what are wifes duties towards husband and vice versa?

Details of the Question
relationship with each other
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The duties of a woman toward her husband:

1- Contentment: Being content is one of the reasons for the ease of the heart; a woman should avoid alienating her husband from herself and from the home by her shamelessness and greed. Contentment means to feel content with what is sufficient and not to be greedy.   

2- Obedience to the husband: Our Prophet (pbuh) said, “a woman with whom her husband is pleased will go to Paradise when she dies.”

3- Cleanliness: To pay attention to the places that her husband sees and to clean those places. One should know that the best thing for cleanliness is water. She should always wear nice scents.  

4- Meeting his needs: To pay attention to the time when her husband eats a meal, not to pass the time for sleep, to prepare the meal and the bed in accordance with the habits of her husband.  

5- Protecting his goods: To protect her husband’s property and belongings because protecting the property and belongings shows that she is a skillful woman.

6- Showing respect to relatives: To show respect to the relatives of her husband because if a woman shows respect to the relatives of her husband, it means she is a good housewife and manager.

7- Keeping secrets: The woman must not tell anyone about the secrets of her husband. If she reveals his secrets, she will lose the trust of her husband, and she cannot be sure about him anymore.  

8- Respect: To fulfill the orders of her husband, not to oppose him and to obey him.  If she opposes him, she may cause him to have a grudge against her and become hostile toward her. 

In addition, it is not permissible for a man to force his wife to do something that he wants, and religiously, the woman does not have to do things like that. For instance, a woman does not have to cook a meal or take care of her child. However, it is better for her to do legitimate and positive things (even if she does not like it) for the peace and safety of the family in order to establish mutual respect among the members of the family.

Division of labor between the wife and husband in the family:

In Islam, the family is one of the main holy things that need to be protected. Therefore, the family is not left unattended; someone that will protect the members of the family is deemed responsible as the head of the family. That person should be strong and powerful enough to make the other members obey him so that he will control those who go beyond the limits and keep them within the legitimate bounds. It will be the father and the husband that can act authoritatively in the family and make everybody obey him. 

In Islam, the head of the family is not completely independent. On the contrary, the head of the family is someone who undertakes the heavy burden of the responsibility of the family and to be the breadwinner. That is, the responsibility of working outside and bringing home the bread lies on the father and the husband. The woman does not have to work outside and bring home the bread.

When our Prophet (pbuh) married Fatima, his daughter, with Hazrat Ali, his son-in-law, he assigned the tasks in the home to Fatima and the tasks outside the home to Ali and said,

- To bring water from the fountain, to knead dough and bake bread, to clean the home and to arrange the things in the house belong to Fatima. The tasks outside the house belong to Ali.  

However, it is permissible for the man to help his wife to do housework and for the woman to help her husband outside the house. As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) helped his family with the housework, and it is stated in the religious books that it is sunnah for men to help with the housework.

Does a woman have to cook for her husband?

The food, clothes, the residence of a woman have to be provided by her husband within the legitimate conditions. It is necessary to avoid extravagance. Our Prophet (pbuh) said to a woman, “Take kindly from the goods of your husband what will be enough for you and your child.”

It is an ethical duty and an honorable service for a woman to cook meals, to bake bread, to do the washing, sweep the rooms, to arrange the housework and to try to relieve the burden of her husband. (Hukuku İslamiyye Ö. N. Bilmen 2/483)

Our Prophet (pbuh) said to Fatima, his daughter, "You should do the housework and Ali should do the tasks outside the house.” Our Prophet is the best model and example for us in everything, including the family life. The most important reason of the problems we have today is the fact that we have moved away from the Quran and the Sunnah.

Can a woman be forced to breastfeed her child?

The father (husband) shall bear the cost of their (the mother and the child’s) food and clothing on equitable terms." (al-Baqara 233)

A woman cannot be forced to breastfeed the baby she gave birth to. However, if the baby does not suckle any other woman than its mother, then she is forced. Allah stated the following in the Quran:

The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years.”( al-Baqara 233) That verse is evidence that women breastfeed their children.

When the mother does not breastfeed her baby, the father has to hire a wet nurse to breastfeed the baby near her mother because the right to protect and educate the baby belongs to the mother.

To breastfeed the baby is necessary for the mother religiously because the sentence in the Quran: “The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years." is a strong imperative sentence. (Mawqufat 1/597)

The woman should treat the family of her husband well:

Another aspect of treating her husband well for a Muslim woman is to treat the parents of her husband well and to show them respect and appreciation. The woman does a favor to her husband by helping her mother-in-law. Therefore, the husband treats his wife and her mother well in return. The woman actually does herself a favor by doing so because Allah says the following in the Quran, " Is there any Reward for Good other than Good?” (ar-Rahman 60)

Our Prophet (pbuh) stated the following, "The best among you are those who are useful to people."

