By Abdul-Rahman Al Sheha
The rights of wives concerning their husbands are many and may be summarized as follows:
A wife is entitled to receive a dowry from her husband which a marriage contract is void without it. The dowry is not to be forfeited but after the completion of a marriage contract she may forfeit her right as Allah says in the Qur’an:
And give to the women (whom you marry) their dowry with a good heart, but if they, of their own good will, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah has made it lawful). (An-Nisaa’ 4:4)
A husband is required to provide, within his means and limits, all essential and basic requirements of his wife , children and entire household. Allah (Exalted be He) says in the Qur’an:
Let the man of means spend according to his means and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. After a difficulty, Allah will soon grant relief. (At-Talaq 65:7)
To encourage generosity towards the wives, Islam has named this financial support as charity which is rewarded greatly by Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas:
“No amount you spend on your family seeking reward from Allah but that He will reward you even if it is a bite of food you put in your wife’s mouth.” (Al-Bukhari)
A wife has a right to take a reasonably required amount from her husband’s property for herself and her children without her husband’s knowledge if he spends miserly on them according to the hadith wherein Hind bint `Utbah said: “ O Messenger of Allah: verily Abu Sufyan is a miser and doesn’t give me enough for myself and my child except that I take from his wealth without his knowledge, so he (peace be upon him) said:
“Take what is reasonably enough for you and your son.” (Al-Bukhari)
Companionship & Intimate Relationship
One of the most important rights of a wife is to secure from her husband a satisfactory level of intimate relationship and a fair amount of time with him.
This right of the wife and family members must be fully maintained since a wife needs an affectionate husband to take care of her and fulfill her basic needs. As related by Jabir when the Prophet said to Jabir: “Did you marry O Jabir?” I said: Yes. He said: “Virgin or matron (i.e. woman previously marries)?” I said: a matron. He said: “Why didn’t you marry a virgin so that you could play with her and she could play with you or you make her laugh and she makes you laugh?” (Al-Bukhari)
Protection of All the Secrets of the Wife
A husband must not disclose any of his wife’s deficiencies or shortcomings, keeping all what he sees and hears from his wife as a secret that should not ever be disclosed.
The intimate relationship between a husband and wife in Islam is cherished and protected.
Marital relationships are sacred relationships according to Islam, as we read in the instructions of Allah’s Messenger:
One of the worst positions in the sight of Allah on the Day of Requital is that of a man who will have an intimate relationship with his wife, and then spread the secrets of his spouse to the public.” (Muslim)
Equality and Fairness
The husband who is married to more than one wife must provide equally to all of his wives, offering them the same or comparable housing conditions and clothing.
He is to spend equal time with each one of them. Any injustice in this regard is strictly prohibited as the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“He who has two wives and does not treat them both equally will appear on the Day of Requital while he is half paralyzed.” (An-Nasa’i)
Fair and Kind Treatment
A husband must extend just treatment to his wife and household. A husband must demonstrate care, kindness and solve any problem within his means, while forbearing the deficiencies and shortcomings of his wife seeking the Pleasure of Allah in both worlds.
A husband should consult with his wife concerning their life and future needs and plans. He is required to secure and provide for his wife and household all means of peaceful environment at home and outside. The Messenger of Allah said:
Those believers who have the most complete faith who possess the best of character, and the best among you are those who are the best to their wives.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Protection and Preservation
By all the abilities available, a husband must not place or expose his wife or family members to any immoral situation or evil environment. This is based on the instructions of the verse of the Qur’an:
O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded. (At-Tahrim 66:6)
He must protect the private wealth and property of his wife and must not use any of her personal funds or possessions without her prior approval. He must not engage in any transaction concerning his wife’s finances, without her consent.
The article is an excerpt from the author’s Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions.