Rights of Maintenance
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."
Adopted from the book: "The Family Life of Islam" by: "Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizivi"
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