18 May 2008

Guidance for the muslim wife - new house new faces

It has been predestined for women to be brought up in their parents home and live somewhere else. At the time of your departure to your new house your mother, sisters and near relatives will be shedding tears in the sorrow of your separation and bidding you farewell. On the contrary when you reach there you will be welcomed with smiles and laughter. The whole house will be full of love and joy. Ecstasy will be emanating from all sides. Everyones face will be cheerful and their speech humorous. Each and every person will be smiling and you will reach this house like a light that is brought to a gathering. You will be the centre of attention. Young and old, everyone will desire to see you. Every movement of yours will be observed and every action criticized. But all this tumult will only be for a few days. During this commotion it is your obligation to be cautious. You should spend the preliminary days with extreme dignity, free of pride and a cheerful disposition free of childishness.

The first person whom you will have contact with in your new house will be your life-partner and your companion. With this person you have to spend your whole life and attach all your hopes to him. If he desires your life can be one of lament and sorrowful destruction. In short your future progress or retrogress depends entirely on him. Therefore your first obligation will be to try and understand your life-partner and to mould all your desires according to his wishes as far as possible.

The most important factor is to recognize the nature of a person. There will be comfort for each one in recognising the nature of the other and living accordingly. Today there are numerous cases where the lives of the husband and wife were destroyed merely because there existed a difference in their nature and each one did not understand the others temperament. You may have indeed heard of or witnessed incidents like these in every city and village where the union was destroyed.

We have information of a girl whose husband neither calls her nor separates from her. He also does not send any money for her expenses. Life has become worse than death. The cause for this conflict is not very complex. The matter has deteriorated due to a minor issue. The girl admits that the husband initially loved her intensely, but she did not appreciate his love. She always went against his opinion. Initially the matter was not serious and the husband bore it but the girl did not change her habit. This resulted in more quarrels until it became impossible for the husband and wife to live together. We are not advocating that the husband was not at fault. He may also have been guilty. In short this situation arose because they did not understand each others temperament. The woman should realise that she is the one to suffer more harm because the husband is free to marry while she has many difficulties to face.

From this example you may have understood what my aim is. I am not advocating that the wife must obey every trivial command. However I am certain that if she acts intelligently and understands the habits and temperament of the husband, the situation will not deteriorate.

There is one distinguishing feature in males and that is he does not tolerate anything that goes against his opinion. If any woman does not want her life to be ruined, it is in her interest not to openly oppose the husband in any matter. A sensible approach should be adopted to persuade him. This is called "practical wisdom".

I remember an incident of Delhi which is significant because of the many lessons that can be learnt from it. A girl by the name of Fathima was married to a man from a decent, well-educated family. Fathima was also well-educated, understanding and had a good nature. When she arrived at her in-laws, a new world was revealed to her. All the faces were strange and their ways unique. Besides the mother-in-law, there were 3 sisters-in-law. The eldest was Azraa who had seperated from her husband after having a dispute with him. This was probably due to her ill-temper. The second sister-in-law was Zuhra who was not as yet married. The youngest was Sugra who was about 7-8 years old.

Fathima noticed from the very outset that the mother-in-law was ill-tempered. She quarrelled very often with her daughters and son. Azraa was convinced that she could not live with her in-laws after her dispute with them. Zuhra also did not seem to be amicable and polite. Fathima initiallly acquainted herself with Sugra who provided her with the information she required. The father-in-law was a sensible and pious man. Fathima's husband, Aslam was educated in a western institute and was fashion conscious. He was always engrossed in adorning himself. He had no concern for domestic affairs. Fathima was badly trapped in a house where each individual had a unique character. If there was someone immature in her place, the situation would have deteriorated immediately. However Fathima was sensible and determined. After assessing the situation at her in-laws she intended to remedy it.

She was surprised to learn that the combined income of the father-in-law and husband was sufficient to run the house, yet it was in a deplorable state. The expenses seemed to surpass the income. The father-in-law was unaware of the situation. He used to hand over his salary to his wife and never enquired where the money was spent. The mother-in-law spent the money as she pleased. Everyone feared her and dreaded her temper. There were 2 maids in the house who were thieves. As for the male servant, he was clamourous and never listened to the women. If they said anything he would answer them back. It was not the work of any ordinary person to improve the condition of such a corrupt house. It was impossible for her to decelerate the moving train of this house all of a sudden.

