By Mufti Taqi Usmani
All praise to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and His forgiveness and we believe in Him and rely on Him. We seek refuge with Him from the mischief of our selves and the vices of our deeds. There is none to lead him astray whom Allah guides and there is none to guide him whom Allah lets go astray. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah alone and that He has no partner. I also bear witness that our master, our authority, and our Prophet and our master, Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger. May Allah bestow upon him, his household and his Companions. His mercy and blessings in abundance.
And Almighty Allah said:
"But consort with them in kindness". (4.19)
"You will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however, much you may wish to do so. But turn not altogether away (from one), leaving her in suspense, If you do good and be righteous, then surely Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful." (4:129)
Importance of the rights of the servants (of Allah)
Allamah Nawawi [ra] is commencing a discussion of the rights of the servants (of Allah) in the light of these verses and the traditions of the Holy Prophet I have already mentioned repeatedly that “the Rights of the servants are a very important branch of religion. Its importance lies in the fact that “the Rights of Allah” may be pardoned by repentance. If God forbid - some negligence ever occurs in the matter of Allah’s rights, it is very easy to remedy this negligence by means of repentance and seeking Allah’s pardon with a feelings of remorse and regret. The negligence can thus be remedied. As for the rights of the servants, if they are violated, they are not pardoned by repentance and feelings of remorse and regret and by seeking pardon, unless the usurped rights are restored to the right-holders or the latter willingly forgoe their rights in his favour. Therefore the matter of rights of people is a matter of serious consideration.
Negligence in the matter of the Rights
Serious indeed is the subject of the rights of the servants of Allah, yet equally serious is the negligence of people towards this subject in our society. There are only a few aspects of worship that we have taken as Deen (Faith), e.g. Prayer, Fasting, Hajj, Zakat, Remembrance, Recitation of the Holy Qur’an, the recital of some sacred names or words. We regard these items as Deen but we have excluded from Deen the Rights of the servants; similarly we have also excluded from Deen the rights concerning social living. One who is negligent in the discharge of these rights does not feel that he is committing any serious offence.
Backbiting is a violation of People’s rights
Take a simple example. If a Muslim is addicted (God forbid) to drinking wine he will be looked down upon by every Muslim who has even the least touch with the faith and the drunkard himself will feel ashamed that he is committing a sin. On the other hand a person who is addicted to backbiting is not hated in the society like the drunkard, nor does the backbiter himself feels that he is a sinner or criminal, although both the sins are equally heinous and base. But no, backbiting is more vicious sin than drinking wine: firstly, because it comes within the definition of the rights of the servants and secondly, because Almighty Allah has used for it in the Holy Qur’an a very horrid similitude the like of which He has not for any other sin. He has thus said in surah Al-Hujarat. verse no 12:
"And do not spy: nor backbite one another.
Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his
dead brother: you would then abhor that. (49.12)
Thus a backbiter has been compared to one who eats the flesh of his dead brother. So vicious is this in! Yet it has become common in the society. There is hardly an assembly where this sin is not committed. What is worse, it is not condemned at all as if the faith has nothing to do with this sin.
‘Ihsan is desirable at all times
Hazrat Dr. Muhammad Abdul Hai may Allah exalt his status. is my spiritual Guide (Shaikh or Pir). One day he related the following incident:
A man called on me and told me with a gusto of pleasure and pride that thank God, he had attained the rank of “Ihsan”. “Ihsan” is a very exalted status, as is mentioned in a tradition:
(Sahih Bukhari the book of belief-chapter Inquiry in Hadith Jibrael tradition no: 50).
This means that you should worship Almighty Allah, as you are seeing Allah and if this be not possible worship Him with the belief that He is seeing you. This is the rank of “Ihsan”. That gentleman told the respected Doctor Sahib that he had attained the rank of “Ihsan” Hazrat Doctor Sahib congratulated him on the attainment, as it was a great blessing of Allah and put to him this question: Do you realise the blessing of “Ihsan” only during the prayers or do you realise it also during your dealings with your wife and children that Almighty Allah is seeing you? He replied: What the Tradition says is that while pray one should feel that one is seeing Allah, or Allah is seeing him. I thought that “Ihsan” is related with worship only and not with other activities of life. Hazrat Doctor Sahib said to him: That is why I put this question to you, because it is generally misunderstood that “ihsan” is required during prayers, remembrance or recitation only, although it is required at all times and in all stages and walks of life. If you are sitting in a shop doing some business, “Ihsan” is required there also. You should realise in your heart that Almighty Allah is seeing you. “Ihsan” is also required when you are dealing with your subordinates. You should feel that Allah is seeing you even when you are dealing with your wife, children friends and neighbours. This is really what “Ihsan” means. It is not confined only to prayers and worship.
That woman shall enter Hell
It should be borne in mind very well that the teachings of the Holy Prophet cover every branch of life. It is narrated that once the people inquired from the Holy Prophet about a woman: O Prophet of Allah, there is a woman who remains engaged with worship all day and night. She is mostly busy with optional prayers, remembrance of Allah and recitation of the Holy Qur’an, she is always seen engaged in these acts of devotion. What do you think about the fate of this woman? The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] asked that Companion
about her dealings with the neighbours. The Companion replied that she did not behave well with the neighbours. The women of the neighbourhood are not pleased with her. The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] said: She will enter the Hell. (Bukhari p.48 tradition no: 911, chapter Does not trouble his neighbour)
That woman shall enter Paradise
At another time a question was put to the Holy Prophet about a woman who did not observe many items of optional worship and remained contented only with the obligatory and essential duties and sometimes she performed the Sunnah Muakkadah (the confirmed sunnah) prayer. She did not observe the optional prayers, rememberance, recitation, etc. more than this. Her dealings with the neighbours and others were however, amicable. The Holy Prophet replied: She will enter the Paradise.
Who is a Pauper?
The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has explained in these traditions that if anyone observes optional prayers it is very good, but if he does not do so he will not be asked in the Hereafter why he did not observe such and such optional forms of worship. This is because the very word Nafl (optional) means that if anyone performs this optional worship, he will receive reward, and if he does not do so, there is no sin on him. On the other hand the rights of the servants (of Allah) are something about which the people will be questioned on the Day of Judgement. The entry into Paradise or Hell depends on the nature of replies given to these questions.
The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has explained in a Tradition as to who is a pauper; he is reported to have said: A person will bring with him on the Day of Judgement lots of good deeds; but in the world he usurped someone's rights, spoke ill of someone, injured someone’s feelings and hurt someone's heart. The result of all this will be that he will have to pay to others all the good deeds he brought with him and will have to take upon himself the sins of others while he has no good deeds left with him to compensate his creditors. The matter of the rights of the servants (of Allah) is thus a very important matter in the Shari'ah. (Tirmidhi. chapter on Accounts taking and Ransom Tradition no: 2533).
