Rights and Duties of Husband and Wife
THE special significance of matrimony in the economy of human relationships and the distinctive aims and advantages that are associated with it are self-evident. Peace of mind and a happy and contented life are, to a great extent, dependent on how satisfying one’s married life is and on the state of mutual love and trust that obtains between husband and wife. Besides, the main ends and objects of marriage, obviously, are that both, the parties enjoy the pleasures of life with purity, which is possible only through the wedlock, and the continuity of the human race is maintained with dignity which is the Will and Pleasure of the Almighty Creator. These objects, also, can be realized suitably when relations between man and wife are happy and there is love, sympathy and good understanding between them. The chief purpose of the guidance furnished by the holy Apostle concerning the rights and duties of matrimony, simply, is that the wedlock proved a source of joy and satisfaction to both man and wife, their hearts remained united, and the aims for which the institution of marriage had been founded were attained in the best possible manner. The substance of the Prophet’s teachings is that the wife regarded her husband over and above everyone else, as far as she was concerned, and remained faithful to him. She left nothing to be desired by way of devotion and earnestness, and believed that, for her, the felicity and welfare of both the worlds lay in his good pleasure.
The husband, on his part, ought to consider his wife a blessing of God, and give her, ungrudgingly, of his love, and hold her in high esteem. If the wife made a mistake, the husband should overlook it, and try to correct her with tact and patience, and look after her needs and comforts to the best of his ability. In order to appreciate the true worth of these precepts, we should remember the social, cultural and moral climate of the world, and, particularly, of Arabia, 1400 years ago, in which women were treated like chattels and enjoyed no rights in society.
(1) It is related by Ayesha that the Apostle of God said: “The greatest claim on a woman is of her husband, and the greatest claim on a man is of his mother.”- Mustadrak-i-Haakim
(2) Umm-i-Salma related to us that the Apostle of God said: “A woman who dies in the state that her husband is pleased with her shall go to Heaven.” – Tirmizi
As we have stressed repeatedly, when the tidings of Paradise are given on a particular deed it shows that the deed is most pleasing to the Lord and the recompense on it, in the Hereafter, is Heaven. If, however, the person concerned is guilty of a sin which necessarily is punishable with Hell, its consequences, also, will have to be borne by him, in accordance with the Divine Law. The meaning of the aforementioned narrative of Umm-i-Salma should be seen in this light. .Another thing worth mentioning, here, is that should a husband be displeased with his wife without any fault of hers, she will be innocent in the sight of God and the responsibility for annoyance shall rest with the husband.
(3) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “O people! Follow my advice concerning the kindly treatment of wives. (I charge you to treat your wives with kindness and love). The woman has been created from the rib (and the rib is curved by nature), and the greatest curve is in the upper part of it. If you try to straighten the curved rib by force, it will break, and if you leave it alone (and make no effort to correct it), it will remain curved forever. So, follow my advice, and treat your wives kindly and well.”- Bukhari and Muslim
What has been said about women, in it, that they have been created from the rib-is, apparently, allegorical, and, according to Hazrat Shah Waliullah’s explantaion, the purport of the Tradition is that there is some natural curvedness in the nature of a woman as there is in the rib. It, further tells, that the greatest curve is in the upper part of the rib which, perhaps, denotes that the curvedness in the nature of a woman, mostly, lies in the upper part of the body, that is, the head and the tongue. It, again, is told that if an attempt is made to straighten the curved rib by force, it will break, while if it is left alone, it will remain curved permanently. Thus, whoever will try to remove the curvedness of a woman’s nature by force will not only not succeed, but it may, also, end up in separation. At the sometime, if nothing is done by way of correction and reform, the curvedness will stay as it is, and the happiness and tranquillity which is the chief purpose of matrimonial alliance will not be gained. Thus, men should better overlook the minor faults and weaknesses of their wives and behave towards them in a loving and kindly manner. It may, ultimately, lead to an improvement in their disposition as well.
(4) Abu Hurairah relates that the Apostle of God said: “No believing man hates his believing wife. If there is a bad quality in her, there will, also, be a good quality.” – Muslim
It tells that if a man disliked his wife for some reason, he should not adopt an attitude of hatred or indifference towards her and start thinking in terms of divorce, but look for the good qualities in her and learn to admire her because of them. This is the claim of Faith on a believing husband and the privilege of a believing wife, As the Quran says: ‘But consort with them in kindness, for if ye hate them it may happen that ye hate a thing wherein Allah hath placed much good.’ – (IV: 19).
(5) It is related by Ayesha that the Apostle of God said: “Among Muslims his Faith is more perfect whose behaviour towards (everyone) is good, and, (particularly) towards his wife is of love and kindness.” – Tirmizi
(6) It is related by Ayesha that the Apostle of God said: “Good among you are those who are good to their wives; and I, (on my part), am very good to my wives.” – Tirmizi
It shows that a special mark of goodness is that a man treated his wife lovingly and well. To make the advice more effective for the Muslims, the Prophet added that, by the grace of God, he was most kind and considerate to his wives himself. The attitude of the sacred Prophet towards his wives was perfect, indeed, a few examples of which are contained in the narratives given below.
(7) Ayesha related to us, saying: “(Once) I was accompanying the Apostle of God in a journey that we ran a race, and I won. Afterwards, when I had grown fat, we, (again), competed (with each-other) in a race, and, this time, he won. Upon it the Apostle of God remarked: ‘Now, we are quits’.” Abu Dawood
(8) Ayesha related to us, saying: “By God, I have been a witness to the spectacle that (one day), the Abyssinians were having a sport of lancing in the Mosque. For showing it to me, the Apostle of God stood at the door of my apartment (which opened in the Mosque), using his mantle as a screen for me, and I watched the game through (the space) between his shoulder and ear. The Apostle of God kept standing for my sake till (I felt I had seen enough of it), (and) retired.” (Hazrat Ayesha added) (that) “you can imagine, (from it), what was the place of a young and fun-loving girl.” – Bukhari and Muslim
The incident narrated above is enough to show how considerate the sacred Prophet was to his wives, and what pains did he take to make them happy. There is a great lesson, in it, for the Ummat.