She observed each individual with a keen eye. The ill-tempered mother-in-law used to stare at Fathima with stern eyes. The stare alone prevented her from taking any action. Azraa never spoke to Fathima in a respectable manner. She used to complain day and night of her own in-laws and this left no opportunity for Fathima to confront her. Fathima tolerated her insults. She knew that it was a great achievement to repel evil with nobility. She practised on the following verses of the Quran:

When they (the pious servants of Allah) listen to futile talk, they turn away from it and say

"We have our work and you have your work. Be peaceful, we seek not the ignorant." (Al Quran 28:55)

It is mentioned in a hadeeth that whoever listens to someones insult and bears it with patience, the angels reply on his behalf. Allah loves those who have patience and raises their status. In short, Fathima used to listen to them but never replied. The second sister-in-law was cunning, extremely clamorous, quarrelsome and accused for every petty thing. However Fathima became acquainted with her temperament.

She did not give her an opportunity to begin a quarrel. However she used to hurl epithets from far off. Fathima used to practice on the Quranic verse:
"Fight off evil with good and repel bad character with good character".
Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam has said in this regard that a brave person amongst you is not the one that floors the next person. However a brave person is one who suppresses his anger. At another instance he said that whoever tolerates his enemy's evil speech is a brave person. The youngest sister-in-law was on Fathima's side because she won her confidence from the outset.

The mutual love of the husband and wife did not remain after a while. There was no open confrontation because Fathima, due to her self-respect did not let such a situation arise. However the relationship between the two was not healthy. The main reason for this relationship not developing was the mother-in-law. She used to incite the son secretly. She used to attempt to cause friction between the two at every opportunity. The mother's provocation and his own attitude became a stumbling block.

The man's condition deteriorated to such an extent that he used to spend all his time, besides his employment time with other men. Now he even used to have his meals away from home. He used to come home from school, wash and change quickly, have tea hastily and leave home to enjoy himself. He used to return home at eleven or twelve o'clock at night. If he desired he came. Then he used to sleep through till the morning. There was no time left to speak to his wife.

First of all Fathima attempted to bring her husband onto the right track. She did not begin quarelling with her husband, but instead spoke more cheerfully to him. It never occurred to the husband for once that his coming home late at night displeased the wife. In fact he used to ponder as to what a strange wife he has who does not even care about anything. Whether I come home late or early she does not even bother. But the wife was silently planning.

The hadeeth of Rasulullah Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam in which he said:
"O woman! Remember your husband is your heaven and your hell."
i.e. earning your husband's pleasure will entitle you to jannat and earning his displeasure will entitle you to jahannam, had a great effect on Fathima.

She also knew another hadeeth in which it is mentioned that amongst women the best is the one that keeps her husband happy when he looks at her, obeys him when he commands her, and does not earn his anger by disobeying him with regards to his life and wealth. In other words the woman that pleases her husband with her life and wealth is the best in the sight of Allah and his Rasul Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. Therefore why should she not be pleased when the husband was happy. One day she found the husband in a good mood and asked him fearfully if she could make a comment:

ASLAM: With pleasure, what is the matter?

FATHIMA: It is nothing serious but it is worrying me. You remain outside the whole day. I know that men have hundreds of jobs to do, and if they remain away from home during the day there is no problem. Men cannot remain at home like women, but the problem is that you remain away from home for a major portion of the night as well and I feel afraid of being alone.

ASLAM: What can I do, I do not have sufficient time during the day. At night I go out for some fresh air as you know it to be my habit. And there, some friend or another takes me away. I also want to return early but they do not let me go until it becomes quite late. I regret that because of me you have to take the trouble of waiting. From tomorrow I will try coming early Insha-Allah.

FATHIMA: May Allah fulfil our intentions.

This incident was forgotten.The wife let the husband do as he desired and did not remind him about the incident. However there was a slight change in that instead of returning at eleven or twelve o' clock he began returning at 9 o'clock. How effective was the wife's advice and why should it not be because when something is uttered at the appropriate occasion it is effective.

