The Muslim Woman and Her Husband. (Part Five).

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.

The Muslim Woman and Her Husband. (Part Four).

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 fourth in the series. Please read and benefit from it in’shaa’Allaah Ta’ala.

SHE ENCOURAGES HER HUSBAND TO SPEND FOR THE SAKE OF ALLÂH (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى).

Another way in which the true Muslim woman supports her husband is by encouraging him to spend and give charity for the sake of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 dates (Sahīh Muslim, 8/33) in Paradise, she said, “You have got a good deal, you have got a good deal.” The Prophet (ﷺ) commented, “How many bunches of dates Abu’l-Dahdah will have in Paradise!” and he repeated this several times. (Reported by Ahmad and al-Tabarani; its narrators are rijal al-sahīh. See also Majma’ alZawa’id, 9/324).

SHE HELPS HIM TO OBEY ALLÂH (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى).

One of the qualities of the good Muslim wife is that she helps her husband to obey Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) in different ways, especially to stay up and pray at night (qiyaam 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 (ﷺ) drew of the married couple helping one another to obey Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) and do good deeds, and entering into the mercy of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) together. This comes in the hadîth narrated by Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه), who said:

“The Messenger of Allâh said: ‘May Allâh 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 Allâh 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.” (Reported by Abu Dawud, 2/45, and by al-Hakim 1/309; he said that it is sahīh according to the conditions of Muslim)

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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), 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 hadeeth narrated by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘As (رضي الله عنه), in which the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

“This world is nothing but temporary conveniences, and the greatest joy in this world is a righteous woman.” (Sahīh Muslim, 10/56).

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 (ﷺ):

“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.” (Reported by Ahmad, 1/168; its narrators are rijal al-sahīh)

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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), 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 (within the home), 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 Allâh and reading Qur’an. Foremost among them were ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنه) and others; they used to wear fine clothes and jewelry at home and when they were traveling with proper covering on their bodies, in order to make themselves look beautiful for their husbands.

Bakrah bint ‘Uqbah came to ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنه) 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.” (Ibn al-Jawzi, Ahkam al-Nisa’, 343).

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 hadeeth narrated by Al-Bukhaari from Zaynab the daughter of Umm Salamah, who said, “I came to Zaynab bint Jahsh, the wife of the Prophet (ﷺ) 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 the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ) say from the minbar:

It is not permitted for a woman who believes in Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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.” (Fath al-Bari, 9/484).

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 (ﷺ):

“He does not thank Allâh who does not thank people.” (Reported by Al-Bukhaari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/310).

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 (ﷺ): 

“Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) will not look at the woman who does not thank her husband at the time when she cannot do without him.” (Reported by al-Hakim in al-Mustadrak, 2/190; he said it is a hadîth whose isnad is sahīh).

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 (ﷺ) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى):

“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze . . .” (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.” (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 (ﷺ):

“No woman should talk about another woman, or describe her to her husband (so that it is) as if he sees her.” (Fath al-Bari, 9/338).

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.

In’shaa’Allaah this series will continue in the next post. Subhanaka Allaahumma wabihamdika, asha’adu an ‘lailla ila anta, astaghifiruka wa atooybu ilayka.

The Muslim Woman and Her Husband. (Part Three).

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 third in the series. Please read and benefit from it in’shaa’Allaah Ta’ala.

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 described as one of the worst types:

“Among the worst type of people in the sight of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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.” (Sahīh Muslim, 10/8; Al-targheeb wa’l-tarheeb, 3/86).

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 (ﷺ). The disclosure of a secret that the Prophet 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. (The story of the Prophet’s keeping way from his wives is narrated by al-Al-Bukhaari, Muslim and others. See Fath al-Bari, 5/116, and 8/656; Surat al-Tahrim; Sahīh Muslim, 7/195). Concerning this, the following ayah was revealed:

“When the Prophet (ﷺ) 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].) (66:3).

The two women concerned are then confronted with their error, and called to repent, so that they might draw closer to Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) after having distanced themselves by their deed, otherwise Allâh 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 Allâh is his Protector, and Gabriel, and [every] righteous one among those who believe – and furthermore, the angels – will back [him] up.) (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 (ﷺ):

“It may be, if he divorced you [all], that Allâh will give him in exchange Consorts better than you – who submit [their wills], who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allâh in repentance, who worship [in humility], who travel [for Faith] and fast – previously married or virgins.” (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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 like an open book, in which can be read the teachings of this ‘aqeedah 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 Sahaabah, may Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) be pleased with them, understood that the Prophet’s life was entirely devoted to Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 Sahaabah (may Allâh 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 (ﷺ), 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. (See Fath al-Bari, 2/162).

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 (ﷺ), as we have described previously.

