Ibn Umar (ra) narrated that the Prophet (saw) said,
«كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ، وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْؤولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ، فَالأَمِيرُ الَّذِي عَلَى النَّاسِ رَاعٍ، وَهُوَ مَسْؤولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ، وَالرَّجُلُ رَاعٍ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ، وَهُوَ مَسْؤُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ، وَعَبْدُ الرَّجُلِ رَاعٍ عَلَى مَالِ سَيِّدِهِ، وَهُوَ مَسْؤُولٌ عَنْهُ، أَلاَ كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ، وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْؤُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ»
“All of you are guardians and are questionable for your wards. The ruler is a guardian and questionable for his subjects; the man is a guardian and questionable for his family; the woman is a guardian and is questionable for her husband’s house and his offspring, and a man’s slave is responsible for his master’s property and he is questionable for it. So each of you is a guardian and each of you is questionable for his flock.” (Agreed Upon)
This hadith holds for every human being, whether male or female, responsible for performing their obligations and undertaking necessary actions and speech in life in the best and most complete manner. And each human being will be accounted for what he does or says in his life; he will be accounted about how he carries his actions and about the status and completion of his actions. This is because the word, ‘راعٍ’ i.e. guardian, means the responsibility for actions. Just as a shepherd is responsible for managing the affairs of his flock of animals by watering, feeding and protecting them, every human being is responsible for his ward. He must manage the affairs of what is assigned upon him in the best possible way. Thus, a man is a guardian for his house, actions, society and his homeland, and a woman is a guardian for her house and the household of her husband. The human being is a guardian no matter wherever he may be. The principle of guardianship (الرعاية) is the performance of obliged actions in a complete manner.
This is the same principle for the good cohabitation (المعاشرة بالمعروف) which Allah (swt) has commanded for both the husband and wife. Thus, the principle of good cohabitation by good dealing and communication is according to what Allah (swt) has commanded regarding good cohabitation i.e. intimacy and cooperation. It is the closest, strongest and the most important bond of humankind. There is no cohabitation or relation more intimate than that of marital intimacy (العشرة الزوجيّة).
Conduct is according to the principle of accountable guardianship over men and women to perform their right of guardianship responsibly, for Allah (swt) has obliged that upon the neck of every human. By virtue of man’s obligation to take care of his wife, he must take the initiative for good companionship, whilst the woman, in return, must reciprocate, according to what Allah (swt) has obliged upon her in terms of good obedience, such that there is mutual love and good companionship between them. Thus, abiding to the obligations and responsibilities (as indicated by the hadith) ‘All of you are guardians’ necessitates good treatment and complete companionship between the spouses.
Allah (swt) has commanded man specifically by saying,
[وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِنْ كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا]
“And Consort with them (عَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ) with goodness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” [TMQ Surah Nisa 4:19]. Thus, good cohabitation (المعاشرة بالمعروف) is an obligation, even if he hates the ugliness or the aging or the sickness or the poverty or the repulsive habits of his wife, excluding the illicit conduct or the commitment of indecency. Co-living and cohabitation with goodness is an obligation, just as hatred is not the cause (sabab) for bad cohabitation. Instead, the cause for ending good cohabitation is only illicit conduct i.e. disobedience and commitment of indecency such as the wife’s raising her voice against her husband, abusive words, rudeness in deeds and speech. These alone can be the justification to admonish, separate from and beat her lightly. If she insists on her illicit conduct and indecency, she is divorced. Otherwise, it is absolutely not permissible to treat her badly (سوء عشرة), particularly since having good cohabitation with her is a rewardable deed.
Sometimes, what man hates in a woman may have goodness which is known by Allah (swt) alone. Indeed, perhaps you may hate a thing and it is good for you. The Prophet (saw) said in a Sahih Hadith reported by Abu Huraira (ra), «لا يفرَك مؤمنٌ مؤمنةً إن سخِطَ منْها خُلقًا رضِيَ منْها آخرَ»“A believing man should not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another (characteristic).” (Narrated in the Tafseer of Ibn Kathir). The meaning is that man should not hate her completely and that should not make him leave her i.e. it is not correct for him. Instead, he must overlook her disliked characteristic because of her good character. He must forgo what he hates for what he loves in her.
