Aristotle the legendary Greek philosopher said, “Man is by nature a social animal”. However, his animality must be controlled. Without the law, his survival is difficult. “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst”. Similarly, being human when husband and wife are separated from law and commandments they are the worst. For a Muslim, the supreme law is the holy Quran and Sunnah. Their commandments are inviolable. The message is clear: “O you who have Faith! Obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not turn away from him while you hear (him)”. “And be not like those who say: We heard, but they do not hear”. (Al-Anfal: 20-21). The message to a husband and wife is also intelligible from this source.
According to Syed Abul Ala Maududi (Book: Haqooq-al-Zojain), the primary purpose of marriage is to avoid fornication.“Do not even go close to fornication…”(Al Bani-Israel: 32). Marriage gives protection to women. The second purpose is tranquillity. “…He created for you wives from yourself so that you may find tranquillity in them…” (Al-Room: 21). Next purpose is secrecy between them. As it is provided: “They are clothing for you and you are clothing for them”. (Al-Baqarah: 187). The Tafseer says “Men and women are each other’s garments: i.e., they are for mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual protection, fitting into each other as a garment fits the body. A garment also is both for show and concealment of defects in the body.” (Interpretation by Yousaf Ali).
Consensus and differences may occur between a husband and a wife
What should they do in such a case? What if there is a disagreement between them? The Quran says: “if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result”. (Al-Nisa: 59)
The divorce ratio is increasing in Pakistan, one of the major reasons is defiance and ignorance of commandments ordained by Almighty Allah and acceptance of their statuses already established in injunctions of Islam i.e. the holy Quran and Sunnah. Jabir reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension); the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: ‘I did so and so.’ And he says: ‘You have done nothing.’Then one amongst them comes and says: ‘I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.’ Satan goes near him and says: ‘You have done well.’ He then embraces him. (Sahih Muslim: 2813).
Therefore, it is high time to recall and remember the commandments and the message of Islam for a husband and wife, as being ignored in our society and causing an increase in the ratio of divorce. These commandments are the duties and they must be accepted by both husband and wife.
It is often said that Men and Women are equal. But Husband and Wife are not. Though one may disagree, however, it is what it is. “Men are in charge of women becauseAllāh has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend from their means”(Al-Nisa: 34). This is not a superiority inferiority complex issue. This is how to maintain law and order within a family administration. Almighty Said, “And wish not for the things in which Allāh has made some of you excel others…”(Al-Nisa: 32).
Husbands have certain duties towards their wives, as enshrined in Quran and Sunnah. “And they (women)have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect)to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allāh is All‑Mighty, All‑Wise”. (Al-Bakara: 228). Besides, the duty of maintenance, protection, love, etc. a husband should be kind and moderate. This is beautifully explained by the Prophet (ﷺ) in a narration: “A believing man should not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another” (Sahih Muslim: 1468). It is also reported that “The most perfect of believers is the one who is best in character, and the best of you is he who is best to his wives” (Tirmizi: 1162).
Husband also has to treat wife nicely. “Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle(ﷺ) said, “Treat women nicely, for a woman is 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” (Sahih al-Bukhari: 3331)Briefly this can be understood from a narration by “Mu’awiyah bin Haidah (R.A.): “I asked Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): “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”. (Riyad as-Salihin: 277)
Wives also have certain duties towards Husbands as enshrined in Quran and Sunnah. First and foremost is duty disobedience: “Therefore, the righteous women are devoutly obedient(to Allāh then to their husbands)…” (Al-Nisa: 34). This perspective of obediency can be gauged from following ahadith. Abu Hurairah (R.A.) narrated that The Prophet said: “If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone, then I would order the wife to prostrate to her husband.” (Jami at-Tirmidhi: 1159). It was narrated from Aishah (R.A.): that the Messenger of Allah said: “If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. If a man were to command his wife to move (something) from a red mountain to a black mountain, and from a black mountain to a red mountain, her duty is to obey him.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 1852)
The second duty, which is being ignored in our society, is to seek permission: obediency includes seeking permission for certain acts. a wife cannot leave her husband’s house without his permission, even for a mosque. (See, Mishkat al-Masabih: 1059). She cannot be alone with a Na-Muhram (i.e. her husband or a person whom she cannot marry in any case forever; e.g. her father, brother, etc.) without permission. It is narrated Ibn`Abbas (R.A.): “That he heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, “It is not permissible for a man to be alone with a woman, and no lady should travel except with a Mahram”. (Sahih al-Bukhari: 3006).
