Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Ideal Muslim Husband part 5

The Prophet’s (saws) attitude towards female children and female education is a beautiful elaboration of what is found in the Qur’an. The Qur’an not only forbade the jahiliyyah practice of female infanticide, but even condemned the practice of showing disappointment or anger over the birth of a female child. [Qur’an 16:58-59]

A Hadith related by Ibn Abbas in fact encourages the reverse:

"Whoever has a female child and does not bury her alive, nor hide her in contempt, nor prefers his male child over her, Allah will make him enter Paradise." [Abu Da’ud]

The Prophet (saws) showed the greatest love and affection for his female children, particularly for Fatima. Aisha (raa) related that:

"Whenever the Prophet (saws) saw Fatima (raa), he would welcome her, and rising from his seat would kiss her, and then taking her by the hand would seat her in his own seat." [Bukhari]

He decreed that every Muslim - male and female- must as a duty seek knowledge and prescribed education for all children in the following words:

"No present or gift of a parent, out of all the gifts and presents to a child, is superior to a good broad (general) education." [Tirmidhi and Baihaqi]

He laid special emphasis on the education of daughters:

"Whoever brings up two sisters or two daughters, and gives them a broad education, and treats them well, and gives them in marriage, for him is Paradise." [Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi]

This concern for the education of girls was reflected in his teaching of Aisha (raa), who was still a young girl when he married her, and was only 18 when he died. She had a natural ability for learning and a strong sense of reasoning, and he taught her as much as she was ready to learn. He was so impressed and pleased with her learning that he even told people:

"You can learn half your religion from this rosy-cheeked girl."

He therefore encouraged people to consult her in religious matters, and after his death she became one of the major sources of Hadith.

From all this we can see that some people’s resistance to allowing their daughters to have access to knowledge is not only misguided but quite contrary to all the Prophet (saws) preached and practiced. An ideal-Muslim husband is therefore expected to be deeply committed to and involved in the education of all his children - the daughters as much as the son’s.

The Prophet (saws) respect for a wife’s intelligence and understanding was also reflected in his readiness to consult his wives and respond to their good advice. An instance of this practice is recorded on the occasion of the signing of the treaty of Hudaibihiyah. Many of the Muslims were reluctant to accept treaty. They did not want to go home without performing pilgrimage and they considered some parts of the Treaty disadvantageous to the Muslims. They were therefore reluctant to obey his instructions to slaughter their sacrificial camels and shave their heads, which would symbolise that the Pilgrimage was over and the matter closed. The Prophet (saws) withdrew to his tent in perplexity, and told his wife Umm Salamah what had happened. She advised him: "Go out and speak to no man until you have performed your sacrifice." The Prophet (saws) followed her advice, and slaughtered the camel calling: "Bismillah, Allahu akbar" in a loud voice, whereupon the Muslims forgot their reluctance and raced to make their own sacrifices.

The presence of Umm Salamah on this journey exemplifies another aspect of the Prophet’s (saws) dealings with his wives. One or more of them almost invariably accompanied him on his journeys and campaigns. To ensure fairness they would draw lots as to which wife or wives would accompany him.

His wives were thus not kept locked up so that they could not experience what was going on in the outside world. They wore modest clothes (hijab) and went out and saw everything that was going on, and they participated when necessary, for example in nursing the wounded on the battlefields.

The following Hadith is narrated by Aisha (raa):

"Umar once criticised the Prophet’s wife Saudah for going out, saying he had recognised her in the street. So she appealed to the Prophet (saws) for support and he supported her saying: "Women have the right to go out for their needs." [Bukhari]

Similarly the Prophet (saws) allowed his wives and other women to go out to the Mosques for their prayers. He also advised other men:

"Do not prevent the female servants of Allah (i.e Mosques)" [Muslim]

The ideal Muslim husband therefore does not impose restrictions on his wife greater then those imposed by Allah (swt), or by the Prophet (saws) on his own family.

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