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03:22 AM , Sunday 20th August 2017

Chapter Three: Woman's Rights in Islam

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 Let us here address the status of women in Islam after the quick summary of the status of women in the pre-Islamic societies. We need here to compare the rights to which Islam has entitled women and the rights that other societies granted.

Islam deals with women in a very comprehensive way. We notice that Islam did not limit its care of women to a specific stage of life; but rather, paid close attention to women's needs and rights throughout her life, as we shall illustrate through the following discussion. Islam focused on the female, in general, as daughter, wife, mother and otherwise in the Islamic society.


Daughters in Islam

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (17:31) concerning the necessity and importance of the preservation and care of female and male newborns - which the meaning of is translated as: “And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Surely, such a killing is a great sin.”

In fact, Islam declares that the killing of children is a great sin which is punishable by Allah.

Islam requires the parents to give their children beautiful names, take proper care of them, take care of all their needs, provide for them what they need, in accordance to parent's level of income, and ensure a decent, respected and honorable life for them. Islam imposes this as a child's right. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (2:233) which the meaning of is translated as: “Mothers shall nurse their children for two whole years, for those parents who desire to complete the term of suckling, and the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother's food and clothing on a reasonable basis.”

Nursing and child up-bringing is the most important right after the right of (milk) nursing by the mother. The mother is entitled to the upbringing of the child, son or daughter, at the early stage of life, between the ages of one and thirteen or fourteen. This applies particularly in case of divorce due to essential differences between parents. Islam entitles the mother custody during early childhood because she, generally, is more caring and attentive of the child's need. 'Amr bin Shu'aib related of Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that: 'A woman came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) complaining about her husband saying: My belly (womb) held my baby as a fetus, my breast nursed the baby as an infant and my lap carried the baby for a long time. The baby's father divorced me, and he wants to strip the baby (my child) away from me!. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “You deserve the child's custody as long as you do not remarry.”'[27] Abu-Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), the first rightly guided Caliph of Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), passed a verdict in favor of 'Asim's mother, the wife of Omar bin al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), when Omar divorced her. Abu-Bakr (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said: "Her smell, the way the mother smells her child, and her kindness is better for him than you."[28]

If it was not for the commands of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran, and the teaching of Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the Sunnah, women would not have been given the preference over men. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was reported as saying: “Be fair and just in terms of the gifts you offer your children. If I was to give preference to any (gender over the other) I would have preferred females over males (in terms of gifts).”[29]

Moreover, Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) concentrated throughout his teachings on giving more care and attention to females in general over the male. Females must be treated with kindness, respect, honor, dignity, integrity and their needs must be looked after. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says: “He whosoever has three daughters, or three sisters, or two daughters or two sisters, and is very kind to them, demonstrating nice company to them and fears Allah in their treatment, will enter Paradise (as a result of his good actions to these females).”[30]

Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is also reported to have said: “He whosoever has three daughters and exercises patience with them, feeds them, clothes them according to his own income, they will become like a barrier for him, to protect him from the torture of the Hellfire.”[31]

Islamic laws and teachings mandate that parents raise their children in the best manners and offer them a sound, beneficial and healthy education. Ibn Omar (may Allah be pleased with him), reported Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as saying: “The most sinful of you are those who neglect those whom he is responsible to take care of.”[32]

Ibn Omar (may Allah be pleased with him), reported that Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Each one of you (Muslims) is a shepherd (i.e. care taker). And each one of you is responsible for his own herd (i.e. whatever one is entrusted with). A leader, is a shepherd, and is responsible for his own herd. A man is a shepherd of his family, and he is responsible for his own herd. A woman is a shepherd in her husband's home, and she is responsible for his herd. A servant is a shepherd in his master's wealth, and he is responsible for his herd. Each one of you (Muslims) is a shepherd and each one of you is responsible for his own herd.”[33]

Additionally, Islam commanded that justice in its broad concept is applied amongst all children regardless of their sexes. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (16:90) which the meaning of is translated as: “Verily Allah enjoins justice and doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, injustice and rebellion. He admonishes you, that you may take heed.”

Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said: “Be just and fair to your children; be just and fair to your children; be just and fair to your children, (three times).”[34]

Bukhari also reported that: 'Aishah, the mother of the believers (may Allah be pleased with her), said to the prophet: 'A poor woman came to my door carrying two little girls. I offered the woman three dates. She gave each of her two girls a date, and lifted the third one to her mouth to eat. Both her daughters asked her to feed them. The woman split the last date into two pieces and gave one half to each of her two daughters.' I admired what the woman had done and reported it to Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who said upon hearing it: “Verily, Allah made paradise, a permanent abode for that woman for what she did in terms of sacrifice, and He has liberated her from the hellfire.”[35]

Undoubtedly, this noble direction of Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ties together human emotions; i.e., the natural love of children, and the reward in the hereafter. The love of the hereafter is but an incentive for parents to be kind, merciful and just to all their children. Parents will pray for the reward from Allah.