The wife even cannot spend from the husband’s property without his consent. As narrated by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As (R.A.): “The Prophet (ﷺ) said: It is not permissible for a woman to present a gift (from her husband’s property) except with the permission of her husband”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 3547) Even it was narrated by Abu Sa’eed(R.A.):“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) forbade women from fasting without the permission of their husbands.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 1762) (Also see: Sahih al-Bukhari: 5192 & Musnad Ahmed: 3894, 3895).
The third ignored duty in our society is to be grateful to the husband: as narrated by AbuSa`id Al-Khudri: “On eid ul Fitr or eid ul Adha Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) went out to the Musalla. After finishing the prayer, he delivered the sermon and ordered the people to give alms. He said, “O people! Give alms.” Then he went towards the woman and said. “O, women! Give alms, for I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hellfire were you (women).” The women asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! What is the reason for it?” He replied, “O women! You curse frequently, and are ungrateful to your husbands…” (Sahih al-Bukhari: 1462).
Read more: The marriage obsession in Pakistan
Fourthly to act as guardian: as decreed by Almighty Allah in Quran: “and guard in the husband’s absence what Allāh orders them to guard” (e.g. their chastity, their husband’s property, life and reputation), (Al-Nisa: 34)It was narrated from Abu Umamah (R.A.) that: “the Prophet(ﷺ) used to say: “Nothing is of more benefit to the believer after Taqwa of Allah than a righteous wife whom, if he commands her she obeys him, if he looks at her he is pleased if he swears an oath concerning her she fulfills it, and when he is away from her she is sincere towards him with regard to herself and his wealth (life and reputation)” (Sunan Ibn Majah: 1857). In short, Umm Salamah (R.A.) narrated that The Messenger of Allah said: “Whichever woman dies while her husband is pleased with her, then she enters Paradise.” (Jami at-Tirmidhi: 1161).
Rights of wives
But when a wife violates these commandments of Islam, Almighty Allah said: “…As to those women on whose part you see ill‑conduct, admonish them(first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them; but if they obey you, seek not against them means (annoyance). Surely, Allāh is Ever Most High, Most Great” (Al-Nisa: 34). Few western democracies disagree with the concept of the right of admonishment and in certain cases right to beat. However, this is unequivocal. The commandment is as clear as water. Iyas ibn Abdullah ibn Abu Dhubab (R.A.) reported the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as saying: “…Do not beat Allah’s handmaidens, but when Umar came to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and said: Women have become emboldened towards their husbands, he (the Prophet) gave permission to beat them…” (Sunan Abi Dawud: 2146)
And if a wife persistently disobeys, then the husband has a right to divorce.
However, it is narrated by Muharib (R.A.) that “The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Allah did not make anything lawful more abominable to Him than divorce” (Sunan Abi Dawud: 2177, 2178). Likewise, if the husband is persistent to disobey the commandments of Almighty Allah, a wife has a right to seek Khula. These must be used as a last resort for survival.
To conclude, both are held responsible for each other: there is a narration by Ibn`Umar (R.A.): “The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “All of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards. The ruler is a guardian and the man is a guardian of his family; the lady is a guardian and is responsible for her husband’s house and his offspring; and so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards”. (Sahih al-Bukhari: 5200) and “…these (commandments) are the limits (set by) Allāh, and whosoever obeys Allāh and His Messenger will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be a great success.
And whosoever disobeys Allāh and His Messenger and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have disgraceful torment”. (Al Nisa: 13-14). Life is sweet if governed by law, it is sour if ungoverned. The same applies to the relationship between a husband and wife. It must be controlled and governed.
The writer is an Advocate of the High Court. He holds an LL.M. from Punjab University, writes on various topics, and teaches law. He can be reached at Khokhar.firstname.lastname@example.org. His articles can also be accessed on hmazeem.blospot.com.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.