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Marriage 7

Continuation of previous article from Youth of the Ummah website:


4. Does a wife have to live with her in-laws? I don't know whether you know what a woman has to go through if she has to live with her in-laws. Why? And how is living with in-laws islamic? Why does a muslim wife have to serve and obey her in-laws? Respect them, okay, but why should I obey them? Why should i work for them and then be abused for it too?




A woman does not have to stay with her in laws. This is not a directive of the Shariah. However, if circumstances are such that one is required to live with one's in laws, then niether should the inlaws consider it their right that the daughter inlaw obey them nor should the daughter inlaw unduely neglect them. There should be understanding and affection from both sides. The following few points may assist one in such a situation or other similar situations in life:


a) Whatever one does or says (both inlaws and daughter inlaw) should be for the pleasure of Allah (SWT). If one feels that Allah (SWT) may not be pleased with a certain statement or action abstain from it. DO FOR ALLAH's PLEASURE! HE WILL GIVE YOU FROM HIS TREASURE!


b) Do not say or do anything on the basis of you egos or emotions. This will guide you in all aspects of life.


c) Do not have expectations of anyone.


d) Try your best to please your inlaws. Do not raise anything directly with them as far as possible. Raise any concerns you may have with your husband, with wisdom and kind words.


e) Remember, if we say the right thing, in the right manner, with the right intention and on the right occasion it will have the right effect.


f) Each person should focus on his/her duties rather than their rights. If we fulfill our responsibilities, our rights will Inshallah take care of themselves.


5. Why is a man allowed to hit his wife in Islam? How is this fair?


You have referred to verse 34 of Surah Nisa. Verse 34 opens with an important statement which has been translated as "men stand caretakers of women". Qawwaam, qayyam or qayyim in Arabic denotes a person who holds the responsibility or has the duty and charge to manage a job or run a system or take care of what has to be done about something, controlling all related factors therein. The standard role of man, with regard to women, has been mentioned in this verse through the word , "qawwaam" . It is obvious that, for any group-living, big or small, or for any organised system, it is rationally and customarilly necessary that the group or system have some head or chief or authority so that he can arbitrate in the event of a difference and take decisions to run affairs smoothly. This need is there also in as far as families are concerned and Allah (SWT) in his infinite wisdom, elected men for this responsibility because their natural capabilities are more profound that those of women and children.


The message from this verse and other verses is that the rights of women are as incumbent upon men as the rights of men are upon women, and the rights of both are similar to eachother with the exception that men have a certain precedence in functional authority, although this too is hemmed with other balancing factors. As explained in other verses of the Holy Quran, this mantle of authority placed on the shoulders of men is not that of a dictator and a tyrant. While exercizing this authority, man is bound by the supreme law of Islam, the Shariah. He must act on the principle of consultation and follow good councel. He just cannot act at the spur of his whim or his wild instincts. THe command given to him is: و عاشروهن بالمعروف, treat women well, as recognized.


This aspect of mutual consultation also appears in verse 233 of Surah Baqarah. Here men have been instructed to act in consultation with wives in family affairs. After this clarification, the technical authority of man should not be a source of heart-burning for women. Still, in view of the probability that women may take this arrangement unhappily, Allah (SWT) explained two reasons for giving men this authority. One reason relates to the wisdom of creation which is beyond the control of any human being, and the other refers to a factor which comes through one's efforts and endeavours.


The first reason has been mentioned in the words: بما فضل الله بعضهم على بعض, which means that Allah (SWT) has caused some to excell others in qualities under his exclusive wisdom and consideration. In other words this is a God given grace. Men have done nothing to get it and there is nothing wrong with women that they do not have it. It is simply based on the wisdom of creation , and exclusive privalege of the Creator.


The second reason relates to what is achieved with an effort. This reason is pointed out by the words, وبما انفقوا من اموالهم, which means that men spend their money, pay dower and take responsibility of fulfilling all the needs of women. Hence, the precedence.


After mentioning the qualities of a good wife, the verse thereafter turns to women who are either straight disobedient to their husbands or fail to co-operate with them in running family affairs in the recognised manner. The Holy Quran gives men three methods of correcting their behaviour. These are to be followed in the order they have been mentioned. So, the verse says, that if you fear or face disobedience from women, the first step towards their correction is that you should talk it over with them nicely and softly. Still, if they remain adamant and do not change their attitude by conciliatory council alone, the next step is not to share the same bed with them, so that they may realize the displeasure of the husband as expressed through this sybolicseparation, and may feel sorry for their conduct. The Holy Quran uses the words, في المضاجع, at this point, meaning 'in beds'. It is from here that Muslim jurists have deduced that this staying apart should be limited to 'beds' and not to the 'house' itself. In other words, the woman should not be left alne in the house, something which is bound to hurt her feeling much more and which makes the possibility of further straining of relations far stronger.


A companion reports:

I said: ' O Messenger of Allah, what right do our wives have on us?' He said, 'that you feed them when you eat, provide them with apparels to wear when you have these for yourselves, and do not hit the face, and do not say abuses to her, and do not leave them apart unless it be within the house.' (Mishkaat, p 281)


If this gentle admonition fails to produce any effect, some corrective form of a litte 'beating' has been allowed as a last resort, of course, in a manner that does not affect the body nor goes to the undesirable limits of hurt or injury to the skin or bones. As for slapping or hitting the face it is absolutely forbidden.


The first two methods of admonition, that is seeking to convince and leaving apart in beds, are more or less an exercise in nobility against arrogant lack of compromise. Prophets and their righteous followers have spoken in favour of it. That they practised what the preached is also a proven fact. But, this third method of admonition, i.e. light 'beating', has been permitted as a forced option in a particular mode. Right along with this option given to men, it appears in the Hadith:, ولن يضرب خياركم, which means that 'good men among you will never beat women'. Thus, such an action is nowhere reported from the Blessed Prophets of Allah.


In short, the principle of family life given in the first sentence of this verse is that, despite the rights of men and women being equal in almost everything, there is, for men, a certain precedence laced with authority vis-avis women, and they operate thereunder. Under this basic principle, there can be tw classes of women in practical life. One of them stands by this basic principle, abided by her covenant, accepted the functional authority of man and obeyed him in deference of the wise divine arrangement. The other class of women are those who failed to live by this principle in its fullness. As for the first category, it provides for itself a perfect guarantee of family peace and well being which does not need any correction. However, the second category of women require correction. For this purpose, the second sentence of the verse offers a compact system which would help correct things within the four walls of the house. (Adapted from Ma'ariful Qur'aan)

Hadeeth Newsflash

Reported by Abu Hurairah (RA): The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Allah, the Exalted, says: `I will contend on the Day of Resurrection against three (types of) people: One who makes a covenant in My Name and then breaks it; one who sells a free man as a slave and devours his price; and one who hires a workman and having taken full work from him, does not pay him his wages.''' [Al-Bukhari]

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