When you hear this question the first thing that comes to your mind is probably the following: “Do husbands have rights too?” and "What are husband's rights in Islam?" In today’s modern societies whenever the issue of rights is discussed, particular groups are considered; mainly women and children.
However, it seems that men’s or husband's rights have been neglected or never talked about since no one thought it was necessary!
Here we want to pay our attention to MEN and specifically those men who are involved in family life, say husbands!
Since in Islam, the family is seen as an essential entity of the society, the wife-husband relations, their responsibilities and rights over one another is to be seen in the light of their status in the family.
When a man is called ‘husband,’ it means so much to him. He has to provide, has to fulfill his wife’s needs emotionally and economically. There are so many responsibilities that a man as a husband has towards his wife, and when it comes to Islamic culture and teachings, it is even more demanding.
The only provider in Islam is considered to be the husband, and wife has no responsibility whatsoever to provide for the family, unless she works and earns money only for her own pleasure (She may voluntarily, however, support the family financially. As it is the case in many Muslim families nowadays).
The Prophet (PBUH&HP) said: 'Man is the guardian of his family and every guardian has responsibilities towards those under his guardianship' .
Also, it is mentioned in the Quran that the husband is the ‘manager’:
‘Men are the managers of women, because of the advantage Allah has granted some of them over others, and by virtue of their spending out of their wealth...’ (4:34)
A modern reader of this verse may wonder why men should be the managers. One of the reasons mentioned in the above verse is due to his financial role in the family: ‘and by virtue of their spending out of their wealth...’
However, one may argue that, in today’s societies, this is not always the case. Today both men and women work, both earn money, both are educated, and they both have the same virtues. Then, what feature(s) of men has made them capable of being in charge of the family?
‘Righteous women are obedient..’ (4:34)
What does it mean to be obedient? Can it be applied to today’s societies in which men and women are considered the same?
Modern thinkers have mainly focused on the similarities between men and women to defend women’s rights. They have strived to show that women have the same power as men to build the history . At the end of the day, however, they are two ‘unique’ creatures of God, each of them possessing their beauty and strengths that fit well with his or her purpose of being. This is well addressed in the following verse:
‘And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves...’ (30:21)
The word ‘mate’ in the above verse refers to the fact that man and woman are incomplete on their own, and they need each other .
In other words, men are created to be fathers, the same way that women are created to be mothers! Is it not enough to understand their different duties, rights, and responsibilities?
Islam advocates the priority of neither gender; rather it allows every person to fulfill their potentials, without any discrimination.
Alexis Carrel, the well-known French physiologist, and biologist admits the fact that men and women have been made differently according to the law of creation and he also confirms that these dissimilarities make their duties and rights dissimilar .
When Islam introduces husband as the manager, it means he is fully responsible for all family affairs. Accordingly, one of his rights is to be obeyed by family members including his wife and children.
What is primarily important here is that there should be a balance between rights and duties for each member of the family. When a family is seen as a big picture in which every member has their own role, different rights and duties of husband, wife and children can be easily explained.
Parallel to his duties and responsibilities, a husband also has some rights over his wife. Sexual satisfaction is one of them. A wife has to sexually submit herself to her husband unless during the wife’s state of menstruation:
‘They ask you concerning [intercourse during] menses. Say, ‘It is hurtful.’ So keep away from wives during the menses, and do not approach them till they are clean’ (2:222)
This is indeed one of the advantages that Islam gives to women to protect them.
One might argue why sexual availability is considered as a duty for the wife and one of the husband's rights? An examination of the philosophy of marriage in Islam will be helpful to find the answer .
In Islam wife is considered as husband’s mate towards whom husband take comfort as you can see in the following Quranic verse:
‘And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you...’ (30:21)
From the Islamic point of view, if a man is sexually and emotionally satisfied at home he will be protected against corruption outside. Same goes for women of course; hence we have many instructions for men on how to care for their wives and pay attention to their sexual needs.
We can never talk solely about husband's rights or wife’s rights. They are members of one social unit called ‘family’; a unit that is of high value and importance in Islamic teachings. Husband, like the wife, has his own rights and duties.
As for his duties, he is considered as the only provider for the family, and as the guardian, he has to take care of his wife and children. As for husband's rights, he has to be sexually and emotionally satisfied by his wife. Also, as the manager of the family, the husband is to be obeyed.
Wife and children must recognize the role of man in the family for the family to stay on the right track. However, man is to provide whatever means possible to fulfill his wife's and children’s needs emotionally and economically.
- Mustadrak, vol 2, p 550.
- Mutahhari Murtadha, The Rights of Women in Islam
- Almizan, Tafir, Vol 16. Sura Rum, verse 21
- The Importance of Marriage in Islam’,
Domestic violence is any violent or aggressive behavior by one person against another within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner. These behaviors, used by one person in a relationship to control the other, occur in many forms; physical violence, verbal violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.
All these acts and behaviors are rationally condemned, but, how does Islam react to this phenomenon and what solutions does it propose?
According to the Islamic teachings, any harm to oneself is either totally forbidden (Haram), or should be avoided and is detestable (Makruh); so is any harm to others .
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said that whoever hurts others, God will hurt him; and, whoever inflicts pain on others, God will give him pain . That is also true about any kind of domestic violence. Since it causes pain and harm to the victim, domestic violence is also condemned in Islam.
It is narrated that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) assisted the funeral of Sa'd ibn Ma'ad [i]. He (PBUH) did things during that funeral and respected him so much, that he (PBUH&HP) had never done in any funeral before. He (PBUH&HP) ordered to bath the corpse, and he (PBUH&HP) did the funeral prayer himself. But at the end of the event, he (PBUH&HP) declared that Sa’d is suffering from the pressure in the grave.
People were surprised that how come that someone who has been such dignified by the prophet (PBUH&HP) is suffering from the grave pressure. Prophet (PBUH&HP) explained that Sa’d was bad-tempered towards his family .
In another narration, it is said that the worst of people is the one who is rough to his family ; i.e., whose wife gets frightened and children hide when he arrives home, and they feel relieved when he leaves . On the contrary, as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said, the closest to the position of the prophet (PBUH&HP) before God is who behaves very well with his family and is the most beneficent to them” .
These examples show that every harsh treatment with the family will be counted and will be paid afterlife. Then, it is clear that any violence, either verbal or physical, is forbidden in Islam and will be punished severely.
Imam Ali (AS) has advised that: “the wife is really like a flower (it is fragile), put up with her in any case and accompany her nicely to have a pleasant life” . It means that contrary to the rumors that Islam has permitted the husband to hit his wife, Islam has ordered to honor her and to treat her kindly; even if he no longer loves her (4:19).
Islamic teachings have always emphasized on the importance of the family and Muslims are advised to toleration in order to maintain the foundation of the family. Hence, in the case of a dispute between a couple, Islam invites to patience: “Whoever remains patient despite the misbehavior of his wife, God will reward him as great as Ayub's [ii] for his affliction.
Likewise, if a woman keeps patience despite the misbehavior of her husband, God will reward her as great as Asiya bint Muzahim (the Pharaoh's wife) [iii] .” .
When it comes to children, special attention is paid to their education. To raise well-behaved children with a good character, Islam forbids any humiliation and violence against them. Imam Ali an-Naqi (AS) said that: “Do not beat the child; just sulk with him, but not for a long time.” .
Although parents might blame their children under some conditions and in certain circumstances, they are warned against too much reproach. Imam Ali (AS) said that: “Excessive blame on anybody will increase the obstinacy.” .
It is notable that a true Muslim should also be tolerant and considerate towards other people as much as he/she is towards his family and relatives. This will be discussed further in another article.
[i] One of the prominent companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
[ii] Prophet Ayub (PBUH) was afflicted by suffering for a lengthy period, but he never lost faith in God and forever called to God in prayer. He (PBUH) is known as the symbol of patience in Islam.