The Rights of people are three-fourths of DEEN
It has already been pointed out that if the “Islamic Jurisprudence” which deals with the injunctions of the Shari'ah is divided into four equal parts, only one part will be found to deal with matters relating to worship. and the remaining three parts will be found to contain injunctions with regard to matters that are related to people and their life. You may know the name of ‘Hidayah’ which is a renowned book of Hanafi jurisprudence in four volumes. The first volume deals with forms of worship in which poblems concerning Purity (Taharat), Prayer (Salat), Fasting, Zkat and Hajj have been discussed. The remaining three volumes are concerned with the subjects dealing with people and their rights, social living and the rights of the servants (of Allah). It can be easily inferred from this that the subject of the rights of the servants represents one-fourth of Deen (Faith).
Therefore, a very important chapter is now commencing. May Almighty Allah help us, by His mercy, to read and listen to it with a firm mind, to act upon the injunctions. May He also help us to discharge the rights of the servants (of Allah) according to His pleasure and will.
The miserable condition of women before Islam
The first Chapter which Allamah Nawawi has included is the “Chapter of counsels about women”, meaning those counsels which the Holy Prophet has given about the rights of women. The reason for allotting this subject in the first chapter of the book is that the greatest shortcoming and negligence are committed in the matter of women’s rights. During the Days of Ignorance, before the advent of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam], women were treated like cattle, devoid of humanity, deprived of all rights, whatsoever. In those days of darkness the people did not recognise any rights due to women who were tolerated in the houses no better than pet animals like goats and sheep: but the conditions totally changed after the advent of Islam and under the sacred teachings of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam].
Amicable behaviour with women
At that time the world was unaware of heavenly guidance. It was the Holy Prophet who for the first time made the world alive to the rights due to women whereunder they should be accorded nice treatment.
At the very out set Allamah Nawawi [ra] has cited a verse of the Holy Qur’an that is very comprehensive on this subject:
"But consort with them in kindness." (419) \
Almighty Allah has addressed all Muslims, comhanding them to behave, and consort with women in kindness; associate with them in life with goodwill and sympathy and never give them trouble. This is a general guidance. This verse is, as it were, the heading and the text of this chapter. The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has explained this verse by his words and practice. He gave such importance to the need of showing misbehaviour to women at that he is reported to have said in a Tradition:
"Meaning: The best of you are those who behave well with their women and I am best of you in behaving well with my women. (Tirmidhi - chapter on right of a women over her husband Tradition no. 1172)
The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] attached so much importance to the protection of the rights of women and ensuring good behaviour with them that he has explained this matter in many Traditions. The first Tradition on this subject is one narrated by Hazrat Abu Hurairah wherein the Holy Prophet is reported to have said:
"I advise you to wish well for the women. You should accept this advice of mine."
The Holy Qur’an enunciates only the principles
Before proceeding ahead it is better to advise that the Holy Qur’an generally gives the basic principles, without going into the minute details of the issue. This procedure is followed even in describing the injunctions about the prayer which is such an important pillar of Deen (Faith) to the establishment of which reference has been made in the Qur’an at seventy three places. Yet the Holy Qur’an does not furnish any details about how prayer (salat) is offered. how many Rakaat should one offer and other injunctions validating or invalidating the salah. The Qur’an itself has not detailed these factors but left it for the Holy Prophet who taught the companions these details both by his words and practice. The same is the case with Zakat which has also been mentioned in the Qur’an almost at the same number of places. The Qur’an, however, does not clarify the prescribed value on which Zakat becomes due for payment, nor it speaks of possessions on which it is leviable. Like the prayer these details about Zakat were also left for the Holy Prophet to explain. Thus it becomes clear that generally the Qur’an mentions only the basic principles and does not go into minute details.
Domestic life is the Foundation of the entire civilisation
The relationship between man and woman and among the members of the family are so important that the Qur’an has described in clear terms its minutest details and has spoken in details relating to this important topic. Thereafter the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has explained fully those points. The edifice of the entire human civilisation stands on the relations between man and woman and on the domestic life of man. If the relationship between man and woman is sound, smooth and one discharges the rights of the other, then the affairs of the household shall run smoothly and the children shall be brought up on the right lines and this ensures the betterment of society on which stands the edifice of the social living as a whole. On the other hand, if the household affairs are mismanaged and there are differences and disagreements between husband and wife the children are affected adversely and you may very well imagine about the standard and character of the nation manifested by such spoilt and ill mannered children. The rules and regulations governing this aspect of the society are called family laws or household regulations. In view of their importance, the Holy Qur’an has dealt them in details:
Is the woman born of crooked Rib?
The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has set a nice example for this — an example that is unique in its effect and import. Some have explained it by saying that first of all Allah created Hazrat Adam [alayhis salaam] then He created Hazrat Hawwa (Eve) from his rib. Some learned men have said by way of explanation that the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has compared a woman to a rib which is crooked to see but its beauty and health consist in its crookedness. If anyone tries to remove its crookedness by straightening it, it will break and cease to be a rib. To restore to its previous state, it will have to be made crooked then joined together with plaster. The same idea has been beautifully expressed in a Tradition:
"That is, if you want to straighten it. you will only break it."
"And if you want to enjoy it you may enjoy it despite its crookedness."
The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alayhi wasallam] has, thus set a wise example that its crookedness is its beauty and health which will be destroyed by straightening it.
It is not a defect of woman
Some people use this saying against women as being their defect in a woman. In other words, they say that since a woman has been created from a crooked rib, so is she crooked in her conduct and character, by her nature. This is, however, not the meaning of the Tradition of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam].
The deviousness of women is natural
It needs to be borne in mind that Almighty Allah has created man and woman, each with different tendencies and attributes. On account of this difference between the nature and temperament of the two, man thinks about a woman that she is opposed to his masculine nature and sentimentality, although this natural tendency of a woman against a man’s natural bent and tendency is not a defect. It is the natural requirement of her nature that she should reflect in her character some innocent crookedness. That is why the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] said: If you find in a woman something which is against your natural tendency on account of which you think that she is crooked, do not condemn her on this account: rather ignore it by thinking that it is the natural demand of her nature. If you want to straighten her she will break: if you want to benefit by her you can do so despite her crookedness.
