Responsibilities of the Husband and Rights of the Wife in Islam

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

Dr. G. F. Haddad Damascus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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