Hell.” They asked, ‘Why is this so, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Because you curse too much, and are ungrateful for good treatment (on the part of your husbands).”41

According to another report given by Bukhari, he said, “because they are ungrateful for good and kind treatment. Even if you treated one of them (these ungrateful women) well for an entire lifetime, then she saw one fault in you, she would say, ‘I have never seen anything good from you!'” 42

According to a report given by Ahmad, a man said, “O Messenger of Allah, are they not our mothers and sisters and wives?” He said, “Of course, but when they are treated generously they are ungrateful, and when they are tested, they do not have patience.”43  

When the true Muslim woman thinks about these sahih hadith which describe the fate of most women in the Hereafter, she is always on the alert lest she fall into the sins of ingratitude towards her husband, or frequent cursing, or denying her husband’s good treatment of her, or forgetting to give thanks for times of ease, or failing to be patient at times of difficulty. In any case, she hastens to give charity as the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) urged all women to do, in the hope that it may save them from that awful fate which will befall most of those women who deviate from truth and let trivial matters distract them from remembering Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and the Last Day, and whose bad qualities will ultimately lead them into the Fire of Hell. The Muslim woman, on the other hand, sets the highest example of respect towards one’s husband and taking note of his good qualities. This is the attitude of loyalty that befits the true Muslim woman who respects her husband’s rights and does not ignore his virtues.

Muslim women’s history is full of stories which reflect this loyalty and recognition of the good qualities of the husband. One of these stories is that of Asma’ bint ‘Umays, who was one of the greatest women in Islam, and one of the first women to migrate to Madinah. She was married to Ja’far ibn Abi Talib, then to Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, then to ‘Ali, may Allah be pleased with them all. On one occasion, her two sons Muhammad ibn Ja’far and Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr were competing with one another, each of them saying. “I am better than you, and my father is better than your father.” ‘Ali said to her, “Judge between them, O Asma’.” She said, “I have never seen a young man among the Arabs who was better than Ja’far, and I have never seen a mature man who was better than Abu Bakr.” ‘Ali said, “You have not left anything for me. If you had said anything other than what you have said, I would have hated you!” Asma’ said: “These are the best three, and you are one of them even if you are the least of them.”44

What a clever and eloquent answer this wise woman gave! She gave each of her three husbands the respect he deserved, and pleased ‘Ali, even though he was the least of them, because she included all of them in that group of the best.

She treats his mother and family with kindness and respect

One of the ways in which a wife expresses her respect towards her husband is by honoring and respecting his mother.

The Muslim woman who truly understands the teachings of her religion knows that the person who has the greatest right over a man is his mother, as we have seen in the hadith of ‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) quoted above. So she helps him to honor and respect his mother, by also honoring and respecting her. In this way she will do herself and her husband a favor, as she will helping him to do good deeds and fear Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) as commanded by the Qur’an. At the same time, she will endear herself to her husband, who will appreciate her honor and respect towards his family in general, and towards his mother in particular. Nothing could please a decent, righteous and respectful man more than seeing strong ties of love and respect between his wife and his family, and nothing could be more hateful to a decent man than to see those ties destroyed by the forces of evil, hatred and conspiracy. The Muslim family which is guided by faith in Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and follows the pure teachings of Islam is unlikely to fall into the trap of such jahili behavior, which usually flourishes in an environment that is far removed from the true teachings of this religion.

A Muslim wife may find herself being tested by her mother-in-law and other in-laws, if they are not of good character. If such is the case, she is obliged to treat them in the best way possible, which requires a great deal of cleverness, courtesy, diplomacy and repelling evil with that which is better. Thus she will maintain a balance between her relationship with her in-laws and her relationship with her husband, and she will protect herself and her marriage from any adverse effects that may result from the lack of such a balance.

The Muslim woman should never think that she is the only one who is required to be a good and caring companion to her spouse, and that nothing similar is required of her husband or that there is nothing wrong with him mistreating her or failing to fulfill some of the responsibilities of marriage. Islam has regulated the marital relationship by giving each partner both rights and duties. The wife’s duties of honor ing and taking care of her husband are balanced by the rights that she has over him, which are that he should protect her honor and dignity from all kinds of mockery, humiliation, trials or oppression. These rights of the wife comprise the husband’s duties towards her: he is obliged to honor them and fulfill them as completely as possible.

One of the Muslim husband’s duties is to fulfill his role of qawwam (maintainer and protector) properly. This is a role that can only be properly fulfilled by a man who is a successful leader in his home and family, one who possesses likeable masculine qualities. Such a man has a noble and worthy attitude, is tolerant, overlooks minor errors, is in control of his married life, and is generous without being extravagant. He respects his wife’s feelings and makes her feel that she shares the responsibility of running the household affairs, bringing up the children, and working with him to build a sound Muslim family, as Islam wants it to be.

She endears herself to her husband and is keen to please him

The true Muslim woman is always keen to win her husband’s love and to please him. Nothing should spoil his happiness or enjoyment of life. So she speaks kind words to him, and refrains from saying anything hurtful or upsetting. She brings him good news, but she keeps bad news from him as much as she can, or postpones telling it until a more suitable time when it will not upset him so much. If she finds that she has no alternative but to tell him upsetting news, she looks for the most suitable way to convey it, so that the blow will not be so hard on him. This is the wise approach and good conduct of the clever woman, but it is very difficult to attain and only a very few virtuous women ever do so.

One of those who did reach this high level was the great Muslim woman Umm Sulaym bint Milhan, the wife of Abu Talhah al-Ansari. Her son passed away whilst Abu Talhah was traveling, and her attitude was so unique that if Imam Muslim had not reported this story we would have taken it to be a mere myth. Let us hear her son Anas ibn Malik tell the story of his remarkable mother and her unattitude:

“A son of Abu Talhah by Umm Sulaym died. Umm Sulaym told her family, ‘Do not tell Abu Talhah about his son until I tell him about it.’ Abu Talhah came home, so she prepared dinner for him, and he ate and drank. Then she beautified herself in a way that she had never done before, and he had sexual intercourse with her. When she saw that he was satisfied, she said, ‘O Abu Talhah, do you think that if a people lent something to a household, then asked for it back, do they have the right not to return it?’ He said, ‘No.’ She said, ‘Then resign yourself to the death of your son.’ Abu Talhah became angry and said, ‘You let me indulge myself and then you tell me about my son!’ He went to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and told him what had happened. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘May Allah bless both of you for this night!’ Umm Sulaym became pregnant. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) went on a journey, and she accompanied him. Whenever Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) came back from a journey, he never entered Madinah at night. When they (the traveling-party) approached Madinah, her labour-pains started. Abu Talhah stayed with her, and Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) went on ahead to Madinah. Abu Talhah said, ‘O Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) , You know how I love to go out with Your Messenger when he goes out, and to come back with him when he comes back, and I have been detained, as You see.’ Umm Sulaym said, ‘O Abu Talhah, I do not feel as much pain as I did before, so let us go on.’ When they reached (Madinah), her labour-pains started again, and she gave birth to a boy. My mother said to me, ‘O Anas, nobody should feed him until you take him to Allah’s Messenger in the morning.’ So when morning came, I took the baby to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and when I met him he was carrying an iron tool. When he saw me, he said, ‘I hope that Umm Sulaym has given birth.’ I said, ‘Yes.’ So he put down the tool and I brought the child to him and placed him in his lap. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) called for some of the dates of Madinah. He chewed it until it became soft, then he put it in the baby’s mouth and the baby began to smack his lips. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘See how much the Ansar love dates!’ Then he wiped the baby’s face and named him ‘Abdullah.”45 

How great was Umm Sulaym’s faith, and how magnificent her patience and virtue! How bravely she hid her pain from her husband and endeared herself to him. She managed to conceal her grief at the loss of her beloved son and spent that time with her husband patiently hoping that by being a good wife to her husband she might earn the pleasure of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). This is true, deep and sincere faith.

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) answered the Prophet’s prayer for Umm Sulaym and her husband, and she became pregnant from that night. When she was heavily pregnant, she saw her husband Abu Talhah preparing to set out on another military campaign with Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). She insisted on partaking of the honor of jihad with him alongside Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), even though she was in the later stages of pregnancy. Her husband took pity on her because of the difficulties of the journey and the heat of the desert, but he still asked the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) for permission to let her come with him, and he gave his permission because he knew her strength of character and love of jihad.

Umm Sulaym was present when the Muslims were triumphant at Makkah, and when they were sorely tested at Hunayn. She stood firm, as solid as a rock, alongside her husband and the small group of believers around the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), even though she was pregnant, at that most difficult time when many others had fled, and she remained there until Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) brought victory to the believers.

The mujahid army returned to Madinah, and her labour began. When the pains became intense, she and her husband stayed behind for a while, but her husband prayed to his Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) in the still of night becasue he loved to go out and return with the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Suddenly the pains ceased; she told her husband and they set out to follow the army that had gone on ahead. They caught up with them, and after they had entered Madinah, Umm Sulaym’s labour pains began anew. She gave birth to a boy, and his brother on his mother’s side, Anas, brought him to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who fed him a small amount of dates (tahnik) and named him ‘Abdullah. The prayer of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) for this baby was fulfilled, as among his descendents were ten great scholars.

No doubt Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) knew the sincerity of Umm Sulaym’s faith, and conveyed the good news of Paradise to her via His Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

“I entered Paradise, and heard footsteps. I said, ‘Who is this?’ and they told me, ‘It is al-Ghumaysa’, the daughter of Milhan, the mother of Anas ibn Malik.'” 46

Another example of the ways in which a wife may endear herself to her husband is the way in which ‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) spoke to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when he came back to his wives after he had kept away from them for a month. He had said, “I will not go in to them for a month,” because he was so angry with them. When twenty-nine days had passed, he came to ‘A’ishah first. ‘A’ishah said to him, ‘You swore to stay away from us for a month, and only twenty-nine days have passed; I have been counting them.” The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “This month has twenty-nine days.” That particular month had only twenty-nine days.47  

‘A’ishah’s telling the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) that she had counted twenty-nine days was a clear indication of her love towards her husband and of how she had waited, day by day, hour by hour, for him to come back to her. It shows how she loved and missed her husband. This approach made her even dearer to him, so when he came back to his wives, he started with her.

