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WE’VE seen the numerous ahadith (sayings of the prophet) about a woman’s obligation to obey her husband. You’ve probably read about her obligation to respond to her husband’s needs and the punishment for not doing so and maybe you begin to wonder, “What about me? What do I get?”
Well, the reward is great (in this life and the next). The prophet (peace be upon him) said that the reward for obedience to the husband and fulfilling his rights is equivalent to jihad (struggle for the sake of Allah). But what if the words ‘obey’ and ‘submit’ don’t exactly motivate you?
Let’s take a step back and imagine a world in which people do things based on nothing else but how they feel (not much different than the world today).
If I love you, that should be enough because when I love you, I’m nice to you, I forgive you, and I’m even willing to do a little extra to maintain your happiness. You’re good to me and I’m good to you…No problem! You give me rights and I’ll give you yours, with pleasure! But what happens when you make me mad and I don’t feel so loving, nice or forgiving, or worse - I just want revenge? That’s excusable because you hurt my feelings, right?
What happens if it’s the other way around? What if I make my husband mad and then he doesn’t feel like going to work to support me anymore? Well, that’s different, you say, because that’s obligatory.
In the first verse of the chapter entitled “The Women” of the Qur'an, Allah says what means, “And fear Allah, through whom you demand your mutual rights”. This means that, in a successful marriage, the husband and wife give each other their rights because Allah commands them to, not because they feel like it or even because they love each other.
In verse 34 of the same chapter, Allah describes righteous women as being obedient. But what does that do for the woman? If you look at ahadith instructing men on how to treat their wives, what is interesting is that they encourage kindness, mercy, and forgiveness. But when you look at ahadithinstructing women, they are about obedience, submission, and respect.
Allah tells us,
"And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought." (Qur'an, 30:21)
So when a woman is respectful and obedient, guess what that does to the husband – it creates affection and mercy for his wife. And when a husband is kind, forgiving, and understanding…you guessed it – the wife feels affection and mercy for her husband. And both husband and wife feel tranquility and fulfillment. Subhanallah.
Look at any of your relationships, be it with your children, spouse, or coworker, and think about the last time he or she did something nice for you. It warmed your heart and you may have even enjoyed doing something nice in return.
On the other hand, it can be hard to give someone their rights when we didn’t get the treatment we thought we deserved. The reality is sometimes people will hurt your feelings. And sometimes, they won’t even apologize. But the peace comes when you give them their rights regardless. You let go of your demands and expect your reward from Allah. You feel a sweet peace knowing you are doing the right thing.
In fact, this is how Allah, The Most Merciful, is with us. We fall short of giving Him his rights, but Allah blesses us still.
So how can we get more out of submission?
Give with a smile
Don’t just give your husband his rights like a robot. The prophet told us to love for your brother what you would love for yourself. Maybe we can say we really wouldn’t care if our husbands gave us our rights with a reluctant attitude, but it does make it nicer when rights are given with love. So, smile when you serve him dinner. Adding kindness will soften his heart and shows him that you care, and will in turn make cooperation enjoyable.
Don’t meddle in his affairs
When your husband comes home from a business meeting and he tells you how everything went, don’t criticize everything he said or didn’t say and tell him he’d better call the guy back and correct things, and then ask the next day if he did. Let go of control. Sometimes people try to control things because they are either afraid they won’t get what they think they deserve or they think things will come out wrong. Respect yourself by respecting your choice of a husband. You will feel liberated once you are no longer keeping tabs on everything and you have put your trust in Allah.
Put his needs before your own
Maybe your idea of quality time on the weekend is watching the kids play on the playground while the two of you sit on a blanket on the grass, but he wants to relax at home after a stressful week at work. You want to go Wednesday because it’s too crowded on Thursday. Take a deep breath and compromise. Let him relax at home and take you and the kids on a different day. The kids will have fun either way.
Don’t belittle small acts of kindness
Imagine if someone consistently showed carelessness toward your acts of kindness. It would make you want to stop giving. When he gives in to your requests, purely just to make you happy (or to make you quiet), don’t act like it’s not enough (because you want him to actually want to do it, not just do it because you want him to) and don’t complain if he doesn’t do it the same way you would. Accept it and be grateful anyway. If you don’t, he may think, “I did what she wanted and she’s stillnot happy.” So if you ask him to help you clean the table after dinner and he uses the wrong sponge, just relax and say, “Thank you”, and don’t think, “Next time, I’ll just do it myself!”
It is easy for us to get comfortable and not put any effort in to our appearances until we are in the company of other sisters but our friends shouldn't be the only ones who see us and our homes look nice. When you dress up on the weekend and your husband gives you a confused look and asks if he forgot you had to go out today, surprise him and say, “I did it for you.” It will make you feel good too!
Weigh your grievances
Ask yourself, “Do I have a right to complain about this? Is it worth a potential argument? Is there a way to say this so I can get my feelings across while keeping the peace?” Consider the boy who cried wolf. If you complain about every little offense, your husband will become immune and won’t take your feelings seriously when it is in fact important. Also, think about the good things first. Sometimes thinking about all of the good things your husband has done lessens the need to complain about what he hasn’t. If you really do need to address an issue, choose the right time. Don’t start as soon as he walks in the home from a long day at work.
Have you ever noticed how happy you are with your husband when he’s doing everything right, but when you didn’t get what you wanted, how quick you are to show your disappointment? Before you find yourself preparing to tell him for the second time that the kitchen sink is leaking, go make dua and ask Allah. Don’t think it’s too insignificant to make dua for. This will make things less stressful for both of you and it also helps us to take a step back and remind ourselves to trust Allah, accept the outcome, and really understand that He is in control of everything.
It’s easy to want our husbands to forgive us quickly when we have something we need from them. If you start thinking, “I said sorry already, can’t he just get over it? I need to go run some errands”, stop yourself. Give his feelings the same attention you would want. When he messes up and you are still upset the next day, you wouldn’t want him to say, “Look, I apologized already, its not a big deal”. So the next time your husband makes a mistake, forgive him instead of adding it to your list of things he hasn't done right and make dua for him. Resentment hurts so “Let go and Let God” and don’t remind him about it throughout the next week.
Give a little and you’ll get a lot inshallah! Umm Salamah said the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Any woman who dies and her husband is pleased with her, will enter Paradise." (Ibn Majah)….A lot of reward for a little work!
Challenge: Today, seek out a small act of kindness from your husband, even if it isn’t exactly how or what you wanted. Imagine what things would have been like had he not done it. Keep that in mind and give a heartfelt ‘Thank you.’
1 - Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that a woman once came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said, "O Messenger of Allah, verily, I am the messenger of the women to you. And there is no woman among them except that she desires for me to come out to you. Allah is the Lord of men and women, and He is their God. And you are the Messenger of Allah to men and women. Allah prescribed Jihad for men. If they gain (spoils of war), they become rich, and if they become martyred, they are written with their Lord as being alive, and they are provided for. So what is equivalent to those deeds of obedience that they perform?"
He (peace be upon him) said: "Obedience of their husbands and knowing their rights. And there are few among you who do that."
--Reported by Ahmad adn At-Tabarani in Al-Kabir. With the exception of Husain, who is trustworthy, the narrators of this Hadith are the narrators of As-Sahih.