Rights of the Wife over Husband 

Husband must be friendly, kind, generous and nice to his wife.

First of all, I believe we must know that the law of the family is for ensuring the happiness of the whole family. Therefore, in what way the happiness is brought it is the most important and basic thing to do.

If we will further violate the rights of children and family members while trying to seek our rights, in that case, the family peace must be our priority instead of seeking our right. In fact, when someone’s right is violated, it is up to the holder of the right to punish or to forgive the violator. Without a doubt, considering the verse “(those) prevent evil with good,”1 what Allah (swt) will be pleased with is to forgive. That way we take a step forward to finish the unrest.

There are many precautions for the continuation of family life suggested by the press and internet media. There are laws legislated by the state. Imams preach and advise people about the subject.

Unfortunately, always the material penal codes are implemented regarding the issue. Some people are afraid of gossips, and some make the matter worse while trying to be helpful, and some- in order to find favour in the eyes of the committees that try to corrupt women- accuse men most of the time. Regardless of anything these committees always tend to see the women justifiable even when they are wrong. Every kind of way is put forward to women to cause the breakdown of the families. But it is not something to be proud of to support one side and to finish the other side off, and thus to break down the family. The big deal is to try to make the family stick together by persuading both sides. Of course there are also people who sincerely endeavour with wise principles to keep the families together. May Allah (swt) be pleased with them!

In our opinion, the material sentences that do not have any effect on conscience can be efficient to some extent. If the torment of Allah (swt), which affects the conscience, is reminded, and if it is explained and proved that there will be rewards in the hereafter as a result of some sacrifices, the peace of family life is mostly achieved. The continuation of the family union must be the basis, instead of doing absolute justice in every single matter. This is proven by many experiences.

Hakim (ra), the son of Muawiya (ra), narrates: “Muawiya (ra) asked the Prophet (saw), ‘What are the rights of women over us?’ And he replied, ‘Feed her when you eat. Dress her when you dress. Do not slap her in the face. Do not upset her by finding her ugly. Do not leave her alone by getting angry at her while outside.”2

As indicated in this hadith al-sharif we will try to explain the rights of wife over husband.

Getting on well

Allah (swt) says, “Live with them in kindness.”3

That is, treat them with kind words in accordance with what is right. In his last sermon our Prophet (saw) said, “Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. It is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you.”4 thus commanded us to observe rights and justice.

In another hadith our Prophet said, “When Allah wishes goodness for the members of a family, He grants them mercy.”5 The Prophet (saw) also said in a hadith, “He who is deprived of compassion is deprived of any goodness.”6 Being compassionate brings man all goodness. Moreover, the sincere relations between the family members will be a good means that Allah (swt) bestows compassion and mercy on them.

It is said in the hadith that “The believer who has the perfect iman (faith) is the one who is the most virtuous and who does favours to his family a lot.”7 Another hadith says, “The best of you are those who are the best to their wives, and I am the best of you to my wives.”8 As expressed in these hadiths the way to having perfect iman is to do favour to family.

“Treat women nicely, for women are created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion, so, if you should try to straighten it, it will break, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked. So treat women nicely.”9 In this hadith our Prophet (saw) commands getting on well with women for the friendship of hearts and the love of the selves for each other. To live happily with them is only possible by forgiving their faults, being patient with their shortcomings and doing favours to them.

Family is like a small state. In order that this small state is governed from one centre, man has been given the quality to administer and woman has been given the quality to be administered. Although man may make a lot of mistakes, he has the quality to manage the family with his reason, justice, mercy and power. Woman, on the other hand, has been created in need of an administrator due to her qualities like acting by emotion, getting angry quickly, being weak, and not being patient and thankful all the time. Man must know those qualities of woman, which are given to her with regard to some wisdom, and behave according to them. He must not try to change those qualities of the woman. He should accept her as she is and get along with her.

Our Prophet (saw) said in another hadith “When a believer sees another believer’s bad manners, he shall not hate him. Instead, he shall like him considering one of his good manners.”10 Woman has many good qualities like, first of all, iman and Islam, compassion, being a friend who saves man from a life of loneliness, protecting from haram (unlawful), and being a means of attaining happiness in this world and the hereafter. Certainly, the manners of the woman which man dislikes are nothing compared to those good qualities. Moreover, if there is a problem in family, man should know that it is because of the lack of his good administration. He should not lay the blame on his wife and family members because of his mistakes in managing the family.