“Negligence” is a part of beauty in a woman
Today the times have changed; as a result the values have also changed. A defect in a man is more often looked upon as a point of virtue and beauty in a woman. If we go through the Holy Qur’an carefully we shall see what, is generally considered a defect in a man is considered a point of beauty in a woman. For example. it is a defect in man to be ignorant and negligent, on account of which he is unaware of what is happening in the world. A man has been entrusted with the affairs of the world. To discharge these he needs learning and awareness. If he is devoid of these qualities and abilities, he is faulty and defective to this extent. As for a woman, negligence has been considered by the Qur’an as an item of beauty for her. Allah has said:
"Surely, as for those who slander virtuous, negligent believing women..." (24:23)
The word “negligent’ meaning that they are unaware of what is happening around them in the world. The Qur’an has considered here “negligence” or “unawareness” as an attribute of beauty. It is obvious from this that if a woman is ignorant of the affairs of the world, duties. excepted. this is not a defect but an attribute of beauty as described by the Qur’an.
Do not try to straighten her bent by force
Thus we see a defect in man is not considered a defect in woman and what is not a defect in man is sometimes looked upon as a defect in woman. A man is, therefore, not allowed to be harsh to a woman and misbehave with her if he finds her behaving in her womanly way. The very meaning of her comparison with a rib is that, by nature, she should be different in temperament from you. So now do not try to straighten her by force.
The root cause of the entire conflict
The above is based on a Tradition of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam]. Who can claim to know more about the nature of man and women than the Prophet of Allah? He diagnosed the root cause of all the conflicts between man and woman.Man insists that a woman should be exactly like himself in all her behaviours. This is not possible as she has been created different from him.
Be conscious of her good habits
In another tradition of this chapter Hazrat Abu Hurairah radhiallaahu anhu] has narrated:
(Sahih Muslim-Book of suckling chapter counsel about women)
In this Tradition the Holy Prophet has mentioned a wonderful principle that a believing man should not hate a believing woman altogether. In other words, the man should not condemn her totally on the false plea that she is no good. If she has some undesirable triats in her conduct she must have in her some desirable traits also.
The first principle which the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has taught is that when two persons live together, some habit of the one is pleasant and some other habit unpleasant to the other. If the woman has some unpleasant habit in her, then do not condemn her on account of that habit altogether, rather look for and remember her pleasant habits and thank Almighty Allah for them. If you follow this practice it is quite possible that the hatred in your heart for the dark side of her conduct and character may gradually lose its severity and importance.
Man, in fact, is ungrateful. If he finds any defects in her he totally changes his opinion about the person concerned and forgets about his good qualities. In view of those few faults and defects, he is always critical about him and misbehaves with him. Such attitude is unreasonable.
Everything has virtues and vices in it
There is nothing in the world which is all virtue and all vice. Almighty Allah has, by His wisdom, endowed everything of His creation with virtue and vice. You are sure to find some good qualities in every person, may he be an infidel, an idolater or even worse.
An English proverb
The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has said: A word of wisdom is a lost property of a believer. He must pick it up wherever he finds it. So there is no harm in picking up a word of wisdom even from an English Proverb.
The proverb said that even a watch which has gone out of order speaks the truth at least twice every day. Suppose that the watch stopped at 12 hrs., 5 mts,. As the time 12-5 occurs twice during the 24 hours, the dead watch shall tell the correct time twice at 12-5 hrs, although it will remain silent at other times.
The moral we draw from this English proverb is that if one is in search of goodness with hope and sincerity one can surely find this goodness even from the most condemned and throw-away objects.
There is nothing bad in the workshop of Nature
My father Mufti Muhammad Shafi’ Sahib [ra] used to recite frequently the following Urdu couplet of the late Dr. Muhammad Iqbal:
There is nothing useless in the earth
There is nothing bad in the workshop of nature.
Whatever Almighty has created has created it with His wisdom and by His will. If you reflect on it you will surely find in Allah’s creation point of Wisdom and benefit. Instead man looks for faults and shortcomings only and ignores the good points and bright sides of things. Thus he becomes pessimistic and commits transgression and injustice.
Always look for the good qualities of women
Almighty Allah has said in His Book:
"For if you hate them, it may happen that you hate a thing wherein Allah has placed much good." (4:19)
If for some reason you do not like those women whom you have married, yet it is just possible that Almighty Allah may have endowed them with much goodness and blessings. Hence this command that you should look only for the good qualities of women. so that you may receive solace and comfort from them and thus the doors of mistrust and misbehaviour may not be opened.
Educative story of A saint
Hazrat Maulana Shah Ashraf Ali Thanawi [ra] has related the story of a saint who had a very ill mannered and aggressive wife. She always found faults with her hushand. Whenever the saint entered his house the wife started quarrelling with him. Someone asked him why he did not get rid of those daily wrangles and squabbles by resorting to divorce. The saint replied: it is very easy for me to divorce her but there is one reason for not doing so. Despite all her defects, she has one very good quality which prevents me from parting with her; and that is the quality of loyalty with which Almighty Allah has adorned her. Supposing I am arrested and imprisoned for some crime, for a term of fifty years, she will not move even an inch from the corner to which I confine her, and she will never cast a glance at anyone else. This This quality of loyalty is invaluable.
Mirza Mazhar Jan-e-Jan’an and his over-sensitiveness
Hazrat Mirza Mazhar jan-e-Jan an [ra] was a renowned saint of the Indian sub-continent. He was so touchy and over-sensitive in his temperament that if anyone put the glass on the pitcher in a tilting position or if he saw his bedding creased he would feel headache, unfortunately he had to deal with an ill-mannered wife. She was always murmuring something against her husband. Strange are indeed the ways whereby Allah tests His servants and raises their ranks. The wife of this pious saint was an ordeal for him which he tolerated with patience throughout his lifetime and expected that Allah may pardon his sins as a recompense for this ordeal.
The women of our society are Nymphs of Paradise
Hakimul Ummat, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi [ra] used to say that the women of the Indo-Pakistan are like nymphs, because they are endowed with the qualities of faith and loyalty. Although these qualities are slowly fading under the impact of the modern Western civilisation and culture, yet the spirit of loyalty is so deep-rooted in them that they are always ready to sacrifice their lives for their husbands in all circumstances. and they can never cast their glances on anyone other than their husbands. In fact the saint, referred to above demonstrated obedience to the injunction implied in the following Tradition.
If one habit of the woman is unpleasant, there must be some pleasant habit in her which should be taken into consideration and good treatment should be meted out to the woman on account of this one pleasant habit in her.
People generally look at the dark side in the conduct and character of their women and lose sight of the bright side in them. This tendency is the root cause of the bitterness prevailing in our society.
It is immorality to beat one’s wife
The third Tradition of this chapter is as under:
(Sahih Bukhari the book of marriage - It is hateful to beat women tradition no 5204)
Once the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] delivered a sermon in which he mentioned many important topics of Islamic behaviour. The following is the point which he touched on the subject under discussion: He said: It is very bad that one of you beats his wife as a master beats his slave and on the other hand he uses the same wife to satisfy his sexual desire. Then how immoral and shameless it is that one should beat one’s wife so severely!
Three steps of reforming a wife
As I have already stated, the Holy Qur’an has taken great care to mention in detail concerning husband-wife relations:
The differences and disagreements between husband and wife start when the husband feels offended at some action or habit of the wife. The Qur’an advises that in such a situation the husband should look for some lovely and pleasant quality in the character and dealings of his wife. If the husband fails to discover in his wife any such good points and feels that correction and reform are needed, then the Holy Qur’an has prescribed the following course to reform and rectify it.
"As for those (women) from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and banish them to beds apart (from yours) and beat them." (4:34)
First of all you should advise them in a lenient and polite manner and with love to give up their bad habits and reform themselves. This is the first step of reform. If they respond favourably to admonition and accept your advice, do not go further and treat the chapter closed. If this does not help and they insist upon their misconduct then the second step is to separate your bed and give up sleeping with them on the same bed. If they have sense, they will surely reform themselves and act upon advice. (Details of separating the bed will follow shortly).
Physical punishment to a wife
If the second step of the reform also fails then it will be necessary to resort to the third step, which is to inflict on the wife some physical punishment; but what kind of physical punishment and to what extent? The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] answered these questions in his sermon on the occasion of his Farewell Hajj in which he said: "(beat them very lightly so as not to injure them". To sum up, effort should be made so as to settle matters without the expedient of this punishment. If it is found unavoidable, it is permitted only with the condition that it should be very light, the intention being only to enforce discipline and not to inflict pain and injury. It is not lawful beating one’s wife in a way that should leave a mark on the body. (A Tradition on this subject follows).
The behaviour of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam]
When the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] passed away from this world he left behind nine sacred wives. These wives were not angels sent down from the heaven: they were members of this world and society. Sometimes, bitterness occurred among them as is usual and natural among co-wives. Sometimes such problems also arose as usually arise between husbands and wives. Hazrat Ayesha [radhiallaahu anha] has narrated: Not only did the Holy Prophet ever raise his hands on any of his wives, but it was also his habit to enter the house with a smiling face.
The Prophet’s Sunnah (practice)
It is the Sunnah (practice) of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] that men should not raise their hands at women (to beat them). The permissibility of punishing physically is restricted only to abnormal and unavoidable situations. In fact beating women is not the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam]; his Sunnah is what Hazrat ‘Ayesha has narrated.
A miracle of Dr. Abdul Hai [ra]
Hazrat Dr. Abdul Hai my spiritual guide sometimes related to us, by way of a lesson, that a period of fifty-five years had passed of his marriage, he never talked to his wife during these fifty five years in an angry tone. The walking of a man on the surface of the water and his flying in the air is taken as a miracle. It is more surprising that one should not talk to his wife even in an adverse tone for as long as fifty five years. And his respectable wife says that her husband, Dr. Sahib. never asked her to bring to him a glass of water. She, however, served him as best as possible of her own sweet will and as a blessed and virtuous duty.
Tariqat is nothing but public service
Hazrat Dr. Sahib used to say: I consider myself to be a servant whom Allah has sent to this world for service. This is my belief and with this belief I want to serve others and depart from this world. I am duty bound to serve all my friends, acquaintances, associates and pupils. I was not sent to this world as a master to be served by others. He considered the position of a servant of people to be an elevated rank. He then recited the famous persian couplet:
Tariqat (spiritual way) is nothing but public service.
It does not consist in the robes and the prayer-rag
and the saintly garments (signs of godliness).
Tariqat in fact, stands for public service. Dr. Sahib used to say: When I understood that I am a servant and not a master, how can a servant order others to do this and that? He spent his entire life by doing his personal work without the assistance of anyone else. This is a practical example of how the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] should be followed. As for ourselves we do follow the Sunnah in rituals only. It is necessary to follow the sunnah in dealings with others social living and in every mode of leading our private life.
Verbal claim is not enough
Living according to the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] is highly rewarding. Through such living man can smoothen his worldly life as well as his life in the Hereafter. But this success cannot be attained only by making empty claims.
"This means that everyone claims to love Laila, but Laila herself does not acknowledge their claim)."
This is achieved only by means of sincere work and devotion. By his character, conduct and practice man should ensure that he does not cause the least harm even to the person with whom he happens to be on unfriendly terms.
In short, the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has illustrated, by his own practice. the THIRD STEP of reforming an errant wife. Throughout his lifetime he never raised his hands on any one of his sacred wives. However he was sometimes irritated by their behaviour, but he never reacted to it. Those who beat their wives are declared the worst men by the Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam].
(Tirmidhi book of Tafsir. chapter Surah Taubah Tradition no: 3087).
Prophetic Address in the Farewel Pilgrimage
In the above Tradition an extract has been given from the Farewel address of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam]. In this address he addressed the assembly of the companions in clear words that after that year he might not see them at that place. So in this address he included all those points that he feared that the Ummah might deviate from the right path, and thus he wanted to leave behind for the guidance of the Ummah a perfect code of life to be followed. In this address he tried to block all the possible paths of deviation and error.
The address is quite lengthy but different parts of this address have been stated on different places. This is also a part of it in which the various aspects of relationship of man and woman has been discussed. Special stress has been laid on the need that men should acknowledge the rights of women and honour them. You may realise the importance of these rights from the fact that he delivered that sermon on the occasion of the Last Pilgrimage when he indirectly informed people that the next year he may not get an opportunity to address the people. Thus the mutual rights of men and women are one of the topics which he selected for discussing towards the close of his life on account of their importance. He wanted his Ummah to honour and follow the injunctions in all circumstances.
Mutual relations between husband and wife
This shows the importance of husband-wife relations in human life and how the law-maker the Holy Prophet himself felt this importance. If the husband and wife do not discharge each other’s rights properly and, instead, usurp these mutual rights, not only will this result in the violation of each other’s rights, but it will also adversely affect both the families as well as the children whose proper upkeep, development, mental and moral growth will be affected. As the family is the foundation of the entire civilisation, with its ruination civilisation is itself ruined. That is why the Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has laid great stress on the importance of mutual relation between husband and wife.
Women are in your confinement
Hazrat Umr bin al-Ahwas al-Jashim [radhiallaahu anhu] has narrated that in the Farewel sermon the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] praised Almighty Allah, offered consels and delivered a speech and then said:
"Beware! I advise you to do good to women. Accept this advice."
This is the sentence which occurred in the previous Tradition. His next sentence was:
"because those women live with you confined in your houses."
The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has mentioned an attribute of women that if man reflects over this attribute only, he can never think of misbehaving with them.
