Rafed English

The Wife's Previous Service to the Household

The unchivalrous divorce, besides dissolving the sacred family life, creates such other positive problems for the wife that they cannot be ignored. Suppose a woman lives in the house of her husband for years, takes his house to be her own and most sincerely works hard to build it up and give it a shape. She, as is the case with most of the women with the exception of those belonging to the modern urban society, cuts down the expenses on food and clothing, sometimes even to the annoyance of her husband, and hesitates to engage a servant to help her in the household work. She sacrifices her youth, energy and health for the sake of her husband and her household. Now, if the husband of such a woman, after years of a joint life, wants to divorce her to marry another woman, he not only wants to bring to nought all the efforts and aspirations of his wife, but also wants to indulge in sexual pleasure at her expense.

This is not simply a case of the dissolution of mental life, and hence, it cannot be said that it is below the natural position and dignity of woman to thrust herself on a man who does not want her.

Here other questions are also involved the question of becoming homeless for the wife, the question of handing over one's house to a rival and the question of the wastage of all her efforts and services in the past.

Every human being wants a home of his or her own and feels attached to the home built by his or her own hands. If you try to turn a bird out of the nest it has built, it will certainly resist and defend itself.

In our opinion, the problem is fully worth considering. In such cases, divorce not only means the dissolution of marriage, but also brings women to complete ruin.

Anyhow, the question of home is distinct from that of divorce, and the two questions should be considered separately. From the Islamic point of view, normally this problem should not arise. It arises owing to the ignorance of Islamic rules and regulations and the exploitation of women's goodwill and faithfulness, by men.

Most of the people suppose that all the fruits of woman's labour belong to her husband. They even think that the husband can force his wife to work for him and she has to obey all his orders like a slave. This wrong notion is the root-cause of all the trouble. As we have repeatedly pointed out, woman has full freedom as regards her work and activity. Whatever she earns belongs exclusively to her. Islam has given her economic independence. In addition, it has made the husband responsible to bear the expenses of his wife and children. Thus, Islam has provided woman enough opportunities, from the financial point of view, to lead a respectable life independent of man. Divorce and separation should not cause her any anxiety in this respect. All the things which she might have collected to build up her home belong to her and her husband has no right to seize them. Such apprehensions are justified only in the systems, which force woman to work in the house of her husband and regard the fruits of her labour as belonging to him. The misgivings which exist among our people are probably due to their own ignorance of the law.

Another cause of the trouble is the exploitation of the faithfulness of woman by man. Some women make sacrifices, not because they are unaware of the law of Islam, but because they are over confident of the sincerity of their husbands. They want that there should be no question of 'my money and your money'. They do not care to take advantage of the opportunity given to them by. Islam. They are suddenly disillusioned and find that they have wasted their lives in making sacrifices for an unfaithful man and have lost the opportunity given to them by their religion.

If a wife is expected to give up her legal right of keeping a separate account of her money and her earnings, the husband is also expected that, in consideration of her sacrifice and the service rendered by her, he should make presents to her and offer her gifts. The Qur'an says: "When you are greeted with a greeting, greet with one better than it or at least as kind".

(Surah an Nisa, 4:86). It has always been customary among the good people to present the wife with valuable articles, like a house or other property, as a gift.

Anyhow, what we mean is that the problem of becoming homeless is not related to divorce and that it cannot be rectified by changing the concerned law. This problem is related to the question of economic independence of woman and that question has already been solved by Islam. This problem has arisen because of the ignorance of some women, and the simplicity of others, and will automatically be solved if women know the teachings of Islam on this point and do not show too much simplicity while dealing with their husbands.

Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari

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