He Spends good time with his wife and family and avoids constant absence except for a need
Islam has set the legislation concerning the rights of women. One of such rights is to avoid being absent from the family for longer periods of time without a genuine reason. And if there arises a need to be away from the wife, and the husband is compelled to travel in order to complete some tasks, he must ensure that he does not go away from the home except for the period of time which is genuinely required and returns back to his family immediately upon the completion of the work. This was the Prophet’s way and that is what the Prophet (SAW) ordered in the Hadeeth recorded in Bukhari and Muslim:
“Travel is a part of punishment. One of you would be deprived of his food, drink, and sleep. If one of you completes their needs, let them hasten to their family.” [Reported by Al-Bukhaari (1710) and Muslim (1927)]
The aforementioned hadith clearly indicates the undesirability of being absent from one’s family without any purpose. The wisdom behind this instruction is that in the absence of guardian (father), the family (wife and children) are bound to face the hardship. The affection of the husband to wife and father to children is extremely important. It fulfills the psychological need which, if not fulfilled, may lead to many disorders in the life of wife and children.
Today when we look around, we find that many Muslim husbands do not fulfill this duty. Being absence from the family is no more regarded an unworthy act. People are found roaming in the streets, visiting malls purposelessly. Parties are arranged for get together where along with money plenty of time is wasted. And all this is happening in Muslim society. Families are suffering a lot due to this trend. Wives are complaining about their husbands for being away from home and from their primary responsibilities to lead the family and raise up the responsible children.
The significance of the matter must be understood. Muslim husband must show the accountability and wisdom and follow the path of the Prophet (SAW). This does not mean that men are restricted from leaving home. There are certain instances when an absence from the family is allowed. Calling to Islam is one of them. Those who are doing Da`wah and going out for long periods can leave their family and children for this noble cause. It is deeply worrying that many are frequently being absent from their families for worldly purposes. They travel for long period without being in need to do so. This causes a real problem and many times leads to the break in the relationship of husband with his wife, and father with his children.
Long absences actually create a gap in the relationship between husband and wife. It is very natural that wife will try ways to fill that gap. And often this search ends with regret. Many wives get involved in corruption or indocility due to the long absence of their husbands. It is very common that women who fall into adultery usually put the blame on their husbands for being absent from them for long periods of time. We have real cases in our society where husband traveled 3-4 years prior and did not yet return. This is nothing but mere negligence of Islam and non-adherence to its guidance. This situation arises on the society when the sole purpose of marriage is misunderstood, and Prophet’s married life which is a guiding principle is abandoned.
“And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought” [Quran 30:21]
There is no doubt that for some absentees there might be compelling reason to leave the home in search of sustenance and the circumstances do not allow to return home early. It is, however, not the case for others who are well off, but the greed of owning more and more are encouraging them to stay away from the home. They are so attached with the worldly possession that they do not bother about the feelings of their wives and do not mind earning money at the cost of relationship.
One of the issues facing many homes in Muslim society and which is a matter of great concern is that some people travel without leaving enough sustenance to support their family during their absence. It is the duty of the head of the household to ensure that all the arrangements are made before they travel. It is also advisable to ask someone who is trust-worthy to be watchful over their family and support them if there is a need and in emergency.
The absence of father is affecting the society. it is becoming increasingly difficult for wives to handle the issues without the support of husbands. The children are at the receiving end of their parent’s negligence. The absence of father is one of the biggest problems in many developed countries. The report indicates that “In the United States of America, only 51 percent of children live with their biological fathers. 30 percent of children are born of adulterous relationships. In the 1960’s, only 17 percent of children lived away from their fathers, but it developed into 38 percent after only thirty years.” [Save your family before they burn by Mohammed Saleh Almunajjid]
In family where head of the household is busied away, and does not have time to sit with them, teach them and guide them on matters require urgent attention, the child succumbs to psychological and mental disorder. And it subsequently leads to misconduct and violent behavior. Many children are driven to barbaric acts to the point that they kill their parents. Our Muslim society is no exception. Muslim husbands seem to have gone astray. They have failed to raise the righteous Muslim youth. Their children are addicted to wealth, fame and girls. Crime rate is high in Muslim society. The effects of the absenteeism of parents and the sacrifices of negligence are devastating. It is high time that Muslim husbands must rise up to the challenge and rectify their actions and behaviors and devote a share of their time and interest to their wives and children. This is significantly important especially since neglecting these rights are causing the deviance and destruction of wives in many families.
