RIGHTS & OBLIGATIONS OF THE HUSBAND AND WIFE TOWARDS EACH OTHER
Praise be to Allah.
Islam has enjoined upon the husband duties towards his wife, and vice versa, and among these duties are some which are shared by both husband and wife.
We will mention – by the help of Allah – some of the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah which have to do with the duties of the spouses towards one another, quoting also from the commentaries and views of the scholars.
The rights of the wife which are hers alone:
The wife has financial rights over her husband, which are the mahr (dowry), spending and accommodation.
She has non-financial rights, such as fair division between co-wives, being treated in a decent and reasonable manner, and not being treated in a harmful way by her husband.
We brothers need to realise that one of the main reasons of Muslim women becoming part of the present day fitna of “Feminism” is a result of Muslim men abusing the rights given to women by Allah. We need to be more mindful of giving the rights to our women and in return get what we deserve.
1. FINANCIAL RIGHTS
(A) THE MAHR (DOWRY).
This is the money to which the wife is entitled from her husband when the marriage contract is completed or when the marriage is consummated. It is a right which the man is obliged to pay to the woman. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart” [al-Nisaa’ 4:4]
The prescription of the mahr demonstrates the seriousness and importance of the marriage-contract, and is a token of respect and honour to the woman.
The scholars of Islam are agreed that it is obligatory for husbands to spend on their wives, on the condition that the wife makes herself available to her husband. If she refuses him or rebels, then she is not entitled to that spending.
The reason why it is obligatory to spend on her is that the woman is available only to her husband, because of the marriage contract, and she is not allowed to leave the marital home except with his permission. So he has to spend on her and provide for her, and this is in return for her making herself available to him for his pleasure.
What is meant by spending is providing what the wife needs of food and accommodation. She has the right to these things even if she is rich, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
The Prophet ﷺ said to Hind bint ‘Utbah – the wife of Abu Sufyaan – “Abu Sufyan is a miserly man and I need to take some money of his wealth.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “Take reasonably what is sufficient for you and your children” (Bukhari)
It was narrated from Jaabir that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said in his Farewell Sermon:
“Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah. You too have rights over them, and that they should not allow anyone to sit on your bed [i.e., not let them into the house] whom you do not like. But if they do that, you can chastise them but not severely. Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner” (Narrated by Muslim, 1218)
This is also one of the wife’s rights, which means that her husband should prepare for her accommodation according to his means and ability. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Lodge them (the divorced women) where you dwell, according to your means” [al-Talaaq 65:6]
Living with brother in law is not allowed.
The Prophet ﷺ warned against the husband’s relatives who are not mahrams to the wife entering upon her. It was reported from ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Beware of entering upon women.” A man from among the Ansaar said: “O Messenger of Allah, what about the brother-in-law?” he ﷺ said: “The brother-in-law is death.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4934; Muslim, 2172).
Can the wife ask for a separate accommodation?
2. NON-FINANCIAL RIGHTS
(A) KIND TREATMENT.
The husband must have a good attitude towards his wife and be kind to her, and offer her everything that may soften her heart towards him, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘Be kind to women.’”(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3153; Muslim, 1468).
He ﷺ enjoined kind treatment and honouring of one’s wife, and he described the best of people as those who are best to their wives. He ﷺ said: “The best of you are those who are the best to their wives, and I am the best of you to my wives.” (Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 3895; Ibn Maajah, 1977; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani).
He ﷺ spoke some more beautiful words concerning kind treatment of one’s wife, stating that when the husband feeds his wife and puts a morsel of food in her mouth, he earns the reward of doing an act of charity. He ﷺ said, “You never spend anything but you will be rewarded for it, even the morsel of food that you lift to your wife’s mouth.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6352; Muslim, 1628).
There follow examples of the kind treatment of the Prophet ﷺ towards his wives – for he is the best example:
Spending quality time: Umm Salamah said: “I got my menses when I was lying with the Prophet ﷺ under a single woollen sheet. I slipped away and put on the clothes I usually wore for menstruation. The Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said to me, ‘Have you got your menses?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ Then he called me and made me lie with him under the same sheet.”
She said: And she told me that the Prophet ﷺ used to kiss her when he was fasting, and the Prophet ﷺ and I used to do ghusl to cleanse ourselves from janaabah from one vessel.(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 316; Muslim, 296)
It was narrated from ‘Aa’ishah the Mother of the Believers (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ used to pray the night prayer and when he had finished his prayer, he would look, and if I was awake he would talk with me, and if I was asleep he would lie down. (al-Bukhaari)
Acknowledging and finding ways to make the wife have fun, ‘Aa’ishah said: ‘By Allaah, I saw the Messenger of Allah ﷺ standing at the door of my apartment when the Abyssinians were playing with their spears in the Mosque of the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ. He covered me with his cloak so that I could watch their games, then he stood there for my sake until I was the one who had had enough. So you should appreciate the fact that young girls like to have fun.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 443; Muslim, 892)
*In class 6 we will learn about the different Languages of Love (what and how different people enjoy different things) and examples of the Prophet ﷺ using those with his wives.