The Messenger of Allah (saw) has urged people to have good manners and good cohabitation and made their rewards equal to the reward of charity (sadaqa). He (saw) said, «كلُّ معروفِ صدقةٌ وإنَّ من المعروفِ أن تلقَى أخاكَ بوجهٍ طلقٍ»“Every good (deed) (i.e. Ma’roof) is a charity. Indeed amongst the good deeds is to meet your brother with a smiling face.” [Tirmidhi Book 27, Hadith 76]. From this hadith, we can understand that the meaning of the word “Ma’roof” is to perform the obligation with contentment. For instance, a father asked his son to bring a cup of water, so the son brought it and kept it in front of his father’s table silently or with unease, such that his father did not notice the bringing of the water, this is still considered as fulfillment of the obligation of obeying his father. It removes the disobedience and sin. However, if the son had brought the cup of water and gave it to his father with polite words, waiting for his father to take the cup or ordered him to place it on the table, this is considered as Ma’roof (i.e. performing obligations with content).
Thus Ma’roof is beyond the obligation and is a recommended mandub, not the obligation itself i.e. the one who performs this will be rewarded and the one who leaves it will not be blamed. Mandub action raises one to a higher degree than obligation alone, as the one who is keen on performing recommended action in this world will also be keen on performing obligations. He only performs recommended actions because he realizes that there are higher ranks in Paradise and that the normal people who perform obligations alone will not attain the highest rank in Paradise. Instead, the believers who are keen on performing the obligations, followed by the recommended actions, will attain the highest degree. Performing the recommended actions elevates the soul and mind, drawing him closer to Allah (swt). It is thus that Allah (swt) will separate the people of recommended actions, who are the people of Ma’roof, from the rest of Muslims on the Day of Judgment from the very first moment. In this regard, the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: «وأوَّلُ مَن يدخُلُ الجنَّةَ أهلُ المعروفِ»“The first to enter the paradise on the Day of Judgment is Ma’roof and its people” [At-Tabaraaani Al-Mujam Al-Awsat]. Accordingly, the saying of Allah (swt):
“Cohabitate (consort) with them with Ma’roof (goodness)”is the request (Talab) to men to exercise their right of cohabitation with their wives, taking care of them in a good manner with good characteristics in the best way. It is the incitement from Allah (swt) to his servants to attain the highest rank in Paradise. It is the incitement from Allah (swt) to elevate the level of marital conduct and care. Thus, the reward for a man who cohabitates with his wife in a good manner (i.e. with Ma’roof) surpasses many more times than the reward of a man who just cohabitates with his wife only to the extent of fulfilling obligations and duties alone.
Allah (swt) commanded man by saying:
“Cohabitate (consort) with them (i.e. your wives) with Ma’roof (goodness)”. In another verse, Allah (swt) equates men and women over the rights of good treatment and their obligations as Allah (swt) says:
[وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ]
“And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in goodness (ma’roof)” [TMQ Surah Baqarah 2: 228].
Marriage is one amongst the tasks assigned by Allah (swt) to his servants from amongst men and women. Like every task which man encounters in his life, it is necessary to stop and study the subject of its encounter or bearing its burden to ensure its success. Indeed, the Muslim stops at every task and matter in his life to know the method which Allah (swt) has commanded to deal with that matter. Thus, a Muslim does not invent any organization or rulings for his affairs. Instead, he would search for organization and rulings from the Book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (saw). He would act according to them alone. Thus, knowing about the rulings of Allah (swt) in any matter which the Muslim encounters is a condition of Iman, just like the obligation to act upon the rulings of Allah (swt) is also a condition of Iman. Allah (swt) clarifies this by saying:
[يَرْفَعِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ]
“Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees” [TMQ Surah Mujadilah:11]. This is because Iman necessitates action based on the rulings, whilst the action necessitates the knowledge of the rulings. There is no Iman in Islam just by knowing the Islamic rulings, without acting upon them. Accordingly, good cohabitation between the spouses is a right from Allah (swt) to man regarding his wife. It is a right repeatedly emphasized from Allah (swt) to a woman regarding her husband.
Just as good cohabitation is a right for both spouses over one another, it is also an obligation for both over one another. So, the husband has to take the initiative to raise the level of cohabitation with his wife to the level of goodness (i.e. ma’roof) without having concern or consideration to the level at which his wife cohabitates with him. It is an obligation upon man at first and this obligation is not waived from him due to the absence of his wife’s good cohabitation with him in exchange, as it is the right and obligation upon man regarding his wife. If he performs his obligation, his sins will be absolved. If he is patient upon the absence of getting his right of goodness from his wife, he will be rewarded for his patience. This also applies to a wife who should also take the initiative to raise the level of her cohabitation with her husband to the level of goodness (i.e. ma’roof), so that she fulfills her obligation easily. The subject of her rights (over her husband) does not deter her from performing her obligation, even if she does not get her rights from her husband. If she is patient, she will be rewarded with the reward of patience just as Allah (swt) has promised for the man.