The mercy that our Prophet (pbuh) teaches his ummah includes not only the relatives but also the whole mankind. The following is stated in a hadith:

He who shows no mercy, will receive no mercy.” (Muslim)

"Allah shows mercy to those who shows mercy to others. Show mercy to those on the earth so that those in the sky will show mercy to you. "( Tirmidhi)

Mercy is not only a feeling of pity as some people think. It is a comprehensive feeling that develops with love and grows with help and altruism. If there is no mercy in a heart, that heart is ill.

Today, some people cause the family life to be unbearable by saying, ‘the woman does not have to wash the clothes of the man; she does not have to breastfeed her baby”. Although she does not have to do them, there exists a religious and humane aspect of the issue and a dimension of mercy. A woman civil servant serves many people that she knows or does not know for at least eight hours a day in return for the money that she receives; why should she not obey her husband, children, her husband’s mother and father? Those strange ideas and similar mistakes cause the break-up of many families and discontent. Families need love more than anything else.  

For the happiness of the families in the world and the hereafter, the members of the family must obey Allah and His Messenger first, and then to each other for their legitimate desires of each other. They must not obey anyone if it involves committing sins. 

Secondly, if everyone fulfils their responsibilities toward each other, the happiness of the family will be realized. Otherwise, the family life becomes unbearable. Another aspect is that life is not related only to this world; there is also life in the hereafter, which is the real life. We should establish such a family life that it would be a life in the atmosphere of the Quran and Sunnah, a Paradise life with people of common sense. Allah likes those who act with goodwill and common sense.

WOMAN AS A FAMILY MEMBER

Islam says men and women are created as equal existences innately “O! Mankind we have created you from a male and female…”(el-Hucurat, 49/13). Again Islam religion says there is no discrimination between men and women, and says there is no superiority over each other in birth, death and in hereafter, because a person will account for his deeds to God alone and without supporters. (Meryem, 19/93). Women who are believers and have righteous deeds and be on the way of God are mentioned in groups that will grant a happy life in paradise forever (en-Nahl, 16/97).

The difference between a man and a woman results from organs and women are told to be fragile and delicate being. So we see differences in functions of these two sexs in individual and life and society and see that the woman is protected. Islam religion neither pushes women down to lower levels just like in the beliefs of “ignorance life”  nor makes her live in a maternal ( the rule of women in the family) life model. It made such a good family model that each member of it has a special duty and there is nothing unfair in these duties against each other. The order of Islam made a model that broke a new ground with its new rules thus hindered all kinds of behaviors that may be an element of pressure on men or women in the family.

Islam made the man the head of the family. “Men are the protectors of the women (they are the heads of the families.) Because God has made the one (man) superior to the other (woman), and because they spend their wealth to maintain them…” (En-Nisâ, 4/34).

Again God said in another verse “…And women have rights against men; men are a degree above them in status, and God is the All-mighty, the All-wise. (El-Bakara, 2/228) So, it is inferred that man is given the status of being the head of the family. Man has a great responsibility since he is supposed to meet all needs of the family and protect the family from outside dangers. However, the husband can’t interfere with the wife’s own money and give her some extra responsibilities. She can even want her husband to have a babysitter if she likes. She may not do house chores. But such tasks and responsibilities about work and house are signs of taqwa of the woman, so those are advised to do by the Prophet. The woman is obliged to obey the demands of man in the acceptable circle.

To maintain Islamic family life is possible with the ptotection of rights between husband and wife. “You have rights against your wives, and your wives have rights against you” (Tirmizi, Radâ', 11). The meaning of the obedience of the woman in mutual rights is to fulfill her duties against her husband in acceptual circle.

THE RIGHTS A WOMAN HAS AGAINST HER HUSBAND

Since husband has to maintain his wife, he has to meet her material comforts and needs. He must do that in Islamic ways. (En-Nisa, 4/34). The man is liable to have a good relationship with his wife and is liable to protect her rights. “… You should live with them in an honorable manner, even if you dislike them; it is possible that God may bring much good to you through that very thing you dislike. (He may give you a good son or daughter or you start to have a good relation with each other.)” (En-Nisâ, 4/1 9).

Islam forbids man to misuse his position of being head of the family. The aim in this is to carry on the order of the family. So, it is not religiously allowed for man to use that position on woman in a bad way. When he behaves so, the relation between the wife and the husband will be good and normal.

Islam lets a woman use her adequacy and abilities in social relationships as much as possible in acceptable level. Again it gives freedom about working and doing some tasks and get educated to help to muslim people as much as possible. (Buhârî, İlim, 36; İbrahim Cemal, Müslüman Kadının Fıkıh Kitabı ( the fiqh book of the muslim woman), terc. Beşir Eryarsoy, İstanbul 1987, s. 483 vd.).

