Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Ideal Muslim Husband Part 4

How did the Prophet (saws) then, behave as a husband? Obviously he observed the legal framework, but how did he behave in his day-to-day relationships with his wives?

A lot of information is to be gathered about this from the Hadith, both directly and indirectly, and also from the Sirah (the biography of the Prophet (saws)).

His guiding principle on the treatment of wives is stated in some well known Ahadith;

"From among the believers are those who have the kindest disposition and are the kindest to their families- such are those who show the most perfect faith. "The best among them are those who are kindest to their wives." [Bukhari and Muslim]

How did the Prophet (saws) himself exemplify this kindness?

Firstly he was not a difficult or remote or tyrannical husband of the type who regards all household chores as "women’s work". In a Hadith in Bukhari:

Aisha (raa) was asked by Al-Aswad b. Yazid what the Prophet used to do in the house. She replied: "He used to work for his family, that is serve his family, and when prayer time came, he went out for prayer." [Bukhari]

Other Hadith tell us that he used to mend his own clothes.

Secondly he didn’t make a fuss about food. It is recorded in a Hadith from Abu Hurairah (raa) in the collection of Muslim:

"Allah’s Messenger never found fault with food. If he liked something, he ate it, and if he disliked it, he just abstained from it." [Muslim]

Implying that he never complained about the food or it’s cooking.

Aisha (raa) reported that whenever she was sick, the Prophet (saws) would come to her to show his sympathy. Nor, was he ashamed to let it be known that his love for his wife was greater then his love for any other human being. It is recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim that someone asked the Prophet: "Who among all the people is most beloved by you?" And he said "Aisha".

This love and understanding for Aisha did not eclipse his high regard for his first wife Khadijah, who had been his only wife for about 25 years until her death. Aisha (raa) reported that he always treasured the memory of Khadijah who had supported and encouraged him through the difficult years in Mecca, and that he use to regularly give gifts to Khadijah’s closest friends as an expression of his undiminished esteem and love for her.

The Prophet (saws) never held himself apart from his wives as if they were by their nature as women inferior. On the Contrary, he included "playing games with one’s wife" as one of the legitimate entertainment's. According to the following Hadith:

".......There is no amusement which is praiseworthy except three, namely training a horse, sporting with one’s wife and shooting arrows with a bow." [Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah and Baihaqi]

In illustration of this practice, Aisha (raa) records that on more then one occasion she and the Prophet (saws) ran races and sometimes she won and sometimes he won. Most men nowadays consider it far beneath their dignity to play any sort of game with their wives, and their marriages are the duller and poorer for it.

I think this is one of the problems we encounter in the way we learn about the life of the Prophet (saws). Most of the history books dwell on the political and military aspects of the Prophet’s (saws) life, and his personality, which was obviously very attractive, eludes our knowledge. We tend to, for this reason picture him as always serious, while the Hadith informs us that although he rarely laughed aloud, "Nobody used to smile as much as he did." This is fully in accordance with the Hadith: "Smiling at your brother (Muslim) is a charity."

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