The cohabitation which Islam has commanded necessitates spouses to compete each other over performing their obligations of goodness, making their married life a competition in goodness, where each one of them increases their act of goodness over the other in order for them to be proud of many good acts on the Day of Resurrection. Thus, marriage in Islam is a way of living that is a distinct from any other way of any nation or people or religion. In this way, the condition of Islam is fulfilled, such that the married life becomes a part of the life of a believer in this world where he lives with the highest level and happiness which surpasses all other human beings.
The actions and behaviors of a believer in life are considered a fixed path which he neither hesitates nor agitates to follow. This is because all of his actions must be linked to Hukm Shariah without considering his personal opinion or inclinations, or others that could be influenced by external provocative influences to derail him from his path and consequently, from his belief of abiding to the Hukm Shariah. Thus, a believer does not undertake his actions dictated by reality. Instead, he undertakes any action as dictated by Hukm Shariah about the reality. Iman is a way of life and not a circumstantial connection to thought or goal or objective. The believer faces all of the life affairs, its problems, and its situations with the creed of Iman firmly rooted in himself and with what is obliged to abide by the Hukm Shariah as long as he is alive. Hudhaifah (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: «لاَ تَكُونُوا إِمَّعَةً تَقُولُونَ إِنْ أَحْسَنَ النَّاسُ أَحْسَنَّا وَإِنْ ظَلَمُوا ظَلَمْنَا وَلَكِنْ وَطِّنُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ إِنْ أَحْسَنَ النَّاسُ أَنْ تُحْسِنُوا وَإِنْ أَسَاءُوا فَلاَ تَظْلِمُوا» “Do not be a people without a will of your own, saying: ‘If people treat us well, we will treat them well; and if they do wrong, we will do wrong,’ but accustom yourselves to do good if people do good, and do not behave unjustly if they do evil.” [Bukhari]
A believing man or woman must never forget that being patient over what the person hated has a reward from Allah (swt) and it absolves the sin. There are many hadith of the Prophet (saw) regarding this. Abu Huraira (ra) reported the Messenger of Allah (saw) as saying, «لَا يَزَالُ الْبَلَاءُ بِالْمُؤْمِنِ أَوِ الْمُؤْمِنَةِ فِي نَفْسِهِ وَمَالِهِ وَوَلَدِهِ حَتَّى يَلْقَى اللَّهَ تَعَالَى وَمَا عَلَيْهِ مِنْ خَطِيئَةٍ» “The believing man or woman continues to have affliction in person, property and children so that they may finally meet Allah (swt) free from sin.” [Tirmidhi]
Thus, if a husband hates something about his wife and he is patient with her, or if a wife hates something about her husband and she is patient with him, then it is a reward for both of them inshaa’ Allah. ‘Ulema, righteous and good people of the Ummah realized this reality and lived by it. Ibn Arabi mentions: Abu al-Qasim bin Habib (Bil Mahdiya) told me, from Abul Qasim Al-Suri from Abu Bakr bin Abdullah who said: There was a Sheikh Abu Muhammed bin Abu Zaid who is a renowned ‘Aalim in terms of status and knowledge. He had a wife who treated him badly, neglecting his rights and verbally abused him. It is said that he remained patient with her and he used to say: ‘I am a man upon whom Allah has perfected His blessings in terms of my body health, my knowledge and what my right hand possessed. Perhaps, she was sent as a punishment for my sins and I fear that leaving her would inflict me with more severe punishment than this.’
The basis of marital cohabitation is the acceptance of the soul, whether male or female, to perform its role in the life with content which Allah (swt) has prepared for the individual aside from characteristics and abilities. Thus, any rebellion to the nature of the soul, or restlessness over the obligation, may justify the beginning of deviation from the path of complete mutual understanding for blissful intimacy. Cohabitation will not succeed just from the man alone or from the woman alone. Since cohabitation in the marriage means the mingling of physical bodies of the spouses, their sensations, the integration of one’s thought with another and the association of one’s soul to another, this cohabitation must be organized by clarifying the obligations and rights of man and the obligations and rights of woman. Upon examining the Quranic verses and Prophetic hadiths that have come for this subject, we find that Allah (swt) did not leave any small or great thing in organizing the family life that exists in the marriage. It is like the Creation of the universe by Allah (swt), Who did not leave any small or great thing except that He (swt) has blessed them with complete perfection.
