THE IDEAL MUSLIM WIFE PDF english islamic book

THE IDEAL MUSLIM WIFE PDF english islamic book

THE IDEAL
MUSLIM
WIFE
by
B. Aisha Lemu
A British Scholar & Writer
Islamic Education Trust
© B. Aisha Lemu
First Published 1992
Re-Printed 2001.
Re-Printed 2007.
Published by:-
Islamic Education Trust
(Publications Division)
P.M.B. 229, Minna, Niger State.
Printed by
llmi Press, llmi Avenue, P. O. Box 2572,
Minna, Niger State
INTRODUCTION
A few years ago, I was invited to give a lecture to a
group of students on “The Ideal Muslim Wife”. I felt that
the subject had already been given a lot of attention, so
requested permission to present instead a paper on “The
Ideal Muslim Husband”, who seldom got any attention
at all.
The paper was subsequently published as a booklet,
and has been well-received especially by women, many of
whom had little idea of the duties of Muslim husbands
towards their wives or of the numerous verses of the
Qur’an and Hadith (Sayings and Practices of the Prophet
Muhammad) restraining men from abusing women’s
rights.
The booklet is now popular as a wedding gift for
bridegrooms, and I have received a number of requests to
write its companion volume “The Ideal Muslim wife”, as
a gift for a bride.
I must confess that this volume has been more difficult
to write, for several reasons. The first is the problem of
conscience. In describing the ideal wife one becomes very
aware of one’s own shortcomings and feels embarrassed to
offer advice, which one has sometimes failed to follow.
The second reason why this volume has been more
difficult than the first is that, while many of the Muslim
husbands’ duties have been defined in the Qur’an in clear
legal terms, the wife’s duties are much less specific and are
seldom in the form of legal restraints or duties.
They consist more of moral exhortations and descriptions
of the qualities of good women and warning against some
of the attitudes and behaviour of the pagan women of the
Jahiliyyah (the time of Ignorance of the Arabs before
Islam).
My approach to this subject has been therefore to read
or re-read the various references in the Qur’an and Hadith
with regard to the behaviour of a wife and to consider
these within the context of the Islamic view of marriage
and the family.
It should not be overlooked that the basic moral
teachings of Islam are addressed to both men and women.
Because this booklet is focussing on the wife, it does not
mean that such teachings are for women only. For
example, where the Qur’an enjoins modesty on women it
is coupled with another verse enjoining modesty on men
(Qur’an 24:30-31). Another verse commends the virtues
of humility and chastity in both men and women (Qur’an
33:35). Husband and wife are therefore expected to show
mutual consideration for each other’s needs and feelings.
However, the roles of men and women in life and
within the family structure are not identical just as the
male and female are not biologically or psychologically
identical. Therefore there are some areas where the
behaviour expected of each is different. In “The Ideal
Muslim Husband” I focused on the duties of the
husband and in this book I focus on those of the wife. To
get the total picture of their mutual duties the books
should be read together.
2
Lastly in this context, it must be pointed out that the
“Ideal” Muslim wife does not imply a stereotype’, Every
human being is different and therefore every pair of
human beings who form a marriage must be different in
the precise way they relate to each other. What pleases
one man in a wife may be irritating to another (and vice
versa). There are always aspects of the personality which
are unique and help to give life its variety and freshness
The Prophet’s wives reflected such differences in
character. Their individuality was not submerged by
being good wives and “mothers of the believers”.
Nevertheless, there are certain basic attitudes and
actions that may be regarded as good for any marriage
and others that are harmful to it.
I hope that what follows will be a faithful reflection
of Islamic teachings and a useful guide to any wife.
3
Chapter]
WHAT IS MARRIAGE FOR?
“When a servant (of Allah) marries, he perfects
half his religion; and let him fear Allah with
regard to the remaining half.”
(Hadith from Baihaqi)
Marriage in Islam is encouraged for those who have
reached the age of physical and psycho logical maturity.
It should not be unnecessarily delayed if there is a
suitable partner available and the means to establish a
family. Divorced people, widows and widowers are also
encouraged to re-marry. Religious celibacy is strongly
discouraged. Therefore although marriage is not a
compulsory duty for all people under all circumstances
and due allowance is made for those who do not have
the capacity for marriage for one reason or other, the
emphasis is nevertheless strongly in favour of marriage
as the normal adult status.
What are the benefits of this positive attitude to
marriage?
1, Marriage is a permanent relationship between a man
and a woman, which provides for their mutual care,
and for the lawful development and expression of
love between them. It links physical love with
personal care and responsibility towards the partner
and towards any children that may be born of the
union.
‘” It is only in the context of marriage that a woman is
protected for her vital role as the mother of the next
4
generation. Modern experiments with free love,
unmarried motherhood and single parent families have
only confirmed their disruptive social and economic
effects, particularly on women and their disastrous
consequences for the next generation. Children need
both parents for a secure and well adjusted childhood.

  1. The benefit of marriage is not only to the wife and
    children and to the society at large, but also to the
    husband. Recent studies in the United Kingdom have
    revealed that while divorce causes suffering to both
    partners it appeared to cause even more depression
    among husbands than wives. The value of a wife in
    providing psychological comfort as well as physical
    love should not be under-estimated. The man without
    the responsibilities and comforts of a wife and family is
    more exposed to temptations of unlawful sexual
    relations and deviant behaviour. It cannot be a mere
    coincidence that the decline of marriage in the western
    world today has been accompanied by a rise in
    aggressive homosexuality, pornography, child sexual
    abuse and the danger of rape – even of small girls and
    old women.
    The Qur’an has referred to the marriage relationship as
    one of Allah’s wonders that enshrines the greatest and most
    transforming of all human emotions – love:
    ·’And among His wonders is this: He
    creates for you mates out of your own
    nature so that you may incline towards
    them, and He engenders love and
    tenderness between you. In this, behold,
    5
    there are signs indeed for people who
    think.” (Qur’an 30:21)
    In another verse of the Qur’an Allah says:
    “They (wives) are your garments and you
    are their garments.” (Qur’an 2:187)
    Comfort, protection and intimacy are all comprised in
    these descriptions of the marriage relationship as it is
    intended to be. The Prophet (peace be upon him) commented:
    “You have seen nothing like marriage for increasing the
    love of two people.” (Hadith from Ibn Majah.)
    Marriage is not intended to be a prison but a base, a safe
    haven, a source of contentment, tranquility, consolation and
    spiritual strength through shared commitment and
    experience. If it is turned into an arena for strife, discontent,
    abuse, or oppression it is failing to fulfill its proper function.
    Therefore every effort should be made to ensure that
    there is compatibility between a man and woman before they
    are betrothed and every precaution should be taken to avoid
    the souring of a marriage once it is established. What
    follows is based on the guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah to
    help a wife on how to keep her marriage a happy one that
    conforms to the descriptions of marriage in the Qur’an.
    6
    Chapter 2
    CHOOSING THE RIGHT PARTNER
    Marriages can go wrong from Day one if the
    couple are not basically compatible. Prevention in this
    respect is better than cure. It is very important to try to
    ensure that one is looking for the right qualities in a
    marriage partner. The Prophet said that “A woman may be
    married for four reasons – her wealth, her rank, her
    beauty and her religious character. Therefore choose
    the one with the religious character and prosper.”
