Issues concerning freedom may arouse a special sense of curiosity; they always look appealing and interesting to people. Perhaps it is because freedom has been human beings’ ideal throughout history. Everyone is so interested in the freedom that they have tried to achieve it through any available means. However, freedom is a broad concept with many aspects that are related to all areas of our lives. This essay will refer to one of its effective and fruitful aspects, which is freedom in marriage.
The first step in forming a family is choosing a spouse. Now let’s see Islam's point of view toward freedom of choice in marriage:
"A marriage is not correct and valid unless through freedom of choice."
Such a condition for marriage at the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was very strange and caused fright and anger among people since it was in complete contrast with their core beliefs; at that time women were given a very low rank compared with men, and they were considered inferior to them.
To clarify the Islamic model of a free marriage, here are two stories from that time:
A frightened girl came to the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) and while she could hardly breathe, said to him: “…oh, why is my father like this?”
“What has he done?” said the Prophet (PBUH&HP).
“He wants me to marry his nephew without asking my idea about him. I do not love him and how can I marry a person whom I do not love?” said the girl.
“If you do not love him forget about him and marry the one whom you love.” said the Prophet (PBUH&HP) calmly.
The girl was pleased after hearing the Prophet’s (PBUH&HP) words. She said then, “actually, I love him very much and I would not choose anyone else as my future husband instead of him. But since my father did not ask my opinion, I intentionally came here to know your idea. Now that I know what you think, I will tell all the girls that their fathers do not have the right to choose their husbands.”
This woman is one of the thousands who made our history, those poor people who lived in the darkness of ignorance. The story mentioned above is a sample of the situation of women in the era of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) had one child named "Fatimah Zahra" (AS). She was so dear to the Prophet (PBUH), and everyone knew that. There were some great men who wished to marry her. One of them was Imam Ali (AS), the first successor of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and the leader (Imam) of Muslims.
When he went to the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and asked for his beloved daughter’s hand, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) said that some others came to him for this reason too, and he shared their requests with his daughter, but she respectfully rejected their marriage proposals. “Now, I will deliver your proposal to her,” said our dear Prophet (PBUH&HP). Then, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) informed his beloved daughter about Ali’s (AS) proposal, but this time and unlike her reply to previous proposals, she remained silent as a sign of satisfaction. So the Prophet (PBUH&HP) went to Ali happily and congratulated him on the good news.
The last-mentioned story is a very good example of portraying Islam's approach towards marriage and the importance of freedom in it, regarding the lifestyle of our holy leaders.
The women's rights in Islam include their right as wives in the marital relationship as well. In Islam, marriage is not confined to satisfying physical and emotional needs. There are many verses, stories, and narrations speaking about different aspects of marriage, including the mutual rights that the couple has over one another.
In this article, the rights of the wife over her husband have been summarized into the following two categories of financial and non-financial. It is noteworthy that this classification is embedded neither in the Quran nor the narrations and therefore, other classifications from other perspectives are also possible.
It is obligatory for a man to pay marriage portion (Sedaq) to his spouse as one of the most significant women's rights in Islam. The marriage portion is, by definition, a property which a husband gives his spouse upon marriage. This mandatory payment whether in the form of money or possession is upon husband until the time he fulfills it.
In due course, his wife has the right to either ask for or forgo it. In the case of forgoing, the husband is no longer required to fulfill this duty. Interestingly, in contrast with the idea which regards marriage portion as a price for a woman, a marriage without a fixed marriage portion is also correct .
But, how much should the marriage portion be? Islam has not specified the exact amount of the marriage portion. However, the amount of five hundred silver coins (Derham), which is equal to today’s $724.5 [i], fixed by the Prophet (PBUH&HP) for his wives and daughters is an encouraged model for Muslims. On account of this, it has been recommended that the marriage portion doesn’t exceed this fixed amount. Nevertheless, any amount of marriage portion that both parties agree upon is allowed by Islam .
