By Dr. Muhammad ‘Ali Al-Hashimi
Marriage in Islam offers tranquility to the soul and peace to the mind, so that man and woman may live together in an atmosphere of love, mercy, harmony, co-operation, mutual advice and tolerance, and lay the foundation for raising a Muslim family in a sound environment.
The Glorious Qur’an has described this mutual relationship in the most moving and eloquent terms. This eternal and natural relationship between man and woman is filled with tranquility, security, love, understanding and compassion as Allah the Almighty said:
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought. (Ar-Rum 30:21)
Marriage is a union of souls, in the deepest sense. Allah (Glory be to him) joins these two souls together so that they may enjoy tranquility and stability in a marital home filled with sincere love and compassionate mercy.
In Islam, the righteous woman is viewed as one of the joys of this life, and a great blessing to a man, for he comes home to her and relaxes after facing the struggles of life, and finds with her incomparable peace, comfort and pleasure. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) spoke only the truth as he said: “This world is just temporary conveniences, and the best comfort in this word is a righteous woman.” (Muslim)
Islam regards marriage very highly and views femininity as something to be valued and cherished.
The Ideal Muslim Wife
On the basis of this view of marriage and of women, the Muslim is not attracted by the empty-headed attitude displayed by some girls nowadays. Rather, the Muslim is attracted by a sound Muslim personality and he takes his time in choosing a partner for life, looking for a partner who has the right Islamic characteristics which make for a stable and happy married life. Therefore, he is not interested in the superficial physical beauty, grace and elegance that are the sole concern of empty-headed youngsters. While he may not ignore physical looks, he must look for strong religious beliefs and practice, intelligence, and good behavior, following the advice of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “A woman may be married for four things: for her wealth, for her noble descent, for her beauty or for her religion. Choose the one who is religious, lest your hands be rubbed with dust!” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The Ideal Muslim Husband
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advised the young Muslim to look for a religious wife, this does not mean that he should ignore his preferences regarding physical beauty. The Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged seeing a woman before finalizing the marriage, so that a Muslim will not find himself trapped in a marriage with a woman he finds unattractive.
Al-Mughirah ibn Shu`abah said: “I got engaged to a woman at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). He asked me: ‘Have you seen her?’ I said: ‘No.’ He said: ‘Go and have a look at her, because it is more fitting that love and compatibility be established between you.’” (An-Nasa’i)
A man who had got engaged to a woman from Al-Ansar came to the Prophet (peace be upon him), who asked him: “Have you seen her?” He said: “No,” so the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered him to go and see her. (Muslim)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasized, in more than one hadith, the fact that beauty is one of the basic characteristics that a man should look for in a woman, besides the other characteristics that are desirable. The Prophet told `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him): “Shall I tell you the most precious thing a man can have? It is a righteous wife: when he looks at her he is pleased, when he tells her to do something she obeys, and when he is away she is faithful and loyal to him.” (Abu Dawud)
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked: ‘Which woman is the best?’ He said: ‘The one who pleases him (her husband) when he looks at her, who obeys him when he tells her to do something, and who does not do something he dislikes with regard to herself or to his wealth.” (An-Nasa’i)
This is the guidance given by the Prophet (peace be upon him) regarding the personality of the woman who can bring happiness, tranquility and stability to a man, and who can make a cheerful, pleasant and secure home in which to raise a brood of successful, courageous, intelligent children. The Prophet (peace be upon him) insisted that marriage should be firmly built on a solid foundation, striking a balance between physical, mental, spiritual and emotional needs, so that it will not be rocked by personality clashes or differences in attitude. Therefore the true Muslim who is guided by the Shari`ah of Allah in all his affairs, does not fall for the wiles of the “jezebels” who are the beautiful women of bad character; rather he (peace be upon him) tells people: “Beware of the ‘jezebels’.”
