In the Name of Allâh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. This is a series on the roles and duties of the Muslim woman with examples of stories from the time of the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ), his companions, and the later generations who followed them in faith. This is a series titled “THE MUSLIM WOMAN AND HER HUSBAND”.
This is the fifth and the final part in the series. Please read and benefit from it in’shaa’Allaah Ta’ala.
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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى). 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] . . .” (30:21)
Marriage is the deepest of bonds which Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى):
“. . . Let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allâh should forgive you?. . .” (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 easygoing 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 ‘aqeedah (Creed), 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; 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; and Barirah who was determined to separate from her husband whom she did not love, even though the Prophet (ﷺ) tried to intervene on his behalf; 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 accepted her request.
The primary motive of these women in taking up such a strong stance was their concern to adhere to Islam, to keep their belief (‘aqeedah) pure, and ultimately to please Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى).
Each of them was seeking that which is halaal in her married life, and feared committing any haraam 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 the misguided 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 (رضي الله عنه) 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 (ﷺ), 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 (ﷺ) 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 Lord of Muhammad,’ and when you are upset with me, you say, ‘No, by the Lord of Ibrahim.’” She said, “Yes, that is right. By Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), O Messenger of Allâh, I only keep away from your name.” (Sahīh Muslim, 15/203)
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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) made a test for His Messenger 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), 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 the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), His Messenger, the Messenger’s family and those believers who spoke the truth. The munafiqun, meanwhile, would be increased only in sins and hypocrisy, and their true nature would be exposed to the Prophet (ﷺ) and the believers. ‘A’ishah, the one who had spoken the truth, and her parents would be shown to be true servants of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) who had received His full blessing. Their needs for Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) had sent down a Revelation confirming her innocence. She said, ‘By Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), I will not get up and thank him; I will only give thanks to Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) would reveal to His Messenger concerning this matter. The Revelation came like rain on parched land, when it was most needed by the Messenger of Allâh and his family, by Abu Bakr and his family, by the Sahaabah and by the believers, and it brought them great relief and joy. If Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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.
“Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) wanted to demonstrate the status of His Prophet (ﷺ) 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 (ﷺ) had nothing to do with it. Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) alone would avenge His Prophet (ﷺ) and his family.
“The Messenger of Allâh 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), he acted in the appropriate manner until the Revelation came that made his heart rejoice and raised his status, showing to his ummah that Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) was taking care of him.
“Whoever examines ‘A’ishah’s response, when her father told her to get up and thank the Messenger of Allâh, and she said, ‘No, I will give thanks only to Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى),’ will realize the extent of her knowledge and the depth of her faith. She attributed this blessing to Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) alone, and gave thanks only to Him. She had a sound grasp of Tawheed, 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), 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.” (Zad al-Ma’ad, 3/261-264).
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 honorable of all human beings, so long as she is in the right and is adhering to the way of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى). ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنه) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) alone.
The Muslim woman should not 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 (رضي الله عنه) 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, This has been freely admitted by women’s liberation activists in Arab countries, as we have seen. Many of them have retracted their claims that Muslim women need to be liberated; one such activist is Dr. Nawaal 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) may bestow upon a man, and an incomparable source of joy in this life. The Prophet (ﷺ) 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.” (Sahīh Muslim, 10/56).
AlhamduliLlaah. May the Peace and Blessings of Allâh be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his companions. May Allâh عز وجل guide us towards those things that are pleasing to Him, aid us against following our desires. This is the end of the series on “the Muslim Woman and her Husband.” Subhanaka Allaahumma wabihamdika, asha’adu ân ‘lailla ila anta, astaghifiruka wa atooybu ilayka.