The Muslim and His Wife

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He helps her to make up for her failings and weaknesses

The sincere Muslim husband tries to make up for what his wife lacks, if he feels that she is lacking in knowledge or manners. He does this in the gentlest, kindest and most positive manner. If he encounters defiance or wilful deviance on her part, he brings her back to the straight and narrow in a gentle, humane and intelligent manner, avoiding harsh criticism or rebuking her in front of people, no matter what the reason. The most hurtful thing for a woman is that someone should hear her being reprimanded or witness her being scolded. The true Muslim is the most sensitive and respectful towards the feelings of others.

He knows how to strike a balance between pleasing his wife and treating his mother with due kindness and respect

The sincere Muslim husband draws upon his intelligence, compassion and strength of character in his dealings with both his wife and his mother, in such a way that he does not offend either of them. So he cannot be disobedient towards his mother or oppressive towards his wife. Rather, he recognizes his mother's rights and treats her in the best possible way, while also recognizing his wife's rights. He does not detract from his wife's rights in the course of fulfilling his duty towards his mother and taking care of her. The truly sincere Muslim is able to do this, as long as he is truly conscious of Allah (i.e., has taqwa ) and follows the guidance and teachings of Islam, which treat both mother and wife with fairness and give each her due status.

He fully understands his role as a protector and maintainer (qawwam) of his wife

With such good attitudes and gentle treatment, the Muslim husband wins the heart of his wife, so she does not disobey him in anything. Therefore the Muslim man has been given the position of qawwam over women, because of the characteristics which Islam instils in him, the qualifications it has given him and the conditions and limits it has imposed on him:

( Men are the protectors and maintainers {qawwamun} of women, because of Allah has given the one more {strength} than the other, and because they support them from their means...) (Qur'an 4:34)

This position of qawwam brings with it some inconveniences, for it gives men responsibilities. The man is completely responsible for his wife:

´Each of you is a shepherd, and each of you is responsible for those under his care. A ruler is a shepherd; a man is the shepherd of his family; a woman is the shepherd of her husband's house and children. For each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for those under his care. (Bukhari and Muslim)

This responsibility applies to every individual in an Islamic society, in which everyone is responsible in one way or another, because according to Islam, life is a serious matter, not something to be taken lightly.

Just as Islam has enjoined good treatment of woman and raised her status, so it has also commanded her to understand her role in life, and to stay within the limits of the Shariah, so that she may better fulfil her role in life as a partner to man in bringing up the next generation and making life more pleasant and enjoyable.

Similarly, just as Islam has required man to treat his wife kindly and take care of her properly, so it has commanded the wife to obey him within the limits of permissibility, fairness and justice. This obedience is most strongly emphasized, as is illustrated by the words of the Prophet (s):

´If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would have ordered the woman to prostrate to her husband.'16

Note: 16. Reported by al-Tirmidhi, who said it is a hasan sahih hadith.

Indeed, he said that the husband's satisfaction with her would be a cause of her entering Paradise: ´Any woman who dies, and her husband is pleased with her, will enter Paradise. (Bukhari and Muslim)

He assured the defiant, rebellious woman that the angels would heap curses upon her until she goes back to her husband: ´If a woman stays away from her husband's bed, the angels will curse her until morning. (Bukhari and Muslim)

The concern of Islam to affirm man's position of qawwam over women and reinforce her obligation to obey and please him, goes as far as forbidding her to fast at times other than Ramadan or to receive any guests without his permission:

´The woman is not permitted to fast when her husband is present, without his permission, or to invite anyone into his house without his permission. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam gave the husband this right to be qawwam over his wife so that he will be a real man, knowing how to steer the ship of family life towards the shore of safety and guidance. Islam warns all men against the trial and temptation (fitnah) of women, which may make them heedless and weak, and lessen their religious commitment, so that they turn a blind eye to the waywardness and unIslamic behaviour of their wives. In such a case a husband has no say: his wife is controlling everything in the home, so that he dare not disobey her, or answer her back, or refuse any of her whims. The Prophet (s) was right when he said that this is the most damaging of trials and temptations that a man can be faced with:

´There will be no fitnah after my death that is worse for men than the fitnah of women. (Bukhari and Muslim)

The Muslim husband is a man who is not weak in dealing with the trial of having a wayward wife, no matter how difficult that fitnah is. He gently makes it clear to her that no matter how much he loves her, he loves Allah and the Prophet more, and his desire to please Allah is stronger than his feelings for her:

( Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates or your kindred; the wealth that you have gained; the commerce in which you fear a decline; or the dwellings in which you delight - are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause - then wait until Allah brings about His Decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious.) (Qur'an 9:24)

In this way, the female waywardness which we see in many so-called Muslim homes will be done away with. The man who sees his wife, daughters and sisters going out in the street with make-up, uncovered heads and bare arms, clothed but seeming naked, and does nothing to stop this disobedience of Islam, has surely lost his manhood, abandoned Islam and earned the wrath of Allah. There is no way out of his predicament but sincere repentance which will wake him up, restore his manhood and set him back on the straight path.