Guidance of Islam for a Married Life
After marriage, a true Muslim adheres to the Islamic injunction to treat his wife well. The Islamic recommendations concerning women and the way in which Islam encourages men to respect them, are nothing short of amazing.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) described the nature of woman in an eloquent manner. She will not remain consistent in the way her husband may wish, but the Muslim husband must understand that this is her nature, the way she has been created. He should not try to straighten her in the way he is convinced is correct, but he should respect her unique feminine nature and accept her the way Allah (Glory be to Him) made her, complete with the “crookedness” that means that she will not be as he wishes in some aspects. If he insists on straightening her and molding her to his wishes, it will be like trying to straighten a bent rib; it will break in his hands, and the breaking of a woman is divorce (i.e., the matter will end in divorce).
When the Muslim husband truly follows this guidance of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which is based on a deep understanding of the psychology and nature of women, he will tolerate his wife’s mistakes and turn a blind eye to her faults, recognizing that these are part of her nature. Thus, the marital home will be safe, calm and free from shouting or arguments.
We may note that the Prophet (peace be upon him) urged for good conduct with woman and said: “Treat women kindly,” then after analyzing the nature of woman, he ended with the same words: “Treat women kindly.”(Al-Bukhari and Muslim) How great was the concern of the Prophet (peace be upon him) for women, and how deep was his understanding of their psychology! Does the sincere Muslim husband have any choice but to follow this guidance and put it into practice at every moment?
Women’s Right in the Last Sermon of the Prophet
The Prophet’s concern for women reached such an extent that he did not forget to remind Muslims to treat them kindly, in his farewell sermon (khutbat Al-Wada`a). This is the khutbah in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) reiterated the essential points of Islam, when he realized that this was the last time he would stand and address the Muslims during Hajj. He did not omit to advise Muslims to treat women kindly, beginning his words concerning women with a warning that is indicative of his care and concern: “Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of Allah. You too have rights over them, and that they should not allow anyone to sit on your bed [i.e., not let them into the house] whom you do not like. But if they do that, you can chastise them but not severely. Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner.” (Muslim)
This is a good advice, in which every sincere Muslim husband recognizes the wisdom of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in defining the rights and duties of husband and wife in a framework of mercy and compassion towards women which leaves no room for even thinking of oppressing or harming one’s wife.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave many recommendations concerning women, to the extent that he described the man who treats his wife well as being one of the best and among the elite of his Ummah (Nation): “The believer who has the most perfect faith is the one whose behavior is best, and the best of you are the ones who are best to their women.”(At-Tirmidhi)
Some women came to the family of the Prophet (peace be upon him) complaining about their husbands. So the Prophet (peace be upon him) announced to the people: “Many women have visited the family of Muhammad, complaining about their husbands. Verily those are not the best among you.” (Muslim)
Islam is the greatest in its fairness and respect towards women, and in its recommendation to husbands to treat their wives well even if they dislike them. This is something which women have never enjoyed throughout the history, except in the shade of Islam. Allah (Glory be to Him) says in the Glorious Qur’an:
O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion. And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them unless they commit a clear immorality. And live with them in kindness, for if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good. (An-Nisa’ 4:19)
This Verse touches the heart of the true Muslim, so that his anger is soothed and his dislike towards his wife is lessened. In this way, Islam protects the sacred marriage bond from being exposed to the danger of turbulent emotions and the folly of changing moods. When a man came to `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) and told him that he wanted to divorce his wife because he disliked her, `Umar said: “Woe to you! Are families only built on love? Where is your consideration and care?”
The marriage bond in Islam is of greater importance than emotional whims, and rises above the pressures of crazy animal urges. The true Muslim possesses enough politeness, nobility, courtesy, patience, generosity and strength of character to make him rise above any dislike of his wife in his dealings with her, far from thinking only in terms of mindless animal instincts or making a profit!
A true Muslim cannot do other than obeying his Lord the Almighty; so he treats his wife well even if he dislikes her, because he understands the words of his Wise Lord. A man may dislike something and try to distance himself from it, when in fact it is full of goodness and blessing. A true Muslim knows how to love and how to hate. Love is not blind for him, neither does he go to extremes of dislike and hatred, but his attitude must be moderate and balanced.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained that even if a husband dislikes his believing Muslim wife, she will still have some favorable characteristics which will please him, so he should not ignore the good aspect of her character and focus only on the negative features: “No believing man should hate a believing woman. If he dislikes one of her characteristics, there will be others that do please him.” (Muslim)
Source: Taken from www.islamicstudies.info with modifications.