    (Hadith from Bukhari and Muslim.)
    The same applies in the choice of a husband by a
    woman. It is unwise for a woman to accept a man’s
    proposal because he is handsome, rich or of high social
    status if he is lacking in good religious character. The first
    three are no guarantee of happiness. But a man of
    genuinely religious character is likely to observe the
    Islamic requirement of kindness to his wife, and to abide
    by Allah’s laws with regard to his behaviour towards her.
    His consciousness of Allah acts as a restraint on
    selfishness. Whattever his weakness, at least he does not
    deliberately do wrong.
    A girl or woman should pray regularly for a good
    husband. She should also find out as much as possible
    about the character and religious practice of any suitor, and
    her relatives should help her to get objective information.
    The Prophet (peace be upon him) also advised that a couple
    thinking of marriage should be given the chance to meet (in
    the presence of a relative) in order to ascertain at least
    basic compatibility. (See
    7
    several Hadith from Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi.
    Nasai, Ibn Majah.)
    The choice of the right partner is very important
    for both the man and woman. In view of the degree of love
    and respect a wife should give to her husband, it is
    advisable that she should marry someone who is really
    worth that love and respect.
    8
    Chapter3
    SINCERITY AND TRUST
    The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to
    have said:
    “Religion is sincerity.” Someone asked:
    “Sincerity to whom?” He replied: “To
    Allah and His Book and His Messenger
    and the leaders of the Muslims and to the
    generality of them.” (Hadith from Muslim)
    Sincerity is therefore closely identified with true
    religious belief. Sincerity towards her husband is an
    essential requirement for a wife. It underlines all her
    duties and manifests itself in many ways.
    Firstly it implies having her husband’s interests at
    heart and wanting only good for him.
    Secondly it implies truthfulness so that her
    husband learns to trust her in word and deed. She would
    never tell him a lie even in a small matter because it will
    sow in him the seed of doubt about her trustworthiness in
    greater matters. Once trust has been shaken it is hard to
    rebuild it.
    If a wife tells a lie to her husband to cover up
    something else she did, she only compounds her offence.
    She should in all circumstances repent sincerely to Allah
    and seek His forgiveness. She should then tell her
    husband the truth and seek his forgiveness unless the
    original offence is a matter that would put him into mental
    torment or destroy the marriage. In this case it
    9
    may be more considerate towards him that she should
    repent to God silently within her own conscience a
    amend her behaviour in future”.
    The Prophet (peace be upon him) directed
    people to forgive those who ask for forgiveness. The
    wife who sincerely repents, tells the truth and seeks
    forgiveness may be able to re-establish trust, but the
    shameless liar leaves her husband in a state of constant
    doubt, and unworthy of trust.
    A good wife should therefore ensure by her
    behaviour that she establishes a high degree of trust her
    sincerity of word and deed, so that her husband
    confidence in her is strong enough to withstand any false
    rumour or slander. She should not throwaway that basic
    trust for any temporary expediency.
    Another aspect of sincerity on the part of a wife
    is in supporting him in doing what is right and avoiding
    wrong doing. Allah says:
    “And the believers, both men and
    women, are protecting friends of one
    another: they (all) enjoin the doing of
    what is right and forbid the doing of
    what is wrong, and are constant in
    prayer, and render the zakah, and pay
     This view on the permissibility of silence is based on analogy
    with a Hadith which allows for the use of a “white lie”
    someone who tries to reconcile two people who have become
    estranged:
    “He is not a liar who reconciles two people, and speak
    good, and adds good from himself.” (Hadith from
    Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi.)
    10
    heed unto Allah and His Messenger. It is
    they upon whom Allah will bestow His
    grace: truly, Allah is Almighty, Wise.”
    (Qur’an 9:71)
    The wife should herself be obedient and faithful
    to Allah and use her influence to help the whole family to
    live a righteous life. There should be mutual counselling
    within the family.
    Long after the death of the Prophet’s first wife,
    Khadijah, he used to praise her for her loyalty, good
    counsel and moral support throughout their married life.
    Just as a good wife should be trustworthy, so she
    should trust her husband (unless she has clear first hand
    evidence that he is not to be trusted). She should avoid
    suspicion and spying on him or snooping among his
    possessions. The Qur’anic warning about these sins
    (Qur’an 49: 12) is addressed in general to all believers,
    men and women. They are particularly damaging within
    the close marriage relationship. If a husband senses that
    his wife is spying on him he loses the sense of freedom
    and security in his own home and may start to lock up his
    personal effects, thereby increasing the wife’s suspicions.
    According to a Hadith the Prophet (peace be upon him)
    said that reading someone else’s correspondence without
    permission is a sin. Some wives actually drive their
    husbands away from home by their snooping and spying,
    and. it is distressing for children to realise that the parents
    whom they trust do not trust each other.
    11
    Having laid emphasis on the basic need
    sincerity, trustworthiness and trust, we shall move on to
    consider some other qualities in a wife that I mentioned
    in the Qur’an and the Hadith.
    12
    Chapter 4
    UNDERSTANDING YOUR HUSBAND
    Whether or not a couple think they know about each
    other before marriage, it is after marriage that they become
    fully aware of each other’s character, habits, moods, likes
    and dislikes. There is a period of adjustment after marriage.
    If all goes well, the idealistic, romantic and sometimes
    intoxicating love of the pre-marriage or honeymoon period
    then develops into another dimension – a more mature kind
    of love based on true knowledge and understanding of each
    other provided the partners do not behave in such a way as
    to kill love altogether.
    To develop this permanent and lasting kind of love
    in marriage, a wife needs to study her husband so as to
    know how to please him. In addition to knowing his
    personal likes and dislikes she should be able to sense his
    moods and respond to them and to anticipate his needs – to
    know when he wants to talk and when he wants silence. It is
    this responsiveness based on sympathy and understanding,
    that creates lasting bonds between husband and wife.
    The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to
    have said:
    “The world is a provision, and the best
    provision of the world is a virtuous wife.”
    (Hadith from Muslim and Nasa’ i.)
    He is also reported to have said in
    elaboration:
    13
    “Should 1 not tell you of the best
    treasure of man? (It is) a virtuous
    woman: when he looks at her, she
    gladdens him; and when he tells her
    (anything) she is compliant; and when
    he is absent from her, she watches his
    (interest) .” (Hadith from Abu Dawud.)
    In other words she has learned to respond to his
    needs and to please him even by her looks not just by
    taking care of her beauty (which may fade) but by her
    loving attention. When he wants her to do something or
    not to do it she complies with good will. She attends to
    his comfort and well being and does not hurt his
    feelings. He is also comforted by the knowledge that this
    concern for his welfare is not just a show put on in his
    presence. She takes care of his interests also when he is
    absent.
    A similar Hadith from Ibn Majah adds that she
    guards her honour and chastity when he is away.
    All these characteristics of an ideal Muslim wife
    reflect her consideration, good manners and moral
    integrity.
    Another Hadith reported by Talha bin Abdullah
    describes the opposite behaviour and its consequences:
    A woman who talks harshly and her
    husband becomes sad because of her
    rudeness, incurs the anger of Allah until
    such time that she smiles on her
    husband and tries to please him.”
