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Rights of a Husband

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Whoever Allah wishes to guide, He opens his heart to Islam. (Al-Qur'an, 6:125)

Allah Ta'ala has given great rights to the husband and has attached a lot of virtue to him. Pleasing the husband and keeping him happy is a great act of 'ibadah and displeasing him or keeping him unhappy is a major sin.

Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam said...

  • The woman who offers her five times salat, fasts in the month of Ramadan, protects her honour and respect, and obeys her husband has the choice of entering jannah from whichever door she wishes to enter from." This means that from the eight doors of jannah she can enter through whichever door she wishes without even having to knock on that door.

  • The woman who passes away in such a state that her husband is pleased with her will enter jannah."

  • Were I to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allah, I would have commanded the woman to prostrate to her husband. If the husband orders his wife to carry the boulders of one mountain to the next mountain, and the boulders of the next mountain to a third mountain, she will have to do this."

  • When the husband calls his wife, she should go immediately to him even if she is busy at her stove." In other words, no matter how important a task she may be busy with, she should leave it and go to him.

  • When a man calls his wife to engage in sexual intercourse with him and she does not go and because of this he sleeps away angrily, the angels continue cursing this woman till the morning."

  • When a woman troubles or displeases her husband in this world, the hūr of jannah that has been set aside for him says:  "May Allah curse you! Do not trouble him. He is your guest for a few days. Soon he will leave you and come to me."

  • There are three types of people whose salat is not accepted, nor is any other good act of theirs accepted. One is a slave who runs away from his master. The second is a woman whose husband is displeased with her. The third is a person who is in a state of intoxication."

A person asked...

  • Who is the best woman?" Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam replied:  "The best woman is one who pleases her husband when he looks at her, when he asks her to do something she obeys him, and she does not do anything that may displease him with regard to his wealth and honour." One of the rights of the husband is that the wife should not keep any optional fasts nor offer any optional salat in his presence without his permission. Among the rights of the husband is that she should not remain in an untidy, disheveled state. Instead, she should always remain clean and beautiful for her husband. In fact, if she remains untidy and disheveled despite her husband ordering her to remain clean, he has the right of beating her (lightly) in order that she may obey him. Another right of the husband is that she should not leave the house without his permission irrespective of whether it be the house of a friend, relative or anyone else.

It is mentioned in a Hadith...

  • That the greatest right that a woman has to fulfil is to her husband, and that the greatest right that he has to fulfil is to his mother. In other words, after the rights of Allah and His Rasūl sallallahu alayhi wa sallam the woman has a very great right to fulfil to her husband, so much so that the husband's rights supersede the rights of her parents. As for the man, after the rights of Allah and His Rasūl sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, the greatest right that he has to fulfil is to his mother. We learn from this that the right of the mother supersedes that of the father.

  • That when the husband and wife look at each other (with love), Allah Ta'ala looks at both of them with mercy.

(Adopted)

 In view of Ahadiths-e-Nabvi (SAW)

Sexual Rights of the Husband

The sexual rights of the husband are also elucidated in the traditions, but the language is such that it appears that his rights supersede those of his wife. For example, in Bukhari, AbuHuraira reports that the Prophet said, "If a man invites his wife to sleep with him and she refuses, then the angels send their curses on her till morning." (Vol. 7, No. 121-2; in Muslim, the text reads that God is displeased with her until the husband is pleased with her Nos. 3366-68). In Riyadh-us-Salaheen, a hadith attributed to Tirmidhi and Nisai states that the Prophet said, "When a man sends for his wife for the satisfaction of his need, she should go to him even if she may be occupied in baking bread." (No. 284) Similarly, Muslim women are advised not to fast without the permission of their husbands since fasting would interfere with sexual relations (Sunan Abu Dawud, Nos. 2452-3; Muslim, Nos. 3366-68; Bukhari, Vol.7, No. 120).

