An Excerpt from the Book “The Ideal Muslim: The True Islâmic Personality of the Muslim as Defined in the Qur’ân and Sunnah”
Islamic View of Marriage and Woman
Marriage in Islam offers tranquility to the soul and peace to the mind, so that man and woman may live together in an atmosphere of love, mercy, harmony, co-operation, mutual advice and tolerance, and lay the foundation for raising a Muslim family in a nurturing, sound environment.
The Holy Qur’an has described, in the most moving and eloquent terms, this eternal, natural relationship between man and woman, which is filled with tranquility, security, love, understanding and compassion:
[And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your [hearts]: verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.] (Qur’an 30:21)
Marriage is a union of souls, in the deepest sense. Allah (S.W.T.) joins these two souls together so that they may enjoy tranquility and stability in a marital home filled with sincere love and compassionate mercy.
In Islam, the righteous woman is viewed as one of the joys of this life, and a great blessing to a man, for he comes home to her and relaxes after facing the struggles of life, and finds with her incomparable peace, comfort and pleasure. The Prophet (S.A.W.) spoke only the truth said:
“This world is just temporary conveniences, and the best comfort in this word is a righteous woman.” (Muslim)
Islam regards marriage very highly, and views femininity as something to be valued and cherished.
The ideal Muslim’s wife
On the basis of this view of marriage and of women, the Muslim is not attracted by the empty-headed attitude displayed by some girls nowadays. Rather, he is attracted by a sound Muslim personality, and he takes his time in choosing a partner for life, looking for a partner who has the right Islamic characteristics which make for a stable and happy married life. Therefore he is not interested in the superficial physical beauty, grace and elegance that are the sole concern of empty-headed youngsters. While he may not ignore physical looks, he must look for strong religious beliefs and practice, intelligence, and good behavior, following the advice of the Prophet (S.A.W):
“A woman may be married for four things: for her wealth, for her noble descent, for her beauty or for her religion. Choose the one who is religious, lest your hands be rubbed with dust!” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Although the Prophet (S.A.W.) advised the young Muslim to look for a religious wife, this does not mean that he should ignore his preferences regarding physical beauty. The Prophet (S.A.W.) encouraged seeing a woman before finalizing the marriage, so that a Muslim will not find himself trapped in a marriage with a woman he finds unattractive.
Al-Mughirah ibn Sha‘bah said:
“I got engaged to a woman at the time of the Prophet (S.A.W). He asked me, ‘Have you seen her?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Go and have a look at her, because it is more fitting that love and compatibility be established between you.’” 
A man who had got engaged to a woman of the Ansar came to the Prophet (S.A.W), who asked him: “Have you seen her?” He said, “No.” so the Prophet (S.A.W.) ordered him to go and see her.2
The Prophet (S.A.W.) emphasized, in more than one hadith, the fact that beauty is one of the basic characteristics that a man should look for in a woman, besides the other, moral, characteristics that are desirable. Indeed, the two are inseparable. For example, he told Ibn ‘Abbas (R.A.A):
“Shall I tell you the most precious thing a man can have? It is a righteous wife: when he looks at her he is pleased, when he tells her to do something she obeys, and when he is away she is faithful and loyal to him.”3
Abu Hurayrah (R.A.A.) said:
“The Prophet (S.A.W.) was asked: ‘Which woman is the best?’ He said, ‘The one who pleases him when he looks at her, who obeys him when he tells her to do something, and who does not do something he dislikes with regard to herself or to his wealth.”4
This is the guidance given by the Prophet (S.A.W.) regarding the personality of the woman who can bring happiness, tranquillity and stability to a man, and who can make a cheerful, pleasant and secure home in which to raise a brood of successful, courageous, intelligent children. The Prophet (S.A.W.) insisted that marriage should be firmly built on a solid foundation, striking a balance between physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs, so that it will not be rocked by personality clashes or differences in attitude. Therefore the true Muslim who is guided by the shari‘ah of Allah (S.W.T.) in all his affairs, does not fall for the wiles of the “jezebels” who are the beautiful women of bad character; rather he (S.A.W.) tells people: “Beware of the ‘jezebels’.”5
He follows the guidance of Islam in his married life
After marriage, the true Muslim adheres to the Islamic injunction to treat his wife well. The Islamic recommendations concerning women, and the way in which Islam encourages men to respect them, are nothing short of amazing.
Islam recommends men to treat women well, and gives them a status that they have never enjoyed in any other religion. So we see the Prophet (S.A.W.) admonishing all men:
“Treat women kindly, for woman was created from a rib. The part of it that is most bent is the top. If you try to straighten it you will break it, and if you leave it alone it will remain bent. So treat women kindly.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
According to a report given by Bukhari and Muslim, he (S.A.W.) said:
“Woman is like a rib: if you try to straighten it you will break it, and if you enjoy her (or your relationship with her), you will do so in spite of her crookedness.”
According to a report given by Muslim, he (S.A.W.) said:
“Woman was created from a rib. She will never be straightforward and consistent for you in any way. If you enjoy her (or your relationship with her), you will do so in spite of her crookedness. If you try to straighten her, you will break her, and her breaking is her divorce.”
This description given by the Prophet (S.A.W.) eloquently describes the reality and nature of woman. She will not remain consistent in the way her husband may wish, but the Muslim husband must understand that this is her nature, the way she has been created. He should not try to straighten her in the way he is convinced is correct, but he should respect her unique feminine nature and accept her the way Allah (S.W.T.) made her, complete with the “crookedness” that means that she will not be as he wishes in some aspects. If he insists on straightening her and molding her to his wishes, it will be like trying to straighten a bent rib: it will break in his hands, and the breaking of a woman is divorce (i.e., the matter will end in divorce).
When the Muslim husband truly follows this guidance of the Prophet (S.A.W), which is based on a deep understanding of the psychology and nature of women, he will tolerate his wife’s mistakes and turn a blind eye to her faults, recognizing that these are part of her nature. Thus the marital home will be safe and calm, free from shouting or arguments.
We may note that in the hadith quoted above, the Prophet (S.A.W.) started with the words “Treat women kindly,” then after analyzing the nature of woman, he ended with the same words: “Treat women kindly.” How great was the concern of the Prophet (S.A.W.) for women, and how deep was his understanding of their psychology! Does the sincere Muslim husband have any choice but to follow this guidance and put it into practice at every moment?
The Prophet’s concern for women reached such an extent that he did not forget to remind Muslims to treat them kindly, in his farewell sermon (khutbat al-wada‘). This is the khutbah in which the Prophet (S.A.W.) reiterated the essential points of Islam, when he realized that this was the last time he would stand and address the Muslims during Hajj. He did not omit to advise Muslims to treat women kindly, beginning his words concerning women with a warning that is indicative of his care and concern:
“. . . Interact with women kindly, for they are prisoners and you have no other power over them than that, if they are guilty of open lewdness, then refuse to share their beds, and beat them, but not severely, but if they return to obedience, (then) seek not against them means of annoyance. You have rights over your women and they have rights over you. Your right over them is that they should not entertain at your hearth anyone (or commit adultery with), and not to allow into your home anyone whom you dislike, and their right over you is that you should feed and clothe them well.” 6
This is good advice, in which every sincere Muslim husband recognizes the wisdom of the Prophet (S.A.W.) in defining the rights and duties of husband and wife in a framework of mercy and compassion towards women which leaves no room for even thinking of oppressing or harming one’s wife.
