The Woman as Wife
Posted January 25, 2010on:
by Dr.Yusuf Al Qaradawy
According to some ancient beliefs, a woman was consign impure being created by Satan. One should, therefore, escape from her and turn to a monastic life of self-denial. Others considered the wife to be an instrument of pleasure for man, a cook for his food or a servant to his house.
Islam came to abolish the monastic state of life and retirement from the world. It urges marriage and considers the state of marriage as one of the signs and proofs of Allah in the universe: “And among His signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect”. [Surah 30:21]
When a group of companions wanted to retire from worldly life and devote themselves to the worship of Allah, fasting the whole day, spending the whole night in worship and deserting women, the Prophet (greetings and peace be upon him) denounced their life saying, “Are you the people who said such a thing? By Allah I am the most fearing of God among you, the most pious, but I fast and then break my fast, I wake up at night to worship Allah and I sleep, and I marry. Whoever does not follow my way (Sunna), he is not one of us”. [ Transmitted by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Anas The Pearl and the Coral (Al-Lu’lu’ wal-Marjan) 2/885]
Islam has made a good wife the best treasure a man can have in his life, after belief in Allah and following His commands. She is considered the key to happiness. According to the Hadith, “the Prophet (greetings and peace be upon him) told `Umar, shall I tell you the best a man can treasure? It is a good wife. If he looks at her, she gives him pleasure; if he orders her, she obeys; and if he is away from her, she remains faithful to him”. [ Transmitted by Abu Dawud in the authority of Ibn Abbas in “Zakat 2/1664; Al-Hakim who amended it 2/333, approved by Al-Dhahaby.] The Prophet (greetings and peace be upon him) said, “The world is delightful and its greatest treasure is a good woman”. [Transmitted by Muslim on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Amr (1467).] He also said, “Whoever is granted a good wife, he is helped to follow half his religion, let him obey God in the second half”. [ Transmitted by Hakim who amended it on the authority of Anas 2/161, approved by Al-Dhahaby and reiterated by Al-Munzery in Inducing and Intimidating (Al-Targheeb wal-Tarheeb). See The Selected (Al-Muntaqa) 111101. It is also related to Al-Tabrany in Al-Awsat as well as Al-Hathamy in AI-Majmu’ 41272. Abd Ar-Rahman did not know the transmitter on the authority of Anas, Al-Hakim knew it was Al-Oqba Al-Azraqi, reiterated by Al-Dhahaby and mentioned by Al-Albany in The Authentic Traditions (625).] He also said, “There are three things that cause happiness and three things that create misery for the human being. A good wife, a good house, and good transport cause happiness. A bad woman, a bad house and bad transport cause his misery”. [ Transmitted by Ahmad, Al-Bazzar and Al-Tabrany in Al-Kabr wal-Awsat on the authority of Saad Ibn Abi Waqqas, as Al-Hathamy said in Al-Majma’ 41272. It is mentioned by Al-Munzery in Inducing and Intimidating (Al-Targheeb wal-Tarheeb), who said it was transmitted by Ahmad through authentic support and by Al-Tabrany, Al-Bazzar and Al-Hakim who amended it.] The Prophet (greetings and peace be upon him) also said, “Four things if granted to any person, he is granted the best of the world and the afterlife: a thankful heart, a tongue that mentions Allah, a body that patiently endures misfortune, and a wife that does not seek his betrayal or his money. [Al-Haythamy said 4/273 it was transmitted by Al-Tabrany, Vo.11(11275) in Al-Kabr wal-Awsat on the authority of Ibn Abbas.] In another version, “does not seek sinning against him “ Islam raised the importance of the woman as a wife and considers her fulfilment of matrimonial duties as jihad (struggle for the sake of Allah). Al-Tabrany transmitted on the authority of Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them, the following Hadith: “A woman came to the Prophet (greetings and peace be upon him) and said, `O Messenger of Allah, I am the woman’s messenger to you. There is no woman among them-who knows it-but none of them wishes my coming to you.” She then presented her case and said, `Allah is the Lord of men and women, and is their God, and you are Allah’s messenger unto men and women. Fighting for Allah (Jihad) is meant for men; if they succeed, they take their due and if they die martyrs, they are alive (in the afterlife)and are provided for by Allah. So, what equals their deeds in our obedience to Allah?” He said, “Obey your husbands and perform your duties. A few of you do that. [Al-Haythamy in Majma’ Al-Zawaaed 4/305, 306; it is transmitted by Al-Tabrany; and Al-Bazzar transmitted a similar Hadith.]
