|In the first instance, we will see what the condition of women in Arabia was before the advent of Islam.
In those days, women were treated like slaves or property. Their personal consent concerning anything related to their well-being was considered unimportant and unnecessary to such an extent that they were never even treated as a party to a marriage contract.
Women were used for one purpose, and then discarded. They had no independence, could not own property and were not allowed to inherit. In times of war, women were treated as part of the loot. Simply put, their plight was unspeakable.
Furthermore, the birth of a daughter in a family was not an occasion for rejoicing, but was regarded with humiliation. The practice of killing female children was rampant. The pagan Arabs used to bury alive their daughters with the fear that these girls will grow up and will get married to some men who will be called their sons-in-law.
After the death of the father, the sons used to share his wives among themselves as they shared their father’s property. After the death of the husband, the widow was kicked out of the house and was forced to live in a small hut, which was unventilated and dark, for one year. She was not permitted to leave the hut, nor was she allowed to take bath or change clothes. After one year, she was allowed to come out of the hut. People threw the camel dung into her lap and asked her to rub her body against the body of an animal. Then she was forced to go round the village in the same dirty attire, throwing the camel dung on her right and her left. This was the indication that she has completed her Iddat (waiting period).
In India, the Hindu woman was the most suppressed creature. She was born to serve her men folk – her father and brother before marriage, and husband and father-in-law and husband’s brothers after the marriage. She was forced to worship her husband. After the death of her husband she had no right to live and was forced to be burnt alive at the pyre of her husband. This inhuman custom was called the Sati. If she had no issue from her husband, she was forced to lie with her husband’s brothers to get pregnant. This practice was called ‘Niyoga’.
Outside Arabia, conditions for women were no better. In Egypt and all European countries in the Dark Ages, women were treated worse than slaves. They were not regarded as human beings but as sort of sub-species between humans and animals.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE HUSBAND AND THE WIFE
The relationship between the husband and wife is a very tender, loving and pure relationship. They are in reality the “garb” of one another. Thus, it is the duty of each to be protective over the life, property and modesty of one another. It is necessary for them to realise and understand their mutual duties as a couple. They are two bodies joined by the soul.
The Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has stated that if a husband was pleased and content with his wife when she passed away, then she will enter Paradise. The explanation of one Hadith is that if a husband passes the night displeased with his wife, she invokes upon herself the Curse of Allah and the Angels. In another hadith, the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said, “If I had commanded prostration for any other than Allah, I would have commanded the wife to make Sajdah to the husband.” However, since Sajdah is none but for Allah, a woman cannot prostrate to her husband but she should be obedient towards him.
The husband is the provider and protector of his wife. He should thus fulfill her needs and keep her pleased. “The best from amongst you is he who is best to his wife.” (Hadith) If there is a conflict, the husband should not be hasty to give her Talaaq (Divorce), but should cool his temper, think carefully and take the opinion of elders before making any decisions as Talaaq is not something which is liked. Sayyiduna Rasoolullah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has stated: “From those actions that are Halaal, the most disliked is Talaaq.”
The wife should also be patient with the husband. She should show her gratitude for anything that he does. She should understand him and not be lavish with his wealth. She should always be neatly attired and loving. She should love and respect his family. That house in which there is daily conflict is living hell and that home in which there is love and respect is a blessed home.
The Laws of Shari’ah: If a man passes away, the wife may give him Ghusal, but the husband cannot give his deceased wife Ghusal, nor can he touch her deceased body without a cloth. He can, however, see her face. It is common in the public that the husband cannot carry the wife’s Janazah or lower her into the grave. This is false. He may see her face, carry her Janazah and lower her into the grave
If one’s parents are pleased with him or her, then that person has gained the Pleasure of Almighty Allah and His Rasool (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam). The Pleasure of Almighty Allah and His Beloved Habeeb (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) can never be gained if one’s parents are displeased. It is the duty of every child to serve his or her parents and be kind to them. They can do this by not showing disrespect and causing pain to them. The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) has stated that a disobedient child will not enter Jannah. To look at your parents with love will gain you the Sawaab of Hajj. It is also stated that “Jannah lies under the feet of your mother” and that the father is the “gate to Jannah”. In a Hadith it is stated that a certain Sahabi was commanded by his parents to divorce his wife. When he relayed this message to the Beloved Nabi (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam), the Nabi (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) advised him to follow his parent’s advice.
It is an accepted fact that one may always have a wife and a child, but parents only come once. We should ponder over the fact that if it had not been for our parents, where would we be? A child can never repay or fulfill the right of his or her parents.
It must be noted that the status of the mother is very exalted. The Ulema have written that if the son is engaged in Nafil Salaah and if his mother calls to him, then he should adhere to her call and present himself before her.