The Prophet (S.A.W.) gave many recommendations concerning women, to the extent that he described the man who treats his wife well as being one of the best and among the elite of his Ummah:
“The believer who has the most perfect faith is the one whose behaviour is best, and the best of you are the ones who are best to their women.” 7
Some women came to the family of the Prophet (S.A.W.) complaining about their husbands. So the Prophet (S.A.W.) announced to the men:
“Many women have visited the family of Muhammad, complaining about their husbands. Verily those are not the best among you.” 8
True Islam is pre-eminent in its fairness and respect towards women, and in its recommendation to husbands to treat their wives well even if they dislike them. This is something which women have never enjoyed throughout their history, except in this religion. Allah (S.W.T.) says in the Qur’an:
“. . . live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them it may be that you dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.” (Qur’an 4:19)
This Ayah touches the heart of the true Muslim, so that his anger is soothed and his dislike towards his wife is lessened. In this way Islam protects the sacred marriage bond from being exposed to the danger of turbulent emotions and the folly of changing moods. When a man came to ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (R.A.A.) and told him that he wanted to divorce his wife because he disliked her, ‘Umar (R.A.A.) said, “Woe to you! Are families only built on love? Where is your consideration and care?”
The marriage bond in Islam is of greater importance than emotional whims and rises above the pressures of crazy animal urges. The true Muslim possesses enough chivalry, nobility, courtesy, patience, generosity and strength of character to make him rise above any dislike of his wife in his dealings with her. Far be it from him to think only in terms of mindless animal instincts or making a profit!
The true Muslim cannot do other than obey his Rabb; so he treats his wife well even if he dislikes her, because he understands the words of his wise Rabb about the things that are hidden from him, and they are many. A man may dislike something and try to distance himself from it, when in fact it is full of goodness and blessing. The true Muslim knows how to love and how to hate. Love is not blind for him, neither does he go to extremes of dislike and hatred, but in either case his attitude is moderate and balanced.
The Prophet (S.A.W.) explained that even if a husband dislikes his believing Muslim wife, she will still have some favorable characteristics which will please him, so he should not ignore the good side of her character and focus only on the negative aspects:
“No believing man should hate a believing woman. If he dislikes one of her characteristics, there will be others that do please him.” (Muslim)
The true Muslim is an ideal husband
The true Muslim abides by the clear, unambiguous texts of the Qur’an which command him to treat women fairly and decently. He cannot be other than an ideal husband, so his wife enjoys his gentle company and close companionship, no matter how long they stay together. When he comes home, he greets his wife and children with a smiling face and extends to them the blessed greeting that Allah (S.W.T.) has enjoined and made the distinctive greeting of Islam:9
“. . . But if you enter houses, salute each other a greeting or blessing and purity as from Allah . . .” (Qur’an 24:61)
The Prophet (S.A.W.) encouraged Anas (R.A.A.) to use this greeting: “O my son, when you go home greet your family with salam: it will be a blessing for you and your family.”10
It is truly a great blessing for a man to meet his family with a pleasant greeting, for it contributes to a happy, friendly and pleasant atmosphere. He should lend a hand if he sees that his wife needs his help, and he should say some words of comfort if he feels that she is complaining of tiredness, weariness or boredom. He should make her feel that she is living with a strong, generous, tolerant husband who will protect her and care for her, who cares about her and will meet all her legitimate needs as long as he is able.
