09 June 2012

The rights of wives in Islam

The rights of women in general and wives are specificallystated clearly in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad (peace beupon him), which makes it crystal clear that women’s rights in Islam are welldocumented and protected.

I was shocked, as many others were, when I heard the newsabout a man who cut off the fingers of his wife’s right hand just because shewanted to continue her studies. How can any sane man do this? This horrendousact isn’t the first and will not be the last act of cruelty toward women, whoare abused in different parts of the world all the time.

Many communities take steps to eradicate such inhumanepractices perpetrated by men who torture their wives, but until these menthemselves do not have self-consciousness, respect for women or are not God-fearing,these steps may be difficult to realize.

Islam has a strong foundation which is based on the beliefin the Creator, Who observes and judges all our acts.

Narrated by A’ishah and Anas, the Prophet Muhammad (peace beupon him) said, “Women are the twin halves of men.”(Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, and-Darimi)

The relation between man and woman was designed in a waythat protects the rights of both, and life between them starts with a marriagecontract which is a contract willingly approved by both the parties. It entailsthe rights and obligation of each one of them toward the other.

Let’s throw some light on a few basic rights of a wife:

1. Financial rights

a) Dowry - This should be given and mentionedin the marriage contract, and it is for the woman and not for her father orguardian. Allah has emphasized this right by saying,“And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal-moneygiven by husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart; but ifthey of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, andenjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful).” (Qur’an, 4:4)

b) Living expenses: The husband is responsible for thewelfare of the family. He should spend on his wife and his children. He shouldgive them a suitable, respectable and comfortable life. He should never dependon whatever his wife owns or earns. Even if his wife is wealthy he has no rightto take any money from her without her permission. Allah said, “Lodge them (the divorced women) where you dwell,according to your means, and do not harm them so as to straighten them (thatthey be obliged to leave your house).And if they are pregnant, then spend onthem till they lay down their burden. Then if they suck to the children foryou, give them their due payment , and let each of you accept the advice of theother in a just away. But, if you make difficulties for one another, then someother woman may give suck for him (the father of the child).” (Qur’an 65:6) This verse is fora woman who has been divorced, so any one can well imagine the right of a wifewho is still living with her husband.

2. Right of education(sincere advice): It is the responsibility of the husband to support hiswife to acquire the necessary Islamic knowledge that will help her to do herreligious duties in the correct way. Allah said, “Oyou who have believed! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire(Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern(and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive fromAllah, but do that which they are commanded.” (Qur’an, 66:6)

3. Respect them andseek kind companionship with them and look at the positive side of theircharacter. Allah said, “And do not makedifficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unlessthey commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness. For if youdislike them - perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” (Qur’an, 4:19)

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated; TheMessenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, “Bekind to women.” (Bukhari) Andhe also said, “The best of you is the best to hisfamily and I am the best among you to my family. “(Tirmidhi)” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him)said, “The most perfect believers in faith are thebest in conduct and best of you are those who are best to their wives”. (Tirmidhi)

In another Hadith the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “That he should feed her whenever he eats and clothe herwhenever he clothes himself, he should not hit her on the face, should not callher ugly, and should not boycott her except within the house.” (Ibn Majah)

4. He should fulfillher needs. A common misunderstanding among some men is that it is his rightto call his wife to bed whenever he wants (and it is his right), but he maydesert her for whatever time he wants to though it is not lawful. As Allahsaid, “Those who take an oath not to have sexualrelations with their wives must wait for four months, then if they return(change their idea in this period), verily,Allah is Oft-Forgiving, MostMerciful.” (Qur’an, 2:226)

Salman visited Abu Al - Darda and found Umm Darda (his wife)dressed in shabby clothes. He asked her why she was in such a state. Shereplied, “Your brother Abu Al-Darda is not interested in (the luxuries of) thisworld.” Salman told Abu Al-Darda, “Your Lord has a right on you, your soul hasa right on you, and your family has a right on you; so you should give therights of all those who have a right on you.”

And, when Abu Al-Darda told the Prophet Muhammad (peace beupon him) about the incident, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,“Salman has spoken the truth.”

5. A woman has theright to seek separation from her husband if he doesn’t give her the rightsthat Allah has ordained for her. This is known as Khul’a, which means that thewoman can divorce herself by returning her husband’s dowry or whateverarrangement and agreement they mutually agreed upon.

A classic example is to look at the household of the ProphetMuhammad (peace be upon him) and see in him the ideal husband. Many Muslimsclaim that they love him and they follow his Sunnah; but why don’t they see theway how he treated the women of his family?

- by  Dr. Yahya S Al-Bahith

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