Summary of 7.40 Marital Relations V (Husband’s Rights)
We continued the rights of the husband last week.’ More particularly we covered the question of leadership within the family and the ‘obligation of the wife’ towards him and her obedience.’ We covered this with sayings of the Prophet.’ We also examined some of the basis with which some people interpreted this obedience on the wife’s part to mean that he is superior and we showed that in accordance with Islamic Law in letter and spirit this is not the case.’ We also looked into some of the main reasons why this responsibility of leadership and family maintenance is primarily on the husband’s shoulders.’ The most important thing we tried to emphasis was that obedience in Islam whether it relates to marital relationships or otherwise is not an absolute submissive obedience at all; absolute obedience is only due to God.’ Any obedience to any human being is only derived from the obedience to God and as such is restricted and limited obedience.’ It must be obedience in areas which relate directly to the rights of the husband, obedience in things that are equitable, fair and customary.’ Finally, a good example is that the Quran itself refers to mutual consultation between husband and wife even in matters of suckling after divorce.’ A saying of the Prophet which shows that rights and responsibilities are there for balance rather than to show superiority or inferiority:’ the Prophet was once asked as narrated in Alhakim when it was addressed to him ‘Who among all people have the greatest claim on the woman?’ he replied ‘her husband.” Then he was asked ‘Who has the greatest claim on the man?’ he replied ‘his mother.” There is a kind of equitability here in the distribution of care, rights and responsibility.

7.41 Marital Relations & Children’s Rights

Host:’ How can we apply all of’ this in a practical day to day life of a couple?

Jamal Badawi:

Fortunately the teachings of Islam don’t just give broad generalizations and motherhood statements and many times we can find explicit clarifications especially for major explicit issues.’ We have indicated in the previous discussion that a woman is responsible (is the leader) of her household and in Islamic Law it was indicated that Islam exempted the woman from being the provider for the family.’ It means that she has a similar obligation to be primarily responsible for the household.’ It follows from this that it would be unreasonable to expect that the wife would leave her home without the permission or knowledge of her husband.’ This is mentioned specifically in several sayings of the Prophet especially as narrated in Alhakim.’ Even then there are qualifications for this too.’ It does not mean that a woman under any circumstances can not leave her home without the consent of her husband.’ As indicated before the obligation of the individual is to God before it is to a husband, wife or anyone else and Islam requires every Muslim to go to the Pilgrimage once in a lifetime; she can go to the Pilgrimage without his approval.’ They added that there may be situations where the husband is not helping his wife learn about her faith and since learning is an obligatory duty on every Muslim mail and female, if the husband fails to provide that, she may go out of her home and go to (example) Mosque in order to listen and learn.’ Other circumstances are when the lands of the Muslims are invaded and man, woman and child (or every person who is able to participate in the defense and warding of the invaders) can go without permission.’ This does not necessarily mean that every time a woman goes out of her house she has to get approval.’ The spirit of it is not like this.’ An example is that a woman goes to work regularly and the man consents to this (as there is no negative affect of this on the family) so she does not have to seek permission every-time.’ If she knows that she has a blanket approval for her to go, shopping, too see her relatives or friends there is no need for her to get his consent every time.’ The idea here is that there should be some reasonable discipline in the family as the husband is entitled to know where his wife is.

If the greatest claim, in accordance to Prophetic Tradition, on the wife is the claim of the husband it follows that her obligations on her husband supersedes he obligations to relatives including her parents.’ This does not say that a woman is not obliged to be righteous, kind and considerate to her parents but it simply means that if these rights conflict then the rights of the husband prevail.’ I personally know of cases of family disputes where the parents would tell either the husband or wife things about their spouse and try to separate them from each other in which case the right of the spouse should supersede any advise from parents which can be detrimental to the family.’ For example if her parents ask her to go with them for a 2 month trip to the Bahamas or whatever and the husband says that her children need her.’ In this case the right of the husband would supersede here.

If the work of the husband requires him to travel she is required to go with him.’ If he changes residence she has no right to say that she can not move with him.’ If in the nuptial agreement a condition was put to the effect that she would not leave the country or city then according to many jurists this is enforceable.’ As we indicated in many previous programs if the residence or dwelling that the husband offers his wife doesn’t meet the basic standard in Islamic Law, like lack of safety, security or septic necessities she can refuse to move to it.’ If the husband, as found in chapter 65 of the Quran, changes residence to deliberately hurt his wife she may not be required to move.’ Otherwise she has to move with him wherever he goes because after all he is the provider.