The sincere Muslim woman recognizes her husband’s likes and habits, and tries to accommodate them as much as she can, in the interests of mutual understanding and marital harmony, and to protect the marriage from the boredom of routine. This is what every wise and intelligent wife does. It was narrated that the qadi and faqih Shurayh married a woman from Banu Hanzalah. On their wedding night, each of them prayed two rak’ahs and asked Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) to bless them. Then the bride turned to Shurayh and said, “I am a stranger, and I do not not know much about you. Tell me what you like, and I will do it, and tell me what you do not like so I may avoid it.” Shurayh said, “She stayed with me for twenty years, and I never had to tell her off for anything, except on one occasion, and I was in the wrong then.”

This is the respectful and loving wife as Islam wants her to be, responsible for her home and loyal to her husband, and always careful to maintain a good relationship between them. If anything happens to upset their marriage, she hastens to calm the situation with her sincere love and wise understanding. She does not listen to the whispering of the Shaytan which calls her to do wrong, and she never hastens to ask her husband for a divorce. The marriage bond should be too strong to be undone by temporary arguments or occasional misunderstandings. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) warned those foolish women who ask their husbands for a divorce with no legitimate reason that they would be denied even the scent of Paradise:

“Any woman who asks her husband for a divorce with no good reason will be deprived of even smelling the scent of Paradise.”48
 

She does not disclose his secrets

The chaste Muslim woman does not disclose her husband’s secrets, and does not talk to anyone about whatever secrets and other matters there may be between him and her. The serious Muslim woman is above that; she would never sink to the level of such cheap and shameless talk as goes on amongst the lowest type of people. Her time is too precious to be wasted in such vulgar behavior. She would never accept for herself to be counted as one of those people whom the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) described as one of the worst types:

“Among the worst type of people in the sight of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) on the Day of Judgment is a man who enjoys his wife’s intimate company, and she enjoys his intimate company, then one of them goes and discloses the secret of the other.”49

Talking about that which is private between a husband and wife is one of the most abhorrent ways of disclosing secrets. No-one does such a thing but the worst type of people. There are some secrets the disclosure of which is not as bad as disclosing this secret, but in any case, telling secrets at all is disliked and is unacceptable. Keeping secrets in itself is a worthy and virtuous deed, whilst disclosing them is a serious error and shortcoming, from which nobody can be immune except the infallible Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). The disclosure of a secret that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had entrusted to Hafsah, who told it to ‘A’ishah, led to the plotting and intrigue in his household that caused him to keep away from his wives for a whole month, because he was so upset with them.50 Concerning this, the following ayah was revealed:

( When the Prophet disclosed a matter of confidence to one of his consorts, and she then divulged it [to another], and Allah made it known to him, he confirmed part thereof and repudiated a part. Then when he told her thereof, she said, ‘Who told you this?’ He said, ‘He told me Who knows and is well-acquainted [with all things].) (Qur’an 66:3) 

The two women concerned are then confronted with their error, and called to repent, so that they might draw closer to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) after having distanced themselves by their deed, otherwise Allah would be his (the Prophet’s) Protector, and Jibril and the righteous believers would also support him:

( If you two turn in repentance to Him, your hearts are indeed so inclined; but if you back up each other against him, truly Allah is his Protector, and Gabriel, and [every] righteous one among those who believe – and furthermore, the angels – will back [him] up.) (Qur’an 66:4) 

Then they are issued with a stern warning and the terrifying prospect that if they persist in their error, they may lose the honor of being the wives of the Prophet:

( It may be, if he divorced you [all], that Allah will give him in exchange Consorts better than you – who submit [their wills], who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship [in humility], who travel [for Faith] and fast – previously married or virgins.) (Qur’an 66:5) 

This incident presents a valuable lesson to the Muslim woman on the importance of keeping her husband’s secret, and the effect this confidentiality has on the stability of the individual and the home. One of the greatest blessings that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has bestowed on the Muslims in particular, and on mankind in general, is that he has made the public and private life of His Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) like an open book, in which can be read the teachings of this ‘aqidah and its practical application in real life. Nothing is secret or hidden: matters and events that people usually keep secret are discussed openly in the Qur’an and Sunnah, even unavoidable human weaknesses. All of these issues are presented in order to teach people right from wrong.

The Sahabah, may Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) be pleased with them, understood that the Prophet’s life was entirely devoted to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and His message, so why should they keep secret or conceal any aspect of his life? The stories that have been narrated about his life, his household and his wives represent a practical application of the words he preached, and for this reason, the Sahabah (may Allah reward them with all good) transmitted the most precise details of his life, and did not fail to record any aspect of his daily life, whether it was major or minor. This is part of the way in which Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) caused the life of his Prophet to be recorded, including details of the precise way in which Islamic teachings were applied in his life. This is in addition to the Qur’anic references to the Prophet’s life, which form a record that will remain until heaven and earth pass away.

She stands by him and offers her advice

One of the laws that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has decreed for this life is that men and women should work together to cultivate and populate the earth and run the affairs of life therein. Man cannot do without woman, and vice versa. Hence the laws of Islam teach men and women to co-operate in all matters. Islam encourages a man to help his wife, as much as he is able; the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who is the example for all Muslims, used to help and serve his family until he went out to pray, as the Mother of the Believers ‘A’ishah said.51

Just as Islam expects a man to help his wife with housework and running household affairs, so the woman is also expected to help him in dealing with the outside world and to play her role in life by offering her opinions and advice, and supporting him in practical terms.

History tells us that Muslim women engaged in jihad side by side with men, marching to war with them, bringing water to the thirsty, tending the wounded, setting broken bones, stemming the flow of blood, encouraging the soldiers, and sometimes joining in the actual fighting, running back and forth between the swords and spears, standing firm when some of the brave men had fled. Their courageous conduct in battle was praised by the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), as we have described previously (see pp. 69-91).

However, women’s contribution to public life did not stop on the battlefield; women also stood side-by-side with men at times of peace, offering their valuable opinions, soothing their hearts at times of stress and supporting them during times of hardship.

History has recorded many names of great Muslim men who used to seek and follow the advice of their wives, foremost among whom is the Prophet himself (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), who sometimes followed the advice of Khadijah, Umm Salamah, ‘A’ishah and others among his wives. ‘Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr used to follow the advice of his mother Asma’, al-Walid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik used to follow the advice of his wife Umm al-Banin bint ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Marwan, and Harun al-Rashid used to follow the advice of his wife Zubaydah, and there are many other such examples in the history of Islam.

The true, sincere Muslim woman understands the heavy burden that Islam has placed on her shoulders, by obliging her to be a good wife to her husband, to surround him with care and meet his every need, to give him enjoyment, and to renew his energy so that he may fulfill his mission in life. So she does not withhold her advice when she sees that he needs it, and she never hesitates to stand by his side, encouraging him, supporting him and offering advice and consolation.

The first Muslim woman, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid is the best example of a woman who influenced her husband. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) came to her on the day of the first Revelation, anxious, trembling and shaking all over. He told her, “Cover me, cover me!” She hastened to offer her help and support, advising him and thinking of a practical way of helping him. Bukhari and Muslim report the story told by ‘A’ishah of how the Revelation commenced, and the marvellous way in which Khadijah responded by supporting her husband:

“The Revelation started in the form of a dream that came true, he never saw a dream but it would clearly come to pass. Then he was made to like seclusion, so he would go and stay alone in the cave of Hira’, praying and worshipping for many nights at a time, before coming back to his family to collect supplies for another period of seclusion. Then the truth came suddenly, when he was in the cave of Hira’. The angel came to him and said ‘Read!’ He said, ‘I am not a reader.’ [The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:] ‘The angel embraced me and squeezed me until I nearly passed out, then released me, and said, ‘Read!’ I said, ‘I am not a reader.’ The angels embraced me a second time, squeezed me until I nearly passed out, then released me and said, ‘Read!’ I said, ‘I am not a reader.’ The angel embraced me a third time and squeezed me until I nearly passed out, then released me and said:

( Read! In the name of your Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) and Cherisher, who created – created man, out of a [mere] clot of congealed blood: Read! And your Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) is Most Bountiful – He taught [the use of] the Pen – taught man that which he knew not.) (Qur’an 96:1-5)'”

Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) came back to Khadijah, trembling all over, and said, “Cover me, cover me!”. They covered him up until he calmed down, then he said to Khadijah, “O Khadijah, what is wrong with me?” He told her what had happened, then said, “I fear for myself.” Khadijah said: “No, rather be of good cheer, for by Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) would never forsake you. By Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) you uphold the ties of kinship, speak the truth, spend money on the needy, give money to the penniless, honor your guests and help those beset by difficulties. She took him to Waraqah ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn ‘Abd al-‘Uzza, who was her cousin, the son of her father’s brother. He was a man who had become a Christian during the time of jahiliyyah; he could write the Arabic script and he had written as much of the Gospel in Arabic as Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) willed. He was an old man who had become blind. Khadijah said to him, “O Uncle, listen to your nephew.” Waraqah ibn Nawfal said, “O son of my brother, what has happened?” Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) told him what had happened, and Waraqah said to him, “This is al-Namus (i.e., Jibril), who was sent down to Musa, upon whom be peace. I wish that I were a young man, and could be alive when your people cast you out.” Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) asked, “Will they really cast me out?” Waraqah said, “Yes. No man has ever come with what you have brought, but his people were hostile towards him. If I live to see that day I will give you all the support I can.”52 

This report is strong evidence of Khadijah’s wifely perfection, wisdom, strength of character, steadfastness, understanding and deep insight. She knew the Prophet’s outstanding character, good conduct and purity of heart, and this made her certain that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) would never forsake a man such as Muhammad(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) or permit any bad fate to befall him. She knew that behind this remarkable new event that had overwhelmed Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) lay something great that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) had prepared for His Messenger, so she spoke her kind and sweet words of encouragement, filling him with confidence, tranquility and firm conviction: “Be of good cheer, O cousin, and stand firm. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Khadijah, I hope that you will be the Prophet of this nation.”53 Then she took him to her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who had knowledge of the Torah and Gospel, and told him what had happened to the Prophet.

