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By Khadijah Sani

No woman can fulfils her duty towards Allah until she fulfils her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.”

This is a topic of importance. Its significant role in having a happy marriage and peaceful conjugal living among spouses cannot be over-emphasized. However, in the name of modernization and women emancipation, many homes do not attach importance to the command of Allah and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad on this. Thus many relationships collapsed and were destroyed because of the disobedience of many women to their husbands. Ibn Hibbaan narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If a woman prays her five (daily prayers), fasts her month (Ramadan), guards her chastity and obeys her husband, it will be said to her: ‘Enter Paradise from whichever of the gates of Paradise you wish.’” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, no. 660.

The Qur’an recommends that wives are to be obedient and adaptable to their husbands, keep secrets about their husbands and protect their honour and integrity. Islamic scholars consider this as important in running a smooth family system. “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means”. The Prophet PBUH said: “It is not permissible for a woman to fast when her husband is present except with his permission, or to allow anyone in his house without his permission.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4899.

Undiluted obedience to husbands is not negotiable if we consider what the prophets say. Ibn Maajah (1853) narrated that ‘Abd-Allah ibn Abi Awfa said: When Mu’aadh came from Syria, he prostrated to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who said, “What is this, O Mu’aadh?” He said, I went to Syria and saw them prostrating to their archbishops and patriarchs, and I wanted to do that for you. The Messenger of Allah (S) said, “Do not do that. If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no woman can fulfil her duty towards Allah until she fulfils her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.

 At this juncture, the question to ask is, what happens if there is a conflict between obedience to husband and obedience to parents? The answer is provided by Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) in Sharh Muntaha al-Iraadaat, 3/47 where he said concerning a woman who has a husband and a sick mother: Obeying her husband is more obligatory upon her than (taking care of) her mother, unless he gives her permission. In al-Insaaf (8/362) it says: She does not have to obey her parents about leaving her husband or visiting her parents. 

Notwithstanding that obedience to their husband is a critical part of peaceful living among spouses in Islam, a woman is a completely independent personality. She can make any contract or bequest in her name. She is entitled to inherit her position as mother, wife, sister and daughter. She has the perfect liberty to choose her husband. Ahmad (19025) and al-Haakim narrated from al-Husayn ibn Muhsin that his paternal aunt came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for something, and he dealt with her need, then the Prophet said: “Do you have a husband?” She said, “Yes.” He said: “How are you with him?” She said, “I do not neglect any of his rights except those I am unable to fulfil.” He said: “Look at how you are with him, for he is your paradise and your hell” –Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb, no. 1933.

Islam, which was revealed to guide humanity to salvation, genuinely values women. Many verses protect women, and their rights, for the Qur’an, eliminated the prevalent misguided stereotypes of women and gave them a respectable position in society. Our Lord teaches that superiority in His Presence is based not on gender but on fear and respect of Allah, faith, good character, devotion, and dedication to Him. Some people are unaware of the importance and value Islam places upon women. Women who do not know this reality try to protect their rights by working within their worldview, which follows the logic of unbelief. , And Allah knows best.

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