Islam calls for material and emotional justice and fair treatment from both parents to their children, regardless of their sexes. A male child is not to be given preference over a female child, and vise versa. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once was asked by a man to give him testimony that he gave his son a certain gift. Upon that, Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked the father: “Did you give all your children the same as you gave this son? The man answered negatively. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Let someone else be a witness. I will not bear witness to an unfair and unjust thing. (O People!) Fear Your Lord, Allah, and be just amongst all your children.”[36]

Islam did not limit justice and fair treatment to visible matters only. This treatment was passed on to all details of the life, including, but not limited to emotional acts such as kissing a child or smiling for him. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him), reported that a man was sitting with Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). A son of that man came to see him. The man kissed his son and let him sit on his lap (thigh). (A little later), a daughter of that man came (to see her father). He made her sit in front of him. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to the man: “Why do you not equalize (in treatment) between both of your children?”[37]

It is worth mentioning here, also, that Islam emphasized the importance of taking care of the orphans. Being an orphan has a great negative impact on the mental, spiritual and emotional status of a child. This state may lead an orphan to deviation or corruption at times, especially if the orphan exists in a society that does not give him due care, fulfill his needs and be kind and merciful to him.

Islam pays special attention, and gives tremendous care, to orphans, males and females. Islam required that the immediate relatives of that orphan take good care of him/her. If there are no relatives, then it becomes the responsibility of the Islamic State to take care of them, manage their affairs and provide them with care. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (93:9) which the meaning of is translated as: “Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness.”

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), also stated in the Glorious Quran (4:10) which the meaning of is translated as: “Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only a fire into their bellies, and they will be burn in the Blazing fire!”. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is also reported to have said: “O Allah! I declare it a great sin to harm, do injustice, hurt or waste the rights of the two weak persons, the orphan and the woman.”[38]

Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is also reported to have said: “Avoid the seven cardinal sins that may cause destruction. The companions asked: O Prophet of Allah! What are these sins? He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: To associate others in the worship of Allah, to practice sorcery, to kill a human soul for no due reason, to deal with Riba (usury), to eat up the wealth of an orphan, to back away in the battle field and to accuse the innocent, chaste, believing women with adultery.”[39]

On the other hand, many other statements of Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) have been reported as urging believing Muslims to sponsor orphans, take good care of them, be kind to them and demonstrate love and affection to them. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “I and the sponsor of an orphan are like these in Jannah. (He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) pointed out to both index and middle fingers).”[40] He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also said: “Whosoever places his hand over the head of an orphan with mercy and affection, Allah will record the good deed for this person according to the number of hairs that the person's hand wipes of the orphan's head.”[41]

Islam also paid special attention to foundlings or illegitimate children who are left without any indication to acknowledge their parents, whether it is a male or a female. The Islamic government is required to take care of such children exactly as an orphan. Two good members, a well taken care of orphan and foundling will be brought up in a decent manner so as they may become normal and beneficial members of the society. Thus, these two members of the society may assume their normal life responsibilities rather than being a burden or curse on the society should they be left without care and affection.

Islam values the opinion of the daughter when it comes to marriage. Moreover, Islam considered the opinion of the daughter in the marriage as an essential condition for the validity of the marriage itself. The daughter, the sister, the granddaughter, or the female in general, is free to accept the person who seeks marriage from her, or reject his proposal. The father, or any other guardian, has no right to force her to accept a person whom she does not want. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “A virgin girl must not enter wedlock until she gives permission to do so. And a divorcee, or widow, should be also asked to give approval of the proposing man.”[42]

Imam Ahmad also reported 'Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), as saying: A woman came to Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: 'O Prophet of Allah! My father offered me as wife to his nephew (who was an honorable man with a good social status in the society, while we were normal people with no recognition) so as to elevate his social status. What should I do?' Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:“The matter is in your hands. If you like you may accept and approve the marriage. If you do not, no one has the right to force you to accept it.” The woman said: 'I approve what my father had done, but I want to teach other women that their fathers have no right to force them to marry whomever they the fathers want.'


Islam Cares for the Woman as a Wife

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (30:21) which the meaning of is translated as: “Among His signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy.”

We notice that it is one of the great signs of the Might of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), is to create for mankind wives from among themselves so that they are comforted, settled, and can derive satisfaction from one another. They both, male and female, derive comfort, satisfaction, help and assistance from each other and support one another.

A wife, according to Islam, is one of the most essential pillars and the foundation of the entire society. She is the basic foundation upon which a Muslim home is established. Islam grants her certain rights and requires her to perform certain duties as we shall illustrate in the following section.


Dowry

Dowry, is a right of every bride prior to marriage. This is a gift that has been specified and mandated by the Islamic teachings. A marriage contract is not complete unless and until a dowry has been approved. Dowry cannot be dropped or forfeited, even if the bride approves, until the marriage contract is completed. The woman entering marriage has the freedom to do whatever she wants with what she owns after the marriage contract is fulfilled. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (4:4) which the meaning of is translated as: “Give the women whom you marry their dower (obligatory bridal money given by the husband at the tie of marriage) with a good heart, but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it, and enjoy it without fear of any harm (as Allah had made it lawful).”