The first Mother of the Believers, Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her), was a sincere adviser in the way of Islam to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). She had already earned the great status and lasting fame of being the first person to believe in Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and His Messenger, and she stood beside her husband the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), supporting him and helping him to bear the worst oppression and persecution that he faced at the beginning of his mission; she endured along with him every hardship and difficulty that he was confronted with.

Ibn Hisham says in his Sirah: “Khadijah had faith, and believed in what he brought from Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). In this way, Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) helped His Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Whenever he heard any hateful words of rejection or disbelief that upset him, Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) would cause his spirits to be lifted when he came back to her. She encouraged him to be patient, believed in him, and made it easier for him to bear whatever the people said or did. May Allah have mercy on her.”54

She was a woman who always spoke the truth, and carried this burden sincerely. It is no surprise that she earned the pleasure of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and deserved to be honor ed by Him, so He conveyed the greeting of salam to her through His Messengers Jibril and Muhammad(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and gave her glad tidings of a house in Paradise, as is stated in the hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah:

“Jibril came to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, Khadijah is coming to you with vessels containing food and drink. When she comes to you, convey to her the greeting of salam from her Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) and from me, and give her the glad tidings of a house of pearls in Paradise, in which there is no noise or hard work.”55 

The true Muslim woman puts her mind to good work, thinks hard and gives advice to her husband at times when he may be most in need of advice. By doing so, she does a great favor for her husband, and this is one of the ways in which she may treat him well.

Another of these great stories which feature correct advice given by a woman is the reaction of the Muslims to the treaty of al-Hudaybiyah, and Umm Salamah’s reaction, which demonstrated her deep insight and great wisdom.

Umm Salamah (radhiallahu anha) was one of those who were with the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when he went to Makkah to perform ‘Umrah in 6 AH. This is the journey which was interrupted by Quraysh, who prevented the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his Companions from reaching the Ka’bah. The treaty of al-Hudaybiyah was drawn up between the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and Quraysh. This was a peace-treaty which was intended to put an end to the fighting for ten years; it was also agreed that if anyone from Quraysh came to Muhammad without the permission of his guardian, he would be returned, but if any of the Muslims came to Quraysh, he would not be returned, and that the Muslims would go back that year without entering Makkah, etc.

By virtue of his deep understanding that was derived from the guidance of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) understood that this treaty, which appeared to be quite unfair to the Muslims, was in fact something good and represented a great victory for Islam and the Muslims.

The Sahabah, however, were dismayed when they learned the content of the treaty. They saw it as unfair and unjust, especially as they had the upper hand at that time. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab expressed the angry feelings of the Sahabah when he went to Abu Bakr and asked him: “Is he not Allah’s Messenger ?” Abu Bakr said, “Of course.” “Are we not Muslims?” “Yes.” “Are they not mushrikin?” “Yes.” “Why should we accept this deal which is so humiliating to our religion?” Abu Bakr warned him, “O ‘Umar, follow his orders. I bear witness that he is Allah’s Messenger .” Umar said, “And I bear witness that he is Allah’s Messenger .” Then ‘Umar went to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and asked him questions similar to those he had asked Abu Bakr. But when he asked, “Why should we accept this deal which is so humiliating to our religion?” the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) replied, “I am the servant of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and His Messenger; I will never disobey His command, and He will never forsake me.”56 

Then ‘Umar realized that his haste to oppose the treaty was a mistake. He used to say, “I kept giving charity, fasting, praying and freeing slaves because of what I had done and said on that day, until I hoped that ultimately it would be good for me (because it made me perform so many good deeds).”57

When the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had ratified the treaty, he commanded his Companions to get up, slaughter their sacrificial animals, and shave their heads, but none of them got up58. He told them three times to do this, but not one of them responded. He went to his wife Umm Salamah, and told her what he was facing from the people. At this point the wisdom and intelligence of Umm Salamah become quite clear: she told him, “O Messenger of Allah, go out and do not speak to any of them until you have sacrificed your animal and shaved your head.”

The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) took her advice, and did as she suggested. When the Sahabah saw that, they rushed to sacrifice their animals, pushing one another aside, and some of them began to shave one another’s heads, until they were almost fighting with one another because of their distress and grief, and their regret for having disobeyed the Prophet.59

After that, the Muslims came back to their senses, and they understood the Prophet’s great wisdom in agreeing to this treaty, which in fact was a manifest victory, because many more people entered Islam after it than had before. In Sahih Muslim it states that the ayah,

( Verily We have granted you a manifest Victory) (Qur’an 48:1) referred to the treaty of al-Hudaybiyah. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) sent for ‘Umar and recited this ayah to him. ‘Umar said, “O Messenger of Allah, it is really a victory?” He said, “Yes,” so then ‘Umar felt at peace.60
 

She encourages her husband to spend for the sake of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala)

Another way in which the true Muslim woman supports her husband is by encouraging him to spend and give charity for the sake of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and not to waste money in extravagance and ostentatious purchases, as we see so many ignorant and misguided women doing.

The alert Muslim woman always wants goodness and success for her husband, so she urges him to do good deeds, and to do more of them, because she believes that by doing this, she will increase her honor in this world and her reward in the next.

One of the beautiful stories narrated about a woman’s encouraging her husband to spend for the sake of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) is the story of Umm al-Dahdah. When her husband came to her and told her that he had given in charity the garden in which she and her children used to live, in hopes of receiving a bunch of dates61 in Paradise, she said, “You have got a good deal, you have got a good deal.” The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) commented, “How many bunches of dates Abu’l-Dahdah will have in Paradise!” and he repeated this several times.62

She helps him to obey Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala)

One of the qualities of the good Muslim wife is that she helps her husband to obey Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) in different ways, especially to stay up and pray at night (qiyam al-layl). By doing this, she does him an immense favor, because she reminds him to do something he might otherwise forget or neglect. Thus she causes him, and herself, to be covered by the mercy of Allah.

What a beautiful picture the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) drew of the married couple helping one another to obey Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and do good deeds, and entering into the mercy of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) together. This comes in the hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah (radhiallahu anhu), who said:

” Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘May Allah have mercy on the man who gets up at night to pray and wakes up his wife to pray, and if she refuses, he sprinkles water in her face. And may Allah have mercy on the woman who gets up at night to pray, and wakes her husband up to pray, and if he refuses, she sprinkles water in his face.”63
 

She fills his heart with joy

The clever and sensitive Muslim woman does not forget that one of the greatest deeds she can do in life, after worshipping Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) is to be successful in endearing herself to her husband and filling his heart with joy, so that he will feel in the depths of his heart that he is happy to be married to her, and enjoys living with her and being in her company. So she uses her intelligence to find ways and means of opening his heart and filling it with joy and happiness, so that she may become the queen of his heart.

She understands that she is the greatest joy of a man in this world, as is stated in the hadith narrated by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As (radhiallahu anhu), in which the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

“This world is nothing but temporary conveniences, and the greatest joy in this world is a righteous woman.”64 

She does not forget that she is the greatest joy in this life for a man, if she knows how to endear herself to him. If she does not know how to endear herself to him then in most cases she will be a source of unhappiness and misery to her husband, as was confirmed by the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

“Three things make the son of Adam happy, and three make him miserable. Among the things that make the son of Adam happy are a good wife, a good home and a good means of transport; the things that make him miserable are a bad wife, a bad home and a bad means of transport.”65  

Hence being a good wife, and endearing oneself to one’s husband, are a part of religion, because this offers protection to a man by helping him to remain chaste, and strengthens the foundations of the family, thus bringing happiness to her husband and children.

The Muslim woman by nature likes to endear herself to her husband; in doing so she finds a way of fulfilling her femininity and her inclinations to make herself attractive. But for the Muslim woman, the matter goes even further: in seeking to win her husband’s heart, she is also seeking to earn the pleasure of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) Who has made being a good wife a part of religion, about which she will be questioned in the Hereafter. So she does not spare any effort in her loving treatment of her husband: she presents a pleasing appearance, speaks pleasantly and kindly, and is a clever and likeable companion.

She makes herself beautiful for him

She makes herself beautiful for her husband by means of make-up, clothing, etc., so that she will appear more beautiful and attractive, and thus make her husband happy. This was the practice of the righteous women of the salaf, who used to devote their time to worshipping Allah and reading Qur’an. Foremost among them were ‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) and others; they used to wear fine clothes and jewelry at home and when they were traveling, in order to make themselves look beautiful for their husbands.

Bakrah bint ‘Uqbah came to ‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) and asked her about henna. ‘A’ishah said, “It comes from a good tree and pure water.” She asked her about removing body hair, and she said, “If you have a husband, and you could remove your eyes and replace them with something better, then do it.”66

Let those careless women who neglect their appearance in front of their husbands listen to the advice of ‘A’ishah, and realize that their beauty should be primarily for their husbands, not for their friends and peers. Those women who are failing to make themselves beautiful for their husbands are sinners, because they are falling short in one of the greatest duties of marriage. Their negligence may be the cause of their husbands staying away from them and looking at other women.

The wife whose husband only ever sees her with unkempt hair, looking pale and wan and wearing shabby old clothes, is a foolish and disobedient wife. It will be of no help to her if she rushes to beautify herself only when receiving guests, or going to a women’s party, but remains looking shabby most of the time in front of her husband. I think that the Muslim woman who is truly guided by the teachings of Islam will be safe from such shortcomings, because she treats her husband properly, and a woman who treats her husband properly is most unlikely to fail in fulfilling her duty towards him.