“The woman is like a rib bone. If you try to straighten, it breaks. If you want to be happy, be happy with that warp” (Buhârî, Nikâh, 79). “The best of you is the one who treats his wife best.” (Tirmizi, Radâ, 11; İbn Mace, Nikâh, 50). We infer from these hadiths that the Prophet continually warns Muslim men about their wives and adviced them to get on well with them. A woman shouldn’t be beaten, she should be adviced. But, if the woman is being refractory and doesn’t obey her husband in Islamic levels, sits and spends time with people that she shouldn’t be with, spends her husband money extravagantly and doesn’t try to keep family secrets, she gets a warn then the vehemence of the warn is increased. If there is no good result, she can be beaten a little just for intimidating (en-Nisa, 4/34). But if that is useless and doesn’t change the woman in the positive way, she should never be beaten.

THE RIGHTS A HUSBAND HAS AGAINST HIS WIFE

“Men are the protectors of the women. Because God has made the one (man) superior to the other (woman), and because they spend their wealth to maintain them…” (En-Nisâ, 4/34).”Righteous women are obedient; they guard their rights carefully in their absence under the care and watch of God….” (En-Nisa, 4/34).
The women should be obedient and respectful against their husbands so that the husband can do his duties as needed. The women are obliged to obey their husbands in acceptable conditions. And house chores and raising the childeren are things that increase her taqwa. Because Islam didn’t make such an obligation but encouraged it and told them that they will gain the consent of the God if they do so.
Men are superior to women since they have some features and qualifications that women lack. That doesn’t mean that they are superior in virtue and honour (Mevdûdî, Tefhimu'l Kur'an, I, İstanbul 1986, s. 317, 318). “If a woman performs her daily prayers five times a day, and fasts a mounth in a year, keeps her chastity and obeys her husband, the doors of the paradise is open to her” (Buhârî, Miskat, II, 202). But the obedience here must be in the frame of God’s demands. If the husband ignores that it is unnecessary for the wife to obey her husband, because, obedience to God has the priority over the obedience to the husband.

It is a need satisfaction between the wife and the husband. So, it is not good to ignore that both by the wife and the husband. The wife should know the condition of the husband and be respectful to him. Islam says that women and men are equal in creation. There is no difference in punishments in the world between the women and men. The punishments of the crimes committed against women are the same with the punishments of the crimes committed against men.In sharing the inheritance; women get the half of what the men have. This is not humiliating and inequality. When we know the view of Islam against women, that  the men are responsible in maintaining the family and that expenses of the women before marriage belongs to the parents and after the marriage it belongs to the men, it is clearly understandable what kind of wisdom God wishes about that.

The woman is free not to spend from the amount that is inherited for the man except ones with her consent. However the man is obliged to spend when necessary. So, the woman may inherit and may not touch it. (İbrahim Cemal, a.g.e. s. 485).

God has created the woman as the house owner. The man is liable to maintain the family and gain money, and the woman is liable to spend that money to run the house, because, the woman is the shepherd of her husband’s house. Islam doesn’t give responsibility to woman in works outside the house. Koran encouraged women to stay in the house by saying “And stay in your houses” (el-Ahzâb, 33/33). But in some situations, it is necessary to go out for women. For example; when the woman has no man to maintain her life, when the woman has to work since the family has economical problems, when the man is sick and is not able to work. When the woman faces such events, there is a way out to relief in Islam. “God lets you women go out for your needs”. (Buhârî-Müslim). But against all these, in today’s circumstances, a muslin woman is unable to protect herself from the eyes of the wicked people in the streets however she obeys the Islamic rules. In this respect, it is better for a woman to be away from the streets even if she is in economical problems.

Islam gives the woman some tasks in the house and solves the problem of working. Islam saves the soul of the human who have betrayal in harem and selâm.

[Seyyid Kutub, İslâm Kapitalizm Çatışması, (clash of Islam and capitalism) İstanbul 1988, s. 129; also see Said Havva, İslâm, terc. Said Şimşek, Ankara ts., s. 197 vd; İbrahim Cemal, a.g.e. s. 481 vd; Mustafa Sibai, Kadının Yeri (the place of the woman), İstanbul 1988, s. 57 vd.; Abdullah Nasuh Ulvan, İslâmda Aile Eğitimi(the education of the family in Islam), I, s. 221 vd.; Ömer Ferruh, İslâm Aile Hukuku terc(Islamic family law). Yusuf Ziya Kavakcı, İstanbul 1976, s. 228 vd; Hz. Peygamber ve Aile Hayatı(The Prophet and his family life), Komisyon, İstanbul 1989, s. 171 vd.; M. Ali Haşimi, Kur'an ve Sünnette Müslüman Şahsiyeti( The character of a muslim in Koran and sunnah), terc. Resul Tosun, İstanbul 1988, s. 63 vd.>.

Questions on Islam

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