Dowry is one of the woman's rights. A husband may not, and is not allowed to take anything back of the dower that he has given to his wife if he decides to divorce her and seek another marriage. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (4:20-21) which the meaning of is translated as: “If you intend to replace a wife by another and you have given one of them a 'Qintar' (approx. 100 kg of gold) as dowry, take not the least of it back; would you take it wrongfully without a right and with a manifest sin. And how can you take it back while you have gone in unto each other, and they have taken from you a firm and strong covenant?”

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), also stated in the Glorious Quran (4:19) which the meaning of is translated as: “O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of their dowry you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. Live with them honorably; if you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.” This verse ensures the wife's rights as illustrated by Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), as stated in the Glorious Quran.

It is forbidden and unlawful to inherit women against their will. We have illustrated earlier that Arabs during the pre-Islamic era used to inherit the woman herself. If a husband, who had grown up children who are capable of marrying, died; his widow was inherited by the elder son from another marriage; or else, that heir may offer that widow of his deceased father to any other man. Or, the stepson; i.e., the heir, used to forbid the widow of his father to marry someone else. This practice that rendered the widow as a commodity in the hand of the stepson or heir, entitled the man to do as he wishes with her.

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), illustrated in the Glorious Quran that it is unlawful for a man to mistreat his wife in such a fashion that imposes hardship, harassment and burden to her. Such as insulting her, beating her, wasting her wealth and funds or even forbidding her from going out of her house, in an attempt force her to pay all she possesses as ransom to her husband to release her in divorce.

Islamic laws and teachings, however, permit the husband to impose hardship onto any woman who displays distorted moral conduct that is shameful and harmful to the entire society and may cause decay to the social order. A woman who fornicates, for instance, or commits adultery, may be treated harshly so that the man may demand return of the dowry that he gave her when he married her. Afterwards, such a woman may be offered divorce.

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), commanded in the Glorious Quran that a husband must live with his wife honorably, kindly and with respect. A man must say and do nice things to his wife. A man must wear decent, clean and acceptable clothes when he sits in his household. A man must look in his best as he likes his wife to do for him at home, because this is only human nature. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said: “The most complete believers in terms of faith are those who possess the best morals. The best of you are those best to their wives.”[43]

Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have been always pleasant, kind and caring to all. He played and joked nicely and politely with his family members. He was also known to be very kind and good to them. Imam Ahmad reported Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as saying: “All things man may play with and have fun are rendered vain and waste of time except three items as follows: to practice archery, to train one's horse and to play and have decent fun with one's wife. These three items are lawful and truthful ones.”

Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) spent generously on his family members as he could financially afford. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also is well known for being cheerful and decent in joking with his household and playing with them. 'Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), the mother of the believers, is reported to have said: Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) raced with me and I beat him before I become old and heavy. Later, when I became old and heavy he raced with me again and he won. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to me upon winning the race: “This win of mine makes up for that win of yours.”[44]

Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have sat in the house for a short while with his family, talking to them, giving them company and showing kindness, before going to sleep, and after offering the late evening prayer, i.e. Isha. Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated: "I slept at the house of Maymunah(the Prophet's wife) one night when it was her night to see the Prophet's night prayer. He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) talked with his wife for a period of time then he slept."[45]

Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (33:21) which the meaning of is translated as: “Indeed in the person of the Messenger of Allah there is a good example to follow for those who believe in Allah and the hereafter, and remembers Allah much. Hence, Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is the best example to follow for all of us, the believing Muslims. Muslims ought to follow the pattern of Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in all of their personal and public affairs throughout their entire life.”


Justice, Fairness and Equality

This practice applies to husbands who are married to more than one wife. A husband who has a polygamy marriage in accordance to Islam must be fair and just to all of his wives and treat them on equal terms with regards to feeding, clothing and time-sharing. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said: “He who has two wives and does not demonstrate justice, fairness and equality amongst them will come on the Day of Resurrection with one of his sides paralyzed.”[46]


Expenditure

A husband must spend enough of his income and wealth for his wife. He is required to secure suitable housing, daily needs in terms of food, clothing and whatever other necessities the house may require. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (65:7) which the meaning of is translated as: “Let the rich man spend according to his means, and let the man whose resources are restricted, spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. Allah will grant after hardship, ease.”

Hakeem bin Mu'awiyeh al-Qushairee reported his father as saying: “I asked Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): what is the right of one's wife onto him? He answered: Her right is to feed her as you feed yourself, to clothe her as you clothe yourself; do not hit her at the face, do not use insulting language, and do not abandon her bed for any place other than home.”[47]

Therefore, if a rich man declines to spend on his family in accordance with his means, and the wife was able to take a portion of his wealth, even without informing him and making it clear to him, she may take a sum that only would satisfy the essential needs of her and her children, without exaggeration or overspending. This ruling is based upon the incident of Hind bint 'Utbah who came to Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) complaining about her husband, Abu-Sofyan, saying: 'My husband is a miser and he does not spend enough on me and his children.' Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Take whatever suffices you and your children modestly.”[48]

If a husband came under heavy financial strain and was incapable of fulfilling his family financial needs, or if he left his wife for an extensive period of time whereby the wife was hurt due to that absence, the wife is entitled to seek court intervention to break that marriage. This is based on a Hadith reported by Abu-Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), as 'Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was once asked about a husband who does not have sufficient funds to satisfy the living needs of his wife, what should be done about such a marriage?' Allah's Apostle said: “This marriage should be broken by the separation of the husband and his wife.”

