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For much of history, the general role of husband and wife has been fairly consistent. The husband works and feeds the family. The wife stays home and takes care of the home and the children. However, for a long time, there were practices in families that were very common that were actually highly unethical.
Women were treated like trash, so much so that having a daughter was considered an abomination. Having a daughter was so bad, it was thought, that fathers would bury their young daughters alive because they wanted a son so badly. And women who didn’t suffer this fate still risked facing treatment from other men because women were essentially treated as second class. Not to mention the idolatry and grave worship that was common in so many places.
Then Islam came and things started to change.
With the arrival of Islam and the prophethood being given to the Messenger Muhammad, peace and God’s blessings be upon him, he taught that idolatry and grave worship were things that Almighty God despised. Eventually, such practices became illegal when the Divine Law of God was established. But something else changed too under Islam: women were given rights never heard of before in much of society.
Women were regarded as equal in the eyes of God. They were given the right to own property. And having daughters was considered a blessing. Among many other things. People began to understand the importance of women in society. People began to respect and value the role of women as much as men. They weren’t just housewives anymore. They were people with rights.
But sadly even though Islam commands respect and just treatment for women, there are still people, even in Muslim lands, who prefer to stick to the old treatment of women from their cultures rather than what Islam says.
Well, let’s be clear: the majority of cultural practices are manmade practices! But Islam is from God Himself! If you prefer your culture over what God commands, then that could very easily become an act of polytheism. Why? Well, it’s because we could fall into believing that our culture is better than what God commands! And that becomes shirk (making partnership with God) if we get to that point!
Therefore, give your spouses their rights. Treat them with respect. Remember that men are not superior to women. And women are not superior to men. We are equal in the eyes of Almighty God. That doesn’t mean we were made the same way physically, mentally, or emotionally. We are, after all, different genders.
Men have some rights over women but women also have some rights over men. Women, for example, are not obligated to attend Friday prayer services. Men are. Likewise, men are required to let their beards grow, but if a woman has any facial hair (which is unlikely but is known to happen sometimes) she is not required to have it. In fact, she should shave it. These are just some of the countless examples out there.
But the bottom line is that our spouses are not our servants. They’re our partners. Marriage is a partnership. So when you deny your spouse their rights, you are defying God. The reason is because God commands it that we give our spouses the rights and respect they deserve. Prophet Muhammad, peace and God’s blessings be upon him, said in a narration that the best among men are those that treat their wives the best. This means don’t beat them. Heck, it means don’t even raise a hand at them!
This also means be kind to them. Don’t verbally abuse them. Don’t abuse them at all. Again, brothers, our wives are not our slaves. So don’t treat them as such. Treat them like royalty. Like queens. A common man would be tackled by security if he even laid a hand on a queen! Treat your wives like royalty, like they have a bodyguard watching over them all the time. Remember: they do! They have God watching over them! And if you mistreat your wife, then you will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment!