Marriage Bites #6: Husband > Wife

Every couple going through this phase has one or more fear or worry about what the future holds for them in marriage life after nikah. I have talked about my fears and insecurities many times with H and he has shared some of his with me too. Most of the time, we talk about it to get some assurance. But sometimes, we share them to find solutions together, or just to let each other know that we are going through this together.

One of the things that I have shared with H is that I tend to secretly question Islam’s view or ruling about the roles of husband and wife in marriage. In Islam, the husband is placed in a higher hierarchy than the wife. It is not equal. The husband has a responsibility and authority over the wife. As a woman, of course I tend to find this unfair. A lot of things about Islam and its history, places more importance and emphasis on the male. Actually, a lot of things in the world in general place more emphasis on the male, but it seems like it is true even in our religion.

For example, why are there no female prophets? Are women incapable to lead a community? Why must the wife obey the husband, but the husband do not have to listen to the wife? Why is a wife considered derhaka when she goes against her husband but not the other way round? Why must the responsibility of providing nafkah only fall on the husband? Why can’t it be equal? Why must the husband prioritise his parents over his wife, but the wife must always put her husband first, even over her own parents? Why do angels curse the wife until sunrise just because she refuses to have sex with her husband for one night?

I know I sound like a feminist. But I guess I care more for equality? I mean I agree that men and women are not created equally. We have our own strengths and weaknesses that are meant to complement one another. But I was not very convinced with the difference when it comes to authority, power and hierarchy of men and women in Islam.

Anyway, so I voiced this out to H. I am sure many girls have similar sentiments. Afterall, no one likes to feel disadvantaged or oppressed. But his response changed my perspective slightly. Like many guys, his first response is to feel annoyed. Basically he questioned back whether women really think that men have it easier. He reminded me that the responsibilities that come with being a husband come with huge accountabilities in the Hereafter. It can be a really big burden, which not everyone can bear. If you can’t even bear your own sins, what makes you think you can bear the sins of your wife and your children? So it made me realise that agreeing to marry is itself a huge responsibility for men. With this contrast between the responsibilities of husband and wife, it is actually much much much easier for women to enter Jannah than men. In fact, I could sense a tinge of envy in H.

The nafkah that must be provided by husbands include shelter, food and clothing. In Singapore, it is almost impossible to let the husband pay for our BTO, bills, food, groceries and clothes/shoes/bags/tudungs all by himself. So whatever that the wife contributes, is a form of sedekah. When HDB deducts our CPF for the monthly instalments, the husband’s portion is his obligation, but the wife’s portion is a form of charity. Imagine the amount of charity the wife contributes to the family, and the amount of unfulfilled obligations accumulated by the husband. Now this scenario makes it look like the husband is the disadvantaged one.

In a nutshell, this realisation made me more grateful to be a born as a woman. The husband may be more empowered with all the authority, but it comes with huge responsibilities. On the other hand, the wife has much lesser responsibilities, but is given more opportunities to do more charity. Afterall, marriage is an amanah. These responsibilities and obligations are our tickets to Jannah. The best that we can do is to make our journey easier by helping each other fulfil our duties.

On another note, we are now less than 100 days away WOOHOO!

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1 thought on “Marriage Bites #6: Husband > Wife”

  1. Just wanted to share my own two cents.

    “When a husband calls his wife to bed and she refuses, and he sleeps angrily, the angels curse her until dawn.”
    Many times, we tend to look at a single hadith before coming to a conclusion. The proper way of studying, I feel, is to collect all the texts in the topic to have a general view of the topic. For example in that above hadith, some may conclude that marriage in Islam oppresses women, right? Some may even say that marital rape is permissible.

    But they forget that there are other texts related to this topic. There is a hadith whereby the prophet pbuh was told that a companion fasts all day and prays all night. He (pbuh) told the companion, “Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.” and majority of the scholars agree that the last portion in that statement is referring to intercourse with the wife. So just as the wife has that responsibility to fulfil her husband’s sexual desires, the husband has an equal responsibility to fulfil the wife’s sexual desires (Notice that I’m using the angle of ‘responsibility’ rather than ‘rights’ i.e. “the rights of the husband to demand such-and-such from the wife” – sometimes I feel it’s better to look at things from the responsibility angle)

    Also, a portion from Quran 2:228 “And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable.” So this further affirms that whatever responsibilities the wives are expected to fulfil, they also have a right to receive a reasonable portion in return. PLUS all the adab that men have to adhere to when going to bed with his wife, eg do not approach your wife (in bed) like an animal, and give kisses and sweet words.

    Men have a degree over women, but I don’t think this means that men are better than women per se; this means that men have greater responsibilities over women, like you have written. This is in line with how Islam has outlined the conventional role of men being the maintainers and protectors of the women. Once we have internalized and fully understood this role, it comes quite naturally that men are expected to give nafkah, men get higher inheritance, and only men have been Prophets. But again this doesn’t mean men are ‘better’ than us. Just like how the Prophet pbuh and several other men have been guaranteed paradise, so have several women such as Khadijah, Fatima, Maryam and Asiya.

    Liked by 1 person

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