The topic “Rights And Responsibilities Of Married Muslim Women” is the one that calls for self-reflection for all our readers. What do you think about women and the role played by them in your life? What are their rights? This reflection is not only for men but also for women. How do they view other women around them? What roles have they deemed fit for them? Do they take their being an invisible force in stride? Or are women around them put on a pedestal? Whereby elevating the position of some and reducing the others’ to cinders?
These perspectives are shaped by family dynamics, societal peerage, education, and understanding of Islamic principles. There are times when partial knowledge of a certain hadeeth or Quranic verse fuels notions of dominance or subservience. It is imperative that individuals and society as a whole move towards a thorough understanding of why certain laws were created. An in-depth analysis of rights, roles, and responsibilities be understood in the true light of Islam. Half-baked notions of sculpted roles need to be scrapped and enlightened and educated information must be created and shared.
Women play a vital role and serve as the proverbial and literal backbone of every family. Each day, from morning till night, who looks after the family’s every need before addressing her own? It’s a WOMAN. She is always there for her family no matter what her relationship is. She’s a grandmother, mother, daughter, sister, and wife. They have multiple responsibilities based on their familial standing, as workers, and as members of society. As a daughter, a woman is traditionally responsible for taking care of her parents. As a wife, she is expected to serve her husband, from preparing food to clothing and his intimate needs. When we talk about her role as a mother, she must be present for her children’s upbringing. She is the one who shapes society by the way she raises a generation, how she teaches her sons and daughters to be valuable members of society and how she responds to certain situations. It is an utmost responsibility and a job for which she toils day and night. Most of her laborious efforts are unconditional.
Responsibilities of Married Muslim Women
Many responsibilities are associated with women as daughters-in-law. We must question whether such tasks attributed to her person fall within the jurisdiction of Islamic Sharia or whether are they the creation of a patriarchic society. Many deem this discussion controversial as it may shake the pillars on which the joint family system of South Asian families is founded. Strictly speaking, once married a wife’s responsibility is solely towards her husband she is NOT meant to serve or feel indebted to her husband’s family at all.
The only thing that is expected of her is “IKHLAQ” – being well-mannered with the in-laws kindly. Whatever she does on top of that will be considered as “EHSAAN” – charity. Whether it is spending on them or cooking for them. This preconceived notion that a daughter-in-law is only deemed good if she erases her personality and only has substance if she spends her life in complete submission and servitude is a fallacy.
As a wife she is responsible for:
Sociability and compliance towards her husband
The minimum of all rights that fall upon a Muslim due to the teachings of Islam are also owed to one’s spouse. It is imperative that a Muslim woman maintain a standard of respect and kindness towards her husband in the household. The wife’s main responsibility and devotion to her husband is to adhere to his directives in all that is legal and permissible by Islam.
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore, the righteous women are obedient to Allah and their husbands and guard that which Allah has ordered them to guard (their chastity and their husband’s property) in the absence of their husbands.” [Quran: Al-Nisaa’ 4:34]
Attracting the attention of her husband
She must adorn herself and engage in a manner that is endearing to him. She must also praise his endeavors for her and the family. She should defend his honor and avoid complaining about him needlessly. This is done so that marital harmony may be maintained in the household which is a positive for both.
Gratification and pleasure of her husband
She is also meant to fulfill the intimacy needs of her husband so that he may remain chaste. She should manage the maintenance of the household and engage in charitable deeds that he partakes in. There is so much emphasis on this that she shouldn’t begin nonobligatory fasting without having a discussion with him. In essence, conjugal rights may not be denied unless she is sick or menstruating.
Rearing and educating the offspring
This is one of the most important responsibilities. Along with a loving and nurturing attitude towards raising children, a woman must also actively engage in ensuring that they receive adequate religious and worldly education. Children are the future, so all the focus must be put on that effect.