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 (ﷺ) himself, who sometimes followed the advice of Khadijah, Umm Salamah, ‘A’ishah and others among his wives (May Allâh be pleased with them all). ‘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 (رضي الله عنه) is the best example of a woman who influenced her husband. The Prophet (ﷺ) 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. Al-Bukhaari and Muslim report the story told by ‘A’ishah of how the Revelation commenced, and the marvelous 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 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 Lord and Cherisher, who created – created man, out of a [mere] clot of congealed blood: Read! And your Lord is Most Bountiful – He Who taught [the use of] the Pen – taught man that which he knew not.” (96:1-5).

The Messenger of Allâh 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) would never forsake you. By Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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?” The Messenger of Allah told him what had happened, and Waraqah said to him, “This is al-Namus (i.e., Jibril), who was sent down to Musa (ﷺ). I wish that I were a young man, and could be alive when your people cast you out.” The Messenger of Allâh 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.” (Fath al-Bari, 1/23; Sahīh Muslim, 2/197).

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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) would never forsake a man such as Muhammad or permit any bad fate to befall him. She knew that behind this remarkable new event that had overwhelmed the Messenger of Allâh lay something great that Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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.” (Al-sirah, 1/254). 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 (رضي الله عنه), was a sincere adviser in the way of Islam to the Prophet (ﷺ). She had already earned the great status and lasting fame of being the first person to believe in Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) and His Messenger (ﷺ), and she stood beside her husband the Prophet, 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 Seerah: “Khadijah had faith, and believed in what he brought from Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى). In this way, Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) helped His Prophet (ﷺ). Whenever he heard any hateful words of rejection or disbelief that upset him, Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 Allâh have mercy on her.” (Ibid., 1/257).

She was a woman who always spoke the truth, and carried this burden sincerely. It is no surprise that she earned the pleasure of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) and deserved to be honored by Him, so He conveyed the greeting of salam to her through His Messengers Jibril and Muhammad (ﷺ), and gave her glad tidings of a house in Paradise, as is stated in the hadîth narrated by Abu Hurayrah:

“Jibril came to the Prophet and said: ‘O Messenger of Allâh, 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 Lord 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.” (Al-Bukhaari & Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 14/155).

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 (رضي الله عنه) was one of those who were with the Prophet when he went to Makkah to perform ‘Umrah in 6 AH (After Hijrah). This is the journey that was interrupted by Quraysh, who prevented the Prophet and his Companions from reaching the Ka‘bah. The treaty of al-Hudaybiyah was drawn up between the Prophet 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), the Prophet (ﷺ) 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 Sahaabah, 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 Sahaabah when he went to Abu Bakr and asked him: “Is he not the Messenger of Allâh?” 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 the Messenger of Allâh.” Umar said, “And I bear witness that he is the Messenger of Allâh.” Then ‘Umar went to the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ), 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 replied, “I am the servant of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) and His Messenger; I will never disobey His command, and He will never forsake me.” (Al-Sirah, 3/331; Fath al-Bari, 6/281; Sahīh Muslim, 12/141).

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).” (Al-Sirah 3/331).

When the Prophet (ﷺ) had ratified the treaty, he commanded his Companions to get up, slaughter their sacrificial animals, and shave their heads, but none of them got up (The Prophet (ﷺ) 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]). 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 Allâh, go out and do not speak to any of them until you have sacrificed your animal and shaved your head.” The Prophet (ﷺ) took her advice, and did as she suggested. When the Sahaabah 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. (Zad al-Ma’ad, 3:295, al-Tabari, 2/124)

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 Sahīh Muslim it states that the ayah,

“Verily We have granted you a manifest Victory” (48:1) referred to the treaty of al-Hudaybiyah. The Prophet (ﷺ) sent for ‘Umar and recited this ayah to him. ‘Umar said, “O Messenger of Allâh, it is really a victory?” He said, “Yes,” so then ‘Umar felt at peace. (Sahīh Muslim, 12/141).

In’shaa’Allaah the series will be continued in the next post. Jazakumu’Allaah khairan for reading. Subhanaka Allaahumma wabihamdika, asha’adu an ‘lailla ila anta, astaghifiruka wa atooybu ilayka.

The Muslim Woman and Her Husband. (Part Two).

In the Name of Allah, 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 goodness in faith. This is a series titled “THE MUSLIM WOMAN AND HER HUSBAND”.
This is the second in the series. Please read and benefit from it in’shaa’Allaah Ta’ala.

HONORING AND RESPECTING HIM.

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 (pre-Islamic period) that were endorsed by Islam and perpetuated by the Arabs after they embraced Islam. Our Islamic history 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 (رحمه الله), who was one of the outstanding scholars of the second century AH (After Hijrah). 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 Allâh.

‘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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) choose what is best for you and protect you.’” (Jamharah khutab al-‘arab, 1/145).

