By Sajid Iqbal & Alveena Salim
So you’re married. You’ve completed one half of your Deen. You’ve got your parents off your back and now you’ve got a lifetime to look forward to with the love of your life. You’re sorted innit? Ah, but are you clued up on the rights your partner has over you and the rights you have over your partner? Yep, ‘rights’! In order to make your marriage a success Allah (swt) has prescribed a list of guidelines for husbands and wives, which if followed properly can lead to marital bliss and fewer nights banished to the sofa.
Islam teaches that marriage is ‘half of Deen’ because it fulfils so many basic needs of an individual and of society. But y’ know, most of the problems in Muslim families nowadays are to do with marriage, coz we don't have a clue how to get married Islamically and as a Muslim partner what our rights and responsibilities are. Well ladies & gents, don't worry, as you will learn all this right here, right now!
So what rights does the wife have over the husband?
Islam has honoured woman and granted her an equal status with man. It's only ignorance and cultural practices that prevent women from receiving the rights that they’re entitled to. It was Islam and not the Spice Girls that brought true Girl Power to women alright!
1. A wife has a right to choose her husband. If she doesn’t want to get married to someone her parents want her to marry then she has a right to refuse. So no woman can be forced to get married in Islam - this is her basic right!
2. If she doesn’t like her husband due to valid reasons then she may also get a divorce and re-marry someone else. Similarly, a widow may re-marry someone else as well.
3. She has a right to be a lady of leisure. Yep, seriously! In Islam, a husband has a duty to provide for his wife and should not force her to work to earn money- this includes clothing, food, accommodation and general care etc, and she should not be forced to work to earn money. She also has the right of Mahr (wedding gift) and inheritance. However, if she chooses to work, any money that she earns is her own and she has a right to spend it as she wishes. Now that is what I call Girl Power!
4. She has a right to keep her surname. Nowadays most women across the world lose their surname to their husbands' name, but Islam gives the wife the choice and power to keep her surname. How cool is that?
5. She has a right to be treated with kindness. Allah (swt) knows that by nature woman are more sensitive and gentle. This is why the Prophet told men to treat their women nicely. (Tirmidhi)
The Prophet advised men:
"The best amongst you, are the best for their wives, and I am the best of you for my wives." (Tirmidhi)
What rights does the husband have over the wife?
Of course, men have rights too. It’s not all about the women y’ know!
1. A husband should be respected by his wife in every way. Unless of course it conflicts with an Islamic obligation or goes against an Islamic teaching.
2. The husband has the right to a trustworthy and honest companion. (The same here goes for the wife too). For example, she should not lie about using birth control to stop him having a child... that would be naughty now wouldn't it?
3. The husband has a right to sexual intimacy with his wife. She should not refuse him this right – unless of course refusal is due to medical reasons in which case the husband should be caring and considerate. As they say, if you don't get any action at home, you're gonna play away. So this is in reality a right and responsibility for both the husband and wife.
4. If the husband doesn’t like someone, then the wife shouldn’t allow them to come to their house, she also shouldn’t accept presents from such people. This is to avoid jealousy and friction between the couple.
5. The husband's possessions are his wife’s trust. She needs to safeguard his property and possessions. The Prophet said:
“The woman is the guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it.” (Bukhari)
The reward for fulfilling these rights is immense! The Prophet said:
“Any woman who dies while her husband is pleased with her, she will enter Jannah.” (At-Tirmidhi)
The Best Husband:
1. Shows good character and good manners towards his wife.
2. Doesn’t slack when it comes to the rights of his wife.
3. Does not check out any other woman other than his wife.
4. Learns and practises Islam and teaches his wife too.
5. Is there for his wife during times of distress.
6. Keeps his cool even when his wife hurts his feelings.
7. Appreciates his wife and forgives small mistakes.
8. Helps out with household chores and doesn’t just leave them to the wife.
9. Does his best to raise their children in an Islamic way.
The Best Wife:
1. Listens to her husband and does her best to please him.
2. Always considers her husband’s well being.
3. Does not give the husband stress but gives him peace of mind.
4. Does not spend more than her husband earns.
5. Helps her husband at the time of problems.
6. Has patience when the husband does not treat her justly.
7. Behaves and dresses modestly.
8. Learns and practises Islam and teaches her husband too.
9. Does her best to raise their children in an Islamic way.
Top Ten Tips On How To Be A Successful Husband/Wife
1. Dress up for your partner and look clean and smell good. Make an effort in your appearance so that you are always desirable and attractive for each other. Just like the husband wants his wife to look nice for him, she also wants her husband to dress up for her too. You know a bit of bow cha ka wawa does no harm when you look at your partner! Remember that the Prophet would always start with Miswak when returning home and always loved the sweetest smells.
2. Use the best names for your partner. Call them by their most beloved names (such as baby and honey!) and avoid using names that hurt their feelings i.e. fatty, onion breath etc!
3. If you see anything wrong with what your husband/wife does, as long as it doesn’t contradict the Shariah, try being silent and don’t complain! This is one of the things the Prophet used to do when he saw something inappropriate from his wives. It’s a skill that Muslims need to master! Instead try to appreciate and focus on all the good your partner does.
4. Smile at your partner whenever you see them and embrace them often. Smiling is an act of Sadaqah (charity). Also, tell your partner that you love them regularly, don’t assume they already know! At least once a day say something kind or complimentary to your partner.
5. This might sound a bit cheesy but give it a try! Ask your husband/wife to write down the last ten things you did for them that made them happy. Then go and do the same for them again. It may be hard to recognise what gives your husband/wife pleasure but you don’t have to play a guessing game, ask him/her and work on repeating those things for them all the time.
6. Don’t belittle his/her desires. Comfort them. Sometimes the men may look down upon the requests of their wives. The Prophet set the example for us when on numerous occasions he comforted his wives.
7. Be humorous and play games or sports with your partner. The Prophet would race with his wife ‘Aisha (ra). When was the last time you did something like that? You should be having the time of your life. Do things together. Have fun for crying out loud! Go out for a meal. A weekend away. As long as it’s Halal then go for it!
8. Be romantic! Think about all the small things your partner does for you and then show some appreciation in return. And don’t forget those anniversaries! Some guys are extremely generous when it comes to their friends or family but for some reason can’t even bring themselves to buy their wife a box of chocolates! Spoil your partner with affection and treat each other to a surprise every now and again to keep that fire burning!
9. Trust and honesty is the key to a successful marriage. If something is harming or damaging your marriage then be open and honest with your partner. It won't just go away. Keeping secrets from one another or hiding stuff from your partner is one of the main reasons why a marriage can go wrong big time!
10. If you have done something wrong then admit it! Apologise sincerely to your partner and then try to make it up to them by doing something you know will make them happy. Never both be angry at the same time and don’t go to bed upset with one another.
Marriage is an enormous responsibility but also a great joy. Allah (swt) said that the husband and wife should be like ‘garments’ to one another. The point of a garment is to give warmth, protection, decency, intimacy and comfort. Allah (swt) has created all life forms in pairs and when something is created as part of a pair it is clearly incomplete without the other. But in order for a husband and wife to find perfect peace and harmony with each other, they need to be prepared to fulfil each other’s rights.
Now all that sounds quite straight forward doesn't it? If you try to act upon all of the above then Inshallah your marriage will be great, long and Islamic.