    14
    A woman who wishes her marriage to last happily
    into old age should therefore learn these lessons. She
    should not expect love to last if she is harsh, rude and
    disagreeable, and does not care whether her husband is
    pleased or not.
    Allah gives us a prayer in the Qur’an:
    “Our Lord! Grant us wives and children
    who will be the joy and comfort of our eyes,
    and guide us to be models of
    righteousness.” (Qur’an 25:74)
    15
    Chapter 5
    AUTHORITY, CONSULTATION And
    OBEDIENCE
    The family is a group of people closely related by
    blood or marriage who usually live together. In every
    human group there is a leader and a hierarchy of authority
    so that the members act in co-operation for the common
    good.
    The head of the family in an Islamic marriage is
    the husband, by virtue of his role as the maintainer of the
    family:
    “Men shall take full care of women with the
    bounties which Allah has bestowed more
    abundantly on the former than on the latter,
    and with what they may spend out of their
    possessions. And the righteous women are
    the truly devout ones, who guard the
    intimacy which Allah has (ordained to be)
    guarded … ” (Qur’an 4:34)
    “And women have rights equal to the rights
    incumbent on them according to what is
    equitable; and men have a degree above
    them.” (Qur’an 2:228)
    This “degree” of difference in legal rights in
    marriage and divorce is a reflection of the husband’s
    leadership role, and in no way implies that the woman is
    inferior as a moral and spiritual being. This point is stated
    in several Qur’anic verses and Hadith.
    16
    “And their Lord answered them: Verily I will
    never cause to be lost the labour of any of you.
    be you a male or a female – the one of you is as
    the other.”(Qur’an 3:195) (see also Qur’an
    33:35)
    The Prophet (peace be upon him) is also reported to have
    said:
    “All people are equal, as equal as the teeth of
    a comb. There is no claim of merit of an Arab
    over a non-Arab, or of a white over a black
    person, or of a male over a female. Only Godfearing people merit a preference with Allah.”
    (Hadith from Ahmad ibn Hambal, alMusnad)
    A wife should therefore acknowledge her husband’s
    administrative leadership and not dispute it or set herself up
    as a rival in taking ultimate decisions that affect the whole
    family. A ship with two captains will never reach its
    destination.
    However, leadership in Islam also has its
    obligations. The leader at all levels is to be motivated by
    love and concern for those under his care, who will naturally
    respond by loving their leader.
    The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to
    have said:
    “The best of your leaders are those whom you
    love and who love you, for whom you pray and
    who pray for you, and the worst of your
    leaders are those whom you hate, and
    17
    who hate you, whom you curse and who curse
    you. “(Hadith from Muslim)
    All forms of tyranny, oppression and exploitation
    of the weak are condemned, and the tyrant is warned:
    “Fear the prayer of the wronged, for truly
    there is no veil between him and Allah.”
    (Hadith from Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi,
    Nasa’i, Abu Dawud,)
    “The tyrant shall not enter into Paradise.”
    (Hadith from Abu Dawud and Ahmad)
    The leader is moreover obliged to consult his
    followers. A chapter of the Qur’an is entitled “Shura”
    (meaning Consultation) and it contains a description of the
    believers as those “whose rule (in all matters of common
    concern) is consultation among themselves…” (Qur’an 42:38)
    Leadership in Islam is identified as a responsibility.
    It exists at various levels both in pub1ic affairs and in the
    family. According to a saying of the Prophet:
    “Take care: each of you is a shepherd and
    each of you shall be asked concerning his
    flock. A leader is shepherd over (his) people,
    and he shall be asked concerning his flock;
    and a man is a shepherd over the people of his
    house, and he shall be asked concerning his
    flock; and a woman is a shepherd over the
    house of her husband and over his children,
    and she shall be asked concerning them; and
    the servant of a man is a shepherd
    18
    over the property of his master, and he shall
    be asked concerning it. Take care, then, each
    of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be
    asked concerning his flock.” (Hadith from
    Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and
    Tirmidhi.)
    As can be seen from this Hadith the wife is given
    responsibility within the family for the smooth day-today
    running of the household and the upbringing of the young.
    We shall return to this aspect of her role in another section.
    Here we are concerned only with the aspect of leadership
    and authority in the home.
    This brings us to the use of the words “ordering”
    and “obeying” which are used in translating some Qur’anic
    verses or Hadith about husband/wife relationship, for
    example “when he orders her, she obeys”. The Arabic word
    “amr” used in the original text certainly has the general
    meaning of “to order” or “to ordain”. However, in the
    context of family life it obviously does not have the same
    connotation as it would have in, for example, the army! The
    family is not a military unit, and for a husband to give out
    orders to his wife like a sergent-major on the parade would
    be most out of place, and indeed probably counterproductive. The relationship of husband and wife is quite
    different. They are not described as matter and servant in
    the Qur’an but as “garments to each other” -loving,
    sympathetic and protective. The records of the Prophet’s
    relationship with his wives is an example of this .
    19
    A study of the word “Amr” in the Qur’an* reveals
    that it has a wide range of meanings, including
    “commanding” “biding” “instructing” and ””urging”. For
    example in Surah 2:168-9, Allah says:
    “O mankind! Partake of what is lawful and
    good on earth, and follow not Shaitan’s
    footsteps: for verily he is your open foe, and
    he gives you ‘AMR’ only to do evil, and to
    commit deeds of abomination, and to
    attribute to Allah something of which you
    have no knowledge. “
    How does Shaitan give “AMR” to people to do
    evil? Not by issuing commands but by urging and by
    persuading or by ”whispering into the hearts of mankind”.
    (Qur’an 114:5). Moreover, Allah says to Shaitan that he
    has no power over His creatures unless they choose to
    follow him (Qur’an 15:42) and Shaitan admits this (Qur’an
    14:22) and Shaitan admits this (Qur’an 14:22). It is
    therefore clear that AMR does mean “to command” or ”to
    order” in all contexts.
    The word certainly requires interpretation and
    translation according to its context. In the context of
    married life it may be understood to mean the husband
    exercising his authority as a leader in accordance with
    Islamic principles. Making his wife understand what he
    wants to be done in a way that will enlist her cooperation
    and compliance. Anyone with an understanding of family
    relations will realise that this
    • See The Word Constellation “Amr’ in the Qur’an., by Saki” Kocabas
    (1be Islamic Philosophical! Society) published 1987, 295 Gurney
    Close, Barking, Essex, England.
    20
    method is much more effective than throwing out orders in
    an arbitrary or inconsiderate manner.
    When asked to do something in this way, a wife
    may offer advice if she has another view or suggestion, but
    if the husband is not persuaded, she should accept his
    authority and comply – unless what he wants is contrary to
    the teachings of Islam, in which case she has a higher
    obligation of obedience to Allah, since according to a
    popular saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
    “No obedience is due to a created being
    which is in disobedience to the Creator.”
    One of the reasons for frequent breakdown of
    marriage in the modern west is the women’s liberation
    notion that the family can have two absolutely equal
    leaders – the husband and the wife. If in the ensuing battle
    of wills, neither is ready to give way, the result is likely to
    be separation or divorce, which may have negative effects
    on the partners, their children and ultimately on the society
    at large.