After a few days it became known that he had fallen into the company of some vagabonds and that he was wasting his health and his valuable time at evil places. Fathima was not such a fool to engage herself in combat with him and immediately demand an explanation. If she had done this she would have lost her husband as well as her respect. She carried on planning secretly. She never spoke out of turn and did not even bring a word of complaint on her tongue. She acted innocent as if she was unaware of her husband's actions. She was looking for an opportune moment when the advice would not go heedless.

One day she found an opportunity and began saying: "All these companions of yours are like the wind. Their company is highly poisonous for you. They are all self-seeking without the slightest concern for you. I know that what I am saying now may hurt you but you are educated and understanding. I am deficient in intelligence. To advice you is tantamount to teaching Luqman, The Wise and to light a lamp in front of the moon, but what can I do, I am compelled. I cannot see you going astray or falling into evil company with my eyes closed. Can I be happy to see you in such a condition? Can I overlook the harm that is afflicting your life and property? I cannot remain blind to all this. Remember what I am saying very clearly. If (May Allah forbid) you fall into some kind of difficulty then those who are claiming to be your bosom-friends and saying that "where your perspiration falls we will sacrifice our blood," are all companions of a moving vehicle. When the time comes no one will assist. What must people be saying after seeing you in such evil company? They may not be mentioning anything in front of you out of respect, but behind your back they will definitely be rebuking you.

What can be a more decent and interesting pastime for educated people than reading books. How wonderful will it be if you spend your time at home reading books instead of wasting it in evil company. You will not only be cheerful but you will be safe from these indecent people. Do not think that I am telling you this for personal motives. Even if it is for personal motives then what harm is there. After all I am your wife. There can be no one more helpful and obliging than me. I do not want you to sit at my feet the whole day. Not at all. Men are not imprisoned in the house like women. The one who intends to imprison them is insane. It is essential for your good health to walk in the fresh air for a while but be moderate.

The husband, on hearing this conversation agreed because he was understanding. At that moment he became so ashamed that he could not answer. If something is said at the appropriate time how can there be an answer for it? He kept quiet and from that moment regret for all his actions was visible on his countenance and he began saying to himself: "What must I do? I cannot change my ways all of a sudden." His inner self was reproaching him. At that very moment he resolved to lessen all relationships gradually.

If Fathima was not far-sighted and understanding and was like the women of today who begin quarrelling immediately, she would have lost her husband. She did not even inform her husband that she knew all about his activities. Whenever the husband came home, she immediately welcomed him cheerfully and obeyed whatever he said. She never interrupted him nor said anything to hurt his feelings.

Fathima knew that her husband was like a sick person who was in need of the doctor's compassion and cure. She was compassionate to him and simultaneously began curing him. Eventually she was successful and due to her wisdom did not disgrace herself.

Remember that the house you are now going to, was under the control of your mother-in-law. All the affairs of the house went according to her wishes. More importance was attached to her opinion in all the matters of the house. Your life-partner may have also obeyed her.

It is thus apparent that the whole system of the home cannot change all of a sudden. The affairs of the house will continue to run as before. The people of the house will continue obeying the elders. You do not have to feel offended about this. If you have this hope that upon your arrival all the individuals of the house will relinquish their choices and regard you as their superior, this is a misunderstanding on your part and from such hope you will achieve nothing except anguish and anxiety.

By accepting the guardianship of the elders one benefit is that if any difficult situation arises, their experience simplifies the matter. And if there is any mistake in work done in consultation with the elders, you will not be disgraced. The cause of most disputes between men and women in this world is the lack of understanding on behalf of the women. Men become frustrated by the lack of understanding and uncouth manners of women. They become annoyed and choose another road. They do not think of coming home for years and due to the evil character of the women, become stone-hearted.

Some women feel that they hail from wealthy homes, they have brought so many commodities, thus it is below their dignity to obey the husband, mother-in-law and father-in-law. This is sometimes so extreme that they do not even speak to their husbands properly. Leave aside serving him, they do not even do their own work. They make him dance to their tune. As long as the husband fulfils all their whims and fancies and obeys them, there will be peace in the house.

These kind of women regret one day when all their wealth cannot prevent the separation from the husband. The husband becomes frustrated and annoyed while she sits at home shedding tears of blood. The reality is that no matter how much dowry is given it cannot decrease the rights of the husband.

Source: Madrasa In'aamiyyah