A fourth manifestation is that if the wife happens to be working and her husband feels that her full time work is detrimental to the interests of her infant or children and the stability of her family he has the right to ask her to quit unless this was put in the marriage contract as a condition in which case he must accept it.’ There are some exceptions to this.’ According to Abu Hanifa, a great jurist, in the Muslim community there is something called fard kifaya which is a collective responsibility.’ For example if a wife is trained as a midwife and is needed where her expertise are required according to Abu Hanifa she does not necessarily have to obey him.’ She has to go and work when there is a need for her type of work.

A fifth manifestation is that a wife should not allow or entertain any guests in her husband’s house unless she has his consent or permission.’ There are references to this in Ibn Maja and Altirmithi.’ A sixth manifestation is that she can not dispose of his property without his permission accept if she has it in order to provide for herself and her children.’ Finally, a wife should not deny her husband legitimate sexual access.

Host:’ Could you elaborate on the last point, which is quite delicate, with the basis for it and its limitations?

Jamal Badawi:

One of the main inherent purposes of marriage in Islam is to provide mutual comfort which is physical, psychological and spiritual.’ Not only according to Islam but according to traditions in any country or culture sociologists tell us that legitimate sexual acts to one’s spouse is one of the main purposes of marriage.’ I follows that it would be rather unfair for either side to deny the access of intimate relations to his or her spouse.’ We have seen in previous programs that Islamic Law does not look into things just from one side in the sake of the male or the female gender.’ One might recall that at one point it was mentioned that one of the main rights of the wife over her husband is to have her instinctive needs to be satisfied.’ We have seen what Islamic Law has said about that and possible ways of enforcement if that right is not respected.’ Again by the same token it would be unfair for the wife to deny access to her husband which would lead him to be extremely uncomfortable which is not the purpose of marriage.’ There are several sayings of Prophet Muhammad as narrated in Abu Dawood, Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad indicating that when the husband invites his wife for intimate relations she should not refuse without just or reasonable cause.’ In fact in some acts of worship like voluntary fasting (beyond compulsory fasting of Ramadan) or voluntary pilgrimage that the wife she should not engage in it without the permission of her husband.’ In Islamic law a husband can not have close relations with his wife when he or she is fasting or doing their pilgrimage.’ The compulsory fasting and pilgrimage the wife has every right to practice without her husband’s permission.’ But the extras that infringe on his rights must be done with his understanding and consent.’ This does not mean that the husband should be inconsiderate to the sickness of his wife or the case where she is extremely tired or exhausted and just make unreasonable demands.’ In fact according to Islamic Law he would be bared from seeking this intimate relationship if his wife is fasting during the compulsory month of Ramadan, during her monthly menstruation or during postpartum recovery are all forbidden regardless of whether he wants it or not.’ In conclusion Islam which strongly prohibited adultery and fornication in its regard to the nature of the male instinct this kind of teaching is very important not only for the sake of the husband but for the sake of the integrity of the family and in order to prevent temptation to commit evil outside the wholesome boundaries of the family.

Host:’ What is the obligation of the wife in regards to housework?

Jamal Badawi:

The Quran provides broad guidance to this issue in (2:228) ‘And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable.” Strangely enough a great number of Muslim jurists which included touring figures as the leaders of the school of jurisprudence in Islam like Malik, Shaafi, and Abuhanifa that conclude that a woman is not legally required to do the household work because this is not an implicit or explicit part of the marriage contract.’ However we find that other jurists differ with them.’ Ahmad says that if we look at it in light of the above verse that women have rights equivalent to the rights of men and if it is the fair and customary (as the Quran says) for the husband (male side of the family) to be the main provider for the family it follows that God has equipped the wife to be more qualified to look after the internal affairs of the household.’ There is nothing inequitable on each of them which makes this role differentiation makes sense in regards to the welfare of the totality of the family.’ The additional evidence that some jurists use to say that the wife should be responsible for these household duties is that in the days of the Prophet (PBUH) as narrated both in Bukhari and Muslim when his own daughter Fatimah came to complain that she and her husband Ali had so much work to do and that her hands were blistering from grinding the grains for food and asked the Prophet to appoint a servant to them.’ The Prophet (PBUH) despite his ability to do so refused and divided the work between them by telling Ali to look after the work outside of the home and Fatimah to look after the work inside the household.’ If it is legally forbidden for a woman to do any housework the prophet would have said she doesn’t have to do it but that she may if she wants to.’ A similar narration about Asma’a the daughter of Abu Bakr that she reported that she used to serve her husband and look after his horse and carry grains on her head for quite a distance.’ Again some jurists say that this was done by way of voluntary action but this was not really required.’ Other jurists say that this is not so because then the Prophet would have indicated that one is not required to do this but that she could do it, but rather he agreed with this.’ However we should add that the question of household is not determined by strict legalism and that the whole question of marriage in Islam has shown is mutual love and reciprocity which depends on each case and circumstances.’ For example it would be rather unfair that the husband works hard all day to provide for his family, and the wife stays home and watches all kinds of shows on TV and he walks in and asks her to cook, do the laundry and clean the house for her to not cooperate in the distribution of duties between husband and wife.’ It is also unfair that the husband disregard his wife’s suffering if she is sick or overburdened for him to say that the work is not within his job specification.’ Or for him to invite 25 people for dinner and refuse to help with dishwashing or cleaning up.’ It all depends on the situation and is a matter of cooperation rather than insistence on separation of duties.’ This provides more of a setting for balanced rights and responsibilities with role differentiations with equity that is not necessarily mathematical, superficial equality.