It is one of the teachings of Islam that a woman should make herself look beautiful for her husband, so that her husband should only ever see of her that which he likes. So it is forbidden for a woman to dress in mourning for more than three days, except in the case of her husband’s death, when she is permitted to mourn for four months and ten days. We find proof of this in the hadith narrated by Bukhari from Zaynab the daughter of Umm Salamah, who said, “I came to Zaynab bint Jahsh, the wife of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) when her brother died. She called for perfume and applied it to herself, then said, “I am not wearing perfume because I need to, but because I heard Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say from the minbar:

“It is not permitted for a woman who believes in Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and the Last Day to grieve for more than three days, except for her husband, (for whom she may grieve) four months and ten days.”67

 
 

She is cheerful and grateful when she meets him

One of the ways in which the Muslim woman makes herself attractive to her husband is by being happy, cheerful, friendly and gentle, thus flooding her husband’s life with joy. When he comes home exhausted from his work, she greets him with a smiling face and kind words. She puts her own concerns to one side for a while, and helps him to forget some of his worries. She appears as cheerful and serene as she can, and expresses her gratitude to him every time he does something good for her.

The true Muslim woman is fair-minded, and is never ungrateful to any person, because the teachings of her religion protect her from falling into the error of bad behavior and ingratitude for favors. How then could she be ungrateful to her husband, her beloved lifelong companion? She knows well the teaching of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

“He does not thank Allah who does not thank people.”68 

She understands from this that every person who does good deeds and favors deserves thanks and recognition, so how could she hesitate or fail to show gratitude to her husband, especially when she hears the words of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

“Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) will not look at the woman who does not thank her husband at the time when she cannot do without him.”69
 

She shares his joys and sorrows

Another of the ways in which a woman may endear herself to her husband is by sharing his joys and sorrows. So she joins him in some of his pastimes, and his daily work, such as reading, exercise, and attending useful talks and gatherings, and so on, so that her husband will feel that he is not alone in his enjoyment of the good things in life, but that he is sharing these pleasures with a loving, intelligent and loyal wife.

The fact that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) raced with ‘A’ishah more than once indicates the fact that Islam urges both spouses to share their partner’s joy and happiness in life, because this sharing will have a powerful effect in deepening their feelings for one another and strengthening the bonds between them.

Just as she shares his joys, so she also shares his worries and concerns, and comes to him with kind words of consolation, mature and sensible advice and sincere emotional support.

She does not look at other men

The true Muslim woman avoids looking at men other than her husband; she does not stare at men who are not related to her (i.e. who are not her mahrams), in obedience to the command of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) :

( And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze . . .) (Qur’an 24:31). 

By refraining from looking at other men, she will be one of those chaste women who restrain their glances, which is a quality men like in women, because it is indicative of their purity, decency and fidelity. This is one of the most beautiful characteristics of the chaste, decent, pure Muslim woman, and this was referred to in the Qur’an when it speaks of the women of Paradise and their qualities that are loved by men:

( In them will be [Maidens] chaste, restraining their glances, whom no man or jinn before them has touched.) (Qur’an 55:56)
 

She does not describe other women to him

Another of the characteristics of the intelligent Muslim woman is that she does not describe any of her (female) friends or acquaintances to him, because this is forbidden according to the words of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam):

“No woman should talk about another woman, or describe her to her husband (so that it is) as if he sees her.”70 

Islam wants people’s hearts to be at peace, and to put a stop to provocative thoughts and overactive imaginations, so that people may live their lives in a decent and calm fashion, free from such thoughts and able to go about the tasks and duties for which they were created. No man should let his mind be occupied with cheap thoughts of the contrast between his wife and the woman she describes, or let himself become crazy with the embellishments his own imagination may add to the woman’s supposed beauty. He should not let such foolish talk stop him from going about his work and usual pastimes, or lead him to temptation and make him go astray.

She tries to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility for him

The Muslim woman does not only make herself beautiful for her husband and share his work and pastimes, but she also tries to create an atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the home. So she tries to keep a clean and tidy home, in which he will see order and good taste, and clean, well-mannered, polite children, and where good meals are prepared regularly. The clever woman also does whatever else she can based on her knowledge and good taste. All of this is part of being a good Muslim wife as enjoined by Islam.

The true Muslim woman does not forget that according to Islam marriage is one of the signs of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). Islam has made the wife a source of tranquility, rest and consolation for her husband:

( And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your [hearts] . . .) (Qur’an 30:21)

Marriage is the deepest of bonds which Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) ties between one soul and another, so that they may enjoy peace, tranquility, stability and permitted pleasures. The wife is a source of refuge, security and rest for her husband in a marital home that is filled with sincere love and compassionate mercy. The truly-guided Muslim woman is the best one to understand this lofty meaning and to translate it into a pleasant and cheerful reality.

She is tolerant and forgiving

The Muslim woman is tolerant and forgiving, overlooking any errors on the part of her husband. She does not bear a grudge against him for such errors or remind him about them every so often. There is no quality that will endear her to her husband like the quality of tolerance and forgiveness, and there is nothing that will turn her husband against her like resentment, counting faults and reminding him about his mistakes.

The Muslim woman who is following the guidance of Islam obeys the command of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) :

( . . . Let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? . . .) (Qur’an 24:22) 

Such a woman deserves to be the queen of her husband’s heart and to fill his soul with joy and happiness.

She is strong in character and wise

Among the most prominent characteristics of the Muslim woman are her strength of character, mature way of thinking, and serious conduct. These are qualities which the Muslim woman possesses both before and after marriage, because they are the result of her understanding of Islam and her awareness of her mission in life.

She exhibits this strength of character when she is choosing a husband. She does not give way to her father’s whims if he has deviated from the right way and is seeking to force her into a marriage that she does not want. Neither does she give in to the man who comes to seek her hand in marriage, no matter how rich or powerful he may be, if he does not have the qualities of a true Muslim husband.

After marriage, her character remains strong, even though she is distinguished by her easy-going nature, mild-tempered behavior and loving obedience to her husband. Her strength of character comes to the fore especially when she has to take a stand in matters concerning her religion and ‘aqidah, as we have seen in some of the narratives referred to previously, such as Umm Sulaym bint Milhan, who insisted on adhering to Islam along with her son Anas, although her husband Malik ibn al-Nadar remained a mushrik, opposed to his wife being Muslim (see p. 166-168); and Umm Habibah bint Abi Sufyan who remained steadfast in her Islam when her husband ‘Ubayd-Allah ibn Jahsh al-Asadi became an apostate and joined the religion of the Abyssinians (see p. 98-101); and Barirah who was determined to separate from her husband whom she did not love, even though the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) tried to intervene on his behalf (see p. 162-163); and the wife of Thabit ibn Qays ibn Shammas, who demanded a divorce from her husband whom she did not love either, and the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) accepted her request (see p. 162).

The primary motive of these women in taking up such a strong stance was their concern to adhere to Islam, to keep their belief (‘aqidah) pure, and ultimately to please Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).

Each of them was seeking that which is halal in her married life, and feared committing any haram deed, either because she was married to a man who did not share her religious beliefs, or she was falling short in her duties towards a husband whom she did not love or could not live with. If it were not for their strength of character and feelings of pride in themselves and their faith, they would have followed the commands of theimisguided husbands and would have found themselves going astray, choking on the misery of living with a husband they could not truly accept. The courage of these women shows how the true Muslim women should be, no matter where or when she lives.

But the Muslim woman’s strength of character should not make her forget that she is required to obey her husband, treating him with honor and respect. Her strength of character should make her strike a wise balance in the way she speaks and acts towards him, with no inconsistency or carelessness. Even in those moments of anger which are unavoidable in a marriage, she should control herself and restrain her tongue, lest she say anything that could hurt her husband’s feelings. This is the quality of a strong, balanced character.

‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) represents the highest example of this good quality, and every Muslim woman should follow her example. The way in which she swore an oath when she was happy with her husband, the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), was different from the way she spoke when she was upset with him. This is an example of good manners and respect. It was something that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) noticed, as she narrated that he said:

“I know when you are happy with me and when you are upset with me.” She said, “How do you know that?” He said, “When you are happy with me, you say, ‘No, by the Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) of Muhammad,’ and when you are upset with me, you say, ‘No, by the Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) of Ibrahim.'” She said, “Yes, that is right. By Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) O Messenger of Allah, I only keep away from your name.”71 

What refined manners and sincere love!

‘A’ishah’s strength of character became even more prominent when she was tried with the slander (al-ifk) which Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) made a test for His Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and for all the ummah, raising the status of some and lowering that of others, increasing the faith of those who were guided and increasing the loss of those who went astray.

Her strength of character and deep faith in Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) became apparent, and her trust in Him alone to prove her innocence was quite clear. I can find no more beautiful description of the deep and sincere faith of ‘A’ishah and her trust in the justice of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) than that given by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, who said:

“The test was so severe that the Revelation ceased for a month because of it, and nothing at all concerning this issue was revealed to Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) during that time, so that the wisdom behind what had happened might become completely apparent and the sincere believers might be increased in faith and adherence to justice and might think well of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) His Messenger, the Messenger’s family and those believers who spoke the truth. The munafiqin, meanwhile, would be increased only in sins and hypocrisy, and their true nature would be exposed to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the believers. ‘A’ishah, the one who had spoken the truth, and her parents would be shown to be true servants of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) who had received His full blessing. Their needs for Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and desire to draw closer to Him would increase; they would feel humble before Him and would put their hope and trust in Him, instead of hoping for the support of other people. ‘A’ishah would despair of receiving help from any created being, and she passed this most difficult test when her father said, ‘Get up and thank him,’ after Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) had sent down a Revelation confirming her innocence. She said, ‘By Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) I will not get up and thank him; I will only give thanks to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) Who has revealed my innocence.’

“Another aspect of the wisdom behind the Revelation being suspended for a month was that people would focus solely on this issue and examine it closely; the believers would wait with eager anticipation to hear what Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) would reveal to His Messenger concerning this matter. The Revelation came like rain on parched land, when it was most needed by Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and his family, by Abu Bakr and his family, by the Sahabah and by the believers, and it brought them great relief and joy. If Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) had revealed the truth of the matter from the first instant, then the wisdom behind this event would have been obscured and a great lesson would have been lost.

“Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) wanted to demonstrate the status of His Prophet and his family in His sight, and the honor which He had bestowed upon them. He Himself was to defend His Messenger and rebuke his enemies, in such a way that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had nothing to do with it. Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) alone would avenge His Prophet and his family.

” Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was the target of this slander, and the one who was accused was his wife. It was not appropriate for him to declare her innocence, although he knew that she was indeed innocent, and never thought otherwise. When he asked people to avenge him of those who had spread the slander, he said: ‘Who could blame me if I were to punish those who slandered my family? By Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) I have never known anything but good from my family, and they have told me about a man from whom I have never known anything but good, and he never came in my house except with me.’ He had more proof than the believers did of ‘A’ishah’s innocence, but because of his high level of patience, perseverance and deep trust in Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) he acted in the appropriate manner until the Revelation came that made his heart rejoice and raised his status, showing to his ummah that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) was taking care of him.

“Whoever examines ‘A’ishah’s response, when her father told her to get up and thank Allah’s Messenger , and she said, ‘No, I will give thanks only to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) ,’ will realize the extent of her knowledge and the depth of her faith. She attributed this blessing to Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) alone, and gave thanks only to Him. She had a sound grasp of Tawhid, and demonstrated great strength of character and confidence in her innocence. She was not curious or anxious about the outcome when she spoke thus, because she was sure that she had done nothing wrong. Because of her faith in the Prophet’s love for her, she said what she said. She became even dearer to him when she said, ‘I will not give thanks except to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) for He is the One Who has revealed my innocence.’ She displayed remarkable maturity and steadfastness when her dearly beloved husband, whom she could not bear to be apart from, kept away from her for a month; then when the matter was resolved and he wished to come back to her, she did not rush to him, despite her great love for him. This is the highest level of steadfastness and strength of character.”72

It is indeed the highest level of maturity and strength of character. The true Muslim woman is humble, kind, loving and obedient towards her husband, but she does not allow her character to weaken before him, even if he is the most beloved of all people towards her, and the most noble and honor able of all human beings, so long as she is in the right and is adhering to the way of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala). ‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) set the highest example of the strength of character of the Muslim woman who is proud of her religion and understands what it is to be a true servant of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) alone.

The Muslim woman should interpret ‘A’ishah’s attitude as an attitude of superiority or arrogance, pushing her husband away. We have already explained the duties of the Muslim woman towards her husband i.e., obedience, loving kindness and seeking to please him, in accordance with Islamic teachings. What we learn from the attitude of ‘A’ishah (radhiallahu anha) is the esteem and honor with which Islam regards woman, so long as she adheres to the laws and teachings of Islam. This is what gives her character strength, pride, honor and wisdom.

Islam gives women rights and recognition which are envied by Western women when they hear about women’s rights in Islam (see p. 92), This has been freely admitted by women’s liberation activists in Arab countries, as we have seen (see p. 58). Many of them have retracted their claims that Muslim women need to be liberated; one such activist is Dr. El-Saadawi, who was interviewed for the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Watan (mid-August 1989).

Dr. El-Saadawi was asked, “Do you think that the European women are an example to be copied?” She replied, “No, not at all. European women have advanced in some fields, but are backward in others. The marriage laws in Europe oppress women, and this is what led to the development of women’s liberation movements in those countries and in America, where this movement is very strong and is even at times quite vicious.”

Then she remarked: “Our Islamic religion has given women more rights than any other religion has, and has guaranteed her honor and pride, but what has happened is that men have sometimes used certain aspects of this religion to create a patriarchal class system in which males dominate females.”

Clearly this patriarchal oppression mentioned by Dr. El Saadawi, which has led to the oppression of women, has been caused by ignorance of the true teachings of Islam.

She is one of the most successful wives

This discussion of the intellectual, psychological and other qualities of the smart Muslim wife demonstrates that she is a successful wife, if not the most successful wife and the greatest blessing and good fortune that a man may enjoy.

By virtue of her understanding of Islamic teaching, and her fulfilling her duties towards her husband, she becomes the greatest joy of her husband’s life: when he comes home, she greets him with a warm and friendly smile, speaking kindly and sweetly, looking attractive and smart, with a clean and tidy house, pleasant conversation, and a table full of good food, pleasing him and making him happy.

She is obedient, kind and loving towards her husband, ever eager to please him. She does not disclose his secrets or upset his plans. She stands beside him at times of hardship, offering her support and wise advice. She shares his joys and sorrows. She endears herself to him by the way she looks and behaves, and fills his life with joy and happiness. She encourages him to obey Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) in different ways, and motivates him by joining him in different activities. She respects his mother and family. She refrains from looking at other men. She keeps away from foolish and worthless talk. She is keen to provide an atmosphere of peace, tranquility and stability for her husband and children. She is strong of character without being rude or aggressive, and is kind and gentle without being weak. She earns the respect of those who speak to her. She is tolerant and forgiving, overlooking errors and never bearing grudges.

Thus the Muslim wife deserves to be the most successful wife. She is the greatest blessing that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) may bestow upon a man, and an incomparable source of joy in this life. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) indeed spoke the truth when he said:

“This world is nothing but temporary conveniences, and the greatest joy in this world is a righteous woman.”73

 
 


__________________

Footnotes:

1.      Sahih Muslim 10/56, Kitab al-rida’, bab istihbab nikah al-bikr.

2.      See Fath al-Bari, 9/194, Kitab al-nikah, bab ikrah al-bint ‘ala al-zawaj; Ibn Majah, 1/602, Kitab al-nikah, bab man zawwaja ibnatahu wa hiya karihah; al-Mabsut 5/2.

3.      Fath al-Bari, 9/395, Kitab al-talaq, bab al-khul’.

4.      Fath al-Bari, 9/408, Kitab al-talaq, bab shafa’at al-Nabi (r) fi zawj Barirah.

5.      A hasan hadith narrated by Tirmidhi, 2/274, Abwab al-nikah, 3; and by Ibn Majah, 1/633, Kitab al-nikah, bab al-akfa’.

6.      Reported by al-Nisa’i with a sahih isnad, 6/114, Kitab al-nikah, bab al-tazwij ‘ala’l-Islam.

7.      Fath al-Bari, 7/476, Kitab al-maghazi, bab ghazwat Khaybar.

8.      See Fath al-Bari, 7/71, Kitab fada’il al-Sahabah, bab manaqib ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib; Sahih Muslim, 17/45, Kitab al-dhikr wa’l-du’a’, bab al-tasbih awwal al-nahar wa ‘ind al-nawm.

9.      See Fath al-Bari, 9/319, Kitab al-nikah, bab al-ghirah.

10.  Reported by Ahmad and al-Bazzar; the men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih. See Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 9/4, Bab haqq al-zawj ‘ala’l-mar’ah.

11.  A hasan sahih hadith, narrated by Tirmidhi, 2/314, in Abwab a-rida’, 10.

12.  Reported by al-Bazzar with a hasan isnad. See Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 4/308, Bab haqq al-zawj ‘ala’l-mar’ah.

13.  Reported by Ahmad and al-Nisa’i with jayyid isnads, and by al-Hakim, who said that its isnad was sahih. See al-Mundhiri, Al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, 3/52, Kitab al-nikah.

14.  Reported by Ahmad and al-Tabarani; its narrators are thiqat. See Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 4/306, Bab haqq al-zawj ‘ala’l-mar’ah.

15.  Ibn Majah, 1/595, Kitab al-nikah, bab haqq al-zawj ‘ala’l-mar’ah; al-Hakim, 4/173, Kitab al-birr wa’l-silah; he said its isnad is sahih.

16.  Reported by al-Tabarani. Its narrators are those whose reports are accepted as sahih. See Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 4/312.

17.  Fath al-Bari, 9/294, Kitab al-nikah, bab idha batat al-mar’ah muhajirah firash zawjiha; Sahih Muslim, 10/8, Kitab al-nikah, bab tahrim imtina’ al-mar’ah min firash zawjiha.

18.  Sahih Muslim, 10/7, Kitab al-nikah, bab tahrim imtina’ al-mar’ah min firash zawjiha.

19.  A sahih hadith narrated by al-Tabarani in al-Awsat and al-Kabir. See Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 4/296, bab fi man yad’u zawjahu fa ta’talla.

20.  Reported by al-Bazzar, whose narrators are rijal al-sahih. See Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 4/312.

21.  A hasan sahih hadith narrated by Tirmidhi, 2/314, abwab al-rida’, 10, and by Ibn Hibban, Sahih, 9,473, kitab al-nikah.

22.  Sahih Muslim, 9/178, Kitab al-nikah, bab nadab man ra’a imra’atan fa waqa’at fi nafsihi ila an ya’ti imra’atahu.

23.  Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, 12/178, Kitab al-ashribah, 2, fasl fi’l-ashribah.

24.  Reported by al-Hakim, 2/190, Kitab al-nikah; he said its isnad is sahih.

25.  Fath al-Bari, 9/295, Kitab al-nikah, bab la ta’dhan al-mar’ah fi bayt zawjiha li ahad illa bi idhnihi.

26.  Sahih Muslim, 7/115, Kitab al-zakah, bab ajr al-khazin wa’l-mar’ah idha tasaddaqat min bayt zawjaha.

27.  Bukhari & Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 9/327, Kitab al-‘iddah, bab nafaqah al-awlad wa’l-aqarib.

28.  Bukhari & Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 9/327, Kitab al-imarah wa’l-qada’: bab al-ra’i mas’ul ‘an ra’iyatihi.

