Husband and Wife Relationship in Islam
All praise is due to Allah for He says:
“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah , through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer. (4:1)
Islam urged for marriage and induced for it, it has clarified its wisdoms and rules, as well as what fruits and virtues flourish from within it. In this post we will address some of its commandments to guide those who are willing to step in this sacred relationship and remind those who have already done it.
It is no secret to a Muslim that Islam was built around giving due rights to its owners, and it’s no different in marriage, and because Allah has commanded men to be guardians on their wives, it is important that we first address the rights of wives on their husbands, so lets us begin by paving the way to such rights with the right mindset ahead.
- A bright picture from the prophetic house:
Narrated by Al-Aswad bin Yazid:
I asked `Aisha "What did the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) use to do at home?" She said, "He used to work for his family, and when he heard the Adhan (call for the prayer), he would go out." (Bukhari)
- Happiness in the right choice:
From what Allah made lawful as reasons of happiness and made souls connected with came in the shape of wedlock, as it is considered from the greatest reasons of happiness in this life, to acquire tranquility and happiness whenever there is harmony between married couples. This is why Allah has given us such favor with such a blessing, He says:
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought”. (30:21)
It was narrated by Imam Muslim, from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr (Allah be pleased with them), that the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him) said, “The world is but a (quick passing) enjoyment; and the best enjoyment of the world is a pious and virtuous woman".
- Marriage is the crown of all virtues:
Sheikh Bakr Abu Zaid said, “Marriage is a legitimate connection concluded with a contract between a man and a woman with fixed conditions and pillars that are legally considered, and due to its importance, many scholars and jurists gave priority for it above Jihad (going to battle for the sake of Allah), because battle is only required on men, and there is no other path for men except in marriage, thus it is considered having the highest status in establishing a life and to make it straightened, due to the abundant benefits, wisdoms and noble purposes…”
Allah placed a great deal in the matter of marriage, to the fact that he named it “a solemn covenant” which is loyalty and established commitment to uphold and keep in an acceptable manner or releasing with good treatment, and so Allah says:
“But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gifts], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin? And how could you take it while you have gone in unto each other and they have taken from you a solemn covenant?” (4:20-21)
Know dear brothers that your wives are a great entrust and you will be asked about them on Judgment day, the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him) said, “act kindly towards women” (Agreed upon)
- Exchanging gifts:
Exchanging gifts between married couples, especially from the husband towards the wife, is one of the reasons of implanting love between each other. The messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him) said, “Give presents to each other and love each other…” (Al-Albani)
Rights of the wife on the husband:
In reality, marriage is considered a partnership between a man and a woman in order to build a righteous generation that worships its Lord, to build and establish a life accordingly. The original purpose of marriage in Islam is to establish affection, intimacy and selflessness between both sides, and for the continuation of such establishment Allah made rights for each of them towards the other that needs to be accomplished.
First: Treatment with goodness and cohabitation.
The wife is an entrust as we have mentioned earlier, it is a duty to treat her well with words, by talking well with her, and with actions, by dealing with her in goodness, due to Allah saying:
“…And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them - perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good”. (4:19)
The Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) said, “A believing man should not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another”. (Muslim)
Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him) narrated from the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) that he said, “Take my advice with regard to women: Act kindly towards women, for they were created from a rib, and the most crooked part of a rib is its uppermost. If you attempt to straighten it; you will break it, and if you leave it alone it will remain crooked; so act kindly toward women”.
The Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) also said, “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives”. (Al-Albani)
Second: Safeguarding the wife, having zeal and ardor (jealousy) towards her and respect her.
To have a zeal and ardor towards the wife is an instinctual matter instilled in the souls. Sa’d bin ‘Ubadah (Allah be pleased with him) asked the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him), “If I found a man with my wife, I would kill him with the sharp side of my sword” When the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) heard that he said, "Do you wonder at Sa`d's sense of zeal and ardor? Verily, I have more sense of zeal and ardor than Sa`d, and Allah has more sense of zeal and ardor than I." (Bukhari)
Imam Ibul-Qayyim (May Allah grant mercy to his soul) said in his book, “the gardens of the loved ones”, after he mentioned types of jealousy, some are good and some are blameworthy, he mentioned the highest three levels:
1- The zeal and ardor towards ones Lord, which prevents you from committing what He prohibited.
2- The zeal and ardor towards ones heart, to inhabit other than ones Lord and to find comfort in another.
3- The zeal and ardor towards ones wife, for someone else to look at her.
The jealousy which Allah and His messenger favors revolves around those three types, anything other than those are considered tricks of Satan, or a trial from Allah such as the jealousy of a woman over her husband marrying another woman.
Third: Keeping the wife continent.
This is an established right to the wife, confirmed by prophetic acts, as mentioned in the narration of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘Aas (Allah be pleased with them), he said, “The messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him) said, “O `Abdullah! Have I been informed that you fast all the day and stand in prayer all night?" I said, "Yes, O Allah's Messenger (prayers and peace be upon him)!" He said, "Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you, so give rights to each of them as due”.
The Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him) had informed him that the wife has rights on her husband, not only that, but such right is considered a type of worship which the man is rewarded for. As it was narrated by Abi Dhar Al-Ghafari (Allah be pleased with him), from the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him), he said, “…and in man's sexual intercourse (with his wife) there is a Sadaqah." They (the Companions) said: "O Messenger of Allah, is there reward for him who satisfies his sexual need among us?" He said, "You see, if he were to satisfy it with something forbidden, would it not be a sin on his part? Similarly, if he were to satisfy it legally, he should be rewarded". (Muslim)
Fourth: Safeguarding the secrets of the wife.