He should also satisfy her femininity by making himself attractive to her within Islamic limits and should give her a share of his time and interest. He should not let his study, work, hobbies, responsibilities or friends take up all of his time and keep him from her. Islam guarantees woman’s right to enjoy her husband to the extent that it even tells the husband not to spend all his time in worship, which is the best and most honorable of deeds, lest the balance and equilibrium upon which this religion is based be disturbed. We see this in the report of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aî (R.A.A), who says that when the Prophet (S.A.W.) learned of his overzealousness in worship, he said to him:
“Have I not heard that you fast all day and stay up all night in prayer?” ‘Abdullah said, “That is true, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (S.A.W.) told him: “Do not do that. Fast and break your fast, sleep and get up. For your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you, your wife has a right over you, and your visitors have a right over you.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Khawlah, the daughter of Hakim, who was the wife of ‘Uthman ibn Maz‘un (R.A.A), came to the wives of the Prophet (S.A.W.) wearing a tattered dress and looking unkempt. They asked her, “What is wrong with you?” She told them about her husband: “At night he stays up in prayer, and during the day he fasts.” They told the Prophet (S.A.W.) what she had said, so when he saw ‘Uthman ibn Maz‘un, he admonished him and said, “Do you not have an example in me?” ‘Uthman said, “Of course, may Allah (S.W.T.) cause me to be sacrificed for you!” Later, she (Khawlah) came back wearing fine clothes and with a pleasant scent. According to another report, the Prophet (S.A.W.) told him: “O ‘Uthman, monasticism has not been prescribed for us. Do you not have an example in me? For by Allah (S.W.T), I am the one out of all of you who fears Allah (S.W.T.) the most and keeps most strictly within His bounds.”11
The Prophet (S.A.W.) used to instill this guidance in his Companions and showed them how to achieve fairness and balance between their spiritual lives and their private lives with their spouses, until this fairness and balance became second nature to them. Then they would encourage one another to adhere to it, and would appeal to the Prophet (S.A.W.) if one of their number sought to go beyond the limits and was becoming extreme in his asceticism, self-denial and worship.
Imam Bukhari narrated that Abu Juhayfah (R.A.A.) said:
“The Prophet (S.A.W.) established brotherhood between Salman and Abul-Darda’. Salman visited Abul-Darda’ and saw Umm al-Darda’ looking unkempt. He asked her, ‘What is the matter with you?’ She said, ‘Your brother Abul-Darda’ has no need of this world.’ Abul-Darda’ came and made some food for him, and told him: ‘Eat; I am fasting.’ Salman said, ‘I will not eat until you eat,’ so he ate. That night, Abul-Darda’ wanted to spend the night in prayer, but Salman told him to sleep, so he went to sleep. Then he wanted to get up, but Salman again told him to sleep. In the last part of the night, Salman told him, ‘Now get up.’ So they prayed, and Salman told him: ‘Your Rabb has a right over you, your soul has a right over you, and your wife has a right over you, so fulfil your duty to each one who has a right over you.’ Abul-Darda’ came to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and told him about what had happened, and the Prophet (S.A.W.) said: ‘Salman is right.’”
The conscientious Muslim does not neglect to relieve the tedium of routine life with his wife, so he spices their daily life with a little gentle humor and playfulness from time to time. In doing so, he follows the example of the Prophet (S.A.W.) whose whole life is the highest example for us. Although he was constantly busy with the overwhelming task of laying the foundations of Islam, building the Muslim Ummah, directing the army in jihad, and numerous other concerns, he did not let that keep him from being an ideal husband to his wives, treating them in the best possible way, with a smiling face and a touch of gentle humor.
An example is the report given by ‘A’ishah (R.A.A.) who said:
“I came to the Prophet (S.A.W.) with some harirah (a dish made with flour and milk) that I had cooked for him, and told Sawdah (R.A.A.) as the Prophet (S.A.W.) was sitting between me and her – ‘Eat.’ She refused, so I said, ‘Either you eat, or I will fill your face!’ She still refused, so I put my hand in the harirah and daubed her face with it. The Prophet (S.A.W.) laughed, put some harirah in her hand, and told her: ‘Do the same to her!’” In another report: “He lowered his knee (moved out of the way) so that she could get her own back on me, then she took some from the plate and wiped my face with it, and the Prophet (S.A.W.) smiled.” 12
Is this not an example of tolerance and an easy-going nature which makes a wife happy through a humorous and light-hearted attitude?
