By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation. May the salutations of Allah, His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet, his family, his companions and his true and sincere followers until the Last Day – then to proceed:
Dear brothers and sisters! Among the blessings of Allah upon His servants, the children of Adam is that He has legislated marriage for them and made it a means for achieving many religious and worldly benefits.
But unfortunately, many people do not appreciate this important relationship, and do not value it as it should be valued. Undermining the institution of marriage takes different forms including:
- Not being careful when choosing one’s spouse. In this way one acts against the directions of the Shari’ah which are aimed at ensuring that marriage achieves its hoped for objectives of being a source of peace and tranquility for both husband and wife and a means to obey Allah Almighty.
- Undermining the relationship of marriage includes lack of knowledge and practice with regard to the rights, which are due to each partner. This is one of the main reasons that cause problems between spouses. Islam has stated very clearly these rights and obliged both partners to fulfill them. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands) similar to those of their husbands over them to what is reasonable, but men have a degree of responsibility over them.”
Respected brothers and sisters! This Qur’anic verse indicates that for every right that one partner has; there is a corresponding duty, which the other partner must fulfill. In this way balance is achieved in the relationship. Among the rights which are due to both husband and wife are:
a) Both spouses should turn a blind eye to the minor faults and mistakes of the other partner, especially words and deeds by which nothing bad was intended. None of them should count the other’s mistakes or follow every matter big or small.
b) Both husband and wife must be patient and put up with one another, for everyone has his/her slips. Neither party should resort to tit-for-tat response. If one spouse sees that the other is angry, he or she should restrain his or her own anger and not respond immediately. Abu ad-Darda, the companion of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), said to his wife:
“If you see me angry calm me down, and if I see you angry, I will calm you down, otherwise we would not be able to live together.”
c) The husband must know that his responsibility in keeping the family together is greater because he is the one who is in charge of the family. So, he must be patient and tolerate the natural weakness in his woman.
d) The husband should not hate his wife if he dislikes one of her characteristics, because if he dislikes something in her he will like another. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“No believing man should hate a believing woman, if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another.”
e) One of the things, which worsen the relationship between husband and wife, and may lead eventually to the breakage of marriage, is the husband’s resort to beating his wife, using his physical strength. Some husbands might argue that they have a right to beat their wives because Allah has permitted them to do so. However, these husbands do not realise that this is was only permitted as a measure of reform in the case of a wife’s Nushuz (ill-conduct) – when she rebels against her husband and becomes completely disobedient to him. In this case the husband has the right to discipline her as prescribed by the Shari’ah.
According to the Qur’an, this discipline must take a step-by -step approach which may reach the level of hitting, with certain conditions.
So, this discipline was legislated as the last cure for the corruption in the relationship between husband and wife. No husband may resort to it in ordinary disputes in order to subdue his wife. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:
“….As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct admonish them, (next) refuse to share their beds, then beat them (lightly.)”
According to this verse, Allah has made this discipline in stages as follows:
I) Admonishing the wife gently and reminding her of her duty to be a good companion and treat her husband properly. If kind admonishing works, then that is good. If it does not work, then the discipline is taken to the next stage.
II) Forsaking her, by turning his back on her in bed or sleeping in a separate bed.
iii) Hitting her in a manner that is not painful.
The Muslim must know that those who hit their wives are not among the good Muslims. Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Do not hit the female-servants of Allah.”
Umar came to him and said:
“Women have rebelled against their husbands.”
So, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) permitted the men to discipline their wives. Then many women came to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) complaining against their husbands. Thereupon, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Many women came to house of Muhammad complaining about their husbands. Those of you who hit their wives are not the best of you.”
3) Another example of undermining the blessing of marriage is the misuse of divorce. This is a very common problem. There is evidence that many people who were having disputes with wives and during their anger they divorce their wives. Later they become regretful for what they did. This is something which is repeatedly quite often by some hasty Muslim husbands who are ignorant of the rules of divorce in Islam. Divorce is very undesirable in Islam due to the problems it causes. It should be looked at as the last treatment for a chronic marital problem which no other treatment succeeded to resolve. If this is the case, and it has become impossible for the husband and wife to live together, and the husband has decided finally to divorce, he should not do it in a rush but carefully in accordance with the rules of the Shari’ah. These rules require that the following must be observed in divorce:
i) Divorce must be done when the wife is pure (i.e. not during her monthly period or post-natal period). If the husband has slept with his wife during her pure period, he must wail until her period comes and she becomes pure again before he can divorce.
ii) He should divorce her once i.e. not three times in one go or three times in the same meeting.
iii) The divorce should be witnessed by two people.
The purpose of these conditions is to ensure that divorce is carried out after careful consideration of the matter, not hastily in a moment of anger. It is forbidden to do the divorce otherwise, not observing these conditions.
There are also some husbands who use the word of divorce as an oath, and so one of them would say to his wife if you do not do so and so, then you are divorced. This is completely forbidden in the Shari’ah.
All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected] or +2348038289761.