Piety and conformation to the word of Allah
Amongst all of the above-mentioned duties and responsibilities, a Muslim woman’s first duty is towards Allah and his directives. She must establish prayer and give Zakat as instructed, essentially maintaining adherence to all 5 pillars of Islam if her finance permits her. If her husband is deviant from the path of Allah, she should try her best to alert him to his regressions and make all efforts to invite him back to the straight path.
The wife has to raise the children and give them Islamic values. She must also protect her husband’s wealth and children, among other things, in his house. The Prophet Muhammad P.B.U.H said,
“The wife is the guardian over the house of her husband and his children.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
Rights of Married Muslim Women
Islam has given her rights as well as enjoined duties and responsibilities towards her husband. So, let’s talk about what are a wife’s rights to her husband according to the Quran and Sunnah. Or what are a husband’s duties to his wife and vice-versa?
Let’s start off with some of the sayings of the Quran and Sunnah which have to do with the duties of the spouses towards one another.
The Prophet Mohammad P.B.U.H. has stated:
أکمل المؤمنین إیماناً، احسنهم خلقاً، و خیارکم خیارکم لنسائه.
“The most complete persons in faith are those who have the best manners and the good among you are those who are good with their wives. “
The wife has financial rights over her husband which are the mahr (dowry), spending, and accommodation.
“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.” [Quran: Al-Nisaa’ 4:4]
The husband and wife must mutually agree, confer, and work together to conduct family matters. A family unit, like any other, cannot function effectively without a wise and powerful supervisor and manager. Without an identified decision-maker, most households cannot create an ideal environment. Therefore, either the wife or the husband must assume responsibility for managing and protecting the family.
With the weight of the financial responsibility resting solidly on the husband’s shoulders as per Islamic law. He is meant to provide her with independent accommodation, expenses for her and the children (even if she herself is rich), and house help if he can afford it. Under no circumstances is she obligated to live in a space with other “na mehrams” (brother-in-law). If the husband is unable to afford her an independent living space, then he must ensure that she has a space in which she can have her privacy.
The husband must have a good attitude towards his wife and be kind to her and offer her everything that may soften her heart towards him, and she has non-financial rights such as fair division between co-wives, being treated in a decent and reasonable manner, and not being treated in a harmful way by her husband.
The Prophet P.B.U.H. enjoined kind treatment and honoring of one’s wife, and he described the best of people as those who are best to their wives.
“The best of you are those who are the best to their wives,” (Tirmidhi)
The husband must adorn himself in a manner that is pleasing to his wife. He should maintain cleanliness, put on perfume and engage in a way that heartens her. He should provide opportunities for her to be able to enjoy her time in his company. He is also not allowed to shun her when she requests intimacy.
A husband must protect his wife and fight for her against all odds. It is his responsibility to make feel her wife secure, to protect her from danger, and give her the love she deserves. Whether this protection is from vices in society or from elements within his own family. He is meant to honor her and preserve her mental and physical health.
Putting an excessive amount of work on the wife is burdensome and not permissible. She is required to take care of the house, but the husbands should be reasonable and assist her in any manner they can. For example, the Prophet P.B.U.H used to assist in household tasks. This is to protect her physical and mental well-being. In no way or form can she be obliged to serve the husband’s family.
Protecting the dignity
A wife’s dignity is equally important as the husband’s respect. He should not compare her with other women in terms of her physical looks or her achievements. Ignoring or failing to acknowledge the physical challenges and anguish she experiences as a result of pregnancy and parenthood is detrimental to her respect and marital harmony. He may not allow his family members to oppress her. Even if the issue is between his wife and mother, the husband should be fair and not allow his family to mistreat her. He must be impartial and respect each person’s rights. A husband must also take care not to belittle his wife, in front of other family members or in front of children.
Any couple can achieve peace and harmony within their marriage if the women are not oppressed and are not deprived of their divine rights and vice versa. It is also important for couples to keep to not demand these rights and not let shaitan play with their mind instead be polite and calm and communicate with each other if the rights are not being fulfilled.
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