    Basically women (even strong-willed ones) still
    feel that it is natural for a husband to lead, provided he
    does so in the manner mentioned above, with wisdom. It is
    one of the comforts of marriage for a woman that she does
    not have to take sole responsibility for all major decisions
    in the family.
    Allah has created men and women as
    complementary to one another in co-operation and not in
    competition.
    21
    Chapter6
    THE HOME
    The Home can be a heaven or hell, depending on
    what the couple makes of it. As the custodian of the day to
    day organization of the home, the wife sets the atmosphere
    and tone of the household.
    She is expected to be orderly, active and cheerful.
    While a Muslim wife is not legally required by Islamic law
    to cook and clean, she is the home manager and therefore
    responsible for ensuring that these essential jobs are done.
    If the husband can afford a servant or two he is expected to
    provide them to relieve the wife of heavy labour.
    Nowadays labour-saving devices are also available to ease
    the housework. If the husband cannot afford a servant or
    the wife is anyway accustomed to housework she is
    expected to contribute her own labour as a form of Sadaqah
    (charity) for which she will receive Allah’s reward.
    The supervision of the household is very important
    for the happiness and welfare of all who live in it. Anyone
    who has stayed in a badly-supervised hotel knows the
    frustrations of delays in meals, poorly-cooked food,
    broken-down and dirty facilities and, underlying it, the
    feeling that the Management does not care whether the
    guests are comfortable or not. It is the same in the home.
    The wife who wants to keep the family together
    should ensure that the home is a pleasant place to be in –
    physically and psychologically. Good colour schemes.
    22
    well-chosen furnishings, and a clean and comfortable
    environment all contribute to a pleasant home.
    The wise wife also knows the value of the personal
    touch around the house. Even if she has an outside job or has
    servants, the wife’s own cooking, and her own sense of
    making the house pleasant have a strong influence on family
    love and cohesion. The English proverb “The way to a
    man’s heart is through his stomach” is as valid today as it
    ever was. Preparing and serving food has a special blessing
    and importance in Islam whether as hospitality to guests or
    as charity to the needy, or as a way of pleasing the family.
    Even if a wife is too busy to cook on a daily basis, whatever
    food she prepares with her own hands to please her family
    will earn her their special appreciation and love.
    The supervision of the household is not the only
    duty of the wife. She is also responsible for the care and
    early education of the children if she is blessed with them.
    The importance of breast-feeding should be
    emphasised, both for its physical benefits to the child and
    for establishment of a close bond between mother and baby.
    Modern studies of the effects of breast-milk have revealed
    its role in protecting young children from disease, and there
    is also growing evidence of its link with intellectual
    development. The Qur’an recommends a long period of
    breast-feeding which maximise the benefit to the child.
    (Qur’an 46:15).
    The mother’s way of relating to the child is of lasting
    significance, since the effects of the training and
    23
    impressions of early childhood remain throughout adult life.
    It has been described as like “writing on stone”; its effects
    last forever. A wise mother can use this powerful influence
    to nurture a family that grows up to be loving, kind, cooperative, considerate, confident, disciplined, spiritually and
    intellectually awake and conscious of Allah in whatever
    they do.
    An Arab proverb says “The mother is a school”.
    This is not just an empty compliment but an important
    observation which has implications for the seriousness of
    the mother’s task. The psychologist Adler* confirms this
    observation from his studies of human development:
    “From the moment of birth a baby seeks to
    connect himself with his mother. This is the
    purpose of his movements. For many months
    his mother plays overwhelmingly the most
    important role in his life he is almost
    completely dependent upon her. It is in this
    situation that the ability to co-operate first
    develops. The mother gives her baby the first
    contact with another human being, the first
    interest in some one other than himself. She is
    his first bridge to social life; and a baby who
    could make no connection at all with his
    mother, or with some other human being who
    took her place, would inevitably perish. ..
    … her skill, or lack of skill, has influenced all
    the child’s potentialities. We mean nothing else
    by a mother’s skill than her ability to co-
    • A. Adler: What Life should Mean to You (George AlIen & Iluwm
    Chapter 6: Family Influence.
    24
    operate with her child and to win the child to cooperate with herself. This ability is not to be
    taught by rules. New situations arise every day.
    There are thousands of points in which she must
    apply her insight and understanding to the child’s
    needs. She can be skillful only if she is interested
    in her child and occupied in “winning his
    affection and securing his welfare …
    … the whole of human society is bound up with
    the attitude of women to motherhood. Almost
    everywhere the woman’s part in life is
    undervalued and treated as secondary…
    … house-keeping and home-making are too often
    regarded, not as contributions open to women,
    but as drudgery relegated to them. If a woman
    can really see house-keeping as an art in which
    she can be interested and through which she can
    lighten and enrich the lives of her fellows, she can
    make it a task equal to any other in the world. If,
    on the other hand, it is thought of as work too
    mean for a man, need we wonder when women
    resist their tasks, revolt against them, and set out
    to prove what should be obvious from the firstthat women are the equals of men and no less
    entitled to consideration and to the opportunity to
    develop their capacities?
    … where the woman’s part is undervalued, the
    whole harmony of married life is destroyed. No
    woman who considers that to be interested in
    children is an inferior task can train herself
    25
    for the skill, care, understanding and
    sympathy that are so necessary if children
    are to be given a favourable position in the
    beginning of their lives …
    … if we trace back the cases of failure in
    life, we almost always discover that the
    mother did not fulfil her functions
    properly: she did not give the child a
    favourable start. If the mothers fail, if they
    are dissatisfied with their tasks and lack
    interest in them, the whole of mankind is
    endangered …”
    Islam has recognized the importance of this role
    of mother. She is given full appreciation for her efforts
    and for the troubles she endures and the sacrifices she
    makes for the sake of her children.
    The prophet is reported to have said:
    “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers”
    (Hadith from Nasai and Ibn Majah).
    He is also reported to have said:
    “I and the woman whose cheeks have grown
    dark (on account of the cares and anxieties of her
    children) shall be like this on the Day of Resurrection
    here the Prophet placed together his middle and
    forefingers (meaning, she would be close to him). (Hadith
    from Abu Dawud)
    On another occasion someone asked the Prophet
    Messenger of God, who is most deserving of good care
    from me? The Prophet replied: “Your mother”. The man
    asked: “And who after that?” He repeated: “Your mother”.
    The man asked “And who after that?” The Prophet
    repeated
    Your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives in
    order of closeness.” (Hadith from Bukhari and Muslim)
    The role of the father is also important in child
    upbringing, but that of the mother is seen to entail even
    greater commitment. It is therefore quite wrong to devalue
    the role of woman as mother and homemaker. Western
    society in the twentieth century has become so obsessed
    with economic activity, paid employment and material gain
    for both men and women that the role of the homemaker
    and mother of young children has come to be regarded as
    nothing – an unfortunate interruption of her glorious career
    in the office or factory. If a housewife is asked what she
    does (meaning her occupation) she is likely to reply “Oh,
    nothing at the moment. I stay at home because of the baby.”
    She has been brainwashed into thinking that this activity
    has no special value, demands no special skill, and is rated
    as zero in terms of occupational status and reward. She can
    hardly wait to “get back to work”.
