Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Who is to hold authority at home?

written by Amr Khaled

Love, clashes, rights, and duties; all are nouns to describe the first year of marriage. What is the role of the husband? What is the role of the wife? What are the rulings of marriage in the Islamic Law?

Those rulings that proved to fit all places, ages, and all the social systems. This is the core of the interview that Essam Ghazi made with Mr. Amr Khaled for Kol el-nas, Wednesday 24/9/2003 issue.

Here you are the details of the interview:

In the first year of marriage, clashes arise between couples due to the differences in cultures and environments. Clashes, normally, revolve around holding authority at home, while each of them is trying to gain more independence. Mr. Amr Khaled highlights the justice of Islam in dividing the rights between the husband and the wife. Only if each one knew his rights as well as the rights of his mate, clashes would come to an end and the first year of marriage would turn to an everlasting honeymoon. If you want to know what Mr. Amr Khaled said about this issue, continue reading.

The essence of the problem

I asked him, “Mr. Amr, tell us please about the husband's rights and the wife's rights that are required for a comfortable marital life.”

When talking about rights we have to talk about roles. Each one should know well his role. Problems often arise because each one does not know his role.

So, is the husband's role merely reduced to bread winning? And is the wife's role merely reduced to enjoying her time in clubs and going on trips, ignoring completely the demands of her family and her house?

Actually, the major problem faced by all families all over the world is defining the roles of both the husband and the wife. Normally, all the world social systems had different opinions about this.

For example, in Russia and Eastern Europe, communism saw that the most important of all is the society. Men and women are only the children-producers in it. They have no other role. The country is the one that raises those children instead of the parents. In this case, the country that raises, educates, and spends money has replaced the parents’ role. Consequently, those children will grow up having a great sense of belonging towards their country.

Don't forget that Israel, though a non-communist society, follows the same route in the Mushaf and the Kepots. The result of canceling the roles of the parents was the great and sudden collapse of the Soviet Union, or, you can say, the communist society as a whole.

Yet, the whole society was reformed when the parents' roles were back; that society which was once destroyed in 70 years because of canceling the parents' roles.

Another example is the western society; a materialistic one. There, the dollar or the Euro is the only thing that counts. Those who have no money are trampled underfoot. The first priority for parents is going to work, whereas bringing up their children in a warm family atmosphere comes secondly. Number one is work… work… work. Actually, I'm not against women's work, I'm just talking about priorities. The woman, there, started to work day and night. She started to replace man in everything. Thus, her femininity diminished.

The right priorities:

Women before Islam and at the beginning of the Islamic Age used to work, yet, they never lost their femininity and their families never dissolved. Why?

It's well known that women used to work and to join in jihad before Islam, after Islam, and at the beginning of the prophecy epoch. However, they never lost their femininity because their priorities were well arranged. The success of any woman depends, greatly, on how she arranges her priorities.

Unacceptable examples:

Consider the Western example. It recognizes the family in a greatly materialistic way. It considers it the second or the third priority (I live in the West and I witnessed this myself). As a result, a girl until the age of 16 is forbidden to have a boyfriend. She can only have a school colleague.

When she is 16, she can have a boyfriend, under the supervision of her family. At 18, she leaves her home and goes to enjoy her life with her boyfriend, but without having babies. This is the normal result of what her society has lodged deep inside her mind and soul; collect money and that's it. At the age of 35, her womanhood drives her to ask for being a respectable wife. She is harshly encountered with the answer, "No, we will live together as partners in the same house." She starts to share responsibilities with the man, and is allowed to bring children, yet, she is never allowed to ask for marriage.

What is the difference, then, between the above-mentioned relation and the legal marriage?

In the above-mentioned relation, the man, not willing to bear the responsibility, might kick her and her children out at any time. Consequently, the concept of the single-mother made its way into the Western societies. The single-mother is the woman, who used to share a house with a man, then she gave birth to children, and they all started to share the house with that stranger who is never related to them by any means. As a result, at the age of 45, she starts to suffer from depression and destruction. She can no longer play the role of a girlfriend, nor is she a mother, a grandmother, or even a wife. She has been moving in a blind alley and now she reached its end.

After considering the Communist and the Western examples, let's consider the Islamic one.