‘A’ishah also reported that once, when she went on a journey with the Prophet (S.A.W), she challenged him to a race, and won. Later, when she had gained weight, she raced him again, but this time he won, and told her, “This is for that.”13
The generous-hearted Prophet (S.A.W.) was so keen to make his beloved young wife feel happy that he would call her to enjoy some innocent kinds of entertainment that would gladden her heart. ‘A’ishah reports that on one occasion:
“The Prophet (S.A.W.) was sitting, and he heard some noise from people and children outside. There was a group of people gathered around some Abyssinians who were dancing. He said, ‘O ‘A’ishah, come and see!’ I put my cheek on his shoulder and looked through the gap. Then he said, ‘O ‘A’ishah, have you had enough, have you had enough?’ I said, ‘No,’ just to see how much I meant to him, and I saw him shifting his weight from one foot to the other” (i.e. he was tired, but he was willing to stay as long as she wanted to watch the spectacle.)14
In another report, ‘A’ishah said:
“By Allah (S.W.T), I saw the Prophet (S.A.W.) standing at the door of my room, when some Abyssinians were playing with spears in the mosque. The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) screened me with his cloak so that I could watch the spear-play over his shoulder. He stayed there for my sake, until I had seen enough. So pay attention to young girls’ need for entertainment.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
When he sees the example of the Prophet’s kind behavior, generosity and good humor towards his wives, the true Muslim cannot but treat his wife kindly and gently, with an easy-going attitude, so long as this is within the limits of permissible and innocent entertainment.
The true Muslim does not overreact and become angry for trivial reasons, as many ignorant husbands do, creating uproar if their wives offer them food that is not to their liking, or their meal is a little late, or any of the other reasons which often cause an inordinate amount of anger, arguments and trouble between the spouses. The Muslim who is truly following the example of the Prophet (S.A.W.) always remembers aspects of his character that remind him to be generous, kind and tolerant. So he remembers that one of the characteristics of the Prophet (S.A.W.) is that “he never criticized food. If he liked it, he ate it, and if he did not like it, he simply left it.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
And he remembers that the Prophet (S.A.W.) asked his family for some simple food he could eat with bread. They told him, “We have nothing apart from vinegar.” He asked them to bring it and said, “How good a simple food is vinegar, how good a simple food is vinegar.” (Muslim)
Let them listen to this hadith, those foolish husbands whose eyes flash with anger at their wives’ mistakes, when their food is a little late or not to their liking. Their poor wives may have genuine, pressing reasons for making these mistakes, but these husbands become angry without caring to know those reasons, on the basis of an incorrect understanding of the phrase “men are qawwamun over women”!
The true Muslim husband does not stop at showing kindness and generosity towards his wife, but he extends his respect and kindness towards her decent (female) friends. This is in accordance with the practice of the Prophet (S.A.W). ‘A’ishah narrated:
“An old woman came to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and he smiled at her, showed her respect, and asked her, ‘How are you? How have you been doing?’ She answered, ‘I am fine, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of Allah.’” When she had left, ‘A’ishah said, “Why did you welcome this old woman so warmly, in a way that you do not welcome anyone else?” The Prophet (S.A.W.) replied, “She used to come and visit us when Khadijah was alive. Do you not know that honouring the ties of friendship is part of faith?” 15
A wife may become angry for any reason, and keep away from her husband, making him feel her anger. In this case, the Muslim husband responds with tolerance and kindness, based on his deep insight into the psychology and nature of woman, as the Prophet (S.A.W.) used to treat his wives whenever they were angry with him and kept away from him all day until night fell.
‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (R.A.A.) said: “We Quraysh used to have control over our women. When we came to Madinah we found a people whose women had control over them, and our women began to learn from their women. I used to live in al-‘Awali, among Banu Umayyah ibn Zayd. One day my wife was angry with me, and was arguing with me. I did not like this, but she told me, ‘Do you not like me arguing with you? By Allah (S.W.T), the wives of the Prophet (S.A.W.) argue with him. They get angry and keep away from him all day, until night falls!’ So I went to see afîah and asked her, ‘Do you argue with the Prophet (S.A.W)?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I asked her, ‘Do you get angry and keep away from him all day until night falls?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘The one who does that is doomed to loss! Do you not fear the anger of Allah (S.W.T.) on the account of the anger of His Prophet? Soon you will be condemned! Do not argue with the Messenger of Allah, and do not ask him for anything. Ask me for whatever you need.’” (Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nisa’i) ‘Umar came to the Prophet (S.A.W.) and told him about what had happened in his house, and the conversation he had with Safîah, and the Prophet (S.A.W.) smiled.
The Muslim should develop this tolerant attitude, so that he will be following the example of the Prophet (S.A.W.) in his behavior and deeds. Then he will be living proof that Islam is the religion of a superior lifestyle; and that the misery, disintegration, confusion and anxiety that individuals, families and societies are suffering from are caused by man’s ignorance and misconceptions of the noble values promulgated by Islam. These are precious principles which, if adopted by the husband, would put an end to arguments and divisions in family life, and would bring peace, stability, happiness and security to the home.
One of the most successful husbands
Hence the smart Muslim husband is one of the most successful husbands ever, and the most beloved to a faithful, pure, righteous wife, because of his adherence to the guidance of Islam. He has a deep and compassionate understanding of her nature and psychology, and he directs her towards the straight path of Islam, which is in complete harmony with the true nature of mankind. He recognizes her inclinations, desires and moods, and tries to reconcile between them and the ideal life and behaviour he wants for her, while never forgetting for an instant that she has been created from a bent rib, and straightening a bent rib is impossible.
He understands his wife and respects her feelings
The true Muslim always understands his wife and respects her feelings. He does not criticize her family or any of her relations in front of her, out of respect for her feelings. In return, she respects his feelings and does not do or say anything that may adversely affect any member of his family.
He does not disclose any secret that she has entrusted to him, or spread any story that she has told him in confidence, for carelessness in such matters all too often explodes into conflict between the spouses and extinguishes the love between them. The sincere Muslim husband is protected from all of that, so long as he continues to follow the guidance of Islam.
He helps her to make up for her failings and weaknesses
The sincere Muslim husband tries to make up for what his wife lacks, if he feels that she is lacking in knowledge or manners. He does this in the gentlest, kindest and most positive manner. If he encounters defiance or wilful deviance on her part, he brings her back to the straight and narrow in a gentle, humane and intelligent manner, avoiding harsh criticism or rebuking her in front of people, no matter what the reason. The most hurtful thing for a woman is that someone should hear her being reprimanded or witness her being scolded. The true Muslim is the most sensitive and respectful towards the feelings of others.
He knows how to strike a balance between pleasing his wife and treating his mother with due kindness and respect
The sincere Muslim husband draws upon his intelligence, compassion and strength of character in his dealings with both his wife and his mother, in such a way that he does not offend either of them. So he cannot be disobedient towards his mother or oppressive towards his wife. Rather, he recognizes his mother’s rights and treats her in the best possible way, while also recognizing his wife’s rights. He does not detract from his wife’s rights in the course of fulfilling his duty towards his mother and taking care of her. The truly sincere Muslim is able to do this, as long as he is truly conscious of Allah (S.W.T.) (i.e., hastaqwA.) and follows the guidance and teachings of Islam, which treat both mother and wife with fairness and give each her due status.
He fully understands his role as a protector and maintainer (qawwam) of his wife
With such good attitudes and gentle treatment, the Muslim husband wins the heart of his wife, so she does not disobey him in anything. Therefore the Muslim man has been given the position of qawwamover women, because of the characteristics which Islam instills in him, the qualifications it has given him and the conditions and limits it has imposed on him:
“Men are the protectors and maintainers [qawwamun] of women, because of Allah has given the one more [strength] than the other, and because they support them from their means…]” (Qur’an 4:34)
This position of qawwam brings with it some inconveniences, for it gives men responsibilities. The man is completely responsible for his wife:
“Each of you is a shepherd, and each of you is responsible for those under his care. A ruler is a shepherd; a man is the shepherd of his family; a woman is the shepherd of her husband’s house and children. For each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for those under his care.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
This responsibility applies to every individual in an Islamic society, in which everyone is responsible in one way or another, because according to Islam, life is a serious matter, not something to be taken lightly.
