A true Muslim is pious and thus looks for pious wife. He is not attracted by the empty-headed attitude as being exhibited by modern girls nowadays. Rather, he is attracted by his qualities and sound Islamic personality. He gives the preference to a partner who has the right Islamic characteristics which guarantee a stable and long-lasting married life. Such a true believer does not find any merit in looking for superficial physical beauty, grace and elegance which are highly considered for empty-headed youngsters. A true Muslim does not ignore physical looks; however, he lays the emphasize on strong religious conviction, practice, and sound character, following the advice of the Prophet (SAW).
“A woman may be married for four things: for her wealth, for her noble descent, for her beauty or for her religion. Choose the one who is religious, lest your hands be rubbed with dust!” [Bukhari and Muslim- Riyad as-Salihin 364]
A pious Muslim never ignores the guidance given by the Prophet (SAW) concerning the personality of the woman. He is pious and looks for a wife distinguished by her strong personality and sound characteristics. Such a woman is bound to bring happiness, tranquility and peace of mind to a man. This creates a conductive and secure home where the courageous and intelligent children are raised on the principle of Islam and become the real champions and flag bearers of Islam.
It is heartening to see many Muslim men involved in modem western practice of having girlfriends and trial marriages which is categorically unlawful in Islam. It is the duty of the family to play a role in finding suitable partners for both their sons and daughters. This process allows the guardians to find out in detail about the character and circumstances of the proposed partners. This practice has an advantage to cut a lot of the embarrassment and temptation which the western society is suffering from due to its typical system of courtship and intimate relations before marriage.
In other words, the key to success in marriage is the chastity and the moral quality of the partner. The ideal Muslim bridegroom therefore approaches to the marriage with accountable attitude of a person which contributes to establishing a family on the best possible foundation of love and mutual compassion, and not of obsession over beauty, desire for wealth or social status.
He is Patient, truthful and honest with wife
It is becoming increasingly a social phenomenon that the chastity, piousness and truthfulness are being looked in women only, while men are free to transgress all the limits in meeting their wild desires and surprisingly these are not punishable acts in modern secular society. They can have extra-marital affairs and are easily tolerated by the society while the same is regarded a severely punishable act for women. The quality of patience and truthfulness is sought in women, while men are free to frequent to prostitutes, chase school girls, look for trail marriages. These people are surely disgracing themselves and forfeiting all rights to require chastity of their wives.
The irony is that men feel proud to do such heinous punishable acts. It must be born in mind that the husband is also required to be faithful in marriage as much as the wife is. The punishment for adultery after marriage is death under the Shari’ah for both male and female. If the culprit did not get the due punishment in this world, it does not mean the sin is less grievous in the sight of Allah. A sin which is not expiated in this world will never leave the person till the grave.
It is therefore advisable to the husband not to fail to follow Allah’s command in Qur’an:
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and to be mindful of their chastity: verily this will be most conducive to their purity – (and) verily Allah is aware of all that they do.” [Qur’an 24:30]
A sincere husband must also possess the qualities of patience, kindness, and mercy. These qualities must be exhibited in a husband’s personality in his relationship with his wives. This is what can be seen in the following examples from the life of Prophet (SAW). It is narrated by Anas (RA):
“Every night, the Prophet’s wives used to collect in the house of the wife whose turn it was. Zaynab (RA) entered ‘A’ishah’s house and the Prophet (SAW) extended his hand, so ‘A’ishah (RA) said: She is Zaynab. So, the Prophet (SAW) closed his fist, and both (wives) began arguing until their voices became very loud. Abu Bakr, who was passing by, heard them and said: I feel like throwing dirt in their mouths. The time for prayer approached, so the Prophet (SAW) got up and left without saying anything to her, but Abu Bakr came back and scolded ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her).” [Muslim-1462]
Another common problem facing Muslim homes in our time is that a husband is showing kindness and patience while dealing with people outside home e.g. in business, in office, in friend circle, but at home he is unkind, authoritative and misbehaving. It seems to be printed in the minds of many men that being rude with wife and kids is the ideal way to uphold the control over them. What they fail to realize that best ideal husband was Prophet (SAW) who has always been patient and kind with his wives even though they were arguing with each other in front of him.
A magnificent example of Prophet’s patience is found in the narration by Nu‘man ibn Basheer (RA) : “Abu Bakr (RA) came and sought permission to enter the Prophet’s house. He heard ‘A’ishah (RA) raising her voice over that of the Prophet’s. After being permitted, he entered, got hold of her, and said: O daughter of Umm Rooman, why are you raising your voice over that of the Messenger of Allah? The Prophet (SAW) intervened and prevented him from hitting his daughter. When Abu Bakr (RA) left, the Prophet (SAW) consoled her and said: Did you see how I saved you from him? After a while, Abu Bakr (RA) returned, sought permission to enter, and this time he saw the Prophet (RA) joking and laughing with ‘A’ishah (RA). Abu Bakr (RA) said: O Messenger of Allah, allow me to be part of your peace, just as you have allowed me to be part of your conflict.” [Related by Ahmed, graded as (hasan) good]
Some people mistakenly think that life after marriage is like a heaven and expect that their lives will now be free of any problems and conflicts. However, the opposite is true. Allah tests humankind with different types of trials:
“He Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deed; and He is the Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” [Quran 67-2]
He is good-natured with his wife
Being a good-natured is one of the qualities of an ideal husband. He is not authoritative, self-centered and dominating. His ideal is Prophet (SAW) who unlike many husbands was not a man who was dominating and self-seeking at home. He was not forcing his opinion on others. He set the best example of being good and friendly with his wives.
A Muslim is cheerful, generous-hearted and keen to make his wife feel happy and allows her to enjoy some innocent kinds of entertainment that please her. The following hadith shows the cheerful nature of Prophet (SAW):
“’A’ishah also reported that once, when she went on a journey with the Prophet (SAW), she challenged him to a race, and won. Later, when she had gained weight, she raced him again, but this time he won, and told her, “this is for that.” [Sunan Abi Dawud 2578]
Islamic rulings and guidance do not contradict with human nature. It is a religion of nature. In Islam, it is allowed to have certain forms of entertainment. Our prophet was most perfect and ideal husband. The below narration demonstrates how courteous and generous he was in his family life.
“The Prophet (SAW) was sitting, and he heard some noise from people and children outside. There was a group of people gathered around some Abyssinians who were dancing. He said, ‘0 ‘A’ishah, come and see!’ I put my cheek on his shoulder and looked through the gap. Then he said, ‘0 ‘A’ishah, have you had enough, have you had enough?’ I said, ‘No,’ just to see how much I meant to him, and I saw him shifting his weight from one foot to the other” (i.e. he was tired, but he was willing to stay as long as she wanted to watch the spectacle.) [reported by Al-Nisai]
A true Muslim husband seeks to follow the footsteps of his ideal, the Prophet (SAW). When he reads the life story of the Prophet (SAW) he finds numerous examples of the Prophet’s excellent conduct, big-heartedness and good humor towards his wives, and then gets motivated to demonstrate the kind treat to his wife, be gentle and tolerant, and avoid exercising unnecessary control over her and shows the attitude of easy-going so long as it does not go against the limits set by Islam.
He treats his wife with correct Islamic etiquette and strives to emulate the prophet’s practice
A Muslim is blessed with the marvelous religion of Islam that is characterized by its ease, lenience and comprehensiveness, it caters to the needs of a human being, and provides the guidance in all the matters in life. There are numerous Islamic etiquettes enacted for the man in treating the family, and it is made obligatory for a believing man to observe them.
In one of the Islamic etiquettes pertaining to the family, it is advised by the Prophet (SAW) that a man should not arrive from travel to his home without informing his wife. Jaabir, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet (SAW) prohibited a man from coming and arriving from travel to his wife at night. [Reported by Al-Bukhaari (1707)]
A husband being the guardian and leader of the family is encouraged to develop his personality and acquire desired qualities and etiquettes. A sincere husband therefore must possess and maintain the religious etiquettes, which is a contributing factor to save a person from the Fire.
