Feb 2, 2009

Posted by in Etiquette in Islam, Spousal Relationship | 4 Comments

Etiquette between Spouses

A Muslim recognizes that there are some common etiquettes between a husband and wife. These are the rights that each one has upon the other. This is based on Allah’s statement:

“And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them.” (2:228)

This noble Verse makes it clear that each spouse has rights over the other. However, the verse specifically mentions the man as having an additional degree of rights with respect to special rights.

Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) said on the occasion of the Farewell Hajj: “Verily, you have rights over your wives and your wives have rights over you.” (Abu Dawud) 

Some of these rights are common between the two spouses while others are specific for one of the spouses. As for the common rights, they are the following:

1) Loyalty and Honesty

That is, it is obligatory upon each spouse to be truthful and honest with respect to the other. One does not cheat the other in any way, big or small. The two spouses are like two partners. Therefore, there must be trust, sincerity, honesty and truthfulness between them concerning every matter of their lives, both private and public.

Never go and tell about your spouses to a 3rd person and weaken the bond. Never give another person a chance to interfere in your personal life. Satan can do anything to spoil the happiness in your life.

2) Love and Mercy

Each one of them should have as much love and mercy as he can for the other. This should be something common between them for all of their lives. In this way, they fulfill Allah’s words:

“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.” (30:21)

It is Allah who puts love and mercy between the spouses.

3) Mutual trust between them

Each one of them should 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 (SAWS) also said: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The bond between spouses goes beyond the bond of simple brotherhood with respect to trust, strength and fervor.

Each spouse should realize that he/she is 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?

4) General Good Manners

This includes kindness in dealings with each other, smiling at each other, good and noble speech, respect and regard for one another. This is the “honourable and good treatment” that is ordered by Allah in the verse,

“O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the Mahr you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. And live with them honourably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allâh brings through it a great deal of good..” (4:19)

This ayat tell

  • You can not inherit a women against her wishes
  • Don’t treat her with harshness
  • You cannot take a part of the Mahr you have given her. But if they commit open illegal sexual intercourse you can do so.
  • Live with them honoroubly
  • If you dislike a bad character of hers, it might be good for you which only Allah knows. If you try to change her bad character and still she does not change, then leave it. Because there might  be good in that for you which only Allah knows.

This is the fulfilling of the advice to treat them well that is found in the words of Allah’s Messenger (SAWS): “I advice you to treat women well.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

These are, in general, the etiquette that are shared between the husband and the wife. These should be mutual between them. This is how to act upon the “firm and strong covenant” that is referred to in the verse:

“And how could you take it (back) while you have gone in unto each other, and they have taken from you a firm and strong covenant?” (4:21)

Covenant is a promise. It’s pure and we will be questioned about it by Allah.

This is also in obedience to Allah’s command in the verse:

“And do not forget liberality between yourselves. Truly, Allah is All-Seer of what you do.” (2:237)

It so happens that we tend to forgive our friends, neighbors etc for anything wrong they have done to us. We are liberal towards them. But we need to be liberal towards our spouses too. Because Allah can see us how we are with our friends and spouses. We cannot be a hypocrite. 

One of the relationship what Allah loves and Satan hates is Marriage. If anything wrong is happening in our marriage, its from Satan alone. And if we get into Satan’s words, it shows how weak our faith is. If we know our enemy well, we will protect our territory. In the same way, when we know bad thoughts are coming in our mind, we need to fight back Satan.

As for the specific rights and manners that each spouse must perform with respect to the other, they include the following:

  1. Rights of The Wife Upon The Husband
    1. He must treat her in a respectable and honourable manner. He must feed her when he is fed and clothe her when he is clothed. He must also discipline her if he fears Nushooz (recalcitrance on her part) in the way that Allah has ordered the women to be disciplined. First, he is to advice her without abusing her, swearing at her or shaming her. If she obeys him, that is the end of the matter. If she does not obey him, then he separates from her in their bedding. If she then reforms herself, the matter is concluded. Otherwise he may beat her lightly, not in the face and not in a bruising manner or one which would cause bleeding, tearing of the skin, breaking of a bone or the like. These are his responsibilities in accord with the verse:

       “As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly, if it is useful); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means of (annoyance) Surely, Allâh is Ever Most High, Most Great” (4:34)

        If you have disciplined her on any matter and she obeys you, never keep repeating the incident to her.

       The Prophet (SAWS) said in response to a man who asked him what the rights of the wives upon him were: “That you feed her when you feed yourself. You clothe her when you clothe yourself. You do not strike the face. You do not shame her and you do not boycott her except in the house.” (Abu Dawud)

       In another Hadith, it states: “Verily, their rights upon you are that you treat them well with respect to their clothing and food.” (At-Tirmidhi)

       Yet another Hadith states: “A believing man does not dislike a believing woman. If he dislikes one character in her, he is pleased with another.” (Muslim)

    2. He must teach her what she must necessarily know of her religion, if she is not already knowledgeable of it. If he does not or cannot, he must permit her to attend the lectures or gatherings in which she can attain such knowledge. This is because her need to correct her religion and purify her soul is no less than her need for food and drink, that one is obliged to supply her with.

      This is based on Allah’s saying.

      “O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell)…” (66:6)

      The wife is part of the family and it is obligatory to protect her from Hell-fire through faith and good deeds. Good deeds are definitely in need of knowledge and recognition so that one can actually fulfill and execute them in the way that they are demanded by the Shari’ah.

      Furthermore, the Prophet (SAWS) said: “I advice you to treat women well, for they are like captives under your control.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

      This admonition includes teaching them what they need to know to rectify their religion and to educate them in what is necessary for her to know in order to follow the right path and proper manner in every affair.

    3. He must make her adhere to the Islamic teachings and manners. He should rebuke her whenever she may go against those teachings. He must prevent her from appearing without Hijab and displaying her beauty. He must keep her away from mixing with men other than her male relatives that she cannot marry. At the same time, he must give her all the means that protect her properly and guard over her. He cannot permit her to do any act that will harm her character or religion. He should not give her any opportunity to go against the commands of Allah and His Messenger (SAWS) and to be disobedient. This is because this is his guardianship and he will be asked about it. He is responsible to  protect it and guard it, as Allah has said:

      “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women…” (4:34)

      Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) said: “The man is responsible for his household and he will be asked about his guardianship.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

    4. He must be just between his wife and his co-wives, if he has co-wives. He must be equitable with respect to food, drink, clothing, living with and sleeping in their beds. He cannot be unequal in any of these matters nor can he wrong or oppress any of his wives.

      Allah has forbidden that in His words:

      “… but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (slaves) that your right hands possess.” (4:3)

      Furthermore, Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) has advised that they be treated in the best manner when he said: “The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best to my family.” (At-Tabarani)

    5. The husband must not spread her private aspects to others, nor should he mention her shortcomings to others. He is supposed to be a type of guardian and entrusted one for her. He should seek her welfare and defend her honour.

      Never tell her shortcomings even to your own family members as you are her guardian. A guardian will never reveal her shortcomings to anyone, rather defend anyone speaking ill about her.

      Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) said: “The people in the worst position in Allah’s sight on the Day of Resurrection is a man he goes to his wife and she to him and he then spreads her secrets.” (Muslim)

      Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) also said: “Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from attending Allah’s mosques. If the wife of any of you should seek permission to go to the mosque, do not prevent her.” (Muslim)

      “Permit your wives to go even at night to the mosques.”(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

    6. The husband should provide her with a separate accommodation. It is obligatory upon the husband to provide for her a separate accommodation according to his capacity if she insists on. If he does not have a capability to give her a separate accommodation, then atleast a separate bedroom in the same house. He should understand that she also requires her own privacy in the household so that she can stay comfortably.

      “Lodge them (the divorced women) where you dwell, according to your means” [al-Talaaq 65:6]

      If it is obligatory to provide lodgings for a divorced wife, then it is even more appropriate that lodgings should be provided for one who is still married.

  2. It is obligatory upon the husband to fulfill the following etiquette with respect to his wife:

  3. The Rights Of The Husband Upon The Wife
    1. She must obey him in matters that are not disobedience to Allah. Allah says:

      “… but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means of (annoyance).” (4:34)

      Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) said: “If a man calls his wife to his bed and she does not come, such that he them spends that night angered with her, the angels curse her until the morning.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

      The Prophet (SAWS) also said: “If I were to order anyone to prostrate oneself to anyone else I would order a wife to prostrate herself to her husband.” (Abu Dawud) 

    2. She must also protect the honour and dignity of her husband. She must also protect his wealth, children and other aspects of his household.

      This is based on Allah’s statement:

        “Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard…” (4:34)

       Allah’s messenger (SAWS) said: “The wife is the guardian over the house of her husband and his children.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

       He (SAWS) also said: “Their rights over you (wives) are that you do not allow anyone whom they dislike onto your bedding and you do not allow anyone whom they dislike into your house.” (At-Tirmidhi)

    3. The wife must not leave the house except with her husband’s permission and approval. She must also lower her gaze, keep her voice low, keep her hands from reaching out to anything evil and keep her tongue from any lewd or foul speech.

      This is because Allah has said:

        “And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance.” (33:33)

         Allah also says:

      “… Be not soft in speech, lest those in whose heart is a disease should be moved with desire…” (33:32)

        Another verse states:

      “And tell the believing women to lower their gazes (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent…” (24:31)

    4. She also must not harm his parents or his near relatives. However it should be known that it is not obligatory upon the wife to look after her husband’s parents. It is only out of love for her husband that she may serve his parents. If she does so, she will be rewarded by Allah Insha Allah.  But she cannot be forced to look after his parents.

    5. She must guide or educate her husband on any of his shortcomings regarding religion. If she feels that her husband is lacking in religion, she has the right to educate him and make him start implementing those practices.

  4. It is obligatory upon the wife to fulfill the following rights and etiquette towards her husband:


Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) said: “The best woman is the one who when you look at her, you are pleased; when you order her, she obeys; if you are absent from her, she guards herself and your property” (At-Tabarani)

The wife needs to be well groomed in front of her husband at all times. Usually it happens that the wife is best dressed when going outside the house, but inside the house she is never well dressed. The wife needs to remember that she needs to impress her husband and not others and she has to be well dressed in front of him at all times. The wife needs to know that this is one of the reasons why husbands tend to look at other women.

May Allah bless us with righteous spouses and make our lives easy for us and live our lives according to the Quran and the Sunnah.  Ameen.

  1. This was a real eye opener,I pray Allah helps guard me becoming a good wife.

  2. Good reminder for all spouses in Islam

  3. Yes a very good reminder. We should do our best in fulfilling our rights towards our husbands. Only then we can expect to get our rights from them. After we have given them their rights and still we dont get the same from them, then we need to speak to them about it nicely.. Fights will never give a solution, it will only worse the situation.

  4. Top interpret, I righteous passed this onto a pal who was doing part probe on that. Also he righteous bought me lunch as I institute it for him sneer Thus cause me rephrase that: Bless you for lunch! “They may ignore what you said, besides they resolution never ignore how you made them grope.” by Carl W. Buechner.

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