Your husband is in one of his moods again. He disagrees with everything you say. The food doesn’t have enough of this, or it has too much of that. Nothing you do is enough, and everything you do is wrong. Your husband is getting on your nerves!
You have heard it all before—Muslim wives should be obedient to their husbands. Inside, you’re steaming! “Why should I have to serve him when he treats me like a doormat? Don’t my feelings count? Don’t I have any rights?”
Indeed, the mistreatment of women by men has nothing to do with Islam, my dear sister. It has to do with cultural practices, ignorance, weak faith, impatience, low self-esteem and other factors unrelated to our religion.
You have dignified rights given by Allah that affirm your right to complain regarding your husband’s ill-treatment of you.
A Lesson From The Hadith
The story of Khawla bint Tha’labah clarifies this: Khawla said: “By Allah, the beginning of surat al-Mujadilah was revealed concerning me and my husband Aws ibn al-Samit. He was an older man with a bad temper. One day, he came in, and I raised a particular issue with him again. He became angry and said, ‘You are to me as the back of my mother.’ Then he left our house and sat for a while with some people that he knew.
Later, he came back home and wanted to have marital relations with me. I said, ‘No way! By the hand of the One in Whose hand is the soul of Khuwayla (i.e., Khawla), you will never get what you want from me after saying what you said until Allah and His Messenger decides between us.’ He tried to force himself on me, but I was able to resist because I was a young woman, and he was a weak older man. I pushed him away. Then I went to one of my (female) neighbours and borrowed a cloak from her and went to the Messenger of Allah.
Upon Meeting The Prophet (PBUH)
I sat before him and told him what my husband had done to me and began to complain to him about my sufferings due to my husband’s bad temper. The Messenger of Allah said, ‘O Khuwayla, your cousin is an old man, so fear Allah with regards to him.’ I did not leave until Qur’an was revealed concerning me. The Prophet was overcome as he usually was when Qur’an was revealed to him, and when it was over, he said: ‘O Khuwayla, Allah has revealed Qur’an concerning you and your husband.’ Then he recited to me Allah’s admonishment regarding what Aws had done and the penalty for compensation of his misdeed. (First few verses of Surah Al-Mujadila)
The Prophet then said that Aws had to feed sixty poor people with a wasq of dates.’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, he does not have that much.’ He said, ‘Then we will help him with a faraq (about 6.5kg) of dates.’ I said, ‘And I will help him with another faraq (about 6.5kg), O Messenger of Allah .’ He said, ‘You have done right and done well. Go and give it in charity on his behalf, then take care of your cousin properly.’ And I did so.”
What did we learn?
In the above hadith, you will notice that the Prophet commended Khuwayla when she offered to assist her husband by giving in charity to him by paying for his compensation in dates. The Prophet told her she had done right and well, even though Aws had been reprimand by Allah. Then the Prophet further tells her to take care of her husband properly. And she says she did so.
In any relationship, parties need to know what their rights are as well as their obligations. Some women are unaware of their obligations or wifely manners that are recommended. “O you who believe! Fulfil (your) obligations” (Quran: al-Maa’idah 5:1)
Remember that fighting fire with fire may not be the best solution in minimizing your husband’s bad temper. Using kindness to manage a heated situation may be a better solution. Not only can the gentle approach be effective in managing undesirable behaviour from your husband. It is also how the Prophet dealt with his wives. He overlooked their weakness in character or at least he didn’t respond to their ill behaviour in kind.
Abu Umamah Al-Bahili reported: The Messenger of Allah said,
“I guarantee a house in Jannah for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right . . .”
Of course, times will occur when you will need to make your rights clear to your husband. This can be done in a calm, respectful way rather than in a confrontational manner. One of the best ways of changing our husbands, which we often neglect, is through making dua. Ask Allah to help your husband improve in his treatment of you. And also remember to ask Him to help you develop more patience, allowing you to become a stronger Muslimah as a result of your tolerance—Allah has power over all things.
One of the ways to help you become more tolerant when dealing with your husband’s behaviour is by telling yourself that you are being kind to your husband not for his sake but only for the pleasure of Allah. This can be an enormous boost in helping you become more patient with your husband’s shortcomings. So too can the following hadith:
“If a woman dies while her husband was pleased with her, she will enter paradise.”
This positive manner of handling your marital problems is not belittling you; rather, it is empowering you!
This article does not apply to sisters living in an abusive relationship.
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