    For a Muslim woman the home is the centre of her
    attention and her husband and children’s welfare her first
    priority after her obligation to Allah.
    This does not rule out her taking on a job outside
    the home, or continuing with her education, or giving
    voluntary service to the community. It is merely a matter of
    ensuring that her primary responsibilities of managing the
    home and children are taken care of, lest the family itself –
    the basic unit of society – should fall apart and fail to
    provide the security and example required for the rearing of
    the next generation.
    27
    The Hadith contain words of consolation
    mothers for all their sufferings in pregnancy, childbirth
    and child care,
    “Sallamah, the nurse of his son Ibrahim, said
    to the Prophet (Pbuh): O Messenger of Allah,
    you brought tidings of all the good things to
    men but not to women. He said: Did your
    women friends put you up to asking me this
    question? She said: Yes, they did. He said:
    Does it not please anyone of you that if she is
    pregnant by her husband and he is satisfied
    with her that she receives the reward of one
    who fast and prays for the sake of Allah? And
    when the labour pains come no one in Heaven
    or earth knows what is concealed in her womb
    to soothe her (to cool her eyes). And when she
    delivers, not a mouthful of milk flows from her
    and not an instance of the child’s suck, but she
    receives, for every mouthful and every suck,
    the reward of one good deed. And if she is kept
    awake by her child at night, she receives the
    reward of one who frees seventy slaves for the
    sake of Allah.” Narrated by Anas, alTabarani.
    28
    Chapter 7
    GOOD COUNSEL AND MUTUAL
    UNDERSTANDING
    We have mentioned that the Islamic concept of
    leadership includes consultation and acceptance of good
    advice.
    In a successful marriage there should therefore be
    ready communication between husband and wife.
    Matters such as the children’s upbringing, education and
    eventual marriage, other family affairs, and management
    of money should be discussed for mutual agreement and
    understanding.
    The wife should also take an intelligent interest in
    her husband’s work and other activities, and keep up-todate with current affairs and general knowledge. For this
    it helps if there is a reasonable degree of educational
    quality between husband and wife.
    If the educational gap is very wide, the husband
    and wife may be unable to communicate because her
    level of understanding may be too low for her to share his
    interests and concerns. They may drift apart because they
    have nothing of mutual interest to talk about. In such
    cases the husband tends to spend most of his leisure
    hours outside the home with his friends and comes home
    only to eat and sleep.
    If the wife is unlucky enough to have a low
    educational level, she should try to remedy the situation
    whatever her age, since the Prophet (peace be upon him)
    taught that “the search for knowledge is a duty for every
    29
    Muslim, male and female”, and that it should be
    pursued “from the cradle to the grave”. In this case the
    husband should support and encourage her in every
    possible manner.
    Women who have completed secondary level can
    continue with higher education as full time or part-time
    students or by correspondence courses. If a woman cannot
    pursue formal education to a higher level she can register
    for adult education classes, and if she is literate she can
    increase her knowledge by reading as widely as possible.
    Radio and television also offer some educational
    programmes.
    By broadening her general knowledge or pursuing
    an interesting field of study a wife becomes a more
    interesting companion, and will be in a better position to
    understand and advice her husband.
    Likewise if her Islamic education was neglected at
    an earlier stage of her life, she can join Islamiyyah classes
    for women, or Islamic study groups. This can help her to
    apply Islamic standards to her own family life and teach
    her own children in turn.
    Our role model for an intellectual active woman is
    the Prophet’s wife Aisha who learned Islam attentively,
    and engaged the Prophet (peace be upon him) in deep
    questioning about it until she was satisfied. As a result he
    advised people that they could learn half their religion
    from her. She subsequently, when a widow became a
    noted authority on Hadith whose opinion was sought by
    the leadership on political, legal and social issues.
    30
    This is revealing of the importance of intelligent
    understanding among the qualities in a wife that contribute
    to a successful marriage.
    The husband and wife, at the time of marriage,
    may come from different backgrounds – different ethnic
    groups, different socio-economic groups, or simply a
    different family way of life. They should not react with
    horror to such natural differences but exercise tolerance
    and sometimes humour in the process of adjustment. In
    this way they gradually come to a common understanding
    and develop their own family standards and sense of
    priorities. They begin to think of themselves as “we”
    instead of as two independent individuals.
    31
    Chapter 8
    MONEY
    An important area that needs mutual
    understanding is money. A husband is required to support
    his family according to his means. The wife should learn
    to live within those means and show appreciation. She
    should avoid the two extremes of meanness and
    extravagance in accordance with the teachings of the
    Qur’an (25:67).
    She should avoid all wastefulness, which the
    Qur’an identifies as a form of ingratitude to Allah (Qur’an
    17:27). She should also avoid frequent demands for
    luxuries. If she is a good wife the husband may take
    pleasure in surprising her with gifts from time to time; but
    to be constantly asked for money for clothes and
    cosmetics, or to run up huge telephone bills for chatting
    to friends and so on can cause even patient husbands to
    feel resentment. A Muslim is allowed to enjoy the good
    and lawful things of life, but in moderation. If he or she
    has surplus it is far better to give some of it away as
    sadaqah (charity) to others in need than to waste it on
    unnecessary things.
    If a Muslim wife has a job or earns money from
    an investment or property, she has full rights over her
    income. However, if the husband is not well off it would
    be an act of charity for her to contribute something to
    family expenses in one way or another.
    It is therefore advisable for husband and wife to
    discuss money matters from the start of their marriage so
    as to achieve mutual understanding.
    32
    In this respect they need to identify their priorities,
    high amongst which should be to reserve enough money for
    the best available broad education for their children, which
    the Prophet described as the best gift one could make to a
    child (Hadith from Tirmidhi.)
    33
    Chapter 9
    FRIENDS AND SOCIAL LIFE
    Before marriage a girl or woman naturally has a
    circle of female friends who are her closest confidants.
    These friendships are not dropped on marriage, but a wife
    should remember that her closet friend now should be her
    husband. It is not right for her to tell her friends all the
    details of her married life particularly the sexual
    relationship, which is entirely private. Nor should she pass
    on to others what her husband says in a private
    conversation. It is indiscreet and could do harm if his
    private remarks are passed on to become a source of gossip.
    If a wife cannot control her tongue and tells her friends
    whatever he says or does, she will soon find herself in
    trouble. If she wishes to be in her husband’s confidence she
    must be capable of keeping confidential matters to herself.
    If there is a problem between her and her husband
    on which she needs advice she should be cautious to task
    only a person of proven integrity who will give sincere
    counsel and will not gossip to others.
    In her public appearance a wife should observe
    Islamic principles of dress and behave modesty. She should
    avoid showing off her figure, her clothes or her jewellery.
    She should also avoid wearing perfume in public. Her dress
    should cover all parts of the body except the face and hands.
    It should be neither tight nor transparent so as to reveal the
    figure. It should not make her look like a man. They style
    and colour do not matter as long as the dress conforms to
    these Islamic requirements, and is not designed to attract
    attention.
    34
    When she is at home or away from the sight of
    men who are not her close relatives, she may dress to
    please herself and her husband.
    What is the wisdom behind the difference between
    a Muslim woman’s public appearance and private
    appearance?
    A woman’s beauty is a part of her sexual
    attraction. Dress and adornment may enhance that
    attraction or conceal it. Islam requires a husband and wife
    to be faithful to one another, and prescribes deterrent legal
    punishment for adultery. It is a part of wisdom therefore to
    wear clothes that conceal sexual attraction, so as not to
    encourage the very thing which Islam forbids.
    On the other hand Islam does not regard sexual
    relations between spouses as sinful in themselves. On the
    contrary it encourages married partners to enjoy sexual
    relations with each other, since this will increase
    satisfaction in marriage and reduce the temptation to seek
    satisfaction outside marriage. Therefore the Muslim wife
    at home is expected to take care of her appearance and
    wear her beautiful clothes, jewellery and perfume so as to
    enhance her attraction to her husband.
    Many women foolishly practice the reverse they
    wear their most attractive clothes when they go out in
    order to be admired by strangers, while at home they go
    around in old clothes with untidy hair as if it no longer
    matters whether their husbands find them attractive or not.
    The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that a
    woman may go out for her needs. Provided she is in hijab
    (modest Islamic dress) she may go out for any
    lawful purpose. A wife should however avoid roaming
    around aimlessly or mixing unnecessarily with men. She
    should tell her husband where she is going and have his
    consent. She should not put herself in a situation where
    she is alone with a man other than her husband or close
    relative (within the prohibited degrees of marriage). She
    should not allow into her house any man of whom her
    husband would not approve; nor should she visit such a
    person. There may also be some women of whom
    husband disapproves, with whom he may restrict his
    wife’s friendship – because of her habits of spreading
    gossip or of interference in the family affairs, or of other
    harmful influence. A wife should where possible, avoid
    actions or situations which could give rise to gossip
    about her conduct, or jealousy of the husband, even if
    she has no bad intentions.
    If the wife’s public appearance and behaviour
    indicate that she is a faithful Muslim wife she will gain
    the respect of other men and avoid unwanted attention. If
    the husband is assured of his wife’s true love and respect
    for him, he will be spared from jealousy and suspicion.
    All these principles of conduct contribute to the strength
    of the marriage and the success of family life.
    Other aspects of Islamic family and social life
    which a wife should observe are respect for the
    husband’s parents, hospitality and good neighbourly
    relationships, fostered by acts of kindness and care for
    their welfares.
    36
    Chapter 10
    THE SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP
    Marriage is much more than a sexual
    relationship, but the sexual relationship is very important
    within marriage. When things go wrong with it, there is
    increased inclination for either or both of the partners to
    look elsewhere for love and emotional or physical
    satisfaction.
    The partners both need to be considerate and
    responsive to each others moods and needs. Women (and
    indeed, men) often fail to understand the differences
    between male and female sexuality and thereby offend
    each other. They should make clear to each other what
    they like or dislike. The wife should take care of her
    appearance and make herself attractive to her husband.
    The Qur’an has encouraged the expression of love in the
    context of a lawful and spiritual relationship (Qur’an
    2:223).
    If a wife is actually ill or has other good reasons
    for not wishing to make love, the husband is expected to
    show consideration but she should not make a habit of
    refusing. Many women under-estimate the humiliation a
    husband feels if he is frequently rejected or fobbed off
    with excuses. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is
    reported to have said:
    “When a woman who has been called to
    her husband’s bed refuses and he spends
    the night angry, the angels curse her until
    the morning. “(Hadith from Bukhari and
    Muslim)
    37
    This is tough language, and for some women it
    needs to be, because of the serious consequences of their
    constant refusal.
    A husband who is regularly rejected by his wife
    is likely to feel offended, depressed and frustrated. This
    causes tension and problems within the marriage and can
    eventually lead to divorce. A patient man may suffer in
    silence, but others are driven to find unlawful
    satisfaction elsewhere, with a mistress or a prostitute, or
    legitimate satisfaction by taking another wife.
    A wife should therefore, weigh up the possible
    consequences of her coldness and give her husband all
    the love he needs.
    In a fairly long Hadith from Muslim, it was
    related that some of the Prophet’s Companions observed
    that the rich would get more reward because of their
    ability to give in charity. The Prophet replied that Allah
    had made other things to be given in charity, listing the
    praising of Allah and the enjoining of good actions and
    the forbidding of evil actions and also sexual relations.
    The Companions said: “O Messenger of Allah, when
    one of us fulfils his sexual desire will we have reward for
    that?” He said: “Do you (not) think that if a person
    does it unlawfully he would be sinning? Likewise, if he
    does it lawfully (with his wife) he will have a reward.’
    (Hadith from An-Nawawi)
    Therefore a wife who satisfies her husband
    within the lawful framework of marriage and thereby
    protects him (and herself) from extra marital affairs not
    only pleases her husband but also pleases Allah. This
    38
    right to sexual relations is of course reciprocal – the wife
    hasthe same right over her husband.
    It should be mentioned here the Muslims are
    encouraged to have children. However Islam has not
    prohibited child spacing by methods that do not have
    harmful side effects, if it is with mutual consent of
    husband and wife.
    Jabir (a Companion of the Prophet) said that during
    the period when the Qur’an was being revealed be
    Muslims used to practice contraception by Coitus
    interruptus (‘azl) (Hadith from Bukhari and Muslim).
    Muslim added that the Prophet heard of it but did not
    prohibit it. Abortion however is prohibited unless the
    mother’s life is at stake. This applies also to forms of
    family planning which allow conception to take place but
    kill the embryo or prevent it from settling in the womb.
    An example of the first is the “morning after” pill or
    injection, and an example of the second is the IVD or coil.
    The Pill still has some question marks because of various
    possible side effects and uncertainty about the safety 0f
    long term use. Barrier methods such as the condom are
    closest to the method mentioned in the hadith (i.e. azl).
    Natural methods such as monitoring body temperature in
    order to avoid marital relations round the time of
    ovulation are another possible alternative.
    Muslims should always pay attention to personal
    cleanliness and hygiene so as not to cause offence. A
    Muslim wife should keep herself clean and fresh by
    regular bathing and the use of effective deodorants, She
    should also regularly remove pubic hair and use pleasant
    perfumes in the home.
    Chapter11
    A CO-WIFE
    Although the majority of Muslim marriages are
    monogamous, Islamic law has also made provision for
    polygamous marriage. These are very rare in some
    countries but more common in others, depending on the
    customs of the people and their economic circumstances.
    Therefore, it is proper to say something here about the
    ideal Muslim wife in a polygamous marriage.
    It should first be made dear that a woman who
    does not want to be a part of a polygamous household does
    not have to be. The marriage contract can include a clause
    whereby if the husband wishes to take another wife, the
    first wife is given the option of unopposed divorce.
    Likewise, since a bride’s consent to marriage is required,
    she is not obliged to accept the proposal of a man who is
    already married.
    However, there are circumstances where the first
    wife may accept the coming of a co-wife as preferable to
    the available alternatives, and in some cases she may
    actually welcome it.
    Likewise a new wife may decide she would rather
    share the man she loves than not to marry him at all.
    Perhaps his first marriage is not very happy but she may
    not wish to be the cause of the divorce of the first wife –
    particularly if the latter has children, or is no longer young.
