What are the women's rights? What are the duties of wives and husbands against each other?

Details of the Question
What are the duties of a husband towards his wife in the light of Quran and Sunnah?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Let me try to explain the rights of women briefly: 

“And when a daughter is announced to one of them his face becomes black, and he is full of wrath.”(Koran16 (en-Nahl)/58) In this verse God tells the view of people of ignorance towards women and reprimands it. However, “He gives daughter to whom He wills, and sons to whom He wills. Or he gives both sons and daughters to whom He wills, and makes barren whom He wills.”(Koran 42 (es-Sûrâ)49-50) 

A woman is also born as a man is born; she is an offspring of human being. Parents will be responsible when they favour one of them. They deserve depriviation of the Prophet since they ignored the will of the Prophet. Since the Prophet knows that feelings of ignorance will reappear from time to time, he points out the education of women specifically and announces that “a father who raises three, two even one daughter properly will be with him in the paradise (Ibn Mâce, edep3).” When a daughter is born, an “akika” is sacrificed (sacrificing animal) as a thank to God, as it is done for sons. She is named with a good name and has a compulsory education. She learns necessary sexual information from her mother. Everybody who encourages people into Koran and Sunnah includes women in this. The prophet specially advised women to be educated since he knows that they will be neglected and demanded their rights protected. In his age müctehid (a person who knows the religion in all ways details) women appeared.( for example Âishe (pbuh) who is the wife of the prophet, is one of them.)

A woman should never be discriminated in rising. And when came to the marriage, she should see the nominee of husband. That is her right and Sunnah at the same time. If she doesn’t like him she can turn him down, insistence of the parents or the nominee of husband changes nothing.

When marrying, she should puts her hand on the desk and take her “mihir”(a kind of alimony) as much as she desired. Mihir is her natural right established by God and guarantee of life. The field of expenditure belongs to her in legal circle. She can use her “mihir” or her other property (if she has) for charities or for commercial companies, can establish a company, can be a partner of a company with share certificates, gain money and can spend it on where she wishes, because, her social security was taken under guarantee by marriage. Expenses of home and hers belong to the man. Her husband can’t say “buy your dresses and cosmetic with your own money.” He has to gain livelihood of his wife as possible as he can. If he can’t then he can not marry her. If he can’t do that after the marriage, the woman has the right of the divorce.

Her husband can’t affront her; he always has to remember that she is his spouse. He can’t leave her home alone when he gets angry. Best of men is the one who treats his wife best. (See Buhâri, nikâh 43; Müslim, fedâil 68)

It is one of husband’s duties to tell jokes to his wife have fun and amuse her. A man can not beat his wife for unreasonable reasons except when she ignores rights and rules. (see Koran 4(en-Nisâ)/34 about beating wife) as an example see Ibn Kesîr N/257; Kurtubî NI/170,172,173; Elmalı N/1351; Ebû Dâvûd, menâsik 56; Ibn Mâce, menâsik 84; Müslim hac 147; Tirmizi, Rada'11; Ebû Dâvûd, menâsik 56; Halebî Sağîr s. 395; Halebî Kebîrs. 621; Canan, Terbiyes. 391 ;) He can’t disturb his wife with sudden raids for his jealousy of sickness.The prophet prohibited people that had been away from his family for a long time from entering the home suddenly without informing beforehand. In this issue, it is mentioned as a reason to let her clean her armpit and genital part, adorn herself and get ready for her husband. About the issue there is a hadith:”When you came (from far away) at night, don’t enter your wife’s room so that she can use razor and shave and get clean if dirty (she can get ready for your coming)” Buhârî, nikâli 121,122; Müslim, radâ' 58, imâret 181,182; Dârimî, nikâh 32, cihâd 163; Müsned NI/298. Hadith interpretations points out that coming home suddenly at night may mean that he has a suspicion about her unfaithfulness.

The husband also has the duty of sexually satisfying his wife. The Prophet likened men who never thinks about his wife and does his job and finish the relation, to a rooster likened to an animal and advised not to begin having relation without caressing before. (From deylemî, Gazâlî, Ihyâ N/52 (Terc. N/129); also see Suyutî, el Camiu's-sağîr (Fethu'I-Kadîr ile) VI/323)

Because a man can getready and tempted by just looking but a woman can be ready for a relation after a long time of caressing. A good husband is the one who can get his wife ready for it and satisfying himself and his wife too. Men who never think just about himself in sexual relation must keep in mind that they have pleasure by toturing the spouse.

She has the right to separate from her husband who can’t have relation in a year. Again she has the right not to have relation with the husband before getting “mihir”

The treatment and expenditure of medicine belong to the husband as the alimony does. If the woman has no ability to make bread he has to buy from the market. If he wants her to adorn herself, cosmetic and perfume expenses belong to him too. And two dresses one for summer and one for winter belongs to the husband. If a disagreement should occur, features of the dress are established by local management. She has the right of taking money when the husband intends to have a journey. She has the right to have a separate bed during her menstruation days.

The wife can demand a servant when necessary. The wage of the servant belongs to the husband. She doesn’t have to do any chores except ones that are supposed to done by the wife according to the traditions.

When she needs they have agreement about the amount of the money for livelihood. If she thinks it is not enough she may consult to the judge.

When she doesn’t want her husband’s relatives at their home, the husband has to find a different house for her. This is because that their presence can prevent their making love. She even has the right of having a separate room for the same reason, because of her children except ones who are not aware of sexual relation.
The woman has the right to visit her family once a week, her husband can’t hinder that. She has the right to work in legitimate ways in jobs that don’t harm the husband’s rights.

If she wants to go to puclic bath when she has menstruation or birth blood, the man has to give the money for it. But if she is known not to be careful about keeping the body closed, she isn’t let to go.

All we told till here are the rights of woman on man written in all fiqh books, and they are several examples of explained issues. They are not in form of advice; they are legal rights that have sanction. Today women in black sea region in Anatolia are forced to work and get tired in jobs that men can do. But that is not fault of Islam; it is fault of those that keep them away from Islam.

When there is a selection, it is told by many Islam scholars that women have the right of election. Because there is no proof for that they don’t have such a right. The selection consists of "bey’at". The Prophet took "bey’at" from women. (See Koran60/12 verses and interpretations.) After caliph Omer, everyone icluding unmarried girls were asked for advise about selecting the caliph. (See Muhammed Hamîdullah, Islâm Müesseselerine Giriş Ist.1981, s. 112 (Ibn Kesîr'den nakil))
When the woman died the funeral expenses belong to the husband. (For more information about the ıssues we told in summary see Ibn Âbidîn, Reddü'l-muhtâr, Mısır 1380 (1960) NI/571 vd. Furthermore alimony sections of all fiqh books especially Serahsî, Mebsût V/180 vd.)

As it is seen, a woman is a person who has no anxiety or problem about livelihood and a person who has social insurances as much as possible. And all those issues are legal rights that can be established by court when they have disagreement. In Islam wife and husband are not two sides who are trying to get each other’s right unceasingly. They are parts of a unit that complement each other, help each other, support, and be source of peace and happiness. Just like the Prophet’s helping the chores and making division of chores between Caliph Ali and his wife Fatima.

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.>.

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