Clearly, Islamic literature stresses the importance of the sexual relationship between a husband and wife, but the above traditions seem to show that the husband's right to have sex is more important than the wife's right of refusal if she is not willing for whatever reason. The only time she can refuse intercourse, then, is during menstruation. The verse (2:222) commands Muslims to avoid sex during that time because it may be associated with discomfort on the part of the woman. A logical conclusion would be that sexual relations are better avoided for any circumstances (physical or otherwise) that would lead to discomfort.

A common view of sex is that the stronger sexual urges of men (compared to women) can be controlled only to a certain extent; according to some, this justifies the practice of polygamy even though the Qur'an makes no mention of sexual desires in the verses on polygamy (4:3-5). Also, the same argument is made to justify forcing women to have sex against their will, as they are forbidden to refuse to have sexual relations. Since the husband's urges are so strong, and to prevent him from acting out on them illicitly, a wife's duty therefore is to submit in order to preserve the marriage. Yet, human beings are endowed with self control not seen in any other species, such that we do not act on every instinctual impulse because of some uncontrollable force. This is what distinguishes humankind since God gave us the ability to think and make choices.

Therefore, there is no justification for forcing women to have sex against their will, even in marriage. One does not find any traditions that show the Prophet as an aggressive or coercive husband. Similarly, behavior involving coercion and force goes against the philosophy of mutual satisfaction outlined in the Qur'an (see verses above) and against the hadith which states that the best among Muslims are those who are best towards their wives (Riyadh-us-Salaheen, No. 278). Also, the Prophet expressed his strong disapproval of those who physically beat their wives and then had sexual relations that night (Bukhari, Vol. 7, No. 132, Vol.9, 81-82; see also Riyadh us-Salaheen, No. 274).

Sexual Rights of the Wife

Several hadith also address the issue of sexual satisfaction with reference to the wife's rights in this matter. The Prophet advised Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-As (who spent all day fasting and all night in prayer) to fast sometimes and not at other times; to pray at night and to sleep at night. "Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you." (Bukhari, Vol.7, No. 127) The wife's rights include a right to companionship from her husband and fulfillment of her sexual needs.

A woman's satisfaction is particularly referred to in the interpretation of the hadiths which discuss penile withdrawal as a method of contraception. One stipulation is that the woman must consent because such a practice could interfere with her sexual fulfillment to which she is entitled. Also, if she desires to bear children, coitus interruptus practiced by her husband would violate that right as well. This viewpoint is based on a hadith transmitted by Umar ibn-al-Khattab who said that the Prophet forbade the practice of coitus interruptus with a woman except with her permission This reference is found in Sex and Society in Islam, by B. F. Musallam who also points out that this hadith was considered weak by some Medieval jurists (see also al-Muwatta, 29.34, No. 100). Nevertheless, the position regarding the woman's right to orgasm was developed over time by several Muslim jurists during the same period (Busallam, Chapter 2 and footnotes). Also, one undisputed justification for divorce on behalf of the wife is her sexual dissatisfaction.

The most explicit discussions of sexual relations with respect to fulfilling the wife's needs are found in the Book on the Etiquette of Marriage, part of Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali's larger work, Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya Ulum al-Din), written in the eleventh century. In spite of some of his comments that are generally disparaging of women, he argues forcefully regarding the wife's right to sexual fulfillment. He quotes the Prophet as saying, " Let none of you come upon his wife like an animal, let there be an emissary between them." When asked what is the emissary, he replied, "The kiss and sweet words." In another hadith, the Prophet points out that one of the deficiencies of a man is that "he should approach his wife and have sexual contact with her before exchanging words and caresses, consequently, he sleeps with her and fulfills his needs (i.e. orgasm) before she fulfills hers." Al-Ghazali further elaborates on the importance of a woman achieving orgasm by stating, "Congruence in attaining a climax is more gratifying to her because the man is not preoccupied with his own pleasure, but rather with hers..."

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