Allah (swt) obliges upon man the responsibility of managing the affairs of his wife such as financial maintenance, intercourse, providing food, clothing and shelter, protection and medication. All these should be in the best manner with good cohabitation. Allah (swt) obliges the woman to obey her husband and submit to him and all these would need to be performed by her. Thus, it is upon her to cook for her husband, clean the house, look after the hygiene of her children, whilst protecting the wealth of her husband, his house and his reputation in his absence. She will not permit anyone to enter her husband’s home without his permission, nor will she leave the house without his permission. She will not be excessive in demands over him, even in the essential needs, such that she will not be persistent. She will not give the wealth of her husband without his permission, even if it is just food. She will not spend his wealth without his consent, nor will she fast voluntary fasts without his permission. She will not disobey his order and she will obey him even in his absence. She will not raise her voice above her husband’s voice. She will not be rude or insolent with her husband, nor will she commit illicit or indecent behavior. She will not prevent him in any case whatsoever, and work diligently and continuously to please him. It is upon man to prevent her behavior which is without his permission and she should consent to this. All these matters are from the Hukm Shariah and performing them yields reward from Allah (swt). Islam has encouraged good cohabitation in order for the spouses to enjoy the blissful life. This is because the intention of marriage is to have complete happiness in life.
Allah (swt) gives a way out for failure, such that misery does not afflict human-beings throughout their life. Nevertheless, before reaching the level of Talaq (swt), Allah (swt) commanded spouses to take concrete measures to treat the failure. Allah (swt) ordered man to show kindness to his wife and have enjoyment with her even with artificiality. He (swt) ordered the wife to completely obey her husband. If a husband gets angry, the wife must seek to please him. If he is pleased, the wife has rewards and if he is not pleased, she is excused before Allah (swt). When a man behaves illicitly such as distancing himself from the wife or hating his wife i.e. he can no longer have companionship with her, Allah (swt) encourages the wife to compromise with him, in whatever possible way, in order to remain as a wife under his care. When a woman behaves illicitly or commits indecency, it is upon her husband to remind her with the remembrance of Allah (swt) and His rulings, and her Shariah obligations to abstain from disobedience, rudeness and verbal abuses, warning her of the punishment of Allah (swt) for her illicit and indecent conduct. If she is not deterred by his separation from her marital bed and if she does not retreat from her path, perhaps she will calm down and return; otherwise, he can beat her lightly (without causing injury or leaving a mark). Allah (swt) says:
[وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ]
“But the men [i.e., husbands] have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority].” [TMQ Surah Baqarah 2:228]. Ibn Abbas (ra) commented on this: ‘Mentioning of the degree is an indication to urge man to have good intimacy, being generous to their women in terms of wealth and character, i.e. it is best for him to restrain himself.’ This degree will make the men bear the greatest responsibility and it is not a greater authority for injustice, as thought by some naive and ignorant. Allah (swt) has made reward equivalent to the martyr of the Hereafter for the woman who obeys her husband, fulfilling her life’s obligations in the marriage affairs, with content.
Asma Bin Yazid Al-Ansariya came to the Prophet (saw) whilst he was amongst his Companions and she said: “May my mother and father be sacrificed for you! O Messenger of Allah (saw), I am delegated on behalf of the women to you. Allah (saw) has sent you to all the men and women and we believed you and your Lord. We, the women folks, are confined to your homes, but you, the men folks, are preferred over us in congregational and Jumma prayers, visiting the sick, attending the funerals and Hajj one after another. Above all, they participate in Jihad in the Path of Allah. If one of you goes out to make Hajj or Umrah or to participate in Jihad, we protect your wealth, weaving the garments for you and bringing up your children. Shall we not share with you this reward and goodness?’ So the Prophet (saw) turned his face completely to his Companions and asked: «هل سمعتم مسألة قط أحسن من مسألتها في أمر دينها، من هذه؟»“Have you ever heard a question better than hers in the matter of her Deen than this one?” They said: “O Messenger of Allah! We never thought of a woman who would seek guidance like her.” So the Prophet (saw) turned towards her and said: «انصرِفي أيَّتُها المرأةُ وأعلِمي من وراءكِ من النِّساءِ أن حُسنَ تَبعُّلِ إحداكنَّ لزوجِها وطلبَها مَرضاتَهُ واتِّباعَها موافقتهُ يعدِلُ ذلِكَ كلَّهِ»“Understand O Woman! And teach it to all the women behind you that being good to her husband and seeking to please him and following his consent are equivalent to all the above.”