It is therefore important for the husband to keep balance in his life. He should not be involved in his study, work or friendships to the extent that he does not find time to spend with his wife. This right of women is guaranteed in Islam. And a husband is even not allowed to exaggerate in worship which is more honorable deed. This is evident in the report of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (RA), who says that when the Prophet (SAW) learned of his overzealousness in worship, he said to him:
“Have I not heard that you fast all day and stay up all night in prayer?” ‘Abdullah said. “That is true. 0 Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (SAW) told him: “Do not do that. Fast and break your fast. sleep and get up. For your body has a right over you. your eyes have a right over you. your wife has a right over you. and your visitors have a right over you.” [Reported by Al-Bukhaari (1153) and Muslim (1159)]
He is kind and allowing “answering back”
A true believing husband is kind and does not overreact or get angry for trivial reasons. This is the case with ignorant husbands. They create uproar if something happens against their wishes, e.g. food offered is not to their liking, or the meal is a little late and so on. For such husbands, there are numerous unwarranted reasons which often cause a great amount of anger, arguments and trouble between the spouses. A sincere Muslim husband who is truly following the example of the Prophet (SAW) always keeps the aspects of his character in front of him and gets constantly reminded to be generous, kind and tolerant.
Prophet’s guiding principle on the treatment of wives is elaborated in many places in the books of Hadith. Following is one of the well-known narrations from Bukhari and Muslim:
“From among the believers are those who have the kindest disposition and are kindest to their families – such are those who show the most perfect faith. The best among them are those who are kindest to their wives.”
Prophet (SAW) was not tyrannical type of husband. He was helpful and supporting his family in home affairs. In a Hadith in Bukhari, Aisha was asked by AI-Aswad b. Yazid what the Prophet used to do in his house, to which she replied:
“He used to work for his family, that is, serve the family, and when prayer time came, he went out for prayer. ” Other Hadith tell us that he used to mend his own clothes.” [Bukhari 5363]
One of the characteristics of the Prophet (SAW) is that “he never criticized food If he liked it, he ate it, and if he did not like it, he simply left it “[Bukhari 3370 and Muslim 2064]
On one occasion, the Prophet (SAW) asked his family for some simple food he could eat with bread. They told him, “We have nothing apart from vinegar.” He asked them to bring it and said, “How good a simple food is vinegar, how good a simple food is vinegar ” [Muslim]
This hadith is a reminder to those foolish husbands who do not tolerate small mistakes of their wives and become angry on minor things, when food is served late or not to their liking without caring to know there might be some genuine and pressing reasons for these happenings. Such irresistible acts are the result of misunderstanding of husband’s roles and responsibilities and his rights over wives.
A Muslim husband is not angry man whose wife gets scared and threatened of his misbehavior and bad treatment. Rather, he allows his wife to do what is called “answering back”. Numerous instances are recorded where Prophet’s companions were arguing with him or with his wives about this practice. Nonetheless, he chose to let his wives speak their minds.
A woman like man is created with weaknesses and it is natural that she may become angry for any reason, and she may try to catch the attention of her husband and make him feel her anger. In a situation like this, it is required from the Muslim husband to respond with broadmindedness and compassion, understanding the psychology and nature of woman, following the example of the Prophet (SAW). He used to treat his wives with passion and kindness whenever they were angry with him and kept away from him all day until night fell.
Umar Ibn Al Khattab said; “We Quraish used to have control over our women. When we came to Madinah, we found a people whose women had control over them, and our women began to learn from their women. I used to live in al-‘Awall, among Banu Umayyah ibn Zayd. One day my wife was angry with me and was arguing with me. I did not like this, but she told me, ‘Do you not like me arguing with you? By Allah (SWT), the wives of the Prophet (SAW) argue with him. They get angry and keep away from him all day, until night falls!’ So I went to see Hafsah and asked her, ‘Do you argue with the Prophet (SAW)?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I asked her, ‘Do you get angry and keep away from him all day until night falls?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘The one who does that is doomed to loss! Do you not fear the anger of Allah (SWT) on the account of the anger of His Prophet? Soon you will be condemned! Do not argue with the Messenger of Allah, and do not ask him for anything. Ask me for whatever you need. ‘Umar came to the Prophet (SAW) and told him about what had happened in his house, and the conversation he had with Hafsah, and the Prophet (SAW) smiled.” [Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi and al-Nisa’i]
In this story we find that most respected and honored women in Islam raise their voices and allowed to speak and still they are respectful to their husbands. This is because they never do it due to fair which women of our time generally do but out of genuine admiration and love. There is a great lesson to learn for husbands who do not allow their wives to speak their minds as opposed to what our Prophet (SAW) used to do. A wife is also gifted with reason and ability to differentiate between right and wrong, hence it is not appropriate for a husband to undermine her intellect and deprive her of this right Islam has given to her.
It is therefore important for a Muslim husband to understand that allowing wife for cross question or ask for justification of the point is in no way an insult to the manhood or leadership of the husband. The Aisha (RA) used to question the Prophet (SAW) to understand the justification in order to get satisfied. Our Prophet never refused to listen to her viewpoint and rather appreciated her critical faculty and clear thinking.
