Building the Muslim Family (Section II)

The Man's Responsibility :

Islam made every spouse responsible in marital life, but the primary responsibility falls upon the man, because Allah (S.W.T.) put them in the leading position. He says what can be translated as, "Men are the Qawwamoon, the protectors and maintainers of women." [surat, An-Nisa’, (verse 34)] The responsibility of men is greater; that is why we see many Ahadith from the prophet (S.A.W.) that addresses men.


For example: The last thing that the prophet (S.A.W.) entrusted his ummah with and in the last moments of his life was in his saying, "Take care of the prayer, and you who own (slaves): Do not burden them with more than they can take.  Fear Allah, fear Allah in women; they are captives in your hands, you took them with a permission from Allah, and were allowed by Allah to sleep with them." [Reported by Imam Muslim]


The prophet (S.A.W.) said, "…Be good with women because the woman was created from an untaught rib, and the most untaught spot in the rib is its highest spot. If you try to make it straight, you will break it, and if you leave it, it will remain untaught, so be good with women." [Reported by Imams Bukhari, Muslim and others] This hadith means that there is an unstraightness in the nature of women (meaning different from the nature of men) This unstraightness or difference from the nature of men is not a defect because it is from the creation of Allah (S.W.T.), and Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, "Verily, We created mankind of the best stature…" [surat At-teen (verse 4)] Allah’s creation cannot have fault, and the word “mankind” consists of both men and women.  Allah (S.W.T.) created men and women to have a certain nature that helps them execute their duties and responsibilities and play their roles in life.


The good treatment of man toward his wife is an indication of his quality and the completion of his belief. The prophet said, "The best among you is the best to their family, and I am the best one to my family." [An authentic hadith reported by Imams At-Tirmithi, Ibn Hibban, and Ibn Majah]


The prophet (S.A.W.) also said, "The most complete believer in faith is the best in morals, and the best among you is the best to their women." [An authentic hadith, reported by Imam At-Tirmithi]


Allah (S.W.T.) commands us in three places in the Noble Qur'an what can be translated as "…Either you keep her (the wife) with goodness or release her with kindness." [surat Al-Baqarah, (verse 229)] and He (S.W.T.) also says what can be translated as, "...keep them (the women) in a good manner..." [surat At-Talaq, (verse 2)]  and thirdly He (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as  “…And live with them (the women) honorably…” [surat An-Nisa', (verse  19)]


            It is very important for each spouse to know what their duties and rights are as well as the duties and rights of their partner. If everyone knows what their duties and rights are, then they can begin to implement them properly.  The implementation of these rights and duties are essential to building a good Muslim family.  On the other hand, completely or partially denying these rights and duties, will surely lead to aggression and injustice.  The results could be damaging to marital life.


The Duties of the Husband to His Wife:

1.  Dowry: mahr—is the obligatory bridal gift from the husband to his wife without any material equivalent in return.  Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “And give to the women (whom you marry) their mahr (obligatory bridal gift) with a good heart…” [surat An-Nisa’, (verse 4)]  The mahr gift belongs to the wife, alone. It is not allowed for anyone else (husband, father, or brother) to take anything from it without clear consent from her.  If someone forces her or deceives her into consenting, or if she gives permission out of shyness, then whoever took it or took even a part of it would be committing a sin.  Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “…But if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm.”  [surat An-Nisa’, (verse 4)] But Allah also says what can be translated as, “… and you have given one of them (the wife) a Qentar (a great amount of gold) as Mahr, do not take the least bit of it back;  would you take it wrongfully without a right and (with) a manifest sin?” [surat An-Nisa’, (verse 20)]