Furthermore, a man is financially obligated to pay for the living expenses of his spouse (Nafaqah) including food, clothes, shelter, living necessities and the things that a wife usually needs in her life . It makes no differences in this duty of the husband, whether his spouse earns money out of work or not, since she is not required to provide for the family .
As for the woman’s property, her husband also doesn’t have the right to take the outcome of her efforts into his possession . Even if the wife asks wages for her works inside the house, the husband is supposed to pay, due to the Islamic laws . God has underscored this supportive role of the men in the Quran as follows: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women… (4:34)”
However, the man is responsible for arranging the comfort of his spouse as long as she does not disobey his legal demands . Moreover, it makes no sense whatsoever to take the duty of providing the sustenance of the family as the sign of superiority of the man over his spouse .
When the husband dies his spouse inherits from him as well. According to the Islamic rules of inheritance, the woman is entitled to one-fourth of her spouse’s property in the case that he leaves no child as heir. But, if her spouse has any children, she is just entitled to one-eighth of her spouse’s property . However, this topic in different cases includes some details which have been elaborated in the judicial sources.
The second type of women's rights in Islam concerns the moral rights of the wife. Our infallible Imams (A.S) reportedly advised their followers to be kind and respectful toward their wives and treat them gently. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “The best of you are the ones who treat their family the best, and I am the best of you towards my family.” 
He, also, on various occasions recommended his companions to help their wives in the household chores and outlined many rewards for them regarding this act . When some people inquired from him about the rights of a wife over her husband, he answered: “He should overlook her minor faults, and if she commits a major mistake then he should forgive her.” 
Imam Sajjad (A.S) has beautifully described women's rights in Islam and men’s moral duties toward their wives by demonstrating the blessings which God grants them through marriage: “The right of your wife is that you know that God has made her a repose and comfort for you; you should know that she is God’s favor towards you, so you should honor her and treat her gently.”
[i] This amount has been calculated based on the price of silver on 11th of November 2016. It may need further modification in future.
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- wifes right
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- Shabir Khan, Muhammad, Status of Women in Islam, APH Publishing, 1996, p. 50.
- Ali Ibn Hussein Zaynul Abidin, A commentary on Imam Sajjad’s “The Treaties of Rights”, translated by Ali Peiravi, Ansariyan Publication.
- Javadi Amoli, Abdollah, Mafatih al-Hayat, Asra, 2012, p. 257.
- Rizvi, Athar Hussein, Islamic Marriage, World Islamic Network.
- Ali Ibn Hussein Zaynul Abidin, As-Sahifa Al-Kamilah Al-Sajjadiyya, Muhammadi Trust of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Marriage is the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a sacred union in Islam . Islamic culture tries very hard to safeguard the family and its stability. In the first place, it tells us that we should be very careful when we want to choose our mate. It also gives us a clue as to what characteristics and traits we should be looking for in a spouse .
Secondly, Islamic culture teaches us that an atmosphere of love, cooperation, and forgiveness should reign over every Muslim family, so much so as the Prophet of Islam said, “The best of you are the best-tempered ones with their family.”  Tolerance and compromise is the one vital element of any lasting relationship.
But, no matter what, it doesn’t always keep that way; there are cases in which both sides lose their sense of compromise. One may argue that divorce is not considered lawful according to many Christian views. Nevertheless, its practice by many Christians today shows its irresistibility!
In such cases, the only way to avoid a split is to refer to authority. There should be one person in every group who holds the authority over the group when a dangerous confusion and conflict shows up. But that one person had better keep silent, compromise, and go along with others’ decisions in other than those rare occasions!
In the first step, the husband is that authority in the family, maybe because he is the one who has to provide for the family.
"… The wives have rights similar to the obligations upon them, in accordance with honorable norms; and men have a degree above them, and Allah is all-mighty and all-wise." (Quran, 2:228)
Of course, there is not a tiny difference between man and woman in Islam in the eyes of God; no matter what the gender, the more pious has a higher degree before Him. But as they form a group, an authority is irresistible. Just as we say that there is no difference whatsoever between the president of a country and a simple worker in the eyes of God. Still, the worker should submit to that authority to prevent confusion!