29.  See Sahih Muslim, 16/81, Kitab fada’il al-Sahabah, bab min fada’il nisa’ Quraysh.

30.  Tawaf al-ifadah is one of the important rites of Hajj. It is done on the tenth day of Dhu’l-Hijjah after sacrificing an animal and shaving one’s head. [Translator]

31.  Sahih Muslim, 8/99, kitab al-Hajj, bab istihbab al-tib qabl al-ihram.

32.  Fath al-Bari, 3/585, Kitab al-Hajj, bab al-tib.

33.  Sahih Muslim, 8/100, kitab al-Hajj, bab istihbab al-tib qabl al-ihram.

34.  Sahih Muslim, 8/100, kitab al-Hajj, bab istihbab al-tib qabl al-ihram.

35.  Sahih Muslim, 3/208, Kitab al-hayd, bab jawaz ghusl al-ha’id ra’as zawjiha wa tarjiluhu.

36.  Fath al-Bari, 1/403, Kitab al-hayd, bab mubashirah al-ha’id; Sahih Muslim, 3/209, Kitab al-hayd, bab jawaz ghusl al-ha’id ra’as zawjiha.

37.  Reported as sahih by Ibn Hibban, and with a jayyid isnad by al-Bazzar; its narrators are well-known and are thiqat. See Ibn al-Jawzi, Ahkam al-nisa’, p. 311.

38.  Jamharah khutab al-‘arab, 1/145.

39.  Fath al-Bari, 3/328, Kitab al-zakat, bab al-zakat ‘ala’l-zawj wa’l-aytam fi’l-hijr; Sahih Muslim, 7/86, Kitab al-zakat, bab al-zakat ‘ala’l-aqarib.

40.  Fath al-Bari, 3/325, Kitab al-zakat, bab al-zakat ‘ala’l-aqarib.

41.  Fath al-Bari, 3/325, Kitab al-zakat, bab al-zakat ‘ala’l-aqarib; Sahih Muslim, 2/65, Kitab al-iman, bab bayan naqsan al-iman bi naqs al-ta’at.

42.  Fath al-Bari, 1/83, Kitab al-iman, bab kufran al-‘ashir.

43.  Reported by Ahmad, 3/428; its narrators are rijal al-sahih.

44.  Al-tabaqat al-kubra, 7/208-209.

45.  Sahih Muslim, 16/11, Kitab fada’il al-Sahabah, bab fada’il Umm Sulaym.

46.  See Sahih Muslim, 16/11, Kitab fada’il al-Sahabah, bab fada’il Umm Sulaym.

47.  From a lengthy hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim. See Fath al-Bari, 5/116, Kitab al-mazalim, bab al-ghurfah wa’l-‘aliyyah al-mushrifah; Sahih Muslim, 7/195, Kitab al-siyam, bab bayan an al-shahr yakun tis’an wa ‘ishrin.

48.  A hasan sahih hadith, reported by Tirmidhi, 2/329, abwab al-talaq, 11; Ibn Hibban, 9/490, Kitab al-nikah, bab ma’ashirah al-zawjayn.

49.  Sahih Muslim, 10/8, Kitab al-nikah, bab tahrim ifsha’ sirr al-mar’ah; Al-targhib wa’l-tarhib, 3/86, Kitab al-nikah, bab al-tarhib min ifsha’ al-sirr bayna al-zawjayn.

50.  The story of the Prophet’s keeping way from his wives is narrated by al-Bukhari, Muslim and others. See Fath al-Bari, 5/116, kitab almazalim, bab al-ghurfah wa’l-aliyyah al-mushrifah, and 8/656, kitab al-tafsir, Surat al-Tahrim; Sahih Muslim, 7/195, Kitab al-siyam, bab bayan an al-shahr yakun tis’an wa ‘ishrin.

51.  See Fath al-Bari, 2/162, Kitab al-adhan, bab man kana fi hajah ahlihi.

52.  Fath al-Bari, 1/23, Kitab bad’ al-wahy, bab hadith ‘A’ishah awwal ma bada’a bihi al-wahy; Sahih Muslim, 2/197, Kitab al-iman, bab bad’ al-wahy.

53.  Al-sirah, 1/254.

54.  Ibid., 1/257.

55.  Bukhari & Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 14/155, Kitab fada’il al-Sahabah, bab manaqib Khadijah.

56.  Al-Sirah, 3/331; see also Fath al-Bari, 6/281, Kitab al-jizyah wa’l-mawadi’ah, bab hadith Sahl ibn Hanif; Sahih Muslim, 12/141, Kitab al-jihad wa’l-siyar, bab sulh al-Hudaybiyah.

57.  Al-Sirah 3/331.

58.  The Prophet (r) was telling his Companions to end the state of ihram which they had entered in order to perform ‘Umrah. They had been prevented from entering Makkah, and were to wait until the following year to perform ‘Umrah, but they did not want to abandon their hope of performing ‘Umrah on this occasion. They did not want to accept the deal that had been struck with the Quraysh, hence they were reluctant to end their ihram. [Translator]

59.  Zad al-Ma’ad, 3:295, al-Tabari, 2/124.

60.  Sahih Muslim, 12/141, Kitab al-jihad wa’l-siyar, bab sulh al-Hudaybiyah.

61.  See Sahih Muslim, 8/33, Kitab al-jana’iz, bab al-lahd wa nasab al-laban ‘ala’l-mayit.

62.  Reported by Ahmad and al-Tabarani; its narrators are rijal al-sahih. See also Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 9/324, Kitab al-manaqib, bab ma ja’a fi Abi’l-Dahdah.

63.  Reported by Abu Dawud, 2/45, in Kitab al-salah: bab qiyam al-layl, and by al-Hakim 1/309, Kitab salah al-tatawwu’; he said that it is sahih according to the consitions of Muslim.

64.  Sahih Muslim, 10/56, Kitab al-rida’, bab istihbab nikah al-bikr.

65.  Reported by Ahmad, 1/168; its narrators are rijal al-sahih.

66.  Ibn al-Jawzi, Ahkam al-Nisa’, 343.

67.  Fath al-Bari, 9/484, Kitab al-talaq, bab ihdad al-mutawafa ‘anha zawjuha.

68.  Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/310, Bab man la yashkur al-nas.

69.  Reported by al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak, 2/190, Kitab al-nikah; he said it is a hadith whose isnad is sahih.

70.  See Fath al-Bari, 9/338, Kitab al-nikah, bab tabashir al-mar’ah al-mar’ah fatana’atha li zawjiha.

71.  See Sahih Muslim, 15/203, Kitab fada’il al-Sahabah, bab fada’il Umm al-Mu’minin ‘A’ishah.

72.  Zad al-Ma’ad, 3/261-264. Sahih Muslim, 10/56, Kitab al-rida’, bab istihbab nikah al-bikr.

 
 



 

Some Responsibilities of the Husband and Rights of the Wife in Islam

Dr. G. F. Haddad

Q: I have frequently read what, according to Islamic teachings, a husband may or may not do in a dispute with his wife if he attributes it to disagreement with or misbehavior of his wife. I almost never read anything about the opposite situation: if the wife has a disagreement with her husband or *he* misbehaves. Things are nearly always told from the man’s point of view! What are the wife’s rights in the case of bad behavior of her husband?

A:

Praise belongs to Allah the Lord of all the worlds. Blessings and Peace on the Messenger of Allah, and on his Family and all his Companions.

Allah ordered the believers to “consort with women in
kindness” (4:19) and He said: “And of His signs are this: He created for you helpmeets from yourselves that ye might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect” (30:21).

A Wife’s Basic Rights Regarding Her Husband’s Behavior

NOTE: This is distinct from her other rights regarding living expenditures, housing, clothing, and education of children. And from Allah comes all success.

1. The first and worthiest condition of marriage to be fulfilled by the husband is to “keep the promise or promises he made to the wife at the time he married her.” This is an order of the Prophet [salla Allahu `alayhi wa alihi wa sallam, abbr. (s)] according to the hadith: “ahaqqu al-shuruti an tufu bihi ma astahlaltum bihi min al-furuj

2. He cannot order her to do anything that is against religion. The Prophet (s) said: “No obedience is due to creatures in disobedience of the Creator” (la ta`atan li makhluqin fi ma`siyat al-khaliq).

3. He must exercise patience and be prepared to listen to her advice in every situation. The Prophet (s) listened to the advice of his wives in matters ranging from the smallest to the greatest.

4. If she invites him to wake up and perform the late night prayer, it is praiseworthy for him to do so and vice-versa. The Prophet (s) prayed for such people: “May Allah grant mercy to a man who gets up at night and prays, and wakes up his wife, and if she refuses, he sprinkles water in her face; may Allah grant mercy to a woman who gets up at night and prays, and wakes up her husband, and if he refuses, she sprinkles water in his face.”

5. He must respect her and pay attention to her needs so that she will respect him and pay attention to his.

6. He must control his passions and act in a moderate manner especially in the context of sexual intercourse. Remember that Allah has placed between you and her “friendship and mercy” (mawadda wa rahma), not the gratification of your every lust; and that the Prophet (s) advised young men to marry “because it casts down the gaze and walls up the genitals,” not in order to stimulate sexual passions. The husband should habitually seek refuge in Allah before approaching his wife and say: “O Allah, ward off the satan from us and ward him off from what you have bestowed upon us in the way of children” (allahumma jannibna al-shaytana wa jannibhu ma razaqtana). Allah has called each spouse a garment for the other (2:187), and the purpose of garments is decency. The Prophet (s) further said that he who marries for the sake of decency and modesty (`afaf), Allah has enjoined upon Himself to help him.

7. He must never ever divulge the secrets of the household and those of the married couple.

8. He must strive with sincerity to acquire her trust, and seek her welfare in all the actions that pertain to her.

9. He must treat her generously at all times. The Prophet (s) said that the best gift or charity (sadaqa) is that spent on one’s wife.

10. If she works outside the house, it is praiseworthy for the husband to hire house help to relieve her from too heavy a burden. The wife’s duties do not require her to feed her child, nor even to nurse it, nor to clean nor cook. It is the husband’s duty to provide a nursemaid, food for older children, and servants to clean and cook. However, if the wife does those things out of mercy and love, it is a gift to the husband on her part.

