Rights of a Muslim Wife
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband’s property, etc)…” (An-Nisa’ 4:34)
In Islam the man presents his wife with a dowry they have mutually agreed upon, at the time of marriage. The amount varies according to his means and generosity, and his wife has the right to spend, save or remit any part of it. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:
“And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful). (An-Nisa’ 4:4)
Women have been entrusted by Allah (SWT) with the task of providing a peaceful, comfortable home environment for the breadwinner who works for their provisions outside the home all day long.
It is one of the extraordinary beauties of Islam that by entrusting the male to the position of protector and provider, it frees the woman, who is burdened with the long cycle of bearing, giving birth to, nursing and raising children, from having to assume the extra burden of her own and her children’s support, which is unjust and a tremendous hardship.
While a woman must obey her husband, as long as he does not ask anything forbidden of her, and guard his possessions while he is away from the house, and handle his money as he wishes, she must also be faithful, trustworthy and honest.
A wife is regarded as a source of love, peace and compassion, as stated in the Quran:
“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them , and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar-Rum 30:21)
“…But the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food and clothing on a reasonable basis. No person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear…” (Al-Baqarah 2:233)
“’O Messenger of Allah (SAW), what right can a wife demand of her husband?’ He replied, ‘that you should give her food when you eat, clothe her when you clothe yourself, not strike her on the face, and do not insult her or separate form her except in the house.’” (Reported by Ahmad, Ibn Majah and Abu Dawud)
“A woman came to the Prophet (SAW) complaining of her husband, ‘Messenger of Allah (SAW), Abu Sufyan is a niggardly man who does not give me and my son enough; except what I take from him without his knowledge.’ He replied, ‘Take what is enough for you and your son according to what is ma’roof (well-known in your society).’” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Good Treatment, Condideration and Companionship
Allah (SWT) instructs men that they must be compassionate and kind to their wives:
“…They are Libas [i.e. body cover, or screen or Sakah, (i.e. you enjoy the pleasure of living with her as in Verse 7:189) Tafsir At-Tabari], for you and your are the same for them…” (Al Baqarah 2:187)
“It is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and (then) He has created form him his wife (Eve), in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her…” (Al-A’raf 7:189)
This meaning that a wife and a husband are meant for mutual support, mutual comfort, and mutual protection of each other.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also emphasized the importance of this compassionate treatment:
“I command you to treat women kindly. Woman has been created from a rib (the rib is crooked), and the most crooked part of the rib is the upper region. If you try to make it straight you will break it, and if you leave it as it is, it will remain curved. So treat women kindly.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also said:
“The best of you are those who are best to the women.” (Sahih At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah and Al-Jami Al-Saker)
The best husband is one who provides her with true leadership without harshness, or laxness, and who does not misuse his authority and strength. Even if the behavior of a wife should become hard to live with (for she may not always be in strong health and of cheery disposition), the man is asked to be patient and kind to her. Allah (SWT) says:
“O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the Mahr (dowry, bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.” (An-Nisa’ 4:19)
A wife has the right to her husband’s attention, companionship and time. The husband should try to please and make her happy, taking into consideration her needs, wishes, likes and dislikes, and making time for relaxation and recreation together.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said,
“Among the Muslims, the most perfect as regards his faith is the one whose character is most excellent, and the best among you are those who treat their wives well.” (At-Tirmidhi)
“A believer must not hate a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics he will be pleased with another.” (Sahih Muslim)
“Woman has been created from a rib and in no way will be straight for you; so if you enjoy her you will do so while crookedness remains in her; but if you try to straighten her you will break her; breaking her being divorcing her.” (Sahih Muslim)
The Right to Adequate Sexual Relations
Since the purpose of marriage is to be a mutual source of comfort, peace, and enjoyment for each other, like a garment that protects and cover, the sexual aspect of marriage is an extension of this. The husband is asked to be gentle, considerate and loving with his wife, and to try to satisfy her needs. The wife must reserve herself exclusively for her husband, and make efforts to be attractive, as well as making herself available to him whenever he is in need of her. This latter obligation also applies to the husband. In Islam, any sexual relations are reserved EXCLUSIVELY for the confines of marriage. Both husband and wife are also obligated to honor the privacy of the intimate relations between them, and should not speak of them to anyone. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“Verily among the worst people before Allah on the Day of Judgment is a man who approaches his wife sexually and she responds and then he spreads her secrets.” (Sahih Muslim)
Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:
“…And live with them honorably…” (An-Nisa’ 4:19)
The wife has right over her husband. The husband should play with his wife.
“The Prophet (SAW) was told about one of his Sahaba (Companions) that he fasts in the daytime and prays at night, the Prophet (SAW) told him that his family has right over him, his body has right over him, pray and sleep, fast and then break the fast.” (Ibn Hibban)
The Prophet (SAW) also declared that having sexual intercourse with one’s wife is like giving charity. It is very important to play and sport with one’s wife before having sex, as the Prophet (SAW) told Jabir,
“Why did you not marry a virgin, with whom you could play and who would play with you?” (Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Right Not To Be Beaten
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) specifically said,
“Do not beat the female servants of Allah.” (Abu Dawud)
Allah (SWT) says in the Quran:
“…As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.” (An-Nisa’ 4:34)
The Prophet (SAW) said:
“When one of you inflicts a beating, he should avoid striking the face.”
The Right to Be Just With All the Wives
The Prophet (SAW) said,
“When a man has two wives and does not treat them equally he will come on the Day of Resurrection with a side hanging down.” (At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud)
The wives have the right to equal number of nights and equal amount of wealth.
The Right to Learning Matters of the Deen
A husband’s duty is to teach his wife the essential knowledge of Islam, in particular matters pertaining to women. If he does not know himself, then he must buy her books and tapes that would teach her or let her go to study circles where she can acquire that knowledge. She can not leave the house without his permission, but she can go to the Masjid (Mosque) without his permission. He has no right to stop her from that. Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said,
“Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from visiting the mosques of Allah, but they may go out (to the mosque) having not perfumed themselves.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud)
“…Their houses are better for them.” (Abu Dawud)
The Right to Be Jealously Defended
This includes not letting her leave the house without proper hijab, or not letting her freely intermingle with men. The Prophet (SAW) has said that a ‘dayooth’ (a man who is not jealous about his honor) will not enter Paradise.
Now this does not mean that the husband is permitted to go to the extreme in this matter. Such matters may be as follows:
Not letting one’s wife go out of the house EVEN when it is safe to do so.
Not letting one’s wife answer the phone.
· Not allowing wife to go to hospital when she is sick.