An Answer to a Sister’s Feedback to My Khutbah Last Week

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Dr. Muhammad Abuelezz,

Kitchener Mosque, Ontario

 

…the husband is not entitle for his rights no matter what he does. He has to earn them. I said in the khutbah that one has to give first in order to take and as in the Qur’an ولهن مثل الذي عليهن” they (wives) have equal rights like the rights upon them”. Also the previous two khutbahs were about the good treatment of one’s wife as the example of the Prophet (PBUH) and I refuted the belief of the husband’s superiority over his wife and that both have equal rights and responsibilities. I stated that, unlike the pervasive/common opinion, the opinion of the majority of Muslim scholars is that the wife is not obliged to serve her husband and he is the one responsible for providing her with all what she needs unless she does something by her choice and through love and respect or mutual agreement (may be I can send you the khutbah and you listen to it). The husband even by the qur’an has to pay her for breastfeeding the children and might bring her a servant. The famous hadith of the wife’s prostration to her husband according to one of the great scholar Ibn Hazam it is not authentic hadith and even if some other scholars said it is authentic it doesn’t mean what people understood from it.

The last khubah was an answer to the question by husbands that “if a wife is not obliged to do the house chores then what are my rights if I am the one working and spending on the house? So I wanted to answer that question and say in case if you as a husband is fulfilling your duties now you earn some few duties in Islam (right for children, protection of your wealth, permission in case of leaving the house, good treatment, bed/sexual right, not allowing those you don’t like into the house) over your wife unless she stipulates other conditions in the marriage contract. I stated that in Islam marriage is a civil contract meaning that spouses should discuss all marital affairs and every one can stipulate her/his conditions in the marriage contract. For example if a wife puts a condition that she will have the right to move freely with her husband limiting this and he accepts that then she can do that but if she didn’t put that condition at the time of marriage then by default the wife should respect her husband and don’t travel without the husband’s consent/permission.

The issue is we need to understand the norm in Islam is that the husband is the one who has the qawama/ providing for his wife unless opposite agreed upon and he has few rights/duties in return of his qawama. And this is what I am talking about the normal situation (like me and my wife for example while I’m the only provider of the house) but if that changes as in the West and the East too (my mother was a working wife), does that affect the principle of husnand’s qawama and the by default rights of the husband?  The answer is NO unless they agree otherwise. It doesn’t mean because the wife earns money or even if she is wealthy she has to spend on her husband. The wife can lend her husband from her money. She can even pay her Zakat to him based on the approval of the Messenger given to the wife of Ibn Masud to pay her Sadaqa to her husband.

My father was imam and my mother was a teacher. My mother used to earn may be as equal as my father but he never asked her for a penny to spend on the house unless she wills voluntarily. It was his responsibility to provide for his family. In Islam the wife’s financial status is independent from her husband therefore my mother used to save her own salary and buy land from her siblings on her name.

We have families while the husbands are the providers and wives are not working or earning money. We have families while both spouses are working and sharing the responsibilities, we have families while the wives might be the only providers of the families and the husbands are not working because they lost their jobs, they are sick or they could be lazy. This means not all the families are the same therefore mutual agreements have to be reached for the duties and responsibilities in the family.

Islamicly speaking if the wife spends on the house and supports her husband financially, she has the right to consider this money as a debt on her husband to pay it back when he is able. Or if they agree and accept the common Canadian law of the 50/50 share in the beginning of marriage then no problem. My theory is that without families understand the Islamic rules, the ‘Urf/ custom and the common law of the country and form the marriage contract to be in harmony with these three, problems will happen down on the road and in that case the law of the country will be the one forced on both parts.

When there is an imbalance happens in any of the duties of the husband (his qawama) or he is abusive he is not entitle to the by default rights. If he doesn’t provide for his wife or abuse her he can’t asked her to give him for example his sexual right and tell her the angle will curse you all the night. This is called manipulation of the religion by the husband. He has no right in such case and she has the right to refuse to answer his call to bed until he changes and if not she has the right to seek separation for a while, divorce or the help of authorities in case of domestic violence. It is called in Islam taalaq for darar (the right of the wife for divorce due to harm).

Regarding these by default rights, they needs more clarification. A wife has a right also to know where her husband goes. It is not like some husbands will say to their wives “it is not your business.” She has a right to spend money as she wills as long as it is her money whether owned by a gift from her husband or she earned it by other means. He has no right in that money without her permission. What she is supposed to protect is his money. I mean to say protect not spend because a wife still can also spend from the money of her husband by M`aruf/ what is good without a need for a direct permission. She can invite whomever she wishes to the house unless her husband objects to a certain person. Her parents also have a great right so that she can visit them without his permission if he refuses. A wife has equal right for children like her husband and if he refuses she has the right to seek divorce too and that is even haram form the husband to do that. Saying that divorce is not easy in most cultures this has nothing to do with Islamic theory of marriage. In many of Muslim countries (I’m talking about mostly Arab) the wife has a very strong position in the family law based on Shari`ah. Divorce for darra (harm) and khul’ (divorce without even harm just she wants to get divorced) are very common. Khul’ has no parallel in any other religion before Islam. It means the wife is seeking divorce for no physical reason or abuse from her caring husband who might be loving her to a level of great infatuation as in the case of Barira, a woman at the time of the Prophet who got divorced by the Prophet from her husband who loved her so much although she didn’t. She has the right to get divorce but she returns the mahr (dowry). But in case of abuse or darar she doesn’t return anything and she takes the Islamic spousal support too and all her rights written in the marriage contract.

It is a big topic can’t be covered in one khutbah and this is why the next one is the fourth one. The problem is that some listeners only judge based on one khutbah, one side, one case, one culture or on exceptional cases in marriage. I am presenting the general Islamic rules and of course these rules have their exceptions that need to be taken into consideration. Also these rules/rights can be waived or negotiated by spouses in the beginning of marriage if they came to a prenuptial agreement or even postnuptial which thanks to God could be forced by Ontario family law.

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