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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Rights as a Muslim Wife

We all know that a Muslim wife has been granted the following rights by Islam:
1) The Mahr / dowry before marriage which Islam has not stated the minimum or maximum sum. Instead, it is recommended that the man gives according to his financial means and we are advised not to put too much strain on the man with regards to the dowry.
2) The Nafqah / maintenance; usually taken as food and clothing but in this modern society can be expanded to include other costs incurred during routine daily life such as transportation and what nots.
3) A shelter, a roof over her head, again according to the man's means. 
4) The right to be treat justly and fairly should the man has more than one wife. 
5) The right to be treated kindly (Husnul Mu'asyarah)

Now, the issue here is the kind treatment of the wife, what exactly constitute "kind treatment"? Here are my thoughts based on my experience as a wife. 

1) My right to be treated with respect. My husband should not belittle my actions or character and especially my opinion. Respect does not mean full acceptance as no one is perfect and we might make mistakes here and there, but please do not belittle us and condemn our actions instead kind words and advice will be much more appreciated.

2) My right to be treated with love, care and affection. A loving gaze, a smile first thing in the morning, a warm hug, deserving praises all goes a long way in building a loving home. 

3) My right to be forgiven when I make unintentional mistakes and acceptance of my weaknesses as I try to improve myself. Do remember that you have your weaknesses as I have mine and you have your strengths as I have mine and through our union we try to complement each other and help each other to be a better person and Muslim.

4) My right to be heard in matters concerning the family or ourselves.

Islam advocates discussions when decisions are needed on issues relating to family matters. For example in the case of breastfeeding and weaning of children, Allah has mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah verse 233:

" If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no sin on them."

Therefore, Islam promotes a consultative approach in  marriage as this foster communication between husband and wife and greater understanding of our partners views and concerns. I personally can not stand iron clad dictatorship. That is not the style of our Prophet peace be upon him and definitely not the style I want my husband to adopt.

5) My right to be assisted in running the house and children. As I am your partner and not your servant and this is not the feminist in me talking. For even our dear prophet Muhammad peace be upon him helped around in his house and even mend his own clothes.   It is mentioned in Shahih Bukhari that a man named Aswad asked what did Rasulullah do in his house and Aishah replied that he was always helping around in the house, but will leave the house when it is time to perform the prayer.

6) My right to sexual relations with my husband. Let's be frank, we women have desires as you men have, and it goes both ways, the same way as us women must satisfy your needs, so do you men have to satisfy our needs. You can't use this to emotionally abuse your wife. Islam states that the a husband must satisfy the wife at least once in four month unless she waives her right. 

7) My right not to be abused. This is very important, based on kind treatment, verbal abuse is definitely out of the question in Islam. Whereas physical abuse veiled as disciplining is also out as we can't be hit in the face, nor can our husbands hit us in a way that will leave a mark on our body or cause us injury.

Allah subhanahu wa taala has stated in Surah An-Nisaa' verse 34:

"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). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great."

Therefore, if I am wrong, you can't straight away hit me, or shout at me, you have to advise me, if I continue with my wrongdoing still, you can't hit me, you distance yourself physically so that I will crave your attention and love and reflect on my actions. But if I still persevere, then and only then can you hit me though lightly and refrained with no intention to injure or cause hurt to me. 

Hence, if I ever make unintentional errors  due to ill-judgement, you should advise me and I will change, if I am caught in a more serious blunder then you should distance yourself from me to shock me to reflect on my actions but if I ever let myself be embroiled in actions that is against our religion and or immoral and will cause harm to myself,  our family and to the society, then and only then can you lift your finger against me and within the parameters set by Islam. 

These are my rights as a Muslim wife and in return for these I pledge to fulfill my responsibilities towards you...

(Next post; My Responsibilities as a Muslim Wife coming soon..)

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