This right is considered from the joint rights of married couples. It was authenticated by Muslim, from Abi Sa’eed Alkhudri (Allah be pleased with him), he said, “The Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him) said, “The most wicked among the people in the eye of Allah on the Day of judgment is the men who goes to his wife and she comes to him, and then he divulges her secret”.
Fifth: Wife alimony.
“Lodge them [in a section] of where you dwell out of your means and do not harm them in order to oppress them. And if they should be pregnant, then spend on them until they give birth. And if they breastfeed for you, then give them their payment and confer among yourselves in the acceptable way; but if you are in discord, then there may breastfeed for the father another woman” (65:6)
Allah also says:
“Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth”. (4:34)
Imam Ibn Katheer said commenting on this verse, “And what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth” meaning the dowry and expenses which Allah obligated to them according to the divine revelation and prophetic traditions.
From Abi Dawood, the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) was asked “What right can any wife demand of her husband?" He replied, "You should give her food when you eat, clothe her when you clothe yourself, not strike her on the face, and do not revile her or separate from her except in the house”.
When viewing such right, one remembers what was authenticated by Bukhari and Muslim from ‘Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) that Hind, the wife of Abi Sufyan, said to the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him, “Abu Sufyan is a niggardly man and does not give me and my children adequate provisions for maintenance unless I take something from his possession without his knowledge. The Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) said to her, "Take from his possessions on a reasonable basis that much which may suffice for you and your children”.
Sixth: Enduring the mistakes of the wife and looking the other way.
My dear brothers, it is a must for you to know that it is not the attribute of humans to be perfect, but the actual origin of humans is error and mistakes, this is why it is rightly and justly so to look the other way from small errors and passing mistakes, as said by the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him), “A believer must not hate (his wife) believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics he will be pleased with another”. (Muslim)
A sane generous husband does not quarrel his wife at the least of mistakes, and does not blame her by the flick of any error, but one looks for excuses, and looks to her with the kindest of bears, and then offers advice according to ability.
Seventh: Teaching the wife the matters of her religion.
“And enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein…” (20:132)
Ibn Katheer said in interpreting this verse, “meaning: to save them from the torment of Allah by establishing prayer and being steadfast in doing it yourself”.
Muslim narrated in his authentic book of prophetic narrations that when the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) observed Witr, he would then say to ‘Aisha, “ O ‘Aisha, get up and observe Witr”.
Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) interpreted Allah’s saying, “protect yourselves and your families from a Fire…” by saying, “work on the obedience of Allah, and be fearful from disobeying Him, and order your family with the remembrance of Allah, Allah will then make you survive Hellfire”.
Rights of the husband on the wife
- A wise wife:
A wise wife is truly the one which is able to help a husband against himself, by always reminding him of Allah, and longing for the continuous happiness in their family life, as were the women of the companions (Allah be pleased with them) saying to their husbands when they leave their homes, “By Allah do not bring to us a prohibition, and fear Allah with us”.
- Mutual respect:
How beautiful it is when there is constant established mutual respect between married couples, willingly and with comfort.
It is obligated on you sisters, to respect your husbands and to submit to their guardianship without disputing what is considered their sole specialty, and to uphold them in the status that Allah has granted them, being the head of the family, its master and protector, and primal responsible on it.
The rights of the husband on the wife:
First: Obedience in righteousness.
What is meant by righteousness here is what was decided by Islamic laws and ordered acting upon it, which means that the wife obeys the husband in other than what Allah has prohibited. Allah says:
“And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise” (2:228)
Allah also says:
“Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth”. (4:34)
Sisters, do know that when you refuse to obey your husband, it exposes you to the wrath of Allah and His curse. It was narrated by Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him), he said, “The messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him) said, “If a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, and thus he spends the night angry with her, the angels continue cursing her till the morning’. (Agreed upon)
Second: to abide in the house and not to get out of it except with the permission of the husband.
“And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance” (33:33)
Although this was addressed to the wives of the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him), it is considered a guideline to the rest of the women of the nation to follow, and to act upon the morals of the wives of the Messenger of Allah (prayers and peace be upon him).
Third: safeguard honor and wealth:
Due to the words of the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him), “and the woman is a guardian and is responsible for her husband’s house and his offspring” (Bukhari)
Fourth: Serving the house.
This is indicated in what Ibnul-Qayyim (May Allah grant mercy to his soul) said in his book (the sustenance) that the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) divided the matters between ‘Ali and Fatima when they complained to him about the service, so he rules for Fatima the internal service (meaning inside the house) and ruled on ‘Ali the external one (outside the house).
Fifth: to beautify oneself to the husband.
From Jabir bin ‘Abdillah (Allah be pleased with them) he said, “We were with the Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) in an expedition. When we came (back) to Medina and were going to enter our houses, he said: Wait and enter (your houses) in the later part of the evening so that a woman with disheveled hair may have used the comb, and a woman whose husband has been away from home may have removed the hair from her private parts”. (Bukhari & Muslim)
Sixth: Taking into account the feelings of the husband.
You should stay clear from what harms your husband from sayings, actions and ethics, you should also take into account his financial and social circumstances.
Seventh: Safeguarding the Husbands secrets and never exposing them.
This right is considered a joint right between married couples, Allah says:
“So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard” (4:34)
Finally we say, dear brothers, stand a little with yourself, after you have now become a family head, on a threshold of a new stage in your life, you should complete conscious with the amount of entrust and responsibility you are given and being in charge of.
Dear brothers, although you were all alone a while ago, and now comes who shares life with you, and although you used to think for your own self before, now you are thinking for yourself and others. So take charge of the matters and be sure to be steadfast with the divine teachings of Allah and the acts of His blessed Messenger (prayers and peace be upon him).