On October 17th 2012, Wise Wives Orange County was lucky to have Sister Noha Alshugairi, M.S. Marriage and Family Therapist, speak to us about the controversial and delicate matter of a wife’s obedience to her husband.
She started the talk by remarking that she was happy to tackle such an important and delicate issue (that no one wants to talk about) because she her self had once struggled with it.
“We should talk about these issues openly, and not pretend that they are not there,” she said.
Making the whole room laugh, one women remarked, “When my husband knew the topic of the lecture I was going to tonight, he said, excitedly, oh ok please come home and tell me all about it.”
Noha decided that the best way to start would be to ask us what questions we had on the topic so she can be sure to cover all our concerns.
Some questions/concerns included:
- What are Islam’s views on this? We are often taught many things and this one seems like it is from a man’s view. So what exactly does Islam teach us about this?
- How to be an obedient wife and what exactly that means.
- Does a man have to obey his wife at any level?
- Does a wife have to ask permission from her husband to spend money? Is it a one-way street or should the husband ask his wife as well?
- What is the Islamic punishment for disobedience?
- Is there a requirement to be obedient to his family?
- Is it true that if your husband asks you to do something, you should just drop what you’re doing and do it?
To address these and other issues she handed out a list of the ayahs (Quranic verses) and hadiths (Prophetic traditions) concerning this topic and went through each one thoroughly.
She used these as a base for understanding the limits of obedience, what it means, and when you are considered to be disobedient.
What I want to focus on for this first blog entry in this series is how important it is to know that many interpretations of ayahs and hadiths concerning this topic or about women in Islam in general must be dispelled because there are many common misconceptions.
She spent a great deal of the lecture telling us about this saying that, “there are many scholars in the Arab world that interpret ayahs and hadiths from a man’s point of view. Some have even bluntly said “men are better than women because they have the intelligence that women don’t.”
She said, “That is not written in the Quran! That is an interpretation…an added layer to what the Quran is saying. This is where we need to be careful and unfortunately it is a tough battle.
It is very difficult to go back and assess everything that has been written about women in Islam and to decipher what is wrong and what is right and what can be seen in a different light.
“I remember the first time when I got an inclining of all this was when I was attending an mpac convention,” she said. They were talking about this topic and how there are many misrepresentations about women in Islam and the speaker mentioned an example in Tafsir Ibn Kathir. He talks about the Arabic word Assufahhaa, meaning someone who doesn’t have sound or intellectual faculties, and the speaker was saying that Ibn Kathir wrote that this word means women.
I’m sitting there and thinking there’s no way this can be true…how can such a great, reliable source like Ibn Kathir give such a wrong explanation. So I went back home and checked it and the speaker was right. This translation by Ibn Kathir existed!”
She couldn’t believe that such things that demean women were out there and we can’t believe everything that we read. She said it is up to us to go back and find the true meanings of the Quran.
In our next entry, we will begin to explore the true meanings of some of the ayahs and hadiths that deal with this topic. But first take a quick look at the list we discussed:
- “And among His Signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may come to for Sakina. And He put amongst you mawada and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for people who reflect.” 30:21
- “Men are the (quawwamouna) maintainers and protectors of women by virtue of what Allah has privileged one over another and by virtue of the money men spend. Therefore the (assalehat) righteous women are God-fearing and guard in the husband’s absence what Allâh orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband’s property). As to those women who are (nushuzahuna) recalcitrant , admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) strike them (lightly, if it is useful), but if they return to obedience, do not treat them unjustly. Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.” 4:34
- Narrated Muslim: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the khitbah of the last pilgrimage: Fear Allah in your dealings of women. For you have taken them by a word of Allah. And you have been permitted to be intimate with them with a word of Allah. And you have the right that they don’t allow anyone in your bed. And if they do that you may strike them gently. And they have a right that you feed and clothe them with what is reasonable.
- The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I detest when someone would discipline his wife harshly and then seek intimacy with her.”
- The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “…and the best amongst you will not strike others.”
- The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The most perfect of believers in faith are those with the most excellent character. And the best of you are the best of you to your women.”
- “If a wife fears ill treatment or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves; and such settlement is best.” 4:128
- Narrated in Al-Tabarrani that a woman from the tribe of Khath’am came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: O Prophet of Allah tell what is the right of a husband on his wife. For I am an unmarried woman and if I can satisfy it or else I would remain unmarried. He said: The right of the husband on his wife is that if he were to seek intimacy with her, she would not refuse him no matter what she is doing. And from his right on her that she does not fast the nafl (non-obligatory) fasting except with his permission. For if she were to fast without his permission, she would be hungry and thirsty and it would not be accepted from her. And she would not leave her house except with his permission. For if she were to do that she would be cursed by the angels of the sky and the angels of mercy, and the angels of punishment till she get back. She would not give in charity from his money except with his permission for if she did he gains the reward and she bears the burden. The woman replied: I will never get married.”
- The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,“If a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses, and he goes to bed angry, the angels supplicate against her.”
- Muaawiyah Al Qushairy narrated that he asked the Prophet: What is the right of a wife on one of us? He said: “You feed her if you eat, you clothe her if you are clothed, you don’t strike the face, you don’t criticize, and you don’t isolate from her except inside the house.”
- The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,“If a woman prays her five, fasts her Ramadan, protects her chastity and obeyed her husband, she is told enter paradise from which door you wished.”
- The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Any woman who dies and her husband is pleased with her, enters paradise.”
- The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “No human being is permitted to prostrate to another, but if this were permitted I would have ordered wives to prostrate to their husbands, because of the greatness of the rights they have over them.”
….Where Practice Makes Perfect
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