Rafed English

The Wife's Duties

1. The first task of the wife is to create a home a soft relaxing atmosphere in which she and her husband can live together smoothly, happily and enjoyably. The way in which this is to be achieved depends on her taste and their means and upon prevailing values and conditions.

2. A wife must be faithful and devoted to her husband. Her loyalty is due to him first, even before her kin. She should avoid associating with undesirable or suspicious elements and should not entertain alone any male friends.

3. The management of the household is the wife's primary responsibility. She has to take care of meal preparation, house-cleaning and laundry. Whether she undertakes these tasks herself or has them done under her careful supervision, it is her task to manage them in the best interests of the family. She may expect some cooperation from her husband, but this should depend on what he can afford to do. What is important is the mutual goodwill and love which will no doubt stimulate each party to alleviate the burden of the other as much as possible.

4. The wife should not be too demanding; she must be contented, and appreciative of any kind gesture her husband may extend to her. She should not insist on buying expensive clothes or luxurious pieces of furniture beyond her husband's means.

5. The wife should take care of herself in order to appear always cheerful, charming and attractive to her husband. She should always smell good and may reasonably apply cosmetics but should avoid excessive use of it. Such excess is not only financially unwise but also psychologically harmful. It makes her beauty appear to be merely artificial. An ancient Arab women advised her daughter on her wedding day:

O my daughter! you are leaving the home in which you were brought up to a house unknown to you and to a companion unfamiliar to you. Be a floor to him, he will be a roof to you; be a soft seat to him, he will be a pillar for you; and be like a slave girl to him, he will be like a slave boy to you. Avoid inopportune behavior, lest he should be bored with you; and be not aloof lest he should become indifferent to you. If he approaches you, come running to him; and if he turns away, do not impose yourself upon him. Take care of his nose, his eye and his ear. Let him not smell except a good odor from you; let his eye not see you except in an agreeable appearance; and let him hear nothing from you except nice, fine words.

6. In managing the household, the wife should economize and avoid extravagance. She is not to give of her husband's wealth except within the degreee he approves of. Whatever she gives within this degree, she will share in its divine reward; and what she gives away beyond it will be to the advantage of her husband and to her own disadvantage on the Day of Judgment. [...]

An objective analysis of the above outline of the mutual rights and obligations of a husband and wife as set out and stipulated by Islam for the guidance of its adherents reveals the following facts:

1. The husband-wife relationship is to be based not on dry legal rules or decisions of the court but on mutual respect, love and regard.

2. The husband is alone responsible for the entire cost of, and the wife is the mistress of, the household. The objective of each is to serve the other and to provide to the other means of comfort, enjoyment and happiness; and the aim of both is to achieve optimum bliss for themselves and to contribute through their offspring to the perpetuation of the human race.

3. A woman is not a chattel or a blind follower but an equal partner. However, her soft nature, her beautiful natural role as the partner who is to provide more for the sexual attraction and excitement, her monthly menstrual discharge with its attending psychological and physical adverse effects, her childbearing and child-rearing--all these natural considerations, not a male dictatorship as has recently been contended, have made her the dependent but respected, virtuous and beloved partner.

4. Within the framework of the above basic considerations, and within the Islamic flexibility which has regard for custom and prevailing traditions, consistent with the moral values of Islam, the couple may choose any type of arrangement for the distribution of their mutual responsibilities in order to meet their needs as they may see fit in the conditions prevailing where they live.

5. An interesting point which emphasizes that the wife does not lose her own independent character on getting marries is that she always retains her full maiden name. So Miss Nancy Jones on her marriage to Mr. Martin James is called Lady Nancy Jones and not Mrs. James. She may be called Lady Nancy Jones, wife of Mr. James, but not simply Mrs. James. This point is significant, as it expresses both a wife's greater freedom under Islam and her continued relation with her own family.

Adapted from: "Marriage in Islam" by: "Muhammad Abdul-Rauf, Ph.D"

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