AII thanks and praises are due to Allâh, Whom we thank, seek for help and invoke for forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allâh from the evils within ourselves. He whom Allâh guides will never be misled and he whom He misguides will never find one to guide him. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allâh and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. Allâh عز وجل Says (Interpretation of the meaning):
“O you who believe! Fear Allâh (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. (Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always.) and die not except in a state of Islam [as Muslims with complete submission to Allâh].” (3:102). And;
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)].” (4:1). And;
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allâh and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allâh and His Messenger (ﷺ), he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e., he will be saved from the Hell-fire and will be admitted to Paradise).” (33:70,71).
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”. It has been divided into five parts, and this is the first of them. Please read and benefit. Jazakumu’Allaah khairan.
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, cooperation, harmony and tolerance, where each feels at ease with the other, and finds tranquility, contentment and comfort in the company of the other. The Noble 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] . . . ” (30:21).
This is the strongest of bonds, in which Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 (ﷺ) said:
“This world is just temporary conveniences, and the best comfort in this world is a righteous woman.” (Sahīh Muslim 10/56).
A righteous woman is the greatest blessing that Allah (عز وجل) 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 series In’shaa’Allaah:
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 (ahadîth) that support the woman in this sensitive issue, for example the report quoted by Imam Al-Bukhaari from al-Khansa’ bint Khidam:
“My father married me to his nephew, and I did not like this match, so I complained to the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ). 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).'” (Fath al-Bari, 9/194; Ibn Majah, 1/602; al-Mabsut 5/2).
At first, the Prophet (ﷺ) 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 (ﷺ) and said: “O Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ), 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 (ﷺ) said: “Will you give his garden back to him?” – her mahr had been a garden. She said, “Yes.” So the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ) sent word to him: “Take back your garden, and give her one pronouncement of divorce.” (Fath al-Bari, 9/395).
According to a report given by Al-Bukhaari from Ibn ‘Abbās (رضي الله عنه), 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 (رضي الله عنه) 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. Al-Bukhaari quotes Ibn ‘Abbās (رضي الله عنه) describing this freed woman who insisted on the annulment of her marriage to someone she did not love; the big-hearted Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) commented on this moving sight, and sought to intervene. Ibn ‘Abbās (رضي الله عنه) 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 (ﷺ) said to ‘’Abbās, ‘O ‘Abbās, do you not find it strange, how much Mugith loves Barirah, and how much Barirah hates Mughith?’ The Prophet said (to Barirah), ‘Why do you not go back to him?’ She said, ‘O Messenger of Allâh, 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.'” (Fath al-Bari, 9/408).
The Prophet (ﷺ) 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 (ﷺ), 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 (ﷺ)!
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.” (A hasan hadith narrated by Tirmidhi, 2/274; and by Ibn Majah, 1/633).
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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 . . .” (24:26).
This does not mean that the Muslim woman should completely ignore the matter of physical appearance, and put up with unattractiveness. 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 qiwaamah over her, as the Noble Qur’an says:
“Men are the protectors and maintainers [qawwaamun] of women, because Allâh has given the one more [strength] than the other, and because they support them from their means . . .” (4:34).
Hence she wants to marry a man of whose qiwaamah 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 Allâh’s praise – for them has Allâh prepared forgiveness and great reward.” (33:35).
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 Ansaar women to embrace Islam. She was married to Malik ibn Nadar (رضي الله عنه), and bore him a son, Anas (رضي الله عنه). 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 (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), and devoted herself to taking care of her ten year-old son Anas. She took him to the Prophet (ﷺ), 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 (رضي الله عنه) – before he became Muslim. Many of the young women of Yathrib (Madinah) liked him because of his wealth, strength and youthful good looks, and he thought that Umm Sulaym (رضي الله عنه) 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.” (Reported by al-Nisa’i with a sahīh isnad, 6/114).
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 Lord burn?” Then he uttered the words of testification (Shahaadah): “Ashhadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan rasulAllah.”
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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), 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 Allâh (عز وجل) that was better than owning red camels (the most highly-prized kind) in this world, as she had heard the Prophet (ﷺ) say:
“If Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) were to guide one person to Islam through you, it is better for you than owning red camels.” (Fath al-Bari, 7/476).
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 (ﷺ) and the wife of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (رضي الله عنه). 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 (Muhammad ﷺ) 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 (ﷺ) 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 ‘Subhaan Allah’ thirty-three times, ‘Al-hamdu liLlaah’ 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 giving them this divine help which would make them forget their tiredness and help them to overcome their exhaustion.
‘Ali (رضي الله عنه) began to repeat the words that the Prophet (ﷺ) 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.” (Fath al-Bari, 7/71; Sahīh Muslim, 17/45).
Asma’ bint Abi Bakr al-Siddiq (رضي الله عنه) 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. Al-Bukhaari 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 (ﷺ) 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 the Messenger of Allâh, 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.” (Fath al-Bari, 9/319).
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.” (Reported by Ahmad and al-Bazzar; the men of its chain of narration are those of sahīh. Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 9/4).
“If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would have ordered women to prostrate to their husbands.” (A hasan sahīh hadith, narrated by Tirmidhi, 2/314).
‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنه) asked the Messenger of Allâh : “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.” (Reported by al-Bazzar with a hasan chain; Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 4/308).