 Islam has not defined a certain amount of dowry, but left it to be defined according to the varying circumstances of the husband and the wife. But the prophet (S.A.W.) encouraged Muslims not to make the dowry so high that it would be a hindrance to marriage. The Prophet (S.A.W.) said, "The most blessed women are the easiest in their dowry."   [An authentic hadith reported by Imams Al-Hakem, Al-Bayhaqi, and Ibn Hibban] Omar Ibn Al-Khattab (R.A.) delivered a speech one day and said, “Do not make the woman’s dowry high. If a high dowry had been considered to be a great deed that made you worthy in the sight of Allah (S.W.T.), the prophet (S.A.W.) would have been the first one to ask for it. And I did not know the prophet (S.A.W.) married his wives and wedded his daughters for more than 12 ounces of silver." [An authentic hadith reported by Imams At-Tirmithi, Abu Dawuud, Al-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah]


Other Duty of the Husband to His Wife:

2.  Financial support:  This includes anything that the wife needs such as food, clothing, housing, furniture, utilities, transportation and everything else she needs within reason.  Spending is obligatory upon the husband for his wife even if she is wealthy. The prophet (S.A.W.) said, "...They have the right that you spend on them and clothe them within reason." [Reported by Imam Muslim]


Islam has not defined the amount of spending, but left it to be defined according to the different financial abilities of the husband. Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “Let the rich man spend according to his means, and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend from what Allah has given him.  Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him…”  [surat At-Talaq, (verse 7)]

The man is not allowed to spend on himself lavishly and withhold spending on his wife and his children.  The prophet (S.A.W.) said, “It is enough sin on a person, who leaves those under his guardianship without enough financial support.”  [An authentic hadith reported by Imams Ahmad and Al-Hakim]


In another authentic hadith a man asked the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), “What are the obligations of the husband to his wife?” The prophet (S.A.W.) replied: "To provide her food when he eats and clothing when he gets himself clothes."  [Reported by Imams Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah and Al-Bayhaqi]


If a man withholds his spending on his wife and children out of stinginess, then the wife has the right to take the amount of money that she needs, within reason, even without his knowledge.  Hind asked the prophet (S.A.W.), “Oh messenger of Allah (S.W.T.), my husband Abu Sufian is a stingy man and does not give me what is enough for me and my child, except when I take from him without his knowledge." The prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Take what is enough for you and your child within reason." [Reported by Imams Bukhari, Muslim, and others]


The prophet (S.A.W.) encouraged husbands to spend on their wives and their children, and he considered that to be from among the best kind of spending for the cause of Allah (S.W.T.). The prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) said, "If a Muslim man spends on his family and expects a reward from Allah (S.W.T.), it will be considered as a charity." [Reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim] In another hadith, the prophet (S.A.W.) also said, "The best [reward for a] Dinar a man spends is the Dinar he spends on his family..." [Reported by Imams Muslim, At-Tirmithi, and Al-Bayhaqi]


Other Duty of the Husband to His Wife:

3. Providing the knowledge and upbringing that the wife needs in the subjects of religion and of the worldly life.  If the husband does not offer her knowledge, she will have to go out and seek knowledge even without his permission because Islam made seeking knowledge obligatory upon every Muslim male and female.  Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “O you who believe!  Ward off from yourselves and your families a fire whose fuel is men and stones…”  [surat At-Tahrim, (verse 6)] Ali (R.A.) interpreted this as, "Instill good manners in them and teach them." Mujahid said, “Fear Allah and advise your family to fear Allah.” Qatadah said, “You command them to obey Allah, and forbid them from disobeying Allah, and supervise them and help them obey Allah's commands.”


Other Duty of the Husband to His Wife:

4.  Good companionship is obligatory upon the husbands toward their wives.  Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “And live with them (the women) honorably…” [surat An-Nisa’, (verse 19)]  This is done by understanding the nature of women and by being kind and gentle while dealing with her.  This leads to fun and happiness in marital life.   It was authenticated that the prophet (S.A.W.) used to joke with his wives. He also used to help them in their housekeeping. A'ishah said, "The prophet (S.A.W.) used to participate with the work of his family, and if he heard the athan, he went out (for prayer)."  [Reported by Imams Bukhari and Abu-Dawud] In another authentic hadith, the prophet (S.A.W.) used to race Aishah in running, and one day, she managed to beat him, so he said, “You won this time, and I won last time.”  [Reported by Imam Ibn-Majah] The prophet (S.A.W.) considered kindness and playing with the family as an indication of completing one's faith, so he said, “The best, complete believer in faith is the one best in morals and most kind with his family.”  [An authentic hadith reported by Imam At-Tirmithi, Al-Hakim, and Ahamd]


Good companionship includes consulting the wife for her opinion, and not making his opinion the only opinion used in running the affairs of the family, or even in running the affairs of the public that is of the concern of the Ummah. Allah describes Muslims as people who consult with others in all of life's affairs, and so He says what can be translated as, “…and who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation…” [surat As-Shura, (verse 38)] This includes every Muslim, without exception.


