The true Muslim abides by the clear, unambiguous texts of the Qur’an which command him to treat women fairly and decently. He cannot be other than an ideal husband, so his wife enjoys his gentle company and close companionship, no matter how long they stay together. When he comes home, he greets his wife and children with a smiling face and extends to them the blessed greeting that Allah has enjoined and made the distinctive greeting of Islam. Allah said: “But if you enter houses, salute each other – a greeting or blessing and purity as from Allah.” ( Qur’an 24: 61). The Prophet (saw) encourages Anas (ra) to use this greeting: “O’ my son, when you go home greet your family with salaam: it will be blessing for you and your family.” (Tirmidhi)

It is true a great blessing for a man to meet his family with a pleasant greeting, for it contributes to a happy, friendly and pleasant atmosphere. He should lend a hand if he sees that his wife needs his help, and he should say some words of comfort if he feels that she is complaining of tiredness, weariness or boredom. He should make her feel that she is living with a strong, generous, tolerant husband who will protect her and cares for her, who care about her, and will meet all her legitimate needs as long as he is able.

He should also satisfy her femineity by making himself attractive to her – within Islamic limits – and should give her a share of his time and interest. He should not let his study, work, hobbies, responsibilities or friends take up all of his time and keep him from her. Islam guarantees woman’s right to enjoy her husband to the extend that it even tells the husband not to spend all his time in worship, which is the best and most honourable of deeds, lest the balance and equilibrium upon which this religion is based be disturbed.

We see this in the report of Abdullah ibn Amir ibn al-Aas (ra), who said that when the Prophet (saw) learned of his overzealousness in worship, he said to him: “Have I not heard that you fast all day and stay up all night in prayer? Abdullah said: “That is true, O’ Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet told him: “Do not do that. Fast and break your fast, sleep and get up. For your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you, your wife has a right over you, and your visitors have a right over you.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Khawlah, the daughter of Hakeem, the wife of Uthman ibn Maz’oon (ra), came to the wives of the Prophet (saw) wearing a tattered dress and looking unkempt. They asked her, “What is wrong with you?”

She told them about her husband: “At night he stays up in prayer, and during the day he fasts.” They told the Prophet (saw) what she had said, so when he saw Uthman ibn Maz’oon, he admonished him and said, “Do you not have an example in me?” Uthman said, “Of course, may Allah cause me to be sacrificed for you!” Later, she (Khaulah) came back wearing fines clothes and with a pleasant scent. According to another report, the Prophet told him: “O’ Uthman, monasticism has not been prescribed for us. Do you not have an example in me? For by Allah, I am the one out of all of you who fear Allah the most and keep most strictly within His bounds.”

The Prophet (saw) used to instil this guidance in his companions and showed them how to achieve fairness and balance between their spiritual lives and their private lives with their spouses, until this fairness and balance became second nature to them. Then, they would encourage one another to adhere to it, and would appeal to the Prophet (saw) if one of their numbers sought to go beyond the limits and was becoming extreme in his asceticism, self-denial and worship.

The conscientious Muslim does not neglect to relieve the tedium of routine life with his wife, so he spices their daily life with a little gentle humour and playfulness from time to time. In doing so, he follows the example of the Prophet (saw) whose whole life is the highest example for us. Although he was constantly busy with the overwhelming task of laying the foundations of Islam, building the Muslim ummah, and numerous other concerns, he did not let that keep him from being an ideal husband to his wives, treating them in the best possible way, with a smiling face and a touch of gentle humour.

An example is the report given by Aishah (ra) who said: “I came to the Prophet with some hareerah ( a dish made with flour and milk) that I cooked for him, and told Sawdah (ra) – as the Prophet (saw) was sitting between me and her – ‘ Eat.’ She refused, so I said, ‘Either you eat, or I will fill your face!’ She still refused, so I put my hand in the hareerah and daubed her face with it. The Prophet laughed, put some hareerah in her hand, and told her: ‘Do the same to her!’” In another report: ‘He lowered his knee (moved out of the way) so that she could get her own back on me, then she took some from the plate and wiped my face with it, and the Prophet laughed.” 

(To be continued)

(Prepared by Abdul Muhaemin Karim)