Prohibition of Disclosing Secrets between the Spouses and the Concealing of Intimacy
Allah (swt) and the Messenger of Allah (saw) honored marital intimacy (marital companionship) with great care and He (swt) legislated laws that protect it from all evils and harm, preserving it with dignity and chastity. Thus, Islam prevents malicious gossip, backbiting and revealing of secrets between the spouses, as these would cultivate malice and hatred, making a life between them impossible and so the Shaytan would win in the easiest way. The prohibition of disclosing the secrets of one of the two spouses is a part of preserving the trust (Amanah) amongst people. Muslim and Abu Dawud narrated from the Messenger of Allah (saw) who said:
«إنَّ مِن أَعْظَمِ الأمَانَةِ عِنْدَ اللهِ يَومَ القِيَامَةِ، الرَّجُلَ يُفْضِي إلى امْرَأَتِهِ، وَتُفْضِي إِلَيْهِ، ثُمَّ يَنْشُرُ سِرَّهَا»
“The most important of the trusts in the sight of Allah on the Day of judgment is that a man goes (intercourse with) to his wife and she goes to him, whilst he then divulges her secret.” Abu Saed reported a hadith with same meaning in which the Prophet (saw) said: «إنَّ من شرِّ الناسِ عندَ اللهِ منزِلةً يومَ القيامةِ، الرجلُ يُفضِي إلى امرأتِه وتُفضِي إليِهِ، ثُم يَنشرُ سِرَّهَا»“The worst of people in position before Allah on the Day of Resurrection is the man who has intercourse with his wife, and she with him, and then one of them spreads the secrets of the other.” Jabir ibn Abdullah reported from the Messenger of Allah (saw) who said: «الْمَجَالِسُ بِالأَمَانَةِ إِلاَّ ثَلاَثَةَ مَجَالِسَ سَفْكُ دَمٍ حَرَامٍ أَوْ فَرْجٌ حَرَامٌ أَوِ اقْتِطَاعُ مَالٍ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ»“Meetings are confidential except three: those for the purpose of shedding blood unlawfully, or committing fornication, or acquiring property unjustly.” (Abu Daud)
Disclosing of secrets occurs mostly after a woman refuses to be good to her husband. Thus, Allah (swt) prohibited the repudiation and the Prophet (saw) described it as Kufr. Jaber (ra) reported: «شَهِدْتُ مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الصَّلاَةَ يَوْمَ الْعِيدِ فَبَدَأَ بِالصَّلاَةِ قَبْلَ الْخُطْبَةِ بِغَيْرِ أَذَانٍ وَلاَ إِقَامَةٍ ثُمَّ قَامَ مُتَوَكِّئًا عَلَى بِلاَلٍ فَأَمَرَ بِتَقْوَى اللَّهِ وَحَثَّ عَلَى طَاعَتِهِ وَوَعَظَ النَّاسَ وَذَكَّرَهُمْ ثُمَّ مَضَى حَتَّى أَتَى النِّسَاءَ فَوَعَظَهُنَّ وَذَكَّرَهُنَّ فَقَالَ تَصَدَّقْنَ فَإِنَّ أَكْثَرَكُنَّ حَطَبُ جَهَنَّمَ فَقَامَتْ امْرَأَةٌ مِنْ سِطَةِ النِّسَاءِ سَفْعَاءُ الْخَدَّيْنِ فَقَالَتْ لِمَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ قَالَ لِأَنَّكُنَّ تُكْثِرْنَ الشَّكَاةَ وَتَكْفُرْنَ الْعَشِيرَ قَالَ فَجَعَلْنَ يَتَصَدَّقْنَ مِنْ حُلِيِّهِنَّ يُلْقِينَ فِي ثَوْبِ بِلَالٍ مِنْ أَقْرِطَتِهِنَّ وَخَوَاتِمِهِنَّ»“I observed prayer with the Messenger of Allah (saw) on the ‘Eid day. He commenced with Salah before the Khutba without Adhan and Iqama. He then stood up leaning on Bilal, and he commanded (them) to be on guard (against evil for the sake of) Allah, and he exhorted (them) on obedience to Him, and he preached to the people and admonished them. He then walked on till he came to the women and preached to them and admonished them, and asked them to give alms, for most of them are the fuel for Hell. A woman from amongst the middle of women having a dark spot on the cheek stood up and said: Why is it so, Messenger of Allah? He said: For you grumble often and repudiate your husbands (تكفرنَ العشير). And then they began to give alms out of their ornaments such as their earrings and rings which they threw onto the cloth of Bilal.” (Muslim) The meaning of the phrase (سطة النساء) ‘Middle woman’ is the middlemost woman in terms of honor and lineage. The phrase (سفعاء الخدين) ‘having dark spot on the cheeks’ means the cheeks are black, the word (الشكاة) means complaining and the word (العشير Al-asheer) means the husband, literally the cohabitant.