Islam urges men to treat their wives kindly and with a caring and sharing attitude. The Apostle of Allah was reported as saying: “The most complete believers in terms of faith are those who possess the best morals. The best of you are those best to their wives.”[49]

Islam did not neglect the mental and emotional rights of women as well. There are many rights in addition to the materialistic rights for women. The following are some of these mental and emotional rights for women:

Women must be protected by man from all immoral people. They should not be exposed to places of moral corruption, nightclubs and other similar places.
Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (66:6) which the meaning of is translated as: “O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are appointed angels, stern and severe, who disobey not the commands they receive from Allah, and do what they are commanded.”
Women should be taught beneficial things for both this world and the hereafter. All their secrets must be kept and preserved. None of their shortcomings should be disclosed to anyone. No private affairs of the woman should be made public or shared as a conversation item even among the most intimate friends. None of the practices a husband does privately with his spouse should be disclosed openly or secretly to anyone, regardless of how close he might be. Allah's Apostle was reported as saying: “One of the worst people in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection is a husband who may do private things with his wife, or a wife who does the same with her husband, then one of them discloses that privacy to others.”[50]

Spending Night and Sexual Fulfillment

This right is one of the most emphasized rights in Islam. The husband is required and obliged by Islamic law to fulfill the sexual rights of his spouse, to ensure the satisfaction of the spouse so as to refrain one's spouse from getting involved in shameful acts, may Allah forbid. A spouse, as any other female, is in a great need for a big heart to love her, care for her, fulfill her natural and physical needs and take care of her instinctive demands.

Islam, in fact, forbids husbands from indulging themselves in matters of physical devotions, like prayers and fasting, in a way that may detract them from attending to their partners' needs, demands and instinctive requirements. Salman Al-Farisi (may Allah be pleased with him), reported: "I went to visit my brother in faith, Abu-Darda (may Allah be pleased with him), upon arrival, I was greeted by his spouse who was wearing very casual house clothes. Seeing that, I asked her, 'What is the matter with you; why are you wearing such simple and casual clothes and not wearing other suitable clothes to please your husband?' She said: 'Your brother, Abu-Darda (may Allah be pleased with him), has no interest, none whatsoever, with this world and its affairs. He spends his nights praying and spends the day fasting!' Upon the arrival of Abu-Darda (may Allah be pleased with him), who welcomed Salman (may Allah be pleased with him), and offered him some food, Salman said: 'Why do not you eat with me?' Abu-Darda (may Allah be pleased with him), said: 'I am fasting.' Salman (may Allah be pleased with him), said: 'I take an oath by Allah that you must break your fast and eat with me.' Abu-Darda (may Allah be pleased with him), broke his fast and ate with Salman (may Allah be pleased with him). Salman spent that night with Abu-Darda (may Allah be pleased with him). The latter got up during the night to offer some night prayers. Salman (may Allah be pleased with him), stopped him from doing so saying: 'Your body has certain rights upon you; your Lord has certain rights upon you; and your family has certain rights upon you. Fast some days, and break the fast on others, approach your spouse and fulfill her instinctive needs. Grant every person his due right.' Just before the break of dawn, Salman (may Allah be pleased with him), permitted Abu-Darda (may Allah be pleased with him), to get up and offer prayers. Both of them got up, performed ablution and offered some prayers then they headed to the Masjid to offer Fajr prayer. Upon finishing the prayer with Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), Abu-Darda (may Allah be pleased with him), reported to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) what Salman (may Allah be pleased with him), had said and done to him. The Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) confirmed: “Salman said the truth.”[51]

The following are some other rights that the spouse enjoys according to Islam:

A husband must not travel and be away from home for more than a six-month period at one time. ( if his wife agree, and this is an estimated period set by the prophet's khalif Omar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) after he consulted his daughter Hafsa (may Allah be pleased with her) about the period that the wife can stay away from her husband , but, this period remains less or more depends on the wife's sexual demands). A wife, based on her own instinctive nature, may tolerate the absence of her husband for more than six months, or she may demand him to come back before that time. The husband may not refuse or deny his spouse's request unless he has a very valid and legitimate excuse.
A husband must not make any financial decisions on behalf of his spouse and must not interfere in her own financial affairs unless she gives him such permission. The husband has no right to take any of his spouse's financial assets without her knowledge and approval.
The husband must consult his spouse insofar as the major household decisions, children's affairs and other mutual affairs. It is not wise to dictate a man's opinion upon all members of the family and not listen to the spouse's opinion, as long as her opinion is wise and correct. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave us a practical example of such doing. On the Day of the Pact[52] the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) commanded his companions to shave their heads and take off their Hajj/Umra garments clothes, "Ihram", but they were slow and did not hasten to fulfill his command. Ummu Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her), his wife, recommended that he do so himself and goes out before his companions. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) acted upon the recommendation of his wife, doing what she suggested and went out of his tent. When the companions saw Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and what he had done, they all hastened to emulate his act.
A husband must avoid tracing and counting every innocent mistake his spouse may commit. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said: “A husband may not come late at night from a travel to his home without a proper notification.”[53] A husband may find his spouse in an unprepared situation that he may dislike, and thus this may cause him to dislike his spouse.
A husband must be kind, tentative, sharing and caring to his spouse. He must deal with her with honesty, decency, patience and care and must take into consideration her very human nature; women like to be loved tenderly and be well taken care of. A husband must demonstrate his affection, love, appreciation, caring, consideration and genuine keenness to his spouse. This must be expressed with words and actions. Allah, stated in the Glorious Quran (4:19) which the meaning of is translated as: “O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dower you have given them, except where they have been guilty of illegal sexual intercourse. And live with them honorably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.” It is also reported that Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “A believing Muslim must not declare his dislike of a believing spouse. A husband may dislike some of his spouse's behaviors, but he will definitely like others.”[54]

Islam Cares for the Woman as a Mother

We note that the Glorious Quran greatly emphasized the right of the woman as a mother. In fact, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (17:23) which the meaning of is translated as: “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him; and that you be dutiful, kind, and caring to your parents. If one of them or both attains old age in your life, say not to them a word of faintest complaint or disrespect, nor shout at them; but address them in terms of honor.” Allah, in this verse puts His right to be worshipped along with the right of parents, in the same address and at the same level. This displays the great rights and position of parents in Islam.

Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) declared that: “Paradise is under the mother's feet.”[55] No doubt this is a symbolic representation of the fact that the pleasure, caring, respecting and serving the mother will definitely lead man to attain the pleasure of Allah and Paradise, which He promised as a reward for His rightly guided Muslim believers.

Mothers, in the first place, before fathers, deserve kindness, caring, good treatment, kind company and best care and service from their children. Abu-Horairah (may Allah be pleased with him), was reported as saying: “A man came to Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and asked him: 'O Prophet of Allah! Who is the most deserving and worthy of my good company and care?' Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), responded: 'It is your mother.' The man asked: 'Who comes next after her?' He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: 'Your mother.' Again, the man asked: 'Who comes next after her?' He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said: 'Your mother', The man sked again: 'Who comes next after her?' He (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said: 'Your father.”[56]

This Hadith indicates that a mother has three times the rights that of a father in accordance with Islam. This entitlement is given to the mother due to the tremendous suffering that she goes through during the various stages of the life of her child, in pregnancy, delivery, nursing as well as the shared responsibility of raising the child. The fetus lives, nourishes and thrives on the account of the mother's digested food while in his mother's womb for nine months. Similarly, the nursing baby does the same for two years of his life, if the mother decides to breast-feed her child. This has been illustrated by Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), as stated in the Glorious Quran (31:14) which the meaning of is translated as: “And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and good to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship; his weaning is two years. Offer Me thanks and to your parents; unto Me is the final destination.”

Mothers, therefore, are given priority over fathers, and anybody else for that matter, in terms of being kind, caring, dutiful, mindful, good, obedient and helping.

Both parents, in accordance to Islamic teachings and principles, are to be obeyed, respected and not differed with as long as they do not command or order their children to disobey their Creator, Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala). If parents ordered their children to perform any act of disobedience to Allah, in any form, shape or size, then they are to be disobeyed in that particular aspect of practice only. In the meantime, a son/daughter must continue to present their normal duties towards parents; they are expected to serve them, help them in their worldly affairs, come to their rescue when they need them. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (31:15) which the meaning of is translated as: “And if parents strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not, but behave with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who turns to Me in repentance and obedience. Then to Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what you did throughout your life.”

Obedience to parents must be given priority over all others including the wife. This means, that by no means the wife is to be humiliated, insulted, tortured or otherwise. Each individual must be given his/her due right of respect and obedience accordingly; however, parents should be given priority in obedience over all others.

Allah's pleasure with man is but an indication of the pleasure of the parents with their son/daughter, and vise versa. His dismay, wrath and displeasure is due to occur as a result of dismaying, displeasing or humiliating one's parents. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah's pleasure with man is but an indication of the pleasure of the parents with their son/daughter, and vise versa. His dismay, wrath and displeasure is due to occur to man as a result of dismaying, displeasing or humiliating one's parents.”[57]

Caring for parents, being good and kind to them, pleasing them and taking care of their immediate needs, especially in old age is preferred over participating actively and involving physically in the various acts of Jihad, striving for the cause of Allah. Unless every Muslim, male and female, is compelled to take an active part in Jihad activities, the care for parents is given utmost priority in accordance with Islam. Ibn Masaud (may Allah be pleased with him), reported:“I asked Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): O Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) What is the most liked act in the sight of Allah? Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Offering the prayer in its accurate due time. I, the reporter of the Hadith, further asked: What comes next, O Prophet of Allah? Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Being good, kind, respectful, obedient and caring to your parents. I, the reporter of the Hadith, further asked: What comes next, O Prophet of Allah? The Prophet said: Striving, Jihad, for the cause of Allah.”[58]

Abdullah bin 'Amr bin al-'Aas (may Allah be pleased with him), also reported:“A man came to Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said to him: O Prophet of Allah! I shall give you my pledge of allegiance to migrate and strive in the cause of Allah seeking His reward only. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) upon hearing that asked the man: Are your parents alive? The man said: Yes, O Prophet of Allah, both of them is living. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: If you seek the pleasure and reward from Allah go back to your parents and make sure that you do the best you can to serve them, please them, take care of their needs especially at the old age and be good and kind to them.”[59]

Parents must be respected, obeyed and offered financial assistance by their children, even if they have different religion or faith, other than Islam, as long as they do not demand that their son/daughter do any act of disobedience to Allah. Asma, the daughter of Abu-Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him), said: My mother, who was still a pagan, came to visit with me. I went to Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), seeking his advice on what I should do regarding her visit, despite the fact that my mother was expressing an interest in Islam, 'Should I be kind and good and take financial care of her?' Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), responded: “Yes, indeed. You should be kind and good and take care financially of your mother even if the mother was a pagan.”[60]

A son/daughter must help and give every possible assistance to parents in their various daily household chores. One must not be aloof and refuse to physically help his parents in their daily regular house activities. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), himself, used to mend his own clothes, mend his own shoes and help his family with their daily chores. In fact, 'Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) once was asked: 'What did Allah's Apostle used to do while at home?' 'Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), said: "Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), used to serve and assist his household; however, when he would hear the call to prayer, he would immediately leave the house."[61]

Goodness, kindness, obedience and caring for parent's needs must, in fact, be given higher priority over all other voluntary acts of prayer and worship. This is based on a Hadith where Abu-Horairah (may Allah be pleased with him), reported the Prophet as saying: “None, except three infants spoke while still in the cradle. These were:

Jesus son of Mary (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

The second is an Israelite at the time of Juraij. Juraij was a monk isolated himself in a cell and devoting his time for prayer and worship of Allah. One day, Juraij's mother sought him out asking help while he was indulged with his prayers. He said: 'O Allah! I am confused, to whom should I give priority; my prayers or my mother?' He preferred to continue his prayers, and neglected his mother's request for help. Upon seeing that, Juraij's mother left. On the following morning the mother did the same, and Juraij also continued his prayers and neglected his mother's call for help. On the following day, Juraij's mother came again to him and called him to help her, as she had done in the past two days; Juraij did not respond. Upon seeing that, the mother said: 'O Allah! Have Juraij look at the faces of prostitutes before he dies.' Israelites at the time used to highly admire the amount and manner of Juraij's worship, prayers and seclusion to which he devoted himself. A very beautiful and attractive prostitute that was popular at that time proposed to Israelites, 'If you wish, I can tempt Juraij and cause him to fall in love and commit illegal sexual activities with me.' The prostitute set out to execute what she proposed. She tried her best to lure Juraij into illegal sex with her; but to her surprise and dismay, her efforts were a failure. Hence, she approached a shepherd who used to stay close to Juraij's cell and offered herself to the shepherd who showed no objection. The prostitute got pregnant. Upon delivery, the prostitute accused Juraij of being the father of the child. The Israelites went to Juraij in his cell, drove him out, destroyed the cell and started beating him. He asked: "What is the matter? Why are you doing so?" They said: "You have fornicated with this prostitute and she delivered a baby from you, while you pretend to be a pious man." Juraij said: "Would you bring the baby here and let me offer my prayers, in an attempt to prove to you that I am not the father of that child." The Israelites permitted Juraij to offer his prayers, and brought the baby. When Juraij finished his prayers, he went to the baby and pointed to his belly with his hand asking: "Who is your real father, baby?" The baby, who was still in the cradle, said: "My father is the shepherd." Upon hearing the baby's statement and confession, the Israelites started kissing Juraij, seeking his blessings and said: "Should we reconstruct a cell out of gold for you?" He said: "No. But just rebuild it of clay and mud as it was built before." And so they did.

The third was an infant who was nursing at his mother's breast when a knight wearing very fancy clothes, passed by on a beautiful horse. The nursing mother said: 'O Allah! Let my son become in the future like this knight.' Upon hearing this supplication, the nursing infant left his mother's breast and said, while looking at the knight himself: 'O Allah! Do not make me in the future like this knight'. Then, the infant went back to sucking. (The narrator of the Hadith, Abu-Horairah (may Allah be pleased with him), said: 'I can remember the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) imitating the infant's nursing his mother's breast by placing his index in his mouth and sucking it.') Then the mother and her nursing infant passed by a maid who was beaten by her master and others accusing her with fornication and theft. The maid continued to say: 'Allah suffices me and He is My Guardian!' The mother said: 'O Allah! Do not let my child be like this woman in the future.' Upon hearing his mother's statement, the infant left his mother's breast and said: 'O Allah! Let me be like this woman in the future!' The mother upon hearing her infant's statement addressed him saying: 'Son! What is the matter with you? A nicely dressed knight passed by on a very nice horse, with a high status and power and I wished that you will be like him in the future; you refused to be like him. When we passed by that maid who was beaten and disciplined for an accusation of fornication and theft, and I prayed Allah for you not to be tortured and accused like her; you rejected my supplication also.' The infant said: 'Mother, As for the knight, he was a tyrant, and therefore I asked Allah not to make me like him. As for the beaten and accused maid, she has neither fornicated nor stolen. Thus, I asked Allah to make me innocent and pure like her!”[62]
Islamic teachings warn against disobeying parents, disrespecting them and not fulfilling their financial rights. Abu-Bakrah (may Allah be pleased with him), reported of Allah's Apostle as saying: “The punishment for all worldly sins may be deferred until the Judgment Day by Allah except for the sin of disobedience of children to their parents. This sin's punishment shall be imposed during the lifetime of man and not deferred until later.”[63]

Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was also reported as saying: “Verily, Allah has forbidden you to disobey your mothers, to prevent people from their entitlements, and to ask people for what you are not entitled; He has further forbidden burying your baby-girls while they are alive. He, also dislikes for you to say: "Other people said so and so." He, also, has forbidden you to continuously ask others to give you; or to question everything you see; or to waste your wealth for no meaningful reason.”[64]

Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) illustrated that being good and kind to parents is essential in the fulfillment of the supplications and prayers of man throughout his life. Ibn 'Omar (may Allah be pleased with him), reported the Prophet as saying: “Three men in the previous times set out on a business trip. When night approached they slept in a cave at the bottom of a mountain. Upon entering the cave, a boulder rolled down and closed the cave's entrance completely. They talked it over and concluded that there was no way out of this trouble except with prayers and supplications. 'We had better seek the help of Allah according to the best and most righteous deeds we have done in our lives.'
The first man said: 'O Allah! I had two elderly parents whom I never offered my wife and children anything to eat or drink before I offer them. One day I had to go for a long distance seeking food for my herd and I was late coming back. Upon arrival I found both of my parents asleep. I milked the sheep in order to offer my parents their dinner but I hated to wake them up to drink. However, I did not offer my wife or children before I offered them. I remained standing next to them carrying the milk pot in my hand waiting for them to wake up. At the break of day, they woke up, by that time my children were at my feet crying for milk. At that time, they woke up and I offered them their milk. O Allah! If you know that I have done that for Your sake, please salvage us from this trouble that we are suffering.' Upon that the rock was moved slightly away from the cave's entrance, but it was not enough to let a man out.

The second man said: 'O Allah! I had a female cousin from my father's side who was the most beloved woman to me on the face of Earth. I wanted her very badly to make love to me, but she refused. At one point in time, she underwent a very bad financial problem and came under a lot of financial stress due to famine. She came to me asking for help. I offered her a hundred and twenty 120 golden Dinars in order to let me have what I wanted from her; i.e., illegitimate sexual relations with her outside the wedlock. Under the pressure of her pressing need and poor financial situation, she agreed. When I was ready to begin the intercourse with her, she said, 'O Cousin! Fear Allah! And do not remove the seal of virginity except with the right manner.' Upon hearing that, I got up and did not touch her although she was the most beloved and wanted woman to me. I did not take back the gold which I gave her.' Then he raised his hands to heavens and said: 'O Allah! If You know I have done what I did for Your cause and pleasure, please remove the trouble and the stress that we are suffering. Remove the rock from the cave's entrance so we can get out!' Upon saying that, the rock was removed a very small distance again, so small as to not enable a person to get out of the cave.

The third man said: 'O Allah! You know that I once employed some workers and at the end of the day I paid their wages except for one who left without collecting his pay. Thus, I rightly invested his wages in my business and kept a special note and account for it. The money that belonged to this worker grew a lot during the years. At one point in time, after many years, the worker came to me asking for his wage that he did not take for that day of work. I pointed out to him a large group consisting of a herd of sheep, cows, camels, slaves and servants, and said to him: 'All that you see is yours! That is the wage that I owe you!' The poor worker was stunned and said: 'Please, do not ridicule and make fun of me! I am only asking for one-day wage. The employer said: 'I am neither ridiculing you nor making fun of you. This is all yours.' The worker took all that I pointed out for him and left. Then the man raised his hands to heavens and said: 'O Allah! If I have done what I did for Your cause and pleasure, remove the trouble and the stress that we are suffering.' Upon that the rock rolled away from the cave's entrance and the three men left the cave free again.' ”[65]

Islamic teachings also consider the pleasure of the parents, being good, kind, helpful, considerate, respecting and caring to them as one of the things that abolishes the sins in this world. It is reported that Abdullah Ibn 'Omar (may Allah be pleased with him), said: “A man came to Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: 'O Prophet! I have committed a major sin. Do you think that I can repent to Allah from it?' Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked the man: "Do you have a mother living?" The man answered negatively. Allah Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) further asked the man: "Do you have a maternal aunt living?" The man answered positively. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to him: "Be kind, caring, helpful, good, respective and keen to her.”[66] This is, of course, due to the fact that the mother's sister (aunt), in accordance to Islam, has a similar position and status to that of the mother. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said: “The sister of the mother has a similar position and status to that of the mother.”[67]

Islam required that the rights of parents should continue to be honored and respected even after their death. Malik Ibn Rabee'ah reported: “While we were sitting with Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), a man from Bani Salamah came to him and asked: 'O Allah's Apostle! My parents passed away. Is there anything required of me as a right of theirs after their death which I should keep and maintain.' Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Yes indeed. You should maintain supplications and prayers on their behalf. Ask Allah continuously to pardon them and forgive them. Fulfill any promises or pledges of allegiance that they have taken or offered others to do. Honor, respect and be hospitable to their friends and maintain a strong ties with your relatives which illustrate your love and respect to your parents.”[68]

All that we have stated and illustrated are only broad guidelines on the major and essential rights of parents, in general, and mothers, in particular, in accordance to Islamic teachings. There are many other rights of parents that we did not state here so as not to bore the reader.


Islam Cares for the Women in General

Islam requires the same rights for women as is required for men. A woman must be extended every possible good thing and have nice treatment. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said: “Believers in their mutual care, love and kindness are like one human body; if one organ of that body aches, the entire body will become feverish and man will stay awake all night.”[69]

If a woman is a neighbor and she is a Muslim, she is entitled to two rights: the right of Islam, and the right of a neighbor. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (4:36) which the meaning of is translated as: “Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinfolk, orphans, the poor who beg, the neighbor who is related to you, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer you meet, and those slaves whom your right hand possesses. Verily, Allah does not like those such as who are proud and boastful.”

One of the woman's right upon her neighbors is to be good, caring and kind to her. She is also entitled to be protected against various evils of life, supported as needed, respected and cared for. Allah Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Archangel Gabriel continued to recommend me to take care of the neighbor so much so that I thought the neighbor is going to be my legal heir.”[70]

It is also reported that Talhah (may Allah be pleased with him), said: "Omar Ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), went out of his home one night. I decided to follow him to see what he was doing during the night. I saw him entering a specific house. After a while I saw him coming out and entering another house. In the morning I passed by the first house and entered it to check who lives there. To my surprise I found an old, blind and disabled woman. I asked her: 'What did the man who came in your home last night want from you?' She said: 'This man has been taking care of me for a time, getting me what I need, helping me and supporting me.' Talha, the reporter said to himself: 'Why should I investigate Omar's actions?'[71]

Moreover, if the woman was an aunt, from either side, or a relative, regardless of the distance, she is included in the kinfolk to whom Allah commanded to be good, kind and supportive. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (47:22) which the meaning of is translated as: “Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship?” Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is also reported to have said: “A person who deserts his kinship will never enter paradise.”[72]

Thus we have seen some of the aspects of honoring, respecting, caring and supporting women according to Islamic teachings. Woman, we believe, never witnessed, neither in the past nor in the present, any similar respect and honor throughout the history of mankind on Earth.

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[27] This Hadith is reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Baihaqee.
[28] This Hadith is reported by Imam Malik in his book Al-Mouwatta.
[29] This Hadith is reported by Baihaqee.
[30] This Hadith was reported by Abu Dawood and Tirmithee.
[31] This Hadith was reported by Ahmad.
[32] This Hadith was reported by Abu Dawood and Nasaiee.
[33] This Hadith was reported by both Bukhari and Muslim.
[34] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari and Muslim.
[35] This Hadith was reported by Muslim.
[36] This Hadith was reported by both Bukhari and Muslim.
[37] This Hadith is reported by Al-Bazzar.
[38] This Hadith was reported by Nasaiee.
[39] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari and Muslim.
[40] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari.
[41] This Hadith was reported by Ahmad. The wording of the Hadith, however, is somewhat different as quoted herein.
[42] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari.
[43] This Hadith is reported by Tirmithee.
[44] This Hadith was reported by Imam Ahmad (RAA).
[45] Reported by Muslim.
[46] This Hadith was reported by Tirmithee.
[47] This Hadith was reported by Ibn-Hibban and Abu-Dawood.
[48] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari and Muslim.
[49] This Hadith is reported by Tirmithee.
[50] This Hadith was reported by Muslim.
[51] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari.
[52] Peace Treaty of Hodaibiyeh, a well-known place in the outskirts of Makkah where Allah's Apostle (PBUH), concluded a peace treaty with the pagans of Makkah in the 8th year of Hijrah.
[53] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari and Muslim.
[54] This Hadith was reported by Muslim.
[55] This Hadith was reported by Al-Nasaiee and Ibn Majah as follows: “A man came to the Prophet (PBUH), and said: "O Prophet of Allah! I intend to participate in the Islamic fighting for the cause of Allah. I came to consult you about it. The prophet (PBUH) asked the man: "Do you have a (living) mother? The man said: Yes. He (PBUH) said: "Do not depart her sight. Paradise is by her feet.”
[56] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari and Muslim.
[57] This Hadith was reported by Tirmithee.
[58] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari.
[59] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari and Muslim.
[60] This Hadith was reported by both Bukhari and Muslim.
[61] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari.
[62] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari and Muslim.
[63] This Hadith was reported by al-Hakim.
[64] This Hadith was reported by Bukhari and Muslim.
[65] This Hadith was reported by both Bukhari and Muslim.
[66] This Hadith was reported by Tirmithee.
[67] This Hadith was reported by both Bukhari and Muslim.
[68] This Hadith was reported by both Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah.
[69] This Hadith was reported by both Bukhari and Muslim.
[70] This Hadith was reported by Al-Tirmithee and Abu Dawood.
[71] This Hadith was reported by both Bukhari and Muslim.
[72] This Hadith was reported by both Bukhari and Muslim.
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