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Fatima is Fatima

by : Dr. Ali Shari'ati

Back You are here: Home Books Family The Family Life Of Islam

The Family Life Of Islam - 30. The Rights Of The Wife

Article Index

... and they (women) have rights similar to the rights against them, accroding to what is equitable, but men have a degree (of advantage) over them, and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. (Qur'an, 2:228)

This ayah explodes the myth of so-called "slavery of Muslim woman" which is the target of the attacks of many an ignorant western orien talist. It was essential, for the purpose of domestic well-being, to install the man with effective authority over women. "Men have a degree (of advantage) over them" points to this fact. Apart from this, both sides have been accorded well-balanced rights. Each "half" has been given all the necessary rights without any reservation.

As mentioned earlier, according to reason and according to the Islamic shari`ah, the husband is solely responsible for the livelihood of the wife, and in view of this responsibility he has been given an authority which in its turn is based upon love. It appears from above that all that a woman needs for her peace of mind, spiritual well-being, and material comfort, can be classified under two headings: (1) Sincere love; and (2) Fair maintenance.

If one looks at the long list of the demands of advocates of Liberation of Women, one will find that all those rights which are in conformity with reason are within the circle of these two rights.

Islam has emphatically ordered husbands to let their wives enjoy their rights without any hindrance. The Holy Prophet said: Any woman who makes her husband suffer with her tongue ... will be the first to enter Hell; and, likewise, the man if he treats her unjustly.


al-Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:

I am sure the more a man becomes good in this thing (i.e., Faith and Islam), the more his love to (his) women increases. The ayah: "And He has put Love and Mercy between you" shows that matrimonial love is the Grace of Allah; and the stronger the faith in Allah, the greater this grace of Allah upon the couple. It is for this reason, that al-Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq said:

In the character of the prophets is the love of women. The Holy Prophet accordingly, said Let it be known that the best of you is the one who is best for his women. And I am the best for my women. Likewise, he said:

Allah may have mercy on His servant who does good between himself and his wife; because, verily, Allah has given him authority upon her and has made him her protector. According to the Islamic shari `ah, it is highly emphasized that a man should enter his home with smiling face. The home may become paradise if this rule is followed consciously,

In the section 25 it was mentioned that the "most honoured woman" is the one who is obedient to her husband. The above-mentioned ahadith show that the "best man" is the one who treats his wife gently and with good grace. In other words, these ahadith fully explain the ayah.

And women have rights similar to the rights upon them. (Qur'an, 2:228)


In many ayat in the Qur'an, Allah has exhorted man to treat his wife gently. Apart from the above-mentioned ayat , another ayah says: ... And live with them (women) with kindness and equity ... (Qur'an, 4:19)

"Good treatment" according to the ahadith means that the wife should be provided, as far as possible, the same standard of living which she had in the house of her parents; so that she does not face material discomfort and mental depression. But if the husband, because of his limited resources, is unable to provide that standard, he is not to be blamed.

... On the wealthy according to his means; and on the poor according to his means ... (Qur'an, 2:236)

al-Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said:

The dependants of a man are his prisoners. And the most beloved servant in presence of Allah is the one who is the best in treating his prisoners.

Likewise, al-Imam Musa al-Kazim (a. s.) said: The dependants of a man are his prisoners. So, if Allah bestows someone with His blessings, he should increase the expenses on his prisoners; and if he did not do so, then that blessing is likely to perish.

According to the shari `ah, maintenance of the wife is in exchange for her obedience. If she does not deny the husband his conjugal rights, she is entitled to her meaintenance. If the husband, because of his financial difficulties, defaults in its provision, he remains indebted to that amount; and must repay soon after getting money etc. In short, the maintenance of - the wife is based on a "give and take" basis, and man has to pay it anyhow. al-Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said: "Cursed is the man who neglects his dependants."


As was mentioned earlier, women's feelings dominate their intellect. If a girl is not brought up properly according to Islamic ethics, she is apt to become hot-tempered and sharp-tongued. On the other hand, a man is not so dominated by emotions. Therefore, Islam has enjoined man to have patience and forebearance in the face of woman's temper. A man must be tolerant to his wife, keeping in view her natural weakness and remembering that she by nature is governed by emotions.

Allah says ... And live with them (women) on a footing of kindness and equity; and even if ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing and Allah created in it a great deal of good. (Qur'an, 4:19)

There is no denying that it is a very tough assignment and sometimes needs a lot of patience. Allah says in the Qur'an And there are men who say: "Our Lord! give us good in this world and good in the Hereafter, and protect us from the torment of the Fire." (Qur'an, 2: 201)

Among several explanations of this ayah, Amir al-mu'minin, `Ali (a. s.) said: Good in this world means a good-natured wife, good in the Hereafter means `huru'l- 'in', and `torment of the Fire' means a `bad natured wife.' (Tafsir Safi)

To say that a bad-natured, hot-tempered wife is the torment of the Fire presents the reality in the best possible way. But we should always keep these ahadith (traditions) in view: Verily, Ibrahim (a.s.) complained to Allah against the temper of (his wife) Sarah. Then, Allah sent a message to him telling him that "Verily, the likeness of woman is likeness of a rib; if you straightened it, it would break; and if you left it as it is you will benefit from it."

In short, many ayat of the Qur'an and many ahadith exhort the married couple to stengthen the bond of mutual love and effection as long as they are linked together in matrimonial bond, even if it means self-denial and extraordinary patience. And it is by following this principle that human beings may enjoy the peace in this world and happiness in the life hereafter.


Islam is aware that philosophical theories alone do not pave the road to a better life. It is the practical laws and codes which bring the peace in a household. Ethical sermons can be of no benefit to common man if they are not firmly based on common-sense and are not within his easy grasp.

The ideal of Islamic marriage is one in which both parties have mutual love and respect and each consciously honours the rights of the other.

But this world is not made of only pious and understanding people. There are many hardhearted men and women in this world; they do not care for the damage done to Islamic society by their misbehaviour and their flaunting the ideals of the Islamic shari `ah. Therefore, it was necessary to frame some rules to correct their behaviour.

Why Conflicts?

The main cause of the conflict is the negligence of one's duties towards the other. This negligence can be either from the husband's side, or from the wife's side, or from both sides.

Islam has laid down clear rules for each of these situations.