    There may also be cases where the first wife is an invalid
    due to illness or accident, or is unable to have children.
    In such cases a second wife, if she sincerely cares
    about the welfare of the whole family, may in fact be the
    saviour and preserver of the first marriage.
    Much depends on the attitude of the wives
    themselves and of course on the ability of the husband to be
    just and fair between his wives and their children.
    The Qur’an has made it clear that the man who is not
    capable of doing justice should marry only one (Qur’an 4:3)
    and the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that a man with
    more than one wife who does not do justice between them
    will be raised on the Day of Judgement with half of his limbs
    hanging off.
    This “justice” towards wives includes ability to
    maintain them and to provide for them equally not only in
    material terms but also to give each a fair share of his time
    and attention, including conjugal rights. He should also
    provide them with separate accommodation, as was the
    Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
    Assuming that the husband is doing his best to fulfil
    these admittedly difficult conditions of acting justly towards
    his wives, how should the ideal Muslim wife behave to make
    a success of a polygamous marriage?
    In the case of the first wife, she should regard the
    new wife not as a rival as a sister or a daughter (depending
    on the age difference). She should exercise self-control,
    understanding and sincerity and avoid deliberate offence. On
    the contrary, if she takes the initiative in trying to make the
    new wife comfortable it
    41
    will be a good start towards developing a relationship of
    kindness between wives.
    The new wife for her part, should understand the
    likely fears of the first wife – fears of being no longer the
    sole queen of the household, fears of being disregarded or
    displaced. Such fears, and possible jealousy if the new wife
    is younger and more beautiful, are natural human reactions, and can only be calmed if the new wife uses her
    initiative to defuse them. She should behave with sincerity
    towards the senior wife, and act kindly to her, giving her
    due respect. This will help to create the sisterly or motherly
    relationship mentioned above.
    The wives should be helpful to one another in their
    day-to-day lives – co-operating in the smooth running of the
    two households. If one is sick, the other should help her. If
    one travels, the other should look after her children.
    Exchange of gifts from time to time helps to sustain a
    kindly relationship.
    A wife should also be kind to her co-wife’s children
    and as far as possible to treat them like her own. She should
    encourage her own children to be on close terms with their
    half-brothers or sisters. She should avoid persuading her
    husband to provide for her or her children what he does not
    provide to the other wife or her children. Acts of injustice
    on his part will certainly upset the harmony of the
    relationship.
    A wife should also avoid trying to poison her
    husband’s mind against her co-wife, whether by telling lies
    against her or carrying tales. If there is friction between the
    two wives they should as far as possible try
    42
    to resolve the matter by mutual discussion and agreement.
    If they are unable to do so, then one or both may take the
    matter to the husband to resolve. If he wants domestic
    peace he must be fair, unpartial and firm if he refuses to
    get involved and washes his hands of responsibility for
    such disputes, a situation may develop where one wife
    continuously oppresses the other, and as the head of the
    family he has to stop this by admonition or by exercising
    necessary pressure on the oppressor until she stops. This is
    why a polygamous husband has to be not only firm and
    fair but also diplomatic and wise. If he has these necessary
    qualities however, a polygamous marriage can be a happy
    one for all those concerned, having many advantages over
    the alternative options of divorce or unlawful relationship
    outside marriage.
    A wife going into a polygamous marriage should
    therefore see it as a test of her own sincerity, wisdom.
    self-discipline and patience, and try to pass the test with
    flying colours. If the co-wives want to compete they
    should compete in doing good to their husband and to
    each other and thereby attaining the blessings of this
    world and the Hereafter.
    For Muslim women living in countries where
    Islarnic law courts do not exist there is need for caution in
    agreeing to become a second wife. If the law of the land
    does not recognize the second marriage, and the marriage
    subsequently runs into difficulties, the wife may find no
    court to uphold her Islamic rights.
    43
    Chapter 12
    THE UNREASONABLE HUSBAND
    Some women me unfortunate in finding that their
    husbands fail to practice Islamic teachings and indulge in
    various sins which have adverse effects on the marriage
    and on herself or the children.
    Under these circumstances the wife should try to
    advise and correct him tactfully but firmly – not by
    nagging or starting a quarrel but in a quiet heart-to-heart
    talk. However if the husband’s response is negative or
    even aggressive, the wife should seek the assistance of
    relatives or, if none is available, his close friends, or a
    respected alim (religious scholar) in persuading him to
    behave in a responsible manner.
    If all fails she may be best advised to take this
    matter to a Shari’ ah court’. If the husband is found to be
    guilty of certain types of offences or misbehaviour which
    violate the requirements of marriage the wife may be
    granted a divorce by the court. If she does not have
    enough legal evidence or witnesses of his misbehaviour
    she may decide to request for Khul’ (that is, divorce by
    mutual agreement with the husband on the return of al or
    part of the wife’s dowry). Allah says in the Qur’an:
    • A Muslim wife living in a country where Shari’ah courts of family law
    do not exist may face problems over these issues. In some area; there
    are Councils of Islamic Scholars who meet to hear marital dispute and
    give rulings in accordance with the Shari’ah, but unless they have
    authority backing as courts they have no power to enforce attendance or
    compliance with their judgements. They rely on moral force and
    acceptance by the Muslim Community.
    44
    “‘If a wife fears cruelty or desertion on her
    husband’s part, there is no blame on them if they
    arrange an amicable settlement between
    themselves; and such a settlement is best; even
    though men’s souls are swayed by greed. And if
    you do good and practise self-restraint, Allah is
    acquainted with all you do.” (Qur’an 4:128)
    Divorce is disliked in Islam, and the Prophet warned
    against “the tasters-male and female”, i.e. those who
    frequently marry and divorce trying one partner after
    another. He also said:
    “Of all the things Allah has made lawful,
    what He most hates is divorce.” (Hadith
    from Abu Dawud).
    The Prophet (pbuh) also is reported to have said:
    “If a woman asks her husband for
    divorce without some strong reason, the
    scent of paradise will be forbidden to
    her.” (Hadith from Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Abu
    Dawud, Ibn Majah)
    Nevertheless divorce is available in the final resort if
    a marriage is harmful to either partner or cannot give
    satisfaction or peace of mind to either of them.
    If the wife for some reason does not wish for divorce
    in spite of her husband’s misbehaviour, she should be
    careful to avoid becoming an accomplice in is evil-doing
    Allah says:
    45
    “0 you who believe! Fulfil all
    obligations… and help one another in
    righteousness and piety, but do not help
    one another in sin and rancour. Mind
    Allah; for Allah ii strict in punishment”
    (Qur’an 5:1-3)
    In another words a wife is responsible for her own
    actions and cannot push off the blame for her own sins on to
    her husband. If her husband is for example a drunkard she
    should not join in his drinking or buy or serve him with
    alcoholic drinks, even if he orders her to do it. This is in
    accordance with the Hadith that there should be no
    obedience to a created being in disobedience to the Creator.
