The Cohesive Nature of the Family - Part 2

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The Cohesive Nature of the Family - Part 2



Therefore, when discussing the rights of the husbands and wives, this matter should not be looked at in a cold or legal fashion.  The relationship between the husband and wife must be much more than a matter of rights stated by the law that each must abide by.  Instead, it should be a relationship of love, support and mutual understanding.  Each spouse should take into consideration the needs and abilities of the other spouse. 


They should attempt to make each other happy, even if they have to compromise sometimes, and not simply be out to make sure that they are getting all of their rights in the marriage.  Actually, it is usually the case that neither spouse is completely fulfilling the rights of the other and making the other happy.  Hence, they both have to realize and accept their shortcomings.

The Prophet, in particular, advised the husbands to treat their wives in the best way¾ perhaps due to their greater authority or due to their greater strength, in general.  The Prophet said:

“The best of you is the one who is best to his family (wife) and I am the best of you to my family.” (Al-Tirmidhi and ibn Majah)


Actually, both spouses, in general, fail to some extent in their fulfilling of the other’s obligations.  Hence, before criticizing the other or being harsh with the other due to some shortcoming, the person should look to himself and realize what wrong he himself is doing.

At the same time, though, Islamic Law has clearly laid down some rights and responsibilities so that both parties in the marriage know exactly what is expected of them and know what they need to fulfill to be a proper spouse.  Thus, for example, God says:

“…And they [women] have rights [over their husbands] similar to those over them according to what is reasonable…” (Quran 2:228)

In sum, the rights of the wife or the obligations of the husband include, among others, the following:

(1)  Receiving her proper dower: God says:

“And give the women their dower with a good heart; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it without fear of any harm.” (Quran 4:4)

(2)  Being fully and completely financially maintained by her husband: God says:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means…” (Quran 4:34)

Furthermore, in a hadeeth recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, told Hind bint Utbah, when she complained that her husband (Abu Sufyan) was very stingy and was not maintaining her and she asked if she could take from his wealth without his knowledge:

“Take what is sufficient for you and your child, according to what is customary.”

(3)  Being treated in a proper and kind manner: God states:

“…And consort with your wives in a goodly manner, for if you dislike them, it may well be that you dislike something which God might yet make a source of abundant good” (Quran 4:19)

(4)  Having the right to sexual intercourse: In the Sahih of Ibn Hibban there is the following narration:

The wife of Uthman ibn Madh’oon complained to the Messenger of God that her husband had no need for women.  During the day, he would fast and at night, he would pray.  The Prophet asked him, “Am I not the best example for you to follow?”  He answered, “Certainly, may my father and mother be sacrificed for you.” The Messenger of God then told him, “As for you, you pray during the night and you fast during the day.  Certainly, your wife has a right upon you.  And your body has a right upon you.  So pray and sleep and fast and break your fast.”

(5)  Having the right to “privacy”: Note the following hadeeth of the Prophet:

“Is there any man among you who goes to his wife, closes the door behind then, covers themselves, and conceals themselves by God’s concealing.” They said, “Yes.” He then said, “Then he sits after that [with others] and he says, ‘I did this and that.’”  They were silent.  He then turned to the women and said, “Do you any of you talk about such things?”  They were also silent.  Then a young girl came up on his toes so the Prophet could see her and hear her and she said, “O Messenger of God, they [the men] certainly talk about it and they [the women] also talk about it.” He said, “Do you know what they are like?  They are like a female devil who met a devil in the street and they satisfied their desires with the people looking on.” [1]

(6)  The right to being taught or learning her religion.

On the other hand, the rights of the husband or the responsibilities of the women include:

(1)  Being the head of the household: God has said:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means…” (Quran 4:34)

Although this is usually stated as a right of the husband, it is actually a heavy responsibility on his shoulders, as it means that he has the responsibility to guide his family and keep them along the straight path.

(2)  Having the right to be obeyed: This goes with the first right.  A person cannot be the head of something if he has no authority.

(3)  Having his wife answer his call to meet his sexual needs.

(4)  That the wife will not allow anyone in his house except by his permission: In a hadeeth recorded in al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Messenger of God said:

“Do not allow anyone into his house except by permission.”

If the husband and wife enter into the marriage with the right intention of pleasing God and pleasing each other, recognizing their roles and responsibilities in the marriage and treating each other with proper Islamic behavior, God willing, their union will be a blessed union that will stretch from this life into the Hereafter.