A Lesson from an Ignorant Girl
Our dear Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi used to tell his disciples to learn a lesson from an ignorant, uneducated girl who surrenders herself to a stranger after uttering at the time of the Nikah only two words of acceptance. She honours these two words so solemnly and completely that she leaves her mother, father, brothers and sisters and the entire family and becomes inseparably tied to and confined with her husband. An ignorant girl honours these two words so truly and sincerely that she surrenders herself to one person, her husband but you could not honour our pledge of these two words by surrendering yourself to Almighty Allah. This girl is much better than you. She honoured so completely her pledge of Nikah, but you did not honour your pledge of the two words of the article of Faith.
Sacrifices of the woman for your sake
The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has said in this Tradition. “How tremendous sacrifice the woman has undergone for your sake. If the matter was just the reverse and it were said to you, you would have to leave your family. your parents, after your marriage what an awkward situation it would be for you. As for the woman she has become confined to a strange surrounding, a strange house and a strange person and that, too, for the whole of her life. That is why the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] said in his tradition: Will you not mind this sacrifice? Do take heed of this and treat her well and with love.
You have no claim upon them
Thereafter the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has spoken a very serious sentence of far-reaching consequences. When the meaning of this sentence is explained to men they get annoyed. That sentence is:
"This means that according to the laws of the Shari'ah the only demand you can make of them is that they should live with you in your house".
You have no other claim upon them Cooking is not the duty of a wife
From this Tradition the Jurists have deduced a ruling of delicate nature and which makes men annoyed. The ruling lays down that according to the Shari'ah it is not the responsibility of a woman to cook food for the household. For this purpose the Jurists have divided women into two classes. Women of one class are those who do household work, including cooking food in their parent’s houses. The other class consists of women who do not cook food in their father’s house where cooks are employed for this work. If after marriage a woman of the latter class goes to her husband’s house she is not at all responsible to cook food, religiously, legally, morally or otherwise. On the other hand, that wife may ask her husband to hire a cook for her as man is obliged to provide her with food along with other necessaries of life. The Jurists write:
"It is the responsibility of the husband to provide his wife with cooked food."
The wife cannot be forced to cook food neither by force, nor by the law, because the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has said in clear words:
"This means: You have a right to keep them in your house which it is not lawful for them to leave without your permission."
With this exception the laws of the Shari'ah have imposed no responsibility on them.
However, If she belongs to the first category the one who used to cook food in her parents’ house she too is not legally responsible to cook food i.e. she cannot be compelled by law to cook food. However, the responsibility falls on her only morally. In such a case the husband is responsible only to provide the food materials. Even then it is not her responsibility to cook food for the husband and the children. A wife in this class cannot ask her husband to provide her with cooked food. However, if she refuses to cook food for her husband and the children, the court cannot force her to do it. The respected Jurists have explained these problems at great length.
Serving the In-laws is not obligatory
There is another fact worthy of notice about which much negligence is observed among the people. When a wife is not responsible to cook food for her husband and his children, then she is more appropriately not responsible to cook food for the parents of the husband and his brothers and sisters. A custom has gained currency in our society that the parents of the son think that their right over the daughter-in-law has a priority over the right of the son. Therefore she is bound to serve them, no matter if she serves her husband or not. Such a misleading conception gives rise to quarrels and disputes among the daughter-in-law and other members of the family. The negative results of this conception are obvious to require any comments.
To serve In-Laws is a virtue for a woman
Bear in mind well that it is the responsibility of the son to serve his parents. It is, however, a matter of blessing and virtue for the daughter-in-law if she serves the parents of her husband willingly, as a righteous deed and source of reward for her in the Hereafter. The son does not have any right to force his wife to serve his parents in case she does not feel inclined to serve them of her own sweet will. It is also not lawful for the parents to force their daughter-in-law to serve them. As already mentioned, if the daughter-in-law voluntarily decides to serve her in-laws for the sake of recompense in the Hereafter she is welcome to do so. This will create happy and pleasant atmosphere in the household.
Appreciate the services of a daughter-in-law
If a daughter-in-law is serving his father and mother-in-law, she is doing favour out of her moral character because she is giving this service to them only of her free will and she is not in any way liable for such services. Her in-laws should, therefore, appreciate this voluntary service from her. They should try to requite her for this and encourage her. Ignorance of these rights and liabilities create various problems in social life which play havoc to the solidarity and welfare of families through quarrels and disputes. All these troubles are taking place simply because the people have banished from their minds the limits of these mutual rights and liabilities which the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has fixed in his Traditions.
A Surprising Incident
Hazrat Dr. Abdul Hai Sahib [ra] one day related a very wonderful event. He said that among his acquaintances, there was a couple who used to visit his assembly and receive spiritual training and instructions from him. One day both of them invited him to a dinner at their house. It was the habit of respected Dr. Sahib to utter at the end of the feast a few words of praise in favour of the lady who cooked the food just to encourage and please her. The lady who had prepared the food came and stood behind the curtain and greeted him. After replying to the greeting Dr. Sahib uttered a few words of praise and appreciation about the quality and taste of the food and the art of cooking. Dr. Sahib heard the woman sobbing from behind the screen. It was disturbing. Was there anything in Dr. Sahib’s words that pinched her? On being asked to state the cause of her grief and sobbing, she said, "I have been living with my husband for the last forty two years, but during this long period of association, I never heard from him a word of appreciation about my cooking. When I heard these words from you sir, I could not control myself from sobbing."
The respected Dr Sahib used to relate this story in his assemblies off and on to emphasise that such callousness can never be expected from a husband who is able to realise that it is a great favour on the part of his wife that she is serving him so selflessly and faithfully of her own sweet will and is doing all this service for which she has not been made legally responsible by the Shari'ah. A man who thinks that his wife is a maid servant and has to serve him at any cost, has no need to drop a word of praise and appreciation if she is an expert cook and sincere worker.
The Husband should serve his parents himself
A question arises as to who should serve the parents when they are old, weak or otherwise helpless on account of sickness when there is none in the house except their son and his wife? Even in such a situation, the daughter-in-law is not bound, according to the Shari'ah to serve her in-laws. It is, however, a matter of blessings and virtue for her if she serves them of her own free will with the belief to please Allah and to receive reward in the Hereafter. The son should, however, realise that it is his responsibility to help and serve his parents personally or by employing a servant for this purpose. If the wife is looking after his old parents, the husband must appreciate this service and be thankful to her.
Husband's permission for going out
But here is another requirement to note in order to understand the true position. After knowing only one side of a case and being ignorant of the other side people begin to take undue advantage. It has already been explained in detail that it is not obligatory for a wife to cook food, according to the laws of the Shari'ah. In his Tradition the Holy Prophet has said that “women remain confined to your houses like captives”. It means that it is not lawful for them, to go out of the house without the permission of their husbands. Just as the jurists have explained in detail the issue of cooking food, in the same way they have also explained in detail that women cannot leave the house for meeting kinsmen, even their parents without the permission of their husbands. If the parents visit the house of their son-in-law to meet their daughter, the husband cannot prevent them from seeing her. The jurists have prescribed limits for such casual visits. The parents may visit their daughter only once a week and go back after seeing her. This is their daughter’s right which a husband cannot deny, yet she cannot go out of the house without her husband’s permission. Thus Almighty Allah has, in His mercy, created a balance between the rights and responsibilities of husband and wife. On the one hand the wife is not legally bound to cook food and, on the other hand, she is legally bound not to go out of the house without her husband’s permission.
