A husband must live with his wife honorably, kindly and with
respect. He must maintain a decent, clean and acceptable appearance when he
relaxes in his household, just as he likes his wife to do for him at home, since
this is only mutual respect and decency to one another. The Prophet of Allah
(Peace be upon Him) said, encouraging and explaining the comprehensive principle
about good character and behavior:
"The most complete believers
are those with the best characters, and the best of you are those who are best
to their womenfolk."
[Tirmidhi #1162 & Ibn Hibbaan and
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) used to mend his
own clothes or shoes and help his wives with their daily chores. His wife
Aishah (may Allah exalt their mention) was once asked:
"What did the Messenger of
Allah use to do while at home?"
She responded: "He used to serve and assist his household, and when he would
hear the call to prayer, he would leave to pray."
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) was always
pleasant, kind and caring to all, and would occasionally play and joke politely
with his family members. The Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said:
"Everything without containing
the remembrance of Allah is just amusement and play except four: to joke and
play with one's wife, to train one's horse, to walk between two destinations,
and to learn swimming."
[Nasa'e # 8939 and verified]
This tradition indicates that most pastimes and amusements are
built merely for play, a waste of time and are therefore without reward, except
these mentioned above which are useful, lawful, and fulfill valid beneficial
purposes. Allah's Prophet (Peace be upon Him) is also well known for being
cheerful and decent in joking with his family and playing with them. An example
of this fun pastime is when 'Aishah (Peace be upon Him) the
mother of the believers, said:
Allah's Prophet (Peace be upon Him) raced with
me and I won the race before I grew and gained weight. After I became a bit
older and put on weight he raced with me again and he won. The Prophet of Allah
(Peace be upon Him) said to me upon winning the race:
"This (win of mine makes up)
for that (win of yours)."
[Ahmad #26320 & Abu Dawood #2578 ]
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) is reported to have
sat in the house for a short while with his family, talking to them, giving them
company and showing kindness, before going to sleep, and after offering the late
evening prayer. In the authentic traditions we find that Ibn Abbas (may Allah
exalt their mention) narrated:
"I slept at the house of
Maymunah (his aunt and the Prophet's wife) one night to see the Prophet's
worship in night prayer. He talked with his wife for a period of time, and then
slept. Later in the night he awakened and prayed what Allah had written for
[Bukhari #4293 & Muslim #763 ]
Allah, the Exalted, states in the Glorious Qur'an:
(Indeed in the Messenger of
Allah you have a good example to follow for whoever has hope in (the Meeting
with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.)
Hence, Allah's Prophet (Peace be upon Him) is the best exmple
to follow for all of us, the believing Muslims. Muslims ought to follow the
pattern of Allah's Prophet (Peace be upon Him) in all of their affairs, personal
and public, throughout their lives. All the secrets of the wife should be kept
and preserved and her shortcomings hidden. No private affairs should be made
public or shared as a conversation item, even among the closest friends. The
Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said:
"One of the worst people in the
sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection is a man who has intimate relations
with his wife, or a wife who has the same with her husband, then one of them
discloses that privacy to others.
"[Muslim #1437 & others]
It is the right of the married woman to spend the night with
her husband and have sexual fulfillment, satisfaction, and gratification. This
right is one of the most emphasized rights in Islam, equal to the need of man to
have his fulfillment. The husband is required and obliged by Islamic law to
fulfill the sexual rights of his spouse, to ensure the satisfaction of the
spouse so as to prevent her from being inclined towards shameful acts, may Allah
forbid. A spouse, as any other female, has a great need for being loved and
cherished, cared for, and fulfillment of her natural and physical rightful
Islam forbids husbands from engaging themselves in matters of
physical worship and devotions, like prayers and fasting, in a way that may
detract them from attending to their spouses physical, sexual and social needs.
In a famous incident Salman Al-Farisi (may Allah exalt their mention) reported:
"I went to visit my brother
in faith, Abu-Darda (may Allah exalt their mention) and upon arrival, I was
greeted by his spouse Um Darda (may Allah exalt their mention) who was in an
unkempt state. Seeing that, I asked her, What is the matter with you; why are
you in this state and not attentive to your husband?'
She said: Your brother, Abu-Darda has no interest in this world and its
affairs. He spends his nights praying and days fasting!
