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Tuesday, June 15, 2004


Rights of both Spouses on each other

Marriage produces important effects and significant requisites. It is a sacred relation that binds spouses to reciprocal, physical, social and financial commitments. Both spouses have to live with each other on a footing of kindness and equity and fulfill his or her obligations wholeheartedly with neither reluctance nor procrastination.

Allah Almighty says:

"... And live with them honorably..." (4:19)
And also says:

"...And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses, etc.) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect, etc.) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them..." (2:228)
The wife has to do her best to please her husband because when both has fulfilled their obligations towards each other, their life will turn into a happy one. However if they do otherwise, dispute and dissension will result and they will experience a troublesome state of affairs.

A lot of holy texts have come to consider deeply the special status of woman and remind husbands that it is futile or even impossible to seek perfection in women. The Noble Prophet (peace be upon Him) said:

"Treat women kindly. Woman has been created from a rib (the rib is crooked) and the most crooked part of the rib is in the upper part. If you try to straighten that rib, it will break, and if you leave it as it is, it will remain curved. So treat women kindly." (Bukhari and Muslim)

In another version

"Woman has been created from a rib and you cannot straighten her. If you wish to draw benefit from her, do so despite her crookedness. If you try to straighten her, you will break her, and breaking a woman means divorcing her" (Muslim)

In the same context, the Noble Prophet (peace be upon Him) said:

"Let no Muslim male entertain any malice against a Muslim female. He may dislike one habit in her, but may find another in her which is pleasing." (Muslim)

Such Ahadith (Prophetic sayings) give the believers priceless admonition relating to treating women, and enjoin the Muslim male to make use of what the Muslim female can afford to give only. Her natural disposition in itself implies crookedness and does not make allowance for perfection. The man has to weigh her good and bad habits and if he happens to see something disagreeable in her, he should not be heedless of her agreeable merits. The man must not look at woman through the perspective of abhorrence and dissatisfaction only.

Some husbands seek perfection in the person of their wives whereas this is something contrary to the latter"s nature, consequently marriages run into trouble and undergo various hardships with the natural corollary of incomplete wedlock enjoyment and tarnished marital relations to be eventually crowned with divorce. A wise husband has got to be lenient and connive at various mishaps so long as they do not vitiate the canons or morality and religion.

Some of the Wife"s Rights on her Husband:

The wife has full right, on her husband, to food, clothing, housing and other relevant needs.

Allah Almighty says:

"...but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother"s food and clothing on a reasonable basis..." (2:233)
And the Prophet (peace be upon Him) said:

"The feeding and clothing of your wives is your responsibility." (Tirmidhi)

When the Prophet (peace be upon Him) was asked: "What is the right of a wife on her husband"" He said:

"Feed her as and when you feed yourself; clothe her as and when you clothe yourself; do not beat her on her face; do not abuse (or curse) her and do not separate yourself from her except inside the house." (Ahmed, Abu Da"ûd, Ibn Majah)

It is crucial that the man should keep balance between his wives, in case of polygamy, in spending, clothing, housing and cohabitation. The Noble Prophet (peace be upon Him) warned against giving preference to one over the other describing this behavior as a heinous sin. He (peace be upon Him) said:

"When a man has two wives and he is inclined to one of them, he will come on the Day of Resurrection with a side hanging down."

However, it is humanly impossible for a man to keep a perfect balance between his wives in all respects; for instance love being an affair of the heart over which man has no control, a husband cannot be expected to have equal love for all his wives.

Allah Almighty says:

"You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire..." (4:129)
The Noble Prophet (peace be upon Him) used to do his best in treating his wives on equitable terms in areas he had full control over. He used to say:

"O Allah, this is my division concerning what I possess so do not blame me concerning what you possess and I do not."

Man, at any rate, could single out one of his wives for more nights of cohabitation provided that the others are in agreement on this issue. The Messenger"s wives gave him permission to stay wherever he desired during his illness and he chose to spend his last days at "Aisha"s room until he died.

Some of the Husband"s Rights on his Wife:

The husband"s rights on his wife are greater than hers over him because Allah says:

"...And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses, etc.) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect, etc.) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them..." (2:228)
Men have a supervisory authority on account of the physical advantage they possess, the financial responsibility they carry for providing for the household and the instructional task they are bound to fulfill.

Allah says:

"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means..." (4:34)
Thus, and in the light of Allah"s Words, we could say that a righteous wife is obedient and harmonious in her husband"s presence; and in his absence guards his reputation, property and her own virtue, as ordained by Allah. The Noble Prophet (peace be upon Him) , in this regard, said:

"If it were permissible that a person may prostrate himself before another, I would have ordered that a wife should prostrate herself before her husband." (Tirmidhi)

He (peace be upon Him) also said:

"When the husband calls his wife to his bed and she disobeys, and he spends the night in anger against her, the angels keep cursing her till the morning." (Bukhari and Muslim)

A wife cannot even observe a voluntary ritual act that might mar her husband"s full enjoyment without his consent; this is explicitly attested by the Noble Prophet"s words:

"A woman should not observe an optional fast when her husband is present at home, except with his permission. She should not permit anyone to enter his house without his consent." (Bukhari and Muslim)

He also stipulated the husband"s satisfaction for the wife to enter into Paradise:

"If a woman dies while her husband was pleased with her, she will enter into Paradise." (Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi)


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