Most of us know the specific rights and manners of each spouse but there are some mutual rights and manners to be observed by each of them towards the other. These rights and manners are approved by the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). This is based on Allah’s saying:
“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses, etc.) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect, etc.) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them.” (Al-Baqarah 2:228).
This verse indicates that the wife has certain rights on her husband, just as he has certain rights on her, and each is obliged to give the other spouse his due rights. Moreover, it specifically mentions that the husband has an additional degree of particular rights.
On the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Behold! There are rights for you upon your women, and rights for your women upon you.” (At-Tirmidhi 3087).
As for these common rights, they are the following:
Honesty and Loyalty: It is obligatory upon each spouse to be truthful and honest with the other. One should not cheat the other on any matter, major or minor. They both are like two partners. Therefore, there must be trust, sincerity, honesty and truthfulness among them in every matter and affair of their lives, both private and public.
Mercy and Love: Each of them must have as much mercy and love as they can for the other. It should be their standard for their whole lives. In such way, they will fulfill the following Statement of their Lord: “And 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.” (Ar-Rum 30:21). This would also be in fulfillment of the Prophet’s (PBUH) statement: “The one who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy.” (Muslim 2318).
Mutual trust between them: Each one of them must have complete trust in the other and should not have the least amount of doubt or suspicion concerning the other’s honesty, sincerity and devotion to the other. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: “None of you will have faith till he likes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself.” (Al-Bukhari 13). The bond between spouses goes beyond the bond of simple brotherhood with respect to trust, strength and favor. Each spouse should realize that they are the essence and personification of the other. How could a person not trust himself and not be sincere to himself? How could a person cheat and deceive himself?
Common virtuous manners: It includes gentleness in dealings with each other, smiling at each other, good and kind speech, respect and regard for one another. This is the “honorable and good treatment” that is enjoined by Allah (SWT) in the following verse:
“And live with them honourably.” (An-Nisa 4:19).
This fulfillment of the advice to treat them well, is found in the statement of the Prophet (PBUH):
“And I command you to take care of the women in a good manner.” (Al-Bukhari 5186).
Spouses must follow these common rights and etiquette. In a house where a husband and wife live in love and peace, and care for each other, prosperity comes to such house. It is not deemed proper to get annoyed with small things. Forgiving and overlooking the minor mistakes of each other makes the home a lovable place to live in. The Prophet (PBUH) himself was the best example of these rights and etiquette. He used to be kind, cheerful, playful with his wives, compassionate and laughing with them. He used to race with ‘Aisha (RA), the Mother of the Believers, as a means of kindness and gentleness to her.
Rights and Duties of Muslim Women is beautifully explained in these Books:
- Status of Women in Islam.
- Right & Duties of Muslim Women.
- Encyclopedia of Islamic Jurisprudence Concerning Muslim Women.