Just as Islam has enjoined good treatment of woman and raised her status, so it has also commanded her to understand her role in life, and to stay within the limits of the Shari‘ah, so that she may better fulfil her role in life as a partner to man in bringing up the next generation and making life more pleasant and enjoyable.
Similarly, just as Islam has required man to treat his wife kindly and take care of her properly, so it has commanded the wife to obey him within the limits of permissibility, fairness and justice. This obedience is most strongly emphasized, as is illustrated by the words of the Prophet (S.A.W.):
“If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would have ordered the woman to prostrate to her husband.” 16
Indeed, he said that the husband’s satisfaction with her would be a cause of her entering Paradise:
“Any woman who dies, and her husband is pleased with her, will enter Paradise.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
He assured the defiant, rebellious woman that the angels would heap curses upon her until she goes back to her husband:
“If a woman stays away from her husband’s bed, the angels will curse her until morning.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The concern of Islam to affirm man’s position of qawwam over women and reinforce her obligation to obey and please him, goes as far as forbidding her to fast at times other than Rama¼an or to receive any guests without his permission:
“The woman is not permitted to fast when her husband is present, without his permission, or to invite anyone into his house without his permission.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Islam gave the husband this right to be qawwam over his wife so that he will be a real man, knowing how to steer the ship of family life towards the shore of safety and guidance. Islam warns all men against the trial and temptation (fitnah) of women, which may make them heedless and weak, and lessen their religious commitment, so that they turn a blind eye to the waywardness and un-Islamic behavior of their wives. In such a case a husband has no say: his wife is controlling everything in the home, so that he dare not disobey her, or answer her back, or refuse any of her whims. The Prophet (S.A.W.) was right when he said that this is the most damaging of trials and temptations that a man can be faced with:
“There will be no fitnah after my death that is worse for men than the fitnah of women.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The Muslim husband is a man who is not weak in dealing with the trial of having a wayward wife, no matter how difficult that fitnah is. He gently makes it clear to her that no matter how much he loves her, he loves Allah (S.W.T.) and the Prophet more, and his desire to please Allah (S.W.T.) is stronger than his feelings for her:
“Say: If it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates or your kindred; the wealth that you have gained; the commerce in which you fear a decline; or the dwellings in which you delight – are dearer to you than Allah, or His Messenger, or the striving in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision: and Allah guides not the rebellious.” (Qur’an 9:24)
In this way, the female waywardness which we see in many so-called Muslim homes will be done away with. The man who sees his wife, daughters and sisters going out in the street with make-up, uncovered heads and bare arms, clothed but seeming naked, and does nothing to stop this disobedience of Islam, has surely lost his manhood, abandoned Islam and earned the wrath of Allah (S.W.T.). There is no way out of his predicament but sincere repentance which will wake him up, restore his manhood and set him back on the straight path.
Islam has set out standards for women, and has defined the kind of clothing she should wear when she goes out in the street or appears in from of men who are not-mahram. This type of clothing is known as hijab. The Muslim woman who has been nurtured in pure Islam and has grown up in its protective atmosphere accepts this hijab willingly and with a deep sense of conviction, knowing that it is from Allah (S.W.T.), and that it is not a tyranny designed by men to satisfy their egotistical desires to control women, or a custom invented during the decadent Umawi (Umayyad) period, as is claimed by those worthless fools who have no sound proof from the Qur’an whatsoever.
