Marriage and Household

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Who is prophet muhammads wife? Is prophet muhammad married?

The importance and virtue of family life is highly recognized in the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Marriage is a legally binding contract between a man and a woman, which establishes the lawful relationship between them as spouses, with a mutual commitment to live together according to the teachings of Islam. Allah says in the Qur’an, “Oh, humankind, be careful of your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate, and from the two of them spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty to God in whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs. Verily, God is Watcher over you.”[1] It is important for the new Muslim man to know that if he is already married to a woman that belongs to the People of the Book, such as, Judaism or Christianity, then their marriage is still valid. However, if the woman belongs to a religion not designated as People of the Book, then their marriage can only be validated by her also becoming a Muslim. Whereas, for the female new Muslim who is already married to a non-Muslim man, her marriage can only be validated if her husband also accepts Islam as his faith, otherwise, the female Muslim is not allowed to stay married to a non-Muslim man, no matter if he is of the people of the Book. The reason for this is that Islam assigns the responsibility of both the moral wellbeing and the finances of the family unit, to the male and he is held accountable for the support and the maintenance of the female, their offspring and even other female relatives. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says in the Qur’an, “Men are responsible for women because Allah has given the one more than the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). Virtuous women are therefore obedient, guarding in their (husbands’) absence that which Allah has guarded.”[2]

Moreover, a man must have a lawful source of income in order to support his family and, it is for this reason that Islam’s inheritance law insists on men inheriting a larger share than women. However, it is important to remember the following Qur’anic verse in this context, “Your wives are a garment for you and you are a garment for them”[3] This indicates that the wife is her husband’s companion, who is, together with him, responsible for the affairs of the household, the physical and emotional well-being of its members, and the instruction of the children. The tone of marriage in Islam is, thus, one of mutual respect, kindness, love, companionship and harmonious interaction. Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says in the Qur’an,  “And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.”[4]

At this juncture it is important to reiterate the fact that in Islam, a woman, whether married or single, is recognized as a person in her own right, not merely as an optional extra to her husband. She has the full right to work even after her marriage; she has full ownership of her property and the right to dispose of her property and earnings as she wishes. Furthermore, if she so desires, she has the right to retain her own maiden name, instead of taking that of her husband. If she wishes to, she is permitted to spend her own finances on her family; however, she is not obligated in any way to do so. On the other hand, family expenses and lifestyle should be regulated according to the husband’s level of income. It is not right for a wife and the children to ask more from a man than he earns or can manage with ease, since; the husband is only responsible to provide for the food, the clothing and the housing of his family according to the extent of his income. It is for this reason that most schools of law have recommended that men and women should try to get married according to their social compatibility. Thus, it is better for a woman or a man to marry someone who has a similar financial status, similar social manners and customs, and similar level of intellect. In this manner, a family may be able to avoid the pitfalls that arise from disputes rooted in differences regarding social status, such as, the standard of living or the social cultures that divide the families of the husband and the wife.  Of course, it is possible that mutual love can overcome all differences and prevent any resulting disputes and arguments, but this is not always the case. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), said the following about finding the appropriate spouse, “A woman is married for four things: her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. Try to marry the one who is religious; may your hand be scented with goodness!”[5] As can be deduced from this tradition, such teachings are also applicable to a woman who wants to marry a man.

The religion of Islam recognizes that men and women have different natures, strengths and weaknesses. Based upon this fact it assigns different, but complementary roles to men and women within society. For example, a woman is the mother and is therefore responsible for both the children and the household. However, it is recognized as good conduct for a husband and a wife to consult each other regarding family matters and assist one another in their complementary roles. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The best of you is the one who is best in his treatment of women.”[6] It should also be noted that male authority in the family does not give any man the right to use brute force, nor should it be considered that the woman’s role is equivalent to servitude. If both men and women pursue their traditional roles in the family in accordance with the principles of Islam, there will neither be an oppressor or an oppressed in the family. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), expressed the significance of women’s rights during his farewell sermon, “O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regards to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right, then to them belongs the right to be provided with kind-heartedness, their sustenance and attires. Do treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your companions and committed supporters. Moreover, it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never be unchaste.”