Islam has set out standards for women, and has defined the kind of clothing she should wear when she goes out in the street or appears in from of men who are not-mahram. This type of clothing is known as hijab. The Muslim woman who has been nurtured in pure Islam and has grown up in its protective atmosphere accepts this hijab willingly and with a deep sense of conviction, knowing that it is from Allah, and that it is not a tyranny designed by men to satisfy their egotistical desires to control women, or a custom invented during the decadent Umawi (Umayyad) period, as is claimed by those worthless fools who have no sound proof from the Qur'an whatsoever.

In a report narrated by Bukhari, 'A'ishah said: "May Allah have mercy on the early Muhajir women. When Allah revealed: ( . . .they should draw their veils over their bosoms. . .) (Qur'an 24:31) they tore their aprons and covered their heads and faces with them." In another report, also given by Bukhari, she said: "They cut their waist-sheets at the edges and covered their heads and faces with the cut pieces."

Safiyyah bint Shaybah said:

´While we were with 'A'ishah we mentioned the women of Quraysh and how good they were. 'A'ishah said: 'The women of Quraysh are good but by Allah I have never seen any better than the women of the Ansar or any more convinced of the Book of Allah or with a deeper faith in the Revelation. When Surat Al Nur was revealed - ( ... they should draw their veils over their bosoms...) - the men turned to their wives, daughters, sisters and other female relatives and recited these words to them. Not one of them failed to take her decorated wrapper and wrap it around her head and face, in acceptance of and belief in what Allah had revealed. The next morning they were behind the Messenger of Allah (s) wrapped up in their veils, looking as if they had black crows on their heads.''17

Note: 17. See Fath­ al-Bari, commentary on sahih Bukhari.

May Allah have mercy on the women of the Ansar: how strong was their faith, how sincere was their Islam and how beautiful was their response to the Truth when it was revealed! Every woman who truly believes in Allah and His Messenger cannot do other than to adhere to the distinctive Islamic dress, regardless of whatever nakedness and tabarruj (wanton display) surrounds her. I remember a veiled Muslim student at the University of Damascus whose attitude was no less commendable than that of the women of the Ansar; when a visiting journalist asked her about her hijab and why she was putting up with it in the heat of summer, she quoted: ( ...Say: 'The Fire of Hell is fiercer in heat...' ) (Qur'an 9:81)

It is pure, sincere Muslim girls like this who will establish Muslim families, raise the next generation in a sound way and fill society with strong, productive men. Nowadays there are many such girls, al-hamdulillah!

The sincere Muslim is responsible for his womenfolk's adherence to the Islamic teachings regarding her going out, and the hijab which is the badge of the Muslim woman. The day when a husband lets his wife or his environment take over and dispenses with this Islamic ruling without being able to stand up to them, is the day he says good-bye to both his religion and his manhood.

The husband's responsibility for his wife does not stop with her outward appearance, but also includes her worship and conduct. He is responsible for her if she omits some act of worship, or if she neglects or deliberately ignores her duties towards Allah. He is responsible for her good behaviour and completion of her duties. Any shortcomings on her part will detract from her husband's manhood, diminish his Islam and damage the role of qawwam with which Allah has honoured him.

Islam considers women to be a trust which has been given to men for safe-keeping. As the wife is usually influenced by her husband, he may take her with him to Paradise or lead her to Hell. Therefore Allah ordered the believing men to protect both themselves and their families from the Fire and gave a terrifying picture of the awful fate that awaits them if they neglect their responsibilities towards their wives and families and fail to compel them to adhere to the truth:

( O you who believe Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are [appointed] angels stern [and] severe, who flinch not [from executing] the Commands they receive from Allah, but do [precisely] what they are commanded.) (Qur'an 66:6)

The role of qawwam over women which Islam gives to men cannot truly be fulfilled unless the husband is a successful leader of his family. The Muslim husband does not assert his manhood through roughness, cruelty, violence and harsh words. This is the manhood of ignorance (jahiliyyah); Islamic manhood is something else altogether. The Islamic ideal of manhood is: a strong and likeable personality; a noble attitude; tolerance and forgiveness of minor mistakes; strong adherence to the laws of Allah and determination to apply them to every member of his family; brilliant leadership in guiding his family to the truth; generosity without being extravagant; a thorough understanding of his responsibilities in this world and the next; and a clear idea of the ideal Muslim home. These are the characteristics of the true Muslim as Islam wants him to be.

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