RELATIONS AND MUTUAL RIGHTS IN ISLAM
The following verse is
frequently quoted by men, but is misunderstood very much. "Men
are protector of women because God has made them excel over the other,
and because they spend their property on women, so good women are obedient
(to their husband) and guard their modesty. As for whom you fear rebellion,
admonish them, and then banish them from your bed (i.e., do not sleep
with them), or beat them (lightly). If they obey you, then seek not
a way against them, God is ever High and Exalted" (4:34)
Wife abuse is a major social
crime in American society. Close to 4 million women are physically abused
every year by their husbands, ex- husbands, or boyfriends to the extent
of seeking medical attention in emergency rooms according to a 1991
Senate report. Many such abuses are not reported by women for the fear
of divorce or further abuse. About three women die every year from such
abuse. Abuse is not only physical but also sometime sexual (rape), emotional,
Unless Muslims guard themselves
to prevent such social crimes, they will become (and are becoming) a
part of our own society, just as divorce has become. Muslim women are
much less likely to report abuse and to whom will they report? to the
male Imam? Do we have a social support agency or should they call non-Muslim
law enforcement agencies and have their bread earners imprisoned? The
mention of "beat them lightly" in the Quran is not for all
women, but only those women who are rebellious (disloyal) and in stages
1) first you warn them; 2) you separate your bed from them; 3) beat
them lightly (with a traditional "toothbrush" or folded handkerchief)
before the final stage; 4) divorce, one of the most hated permissions.
The Prophet himself did not beat any of his wives and told Muslims,
"Do not beat God's hand maidens," and "How could they
beat their women in daytime as slaves and then sleep with them in the
Talking about women's status
in Islam is easy. To give them their due rights in practice is difficult.
The process can begin by giving them
1) equal say in the decision-making process in the home whether it is weaning of infant or education of growing children or financial matters;
2) full opportunity to learn Islam as well as "secular" education so that they can help their children learn since the first school is at home;
3) acquire skills to help the Muslim community whether in education, nursing, or professions in the less male contact areas; and
4) involve them in the operation and decision-making process in Muslim organizations and even in Mosques.
It is unfortunate and contrary to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that Muslim women are not encouraged to pray in mosques in Muslim countries.
My advice to married couples
for a happy marriage is no different than the advise given to them by
1. I suggest that both
of them be conscious of their personal appearance and try to remain
attractive to each other. It is not uncommon that women dress and put
on make-up when they go out, but don't do the same when they are inside
to please their husbands. Similarly, when men want their wives to be
very attractive-looking, they should also look at their own appearance
and especially their physical appearance so that they will be pleasing
to their wives. Both of them live in a society in which there are too
many temptations outside the home and, therefore, they should not give
any chance to others to succumb to such temptations.
2. 1 suggest both of them
be companions to each other rather than the role of the boss and the
one who is being bossed or upper-hand or lower- hand. If the two wheels
of a vehicle are of the same diameter, same air pressure, then the car
will go in a straight line, otherwise it will not. So, I suggest they
be each other's friend more than being their bed partner.
3. When they do commit
mistakes or injustice to each other, they should admit it and be forgiven.
They should be gentle in criticism and generous in appreciation. They
should never bring up their past because it is like undoing the dressing
and starting the wound fresh.
4. They should mind their
language. Sometimes we say things which we don't mean but it hurts other
people. As the poet says, "The wounds of blade many heal one day,
but the wounds of tongue never heal." So before we says something,
we should think how these words will affect the other person or if we
are the recipient of those words, how we would feel.
5. They should have a sense
of humor. One woman describes her husband in this way, that many men
had proposed to me and they liked me, but I chose him as my mate for
the rest of my life because he makes me laugh all the time. Life is
too short to be too serious. If we have a smile for each other when
we greet each other and. a word of kindness and of compassion, it has
a lasting effect. Again the poet says, "The sweet words of kindness
and sweet words of love make this world happy like heaven above."
6. Both of them should
share household duties together. It is not fair that women are used
as a cook and as a maid and as a babysitter while men enjoy all outdoor
and outside of the home social activities. The Prophet (PBUH), always
helped his wife in household work and he was an example for us.
7. They should find occasions
to give each other a gift or flowers or candy, whatever a small thing
that may be. This is not a western concept. In fact, the Prophet has
stressed that we should give gifts to each other because "giving
gifts" increases mutual love.
8. Wives should recognize
the economic means of their husbands and should not put any demand on
him that he cannot bear. If they do, he will either refuse or find wrong
means to earn extra income to meet her demands and both of which will
have wrong results.
9. They should be equally
involved in community work and efforts. It is not appropriate that mothers
have to bring children for Sunday school while fathers stay home to
watch football games. If learning Islam is good for children, it is
good for mothers and it is also good for fathers.
10. In matters of sex,
both them should be available to each other without putting an extra
burden on either one. Thus, the Prophet (PBUH), was a very modern man.
He encouraged foreplay. In a Tradition, he has said, "It is not
appropriate that you fall upon your wives like a beast but you must
send a message of love beforehand." Men and women both have physiological
desires. Each should respect the likes and dislikes of each other. We
should respect each others privacy because each of us needs some time,
moments of privacy, to be alone with our body or with our mind.