Mutual Co-operation is vital for smooth life
Whatever has been stated above is only the legal side of the matter; but the beauty of mutual behaviour with each other is that each should try to please the other. Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Fatimah [radhiallaahu anhuma] had distributed the duties of the household between them in such a way that Hazrat Ali did all the outdoor work, while Hazrat Fatimah performed the indoor work. This is exactly the Sunnah (practice) of the Holy Prophet which should be followed. Husband and wife should not always involve themselves in the implications of the law. The best way is that both should behave with each other open-heartedly. The division of work between husband and wife on outdoor and indoor basis is a natural division to enable them both to keep the vehicle of life going smoothly.
If she commits the immodesty
If these women commit open lewdness, that lewdness cannot be tolerated in any case. In such a situation they should be dealt with according to the injunction laid down by the Holy Qur’an.
First of all they should be admonished, then, if they insist-on their sin, let their bed be separated. If they still do not accept the admonition and continue in their Lewdness, then it is permitted to inflict them with light beating which should not cause any injury. If they refrain from the lewdness and mend their ways, then one should not find fault with them, but they should be let off, without further pinching them.
Beware! These women have rights over you that you behave with them well. Be generous in discharging your obligations in the matter of providing them with clothes, food and their other needs.
This does not mean that you should meet only their basic needs; you are expected to be generous and liberal in supplying their lawful needs.
Pocket money for a wife
Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanawi [ra] has dealt in his guiding sermons with some topics with special emphasis. I intend to reproduce two or three of these in this discourse, as they are generally overlooked by the people. Firstly. the liabilities about a wife does not mean that she should be provided only with food and clothes. It is also a part of this cost that she should be paid a suitable amount as pocket expenses in addition to the cost of living, making her free to spend this additional amount as she likes. There are persons who arrange for food and clothes but do not care for pocket expenses. Hazrat Thanawi has said that payment of some amount as pocket money is also necessary, because there are many items when a person feels ashamed to disclose to other that she needs a certain thing. The wife should, therefore, must have some extra amount as pocket money so that she may not seek other means to satisfy her needs. Hazrat Thanawi [ra] has warned that those who do not provide pocket money to their wives are blamable.
Being generous for Family
Another point to note is that one should be generous and liberal in spending money on the needs of the household. One must not limit expenses to basic needs. One should provide money with a generous hand so that the expenses of the household may be met with ease and freedom according to the financial means of the house-keeper. Some people complain that, on the one hand, there is stress that one should not be extravagant and at the same time there are instructions not to be miser in spending money on the household. A question now arises as to what is the line of demarcation between the two. What is extravagance and what is not extravagance?
Simple or comfortable accommodation both are lawful
To remove this confusion Hazrat Thanawi [ra] has said: that accomodations are of two kinds, a place which is just enough to accommodate the members of the family. It may be an ordinary hut, it is possible for a man to live some how even in such structures. This is lawful in the first degree. The second kind is that the house should provide living accommodation as well as a reasonable degree of comforts. For example, the house should be concrete-built, equipped with fans and electric lights. If a person provides this service in his house in order to make life easy and comfortable, this cannot be regarded as extravagance.
Decoration is also lawful
In the third degree, along with means of comfort a house should also have some decoration. For example, a man has a concrete built house with plastered walls, electricity and fans, but it has no paint on it. Even an unpainted house like this is fit for living, but without white-washing and proper painting it lacks in decoration. If the house owner gets the house colour washed and painted for the sake of decoration this too is lawful in the laws of the Shari'ah.
In short to live in an ordinary house is lawful, it is also lawful to live in a house provided with certain comforts and amenities as well as some decoration. Decoration here means some additional improvement made in the house, like painting, etc, which is pleasing to the eyes and cheering to the heart. There is no harm in this and is permissible in the Shari'ah.
Show off is not lawful
Then follows the fourth degree which is mere “Show off’. The house-owner is doing something which aims neither at comfort, nor at decoration; the aim is to show his riches. Thereby he wants to impose his superiority on others and to show that he is a big thing. All this comes within the definition of “Show off’ which is not lawful in the laws of the Shari'ah. It is also extravagance.
The limits of extravagance
These four categories also apply to food and clothes, and in all other things of life. A man wears costly clothes in order to receive comfort, to please himself and the members of his household and his acquaintances, friends and visitors, there is no harm. On the other hand there is a person who wears valuable clothes with the intention that he may be considered a rich and wealthy man, a man of exalted position in society, then this is mere exhibition and show and therefore it is prohibited. Hazrat Thanawi [ra] has therefore drawn a clear line of demarcation between the two extremes. If money is spent on something for the sake of meeting a necessity, providing comfort or for decoration for his own pleasure and satisfaction, it is not extravagance.
This is not Extravagance
Once it so happened that I was coming back to Karachi from some other city, and it was the hot summer season. I requested someone to have my seat booked in an airconditioned coach and I gave him the required amount of money. Another man who was sitting nearby at once objected to this because in his opinion I was committing extravagance by sitting in an airconditioned coach. Many people are under the wrong impression that to travel in a higher class is extravagance. Bear in mind that if travelling in an upper class is for comfort, e.g. to save oneself from heat in the summer season, and the man can afford it. It is neither extravagance nor a sin. If one travels in an upper class simply to show that he is rich, then it is extravagance and it is unlawful.
The husband should therefore, keep in mind these degrees in meeting the cost of living of his wife with generosity and liberality. Capacity differs from man to man, Maulana Maseehullah Khan Sahib [ra] once observed: There is a man who is all alone in this world, without relatives, without friends and without acquaintances. For such a man a bed, a dish and a jug are sufficient to pass his life. If he collects more articles, it will mean a show and will be reckoned as extravagance in his case. There is a man who receives guests, has a large circle of acquaintances and friends, and has many relatives. The standard of his needs and extent of requirements will be quite different. If such a man has in his house at times even one hundred sets of pots and beddings, not a single piece of this will be counted as extravagance, because all these are necessities of life. The standard of life differs from man to man.