Muslim narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah b. Umar that the Messenger of Allah (saw) observed: «يَا مَعْشَرَ النِّسَاءِ تَصَدَّقْنَ وَأَكْثِرْنَ الاِسْتِغْفَارَ فَإِنِّي رَأَيْتُكُنَّ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِ النَّارِ». فَقَالَتِ امْرَأَةٌ مِنْهُنَّ جَزْلَةٌ وَمَا لَنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَكْثَرَ أَهْلِ النَّارِ؟ قَالَ: «تُكْثِرْنَ اللَّعْنَ وَتَكْفُرْنَ الْعَشِيرَ»“O womenfolk, you should give charity and ask much forgiveness for I saw you in bulk amongst the dwellers of Hell. A wise lady among them said: Why is it, Messenger of Allah, that our folk is in bulk in Hell? Upon this the Prophet observed: You curse too much and are ungrateful to your spouses.” (Muslim). The word ‘(رأيتكنَّ) ’I have seen you’ in the hadith refers to the Revelation.
The excess in grumbling, the excess of cursing and the repudiation of husbands i.e. refusal to good treatment of husbands and the spreading of secrets have all clearly been forbidden in Islam without ambiguity. Islam has equated the punishment of those forbidden acts to Hellfire, as they are dangerous for marriage. This is because all those acts, collectively or individually, indicate the dissatisfaction of a woman about her life with her husband. This would definitely lead to divorce. Accordingly, it is not permitted for a woman to grumble about anything in life’s affairs if the husband fulfills her rights by dealing with the Taqwa of Allah (swt), treating her with kindness and goodness. The complaining of a woman over the housing, furniture, repairing the damaged devices, changing curtains or over the basic or non-basic needs, or over the abundance or lack of provisions, illness, vacations, going out or receiving someone, or even about the shortage of food and abundance of work, with the refusal to have servants, none of this gives her the right to grumble and complain about them. Indeed, it is Haram to make complaints about them. Instead, she should request for them gently.
We seek refuge from the repudiation of the husband, for Allah (swt) says in His Noble Quran:
[وَلَئِنْ كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ]
“But if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” [TMQ Surah Ibrahim :7]. It has been related in Qurtubi’s Tafsir regarding its meaning: “i.e. ‘if you deny My rights’. And it was also said ‘if you deny My blessings’’ [End Quote]. Thus kufr is denying the rights of Allah (swt) and His blessings. Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) have equated the denial of rights by the wife and His blessings with kufr, in the sense of denying the rights. This is because Allah (swt) has made the system of male-female relations, the multiplication of progeny, their interdependence, their mercy towards one another, and lineage and relation with in-laws, all based within the system of marriage. The principle of this system (i.e. the marriage system) made by Allah (swt) is the greater qiyyamah (authority) of men over women in all matters, including the obligations of guardianship and responsibilities. This principle is followed by another principle, or ruling, of punishment of a man in life, for not fulfilling this role. Thus, Islam secured and ensured for man to fulfill some of his rights in this world, whilst some of these burdens may be relieved from him, so that he will not despair, dishearten, evade or abandon all of them, or the heaviest of them, which is marriage.
Allah (swt) obliged to relieve a man from some of his burdens and He (swt) imposed it justly in order to preserve the system of marriage. This is for the purpose which Allah (swt) wanted and not just for the sexual pleasure alone, which is just one of its characteristics that disappears at certain times, or when accustomed to intimacy. Thus, Allah (swt) commands the wife to soften and be inviting towards her husband. He (swt) made this softening and her obedience to her husband as the basis of the marriage system, just as critical as the obligation of guardianship upon man. This is because the nature of man is that he does not accept taking care of those who disobey him. Thus, if a store owner has a partner who disagrees with him, either he has to sell the store and break up the partnership, or he has to continue, although this will negatively affect his work. If an employee disobeys his employer, the employer will dismiss him, no matter how important he is. If a son disobeys his father, his father will expel and banish him from the house. Similarly, the disobedience of a wife is a conclusive prohibition, as it would definitely, but rare cases which have their own circumstances, lead to distancing from her husband i.e. the breaking up of the marriage, as in the case of two business partners.