According to some narrations, a small dispute took place between the Prophet (saw) and Aisha (ra). At that point Abu Bakr (ra) came to them. And he became the arbitrator between them. Our Prophet (saw) asked Aisha (ra), “Will you speak first or shall I speak first?” “You speak first o Messenger of Allah,” she answered. “But be just in your explanation.” Hearing that word Abu Bakr (ra) got angry and slapped Aisha (ra). Her lip split open. Abu Bakr (ra) told her, “O the enemy of your own soul! What else does our Prophet say but the truth?” Upon that Aisha (ra) hid behind the Prophet (saw). Our Prophet (saw) said to Abu Bakr (ra): “O Abu Bakr! This was not what we intended (by appointing you an arbitrator). We do not consent to what you have done.”11

Even the Prophet of the End Times (saw) and his wife Aisha (ra), the mother of the believers, had such an experience. How can we, then, imagine a family life without any problem? Maybe there are many wisdom and benefit of the family problems like test of spouses with each other. Therefore, what we have to say is “Let’s see what the Master does; whatever He does, it is best.”12

Joking with one another and having a good time

One must be cheerful and make jokes without going too far in order to live a happy life with his spouse.

Our beloved Prophet (saw), who is an example for us in every issue, used to race with Aisha (ra). She won at one time, and our Prophet (saw) won at another time.13

In order to increase the love and friendship of family members, the family life must be kept alive by activities like tours, picnics, competitions of fiqh, seerah and history.

Our mother Aisha (ra) narrated: “It was the day of ashura and the Abyssinians were playing with shields and spears; the Prophet (saw) asked me whether I would like to watch. I said yes. He stood at the door of my room, screening me with his cloak, so that I could see the sport of the Abyssinians as they played with their spears in the mosque of the Messenger of Allah. He kept standing for my sake until I had enough and then I went back in. Then our Prophet said, ‘A perfect believer is the one who is the most virtuous and who shows kindness to his family most.’”14

All of these must be within the legitimate sphere (in accordance with Islam). However, one should not cause the demoralization of family members by allowing them to do whatever they want, which makes them yield to sins that undermine their akhlaq (moral). On the other hand, one should not cause boredom and distress by putting pressure in the family. More precisely, the midway, which is the way of the Prophet (saw), must be preferred.

Maintaining the sustenance of the family

It is compulsory on man to provide sustenance for his wife and children. “Let a man of wealth spend from his wealth, and he whose provision is restricted – let him spend from what Allah has given him. Allah does not charge a soul except [according to] what He has given it. Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease [i.e., relief].”15

As expressed in the verse, even if his wife is rich, a man is responsible for taking care of his family in accordance with his financial possibility without waste or meanness. Our Prophet (saw) said on this subject that “It is enough of a sin for a person that he overrides the rights of those he is responsible for taking care.”16 emphasizing how big a responsibility it is to take care of the family.

Islam counts the spending for family as sadaqah (charity). About this subject our Prophet (saw) said, “A man’s spending on his family is sadaqah. Even the morsel that the man put in his wife’s mouth brings reward.”17 Our Prophet (saw) said that someone’s working for his family’s sustenance is also jihad: “Whoever works for his family’s sustenance, he is (making jihad) in the way of Allah.”18

“The most virtuous money is the money one spends for his family, for his mount in the way of Allah (for jihad), and for his friends (who struggle for material or spiritual jihad).”19 The fact that this hadith starts with the family tells us that there can be no greater reward than for the spending of a person for his family to protect their honour and to make them dependent on nobody.

Moreover, maintaining the sustenance of the family is not just a duty to be fulfilled. It is a virtuous worship and a unique charity indeed. Those who perform this worship are seen as a generous person who has dignity and good morals. But those who neglect this worship, may Allah (swt) forbid, are remembered as mean, stingy, and someone who do not protect his value and humanity.

On this subject our Prophet (saw) said, “The generous is close to Allah, to the Paradise and to people. The mean, on the other hand, is far away from Allah, from people; and they are close to the Hell. In fact, Allah loves the ignorant that is generous more than the worshipper that is mean.”20 The worst is the meanness to one’s own family members. This is a kind of illness that has no cure. May Allah (swt) protect us from such a manner!

