Etiquette Between Spouses

Etiquette Between Spouses 

A Muslim recognizes that there are some common etiquette between a husband and wife. There are the rights that each one has upon the other. This is based on Allah’s statement:

وَالْمُطَلَّقَاتُ يَتَرَبَّصْنَ بِأَنْفُسِهِنَّ ثَلَاثَةَ قُرُوءٍ ۚ وَلَا يَحِلُّ لَهُنَّ أَنْ يَكْتُمْنَ مَا خَلَقَ اللَّهُ فِي أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِنْ كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ أَحَقُّ بِرَدِّهِنَّ فِي ذَ‌ٰلِكَ إِنْ أَرَادُوا إِصْلَاحًا ۚ وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

“And they { women } have rights { over their husbands as  regards living expenses } similar { to those of their husbands } over them { as regards obedience and respect } to what is reasonable, But men have a degree { of responsibility } over them.” {Surah Baqarah 2:228}

 This noble verse makes it clear that each spouse has rights over the other. However, the verse specifically mentions the man as having an additional degree of rights with respect to special rights. Rasulullah (SAW) said on the farewell Hajj: “Verily, you have rights over your wives and your wives have rights over you.” {Abu Dawud} Some of these rights are common between the two spouses while others are specified for one of the spouse. As for the common rights, they are the following:

1} LOVE AND HONESTY, That is, its obligatory upon each spouse to be truthful and honest with respect to each other. One does not cheat the other in anyway, bug or small. The two spouses are like two partners. Therefore, there must be trust, sincerity, honesty and truthfulness between them concerning every matter of their lives, public and private.

 2} LOVE AND MERCY, Each one of them should have as much love and mercy as he can for the other. This should be something common between them for all of their lives. In this way, they fulfill Allah’s words:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَ‌ٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“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.” {Surah Room 30:21}

 This would also be in fulfillment of Rasulullah (SAW) words: “The one who is not merciful will not be shown mercy.” {At-Tabarâni}

 3} MUTUAL TRUST BETWEEN THEM, Each one of them should have complete trust in the other and should have not the least amount of doubt or suspicion concerning the other’s honesty, sincerity and devotion to the other.

Rasulullah (SAW) said “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” {Al-Bukhari and Muslim} The bond between spouses goes beyond the bond of simple brotherhood with respect to trust, strength and favor. Each spouse should realize that he/she is the essence and personification of the other. How can a person not trust himself and not be sincere to himself? How could a person cheat and deceive himself?

 4} GENERAL GOOD MANNERS, This includes kindness in dealings with each other, good and noble speech, respect and regard for one another. This is the “honorable and good treatment” that is ordered by Allah in the verse:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَرِثُوا النِّسَاءَ كَرْهًا ۖ وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ فَإِنْ كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا

“And live with them honorably.” {Surah Nisa 4:19}

This is fulfilling of the advice to treat them well that is found in the words of Rasulullah (SAW):  “I advice you to treat women well.” {Al-Bukhari and Muslim} These are, in general, the etiquette that is shared between the husband and wife. These should be mutual between them. This is how to act upon the “firm and strong covenant” that is referred to the verse:

وَكَيْفَ تَأْخُذُونَهُ وَقَدْ أَفْضَىٰ بَعْضُكُمْ إِلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَأَخَذْنَ مِنْكُمْ مِيثَاقًا غَلِيظًا

“And how could you take it { back } while you have gone in unto each other, and they have taken from you a firm and strong covenant ?’’ {Surah Nisa 4:21}

This is also in obedience to Allah’s command in the verse:

وَإِنْ طَلَّقْتُمُوهُنَّ مِنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَمَسُّوهُنَّ وَقَدْ فَرَضْتُمْ لَهُنَّ فَرِيضَةً فَنِصْفُ مَا فَرَضْتُمْ إِلَّا أَنْ يَعْفُونَ أَوْ يَعْفُوَ الَّذِي بِيَدِهِ عُقْدَةُ النِّكَاحِ ۚ وَأَنْ تَعْفُوا أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۚ وَلَا تَنْسَوُا الْفَضْلَ بَيْنَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

