Rights & Responsibilities of Marriage by Hamza Yusuf
Note: I’ve listened to the 14-cd set by Shaikh Hamza Yusuf and have compiled some of the relevant information below for purposes of educating friends and myself. To gain a better appreciation of the subject I would recommend listening to the cds yourself.
We are all about our rights (human rights, animal rights, civil rights, etc) but what about our responsibilities? We are always accountable for how we act even if the other side doesn't meet their responsibility towards us. For example, even if our parents do not meet their obligations towards us (feed/clothe/educate us) we are still bound by our duties to them because we will have to answer to Allah for our actions. This is a major difference between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Men can marry women for 4 reasons:
3. Status (lineage)
4. Deen - deen is the best because it is the one that lasts and impacts positively in the after life.
There are many polygamous societies. Christianity when introduced allowed multiple wives but later became outlawed by the King Justinian. Islam allows men to marry 4 women because it is a practical religion. It understands some men require more than one woman. Therefore, instead of men committing sin by having secret affairs and mistresses (which has occurred in the past, is occurring and will continue to occur going forward, in every society), Islam elevates status of women by giving them rights for being in a relationship.
Men must treat each wife equally, with respect (see rights below). In the west a phenomenon has occurred where men and women can have discreet relationships with no accountability. But as soon as a married man commits adultery it is considered a big sin. Islam forbids relationships outside of marriage altogether. So if a man needs multiple wives, there is a responsibility that comes with it. A hadith says a man who takes his wife out revealing her beauty in public is like a pimp (for lack of a better word), i.e., one who owns prostitutes. This is because men can commit fornication with their eyes.
Husband’s rights over wife:
1 Wife to not wear strong scents and revealing clothes, and carry a soft voice in front of other men
2 Wife to protect man's property and her chastity at all times
3 Wife to breastfeed child if asked by husband (at least one year, up to 2 yrs) -many benefits to breastfeeding
4 Wife must treat husband's relatives with respect
5 Child takes Husband's last name and religion (sign of lineage)
6 Wife not to associate with anyone husband does not approve of
7 Wife not to display outrageous behavior
Note: Husband has right over wife with what Allah has allowed. If she does not listen she is being disobedient to Allah, his Messenger (SAW) and her husband. When this occurs, Husband can first abandon their bed (not sleep with her) and if that doesn't work then he can very lightly hit her (no outward bruises or marks can appear). This is controversial in Islam and ther are differing hadiths and opinions on hitting: 1) Not permissible to hit wife at all 2) Husband can hit lightly 3) Man can hit but best are those that do not. Regardless, physical abuse is never allowed. Women also have right to hit when husband transgresses her rights. Once wife no longer transgresses, husband must clothe her with kindness and support her. Material maintenance of wife is not a right when she is disobedient.
Wife's rights over husband:
1 Wife once married does not have to move where husband is if:
- Dowry not given
- She is in danger of being hurt by husband
- There is danger for her safety
- She cannot remain in (phone) contact with her family (dad/mom/siblings).
2 Husband has to give it, if not wife can demand it based on religious grounds. Her request for wanting it does not reflect on the wife’s modesty, as it is her haqq.
3 Husband has to give it to wife at least every 4th day.
4 Husband must:
- Feed wife (provide palatable food according to her socio-economic status - husband cannot be miser with food)
- Clothe wife (according to her socio-economic status, but husband is not obliged to pay for ornamental clothes)
- Provide cosmetics for wife to maintain her beauty (henna, dye, makeup)
- Provide housing to wife
- Provide domestic help
- Provide appliances for maintaining house (but accordingly; a woman in the desert of Africa may not expect a washer/dryer whereas a woman in Silicon Valley would).
- Husband must cover cost of midwife and delivery of children
- Husband is not bound to maintain wife until marriage has been consummated.
5 Cannot force woman to marry against her will. Woman considered an adult by age 12-13. Women married at very young age in the US as well until very recently when the minimum age was redefined to 18 years of age - based on culture.
6 Husband must hold a Walima and provide food.
7 Wife to be given her own private space (but wife must pay to furnish the home -usually out of her dowry)
8 If prior to marriage husband did not mention wife would live with his relatives or wife didn't agree to do so, wife can demand to not live with husband's family after marriage. Also, if woman has 2 of the 3 qualities of beauty, wealth and status/lineage, she can demand to not live with her in-laws, as they will get in her private life (which she probably wasn't used to before). But, only if husband is able to afford it.
9 If harm can be shown to wife, she has right to her own place.
10 Husband cannot prevent wife from visiting her parents - even if parents are non-Muslim.
11 Wife can stipulate before marriage she wants husband to have no additional wives.
12 If more than one wife, husband must treat each equally. If marriage to 2nd wife hurts 1st wife, she can divorce.
13 Wife can/should retain her last name or family name (for lineage identification purposes)
Note: if marriage has been consummated, wife must be taken care of if 2 conditions are met:
1) Husband is financially capable (wife can divorce husband if he becomes poor, but she can relinquish this right. Similar to a loan, when you are receiving payment for a loan and if borrower comes across hard time, you may allow them time to recover and make payments at a later time)
2) Wife fulfills her legally binding responsibilities to husband as outlined above.
Husband and Wife's rights over each another:
1 Maintain hygiene: clean mouth, wear perfume/cologne, and remove underarm and pubic hair.
2 When performing the act, should disrobe.
3 Should suck each other's tongue (yes, a sunnah).
4 Should pray 2 rakat against shaitan before engaging in the act. If have offspring as a result offspring will be protected.
5 Husband should take into account wife's modesty; give her time to feel comfortable being with him.
6 Entire body can be used for pleasure, except rectum of both male/female (strictly forbidden).
7 With regards to inheritance (outlined in Quran): husband inherits 1/2 of wife's shares if no child, 1/4 if a child. Wife inherits 1/4 if no child, 1/8 if a child. If have a Jewish or Christian spouse, no inheritance is given/received between spouses (husband and wife). A Muslim cannot inherit money from a non-Muslim spouse and vice-versa. Other contracts of loans, etc are allowed between muslim/non-muslim spouses.
8 Both must speak gently to each other, no verbal abuse allowed.
9 Both have right to having a child, one cannot use contraceptives/birth control against the other to prevent having children.
There are hadiths that say best women are those that have a low mahar; this promotes marrying those having less.