The prophet (S.A.W.) once sought the opinion of his wife, Umu-Salamah, after the peace treaty of Al-Hudaibiyah. At that time, when the prophet (S.A.W.) decided not to enter Makkah for Umrah and ordered the companions to end their Ihram, they did not carry out his order. So he went to Um-Salamah and said: "The people are destroyed because I ordered them and they did not obey.”  She said, "Oh messenger of Allah (S.W.T.), the people are in hardship because of their feelings.  This is because they came for umrah and now you are telling them not to enter Makkah and end their ihram.  But if you go out to them and slaughter your camel and call on your barber to cut your hair, the people will follow you." So the prophet (S.A.W.) did what she suggested, and, when the people saw him doing it by himself, they went to their camels and slaughtered them and ended their Ihram.  The Prophet took Um-Salamah's advice, and because of it the companions were saved from disobeying the Prophet (S.A.W.) and also saved from Allah's punishment.


The Duties of The Wife to Her Husband:

1.  One of the greatest duties of the wife to her husband is to obey him. This obedience is obligatory on her within the limits of her duties to him.  But outside those duties, this obedience is only recommended.  For example, it is only recommended not obligated for her to cook or clean if he asks her. There are certain conditions that must be met in all obligatory and recommended obedience they are:


The Conditions of Obedience to the Husband

a. The wife must obey her husband, as long as it doesn’t interfere with her obedience to Allah (S.W.T.) because no one should obey anyone else if that obedience leads to disobeying Allah (S.W.T.). On the contrary, it is then obligatory upon her to disobey him. And if she obeys him in prohibited requests, then she would be committing a sin.


b. This obedience should not lead to physical, mental, or emotional damage to the wife because there should be no harm done to anyone in Islam.  The prophet (S.A.W.) said, “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.”  [A good hadith reported by Imams Malik, Ibn-Majah and others]


c. She does not have to obey him if he asks her to do pointless things. Everything we do should make sense and have a reason behind it. If the things the husband requests are senseless, then they are worthless and should not be respected.


The obedience of the wife to her husband within these guidelines has a great, positive impact on marital life.  For this reason, there are numerous ahadith that emphasize the obedience of the wife to her husband.  The prophet (S.A.W.) said, “If a woman prays her five (daily prayers), and fasts her month (the month of Ramadan) and protects her private parts, and obeys her husband, it is said to her (on the Day of Judgment): enter Paradise from any door you want.” [An authentic hadith, reported by Imams Ahmad and At-Tabarani] In this hadith, the prophet (S.A.W.) emphasizes the importance of the obedience of the wife to her husband.  He (S.A.W.) combined the obedience of the wife to her husband with the five daily prayers and the fasting of the month of Ramadan. We see that obeying her husband and fulfilling her duties toward her husband comes immediately after fulfilling her duties toward Allah (S.W.T.).  Doing all this leads to Paradise on the Day of Judgment


In another authentic hadith the prophet (S.A.W.) said, “If I had ordered anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would have ordered the woman to prostrate to her husband, because of his great rights due on her.”  [Reported by Imams Abu-Dawud and At-Tirmithi] And in another authentic narration the prophet also added, “By whom my soul is in his hand, the woman will not fulfill her duties toward her Lord until she fulfills her duties toward her husband.” [Reported by Imams Ibn-Majah, Al-Hakim, and Ibn-Hibban]


