Thursday, May 19, 2011

Me? Obey him?!

A recent family reunion nearly turned into a brouhaha when the conversation turned toward a sensitive marital topic.

A newlywed couple in our midst had a tiff about their summer travel plans. Making it all in the family, the rest of us jumped in with advice on how to resolve such conflicts. When somebody suggested letting the man of the house have the final say, just about everybody was up in arms in protest, including the husband!

God, who created us and designed our bonds with fellow humans, has given us clear instructions on how to build strong and lasting spousal relationships.

Marriage is considered a means for both individuals to draw closer to God. It is to be based on love, mercy and mutual respect with certain duties and rights to be fulfilled on both ends to ensure peace, harmony and success.

God encourages couples to make decisions through mutual consultation while keeping in mind the ultimate goal of pleasing Him. However, as the one entrusted with the leadership and guardianship of the family, the husband's opinion holds sway should a disagreement erupt.*

"The good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as God has guarded." (4:34)

"It doesn't mean he's a caveman dragging his wife around by her hair," says scholar Usama Abdul-Ghani, who adds men are encouraged to lead by example. "At the same time it does mean his word is the final word."

Fatima (one of the four perfect women) was the best partner in life to her husband Ali, who once said, "We lived like two pigeons in a cocoon."

Here is an excerpt from their final exchange before her death:

Fatima: "You have not known me to be a liar or a traitor, and have I ever disobeyed you since we were together?"

Ali: "God forbid! You are more knowing of God, more devoted, more pious, more honorable and more fearing of God than (to give me a reason) to reprimand you for disobeying me. Surely it is very painful for me to be separated from you and to lose you, but it is an inevitable destination."

Like any other institution, a family is the basic unit of society and can only progress materially and spiritually under well-respected leadership. If husbands and wives are forever duking it out over this, that or the other in the living room, they won't be able to fight the horrific oppression out on the streets.

No doubt, giving in isn't always easy (especially when we think we're right!), but it's supposed to be worth it at the end.

"Men normally want to please their wives," Abdul-Ghani says. "If she will allow him to lead and run affairs in this soft way, she will bring out the best in him."

Hmmm, I wonder how long it takes for that effect to kick in....


*For sure, a husband must also fulfill his duties towards his wife, including providing adequately for her, demonstrating good manners and affection towards her and not inviting her to violate any of God's laws. Prophet Muhammad (S) said: "The best among you is the one who observes the rights of his wife in the best possible way, and I am the best among you to observe the rights of my wives."


Anonymous said...

A very beautful post, as modern (backwards) society would have you believe that this situation should be a tit for tat bargaining chip. It is amazing the respect and adoration that the Ahlul Bayt had for their spouses. When Imam Hassan (as) is poisoned by his wife he does not vilify or try to have her killed. He merely says, "Oh wife! Was I such a bad husband to you?" This is not just a simple phrase that he utters as he is in the throes of his demise. It's an instruction to all men and women that even in the worst of circumstances, he was pleading to her (us) to pay adherence to our ultimate responsibilities to each other because it is by the rule of Allah (swt) that we are ultimately obeying.

Salina Khan said...

Salam, Anonymous, Please keep commenting because I learned a lot from you! Loved the story of Hasan, the eldest son of Fatima (one of the perfect women)...made me teary-eyed.

Anonymous said...

Walaikum salaam,

Actually sister, I've learned from you! It is amazing that most modern day marriage counselors often instruct couples to bargain in their marriages, ie. you take out the trash today and I won't yell at you later. Now that's a bit out there, but you get my point. Rarely do any of them utter the word "submit" with sincerity.

Of course, this goes for men as well. In many Islamic societies, namely Saudi Arabia and Egypt, men treat women as commodities. Rarely do the ever heed the command from Allah (swt) to "lower their gaze," but there is a larger and deeper meaning to it. Think about it: if a man submits to Allah (swt) then he empowers a woman to feel confident that she is seen as something more than an object. Wonderful right?

So if this initial stage is practiced outside of marriage, then when married, a man remembers than the woman he is supposed to love the most deserves the most dignity and thus, would never abuse her in their marriage. And by submitting to her in some matters and seeking her advice in earnest, he then has ultimately submitted to Allah's command as being "guardians to one and other." Think about it again: wouldn't you regard highly the person who are supposed to protect? Of course! Imagine the mutual respect that springs forth in such a marriage!

Salina Khan said...

salaml anonymous,
good points!
keep sharing,

Sarosh said...

Salam-alaikum and Jazaki- Allah Khair Salina for another beautiful insight through your blog...

Subhan-Allah, I remember the words of a wise person: " Ultimately, Its all in the hands of the woman of the house to make home Jannah"....Truly said!

By giving in or submitting to some arguments or ways even though they may not be to her liking, she is submitting not to anyone else but her creator alone, Allah Subhanahu Taala. If this ideology creeps in then so many marriages today that are on the rocks could be saved.......ultimately the goal should be to shove our pride, overlook each others mistakes and shortcomings. Marriage is a bridge to Jannah...if built on strong foundation of trust, love, respect, forgiveness, compassion & kindness it will insha' Allah definitely take us to our Rabb.

Subhan- Allah look at one of our role model, Bibi Asiya (R.A), even living with a tyrant like Pheroan did not have a negative influence or budge her righteousness and strong Takhwa & Imaan.....

Two people with two different personaities will have disagreements, but the beauty is attuning to each others needs & happiness and resolving issues without anger and pride....
Loving for the sake of Allah truly has a beautiful meaning.

JAK @ Anonymous for the comments....Masha Allah alaik!beautiful thoughts and points.

Again Salina, JAK, keep your blogs coming and may Allah bless and reward you and your family!

Salina Khan said...

Thank you, Sarosh, for your words of if we can only follow your advice consistently :)

sarosh said...

Salam salina,

Believe me, I am no different, very forgetful especially when it comes to being consistent & following good habits which are few and far between:)
Take care....gotto go

JAK wa


ayat said...

thank you for the great post.i wish all men will understand ,,the problem is each man has his own piont of view based on culture not on religon !!! and its going to take ages to change it .

Salina Khan said...

thank you for your comment, ayat. as mothers insha Allah we can change society one child at a time....

Hooma said...

Hey salina,
Nice post - as usual. I'm a fairly newly married person too -- so learning how to deal with conflicts and disagreements is something that I am still learning how to handle.

Salina Khan said...

Salam, Hooma,
Thanks! I am going to share with you advice that Imam Khomeini gave to his daughter when they got married:
“If your husband is upset, or if he says something to you for whatever reason, or acts badly, at that time don’t say anything, even if you are in the right. Leave it until he has calmed down, and then say what you have to.”
He gave the same advise to his son-in-law.