(B) NOT HARMING ONE’S WIFE.
Allah says, “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women,…..” (Surah Nisa, Ayah 34)
This is one of the basic principles of Islam. Because harming others is haraam in the case of strangers, it is even more so in the case of harming one’s wife.
It was narrated from ‘Ubaadah ibn al-Saamit that the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ ruled, “There should be no harming nor reciprocating harm.” (Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 2340)
Not harming her, not only includes the physical harm, but husbands should make sure that she is not harmed psychologically. Unfortunately, we see men exploiting the power bestowed by Allah upon them as a husband and abuse their wives with constant rejection, reviling, allowing his relatives to oppress her.
Some examples of how a while can be
(D) SATISFY HER PHYSICAL NEEDS
This was covered in the previous class, but is mentioned here to reiterate the importance of this right of a woman over her husband. It is something that keeps the relation happy and healthy and saves her from the fitnah. So brothers should be mindful of giving this right to her knowing very well that if she is satisfied she will surely make it more pleasurable for him.
(E) FAIR TREATMENT OF CO-WIVES.
One of the rights that a wife has over her husband is that she and her co-wives should be treated equally, if the husband has other wives, with regard to nights spent with them, spending and clothing. (Polygyny will be covered in depth in Class 10)
The husband’s rights over his wife.
The rights of the husband over his wife are among the greatest rights; indeed his rights over her are greater than her rights over him, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“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” [al-Baqarah 2:228]
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no woman can fulfil her duty towards Allah until she fulfils her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.” (Ibn Majah, Classed as Sahih by Albani)
In another version of the hadeeth the Prophet ﷺ said, “If I were to instruct anyone to prostrate to anyone, I would have instructed women to prostrate to their husbands, because of the rights that Allah has given them over them.” (Abu Dawood, classed as Sahih by Albani)
SubhaanAllah and we see sisters raising their voices, being disrespectful to their husbands. The sisters should firstly realize the great rights Allah has given the husband over them and they should be submissive, obedient and respectful to them.
The sisters should also remember that pleasing the Husband is a way to Jannah. The Prophet ﷺ said:
The husband’s rights include:
(A) THE OBLIGATION OF OBEDIENCE.
Allah has made the man a Qawwaam (protector and maintainer) of the woman by commanding, directing and taking care of her, just as guardians take care of their charges, by virtue of the physical and mental faculties that Allah has given only to men and the financial obligations that He has enjoined upon them. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are obedient to Allah and their husbands, and guard that which Allaah has ordered them to guard (their chastity and their husbands property) in the absence of their husbands.” [al-Nisaa’ 4:34]
‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah said, narrating from Ibn ‘Abbaas: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women” means, they are in charge of them, i.e., she should obey him in matters of obedience that Allah has enjoined upon her, and obey him by treating his family well and taking care of his wealth. This was the view of Muqaatil, al-Saddi and al-Dahhaak. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/492).
The trait of a righteous woman is clear from this ayah, she obeys Allah and her husband.
(B) MAKING HERSELF AVAILABLE TO HER HUSBAND.
One of the rights that the husband has over his wife is that he should be able to enjoy her (physically). If he marries a woman and she is able to have intercourse, she is obliged to submit herself to him according to the contract, if he asks her. That is after he gives her the immediate mahr, and gives her some time – two or three days, if she asks for that – to sort herself out, because that is something that she needs, and because that is not too long and is customary.
If a wife refuses to respond to her husband’s request for intercourse, she has done something haraam and has committed a major sin, unless she has a valid shar’i excuse such as menses, obligatory fasting, sickness, etc.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: ‘When a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, and he went to sleep angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 3065; Muslim, 1436)
The Husband should also respond to the call for intercourse by his wife. It is not permissible for a man to forsake his wife and thus harm her, except in the case of nushooz (rebellion) and disobedience. But he is not committing a sin if he does not lie with her without intending to harm her. The curse mentioned in the hadeeth is specific for a wife.
In a hadeeth the Prophet ﷺ advised a companion who was fasting a lot and not having enough intercourse with his wife, he ﷺ 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” (Bukhari)
(C) NOT ADMITTING ANYONE WHOM THE HUSBAND DISLIKES.
One of the rights that the husband has over his wife is that she should not permit anyone whom he dislikes to enter his house.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “It is not permitted for a woman to fast when her husband is present without his permission, or to admit anyone into his house without his permission. And whatever she spends (in charity) of his wealth without his consent,…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4899; Muslim, 1026)
This also includes the relatives of the wife, if the husband does not like them then she has to oblige. She can try and convince him to allow the relatives so that she can meet them (Mahrams only), but she has to obey the order whether or not the reason for the husband forbidding is right or not. He is answerable for his actions, the wife will be rewarded for patience but if the wife fights and let her relatives in without the consent of her husband then she is disobeying and is answerable to Allah for her actions.