11. He must avoid excessive jealousy and remember that Allah is also jealous that he himself not commit. The Prophet (s) said: “Do not be excessively jealous of your wife lest evil be hurled at her on your account” (la tukthir al-gheerata `ala ahlika fa turama bi al-su’i min ajlik) and he said: “Allah is jealous and the believer is jealous; and Allah’s jealousy is that the believer should not go to that which Allah has forbidden for him” (inna Allaha yagharu wa al- mu’minu yagharu wa gheerat Allahi in ya’tiya al-mu’minu ma harrama `alayhi).

12. He must protect her honor and not place her in situations where it is compromised or belittled. The Prophet (s) said that Allah will not ever let him enter Paradise who cares little who shares his wife’s privacy. This includes the husband’s brother, uncle, and nephew, let alone non-related friends, neighbors, and complete strangers.

13. He must exercise patience and forgiveness in the case of disagreement or dispute, and not rush to divorce. The declaration of divorce is a grave matter indeed, and the Prophet (s) said: “Of permitted matters the most loathe some before Allah is divorce” (abgh`ad al-halal `ind Allah al-talaq). In another hadith he said that divorce is so grave that because of it Allah’s throne is made to shake. He said: “The best intercession [i.e. intervention of a third party] is that which brings back together the husband and the wife.” Womanizing — divorce for the purpose of marrying another woman out of sexual attraction incurs Allah’s curse according to the hadith: “Allah’s curse is on the womanizing, divorcing man” (la`ana Allahu kulla dhawwaaqin mutallaaq). Finally, even in the midst of and after divorce, Allah has prescribed kindness upon the man: “(After pronouncing divorce) she must be retained in honor or released in kindness” (2:228).

For the above-mentioned reason (i.e. to prevent the quickness of divorce), in his time, Ibn Taymiyya gave the ijtihad (juridical opinion) by saying that three talaqs in one sitting constituted only one. He did this to interdict the prevalent custom of suddenly giving three talaqs, which in his time was on everyone’s lips, (i.e. had become so commonplace as to be a habit). However the other four schools of fiqh had the opposite opinion in this matter.

14. He must not dwell on what he dislikes in his wife, but on what he likes.

15. The husband is not to stay away from his wife or keep his wife in a state of suspense, whether at home or abroad, for a protracted period of time except with her consent. Allah said: “Turn not away (from your wife) altogether, so as to leave her hanging. If you come to a friendly understanding and practice self-restraint, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Merciful” (4:129). Protracted separation (6 months or more in the Shafi`i school) without prior or subsequent arrangement with the wife, whether the husband is away willingly or unwillingly (for example due to war, imprisonment, or illness) is sufficient grounds for her to obtain divorce from the judge.

16. The Prophet (s) said: “Do not beat your wife.” He also said: “Do not strike your wife in the face.” The expiation for striking one’s slave in the face is to set him or her free on the spot, but what expiation is there for striking one’s wife? The Prophet (s) condemned the man who beats his wife in the day and then approaches her at night. And to beat her to the extent of inflicting serious injury is enough grounds for her to obtain divorce from the judge.

17. Caring for one’s wife’s sexual fulfillment is an obligation of religion. The Prophet (s) warned against rushing to gratify one’s pleasure and forgetting that of one’s wife. He also disliked that the husband should quickly withdraw from his wife afterwards, as it is a strain upon the wife. If she asks for intercourse, he should not refuse.

Conclusion

These are only some of the basic duties of the husband in Islam. The state of marriage is part of one’s adherence to the Sunna and an exalted state of life indeed. In the words of the Prophet (s), it permits one to meet Allah “pure and cleansed” (tahiran mutahharan). One’s behavior towards one’s wife is the measure of the perfection of one’s belief as the Prophet (s) said: “The most complete of the believers in his belief is he who perfects his manners, and the best of you in manners are those who act best towards their wives.” Marriage must be approached with utmost seriousness, entered with the purest intent, and cultivated religiously as it does not come cheaply and it carries immense reward. The Prophet (s) called it “his way” (al-nikahu sunnati) and “half of religion” and he also said: “Two rak`at (prayer-cycles) of the married person are better than seventy rak`at of the unmarried.” He also warned that among the greatest of responsibilities that had been placed upon men is that pertaining to the treatment of their wives.

And may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon Muhammad, his Family and all his Companions, and praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds.


 

A HAPPY CONJUGAL HOUSEHOLD

Mutual Rights and Obligations including Sex Etiquette

In order to ensure an atmosphere of harmony and to promote a cheerful and successful life in the newly established nest of the newlyweds, Islam has provided guidance in defining the relationship between husband and wife and in distributing the rights and obligations arising from this relationship.

In Islam the husband is the head of the household. This is not male chauvenism. It derives from the natural psychological and physical makeup of the male. Man does not suffer from a regular monthly indisposition with its attendant adverse psychological effects. He does not have to be confined by pregnancy or for delivery; nor can he feed children from his breasts. He is therefore always ready to go out and search for sustenance for himself and his dependents. In fact it was Islam which delivered woman from her plight. It established her equality with man both theoretically and practically. It restored her dignity and recovered her freedom. The Quran stresses her right to benefit from the fruits of her efforts as much as man is entitled to benefit from his (IV, 7). It severely condemned the old customs of ill-treating women (XVI, 58/59, and LXXXI 8/9), and protected their rights in one of the longest chapters, IV, which is given the title “Women.” We have already noticed that in the process of the marriage contract, the bride initiates the offer of marriage, a significant detail which emphasizes her spontaneous free action in making this most important decision.

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.

THE HUSBAND’S DUTIES

1. A husband is responsible for the protection, happiness and maintenance of his wife. He is responsible for the cost of her food, clothes and accommodation. Although she may have to cook, he has to buy her the raw materials and cooking and kitchen facilities, as may be required and applicable. He may also have to buy her two sets of clothes or more each year, providing the types of clothing suitable for the seasons. However, the number of sets of clothes and their quality depend on the husband means and social requirements. A wife is also entitled to a comfortable, independent accommodation, suitably furnished and provided with basic sanitation facilities. She is not obliged to stay with the husband’s parents or relatives as he is not obliged to live with hers. She is also entitled to enjoy herself with her husband in a relaxed atmosphere, free from the embarrassment caused by the presence of another adult in the household The cost of smoking or of a forbidden fruit or drink is not to be provided by the husband.

2. In addition to providing these material needs, a husband has to be kind, understanding and forgiving, and must treat his wife in a tender and loving manner. He not only should avoid hurting her but should bear with her if she ever does something disagreeable, so long as this clemency does not spoil her and she does not habitually behave out of bounds. The Quran reads:

…and treat them [women] kindly. [IV, 19}

And the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, says:

[Fear] God, [fear] God in the matter of women. They are weak partners, a trust from God 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, God will give him rewards as much as Job will be given for his patience.

Patient behavior was the practice of the Prophet, even when his wife dared to address him harshly. Once his mother-in-law- saw her daugher 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 the Messenger of God say but the truth?” The Prophet said, “O Abu Bakr, we did not invite you for this [harsh dealing with Aishah], nor did we anticipate it.”

3. It is further recommended that a husband be relaxed with his wife, and cheer her up with his humor or by making agreeable jokes. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, 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, the Prophet said to Aisha, “Would you like to see them?” When she agreed, he sent for them and they came and performed in front of his door. The Prophet stretched his hand, putting his palm on the open door and letting Aisha’s chin rest on his arm so that she culd see comfortably. A while later the Prophet 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.” The Prophet also used to say, “Surely God 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. 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. In the early stages of marriage, especially in their first experience on the wedding day, he has to be particularly gentle. 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. Because of the importance of this element, early Muslim authorities discussed such details as love play, the techniques that arouse excitement, and the question of orgasm. The right Islamic literature treating this subject far exceeds and is more original and stimulating than- but not so obscene as-the crude and vulgar material now in wide circulation in the West. We may discuss here some of the remarks made by these early authorities. They stress the importance of preliminary love play-caresses, fondling, kissing, endearing words- in order to arouse the wife’s sexual passion and prepare for a deeper sensation and a successful conclusion. At the beginning of actual coitus, it is recommended that the following prayer be said:

In the name of Almighty God, the Most High, Please,God, ward off the evil forces away from us and from the blessings You bestow upon us.

The authorities also recommend that in the process of coitus, especially before full penetration, the excitable areas of the male genitals be gently provoked to contribute to complete fulfillment. We have to remind the reader, however, that even at this moment of absorption and ecstasy, propriety and cleanliness have to be maintained. On the one hand, both partners may utter exclamations or ejaculations venting or expressing the intensity of their pleasure, which also may increase the degree of their excitation; but neither may scream to the degree of disrupting the natural privacy of the act. Some Companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, recommend the repetition of the words: Allahu Akbar, “God is Great.”

On the other hand, it is to be remembered that the liquid (lubricating) material discharged by the sex organs on excitement is counted as a pollution and a polluting element in Islam and that a Muslim is forbidden to smear a part of his or her body with a polluting stuff unnecessarily. Therefore the custom of licking the excitable areas with the tongue said to prevail in the West may not only be unhealthy; it is also forbidden on that account. We also feel that it is indeed disgusting; and this disgust might in the long run plant the seeds of hatred in the hearts of the couple and ultimately break their relationship.

The position to be assumed by male and female in relation to each other during coitus occupied a great deal of the attention of Muslim authors who treated the subject. They compiled some fifteen basic different positions; and within each choice they suggest varieties of details.

We do not need to discuss this matter here at length, since husband and wife, in their search for their own fulfillment, can easily discover these varieties and select what they find to be most suitable and comfortable for themselves. Muslim writers also emphasize that the husband should endeavor to achieve mutual orgasm. If he should fail to hold out sufficiently for his partner, they say he should continue his efforts to have her reach a climax. To rush away from her too soon might be injurious.

They also recommend that parting at the end of the act should be slow, pleasant and cordial, not abrupt or indifferent.