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 Allâh. 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 (ﷺ) stated in the hadeeth narrated by Zaynab al-Thaqafiyyah, the wife of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud (رضي الله عنه):

“The Prophet (ﷺ) told us: ‘O women, give in charity even if it is some of your jeweler.’ She said, ‘I went back to ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud and told him. ‘You are a man of little wealth, and the Prophet (ﷺ) 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 Ansaar 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 the Messenger of Allâh 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 (ﷺ), who asked, ‘Who are they?’ Bilal said, ‘One of the women of the Ansaar, and Zaynab’ The Prophet (ﷺ) asked, ‘Which Zaynab is it?’ Bilal said, ‘The wife of ‘Abdullah.’ The Prophet (ﷺ) said: ‘They will have two rewards, the reward for upholding the relationship, and the reward for giving charity.’” (Fath al-Bari, 3/328; Sahīh Muslim, 7/86).

According to a report given by Al-Bukhaari, he (ﷺ) said, “Your husband and your child are more deserving of your charity.” (Fath al-Bari, 3/325).

The true Muslim woman is always careful to give thanks for Allâh’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 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.

Al-Bukhaari and Muslim narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (ﷺ)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 Allâh?” He said, “Because you curse too much, and are ungrateful for good treatment (on the part of your husbands).” (Fath al-Bari, 3/325; Sahīh Muslim, 2/65).

According to another report given by Al-Bukhaari, he (ﷺ) 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!’” (Fath al-Bari, 1/83).

According to a report given by Ahmad, a man said, “O Messenger of Allâh, 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.” (Reported by Ahmad, 3/428; its narrators are rijal al-sahīh).

When the true Muslim woman thinks about these sahīh ahadîth 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 (ﷺ) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 that reflect this loyalty and recognition of the good qualities of the husband. One of these stories is that of Asma’ bint ‘Umays (رضي الله عنه), 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 (رضي الله عنه), then to Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (رضي الله عنه), then to ‘Ali (رضي الله عنه). 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.” (Al-tabaqat al-kubra, 7/208-209). 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 hadîth of ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنه) previously quoted. 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) and follows the pure teachings of Islam is unlikely to fall into the trap of such jahili (ignorant) 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 honoring 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 qawwaam (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 (رضي الله عنه), the wife of Abu Talhah al-Ansari (رضي الله عنه). 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 attitude:

“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 the Messenger of Allâh and told him what had happened. The Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ) said, ‘May Allâh bless both of you for this night!’ Umm Sulaym became pregnant. The Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ) went on a journey, and she accompanied him. Whenever the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ) came back from a journey, he never entered Madinah at night. When they (the traveling-party) approached Madinah, her labor-pains started. Abu Talhah stayed with her, and the Messenger of Allâh went on ahead to Madinah. Abu Talhah said, ‘O Lord, 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 pains-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 the Messenger of Allah in the morning.’ So when morning came, I took the baby to the Messenger of Allah , 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. The Messenger of Allâh 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. The Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ) said: ‘See how much the Ansaar love dates!’ Then he wiped the baby’s face and named him ‘Abdullah.” (Sahīh Muslim, 16/11).

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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى). This is true, deep and sincere faith.

Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) 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 the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ). She insisted on partaking of the honor of jihad with him alongside the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ), 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 (ﷺ) 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 (ﷺ), even though she was pregnant, at that most difficult time when many others had fled, and she remained there until Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) brought victory to the believers.

The mujahid army returned to Madinah, and her labor began. When the pains became intense, she and her husband stayed behind for a while, but her husband prayed to his Lord in the still of night because he loved to go out and return with the Prophet (ﷺ). 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 labor pains began anew. She gave birth to a boy, and his brother on his mother’s side, Anas, brought him to the Prophet (ﷺ), who fed him a small amount of dates (tahnik) and named him ‘Abdullah. The prayer of the Prophet (ﷺ) for this baby was fulfilled, as among his descendants were ten great scholars.

No doubt Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) knew the sincerity of Umm Sulaym’s faith, and conveyed the good news of Paradise to her via His Prophet (ﷺ):

“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.’” (Sahīh Muslim, 16/11).

Another example of the ways in which a wife may endear herself to her husband is the way in which ‘A’ishah (رضي الله عنه) spoke to the Prophet (ﷺ) 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 said, “This month has twenty-nine days.” That particular month had only twenty-nine days. (From a lengthy hadith narrated by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim. See Fath al-Bari, 5/116; Sahīh Muslim, 7/195).

‘A’ishah’s telling the Prophet (ﷺ) 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 Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) to bless them. Then the bride turned to Shurayh and said, “I am a stranger, and I do 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 (ﷺ) 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.” (A hasan sahīh hadith, reported by Tirmidhi, 2/329, abwab al-talaq, 11; Ibn Hibban, 9/490).

In’shaa’Allaah the series will be continued in the next post. Jazakumu’Allaah khairan for reading.

Subhanaka Allaahumma wabihamdika, asha’adu an ‘lailla ila anta, astaghifiruka wa atooybu ilayka.