[iii] In the Quran, Asiya is described as the wife of Pharaoh who reigned during the time of Prophet Moses (PBUH). Unlike her husband, she was humble and accepted the faith that prophet Moses (PBUH) preached. She died while being tortured by her husband. In Islam, she is known as one of the greatest women of all time.
- S. A. al-Muttaqi, “Kanz al-Ummal”, T. 9498.
- S. A. al-Muttaqi, “Kanz al-Ummal”, T. 9518.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Ilal Al-Shara'I”, p. 310.
- Al Suyuti, “Jami al-saghir”, vol. 2, p. 77.
- Al-Haythami, “Majma al-Zawa'id”, vol. 8, p. 25.
- Ibn Babawayh, “Uyun akhbar al-Rida”, vol. 2, p. 38.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 37, p. 115.
- Ibn Babawayh, "Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih", vol. 4, p. 392.
- violence in Family
- Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, T. 4507.
Getting married, yesterday’s girl and boy become today’s husband and wife; they form the most basic and important foundation in the society in which each of them is bound to perform certain duties. In this peaceful and calming bond, namely the Islamic family, no person is superior to the other, and no responsibility is more vital than the one of the other; they both form the pillars of a firm foundation and are two equal sides of a scale which hold it in balance. Nevertheless, there are some certain tasks in which both husband and wife should participate; Actually, mutual responsibilities which Islam emphasize are really easy.
The very first duty that has been defined for husbands and wives mutually is affability in behavior . In other words, they should act in a kind and respectful manner toward each other, speaking with dignity and affection, understanding each other’s needs and feelings, being ready to comfort one another in times of hardship, and sharing their joy in times of happiness. Also, they should consult in their affairs with each other and respect one another’s views and decisions.
Furthermore, honesty and faithfulness are among the most important characteristics that both husbands and wives should observe in their married life. They should try to be as open as possible to one another and avoid hiding things from each other. Otherwise, there may arise a feeling of suspicion and insecurity between them.
Despite many misunderstandings, Islam does not consider housework the responsibility of women and condemns the men who force their wives to do so. On the contrary, Islam obliges both husbands and wives to participate in this task and help one another in doing it, rather than leaving the whole burden on the shoulder of one person only [i] . They should also cooperate in upbringing their children and reach unity in their behavior and speech toward them so that the feeling of harmony and comfort will spread in the family.
Besides, for husbands and wives to be always attracted to one another in an Islamic family, both of them should appear as clean and beautiful as possible in front of each other  & . For instance, they should wear the best clothes they have got, wear perfume, adorn their hair, etc.
As a result, the love between them will increase, and they will feel more secure. Also, when the need for physical attraction is satisfied in the private environment of married life, neither husband nor wife will feel the desire and urge to satisfy this need in other unlawful ways.
Finally, for a marriage to be successful and healthy and form the recommended Islamic family, both husbands and wives should attempt to do whatever is best to save this holy bond. For sure, this is not an easy job; it takes self-sacrifice, patience, hope, and optimism.
Regarding mutual responsibilities, you should know that you may sometimes feel tired, disappointed and hopeless but at the end of the day, when you look at your spouse, feel the love in him/her and think about the beautiful life that you can build with him/her, you will be surely willing to pay any expense to make this come true.
[i]. Whenever Imam Ali – pbuh- found a chance and was free, would come and help his wife Fatimah- pbuh- in the housework. One day Prophet Muhammad came to their house and saw they were working together and asked:” Which one of you are more tired so that I take his/her place?”, Imam Ali –pbuh- answered: “ Fatimah is more tired.” Our kind prophet gave Fatima rest and continued her work himself.
- MirzaHossein Noori, Mustadrak al-Vasael, V.13, P.48.
- Morteza Motahari, Dastan-e- Rastan, V.2, P.252.
- Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili, Wasail al-shiah, V.20, P.158.
- Muhammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynīm, Usul al-Kafi, V.5, P.511.