A contemporary issue that is often debated a great deal these days is the allowance for men to marry up to four wives in Islam. However, it is important to note that the allowance for such a limited polygamy is neither a recommendation, an encouragement, nor is it a blanket permission.  Rather the act of contracting marriage with more than one woman is dependent upon the man being able to observe meticulous fairness amongst all his wives. Allah says in the Qur’an, “… Marry of the women who seem good to you two or three or four. And if you fear that you cannot do justice…” [7] and, “You will not be able to deal equally between wives however much you desire (to do so). But (if you have more than one wife) do not turn altogether away (from one), leaving her as in suspense . . . .”[8] This means that the husband is obligated to provide each of the wives with equal facilities and maintenance, spend an equal amount of time with each one and not make them feel as if he prefers one to the other. Due to the difficulty of such a task and the variety of cultures in the Muslim world, the majority of the Muslim men today are only married to one wife at a time. It is important to note that, Islam as a faith recognized the needs of women and created a system, whereby they did not need to live alone and to carry all the economic and other burdens of life on their shoulders; they did not need to spend their lives without the love and the care of a husband or the blessings of bearing children. Moreover, certain unusual situations, such as, barrenness or chronic illness in a woman may make marrying more than one wife desirable. The permission for plural marriages has been given partly in order to provide a home and maintenance for every woman in the society, and partly in order to make provision for other exceptional situations.

This leads us to the issue of Muslim offspring resulting from marriage. It is important for parents to understand that any child that they have is a divine trust and not their property. This means that upon the birth of the child, the parents are obligated to raise him or her in the best manner possible and to teach them about Islam. It is Sunnah for the father to recite the adhan softly in the ear of the new-born child. Moreover, the birth of a child in Islam is commonly followed by the slaughter of an animal, which is shared out amongst family, friends and the poor. This act is also a Sunnah, whereby the family demonstrate their thankfulness to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted. It is also important to note that a male child must be circumcised; this is part of the Sunnah of Ibrahim. It is the right of the child, male or female, to have a good name, because the meaning of the name influences the personality of the child. The name can be from any culture or language, but it is common practice for many Muslims to find their child’s name from the Qur’an, or name them after the Prophet’s family or his companions, or someone from Muslim history.

It is a well known fact in Islam that the mother is the first educator of a child, followed by his or her father. When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), was asked who was most entitled to be treated with the highest respect, he said three times, “Your mother” and only after that did he say, “Your father.”[9] It is the responsibility of the parents to provide a loving environment for the children, an environment consisting not only of discipline, but also affection. It is reported that one day the Prophet was playing with his grandsons and kissing them. A Bedouin came up to him and remarked, “You (people) kiss the children! We do not kiss them”, the Prophet replied, “I cannot put mercy in your heart after Allah has taken it away from it.”[10] Islam teaches the same affinity, kindness and love between all close relations, especially, for parents when they become elderly. For new Muslims it is important to know that blood relatives, in particular, still have rights over them. Thus, a new Muslim should still show respect and love for their father, mother, siblings, and grandparents and so on, even if they are not Muslims. It is important to note that it is acceptable to partake in social events with non-Muslim family members, as long as, it is does not contradict the teachings and principles of Islam. In cases of doubt, the new Muslim should always remember the following verse; “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.”[11]

[1].  Q. 4:1[2].  Q. 4:34[3]. Q. 2:187[4] Q. 30:121[5]. Sahih al-Bukhari, Nikah, VI, 123.[6]. Sahih al-Tirmidhi, Rada, 11. Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 15; Ibn Maja, Nikah, 50[7]. Q. 4:3[8].Q. 4:129[9]. Sahih al-Bukhari, Adab, 2; Muslim, Birr,1, 2[10]. Sahih al-Bukhari, Adab, 22[11]. Q. 16:125

Source: Islam For New Muslims An Educational Guide,Assoc. Prof. Amjad M. Hussain, Erkam Publications

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