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’,
A newborn baby who opens his/her eyes to this world is tiny and weak at first; like a rosebud that appears in spring. It is then a burden upon the parents in Islam to take care of this fragile gift, like a compassionate gardener, until the baby grows up and flourishes.
Knowing that our parents as a team have provided for all our needs till we grow up, we naturally respect them. But this becomes of paramount importance when we come to know that how strongly Islam emphasizes parents’ rights and respecting them.
Islam has placed such a strong emphasis on the parents’ rights and worth that showing gratitude and being grateful to them are commanded to, right after Monotheism (Tawhid) in several verses of the Quran [i].
In the nineteenth chapter of the Quran, Surah Maryam, where some moral virtues of Prophet Yahya (PBUH) are mentioned, it is said that he was “good to his parents” (19:14). We also read that Prophet Jesus (PBUH) introduces himself as the servant of Allah who: “[made me] be good to my mother” (19:32).
In a narration, Imam Sadiq (AS) is asked about the best deeds; Imam (AS) answers: “Prayer (Salat) in its stipulated hour, goodness towards parents and Jihad in the way of Allah” . Bringing respect for parents, after prayer (Salat) and before Jihad indicates the high-value Islam places on caring for parents.
In another narration from Imam Sadiq (AS), doing good to parents, whether they are among believers (Mu'min) or disbelievers (Kafir), is known as a duty that no one can be exempted from . He also said that: “Whoever satisfies the parents has satisfied God; and whoever annoys them, has annoyed God” .
Respecting the rights of parents in Islam, whether alive or dead, is highly advised. These rights include:
Obedience to parents as far as it is not against God’s orders or unjust; a situation that one is forbidden to obey his/her parents is: “if they urge you to ascribe to Me as a partner that of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them”(31:15). But even in this case, one should treat them kindly: “Keep their company honorably in this world” (31:15). Another case where parents’ disobedience is allowed, is when they invite to something unfair: “Be maintainers of justice and witnesses for the sake of Allah, even if it should be against yourselves or [your] parents and near relatives” (4:135).
Respecting them deeply, looking at them with affection, being humble and talking to them with a gentle voice and kind words: “Keep their company honorably in this world” (31:15); “[He has enjoined] kindness to parents. Should any of them or both reach old age at your side, do not say to them, ‘Fie!’ And do not chide them, but speak to them noble words” (17:23); “And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy” (17:24). In a narration from Imam Reza (AS), saying “Fie” to parents is believed to be the last thing that bothers them; hence, anything greater than that must be definitely avoided. Of other narrations in this regard are: “If your parents upset you, do not react badly; if they hit you, do not react the same but tell them ‘May God forgive you’”; “… do not look at your parents except with a kind look, do not raise your voice on them, nor your hands over their hands, nor walk further than them ” ; “whoever looks at his parents with hatred, even if they oppress him, Allah will not accept a single prayer from him” ; “Insolence includes a man’s looking at his parents with a sharp gaze” .
Being humble regarding parents: “Lower the wing of humility to them, mercifully” (17:24). This humility must arise from deep in your heart and originate from your real affections.
Treat them well: "When We took a pledge from the Children of Israel: ‘Worship no one but Allah, do good to your parents” (2:83). This verse of the Quran reveals that everybody, whether Muslim or not, must treat the parents well.
Imam Hussain (AS) was asked about the meaning of treating well in this verse. The answer was briefly that it means to treat them with ultimate compassion, to show them great respect during their companionship, not to oblige them to ask for what they need but provide them before they mention it . One of the best deeds in Eid al-Adha is said to be doing good to parents .
Being beneficent to parents is a duty upon children when they are alive as well as after they pass away. Imam Sadiq (AS) said: “What prevents you from doing good to your parents? Pray [ii], donate, perform the holy pilgrimage (Hajj) and fast (Sawm) in their place because God awards you a lot in return for your good deeds” . It is also said that: "Whoever visits his parents' grave on Fridays, will be forgiven and will be among the virtuous" .
And be thankful to them: “Give thanks to Me and to your parents” (31:14).
Praying and asking mercy for them [iii]: “and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, just as they reared me when I was [a] small [child]’ ” (17:24).
Continue Reading: "What are the Rights of Parents in Islam? Part 2"
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