    If the husband tries to force her to join him in wrong doing
    she should seek divorce., and a Shari’ah court is bound
    under these circumstances to order a divorce. The follows
    the same principles as the duty of Hijrah (Emigration) for a
    Muslim if he or she is prevented from practising the
    essentials of Islam. Those who choose to stay in a place
    where they or their families are likely to lose their faith and
    become a part of a corrupt society will be asked on the Day
    of Judgment why they did not migrate to a place where they
    would be free to practise their religion. “Was the earth not
    wide enough for you to move your selves away (from
    evil)?” (Qur’an 4:97)
    In the same way the ideal wife who has an unIslamic husband should:
    (a) counsel him against his wrong-doing;
    (b) abstain from supporting him in
    wrongdoing.
    46
    (The example of such a woman mentioned
    in the Qur’an is Asiya the wife of Pharaoh –
    one of the women promised Paradise while
    her husband as a great tyrant was destined
    for hell.)
    (c) seek divorce if the only alternative is to
    be dragged into sin by the husband.
    However if the wife’s circumstances are
    such that she cannot break free of the marriage, she
    should take consolation from the Qur’an verse
    which says:
    “Allah does not place on any soul a
    burden greater than it can bear.”
    In this case she should at least continue to hate
    the sin in accordance with another Hadith:
    “If any of you sees wrongdoing he
    should correct it with his hand, and if
    that is not possible he should correct it
    with his tongue, and if that is not
    possible he should hate it in his heart –
    and that is the weakest of faith. ” (Hadith
    from Muslim)
    On the Day of Judgement every husband and wife
    will stand alone and Allah knows best what is in the
    heart.
    47
    Chapter 13
    YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND ALLAH
    Muslims should bear in mind that there are three
    parties to an Islamic marriage: the husband, the wife and
    Allah, the Lord of both, who is a witness. The Qur’an
    repeatedly gives a reminder that “Allah sees all that you
    do.”
    Both the husband and wife as servants of Allah
    should help one another to live as good Muslims, i.e. in
    voluntary submission to Allah, and in obedience to what
    He has revealed through His Prophet.
    The submissiveness of the wife to the husband as
    mentioned earlier, is a recognition of his position as the
    head of the family – not in a servile relationship but with
    the spirit of dignified maintenance of harmony.
    The husband is expected to be a responsible leader
    of the family, and his wife a responsible follower. If she is
    doing wrong he should tell her, and she should respond by
    trying to avoid repeating it.
    According to a saying of the Prophet (peace be
    upon him):
    “Paradise is the reward of a wife who
    pleases her husband until death.”
    (Hadith from Ibn Majah).
    Both partners should help each other to reach the
    Hereafter safely. A wife should avoid any behaviour that is
    harmful to her husband’s welfare in this world or the
    hereafter, directly or indirectly. The Qur’an warns:
    “O you who believe! Lo, among your
    wives and your children there are
    enemies for you, therefore beware of
    them.” (Qur’an 64:14)
    The wife should try to be an asset to her husband
    and not a liability. She should encourage him in doing
    good and discourage him from doing wrong.
    She should not enter marriage with the intention of
    seeking what she can get out of it in terms of material
    benefits. Rather she is likely to find happiness and peace
    of mind corresponding to the commitment she puts into
    her marriage. To know that her husband values and needs
    her is the true measure of her success.
    A Muslim is urged to be merciful and forgiving
    towards others, even as he or she hopes for Allah’s mercy
    and forgiveness on the Last Day. A wife should therefore
    forgive wrongs done in the past, and not continue to rake
    up old grievances.
    A husband and wife should find a regular time to
    read the Qur’an and Hadith together, (with translation if
    they do not understand Arabic). This will help them in
    knowing the teachings of Islam and agreeing to practice
    them in their daily life, thereby increasing their mutual
    understanding and harmony.
    When children come, the mother is the first school.
    She should be loving and affectionate to small children,
    directing them towards what is good and away from what
    is bad.
    The Prophet is reported to have said:
    49
    “Be generous to your children, and
    excel in teaching them the best of
    conduct.” (Hadith from Ibn Majah.)
    Ibn Umar reported the Prophet saying:
    “What does a parent leave as an
    inheritance for his child (that is) better
    than good morals?”
    (Narrated by Tirmidhi & AI-Hakim)
    As the children grow a little older, both father and
    mother should take care of their religious and moral
    education. They should demonstrate Islam by example
    and also explain on an informal basis the Islamic way of
    life. Children also love stories and can benefit from those
    which have a moral message. If it is prayer time the
    parents should call the children and pray together. After at
    least one prayer of the day they can spend a few minutes
    explaining or commenting on a verse of the Qur’an or a
    Hadith so that the children over the years grow up with a
    broad knowledge of the teachings of Islam. As the
    children grow bigger these discussions can be extended by
    reading from the Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sirah (biography
    of the Prophet) and other reliable books which deepen the
    understanding and encourage the young to realise Islam as
    the guiding force in their lives.
    In this way the children themselves insha’ Allah
    will grow up to become a source of deep joy and comfort
    to their parents. It is also mentioned in the Hadith that
    leaving behind righteous children who pray for their
    parents is a Sadaqatun Jariatun (continuous charity) which
    bring blessings to the parents even after their death.
    50
    Thus is the religion of Islam and its teachings of
    good will and kindness to all creatures passed on from
    generation to generation, first and foremost through the
    family. And in this light also one can appreciate the
    benefits of a successful marriage, and the importance given
    to marriage within the Islamic way of life.
    Alike, but different – the male and the female.
    These differences are to be recognized as part of Allah’s
    wisdom. They should neither be blurred by the ”unisex”
    idea – the pretence that men and women are the same – nor
    exaggerated as if male and female were different species
    with no common feelings or abilities.
    The ideal Muslim wife is not in competition with
    her husband. As a human soul created by Allah she knows
    she is her husband’s equal. But in marriage she has a role
    which is complementary to that of her husband and her
    duties and responsibilities are not exactly the same as his.
    She can best fulfil these duties by putting aside selfish
    desires and seeing the welfare of her husband and children
    as her first priority after her duty to Allah. The Prophet
    (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:
    “If I had ordained that any person should
    prostrate before another I would have
    ordained that a wife should prostrate
    before her husband.” (Hadith from
    Tirmidhi)
    Such total submission to another human being
    however would constitute shirk (associating something
    with Allah in worship) which is a major sin. Nevertheless,
    the analogy makes clear the strength of the
    51
    love and commitment of an ideal Muslim wife towards
    her husband. (This is much easier for her to feel if the
    husband is playing his own part as a loving husband in
    accordance with the saying of the Prophet that “the best
    of you are those who are kindest to their wives’)
    The spirit of this relationship has been well
    captured by an American Muslim woman Noura Durkee
    in her article “Marriage for a Muslima*” which she ends
    as follows:
    “One prays behind him in Salat. After a time,
    and thousands of rak’ats, one becomes filled
    with supreme gratitude for this. ” … Allah has
    made for you mates of your own nature …”
    (Qur’an 16:72). One is in Sajda (prostration)
    not to, but with, him. He is a breath ahead, as a
    sign, breaking the path. Yet she is there, and
    were he to turn around, they would see in one
    another’s eyes the countless mirrored
    reflections of each other. “
    Lastly I ask Allah for forgiveness for any mistake
    I may have made in this book, and pray that it will be
    acceptable to Him.
    Muslim Educational Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 3, 1990. The Islamic
    Academic, 23 Metcalfe Road, Cambridge, CB4 2DB, U.K.
    52
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    53