Marriage in Islam

The family is that brick which forms the foundation of a society. It is composed of individuals that have permanent relation established between them.

Most importantly, it possesses almost a majority of the different kinds of personal relations. Because of this, there must be certain etiquettes placed in order to control and regulate these relations.

In the context of marriage there is one very important difference between man and women: women are the ones who can bear and nurse children. This is an extremely important responsibility. On the other hand Islam assigned the husbands the responsibility of financially supporting their wives. This allows women to concentrate on what is really important, their families. And then men are also given the position of leadership to balance their greater responsibility of support. The husband and the wife are a complementary pair. Each has his own designated role and responsibilities. Together they complete the family. And that's why Islam has set the basics on which marriage should be built.

Allah says in the Qur'an:

"Men are the supporters of women, because Allah has stowed on the one more than the other, and for what they have to provide (for them) from their sources. So the righteous women are obedient and protect in the absence of their husbands that which God ordains to be protected."(Qur'an 4:34)

There is much debate and difference of opinion among Muslims regarding the right meaning of this verse. Some people read it to give a great deal of power and authority to the husbands; others seek to place restrictions on men.

The reason that men have been given authority over their wives is that they are completely financially responsible for their wives. Even if a woman is wealthy, she is not required to spend any of her money to support the family; the obligation falls completely on her husband. She may share him the responsibility if she wants, but this is not an obligation. Her own money is hers to use as she chooses and her husband can't take it without her permission.

Allah says in the Qur'an:

"And give the women their dowries as a present, but if they are happy to offer you any of it, accept with happiness and with wholesome pleasure" (Qur'an 4:4)

However the wife must obey her husband and support him. But this doesn't mean that "obedience" referred to is not unquestioning obedience to whatever command the husband happens to give, but rather refers to accepting the husband's decision as final.

Allah says in the Qur'an:

"And the believing men and the believing women, they are the friends of each other, they enjoin good and forbid evil, and establish prayers, and pay the alms, and obey God and His Messenger, these, upon them God will have mercy, indeed, God is almighty, All-wise." (Qur'an 9:71)

Obedience of the husband is compulsory on the wife. If, without any lawful reason, she refuses to obey the orders of her husband, she will be liable to the Wrath and Curse of Allah until she returns to obedience.

The husband is given the permission in Islam to hit his wife (slightly) or stays away from her if she is recalcitrant. Nearly all modern Islamic scholars have agreed that these three steps must be taken in sequence. Meaning: first the husband sets out verbally why he thinks his wife's conduct is wrong. If that doesn't then he may separate from her in bed. If that still doesn't work, then finally he may hit her (yet not harshly, just slightly to show her that she did something wrong).

However, "recalcitrance" is not simply disagreeing with the husband; it is rather a refusal to agree, a rejection of the husband's right to leadership.

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said:

"The rights your wife has on you are) that you feed her when you eat and clothe her when you clothe yourself and that you do not hit her on the face or call her ugly, and that you do not separate from her except in the house."(Narrated by Mu'awiya Al-Qushayri.

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) also said:

"Be in awe of God in (the matter of) women, for you have taken them by the trust of God, and made their bodies lawful for you by the word of God. And your right upon them is that they do not allow among your furnishings anybody you do not like, and if they do, you may hit them, as long as it is not injurious. And their right on you is that you support them and clothe them in honor."(From the Farewell Sermon, reported by Jabir).

Here we learn that the admonishment should not involve insulting the wife, such as calling her ugly or other types of psychological abuse. Also separating from her or staying away from her is done only in private; the husband should not shun his wife in public and thus expose her to shame or ridicule from others. The hitting must not be on the face. The hitting should not be "injurious". Muslims should follow the Prophet's (PBUH) explanation of the Holy Qur'an and to abide by these rules.

However, it should be noted that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) never hit any of his wives, and said that men who did "are not the best of you, by God!" The Prophet (PBUH) is set as a beautiful example for Muslims and all Muslim men should strive to follow him.

