The importance of treating the wife well in Deen

Q: As far as I understand, in a marriage, the wife is only entitled to nafaqah. This nafaqah comprises of two sets of clothes a year and some flour daily for her to make bread for herself. The wife is not entitled to anything else.

However, the wife has to serve the husband and do everything for him. He only gives her two sets of clothing yet she has to wash all the clothes in his wardrobe. He only gives her flour, yet she must prepare for him whatever he wants, and while he is eating good food, she must eat plain bread. She has to clean, dust, mop, do the laundry and take care of the children, but she is not entitled to anything. 

Does this not show that Islam has given much more to men, as they can enjoy everything while the wife must survive on the bare minimum?

A: This is incorrect. You have not understood the teachings of Islam in relation to both spouses, hence you are faced with these doubts and misunderstandings. Below we will explain to you the honoured and respected position a wife enjoys in Islam:

Islam has afforded both the spouses rights and responsibilities. The husband’s duty and responsibility is to fulfil the needs and requirements of his wife and family (such as providing them with food, clothing, shelter, etc.) in an honoured and good manner. He is thus required to leave the home in order to generate an income through which he will be able to fulfil his responsibilities.

On the other hand, the wife has been commanded to remain within the confines of the home and not to leave the home except at the time of need. She has been allocated the duty of tending to the internal affairs of the home, serving her husband, taking care of the children and managing the other home chores (such as cooking, keeping the home tidy, etc).

It is recorded in the Mubaarak Hadith that when Hazrat Ali (radhiyallahu 'anhu) married Hazrat Faatimah (radhiyallahu 'anha), Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) advised them both regarding their marital duties and responsibilities. Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) instructed Hazrat Faatimah (radhiyallahu 'anha) to attend to the duties within the home and instructed Hazrat Ali (radhiyallahu 'anhu) to fulfil the responsibilities out of the home. (Musannaf Ibnu Abi Shaibah #29677)

If each spouse conducts responsibly and fulfils their respective duties and responsibilities, the home will run smoothly and there will be harmony in the nikaah.

The Commands of Shari'ah in Regard to How the Husband Should Care for His Wife and Fulfil Her Rights

1. Shari’ah commands the husband to provide his wife with nafaqah. Nafaqah entails providing the wife with shelter, food and clothing as well as fulfilling her needs and necessities in accordance to his financial status and position (not merely providing her with two sets of clothing and some flour). It is recommended for the husband to also give his wife a monthly allowance to purchase whatever she requires for herself.

2. The husband should take the wife’s feelings and sentiments into consideration and please her, as long as her wishes are not against the dictates of Shari’ah. Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said, “The best among you are those who treat their wives in the best manner, and I treat my wives the best." (Sunan Tirmizi #3895)

3. The husband should not be content with merely fulfilling his obligatory responsibilities, but should go the extra mile and show additional love and kindness to his wife. This is in keeping with the spirit of the sunnah, and is the secret to a happy marriage. Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said, "The believers who possess the most perfect Imaan are those who display the best character and the best among you are those who treat their wives in the best manner." (Sunan Tirmizi #1162)

4. The husband should be liberal and generous in spending upon his wife and family, provided it is within the limits of Shari’ah. Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said, “The best wealth which a man spends is the wealth that he spends on his family.” (Saheeh Muslim #2273) In another Hadith, Hazrat Rasulullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said, “The wealth spent upon one’s family earns one the reward of sadaqah (charity).” (Saheeh Bukhaari #4006)

5. The husband should be concerned about educating his wife in Deen and instilling within her the true values of Islam e.g. the correct beliefs, righteous actions, social etiquettes, purity and hygiene, good character, etc. If the wife possesses good qualities, she will be able to pass them onto his children.

Allah Ta'ala says, "O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families (i.e. wives and children) from the fire (of Jahannum, through teaching them deen)." (Surah Tahreem v. 6)

In the Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said, "Every one of you is a shepherd, and every one of you will be questioned (on the Day of Qiyaamah) regarding his flock..." (Saheeh Bukhaari #893)

6. The husband should speak to his wife politely and deal with her with respect and dignity. He should overlook her shortcomings and weaknesses, and not lose his temper over trivial issues. He should display good character at all times when dealing with her (as well as with her family). This will be a means of her always maintaining respect for him within her heart, and love being engendered among themselves.

On one occasion, Hazrat Mu’aawiyah Al-Qushayri (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) came to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and posed the following question, “What do you say regarding our wives (i.e. what rights do they have over their husbands)?” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied, “(O husbands!) You should feed them from that which you eat, clothe them from that (good) clothing which you wear, and you should not hit them, nor speak to them in an abusive manner.” (Sunan Abu Dawood #2144)

And Allah Ta'ala (الله تعالى) knows best.

 

Answered by:

Mufti Zakaria Makada

Checked & Approved:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)