Marriages – “Until Death Do us Part…”

“The video is mine, the television is yours, the car is definitely mine, the CDs are yours…”

When problems arise between a husband and a wife in Western society, it quickly results in pettiness as to who owns what. Even here one can smell the stench of capitalism….

Marriage in society today has very little meaning and has become just another commercial activity – how nice the church was, how beautiful the flowers were, and the dress! Unbelievable! The main essence of the marriage is lost and phrases like ‘to love and to obey’, ‘in sickness and in health’, ‘till death do us part’ have become but empty pledges.

‘Faithfulness’ and ‘loyalty’ has disappeared as marriage is no longer a loving relationship between husband and wife alone. From hiring strippers, attending clubs which have nude ‘table dancing’, having secret affairs, to open adultery, this degraded society accepts such filth under banners of ‘pleasure’, ‘light entertainment’ and it is even called ‘healthy for the marriage’! An example of this is the rise of the number of ‘Swinger’s Clubs’, where husbands and wives attend as a couple and interact with other couples, in order to ‘wife-swap’ and engage in open adultery.

Furthermore, responsibility and commitment towards the marriage relationship has declined as more and more couples fail to understand the purpose of leading a ‘tedious’ married life. The roles and duties of a husband and wife are currently ambiguous and confusing, and they are causing immense disillusion.

In their crusade for equality, couples today try to split all aspects within the marriage equally, i.e. domestic chores, employment, child rearing and financial issues, to the last decimal point. Not realising the injustice and increased burden they are placing on themselves, wives today continue to endeavour to juggle responsibilities such as bringing home her share of the home income, being a ‘good’ wife, a ‘successful’ mother, a prosperous homemaker and an efficient host. These multiple burdens placed on women are far too heavy for many of them, resulting in psychological problems and long term mental and health illnesses.

Why is it that such social problems exist in this so-called liberated, civilised ‘Western Society’, the one in which people from all over the world strive to live in? Why is it that wherever we look, man and woman cannot live peacefully in harmony with each other, whether it be in the workplace or in the home?

The answer to this is simple. When the way to lead our lives is left for us to decide, and thus human reason defines the nature of man and woman and what roles they are supposed to play in life, we will without doubt encounter severe hardship in society, which we witness today. In the same way that a plant relies on external sources not in its control (such as water, temperature, climate and light) in order to thrive, we need guidance and a system from our Creator in order to live our lives successfully.

Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:

“And among his signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” [EMQ 30:21]

He (SWT) has ordained us to live in harmony together, and thus He (SWT) has given us the mechanism to do this, by defining our roles for us, as husband and as wife.

In Islam the wife has the right to have her basic material needs met. Whatever she needs in order to fulfil her role as a wife, the husband must provide it for her. The maintenance of her and her children is to be provided for by her husband, and this includes adequate shelter.

“Men are protectors and maintainers of women because Allah (SWT) has given the one more strength than the other, and because they support them from their means.” [EMQ 4:34]

In the West the relationship between husband and wife is governed by the concept of freedom and thus there are no restrictions or boundaries in the way they choose to interact with each other or with others. Socialising for them without any inhibitions is a norm, for example, many husbands are amused and entertained whilst watching their wives talk, flirt and flaunt with other men. They feel proud and flattered that other men find her attractive and sexy, and that she is so popular.

Contrary to the Western concepts, the wife in Islam is not considered as a sex object or an extension of one’s trophy cabinet, to be looked at, admired and touched. Rather she is looked upon with high regard and is considered an honour, which needs to be protected and dignified. The believing men and women are restricted from gazing at one the opposite sex, thus closing the gateway that may lead to further unlawful actions. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, ‘The zina (fornication and adultery) of the legs is walking towards an unlawful act, the zina of the hands is touching and patting, and the zina of the eyes is casting passionate glances at those who are forbidden to you.’

Just as every establishment needs a ‘head’, the boss who has the final say so that decisions are made and so that the establishment runs smoothly, every household also needs a leader. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has said, ‘Each of you is a guardian and is responsible for his ward. The ruler is a guardian (over his people), a man is a guardian of the members of his household, and a woman is guardian and responsible for her husband’s house and his off-spring, and so each of you is a guardian and is responsible for his ward.’ (Bukhari, Muslim)

Thus in Islam, this final say is given to the husband and he becomes the ‘Amir’ (leader) of his household. The wife therefore obeys her husband in all areas permitted by Islam. The good husband however, will always take consultation from his partner in life, for just like a good manager, he will want his establishment (his home) to prosper. Also, as he has the responsibility for the final decisions, so he takes the accountability that comes with this. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW), has said, ‘The best among you is the one who is the best to his wife.’ (Tirmidhi)

It is an unfortunate and shameful fact that today, many rights that have been afforded to Muslim women by Allah (SWT), the Creator, have been denied to her by men. This is largely due to the fact that many Muslim men have embraced Western culture, extracted what they feel is to their advantage, and have used this to oppress women. Consequently many people seeing this wrongly attribute this oppression to Islam. We need to therefore educate ourselves about Islam, and realise that it is man-made law which Muslims as well as non-Muslims continue to submit to, (rather than to submitting to the laws of our Creator), that results in the oppression and turmoil we behold today.

Islam has defined the roles, rights and duties of the husband and wife and does not leave any room for conflict, discrimination, exploitation and confrontation between them, as is the case in other ways of life. Instead the rights and duties of a husband and wife compliment each other perfectly, because the one who defined them is the One who is Perfect, Allah (SWT), the Creator of humanity and who is the Most-Knowing. Abiding by these rules is obligatory upon both the husband and wife and is considered an act of worship.

“And it befits not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in the matter when Allah and His apostle have decided a matter. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Apostle, he surely strays off a manifest straying.” [EMQ 33:36]

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