Allah says in the Qur'an:

"Surely there is for you the best example in the Messenger of God, for whoever seeks the pleasure of God and the Last Day (Day of Judgment), and remembers God often."(Qur'an 33:21)

On the other hand wives have been given permission to seek remedy for their husbands' recalcitrance. The Arabic word, Nushuz, is used as for the wife's recalcitrance. Allah says in the Qur'an:

"And if a wife fears cruelty or desertion from her husband, there is no blame on them if they reconciliate them, reconciliation between them is far better, and souls are prone to avarice. But if you do good and are God fearing then surely God is aware of what you do-" (Qur'an 4:128)

And if there is a dispute between the married couple, a member of each family can be brought in to resolve it. The point is that, in Islam women have rights over their husbands the same way husbands have rights over them.

Allah says in the Qur'an:

"And if you fear disunity between them, then send an arbiter from his side and an arbiter from her side. If they wish for reconciliation God will affect harmony between them, surely God is All-knowing, Al-Aware." (Qur'an 4:35)

Now let's bring some more focus on how the husband should treat his wife as God has asked Muslim men to:

It is not demeaning if the husband shares in the responsibility of house matters, such as the mending of garments or things of the kind. Also it shows good manners that the husband helps his wife in the house, during times of necessity, such as when she is sick, pregnant, has just gave birth or similar to that. For Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) used to fix his shoes, and used to be helpful to his wives.

Al-Aswad narrated: "I asked Aicha, `What did the Prophet, peace be upon him, do at home?' She said, `He used to work for his family and when he heard the call for the prayer, he would go out.'" [Bukhari].

A good husband is he who cooperates with his wife by being tender and kind to her. Islam considers husbands who are best at helping their wives are the best of mankind.

Also the husband should set a specific time in which he can play around and pass free time with his wife. The relationship between a married couple cannot be warm and stable unless the couple begins removing all the obstacles and impediments that stand between them. For example, the husband should not feel timid and restrain himself from drinking out of the same cup that his wife drinks out of, it shows her that he loves her.

Also, let's keep in mind that nobody is perfect. So there is no doubt that the husband will see things in his wife that does not meet his natural preferences. If such qualities are not opposing the fundaments of the Islam or to the obedience of the husband and his rights, then at that point, he should not push her to change her personality so that it complies with his natural preference.

Islam states that a husband should not try to expose his wife's bad qualities, for too much blaming and reprimanding will worsen the relationship between them, and will surely threaten their marital life. So the husband should overlook his wife's drawbacks and mistakes, and make her falling into them seem like something small.

Also the husband should not give little importance to implementing the punishment required for any acts in opposition to Islam, which a wife has committed, whether it is in the home or outside it. This should be the main reason that stirs the husband's anger.

The woman is the head of the house, the one responsible for it. So the husband should not meddle into affairs that do not fall into his area of duties and responsibilities, such as the food and the order of the house.

Also Islam forbids the husband fro scolding his wife or blame her for a mistake she made, in front of others, even if they are their own children.

Abu Hurairah narrated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best disposition and the best of you are those who are best to their wives."

Having jealousy and caring about the modesty of the wife is a praiseworthy thing, which shows the husband's love and care for her, provided that the husband does not go to extremes in his jealousy. For then at that point, it would turn into something negative and will badly affect their life.

Moreover the husband should not enter the house suddenly, for he might shock his wife, he should prepare her for his coming, and when he comes in he should greet her with Salaam (Islam greeting).

Aicha (one of Prophet Mohammad's wives) has narrated that Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) would enter the house with a pleasing disposition and a smile on his lips.

And ask about her and how she is doing.

Also husbands and wives should beware of spreading any secrets connected with the intimate encounters they have with each other, for that is something forbidden in Islam.

The husband is also asked to take care of the way he looks the way the wife is asked to look beautiful in the eyes of her husband. The husband should constantly maintain the cleaning of his mouth and the freshening of his breath.

Showing respect and kindness to the wife's family is showing respect and kindness to her. And this applies even after her death.

When a husband speaks to his wife, he must choose the kindest and nicest words and expressions for his speech. And not to reprimand her in front of others or in front of the children. Same thing goes for the wife; she should be kind and talk to her husband using nice and sweet words.

Also it is not proper for a husband to force his wife to look for work or to spend her wealth on supporting the house, for this is his responsibility.
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