Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Abuse of a husband's rights and duties|
|07/23/01 at 05:29:12|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
Abuse of a husband’s rights and duties
People often think of matrimonial relations in terms of rights and duties. But this is not the right approach. Islam defines the marital relationship in terms of love, compassion and mutual inclination. God says in the Qur'an: "One of His signs is that He created for you from among yourselves spouses, so that you may incline toward them, and he placed love and compassion between you. In this there are signs for people who reflect." It is only when a marital relationship is characterized by frequent friction and quarrels that people try to identify rights and duties. Friction may come about between a man and his wife, but the proper Islamic way of ending such friction is compassion and love, not insistence on one's rights.
It is always easy for anyone to claim a right which he or she assumes to be theirs. But it is less easy to try to get the other person to understand his or her duties and to fulfil them. What we need to understand is that each right due to one party in a relationship has a corresponding duty which that party is required to fulfil. In a matrimonial relation, the husband has rights, but he also has duties to fulfil. When a husband insists that his rights must be delivered to him in full, he may have a good reason for such insistence. But before he makes such a demand, he should ask himself whether he has fulfilled his duties under the same relationship. If he has, then he can easily ensure that what is due to him by right will easily be fulfilled. A woman who finds her husband caring, loving and compassionate, as he is certainly required to be by Islam, will be ready to do her part without waiting for it to be demanded.
A female reader from Riyadh has written to me a very distressing letter telling me how she is treated by her husband who has forbidden her to have any contact with her own parents and other members of her family. He wants to send her back home, because her parents also live in Riyadh. If she goes away to her home country, then he is sure that no contacts with her family are maintained. He tells her that she is required by Islam to obey him in whatever he may tell her.
This is very sad because the way this man is treating his wife is all one-sided. He does not seem to realize that his wife also has rights and he must fulfil his duty to her. One very important duty of a husband is to take every measure to ensure that his wife is enjoying good living and good health. If he wants to send her back home, and her family is here, he obviously wants her to live with his family. She will be practically a stranger or a woman living in exile. She knows that this measure is taken so that she does not get in touch with her family. When she feels so much alone, isolated from her own parents, sisters and brothers, she runs a serious risk of developing depression.
Then, what right has he got to put her in such isolation? Is it because he married her? Then let me tell him that the Prophet has not emphasized anything more strongly than the need to take care of our wives and other women in our families. He defines the relationship between man and wife as one established on the basis of trust undertaken under God's law. On his deathbed, the Prophet kept repeating three things he wanted his followers to observe very diligently. One of these is to take good care of women. How far is this man taking good care of his wife when he sends her to live with his family, when he is away, for no reason except to make sure that she does not contact her parents? He wants his wife to “prove herself” by staying with his family for sometime. What sort of “proof” is that he is asking her? A proof that she has boycotted her parents? If she does, then she is failing in her duty toward them.
Apparently, this man thinks that because his wife has had the greatest honour in this world, i.e. marrying him, then she should cut herself off her past and her family and all bonds! What does she need them for when she has him, and he gives her the opportunity to serve him!
Apparently, this woman is so troubled with the treatment she receives from him that she puts to me the question, "How does Islam distinguish between a bought slave girl and a lawful wife"? She says that when she objected to his treatment saying that it is more like that of a slave, he said that he had bought her by paying her a dower, or mahr. If he thinks so, then he should ask a religious scholar about the dower and what rights it gives him against his wife. The dower is a token for making the marital relationship lawful. It is an amount of money, or some sort of clear benefit, which is due to the woman in return for her becoming lawful to her husband. It is not a price with which he buys a commodity. Had it been so, a woman would not have been required to fulfil any responsibility, and would not have had any religious duty to discharge. How come that a married woman is required to fulfil the same religious duties, like prayers, fasting, zakah and pilgrimage?
Apparently, the man does not accept any discussion of his orders. He insists that he can order his wife about in the way he likes, because it is just a "husband's privilege". I can tell him that Islam does not give him any such privilege. His wife is just as free and responsible as he is. She is answerable to God in the same way as he is. If he persists with this treatment of his wife, then he has a lot to answer for in front of God.
My reader says that her husband insists that she must work, but she does not like the idea, preferring to use her time and energy looking after her 2-year-old son. She says that they do not need that she works, because they are financially comfortable. I can tell her that her view is the one preferred by Islam. If she looks after her children, then that is the best occupation of her time. Moreover, with a husband like hers, will he let her have her salary and spend it the way she likes? Because that is what he needs to do, or will he want to take her salary because he would be the one to look after the family finances? I know a man who takes all his wife's salary and claims that this is what God requires him to do. He does not only usurp his wife's right to her money, but also lies against God to justify his action. In Islam, a woman has full control over her money. Her husband may not take any portion of it, unless she gives it to him willingly, without pressure. So, if she decides to go to work, she should put matters very clearly in front of him, claiming all her rights in advance.
My advice to my reader is to take a strong action against her husband. She should get in touch with her parents, asking them over to her house, so that they can work out an understanding with her husband about what is right and what is wrong in their relationship. They should take a conciliatory attitude in order not to allow matters to come to a head. If he finds out that she has full support from her family, and that she can work and earn her living, he may reconsider his position. If he insists on such an oppressive treatment, then she may consider that she is better off without him and act accordingly.
[i]Issues Today by Adil Salahi - Arab News - 14 August 1998[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Haniff (with 2 f's)
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