After the demise of one’s parents, be sure to visit their graves. Make Esaale Sawaab and distribute Khayraat and Sadaqa on their behalf. To show respect and kindness to the friends and family of your parents is also part of your duty towards them. Just as you respect your parents, the respect and obedience for your Peer-e-Tariqah and Ulema-e-Deen is also important. The Haqq of the Deeni Ustaad even supersedes that of parents. Thus, always respect your religious teacher. Also respect your father- and mother-in-law since they are like your parents. The woman should be more dutiful to her in-laws that to her own parents. By doing so she will gain benefits in this world and in the Hereafter.
ACKNOWLEDGING THE STATUS OF PARENTS AND DISCHARGING THE DUTIES TOWARDS THEM
The Beloved Prophet of Islam (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) had directed Muslims to show respect and honour their parents even if the parents of Muslims were non-Muslims ill-disposed towards Islam. In Islam, after the duties towards the Supreme Almighty Allah, priority has been given to the duties towards parents (either one or both of them).
The Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) instructed Muslims to speak to their parents in the kindest manner that would be soothing to their ears, and never to chide, shout or rebuke them. He also advised that Paradise becomes unlawful (Haraam) for those who are disobedient to their parents; and that long life can only be gained through obedience to parents.
The Holy Quran states in Surah 17, Verses 23-24: “Thy Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them. But address them in terms of honour.
“And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, ‘My Lord! Bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.'”
In Surah Ahqaf (46), Verse 15, the Holy Quran again states the following: “We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents. In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth.
The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months.”
In Surah Luqman (31), Verse 14, the Holy Quran again states: “And we have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents; in travail upon travail did his mother bear him. And in years twain was his weaning; (hear the Command) ‘Show gratitude to Me (Allah) and to thy parents; to Me (Allah) is thy final goal.'”
The following are Ahaadith from the various Kitaabs of Hadith that refer to a Muslims duty towards his or her parents:
Bukhari Shareef and Muslim Shareef: Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu anhu) reported that a man enquired: “O Apostle of Allah! Who is the most proper person for my good association?” He replied, “Thy mother.” Then he asked: “Who is next?” He replied, “Thy mother.” Then he asked: “Who is next?” He replied, “Thy mother.” He enquired: “Who is next?” He said, “Thy father.” In another narration: He replied, “Thy mother, then thy mother, then thy mother, and then thy father and then thy nearest relatives and then thy nearer relatives.”
Muslim Shareef: Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “May he be humbled! May he be humbled! May he be humbled!” It was questioned: “Who? O Apostle of Allah?” He said: “The one who finds parents in their old age – one of them or both of them, and yet does not enter Paradise.”
Bukhari Shareef and Muslim Shareef: Sayyiduna Asma bint Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhuma) reported: My mother, while she was a polytheist during the Treaty of the Quraish, came to me. I asked: “O Messenger of Allah! My mother has come to me while she is ill-disposed (to Islam) Should I show her respect?” He replied, “Yes, show respect to her.”
Muslim Shareef: Sayyiduna Ibn Omar (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The most excellent form of obedience to parents is a man befriending the friends of his father after he has passed away.”
Ibn-e-Majah Shareef: Sayyiduna Saoban (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Nothing but supplication can annul predestination, and nothing but obedience to parents can prolong long life. A man is deprived of his provision for his sins he commits.”
Tirmizi Shareef: Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Amr (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “The pleasure of the Lord is in the pleasure of the father, and the displeasure of the Lord is in the displeasure of the father.”
Sunan Abu Dawood and Ibne Majah Shareef: Sayyiduna Abu Osaid-as Sayedi (radi Allahu anhu) reported: We were near the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) when a man of Banu Salemah came to him and asked: “O Apostle of Allah! Is there any obedience to parents left that I can show to them after their demise?” He replied, “Yes, to pray for them, to seek forgiveness for them, to fulfill their instructions after their death, to keep affinity with those who are not connected with you but through them, and to honour their friend.”
Nisai Shareef, Musnad Imam Ahmad and Baihaqi Shareef: Sayyiduna Mu’awiyah bin Ja’hemah (radi Allahu anhuma) reported that Ja’hemah came to the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I intend to join a battle and have come to you for consultation.” He enquired, “Have you got a mother?” He replied, “Yes.” He said: “Then keep near her, because Paradise is at her feet.”
Ibne Majah Shareef: Sayyiduna Abu Omamah (radi Allahu anhu) reported that a man asked: “O Messenger of Allah! What are the rights of parents over their children?” He replied, “They are your Paradise and your Hell.”
Tirmizi Shareef: Sayyiduna Jaber (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoso has got three things in him, Allah will make his death easy and will admit him in Paradise – mercy to the weak, kindness to the parents and doing good to the slave.”
Baihaqi Shareef: Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “No obedient son look to his parents with a look of kindness but Allah does not write for them one accepted pilgrimage for every look.” They enquired, “And if he looks hundred times every day?” He said, “Yes, Allah is most Great and Most Beneficent.”
Baihaqi Shareef: Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (radi Allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallal laahu alaihi wasallam) said: “Almighty Allah may pardon all sins He pleases except disobedience to parents; and He hastens (punishment) in this life before death for one who commits it.”