A true Muslim husband who is loving the Prophet (SAW) and seeks to follow his guidance never behave like tyrants in the home as we find many ignorant husbands doing. Such men are lacking leadership quality and inner certainty so in order to proclaim their superiority over their wives they resort to behave in a violent manner. These men are in fact the weak ones who verily suffer from inferiority complex and thus want to assert themselves superior to their wives mentally and morally. Some go further and threaten their wives who are then frightened and scared with little courage to open their mouths in their husband’s presence, let alone to disagree with him on any matter.
If we claim to be a sincere Muslim, it is essential for us to develop this tolerant attitude in our behavior and deeds following the example of the Prophet (SAW). This is the need of the hour, and high time that Muslim husband should demonstrate and be a living proof that Islam is a comprehensive religion and time and again proves its superiority over other religions. And unhappiness, breakup, confusion and anxiety the individuals, families and societies are suffering from today are caused due to abandonment of the noble values promulgated by Islam. There is no end to the sufferings of a man in his family life unless he adopts these precious principles which are the key to bring peace, stability, happiness and security to the home.
He understands his wife and respects her feelings
A sincere Muslim husband understands his wife and respects her feelings. He values her feelings and does not criticize her family in front of her. The wife in return do the same and respects her husband and avoid doing anything which may affect members of his family.
He keeps her secret and does not disclose it. The trust they both enjoy helps them strengthen the relationship. If he comes across any story related to his wife, he does not spread it, or allow it to spoil the relationship between spouses out of the respect of her feelings. The sincere Muslim husband does not succumb to all of that due to the blessings of Islamic guidance he constantly follows.
A believing husband does not regard his wife inferior to him by nature. He accepts her as life partner and gives her due recognition she deserves. He never confines her in the four walls of the house. He is grateful for having his wife and always try to find ways to please her. He does not feel shy to play games with her as one of the legitimate entertainments. Such example is available in the life of Prophet (SAW). It is recorded in authentic Hadith that Aisha (RA) on more than one occasion ran races with Prophet (SAW). In which once she won and once he won. Most men of nowadays consider such amusement and entertainment insulting and far beneath their dignity and hesitate to play any kind of game with their wives.
According to a Hadith in Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah and Baihaqi:
“ … There is no amusement which is praiseworthy except three, namely training a horse, sporting with one’s wife and shooting arrows with a bow…”
Showing mercy, kind-heartedness and consideration for others’ feelings are qualities a Muslim husband must demonstrate in his interaction with his wife. This is what he learns from the example of Prophet (SAW). He is supposed to learn from the Prophet (SAW) how to deal with wife/wives considering the psychology of women and differences in age, liking and preferences.
A Muslim no matter how piousness he is, cannot compete with Prophet (SAW) in any matter. However, the high standards of moral conduct illustrated in the personality of Prophet (SAW) serve as guiding principles for him in marital interactions. He must not hesitate to do for his wife what he sees the Prophet (SAW) doing.
“Once the Prophet (SAW)) delayed an entire army, in order to look for a bracelet of Asma’s which had been lost by ‘A’ishah (RA). [Muslim 367]
it is also necessary for the husband to pay due attention to her wife and listen to her patiently. This is actually the best example of showing consideration and admiration for each other. This is one of the important attributes which most men do not care to acquire. And, as a result, are unable to show the respect and honor to their wives. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was good listener and never interrupted in between. Once ‘A’ishah was telling the tale of the eleven women and he was listening attentively, and at the end he gave her feedback which won her heart. The Muslim husband must learn from the Prophet’s domestic life how to interact beautifully with his wife, to be sensitive to the feelings of another person.
There are several good examples illustrated by the Prophet (SAW) as how to interact with and show the courtesy to wives. In one of such instances, He was seen getting down on his knees, and letting his wife Safiyah (RA) climb up on his back in order to mount the camel. In our culture people feel proud to show the politeness and chivalry with women by opening the car door for wife to step in. But there can be no greater show to respect and courtliness as in this action of our beloved Prophet.
The true Muslim always cares the feelings of his wife. He never let her feel inferior or disappointed. If wife is crying over something, he wipes the tears out of the courtesy and respect. He is the true follower of Prophet (SAW)) who has taught the human being the fundamentals of respect and good conducts. He is ready to support his wife whenever she needs his help. He always strives to make her feel that she is living with a strong and caring husband who does not mind to meet all her legitimate needs as long it is in his capacity.
Such qualities if adopted by a Muslim husband will surely lead to marital bliss within household. Understanding each other’s nature and respecting their feelings is the key to establishing a safe and secured marital relationship.
In the next article we will focus on qualities of Muslim husband such as: he is intolerant to un-Islamic behavior and actions, strikes balance between wife and mother and does not please one at the cost of another, forgive his wife’s mistakes and does not abandon her except for grave mistakes, supports her and guide her to grow and develop her personality as an Ideal Muslimah.
Note: This is part two of the series on ‘qualities of an ideal husband in Islam’. Read part two here)