In a report narrated by Bukhari, ‘A’ishah said: “May Allah have mercy on the early muhajir women. When Allah (S.W.T.) revealed: “. . .they should draw their veils over their bosoms. . .” (Qur’an 24:31) they tore their aprons and covered their heads and faces with them.” In another report, also given by Bukhari, she said: “They cut their waist-sheets at the edges and covered their heads and faces with the cut pieces.”
Safiyyah bint Shaybah said:
“While we were with ‘A’ishah we mentioned the women of Quraysh and how good they were. ‘A’ishah said: ‘The women of Quraysh are good but by Allah (S.W.T.) I have never seen any better than the women of the Anîar or any more convinced of the Book of Allah (S.W.T.) or with a deeper faith in the Revelation. When Surat al-Nur was revealed “… they should draw their veils over their bosoms…” the men turned to their wives, daughters, sisters and other female relatives and recited these words to them. Not one of them failed to take her decorated wrapper and wrap it around her head and face, in acceptance of and belief in what Allah (S.W.T.) had revealed. The next morning they were behind the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) wrapped up in their veils, looking as if they had black crows on their heads.’”17
Many Allah (S.W.T.) have mercy on the women of the Anîar: how strong was their faith, how sincere was their Islam and how beautiful was their response to the Truth when it was revealed! Every woman who truly believes in Allah (S.W.T.) and His Messenger cannot do other than to adhere to the distinctive Islamic dress, regardless of whatever nakedness and tabarruj (wanton display) surrounds her. I remember a veiled Muslim student at the University of Damascus whose attitude was no less commendable than that of the women of the Ansar; when a visiting journalist asked her about her hijab and why she was putting up with it in the heat of summer, she quoted: “…Say: ‘The Fire of Hell is fiercer in heat…’ ” (Qur’an 9:81)
It is pure, sincere Muslim girls like this who will establish Muslim families, raise the next generation in a sound way and fill society with strong, productive men. Nowadays there are many such girls, al-hamdulillah!
The sincere Muslim is responsible for his womenfolk’s adherence to the Islamic teachings regarding her going out, and the hijab which is the badge of the Muslim woman. The day when a husband lets his wife or his environment take over and dispenses with this Islamic ruling without being able to stand up to them, is the day he says good-bye to both his religion and his manhood.
The husband’s responsibility for his wife does not stop with her outward appearance, but also includes her worship and conduct. He is responsible for her if she omits some act of worship, or if she neglects or deliberately ignores her duties towards Allah (S.W.T.). He is responsible for her good behavior and completion of her duties. Any shortcomings on her part will detract from her husband’s manhood, diminish his Islam and damage the role of qawwam with which Allah (S.W.T.) has honored him.
Islam considers women to be a trust which has been given to men for safe-keeping. As the wife is usually influenced by her husband, he may take her with him to Paradise or lead her to Hell. Therefore Allah (S.W.T.) ordered the believing men to protect both themselves and their families from the Fire and gave a terrifying picture of the awful fate that awaits them if they neglect their responsibilities towards their wives and families and fail to compel them to adhere to the truth:
“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are [appointed] angels stern [and] severe, who flinch not [from executing] the Commands they receive from Allah, but do [precisely] what they are commanded.” (Qur’an 66:6)
The role of qawwam over women which Islam gives to men cannot truly be fulfilled unless the husband is a successful leader of his family. The Muslim husband does not assert his manhood through roughness, cruelty, violence and harsh words. This is the manhood of ignorance (jahiliyyah); Islamic manhood is something else altogether. The Islamic ideal of manhood is: a strong and likeable personality; a noble attitude; tolerance and forgiveness of minor mistakes; strong adherence to the laws of Allah (S.W.T.) and determination to apply them to every member of his family; brilliant leadership in guiding his family to the truth; generosity without being extravagant; a thorough understanding of his responsibilities in this world and the next; and a clear idea of the ideal Muslim home. These are the characteristics of the true Muslim as Islam wants him to be.