Almighty has created woman weak. The head of the household who is gifted with sound intellect should take this weakness in his family into account. So, it becomes a primary responsibility of husband to show the compassion and care for wife and avoid burdening her with things beyond her capacity. The Prophet (SAW) took his family into account during the greatest of times, as in, while performing pilgrimage to Allaah’s Holy Sanctuary. His family was weak at night in Muzdalifah, so he sent them at night, so that they do not have to mix and be in a crowd with others [Reported by Al-Bukhaari (1594) and Muslim (1293)]
We find numerous prophetic stories that show the compassion and affection of the prophets towards their families in the Noble Book Quran. The story of Prophet Moses is one of such stories which is worth reading:
“When he saw a fire and said to his family, “Stay here; indeed, I have perceived a fire; perhaps I can bring you a torch or find at the fire some guidance.” [Qur’an 20:10]
An ideal Muslim husband understands the wisdom of Islamic rulings and guidance pertaining to family matters and, therefore, does not impose restrictions on his wife greater than those imposed by Allah, or by the Prophet on his own family. He finds good example of patience and tolerance displayed by Prophet (SAW) in dealing with wife. It is reflected magnificently in the story when ‘Umar’s wife retorted to her husband over some issues, he took it as a great offence; and it was revealed to him later that even the Prophet’s wives were used to answering him back, having argument and discussion with him, and he would calmly listen to them patiently without denying them their rights to speak up.
There is a great lesson to learn for husbands who do not allow their wives to speak their mind and argue with them on any matter and reserve the right of argument only for men in the family. Such dominating and commanding husband must realize that oppressing women is not an indicative of dominance of men over women. It is rather an act of shamelessness. Our Prophet (SAW) was the strongest and yet was so kind and patient with his wives that they would talk back to him and abandon him until night, but he never shouted at them, nor became violent, rather he would remain patient and forgiving with them.
All the foregoing indicates that the woman who is blessed with marrying to an ideal Muslim husband will be protected but not suppressed and is most likely to be very happy and satisfied. It is however, not rational or expected from a Muslim husband to please his wife at all cost like some husbands do nowadays. If it happens, it will have a bearing on the family, its interest. The Qur’an says:
“0 you who have attained to faith! ward off from yourselves and your families that fire. (of the hereafter) whose fuel is human beings and stones.” [Qur’an 66:6]
A true Muslim husband emulates the Prophet’s practice in every matter. If offended by his wife’s behavior and resorted to take action against her, he never forgets to follow the Prophet’s teaching in circumstances like this, and therefore dislikes beating his wife. For he knows that the Prophet himself very much disliked the beating of wives. In collection of Abu Da’ud, he is reported to have said:
”Admonish your wife, and if there be any good in her she will receive it; and beat not your wife like a slave.”
In another Hadith from Ayas b. Abdullah, he specifically said:
“Do not beat Allah’s female servants (i.e. women)” [Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah]
In Trimidhi’s collection is another Hadith related by Amru b. al-Ahwas:
”And enjoin on one another goodness towards women; verily they are married to you: you have no power over them at all unless they come in for a flagrantly filthy action; but if they are devoted to you, then seek no way against them. And verily, you have rights over your women and your women have rights over you”
It is therefore to be born in the mind of Muslim husband that he is not authorized to beat his wife. It is deeply worrying to find many husbands beating their wives discriminately or habitually for petty offences without realizing what consequences it might lead to. Some stupid husbands cross all the limits when it comes to punishing their wives. So, we find them beating up their wives so violently that the poor wives come out injured looking as if they had done ten rounds in a boxing-ring. What is more alarming is that such Muslims unjustly claim that they have religious endorsement to beat their wives, while the fact is that in most cases they are beating them when they are drunk, or brutal by nature, or just in a bad temper.
A sincere husband always control his bad temper and never allows himself to be unjust with the weaker sex. This is what referred in one of the Prophet’s sayings:
“He is not strong who throws people down, but he is strong among us who controls himself when angry.” [Abu Huraira in Bukhari and Muslim].
An Ideal Muslim husband therefore strives to emulate the Prophet’s practice by observing his guidance and avoid beating in whatever situation he is. He is a person of self-control and never likes to be called a wife-beater in disobedience of the Prophet’s explicit dislike of the practice.
In the word of Aisha, “The Prophet (SAW), never beat any of his wives or servants; in fact he did not strike anything with his hand except in the cause of Allah, or when the prohibitions of Allah were violated, and he retaliated on behalf of Allah.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
Hence the smart Muslim husband is the one who is successful in demonstrating all the good qualities desired to be in a husband. He is beloved to a pious, faithful and righteous wife. He is most loving and caring and committed to the guidance of Islam. He understands the nature and psychology of his wife, and therefore he is gentle, kind, generous and forgiving.
In the next article we will focus on qualities of Muslim husband such as: he spends good time with his wife and family and avoid constant absence except for a need, he is kind and allowing “answering back”, he understands his wife and respects her feelings.
(Note: This is part two of the series on ‘qualities of an ideal husband in Islam’. Read part one here)