The true Muslim woman is always obedient to her husband, provided that no sin is involved. She is respectful towards him and is always eager to please him and make him happy. If he is poor, she does not complain about his being unable to spend much. She does not complain about her housework, because she remembers that many of the virtuous women in Islamic history set an example of patience, goodness and a positive attitude in serving their husbands and taking care of their homes despite the poverty and hardships they faced.
One of the foremost of these exemplary wives is Fatimah al-Zahra’ (RadiyAllahu Anha), the daughter of Muhammad , sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, and the wife of `Ali ibn Abi Talib (RadiyAllahu Anhu). She used to complain of the pain in her hands caused by grinding grain with the hand-mill. Her husband `Ali ibn Abi Talib said to her one day, “Your father has brought some female slaves, so go and ask him for one of them to come and serve you.” She went to her father, but she felt too shy to ask him for what she wanted. `Ali went and asked him to provide a servant for his beloved daughter, but the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, could not respond to those who most dear to him whilst ignoring the needs of the poor among the Muslims, so he came to his daughter and her husband and said: “Shall I not teach you something that is better than that for which you asked me? When you go to bed at night, say ‘Subhan Allaah’ thirty-three times, ‘Al-hamdu lillah’ thirty-three times, and ‘Allahu Akbar’, thirty-four times. This is better for you than a servant.” Then he bid them farewell and left, after giving them this divine help which would make them forget their tiredness and help them to overcome their exhaustion. ‘Ali (RadiyAllahu Anhu) began to repeat the words that the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, had taught him. He said, “I never stopped doing that after he had taught me these words.” One of his companions asked him, “Not even on the night of Siffin?” He said, “Not even on the night of Siffin.”
The true Muslim woman devotes herself to taking care of her house and husband. She knows her husband’s rights over her, and how great they are, as was confirmed by the Prophet’s (SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) words:
“No human being is permitted to prostrate to another, but if this were permitted I would have ordered wives to prostrate to their husbands, because of the greatness of the rights they have over them.”
And: “If I were to order anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would have ordered women to prostrate to their husbands.”
‘Aa’ishah (RadiyAllahu Anha) asked the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,: “Who has the greatest rights over a woman?”
He said, “Her husband.”
She asked, ‘And who has the greatest rights over a man?”
He said, “His mother.”
One example of this is what was said by the faqih al-Hanbali ibn al-Jawzi in his book Ahkam al-Nisa’ (p. 331):
In the second century AH there was a righteous man called Shu`ayb ibn Harb, who used to fast and spend his nights in prayer. He wanted to marry a woman, and told her humbly:
“I am a bad tempered man.”
She replied, tactfully and cleverly:
“The one who makes you lose your temper is worse than you.”
He realized that there stood before him a woman who was intelligent, wise and mature. He immediately said to her:
“You will be my wife.”
This woman had a clear understanding of how to be a good wife, which confirmed to the man who had come to seek her hand that she was a woman who would understand the psychology and nature of her husband and would know what would please him and what would make him angry; she would be able to win his heart and earn his admiration and respect, and would close the door to every possible source of conflict that could disrupt their married life.
The woman who does not understand these realities does not deserve to be a successful wife; through her ignorance and shortcomings she may provoke her husband to lose his temper, in which case, she would be worse than him, for being the direct cause of his anger.
The Muslim woman does not forget that her obedience to her husband is one of the things that may lead her to Paradise, as the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, said:
“If a woman prays her five daily prayers, fasts her month (of Ramadan), obeys her husband and guards her chastity, then it will be said to her: “Enter Paradise by whichever of its gates you wish.””
Umm Salamah (RadiyAllahu Anha) said: “The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, said:
“Any woman who dies, and her husband is pleased with her, will enter Paradise.””
The Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, drew a clear and delightful picture of the well-behaved, easy-going, loving, righteous Muslim wife, one who will be happy in this world and the next:
“Shall I not tell you about your wives in Paradise?”
We said, “Of course, O Messenger of Allaah.”
“They are fertile and loving. If she becomes angry or is mistreated, or her husband becomes angry, she says, `My hand is in your hand; I shall never sleep until you are pleased with me.'”
The true Muslim woman knows that Islam, which has multiplied her reward for obeying her husband and made it a means of her admittance to Paradise, has also warned every woman who deviates from the path of marital obedience and neglects to take care of her husband, that she will be guilty of sin, and will incur the wrath and curses of the angels. Bukhaari and Muslim report from Abu Hurayrah (RadiyAllahu Anhu) that the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, said:
“If a man calls his wife to his bed and she does not come, and he goes to sleep angry with her, the angels will curse her until the morning.”
Hadeeth narrated by Jabir from `Abdullaah: “The Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: `There are three people whose prayers will not be accepted, neither their good works: a disobedient slave until he returns to his masters and puts his hand in theirs; a woman whose husband is angry with her, until he is pleased with her again; and the drunkard, until he becomes sober.'”
When these Hadeeth refer to the husband being angry with his wife, they refer to cases in which the husband is right and the wife is wrong. When the opposite is the case, and the husband is wrong, then his anger has no negative implications for her; in fact, Allaah will reward the wife for her patience. But the wife is still required to obey her husband, so long as no sin is involved, because there should be no obedience to a created being if it entails disobedience to the Creator. Concerning this, the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “It is not permitted for a woman who believes in Allaah to allow anyone into her husband’s house whom he dislikes; or to go out when he does not want her to; or to obey anyone else against him; or to forsake his bed; or to hit him. If he is wrong, then let her come to him until he is pleased with her, and if he accepts her then all is well, Allaah will accept her deeds and make her position stronger, and there will be no sin on her. If he does not accept her, then at least she will have done her best and excused herself in the sight of Allaah .”
Bukhaari and Muslim narrated from Ibn `Abbas (may Allaah be plesead with him) that the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam, said: “O women, give charity, for I have surely seen that you form the majority of the inhabitants of Hell.” They asked, `Why is this so, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said, “Because you curse too much, and are ungrateful for good treatment (on the part of your husbands).”
According to another report given by Bukhaari, he said, “because they are ungrateful for good and kind treatment. Even if you treated one of them (these ungrateful women) well for an entire lifetime, then she saw one fault in you, she would say, `I have never seen anything good from you!'”
The Muslim woman, on the other hand, sets the highest example of respect towards one’s husband and taking note of his good qualities. This is the attitude of loyalty that befits the true Muslim woman who respects her husband’s rights and does not ignore his virtues. Muslim women’s history is full of stories which reflect this loyalty and recognition of the good qualities of the husband.