If the marital disobedience were permitted in Islam, just as it is permitted in some Western societies in the last century, all the values commanded by Allah (swt) for Muslims would have collapsed, as there would not have been a family unit as we know now. There is not enough scope in this writing to compare or discuss the family conditions in societies whose foundation is based on the permissibility of adultery.
Obedience by the women of her husband is not a man-made thing, nor is it an approved tradition. Instead, it is an obligation from Allah (swt). The recognition of woman as a wife with this obligation and her compliance to her husband are the obligations from Allah (swt) and not from man. If a woman disobeys her husband and her husband did not divorce her, he will not be subject to any punishment, whilst her punishment will remain upon her disobedience and she will receive abundant punishment on the Day of Reckoning. This obligation, the obligation of obedience of a woman to her husband, is not an excessive burden on a woman. Instead, it is the burden equivalent to some of the burdens of man in life. It is a part of taking care of her husband and children. It is not a burden equivalent to all the obligations which Allah (swt) has obliged upon man. This obedience of a woman acts as a reviving fuel for man, so that he is able to move in his life, facing other burdens. The disobedience is like depriving him of the fuels necessary for his life. He is able to face other burdens of life, without marriage. He is also able to face other burdens of life with marriage and obedience of his wife, as these burdens are unrelated to the burdens of marriage. However, with marriage and disobedience of his wife, he is overburdened and he will be unable to bear the other burdens of life by his nature. Allah (swt) knows that best, since the obligation of obedience is from Allah (swt), as one of the rights of Allah (swt) given to the husband.
In view of its great danger to the entity of the Ummah and the establishment of Islamic rulings upon the earth, Allah (swt), the Lord of the heavens and the earth, the Mighty and Almighty, has made the obedience of the wife as one of the rights of Allah (swt) that are placed before all the other rights of Allah (swt). So Allah (swt) has prescribed an order upon the heavens and earth not to hear the prayer or supplication of a disobedient woman, other than her own ears. So, these acts will not be written as good by the angels, nor will they be surrounded by angels, and Allah (swt), the Mighty Al-Jabbar will not accept them. This is the denial of the rights of Allah (swt) and thus it is like kufr as Allah (swt) says:
[وَلَئِنْ كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ]
“But if you deny (Kufr), indeed, My punishment is severe.” [TMQ Surah Ibrahim:7]. It has been related in the Tafseer of the verse to mean the denial of Allah’s rights. The disobedience of a wife of her husband may be one of the biggest and clearest parameters and factors of denying the rights of Allah (swt). So how will the woman who disobeys her husband be absolved on the Day of Reckoning from the punishment for denying the rights of Allah, which is kufr?
This is related to the rights of Allah (swt) and Allah (swt) knows best. Let us look at the denial of the blessings of Allah (swt). Many people do not appreciate any of the blessings of Allah (swt) and they are not rightfully aware of them. For instance, a healthy body cannot know the true burden of disease until it has experienced it. One who is blessed with sight does not know the real difference in life between him and the blind. Examples of blessings cannot be enumerated as they are in every matter and thing. In such a way, marriage is a blessing from Allah (swt) upon mankind, including both men and women, without any discrimination, just as life is a blessing for mankind, both men and women. However, some deviants, with their intellectual aberrations, may reach to the conclusion that life is misery for a person, so they end it by committing suicide, whilst they may know that the punishment for what they have done is the eternal Hellfire. Yet, they do not care and commit suicide. When Allah (swt) favored upon His servants with His blessings to enjoy them, He (swt) defined how to enjoy His blessings upon them. He also prohibited denial of these blessings or depriving anyone of them from a position of authority, power and the ability to transgress and injustice. Thus, every individual has freedom to attain the blessings of Allah (swt) and He has made it easy for him to attain those blessings in order to enjoy them in permitted ways to the extent he wants or he could, whether the permissible enjoyments are many or few. If the enjoyment of the blessings is limited to his action on his own accord and they are not related to the rights of others, then he has a right to enjoy those blessings or leave them. For instance, apples are the blessing from Allah (swt) and eating the apple is not related to the rights of others, so he can either eat it or not. Gazing at the stars in the sky at night or reading books is a permitted blessing; however, it is not permitted to look at the awrah of the woman who is not the wife. Accordingly, examples are not limited and marriage is one of those, which is the subject of our study. Marriage is the blessing from Allah (swt) in its reality and in the description by Allah (swt). However, this blessing has two rights, two obligations and two responsibilities i.e. both the husband and the wife. When marriage is contracted between the two, Allah’s blessings upon them is realized. When the marriage contract is broken, this blessing of Allah (swt) goes away with it, as its resting place is marriage and not in a man or
a woman alone. In order to preserve this blessing, Allah (swt) commanded to preserve the marriage between the servants. If a husband oppresses his wife, he has prevented her from the blessing which Allah (swt) bestowed upon her. Accordingly, the husband deserves punishment in the Hereafter. Moreover, Allah (swt) has made legislation to put an end to his oppression in this world. However, in most of the cases, the oppression of a man of his wife is imagined and not a reality, as the limits of injustice set by Shariah can be rarely traversed by a man, except by deviant transgressors. The Islamic legislation by which Allah (swt) regulates the lives of couples easily treats the injustice of the believing man. It is rare for his injustice to lead a woman to divorce.