Upon the arrival of Abu-Darda, who welcomed Salman and offered him some food,
Salman said: Why do not you eat with me?
Abu-Darda said: I am fasting.
Salman said: By Allah you must break your fast and eat with me.
Abu-Darda broke his fast and ate with Salman. Salman spent that night with
Abu-Darda, and Abu Darda got up during the night to offer some night prayers
whereupon Salman stopped him from doing so, saying: Your body has certain rights
upon you, your Lord has certain rights upon you, and your family has certain
rights upon you. Fast some days and break the fast on others, approach your
spouse (for marital relations). Grant everyone their due right.
Just before the break of dawn, Salman permitted Abu-Darda to get up and offer
prayers. Both of them rose, performed ablution, offered prayers and then headed
to the Masjid to offer Fajr (dawn) prayer. Upon finishing the prayer with the
Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon Him) Abu-Darda reported to the Prophet about the
incident. The Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said: Salman has spoken the
[Bukhari #1867 ]
Considering the needs of his wife, a husband should not be
away from home for an extended period of time. Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may
Allah exalt their mention) after consulting with his daughter Hafsa (may Allah
exalt their mention) about the length of the period a woman can patiently bear
her husband's absence, set this period six months.
Abdur-Razaq and others narrated a famous story that:
"Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah exalt their
mention) was making night rounds when he heard a woman lament:
The night has grown long, and its end is dark and black,
I am sleepless since I have, with whom to play, no lover,
If there was not (the Lord) whose Throne is above the Heavens,
The sides of this bed, would roll, shake and quiver!
In the morning he went to her and asked her the reason for her poetry, and she
answered that her husband had gone with the soldiers on a long campaign. Umar
then conferred with his daughter Hafsa on how long a woman can be patient for
her husband to return. After some moments of hesitation and embarrassment, in
which he convinced her that this question was for the general good of the
Muslims, she replied six months."
After this, Umar would close a campaign within six months so
that they could return to their wives within that time. This period is
approximate since circumstances may allow it to be less, or force it to be more.
She may tolerate the absence of her husband for more than six months, or she may
demand him to come back before that time.
The husband may not refuse or deny his spouse's legitimate
request unless he has a valid excuse. A husband must not make any financial
decisions on behalf of his spouse unless she gives him such permission. The
husband has no right to take any of his spouse's financial assets without her
approval. He should also consult his spouse in the major household decisions,
children's affairs and other mutual affairs. It is not wise to dictate a man's
opinion upon the other members of the family without listening to the spouse's
opinion, as long as her opinion is wise and correct. Allah's Prophet (Peace be
upon Him) gave us a practical example in this matter. On the "Day of the Pact"
with the Quraish tribe, the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) commanded his companions
to shave their heads and to exit the state of
Ihraam', but they were slow and did not hasten to fulfill his command.
Um Salamah (may Allah exalt their mention) his wife, recommended
that he do so himself and then go out before his companions. Allah's Prophet
acted upon the recommendation of his wife, doing what she suggested, and when
the companions saw his action they all hastened in obedience.
A husband must avoid counting every innocent mistake his
spouse may make. For instance, the Prophet of Allah (Peace be upon Him) said:
"A husband should not come to
his home from a journey late at night (i.e. without announcing his arrival in
[Bukhari #4948 & Muslim#715]
This recommendation is given so that the wife may comb her
hair or wash herself and that the husband may not find his spouse in an
unprepared state, which might become a reason for his displeasure. Of course
with the modern facilities, nowadays husbands have the ability to inform their
wives well in advance, whether the arrival is during the daytime or late in the
night. It is the obligation of a husband to be kind, attentive, sharing and
caring with his spouse. He must deal with her with honesty, decency, patience
and care, and must take into consideration her human nature. Women appreciate
being loved tenderly and well taken care of. A husband must demonstrate his
affection, love, appreciation, caring, consideration and genuine keenness of his
The system of divorce in Islam is designed to protect the
rights and interests of the women, and allow ample opportunity and time for
reconciliation. We will discuss in more detail below, but here we only mention
that in divorce, as in marriage, one must act decent with civil behavior to
assure the right of both parties, as Allah, the Most Wise, says:
(Divorce is two times: then one
may retain with goodness (and reasonable terms), or let go with goodness (and
reasonable terms).) [2:229]