Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Ideal Muslim Husband part 6

All the foregoing indicate that the women who is married to an ideal Muslim husband is protected but not suppressed, and is therefore likely to be happy and contented.

However, the Muslim husband is not expected to please his wife at all cost, if what pleases her may be wrong or against her interests or the interests of the family.

The Qur’an say’s:

"O you who have attained to faith! Ward off from yourselves and your families
that fire (of the hereafter) whose fuel is Human beings and stones."
[Qur’an 66:6]

In this respect a husband has a duty to ensure that his wife is fully educated as a Muslim. If this has been neglected in her parents’ home, he must take necessary steps to remedy it. Either by teaching her himself or by arranging for her Islamic education by other means. The husband is expected to give leadership in the family. We have seen that this form of leadership is not dictatorship or tyranny. The wise husband will, as indicated, consult his wife on important matters concerning the family, and if he sees her advice is good, accept it. However, Islam has given the man authority as the head of the family, and he is expected to abide by the Qur’an and Sunnah and endeavour to ensure that his family do not violate Islamic norms of behavior. The kind of treatment required should not therefore include condoning her misbehavior.

The Qur’an has prescribed a specific graded series of three steps, which the husband should take if the wife shows that she is rebelling against Islamic norms of conduct.

His first step should be to speak to her seriously about the implication and likely consequences of what she is doing. If she fails to respond to this sincere admonition, his next step is to suspend marital relations with her for a period of time, If this also fails he is permitted to beat her lightly as a final act of correction. If she then complies then the husband should take no further action against her. [Qur’an 4:34]

This beating is the last resort, and not the first one, and the Prophet (saws) placed some limitations on it, as follows:

(a) It should not be on the face or on any easily injured part of the body;

(b) It should not be hard enough to cause pain or injury or leave a mark.

The Prophet (saws) indicated that if a man must beat his wife it should be more or less symbolic, with something like a toothbrush.

The Prophet (saws) himself very much disliked the beating of wives, and never beat any of his own. In Abu Da’ud’s collection of Hadith he is reported by Laqit B. Sabrah to have said:

"Admonish your wife, and if there be any good in her she will receive it; and beat not your wife like a slave."

In another Hadith from Ayas b. Abdullah he specifically said:-

"Do not beat Allah’s female servants (i.e women)" [Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah]

In Tirmidhi’s collection is another Hadith related by Amru b. al Ahwas:

"And enjoin on one another goodness towards women; verily they are married to you: you have no power over them at all unless they come in for a flagrantly filthy action; but if they are devoted to you, then seek no way against them. And verily, you have rights over your women, and they have rights over you." [Tirmidhi]

The Muslim husband therefore has no right to beat his wife indiscriminately or habitually for petty offences, and if he does, the wife has a right to seek divorce by a Shari’ah court. Similarly, as we can see, Islam has not authorised men to beat up their wives.

The phenomenon of wife beating is not peculiar to Muslim’s- it is found in all parts of the world among certain types of men. However, some Muslims unjustly claim that they have religious sanction when they beat their wives, while in most cases they are beating them only because they themselves are brutal by nature, or just in a bad temper.

Bad temper is to be controlled, not vented on the weaker sex. The Prophet (saws) referred to this in another Hadith when he said:

"He is not strong who throws people down, but he is strong among us who controls himself when he is angry." [Bukhari and Muslim]

Aisha observed this self-control in the Prophet (saws) behavior:

The Prophet (saws) never beat any of his wives or servants; in fact he did not strike anything with his hand except in the cause of Allah, or when the prohibitions of Allah were violated, and he retaliated on behalf of Allah.

The ideal Muslim husband therefore strives to emulate the Prophet’s (saws) practice by avoiding beating completely and discouraging it from others. It is not at all becoming for a Muslim to be a wife-beater in defiance of the Prophet’s (saws) explicit dislike of the practice.

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