A woman came to ask the Prophet (ﷺ) 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.” (Reported by Ahmad and al-Nisa’i with jayyid isnads, and by al-Hakim, who said that its chain was sahīh; al-Mundhiri, Al-Targhib wa’l-Tarhib, 3/52)
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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى).
The Sahaabah (Companions), may Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) be pleased with them, and those who followed them understood this Islamic teaching and transmitted it from the Prophet (ﷺ). 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 (After Hijrah), 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 (ﷺ) said:
“If a woman prays her five daily prayers, fasts her month (of Ramadhan), obeys her husband and guards her chastity, then it will be said to her: ‘Enter Paradise by whichever of its gates you wish.'” (Reported by Ahmad and al-Tabarani; its narrators are thiqat; Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 4/306).
Umm Salamah (رضي الله عنه) said:
“The Messenger of Allâh said: ‘Any woman who dies, and her husband is pleased with her, will enter Paradise.'” (Ibn Majah, 1/595; al-Hakim, 4/173; he said its chain is sahīh).
The Prophet (ﷺ) 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 Allâh.” 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.'” (Reported by al-Tabarani. Its narrators are those whose reports are accepted as sahīh; Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 4/312).
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.
Al-Bukhaari and Muslim report from Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (ﷺ) 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.” (Fath al-Bari, 9/294; Sahīh Muslim, 10/8).
Imam Muslim reports from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“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.” (Sahīh Muslim, 10/7).
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:
“Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) will curse those procrastinating women who, when their husbands call them to their beds, say ‘I will, I will . . .’ until he falls asleep.” (sahīh hadith narrated by al-Tabarani in al-Awsat and al-Kabir; Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 4/296).
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 ahadîth 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 some of these ahadîth, the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“If a man calls his wife to his bed, let her respond, even if she is riding her camel [i.e., very busy].” (Reported by al-Bazzar, whose narrators are rijal al-sahih; Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 4/312).
“If a man calls his wife, then let her come, even if she is busy at the oven.” (Hasan sahīh hadith narrated by Tirmidhi, 2/314; and by Ibn Hibban, Sahīh, 9,473)
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 harām pleasures. The flames of sexual desire and thoughts of pursuing them through harām means can only be extinguished by means of discharging that natural energy in natural and lawful ways. This is what the Prophet (ﷺ) meant in the hadeeth 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.” (Sahīh Muslim, 9/178).
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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 hadeeth narrated by Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah:
“The Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ) 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.'” (Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahīh, 12/178).
When this hadîth 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, Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 (ﷺ) said:
“It is not permitted for a woman who believes in Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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, Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى).” (Reported by al-Hakim, 2/190 and graded sahīh).
Another aspect of wifely obedience is that she should not fast at times other than Ramadhan 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 (ﷺ) in the hadîth:
“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.” (Fath al-Bari, 9/295).
According to a report given by Muslim, he (ﷺ) 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.” (Sahīh Muslim, 7/115).
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 (ﷺ) stated this to Hind bint ‘Utbah, the wife of Abu Sufyan, when she came to him and said, “O Messenger of Allâh, 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.” (Al-Bukhaari & Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 9/327).
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 hadîth in which the Prophet (ﷺ) 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.” (Al-Bukhaari & Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 9/327).
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 (ﷺ) 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.” (Sahīh Muslim, 16/81).
This is a valuable testimony on the part of the Prophet (ﷺ), 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 (رضي الله عنه), who used to accompany the Prophet (ﷺ) 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. (Tawaf al-ifadah is one of the important rites of Hajj. It is done on the tenth day of Dhu’lHijjah after sacrificing an animal and shaving one’s head. [Translator]). She chose for him the best perfume that she could find. This is stated in a number of sahīh ahadîth reported by Imam Al-Bukhaari and Muslim, for example:
“I applied perfume to the Messenger of Allâh with my own hands before he entered the state of ihram and when he concluded it before circumambulating the House.” (Sahīh Muslim, 8/99).
“I applied perfume to the Messenger of Allâh with these two hands of mine when he entered ihram and when he concluded it, before he performed tawaf,” – and she spread her hands. (Fath al-Bari, 3/585).
“I asked ‘A’ishah, ‘With what did you perfume the Messenger of Allâh at the time when he entered ihram?’ She said, ‘With the best of perfume.'”(Sahīh Muslim, 8/100).
According to another report also given by Imam Muslim in his Sahīh, ‘A’ishah said:
“I applied the best perfume I could find to the Messenger of Allâh before he entered ihram and when he concluded it, before he performed tawaf al-ifadah.” (Sahīh Muslim, 8/100).
When the Prophet (ﷺ) was in seclusion (i’tikaf), he would lean his head towards ‘A’ishah, and she would comb and wash his hair. Al-Bukhaari and Muslim both report this in sahīh hadeeth narrated from ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنه), such as:
“When the Messenger of Allâh 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.” (Sahīh Muslim, 3/208).
“I used to wash the Prophet’s head when I was menstruating.” (Fath al-Bari, 1/403; Sahīh Muslim, 3/209).
‘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.” (Reported as sahīh 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).
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.
In’shaa’Allaah this series will continue in the next post. Subhanaka Allaahumma wabihamdika, asha’adu an ‘lailla ila anta, astaghifiruka wa atooybu ilayka.