Man’s managing the family well

Allah (swt) gave man the attribute of managing and woman the attribute of being managed in order that the family lives a happy life and goes in the right path. Man must be just and compassionate towards family members. The family members, on the other hand, must be dutiful and respectful to the man.

Just like man, woman, by nature, might also have some faults and mistakes which affect the peace and happiness of the family. Allah (swt) tells what to do in such a case in the following verse:

“But those [wives] from whom you fear disobedience – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them [lightly]. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. And if you fear dissension between the two (i.e. husband and wife), send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, Allah will cause it between them. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted [with all things].”21

As it is understood from the verse, Allah (swt) is pleased with reconciliation, not dissention. The primary thing that is desired is spouses’ getting along well.

As it is seen those rulings are about the disobedience of the woman. This makes us to ask, “Can’t the man be disobedient? Does the woman have to obey no matter what?” Yes, the man might be wrong as well. The verse, “And if a woman fears from her husband contempt or evasion, there is no sin upon them if they make terms of settlement between them – and settlement is best,”22 tells that the man might be unjust and explains how to resolve it.

Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır smoothly explained those verses in his commentary:

“As understood from the above verses, we can enumerate the necessary things to do when there is a trouble originating from the woman:

1- In order that the wrong behaviour of the woman is corrected, a method that influence both the heart and conscience; and the anxiety and fear must be followed. It must be underlined that that wrong behaviour harms initially the spouses and then the children in this worldly life. Moreover, it must be clearly explained regarding the Hereafter that it is not a behaviour that Allah (swt) is pleased with; it harms the happiness of the Paradise and may cause a punishment in the Hell. This must be done without any sentimentalism and contempt.

2- If the problem persists, she must be left alone in her bed. This will be an opportunity for both sides to think about the harm that will be caused. Moreover, this precaution saves sides from acting impulsively by cooling down the anger and nerve; contributes to solving the problem; and thus produce the result of “making the right decision.”

3- If the problem still continues, in order to prevent disunion of the family and the misery of the children, it can be necessary to lightly beat the woman without striking her face or causing a bodily injury. This is of course done to protect the family unity. However, if this will lead to the rise of the problem, it is not permissible to do that. Such a mercy of Allah (swt) it is that He commands to take those measures within the family in order to protect the privacy of the family in accordance with the Divine Name Sattar (Concealer).

4- If the problem cannot be solved despite all of these, the issue is compulsorily passed to the court. Therefore; O Muslims! And especially, O Judges! If you are anxious about a disagreement between husband and wife, if you fear a dissension between them, that is, if you understand that they fall out with each other although the marriage continues, send an arbitrator from husband’s relatives and an arbitrator from wife’s relatives. If these two arbitrators both truly desire reconciliation, Allah, Who says “I am as My servant thinks I am,” will reconcile them and reunite them. He puts love and friendship in the hearts of husband and wife. How does He do that? Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Acquainted (with all things). He knows how to do it. As it can be realised the verses finish with the reconciliation of the spouses. Separating them is not considered appropriate and no statement is made about it.”23

It shows us how much Allah (swt) dislikes the divorce that He does not mention it which is an alternative to the reconciliation. Yes, taking all those precautions and protecting the family unity are the most important duties of the man.

Unfortunately, those who have troubles in their families expect the solution from only the courts, which is a mistake; they cause the disunion of the family as a punishment of that mistake. May Allah (swt) protect us and all believers from those kinds of problems! Amen!

References:

1- Ra‘d, 13:22

2- Tuhfat al-Arous, p.53

3- Nisa, 4:19

4- Tuhfat al-Arous, 53

5- Tuhfat al-Arous, 54

6- Muslim

7- Tuhfat al-Arous, 54

8- Tuhfat al-Arous, 54

9- Bukhari

10- Müslim

11- Müslim

12- Tuhfat al-Arous, 55

13- Ibn Majah

14- Tuhfat al-Arous, 57

15- Talaq, 65:7

16- Abu Davood

17- Tuhfat al-Arous, 58

18- ibid

19- Fayz’ul Qadr

20- Tirmidhi

21- Nisa, 4:34-35

22- Nisa, 4:128

23- Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır, tafseer of surah al-Nisa verse 128

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