Islam has declared rights of the wife on the husband, and has not made her a mere puppet. On the contrary, it establishes for her more than a protector and observer: firstly, by giving her the Muslim’s faith and piety; secondly, the conscience of the society and of its wakefulness; thirdly, a Law and commitment to it.
The first of her rights is a dower, which Islam obliges the man to give to the woman as a symbol of his desire, in marrying her and of wanting her. Allah says: “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure remit a part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful)“. [Surah 4:4] The expression “with a good heart” signifies the dower as a gift and is not a price or in return for the pleasure he gets from her, as some people have insisted.
So, where can we find this in other civilisations, where a woman pays a sum of her own money though, by nature, the man requests her more than she requests him?
The second of her rights is maintenance. The husband is required to provide his wife with food, clothes, a place to live and medical treatment according to his environment, conditions and income. The wealthy have their own measure, whereas the poor have theirs. The Prophet (greetings and peace be upon him) said stating the rights of women, “You are obliged to provide them with food and clothes honourably”. [ Transmitted by Abu Dawud (1905); Ibn Majah (3074); Al-Doramy in Kittab Al-Mannish p.440 on the authority of Jabber; Ahmad 5/73 on the authority of Abu Gara Al-Raqashi’s uncle.] Honourably here means what is conventional according to people of faith and honour, without extravagance or meanness. The Almighty said:
“Let the rich man spend according to his means, and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him”. [Surah 65:7]
The third right is living with them honourably. The Almighty said: “And live with them honourably”. [Surah 4:19] It is a collective right which is comprised of all around good treatment in all aspects of the husband/wife relationship such as good manners, a flexible attitude, sweet words, a smiling face, a pleasing playfulness and an amusing mien, etc. The Prophet (greetings and peace be upon him) said, “The most faithful believers are the best in manners and the most gentle of their own people”. [Transmitted by Al-Termithy on the authority of Abu Huraira (1162).]
Ibn Hibban transmitted on the authority of ` isha that the Prophet said, “The best of you is he who is the best to his family, and I am the best to my family”. [Transmitted by Ibn Hibban Charity (El-Ehsan) Vol. 9 (4177).]
The actual biography of the Prophet (greetings and peace be upon him) has proved his gentleness towards his people, his excellent conduct with his wives, to the extent that he used to help them with their housekeeping. The extent of his playfulness is shown when he raced ` isha twice; she won the race once and he won the second time. He then said, “Tit for tat”. [Transmitted by Ibn Majah (1976) on the authority of isha.]
In return for these rights, a wife is obliged to obey her husband in everything except disobeying Allah. She is obliged to take care of his money, not to spend it except with his permission; and of his house, not to allow anyone in, even though they be a relative, except after asking him. Such duties are not too burdensome, nor unfair, in return for her rights. Therefore, every right has a duty in return. It is fair of Islam that it did not make all the duties a woman’s concern nor a man’s concern. God Almighty 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”. [Surah 2:228]
Therefore, women have as many rights as they have duties to perform. Of the laudable words transmitted are those telling of Ibn `Abbas standing in front of a looking glass to straighten his appearance and arrange his ornamentation. When he was asked about it, he said, “I adorn myself for my wife as she does for me.” Then he recited the noble verse: “And they have rights (over them) similar to what is reasonable. [Surah 2:228. This is a wonderful example illustrating the deep Qur’anic knowledge of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all.
Islam does not ignore the personality of any woman because of her marriage, as in some cultures which attach the woman to her husband in addition to giving her his name. Islam has kept the distinct, independent personality of the woman as it is, and that is the reason we know the Messenger’s wives by their own names.
In addition, her civil personality is not diminished by marriage, nor does it lose its eligibility for making contracts, etc. She can sell and buy, rent her properties, buy properties, donate some of her money, give charity, deputise and dispute. These are matters attained only recently by the western woman, though she is still restricted in some countries by the husband’s will.