(D) RESPECT AND HONOR
It is a common thing to see women gathering and complaining about their husbands, this is something which is prohibited and very dangerous to indulge in.
Aboo Sa’eed al-Khudree, radiyallaahu ‘anhu, said, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ went out to the prayer-ground for the (prayer of) Adhaa or Fitr, and he passed by the women and said, ‘O women! Give in charity, for I have been shown that you shall be the majority of the people of the Fire.’ So they asked, ‘Why is that, 0 Messenger of Allaah?’ He replied, ‘You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands.‘” (Bukhari)
Just like it is a right of a wife that the husband does not talk ill of her in front of others, the wife more so is obliged to protect the honour of her husband and not be the source of people disrespecting him.
A point to note, when the sisters complain about their husbands to their family members, they naturally develop an ill feeling against him and he loses respect in their eyes, you being the wife will forgive him later, but your relatives do not let go. This can have really bad repercussions: fights between families, husband and wives fighting with regards to their respective families, husband forbidding the wife from meeting her relatives, the wife disobeying the husband are just a few examples of the problems this can cause.
(D) NOT GOING OUT OF THE HOUSE EXCEPT WITH THE HUSBAND’S PERMISSION.
One of the rights of the husband over his wife is that she should not go out of the house except with his permission.
The husband has the right to discipline his wife if she disobeys him in something good, not if she disobeys him in something sinful, because Allah has enjoined disciplining women by forsaking them in bed and by hitting them, when they do not obey.
The evidence that it is permissible to discipline one’s wife includes the aayahs (interpretation of the meaning):
Ibn Katheer said: Qutaadah said: you should command them to obey Allah, and forbid them to disobey Allah; you should be in charge of them in accordance with the command of Allah, and instruct them to follow the commands of Allah, and help them to do so. If you see any act of disobedience towards Allah, then stop them from doing it and rebuke them for that.
This was also the view of al-Dahhaak and Muqaatil: that the duty of the Muslim is to teach his family, including his relatives and his slaves, that which Allah has enjoined upon them and that which He has forbidden them. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 4/392)
A beautiful hadeeth about how the wife reacts when the Husband is angry with her, the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ said, “Your women from the people of Paradise are the beloved and fertile, the one who is an asset to her husband, who if her husband becomes angry- comes and places her hand in the hand of her husband and says, ‘I will not taste sleep until you are pleased (with me). “ (Bukhari)
May Allah grant all men such wives and all women such patience and righteous men who rightly deserve such honourable treatment.
(F) THE WIFE SERVING HER HUSBAND.
First of all by carrying out what is required in his house, such as bringing up and educating the children, preparing the meals and the beds and so on.
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah said: She is obliged to serve her husband according to what is reasonable among people of similar standing. That varies according to circumstances: the way in which a Bedouin woman serves (her husband) will not be like the way of a town-dweller, and the way of a strong woman will not be like the way of a weak woman. (al-Fataawa al-Kubraa, 4/561)
Here is an example of how Asmaa’ bint Abee Bakr, radiyallaahu ‘anhumaa, served her husband. She said,
“Az-Zubayr married me and he did not have any property or slaves or anything upon the earth except for a camel which drew water from the well and his horse. So I used to feed his horse, draw the water, stitch his water bucket, and prepare the dough, but I was not proficient in baking bread – so ladies from the Ansaar who were my neighbours and were honourable used to bake the bread for me. I also used to carry the date-stones upon my head, from the land given to az-Zubayr by Allaah’s Messenger ﷺ – and it was about two miles away. One day when I was coming with the date-stones on my head, I met Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and a group of the Ansaar were with him. So he called me and said, ‘Ikh, ikh.’ In order to carry me behind him upon the camel. But I felt shy to proceed along with the men, and I thought of az-Zubayr and his sense of jealousy, and he was one of the most jealous of the people. So Allah’s Messenger ﷺ saw my shyness and so passed on. So I came to az-Zubayr and said, ‘Allah’s Messenger ﷺ met me while I was carrying the date stones upon my head and with him were a group of his Companions. He caused his riding camel to kneel, but I felt shy and remembered your sense of jealousy.’ So he said, ‘By Allah your having to carry the date-stones is harder upon me than that you should ride along with him.”‘ She said, “Then later on Aboo Bakr sent me a servant to look after the horse, so it was as if he had set me free.”
(G) SUBMITTING HERSELF TO HIM.
Once the conditions of the marriage-contract have been fulfilled and it is valid, then the woman is obliged to submit herself to her husband and allow him to enjoy her (physically), because once the contract is completed, he is allowed in return to enjoy her, and the wife is entitled to the compensation which is the mahr.
(H) BEAUTIFYING HERSELF FOR HIM
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was asked, “Which of the women is the best?” He ﷺ replied, “The one who gives him pleasure when he looks; obeys him when he orders; and does not go against his wishes with regard to herself or her wealth by doing that which he dislikes. “ (An-Nisaa’i)
Do not start by demanding your rights.