Matrimonial rights of a Muslim woman

545

Abdul Rasool Syed

ONE of the allegations apportioned on Islam is that Islam does
not confer upon women due rights and treats them with unjus
tifiable discrimination. This allegation is absolutely unfounded and unjustified. Islam, on the contrary, bestows upon women rights more than any other religion of the world. A Muslim woman enjoys enviable status as a mother, as a sister as a daughter and as a wife. This piece is, however, aimed at highlighting the matrimonial status of Muslim woman and thereby removing the prevailing misconception amongst the non-Muslims about the status of women in Islam. According to some ancient beliefs, a woman was dubbed impure being created by Satan. One should, therefore, escape from her and turn to a monastic life of self-denial. However, Islam came to abolish the monastic state of life and retirement from the world. It urges marriage and considers the state of marriage as one of the signs and proofs of Allah in the universe: “And among His signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect”. (Surah 30:21)
Islam has made a good wife the best treasure that a man can have in his life, after belief in Allah and following His commands. She is considered as the key to happiness. According to the Hadith, “the Holy Prophet (SAW) told Hazrat Umar, shall I tell you the best a man can treasure? It is a good wife. If he looks at her, she gives him pleasure; if he orders her, she obeys; and if he is away from her, she remains faithful to him”( Abu Dawud 2/1664). The Holy Prophet (SAW) at another place time said, “The world is delightful and its greatest treasure is a good woman”. (Muslim: 1467).] He also said, “Whoever is granted a good wife, he is helped to follow half his religion, let him obey God in the second half”. (Hakim Al-Mustadrik) It is also reported that the Holy Prophet (SAW) also said, “Four things if granted to any person, he is granted the best of the world and the afterlife: a thankful heart, a tongue that mentions Allah, a body that patiently endures misfortune and a wife that does not seek his betrayal or his money. [Al-Tabrany, Vo.11 (11275) Moreover, Islam has declared rights of the wife on the husband, and has not made her mere a marionette. The first of her rights is a dower, which Islam obliges the man to give to the woman as a symbol of his desire, in marrying her and of wanting her. Allah says: “And give to the women (whom you marry) their Mahr (obligatory bridal money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure remit a part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful)”. [Surah 4:4] The expression “with a good heart” signifies the dower as a gift and is not a price or in return for the pleasure he gets from her, as some people have insisted.
The second of her rights is maintenance. The husband is required to provide his wife with food, clothes, a place to live and medical treatment according to his environment, conditions and income. The wealthy have their own measure, whereas the poor have theirs. The Prophet (greetings and peace be upon him) said stating the rights of women, “You are obliged to provide them with food and clothes honorably”. (Abu Dawud (1905) Ibn Majah (3074). The third right is living with them honorably. The Almighty said: “And live with them honorably”. [Surah 4:19] It is a collective right which is comprised all around good treatment in all aspects of the husband/wife relationship such as good manners, a flexible attitude, sweet words, a smiling face, a pleasing playfulness and an amusing mien, etc. Hazrat Ayesha (R.A) reported that the Prophet said, “The best of you is he who is the best to his family, and I am the best to my family”. (Ibn Hibban (El-Ehsan) Vol. 9 (4177).The actual biography of the Holy Prophet (SAW) has proved his gentleness towards his people; his excellent conduct with his wives, to the extent that he used to help them with their housekeeping. The extent of his playfulness is shown when he raced with Hazrat Ayesha (RA) twice; she won the race once and he won the second time. He then said, “Tit for tat”. (Ibn Majah: 1976) Let me conclude by quoting the verse of the Holy Quran in which Allah, The sublime says: “ And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses, etc.) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect, etc.) to what is reasonable”. (Surah 2:228) Therefore, women have as many rights as they have duties to perform. Once, Ibn `Abbas (R.A) was standing in front of a looking glass to straighten his appearance and arrange his ornamentation; When he was asked about it, he said, “I adorn myself for my wife as she does for me.” Then he recited the noble verse: “And they have rights (over them) similar to what is reasonable. [Surah 2:228.
— The writer is a Legal practitioner-cum-columnist based in Quetta Balochistan.