“And do not forget liberality between yourselves. Truly, Allah is the ALL-SEER of what you do.” {Surah Baqarah 2:237}     

 As for specific rights and manners that each spouse must perform with respect to the other, the include the following

THE RIGHTS OF THE WIFE  UPON THE HUSBAND

 It is obligatory upon the husband to fulfill the following etiquette with respect to his wife:

 1} He must treat her in a respectable and honorable manner, as Allah say:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَنْ تَرِثُوا النِّسَاءَ كَرْهًا ۖ وَلَا تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُوا بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ فَإِنْ كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا

 “And live with them honorably.” {Surah Nisa 4:19}

He must feed her when he is fed and clothe her when he is clothed. He must also discipline her if he fears NUSHOOZ {recalcitrance on her part} in a way that Allah has ordered the women to be disciplined. First he is to advice her without abusing her, swearing her or shaming her. If she obeys him, that is the end of the matter. If she does not obey him, then he separates from her in their bedding. If she then reforms herself, the matter in concluded. Otherwise , he may beat her lightly, not in the face and not in a bruising manner or one which would cause bleeding, tearing of the skin, breaking bones or the like. These are his responsibilities in accord with the verse:

الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ۚ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا

 “As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them { first }, { next } refuse to share their beds,  { and last } beat them { lightly if it is useful } but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means { of annoyance}” {Surah Nisa 4:34 }

 Rasulullah (SAW) said in response to a man who asked him what are the rights of the wives upon them: “That you feed her when you feed yourself. You clothe her when you clothe yourself. You do not strike the face. You do not shame her and you do not boycott her except in the house. “{Abu-Dawud} In another Hadith, it states: “Verily, their rights upon you are that you treat them well with respect to their clothing and food.” {At-Tirmidhi and Ibn-Majah} Yet another Hadith states: “A believing man does not dislike a believing women. If he dislikes one character in her, he is pleased with another.” {Muslim}

 2} He must teach her what she must necessarily know of her religion, if she is not already knowledgeable of it. If he does not or cannot, he must permit her to attend the lectures or gatherings in which she can attain such knowledge. This is because he needs to correct her religion and purify her soul is no less then her food and drink, that one is obliged to supply her with. This is based on Allah’s saying:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَا يَعْصُونَ اللَّهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ

“O you who believe! Ward of yourselves and your families against a Fire { Hell }” {Surah Tahrim 66:6 }

The wife is part of the family and it is obligatory to protect her from the Hell-fire through faith and good-deeds. Good deeds are definitely in need of knowledge and recognition so that one can actually fulfill and execute them in a way that they are demanded in the Shariah. Furthermore, Rasulullah (SAW) said: “I advise you to treat women well, for they are like captives under your control.” {Al-Bukhari and Muslim} This admonition includes teaching them what they need to know to rectify their religion and to educate them in what is necessary for her to know in order to follow the right path and proper manner in every affair.

 3} Rasulullah (SAW) said: “The best of you is the best to his family and I’m the best to my family.” {At-Tabarâni} Dear brothers do you best to follow the beautiful life of our beloved Rasulullah (SAW)

4} The husband must not spread her private aspects to others, nor should he mention her shortcomings to others. He is supposed to be a type of guardian and entrusted one for he. He should seek her welfare and defend her honor. Rasulullah (SAW) said: “The people in the worst position in Allah’s sight on the Day of Resurrection is a man he goes to his wife and she to him and he spreads her secrets.” {Muslim}

               “May Allah Guide Us All   Aameen”

If I am right, it is from Allah; if wrong, it is from me. I ask Allah Almighty to protect us from errors and from all that displeases him. I conclude my praising by “Al-Hamdu-lillaahi rabbil-alaameen” – Praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds

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