Where to search Allah
Hazrat Ibrahim bin Adham [ra] was once a great Ruler but he renounced the world in search of Allah. There are some people who seek from his life arguments to prove their stand. The story runs as follows: One night Hazrat Ibrahim bin Adham saw a man walking about on the roof of the palace. Hazrat Ibrahim bin Adham [ra] caught him and asked him what he was doing on the roof of the palace. The man replied: I have come here to search my lost camel. Hazrat Ibrahim bin Adham said: Stupid fellow! Are you searching your camel on the roof at this hour of night? How can you find the camel here? The man asked with some surprise: Can I not find the camel here? Hazrat Ibrahim bin Adham [ra] answered: certainly not! How can you find the camel on the roof of the palace? The man then retorted: If the camel cannot be found in this palace and the man who is searching the camel in this palace is a fool, how can you find Allah while staying in this palace? If I am a fool you are a greater fool than me. This answer of the stranger shocked the heart of Hazrat Adham. He at once relinquished his kingdom and took his way to the jungle. He took with him only a bowl and a pillow, so that he might eat food and drink water from the bowl and use the pillow while lying down on the ground. After walking some distance he saw a man drinking water from the river with his palms cupped together. He saw that he could also drink water in that way, so he threw away the bowl and resumed his journey. After walking some distance he saw that a man was sleeping on the ground with his hand placed under the head to serve for a pillow. He felt that he could very well do without the pillow so he threw it away, too.
Emotions should not be followed
After listening to this story some people may misunderstand that keeping a bowl and a pillow is also extravagance. May Allah exalt the rank of Hazrat Thanawi [ra] who has at his credit of separating right from wrong and wheat from chaff. He has advised that none should compare himself with those of Hazrat Ibrahim bin Adham [ra]. Firstly, because the change that had come over him was due to an ecstatic state of rapture. A man in this condition should not be followed, because the man so overwhelmed goes out of himself and loses his normal consistency of thought and feeling. We are not, therefore, to follow in the footsteps of Hazrat Ibrahim ibn Adham [ra], because he was not at his normal when he decided to leave the palace. Besides, such renunciation of worldly relation is not permissible in Islam generally. It would mean that Allah cannot be found in palaces.
Moderate way of spending
The requirements of one man is different from that of other. The standard of spending also differs from man to man. The standards of a man with low income, and of a man with a moderate income or a man with a high income are different from one another. The liberality in spending of each person should, therefore, be proportionate to his income. It should not happen that the husband is a man of moderate means and his wife is asking for items of comforts and luxuries which she sees in the house of rich men that her husband cannot afford. Demand for such articles of luxury is not lawful. The husband should, however, try to meet the demands of his wife as far as possible within his means and should not be niggardly towards his wife.
The rights of the wives over husbands?
(Abu Dawud, the Book of Marriage - chapter on the Right of the wife over her husband, Tradition no.2142)
Hadhrat Mu'amiyah ibn Hidah [radhiallaahu anhu] has narrated that he asked the holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] of Allah, What are the rights of our wives over us? The Holy Prophet said: when you take food, feed her also and when you wear clothes, provide her also with clothes to wear. Do not beat her on the face, nor curse her. Do not part with her but her but only within the (bounds of the) house.
Leave sleeping with her as punishment
As has already been explained, if you ever observe in the wife some lewdness, try first to admonish her. If she does not mind your admonition, then leave her bedding, and sleep on a separate bed. Leaving the bed does not imply that you should go out of the house; you should separate your bedding while remaining in the house. You may, however, change the room by way of a psychological punishment and as a sort of protest, and thus keep yourself aloof from her for some days.
A proper way of separation
The learned jurists have explained the meaning of this Tradition also by advising that on such occasions her bed may be separated, but the talking terms should not be terminated totally. The separation should not be so strict as not to offer salutations to each other from time to time and not to return the greeting if one bids it, nor to avoid answering important questions. A separation of this kind is not lawful.
Wife’s permission for a long period journey
While explaining this Tradition the learned Jurists have gone to the extent of saying that it is not lawful for the husband to leave the house for more than four months without the permission and pleasure of his wife. As such, Hazrat Umar [radhiallaahu anhu] had promulgated this order throughout his empire that the freedom-fighters who take part in Jihad should not remain away from their homes for more than four months. The jurists have, therefore, deduced that if anyone is going on a journey for a period not exceeding four months, it is not necessary for him to obtain his wife’s permission. If the journey takes longer than four months, it is essential for him to obtain his wife’s permission, no matter how desirable that journey may be. This ruling is applicable to the journey for the Hajj (Pilgrimages). If the pilgrim returns from the journey within four months no permission from his wife is necessary, but if he prolongs his stay in the Holy city beyond four months the wife’s permission must be taken. This ruling is also applicable to journeys undertaken for Tabligh, Da'wah and Jihad. If the wife’s permission is necessary for such blessed journeys then her permission will all the more be necessary for a journey undertaken for the sake of employment, business, etc. If journeys exceeding four months are taken without the wife’s permission it will be a violation of her rights and, therefore, unlawful in the laws of the Shari'ah.
Who are the Best People?
(Tirmidhi Book of Suckling, Chapter on the rights of a wife over her husband tradition no. 1162)
Hazrat Abu Hurairah [radhiallaahu anhu] has narrated that the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] said: The most accomplished of the believers in respect of Iman (Faith) is one who is the best of them in conduct and character. The more refined a man is in behaviour and character, the more accomplished he is in Iman (Faith). Perfect Iman, therefore, demands that a man should behave and deal with others politely. The best of you are those who are the best in their behaviour and dealings with their wives and women.
The meaning of “Good Character” in the modern age
We see that in our days the meanings of things have greatly changed and the values of all things have been reversed. Hazrat Maulana Qari Muhammad Tayyib Sahib [ra] of Deoband used to say: As compared with the past everything has turned upside-down in the present age. For example, in the olden days there was darkness beneath the lamp and now there is darkness above the bulb. Today values have changed and so has changed the import of everything, so much so that even the meaning of character has undergone a total change. Today only some outer acts and expressions of modern etiquettes are regarded as tokens of good character. For example, it is regarded sign of good character to meet someone with a smiling face or to utter formal pleasing words. I am very glad to see you, it is pleasing to meet you, etc. while the heat of enmity, jealousy and hatred is burning in the hearts. Today this way of behaviours has been named good behaviour and character. It has been recognised as an art, how to deal with others so as to make them impressed with our personalities. Books are being written today on the art of winning over sympathies of others. All energies are being utilised to achieve this aim: Do all that is possible to get others attracted by your superficial personality. This is called “character”. Bear in mind well that all this formal show has nothing to do with high morality which the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has enjoined upon his followers. This is a mere hypocrisy, ostentation, a trick to attract others to one’s own personality. This is nothing but love for honour, fame and regard and this desire, in itself, is a disease and immorality. This has nothing to do with Islamic concept of morality.