Host: What are the basic categories of the rights of children?’ And can we explore each one?

Jamal Badawi:

There are three broad categories of rights of children in Islam.’ One is the right to life, second is the right to clear lineage and third the right proper care and upbringing.

The life of the child is not granted by the parents but comes from God who gave the life and gave life to that child. ‘No human has the right to tamper with that life without justification.’ This implies that abortion is prohibited in Islam unless it is for very extenuating circumstances like saving the life of the mother.’ It also means that one should not take the life of their children.’ Some may ask if this should even be mentioned but if we look at the historical context we will find that Islam really has added allot to what happened in those days.’ In the Biblical time according to Wester Mark in his book Origin and Development of Moral Ideas he says that in the Biblical time there were several narratives that showed that the authority of the father the patriarch over his children included the right of life and death and that he could condemn his child to death.’ Mark concluded that this doesn’t mean that the Hebrew father abused this right but had this authority.’ In the same reference he mentions Western Europe where he says that up to the year 1000 AD (several hundred after Islam came) infanticide, killing children or selling them into slavery was still accepted and practiced during times of war and famine.’ Among the pre-Islamic Arabs they practiced female infanticide, or killed their children out of fear of poverty which the Quran forbade and responded that God provides for all.’ They practiced these things because of bias agains girls, for human sacrifice or any other reason which have all been totally forbidden in Islam.’ Islam established that the right to life even in the embryo stages is something that should not be tampered with.

Legitimacy means that every child should have the inalienable right to have secure identity and to have a known father.’ Of course historically speaking the lineage is related to the father but there have been instances where the child is related to the mother (if she was famous, out of respect for her, husband died and the mother brings up the child).’ If the father is not known the child can be related to his mother by way of lineage, if both are not known then according to the Quran (33:5) that a person should be called as a brother of the faithful but not to be given any false identity.’ Thus, Islam has forbade adoption in the Western sense but it allows fostering and looking after the needs of a fatherless or motherless child but not to give them the name and identity of the adoptive father.’ There should be no falsification of their real identity.

When it comes to proper upbringing they should first be received with joy and happiness and not to behave like ignorant people in the pre-Islamic era where if they receive the news of the birth of a boy they are happy and if they get the news of a girl they feel sad and disappointed.’ The Quran actually condemns this kind of feeling and one should feel that whatever they have the child is a blessing from God.’ Second, a person should express thanks to God for this blessing by having a festive occasion by the seventh day and he should be given a name and hair should be shaved and the weight of his hair paid in gold or silver in charity.’ Also, on the seventh, fourteenth, twenty first day or any other day the father should sacrifice a lamb and offer it by way in a festival.’ The Prophet was narrated to have done one lamb for his grandchildren.’ The other right is the right of suckling which in accordance to the Quran could go as far as two years.’ It includes the complete care of the physical needs of the child which is mentioned in the Quran and in several sayings of the Prophet which say that this is the responsibility of the father except in the case that the child has their own property and the father is not too well off.’ This includes the right of the child to receive proper learning in manners and and about his faith.’ According to the saying of the Prophet in Alhakim one should teach his child the testimony of faith (there is no god but one God).’ According to the Quran one has to prevent his children from falling into disbelief ‘Protect yourself and your family from the Hell Fire’ until at least the child grows up and can decide on matters of faith.’ This information and religious orientation should be given to the child which is a responsibility that one can not shun.’ According to a saying in Abu Dawood the Prophet says that one has to teach their child the prayers when they are 7 so that they can get used to it.’ And finally to be just and equitable in the treatment of children.’ The prophet repeatedly said that one should be just with their children whether they are males or females.