RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF HUSBANDS & WIVES
Islam clearly lays down rights and responsibilities of a husband over his wife and that of a wife over her husband. The idea that spouses have rights over one another is quite unique to Islam. What also makes it more amazing is how clearly they are laid out, so conflict can be minimized.
What follows are some of the most important rights and responsibilities of husbands and wives. Few points must be kept in mind before reading them:
1. Allah is the source of these rights and responsibilities.
2. Just like a husband has rights over his wife, the wife has rights over her husband. They should both strive to fulfill each other’s rights to the best of their ability and forgive each other as much as possible if they fall short.
3. Both husband and wife must be moderate with respect to these rights and responsibilities. They should not remind the other of their rights in times of anger and quarrel to add more fuel. In other words, do not use your rights as instruments of abuse.
4. Many new Muslims read websites that specialize in Islamic legal rulings and books on Islamic jurisprudence as guides to better living. These resources usually provide the letter of the law, not necessarily the “spirit” of the law. The “spirit” of the law is to live in peace and harmony without disobeying Allah. Always remember that love, gentleness, and mercy are essential components of a happy, Islamic marriage.
Islam grants a wife rights over her Muslim husband. Some of them are financial, others are not.
The woman has the financial right to receive mahr or bridal gift, from her husband. (Quran 4:4)
The Quran puts great emphasis on treating the wife well. “...And live with them in kindness...” (Quran 4:19). In addition to the Quran, the Prophet of Allah has also stressed, ‘The most excellent of you is he who is best to his wife.’ Jami at Tirmidhi 1162
A Muslim husband must remember the advice of his beloved Prophet(S), “Fear Allah in regard to women. You were given them as a trust from Allah and by the word of Allah they have become lawful for you.” Sahih Muslim 1218 Wife is a trust, neither a slave, nor a dog and must be treated as such.
A wife has the right to financial maintenance, including food, clothing, and housing according to what the husband can afford. It is the husband’s responsibility to work and support his wife.
A husband must protect his wife including physical and emotional well being.
In Islam, a wife is required to obey her husband in matters that do not involve disobeying Allah. This concept is totally alien to many Westerners, so please understand it well. In the West, they call this ‘control’ and sometimes ‘emotional abuse’. It is neither. Few important points must be kept in mind.
One, a wife must obey her husband in obedience to Allah. The Prophet said, ‘If a woman offers her five daily prayers, fasts the month of Ramadan, guards her chastity and obeys her husband, it will be said to her on the Day of Judgment, “Enter through any gate of Paradise you wish.”’ Sahih Al Jami 660
Two, wife obeying her husband is not like a slave obeying the master! She is a free woman, not a slave. What this means is that her husband cannot abuse his authority over his wife and act as a tyrant. He must remember that he is the slaveof Allah and will be questioned about how he treats his wife.
Three, a husband must conduct the affairs of his family with mutual consultation with his wife, but in the end, he is the decision-maker and he will be responsible in front of Allah for his decision. A wife should not object to his decision-making authority and recognize that just like every company has a CEO, the “family” is like a company and the husband is its CEO. Remember, the husband has to balance his authority with good treatment that is the wife’s right over him.
She must protect his wealth and children, among other things, in his house. The Prophet Muhammad said, “The wife is the guardian over the house of her husband and his children.” Sahih Al-Bukhari 5188(Vol 7:116) , Saheeh Muslim 1829 She is required to raise his children upon Islamic values.
The Prophet said, “If the wife of any of you should seek permission to go to the mosque, do not prevent her.” Sahih al-Bukhari 5238(Vol 7: 165 and Sahih Muslim 442aThis does not mean she has to take his permission every time before she leaves the house, asking, “Can I leave?” What this means is that she should not go some place he does not approve of. It will minimize conflict and keep happiness in the family. An exception is the mosque. She can go to the mosque without her husband’s permission and approval.
The Prophet said, “And your right over them is that they do not allow anyone whom you dislike to sit on your cushion.” Saheeh Muslim 2803
Once again, what this means is not to let anyone in the house who the husband disapproves of to minimize conflict and maintain harmony.
Neither spouse should talk about their sex lives with friends and family members. It is considered inappropriate, indecent, and shameful. Both should respect each other’s privacy in this regard. The most wicked or worst among the people in the eye of Allah on the Day of judgment is the men who goes to his wife and she comes to him, and then he divulges her secret. Sahih Muslim 1437 a
Sexual intercourse is a right they both have on each other. Each spouse has a right to intercourse. Vaginal intercourse is prohibited during a woman’s menstrual cycle and post-natal bleeding. Anal intercourse is severely prohibited at all times.