I need love, tenderness, and compassion:

In the Islamic example, the role of man is:
1.      bringing up children
2.      Bread-winning
3.      Showing compassion and tenderness towards the whole family members.

Whereas the woman's priorities are arranged as follows:

   1. Showing compassion and affection towards her husband and her children.
   2. Working, if she would like to.

So, the first duty on the woman's shoulders is showing tenderness and compassion towards her family members. What proves my words is the way Allah created Eve. In Arabic, Eve is called "Hawwa' ". The word "Hawwa' " is derived from the word "ehtewaa' ", an Arabic word that means "encompassment". She encompasses everything not only her husband and her children. That's really her main role. Moreover, Eve was created from Adam's rib. She was not created from dust like him. As if Allah (SWT) is telling Adam that Eve is part of him and so he must care for her. Notice, also, that Eve was created from the ribs of Adam, and as known, the role of the ribs is to protect the heart. Thus, woman is the heart-protector. Imam Ahmad narrates that while in paradise, Adam felt lonely. So, while he was sleeping, Allah created Eve from his ribs. Then, he woke up and saw her. He asked her, "Who are you?"  "A woman", said she. "What's your name?" he returned. "Eve", replied she. "Why were you created?" he asked again. "To be your home", she answered. Thus, she is the home of the world and the relief of the heart. Without her, the whole world turns to wars, destruction, agony, and grief. Try to compare the other examples to Islam and how it treats woman.

A misconception:

One of the most horrible scenes in our life is one where the woman is pictured as a piece of home-furniture. This is wholly untrue. I think we all know quite well Ahmad Shawqi's lines that go:

A mother is a grand school.
Upon whose foundations, you establish entire nations

As if Islam wants to tell the woman, "You are half of the society. You are the one who provides the other half with affection and compassion."  Concerning the anti-woman labor calls, they are never related to Islam. They are, perhaps, a reaction against those imitators of the West who have been recently calling for changing the woman's priorities and putting work at the beginning of her agenda. Keeping women away from work was never a feature of the community established by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) 14 centuries ago. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself agreed that ِAl-Sayeda Rufayda establishes a hospital where she can treat men and women. Moreover, Hassaan Ibn Thabet (RA), the Prophet's poet, praised the working woman in his poetry. Also, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) assigned some roles for women to play in wars, and when a woman told him that she works as a hairdresser for women, he welcomed her and told her that, by so doing, she is helping them to be more cherished by their husbands. Hence, we have the physician and the warrior. Al-Sayeda Aisha herself established a school for teaching men and women, many of whom became scholars later on. We also have many creative women poets. Thus, the main role of the Muslim woman is caring for her husband and children and working if she likes to, provided that she does not lose her femininity.

On the other hand, what is the role of the husband? Is it education then bread winning or bread winning then education?

The role of the husband is firstly, bringing up his children well and secondly, spending money on them. What would be the benefit of money if the son was brought up as a drug addict? The father is number one person in his home, so, where is your education and your compassion? Where are your gatherings with your children? Where is the care that you are supposed to wrap them up with?

The responsibility of the husband only:

A famous scene: the pregnant woman comes exhausted from work to find all kinds of problems waiting for her; house, children, cooking, cleaning, laundry…etc. On the other side of the scene is the husband lying in front of the TV after taking his shower. Some moments later, he goes to bed. Is this justice? This is, absolute injustice. I think that this stems from a major problem; namely, the unwillingness of many husbands to bear responsibilities in the way all men are supposed to do. They mistakenly think that the woman's main role is to clean, cook, and do the laundry. Actually, this is never the woman's status in Islam. Despite the responsibilities of being a Prophet and a leader of an entire nation, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) used to milk the goat, to sew up his clothes, and to go to the market to do the shopping himself. This is the role of the man as depicted by the Prophet (PBUH). Al-Sayeda Aisha says, "The Prophet (PBUH) used to sit with us to talk and chat, yet, when he hears the Azan he appears as if he does not know us." What do you think they used to chat about? Only religion? Actually, no; they used to talk about the society, about poetry...etc. They even used to go out and hold competitions.

Is it the right of the husband to take his wife's salary every month?

Islam has completely separated the wife's wealth from that of her husband's. Thus, in Islam, women are free to do whatever they like with their money. Also, in Islam, women are called after their fathers, contrary to the West where they are called after their husbands.
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