The very verse suggests that it’s not like, men have more rights in the family while women got more duties and responsibilities. No, a wife has as many rights as she has obligations. It also suggests that the husband must treat his wife honorably and respectfully.
If things get worse and this approach doesn't work anymore, we should move on to the next step; that is, a higher authority!
"If you fear a split between the two of them, then appoint an arbiter from his relatives and an arbiter from her relatives. If they desire reconcilement, Allah shall reconcile them. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all-aware." (Quran, 4:35)
This is actually a very tender council since the two elders are closely related to the spouses and try their best to come up with the best possible solutions for them. The couple, too, are willing to conform to their decision. Going to a marriage guidance counselor is an updated version of or an alternative to this council!
The council might conclude that a divorce is the only possible way for the couple to solve their problem. Sometimes, it’s simply impossible for the couple to go on!
Yes, Islam allows divorce and remarriage, but, as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said:
“There is nothing loved by God more than a construction built in Islam by marriage, and there is nothing loathed by God more than a house which is destructed in Islam by separation.” 
It is also narrated that:
“A divorce shakes the throne [of God],”  and “God has not allowed for anything loathed by Him more than divorce!” 
If we think badly of divorce in Islam, it will become our last gasp. But if we do not have a negative outlook on it, separation would be the first thing that comes to the mind at the time of difficulty; “Why should I take all this when I can easily get rid of it?!”
But a mature and broad view suggests that the fruits of that relationship are worth bearing those unpleasant events. Separation is, therefore, inevitably lawful and at the same time very much abhorred in Islamic teachings:
"Consort with them [your wives] in an honorable manner; and should you dislike them, maybe you dislike something while Allah invests it with an abundant good." (Quran, 4:19)
Now, when it comes to separation and divorce in Islam, each side might think that “I got nothing to do with her or him anymore, and so, I can get my revenge on them!”
Of course, many Muslim scholars hold that every woman can state in her marriage contract that she, too, has the right to get a divorce, either generally or under certain circumstances. But, since Islam has basically put the husband in charge of divorce, the Quran commands men over and over that they should honor women, especially when it comes to divorce; if the union is not possible, you must at least have an honorable separation!
These commandments are even in some cases followed by divine threats for those who ignore them:
"When you divorce women and they complete their term [of waiting], then either retain them honorably or release them honorably,…" (Quran, 2:231)
"For the divorced women, there shall be a provision, in accordance with honorable norms—an obligation on the Godwary." (Quran, 2:241)
"If you desire to take a wife in place of another, and you have given one of them a quintal [of gold], do not take anything away from it. Would you take it by way of calumny and flagrant sin?!" (Quran, 4:20)
"… and should they be pregnant, maintain them until they deliver. Then, if they suckle [the baby] for you, give them their wages and consult together honorably." (Quran, 65:6)
And finally, God comforts both sides by saying that, if a divorce is the only way for them and going on with their marriage is much more harmful to both sides than profitable, they shouldn’t worry about its financial consequences:
"But if they separate, Allah will suffice each of them out of His bounty, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-wise." (Quran, 4:130)
The Chapter of “Divorce” in the Quran is also full of merciful verses, which are meant to soothe both parties which are hurt by the inevitable separation.
- Wasa’il al-Shi’a, vol. 20, p. 15, Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din, vol. 2, p. 22
- Wasa’il al-Shi’a, vol. 20, p. 49, 50, Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din, vol. 2, p. 37,38
- Wasa’il al-Shi’a, vol. 20, p. 171, Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din, vol. 2. p, 47
- Wasa’il al-Shi’a, vol. 20, p. 16
- Makarim al-Akhlaq, p. 197
- Al-Kafi, vol. 11, p. 464, Sunan Abi Dawud, vol. 2, p. 254