The prophet (S.A.W.) said, “Any woman who dies and her husband is pleased with her, she will enter Paradise.”  [An authentic hadith reported by Imams Ibn-Majah and Al-Hakim]


The prophet (S.A.W.) clarified to us that one of the things that leads a woman to the Hell Fire on the Day of Judgment is her ingratitude and denial of her husband's good treatment of her.   The prophet (S.A.W.) said, “I looked into the Hell Fire, and I found most of its dwellers to be women; because they deny the good companion; if you have been good with one for your  whole life, and then she saw something from you that she dislikes, she would say:  I have not seen anything good from you.” [Reported by Imam Bukhari]


2.  One of the wife's duties to her husband is that she honors him, protects his and her honor, and protects his wealth, his children, and his house. Allah (S.W.T.) says what can be translated as, “…Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (their chastity, their husband’s property, etc.).” [surat An-Nisa’, (verse 34)] The prophet (S.A.W.) said, “...and the woman is responsible in her husband's house and she will be accountable for what she is responsible for...” [Reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim] The prophet (S.A.W.) also said, “...and the woman should not spend anything from her husband's possessions without his permission.”  The prophet was asked, “Even food?” The prophet (S.A.W.) replied, “That's our best wealth.” [A good hadith reported by Imams At-Tirmithi and Ibn-Majah]


3. Another duty of the wife is that she not allows anyone to enter or stay in his home without his permission.  The prophet (S.A.W.) said, “....Your rights on them (your wives) are that they do not allow anyone that you dislike to sleep in your beds and do not allow anyone that you dislike to enter your home…” [An authentic hadith reported by Imams At-Tirmithi and Ibn-Majah]


4. Also, the wife should not voluntarily fast while the husband is present, except with his permission. The prophet (S.A.W.) said, “It is not allowed for a woman to fast (voluntarily) while her husband is present, except with his permission.” [Reported by Imams Bukhari, Muslim, and Abu-Dawud]


5. The wife must not refuse her husband's request to come to bed.  The prophet (S.A.W.) said, “If a man asks his wife to bed and she refuses, and he slept while he was angry at her, the angels will curse her until she wakes up in the morning.”  [Reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim] The prophet (S.A.W.) also said in another authentic hadith, “If a man calls his wife to his bed, let her come even if she is busy baking bread.” [Reported by Imam At-Tirmithi] And in another authentic narration he said, “Let her come even if he asks her while she is on the back of a camel.”  [Reported by Imams Al-Hakim and Ibn-Majah]


6. The wife should protect the marriage and not ask for divorce unless there is a valid reason. The prophet (S.A.W.) said in an authentic hadith, “Any woman that asks her husband for divorce without a real cause, it is not allowed for her to smell Paradise.” [Reported by Imams At-Tirmithi, Abu-Dawud, and Ibn-Majah]


7. Another duty of the wife is that she takes care of herself and looks her best, and that she should keep smiling for her husband and avoid frowning or dressing in a way that her husband does not like. This is because the prophet (S.A.W.) said in an authentic hadith, “The best among women is the one who makes you happy when you look at her.” Likewise, the husband should also do the same for his wife.  Ibn-Abbas (R.A.) said, “I look my best for my wife as she looks her best for me…” He based his opinion on what Allah (S.W.T.) says in what can be translated as, “…And they (women) have rights (over their husbands) similar (to those of their husbands) over them…”  [surat Al-Baqarah, (verse 228)]


Finally, there is a duty that is due upon both the husband and the wife.  Both have a duty to each other that they keep secret what is between them in their marital relationship.  Neither one of them should talk about it to anyone else, because releasing this secret is a sin.  Asma’ bint Yazeed was with the Prophet (S.A.W.) while men and women were present, when the prophet (S.A.W.) said, “Is there a man who tells what he did with his wife or is there a woman who tells what she did with her husband?” They all became quiet. So I said, “Yes, Oh messenger of Allah, both do.” The prophet (S.A.W.) said, "So do not do that, this is as if a male Satan met a female Satan on some road and slept with her while people were watching them.” [An authentic hadith reported by Imam Ahmad]