Obedience of a husband by a wife guarantees the continuation of marriage, consequently guaranteeing the existence of the blessing of marriage upon man and woman, which in itself is described as a blessing from Allah (swt). The best of all the blessings and treasures is a woman who is righteous and obedient. If her obedience to her husband departs, the description of marriage being a blessing and better than all the blessings also departs. It is difficult for a man to bear the disobedience of his wife. In most of the cases the disobedience of the wife would definitely lead to divorce, and the destruction of the blessings of Allah (swt) which Allah (swt) has bestowed upon her and her husband. This destruction, squandering and disintegration of the blessing of Allah (swt), with the destruction of marriage, resulting from the disobedience of the wife, is the denial of the blessing of Allah (swt), which in this reality is represented by the husband. Thus, denial of the blessing of Allah (swt) is a cause for the denial of the husband. It is a manifestation of the denial of husband, by disobeying him. It is prohibited by Allah (swt). Thus the husband is the blessing of Allah (swt) and repudiation of the husband is the denial of the blessing of Allah (swt) which is kufr. Allah (swt) says in surah Ibrahim:
[وَلَئِنْ كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ]
“But if you deny (Kufr), indeed, My punishment is severe.” [TMQ Surah Ibrahim:7]. We reiterate what comes in the Tafseer of Qurtubi: ‘Which means (i.e. the saying of Quran ‘if you deny’) ‘if you deny my rights’. It is also said ‘if you deny my blessings’ End Quote.
As a husband is amongst the blessings of Allah (swt), marriage is amongst the blessings of Allah (swt), whist denial of intimacy and repudiation destroys the stores of blessings. This is because marriage is neither a single blessing nor is it of the blessings that can be counted. Instead, marriage is a bundle of blessings, which means a mass that includes stores i.e. it has great collections that are protected from any evil or aggression or defamation. With the passage of time, the blessing of marriage increases by the grace of Allah (swt) and does not decrease. If denying the blessing of Allah (swt) is kufr, will the wife who destroyed her marriage which is the great collection of blessings, be absolved, due to her repudiation of her husband? Will the one who destroyed the blessings, who denied the Ummah of many blessings, let alone a single blessing, get absolved from the punishment of denying the blessing of Allah (swt), which is one amongst the acts of Kufr? The Prophet (saw) said:
«لا يَنظرُ اللَّهُ إلى امرأةٍ لا تَشكرُ لزوجِها وَهيَ لا تَستَغني عنهُ»
“Allah will not look upon a woman who is ungrateful to her husband and she benefitted from him.” Thus, the obligation of gratitude begins with the blessing or blessings of Allah (swt). The implicit meaning of the hadith ‘who is ungrateful towards her husband’ indicates and affirms that the husband is the basis of all the blessings of Allah (saw) upon a woman. ‘Allah will not look’ means ‘Allah will not have mercy (on her).’ The word “who is ungrateful towards her husband” means: ‘Who does not obey, who is not good at obeying her husband, who does not obey her husband in a way that he is pleased with.’ Gratitude towards Allah (swt) is worshipping Him i.e. obeying Him by implementing his rulings in the way that Allah (swt) orders. And gratitude towards husbands is like the gratitude towards parents, which is obedience that the husband is pleased with, with pleasure to accept, as well as obedience with apparent recognition of grace.
Yusuf Ahmed Badarani from the book (العائلة قلعة) “The Family is a Fortress”