Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi
(An Extract from A GIFT TO THE HUSBAND AND WIFE )
Friends! since Allah Ta'ala Himself has instituted the rights of women, who has the authority to change them? If the husband fails to fulfil their rights, he will be guilty of trampling the rights of fellow humans. Men should ponder over the most exquisite manner of how Allah Ta'ala intercedes on behalf of the women. Allah Ta'ala says: "And treat them (the women) with kindness, if you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike a certain thing and (whereas) Allah Ta'ala brings about through it a great deal of good."
Obviously, many factors can contribute to disliking them. However, the main factor which brings about a dislike towards them is their offensive character. And this is really disturbing and obnoxious to a man. However, it is as though Allah Ta'ala promises you, the men, that He will ensure that their offensive character etc. will be a great deal of goodness for you. Allah Ta'ala is all-wise; He has the capability of doing everything. For instance, Allah Ta'ala may bring forth from this woman some
children who will assist you on the day of judgement.
Examine very closely the verses I have recited on this topic and judge for yourself the clarity with which Allah Ta'ala institutes the women's rights. (At-Tableegh Kisaaun-Nisaa volume 7 page 120 & 126)
Summary of a wife's rights
The following is a list of a wife's rights over her husband:
(1) To confront with exceptional character and to treat her with kindness.
(2) To endure patiently, albeit with moderation, all her excesses and harassment.
(3) To be moderate in one's ghairat. In other words don't become suspicious of her nor remain totally ignorant. (Ghairat is an arabic word which refers to a spfrit of possessiveness or sense of honour particularly when the wife speaks to or is involved with strange men. This attribute, although scorned upon by the western world, is quite acceptable in Islam.)
(4) To be moderate in spending upon her; avoid being niggardly nor permit her to be extravagant.
(5) To learn and teach her the Masaail (propositions) of Haidh (and other masaail exclusively related to women) and to emphasise the institution of Salaah and other tenets of Deen and to prevent her from Bid'aat (innovations) and religious prohibitions.
(6) To maintain equality between the wives.
(7) In keeping with her needs, to have sexual intercourse with her.
(8) To refrain from coitus interruptus without her permission.
(9) To provide her with her house sufficient enough to attend to her needs.
( 1 0) To allow her to meet her close relatives such as her parents, father's brothers, father's sisters, her own brothers and sisters etc.
(11) To abstain from disclosing her intimate and personal habits, such as her sexual preferences etc.
(12) To refrain from beating her excessively. (This in no way implies thai he must beat her. Although he is permitted to beat her, the best is to abstain from lifting the hand upon this weak creation of Allah Ta'ala.)
(13) To desist from divorcing her unnecessarily. Both spouses have numerous rights upon one another. I have written down whatever has come to mind. I have extracted these from lhyaaul-Uloom etc. (Imdaadul-Fataawaa volume 2 page 185 question 278)
Why the wife's maintenance is Wajib
The Fuqahaa (jurists) are explicit over the fact that maintenance is also awarded in lieu of confinement or restraint. In other words, a person who is confined to the services etc. of another person and due to this confinement he is unable to earn a living for himself, the person confining him is compelled to attend to his upkeep and expenses. This can be likened lo the meals provided to the witnesses. The witnesses arc confined to the task of testifying on beha'f of the defendant or plaintiff. Hence, they will be provided wih meals during those limes. The rulers of today have retained this Islamic law until this present day. In short, the maintenance awarded to the wife is in lieu of the restraint placed upon her. (Islaahe-lnqilaab page 191)
When docs maintenance became obligatory?
The only condition for the obligation of maintenance is the surrender of the wife before her husband. In other words, she wholly submits herself to her husband without any shortcoming on her part. However, on valid grounds if she refuses to do so, for example, the husband has not as yet paid the agreed cash mahr, she will still be eligible to claim maintenance because the shortcoming is on the side of the husband, not the wife. Nonetheless, if she defiantly leaves the husband's home, she will
not be eligible to claim until she returns. Some women flee to their parent's home following a row or contention with their husbands. Whilst there, they claim maintenance. Remember, maintenance is not Wajib (obligatory) upon the husband whilst she defiantly remains at her parent's home. (Islaahe-Inqilaab page 1 82)
Minor or senior - the wife's maintenance is obligatory
If the wife is so young (physically immature) that she is unable to endure intercourse but she is big enough to stay with her husband, amuse him and carry out some odd jobs for him, he is compelled to financially maintain her if she submits herself to him.