After some rest both parties have to have the full ablution (a bath). This duty does not need to be rushed; but when the time of the next prayer comes, it has to be performed to remove the ceremonial pollution arising from coitus. Prior to having this bath, the parties, like a woman during her period of menstrual discharge, are forbidden to perform prayers or to touch or read the Quran. Moreover, it is better to delay hair cutting and fingernail-clipping until after the ablution.

It is also recommended that the husband seek to introduce changes and variations in his approach and in the performance, even in little details, in order to avoid boredom. Variations also create a sense of novelty, and novelty stimulates interest and curiosity; and this intensifies the feeling of pleasure and enjoyment. These Muslim etiquettes are probably best summed up in the following words attributed to the Prophet:

Let not one of you fall upon his woman in the manner a male animal suddenly jumps over its female victim. Let there be a messenger [to go] between them.” He was asked, “What is the messenger, O Messenger of God?” He said, “Kissing and endearing speech.

Another tradition reads:

Three practices are shortcomings in a man; namely, to fail to enquire about the name of a man he has just encountered, but was worthy of friendship; to refuse a favor extended to him in good faith; and to assault his woman without introductory entertainment [to stimulate her] and so he satisfies his own desire before she can achieve her own fulfillment.

When one of you retires with his wife, let them not strip off their clothes completely in an animal-like manner; and let him begin by [stimulating her by the use of] fine exciting speech and by kissing.

In the course of their game of pleasure a husband and his wife may enjoy and fondle any part of the body of each other; and their engagement in this kind of activity is regarded as a type of divine devotion. However, a husband is discouraged from looking at his wife’s genitals, perhaps for its adverse psychological effect. Moreover, coitus is strictly forbidden during the menstrual period; and penetration in the back passage is always forbidden. If the femal genitals are to be avoided during the menstrual period, presumably because of their temporary blood pollution, a filthier pollution is an internal factor in the case of the back passage. Prohibition also applies to all types of unnatural and unproductive activities, whether committed between two persons of the same sex or otherwise.

Early Muslim authorities also discussed the advisable frequency of coitus. Some advised that the experience should be repeated at least once every four days. It seems, however, that the matter of frequency should be left to the mood and the personal inclination of the parties concerned, which indeed depend on many factors, including their age and the condition of their health.

5. 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. During this period, as well as during the period of postnatal discharge, the obligation of mandatory prayer is lifted; and coitus is forbidden. The prohibition of coitus is lifted when the blood discharge has stopped and the woman has had the ablution of a full bath.

6. A 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. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

There is a type of jealousy which God loves and there is another type which God hates. As for that which God loves, it is the jealousy which is provoked by a legitimate cause of suspicion; and that which God hates is the jealousy which is unduly aroused.

The Prophet 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.” The Prophet, 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.

8. If the wife becomes pregnant, her husband should display greater consideration for her and should do all he can to alleviate her discomfort. When she is delivered, he should be grateful to God for her safety and for what God has beneficently graced them with. If his wife has been delivered of a male child, he should not go out of his way to show his pleasure; and if it is a female, he should not at all feel disheartened. After all, he does not know which is better for him. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, says:

Whoever is graced with a daughter and treats her well and lavished upon her some of the favors God has bestowed upon him, she will be a protection for him against the punishment of the Hell Fire.

Whoever brings home some good things to his children, it will be counted as a divine charity for him. Let him begin by giving the female ones. Whoever cheers up a female child shall have the merit of him who weeps out of divine fear of God; and whoever so intensely fears God, God will protect him from the Hell Fire.

Whoever has two daughters or two sisters under his care and treats them well, he will be my companion in Paradise.

A child, however, should be given a good name, even if it is delivered in a miscarriage. And shortly after a child’s safe birth, the full text of the call to prayer should be recited in its right ear, and the short one in its left ear. It is recommended that a boy be circumcised on the seventh day of his birth, excluding the day of birth itself. Whether it is a boy or a girl, it is recommended that the family then hold a feast for which a lamb or larger animal should be sacrificed. Some of the meat should be distributed to the poor, as well as the value of gold whose weight is the weight of the baby’s hair. The sacrifice offered on the seventh day of birth is known as ‘aqiqah.

THE WIFE’S DUTIES

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. The way in which this is to be achieved depends on her taste and their means and upon prevaling values and conditions.

2. 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 suspicious elements and should not entertain alone any male friends.

3. The management of the household is the wife’s primary responsibility. She has to take care of meal preparation, house-cleaning 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. What is important is the mutual goodwill and love which will no doubt stimulate each party to alleviate the burden of the other as much as possible.

4. 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.

5. The wife should take care of herself in order to appear always cheerful, charming and attractive to her husband. She should always smell good and may reasonably apply cosmetics but should avoid excessive use of it. Such excess is not only financially unwise but also psychologically harmful. It makes her beauty appear to be merely artificial. An ancient Arab women 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.

6. 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.

An objective analysis of the above outline of the mutual rights and obligations of a husband and wife as set out and stipulated by Islam for the guidance of its adherents reveals the following facts:

1. The husband-wife relationship is to be based not on dry legal rules or decisions of the court but on mutual respect, love and regard.

2. The husband is alone responsible for the entire cost of, and the wife is the mistress of, the household. The objective of each is to serve the other and to provide to the other means of comfort, enjoyment and happiness; and the aim of both is to achieve optimum bliss for themselves and to contribute through their offspring to the perpetuation of the human race.

3. A woman is not a chattel or a blind follower but an equal partner. However, her soft nature, her beautiful natural role as the partner who is to provide more for the sexual attraction and excitement, her monthly menstrual discharge with its attending psychological and physical adverse effects, her childbearing and child-rearing–all these natural considerations, not a male dictatorship as has recently been contended, have made her the dependent but respected, virtuous and beloved partner.

4. Within the framework of the above basic considerations, and within the Islamic flexibility which has regard for custom and prevailing traditions, consistent with the moral values of Islam, the couple may choose any type of arrangement for the distribution of their mutual responsibilities in order to meet their needs as they may see fit in the conditions prevailing where they live.

5. An interesting point which emphasizes that the wife does not lose her own independent character on getting marries is that she always retains her full maiden name. So Miss Nancy Jones on her marriage to Mr. Martin James is called Lady Nancy Jones and not Mrs. James. She may be called Lady Nancy Jones, wife of Mr. James, but not simply Mrs. James. This point is significant, as it expresses both a wife’s greater freedom under Islam and her continued relation with her own family.

Tafheem Al Quran in (Urdu)

069 Surah Al-Haqqah      070 Surah Al-Maarij      071 Surah Nuh      072 Surah Al- Jinn      073 Surah Al-Muzzammil       074 Surah Al-Muddaththir     075 Surah Al-Qiyamah      076 Surah Al-Dahar      077 Surah Al-Mursalat       078 Surah An-Naba      079 Surah An-Naziat       080 Surah Abasa      081 Surah At-Takwir     082 Surah Al-Infitar      083 Surah Al-Mutaffifin     084 Surah Al-Inshiqaq       085 Surah Al-Buruj      086 Surah Al-Tariq       087 Surah Al-Ala      088 Surah Al-Ghashiyah      089 Surah Al-Fajr      090 Surah Al-Balad     091 Surah Ash-Shams      092 Surah Al-Lail      093 Surah Ad-Duha      094 Surah Ash-Sharh      095 Surah Al-Tin      096 Surah Al-Alaq     097 Surah Al-Qadr     098 Surah Al-Baiyyinah      099 Surah Al-Zalzalah       100 Surah Al-Adiyat      101 Surah Al-Qariah     102 Surah Al-Takathur      103 Surah Al-Asr       104 Surah Al-Humazah      105 Surah Al-Feel     106 Surah Quraish       107 Surah Al-Maun      108 Surah Al-Kauthar      109 Surah Al-Kafirun      110 Surah Al-Nasr      111 Surah Al-Lahab      112 Surah Al-Ikhlas       113 Surah Al-Falaq      114 Surah An-Nas

001 Surah Al Fatihah     002 Surah Baqarah     003 Surah Al Imran     004 Surah An Nisa     005 Surah Al Maidah     006 Surah Al Anam     007 Surah Al Araf     008 Surah Al Anfal     009 Surah Al Taubah     010 Surah Yunus     011 Surah Hud     013 Surah Ar-Rad     014 Surah Ibrahim     015 Surah Al-Hijr     016 Surah An-Nahl     017 Surah Al-Isra     018 Surah Al-Kahf     019 Surah Maryam     020 Surah Taha     021 Surah Al-Anbiya     022 Surah Al-Hajj     023 Surah Al-Muminun     024 Surah An-Nur     025 Surah Al-Furqan     026 Surah Ash-Shuara     027 Surah An-Naml     028 Surah Al-Qasas     029 Surah Al-Ankabut     030 Surah Al-Rum     031 Surah Luqman     032 Surah As-Sajdah      033 Surah Al-Ahzab    034 Surah Saba     035 Surah Fatir    036 Surah Ya-Sin   037 Surah As-Saffat     038 Surah Sad     039 Surah Az-Zumar     040 Surah Al Mumin     041 Surah Hamem Al-Sijda     042 Surah Ash-Shura     043 Surah Az-Zukhruf     044 Surah Al Dukhan     045 Surah Al-Jathiyah      046 Surah Al-Ahqaf     047 Surah Muhammad      048 Surah Al-Fath     049 Surah Al-Hujurat     050 Surah Qaf     051 Surah Adh-Dhariyat     052 Surah At-Tur     053 Surah An-Najm     054 Surah Al-Qamar     055 Surah Ar-Rahman      056 Surah Al-Waqiah       057 Surah Al-Hadid      058 Surah Al-Mujadillah      059 Surah AL-Hashr      060 Surah Al-Mumtahanah      061 Surah As-Saff       062 Surah Al-Jumuah    063 Surah Al-Munafiqun      064 Surah Al-Taghabun      065 Surah Al-Talaq      066 Surah At-Tahrim      067 Surah Al-Mulk      068 Surah Al-Qalam