Morality is a quality of the Heart
Morals are in fact a particular state of the heart which find expression in the movements of the limbs and the organs. The heart should be tilled with the feeling of welfare for the creation of Allah and love for them, irrespective of what they are, friends foes, believers or unbelievers. One should remain alive to the fact that every being on the earth is a creation of His Master. Allah. This originates a kind of love for all in ones heart. This conception, in turn, generates good actions and deeds, and then man does good to others. Now the smile shining on ones face on account of this feeling is not artificial, nor is it displayed to arrest public attention: it rather springs up from the heart as a result of heart-felt longing and emotion. Thus. there is a world of difference between the morals taught by the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] and the artificial and superficial show of morals in modern society.
How to acquire High Morals?
Only reading books or listening to lectures is not enough to attain the standard of the desired degree of morals. For this purpose it is imperative to seek the company of some spiritual reformer and guide. The order of Tasawwuf (Mysticism) and the system of becoming a disciple of a spiritual Guide (Piri-Muridi) has been handed down from the past men of Allah. It aims at inculcating in high morals and eliminating the germs of immorality from a man. Anyway, the most accomplished in the realm of Iman (Faith) are those individuals who posses high morals, whose hearts generate right motives and these right motives are reflected in their acts and deeds. May Allah admit us all into the company of these perfect personalities Aameen!
Do not beat the Maids of Allah
(Abu Dawud. Book of Marnage. chapter on beating women Tradition no 2146)
Hazrat Iyas bin Abdullah [radhiallaahu anhu] has narrated that the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam], while delivering a sermon said: Do not beat the maids of Allah, because beating women is not desirable. When the Holy Prophet prohibits something, the act becomes totally unlawful for one who heard the prohibition direct from the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam]. Now it is not lawful for him in any circumstances to beat women.
Two kinds of Holy Traditions
It may be noted carefully that there is a category of Traditions which we hear from someone or read in the books. They reach us through a long chain of authorities: giving us the names of the reporters in ascending order carrying to the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam]. The Traditions of this category are called Zanni because they reach us through a channel of reporters. It is obligatory to act upon the injunctions contained in such Traditions; and deviating from this is a sin. Traditions which the Companions heard direct from the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] are not Zanni (conjectural), but are Qatie (confirmed). If any one denies such Traditions, not only will he be a sinner, but he will also become an unbeliever. According to the juristic ruling the denier of an order of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] at once turns to be an infidel.
Sometimes we entertain the foolish desire in our hearts to have lived at the blessed time of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam], to reap the virtues and blessings of that blessed time. We should remember that whatever Almighty Allah does, He does it in His infinite wisdom and it is He who has raised us in this later age. If He had raised us in the time of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam], who knows what would have happened to us. There is no guarantee that we would not have fallen into the dare ditch of ignorance? May Allah save us. The question of Iman in those days was a very delicate issue. A slight turn from the right path could change the destiny of man.
The devotion with which the sacred Companions [radhiallaahu anhum] of the Holy Prophet rallied round him was exclusively their distinction. It was due to this that they reached the unique rank. Allah alone knows what would have been the fate of our selfish far-seeing and ease-loving persons as we are. It is indeed a great favour of Almighty Allah that He saved us from ruin and raised us up in an age in which we enjoy many facilities. We are in an age in which we have Zanni Traditions. If anyone denies it he will only be a sinner and not an unbeliever. As regards the sacred Companions, if anyone of them heard some Tradition from the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] and denied it he would instantly become an unbeliever. May Allah save us from such a fate.
The Audacity of the women
When the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] ordered the Companions not to beat their women, this punishment was totally suspended. It was not possible for the Companions to continue an act which the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] had forbidden them to do. Thus when the Practice of beating women ceased then after some time Hazrat Umar [radhiallahu anhu] called on the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] and said:
"O Prophet of Allah , these women have now become lions (i.e. fearless and bold) with their husbands, because you have stopped us from beating them. Now none beats his wife, nor does he ever threaten her with that. That is why they have become fearless, are violating their husbands’ rights, and are misbehaving with them. So what are we to do now?"
Then the Holy Prophet permitted them to beat their wives, if they violate their rights and when beating was unavoidable. Only a few days after the restoration of the order of beating, the women began to approach the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] and complained to him that their husbands were taking undue advantage from the permission of beating and were beating them severely.
They are not good men
Mentioning his own name, the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] said: Many women are repeatedly visiting the house of Muhammad complaining against their husbands’ misbehaviour with them that they severely beat them. You should note it very carefully that those who resort to this beating are not good men.
It is not the work of good believers to beat their wives. The Holy Prophet made it quite clear to the gathering that permission was given to beat their wives as the last alternative only in unavoidable circumstances and subject to the condition that the beating should be light, so as not to cause injury and leave its mark on the body. Despite this, it is the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] and also his sincere desire that no man should raise his hand to beat a woman. The mothers of the believers have narrated that the Holy Prophet never raised his hands at any woman. Therefore, this is what the sunnah demands.
The Best thing in the world is a “virtuous Woman”
(Sahih Muslim. Book of suckling chapter-the best object of the world a virtuous woman)
Hazrat Abdullah bin Amr bin Al’Aas [radhiallaahu anhu] has narrated that the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] said: This world as a whole is an enjoyment, profit and advantage.
The Almighty Allah has said in the Holy Qur’an: It is Allah who has created whatever there is in the world for your benefit, enjoyment and for meeting your needs. (Al-Baqarah. 29)
The best of all these objects is a virtuous woman created for your service and enjoyment. The Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has said in another Tradition:
(Kanzul-Ummal. Tradition no 18913)
Of all the things of your earth there are three things that are dearest to me: (Here note the Phrase “Your earth” as he said about his approach this world in these works) viz., a woman, scent, and the coolness of my eyes lies in the prayer.
Thus the foremost among the blessing of the world are these things. In another place he said: (Tirmidhi, the Book of Abstinence. Tradition no 2378)
"What have I to do with the world? I am like a rider who takes rest for a short time under the shade of a tree. then he sets off, leaving behind that tree."
Seek refuge from a bad woman
In short one of the three desirable gifts is a virtuous woman, because the Holy Prophet [sallallaahu alyhi wasallam] has sought refuge from bad woman.
"O Allah! I seek refuge from that woman who will make me old before I attain the old age. I also seek refuge from a child who proves to be a trial in the Hereafter. May Allah save us from them. Aamen!
So if you are in search of a woman for yourself or for one of your children, try to find out one who is religious, virtuous and righteous. If God-forbid she is not righteous, then she may prove a distress. If a man is lucky enough to get a virtuous wife. he should value her, and should never degrade her. To value her means that you should fulfil her rights and behave with her nicely.
May Almighty Allah assist us in acting upon these injunctions, Aameen!
And we close with the call that all praise be to Allah. the Lord of the worlds.