However, if she has not as yet reached such an age - as prevalent amongst certain nations where the children are married off at a very young age - her maintenance is not compulsory upon her husband whilst she is still a child. A minor girl who is not physically fit for intercourse and she is presently only fit to offer her husband congenial company and a bit of odd jobs, her husband is not compelled to keep her in his own house. He is at liberty; he may keep her whereupon he is compelled to maintain
her or else he may not keep her whereupon he is not compelled to pay her maintenance.
Amongst some nations, a minor boy is married off to a senior woman. The boy is presently not fit for anything but since the woman has submitted herself and the shortcoming is on the part of the boy, maintenance will be compulsory upon the boy. In this case, if the boy owns property or cash, the maintenance will be paid from his own wealth. (Durre-Mukhtaar - Islaahe-Inqilaab page 182)
Maintenance is Waajib regardless of the wife's affluence or poverty
Some people are of the opinion that the wife's maintenance will only be Waajib if she is poor and if she is wealthy, she is not eligible to receive maintenance. This is totally erroneous on their part. Maintenance is compulsory irrespective of her condition of affluence or poverty. The only condition for the compulsion of maintenance is that there is no shortcoming on her part in respect of submitting herself over to her husband. (Islaahe-Inqilaabpage 182)
Separate accommodation also falls within the purview of maintenance
One of the constituents of maintenance is separate accommodation. There is a general misconception amongst many people, even amongst religious people, that it is not compulsory to provide separate accommodation for the wife. She is dumped amongst the husband's relatives or parents. The Shariah decrees that if she is willingly prepared to stay with her in-laws it is fine. However, if she wishes to stay alone, the husband is compelled to provide separate accommodation.
"Willingly" in the above context refers to total pleasure and satisfaction of the heart. If the husband, on some indication or the other, perceives that she wishes to remain separately but she does not express herself verbally, then too he is not permitted to keep her with other members of his family. Nowadays, even if the wife is willing to stay with the husband's relatives and the relatives are dissatisfied with the couple living separately, then too circumstances and prevailing conditions require that it is best for them to live separately. This will put a plug on numerous problems and complications. The relatives might feel offended for a few days, but they will be satisfied with this arrangement after a few days once they witness its benefits.
However, if he is unable to provide a complete house for her, he may, within a big house, provide just one room sufficient for her needs. In this room she should be able to keep her personal possessions under lock and key and feel free to sit, converse and sit with her husband in total privacy. Such a provision is sufficient to fulfil the Waajib obligation.
The stove (kitchen) in particular should most definitely be separate as the fires of dissension rage from this very stove (kitchen). Some people consider it their great fortune to Keep their wives subjected to their mothers. To achieve this end, she is subjected to various forms of cruelty and hardship. Remember well! A woman is not compelled to serve her mother-in-law. If you are noble, serve her yourself or employ a servant to serve her. (Islaahe-Inqilaab volume 2 page 188)
Maintenance according to the affluence and poverty of the husband and where possible, provision of a maid is also waajib
According to your financial capacity, just as you spend upon yourself, permit her to spend upon herself as well. This is the injunction of Shariah.
Some people, in spite of affluent circumstances, tend to be niggardly in the expenses of their wives. They provide so little maintenance that it may only suffice if she prepares the food with her own hands. The scant maintenance provides no scope whatsoever to employ a maid. In fact, if the husband can afford it, he is compelled to provide the expenses of a domestic servant as well.
In destitution, the wife is compelled to do all the housework herself
Some women display erratic behaviour in that they demand a domestic servant in spite of the husband's poverty. The husband is not compelled to provide a servant if he cannot afford it. If the wife is able to prepare the food etc. she should prepare her own meals as well as the meals of her husband. (Dune-Mukhtaar - Islaahe-lnqilaab page 183)
If the wife is incapable of doing household work
II, on the other hand, she is unable to perform household work - either due to some illness or because she hails from a very affluent family - neither is the husband compelled to provide a maid nor is the wife compelled to prepare the meals. In fact the husband wi-ll be ordered to provide cooked meals either from the shops (restaurants etc.) or wherever else, (Ibid)
Extra expenses for fruit, paan etc, is not binding upon the husband
Some women tend to squander their husband's wealth mercilessly. They consider it compulsory upon the husband to provide the money for their useless expenses and luxuries such as paan and betel-nut etc. Some women have a habit of tea or coffee and they not only consume themselves but provide these luxuries, from the husband's wealth, to their friends as well. They consider such provisions to be binding upon the husband whereas the Fuqahaa (jurists) have explicitly mentioned that the piovision of coffee, tobacco, seasonal fruit etc. is not necessary upon the husband. If she has the habit of coffee, tobacco etc. and quitting the habit will, be detrimental to her, then too she should not demand the money for these habits from her husband.
