Husband and wife in Islam… Rights and duties

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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






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