Having said what was just said about marriage, Islam, though, is also a practical religion.  It takes into consideration all possible common scenarios.  It is possible for a man and woman to enter into a union with good intentions yet their personalities and likes simply do not coincide with one another.  There are times in which a good marriage simply cannot be achieved and the spouses enter into a state of misery.  Under such circumstances, Islamic law allows for an end to the marriage and their suffering. [2]  The goal is to either stay together in a friendly manner or to separate in a goodly manner.  Thus, for example, God says:

“And when you have divorced women and they have fulfilled the term of their prescribed period, either take them back on reasonable basis or set them free on reasonable basis…” (Quran 2:231)

God also says:

“Then when they are about to fulfill their term appointed [bringing an end to the divorce], either take them back in a good manner or part with them in a good manner…” (Quran 65:2)

Obviously, divorce is not a desired goal or a light matter.  In a perfect world, all married couples would be in bliss.  However, there are times in which this option is the best for all parties concerned.  Thus, the option of divorce is in accord with the overall goal of preserving the family—it is not simply quantity, though, such that all marriages always stay in tact, that is desired but quality.


The Children

It is clear from many verses in the Quran that having children is considered a blessing from God.  Hence, God says while recounting some of his blessings upon humankind:

“God has made for you wives of your own kind, and has made for you, from your wives, sons and grandsons, and has bestowed on you good provision.  Do they then believe in false deities and deny the Favor of God (by not worshipping God Alone).” (Quran 16:72)

Thus, one finds the prophet Zachariah praying to God that He bestow upon him children (Quran 3:38).  In addition, having children is something known to be beloved to parents.  Thus, God says:

“Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world...” (Quran 18:46)

At the same time, though, every parent must realize that having children is a great responsibility and trial from God.  God has said:

“Your wealth and your children are only a trial, whereas God—with Him is a great reward (Paradise).” (Quran 64:15)


God also says,

“O you who believe, guard yourselves and your families from the Hell‑fire whose fuel is men and stones…” (Quran 66:6)

The meaning of this verse was reiterated by the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, when he said:

“All of you are shepherds and all of you will be asked about your wards...  The man is responsible for his household and will be asked about his responsibilities.  The wife will be asked about the house of her husband and her responsibilities.” [3]

Islam, therefore, fills the human with appreciation for being blessed with a child while at the same time realizing that this child is a heavy responsibility.  The parents must care for the child and bring the child up in the best possible manner, trying to protect the child from the Hellfire.

Muslim scholars consider that the rights of children appear long before they are even conceived, via the selection of a pious and righteous spouse.  This is the first step in providing a good household and environment for the child.  Around the time of the child’s birth, there are other important obligations, such as giving the child a good name and offering an animal sacrifice on the child’s behalf. [4]  Beyond that, the most important rights of the child include:

(1)  being maintained and provided for in a healthy manner;

(2)  being taught the tenets of the religion;

(3)  being treated with compassion and mercy;

(4)  being just among multiple siblings; and

(5)  having a good example set for them by their parents.

Other Relatives

A family also includes siblings and other kinfolk.  Islam has certainly not ignored any of the relatives of an individual.  In numerous places in the Quran, God emphasizes the importance of treating one’s relatives in a good and kindly fashion.  God says, for example:

“Worship God and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk…” (Quran 4:36)

God also speaks about spending on one’s relatives:

“They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend.  Say: Whatever you spend of good must be for parents and kindred…” (Quran 2:215)

God also says:

“It is not piety that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Al-piety is (the quality of) the one who believes in God, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk…” (Quran 2:177)

The Prophet Muhammad was requested:

“Inform me of a deed that will take me closer to Paradise and distance me from the Hell-fire.”  He replied, “Worship God and do not ascribe any partner to Him, establish the prayer, give the zakat and keep the ties of kinship.” [5]

Keeping the ties of kinship refers to doing good towards them with one’s speech, actions and wealth.  It includes kind words, visits, charity and generosity.  It also includes keeping any harm from coming to them and doing one’s best to bring happiness to them.

The Muslim must understand that keeping the ties of kinship is an obligation and not simply a meritorious act.  In the Quran, God praises those…

“…who join that which God has commanded to be joined (i.e. they are good to their relatives and do not sever the bond of kinship), fear their Lord, and dread the terrible reckoning” (Quran 13:21)

The Prophet said:

“The one who cuts off the ties of kinship will not enter Paradise.” [6]

Islam has emphasized every type of familial tie possible.  It has provided guidance showing the importance of the ties with parents, children, spouses and other relatives.  It exhorts every Muslim to fulfill these ties to receive God’s pleasure in return.  In addition (although not completely stressed in this short paper), it has provided laws and strict regulations that allow the individual to realize how best to keep the proper ties with all of his or her kith and kin.





[1] Abu Dawud.

[2] Unfortunately, in some Muslim cultures today, divorce has become so “shameful” they have neglected this important guidance of Islamic Law, leading to spouses suffering in silence.  This is definitively not the goal of Islamic Law concerning such issues.

[3] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim.

[4] In this sacrifice, called the aqeeqah, meat is distributed to the poor, one’ family, and friends and neighbors (IslamReligion).

[5] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim.

[6] Saheeh Muslim.

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