Whatever expenses the husband gladly assumes and takes the responsibility to provide wholeheartedly, it is his favour unto you. Nonetheless, the honour of the husband demands that if he
is financially favoured by Allah Ta'ala, he should not be reluctant to provide certain comforts for his wife. However, it does not befit the wife to harass her husband in return of his favours upon her.
The exigency of polite behaviour
According to the financial status bestowed upon you by Allah Ta'ala, spend upon her just as you spend upon yourself. Shariah decrees that as far as possible, make her comfortable and keep her gratified. Don't impose any difficulty whatsoever upon her. When giving her money (as maintenance, or household expenses etc.) be very lenient and liberal with her. Endeavour to please and console her and exercise tolerance upon her tormenting excesses. Muslims should always endeavour to treat their wives according to the Sunnah of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. (At-Tableegh volume 7 page 140)
Provision of extra clothing for Eid, weddings etc. is not compulsory upon the husband
Another deficiency very common amongst women is that they will have heaps of clothing in their trunks (or cupboards) but (his wouldn't deter them from requesting their husbands to get more clothes made for them. Remember that as long as you have (old) clothing provided by your husband, he is not compelled to get a new set of clothing made for you. Similarly, making new clothing for Eidul Fitr, Eidul Adha and weddings etc. is not the responsibility of the husband. However, if he does provide for you, it is a great favour of him upon you. (Islaahe-Inqilaab volume 2 page 185)
Zakaat, Sadaqatul-fitr, Qurbaani etc- on behalf of the wife is not compulsory upon the husband
The husband is not compelled to pay Zakaat on his wife's jewellery or to pay her Sadqatul-Fitr, make Qurbaani etc. on her behalf. However, in view of such occasions, it is most appropriate for the husband to give his wife, according to his financial capability, a little more than the necessary expenses.
This extra amount will enable the wives to pay their Waajibaat (compulsory dues). However, he is not compelled to do this. If he does not provide extra money, she should sell part of her jewellery to meet these compulsory expenses. Without her husband's consent, she is not permitted to spend any part of his wealth in fulfilment of her monetary dues. Women are very apathetic towards this. In fact they don't even doubt its prohibition in the least bit. (Islaahe-Inqilaab page 1 86)
Prohibition regarding the disbursement of charity from the husband's wealth without his consent
According to the Hadith, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam says, it is not permissible for the wife to give anything without the consent of the husband. According to another Hadith, in her husband's home, a woman should nol give away anything (in charily) without his consent. Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam was then asked: "She is not even permitted to give food to anyone?" He replied: "Food is (he most superior form of wealth." (Jam'ul-Fawaaid)
In another Hadith, whilst encouraging the women to give in charity, Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam employed the words; "from their own jewellery." He did not say "from the jewellery of their husbands." In other words, the encouragement of charity applied to the women's own wealth and not the wealth of the husband. (At-Tableegh volume 7 page 39)
From the above we deduce that even on occasions of religious disbursements, like giving from the husband's wealth to a beggar, donations to a madrasah etc. or to financially serve an aalim, lecture, orphan, widow etc. is not permissible without the husband's consent. In fact such charities are not even accepted in the court of Allah Ta'ala. According to the Hadith, Allah Ta'ala is pure and He only accepts pure (charities etc.) [Islaahe-lnqilaab volume 2 page 185)
Purchasing from the husband's wealth without his consent is prohibited
Similarly, some women have a penchant for unnecessary and . frivolous things. The moment they take a liking to something, they purchase the item and continue to amass a whole heap of unnecessary possessions. However, what is quite surprising is that those items are never put to any use nor are they cared for, ending up in those items being "wasted away and ruined. She will be taken to task on the day of Qiyaamah for squandering her husband's wealth in this manner. Similarly, she is not permitted to make clothing for the occasions of Eidul Fitr, Eidul Adha, weddings etc. from his wealth without his consent. (Islaahe-lnqilaab volume 2 page 185)