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Amending the Wife

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3009 2011/02/09 2024/06/24

the household is a huge institution which contains many sub-institutions, like the institution of upbringing, the institution of supplies and food, the institution of social relations, and the institution of entertainment. the wife heads all of these institutions. it is of no significance to try to amend the household without amending the wife, and to amend the wife is to amend the entire household. in confirmation of that, allaah the almighty says (what means) relating about zakariyya (zechariah)  may allaah exalt his mention: {and amended for him his wife.} [quran 21:90] in his commentary on this verse, ibn ‘abbaas  may allaah be pleased with them said, “her speech was tough, thereupon allaah the almighty amended it. it is also said that he made her capable of giving birth to children and of good character.” [at-tabari]

the husband should be mainly concerned with amending, educating, and teaching his wife, as well as improving her character. that is the significance of the hadeeth narrated on the authority of ‘abdur-rahmaan ibn ‘awf  may allaah be pleased with him from the prophet,  sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may allaah exalt his mention ), where he said: “if the woman offers the five [obligatory] prayers, observes the fasts of the month [of ramadhaan that is enjoined upon her], maintains her chastity, and obeys her husband, it would be said to her: ‘enter paradise from whichever of its gates you like.’”[ahmad]
the command given to the wife to obey her husband puts great responsibility on the husband, as it makes it incumbent upon him to order her to do what allaah the almighty orders him to do. then, it is due upon the husband to endeavor to rescue his household from destruction and to restore to his wife her power and capability to raise the desired generation.
the way to amend the wife
there are many practical steps to amend one’s wife, including:
the first step
the correct understanding of the quranic verse and prophetic hadeeths that shed light on family relations form the first step towards achieving this goal. from among those hadeeths, we may mention the following:
it is narrated on the authority of abu hurayrah  may allaah be pleased with him that the messenger of allaah,  sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may allaah exalt his mention ), said: “treat women kindly, for a women is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion; so, if you try to straighten it, it will break, and if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked. so treat women kindly.”[al-bukhaari and muslim]
some people think that this hadeeth adopts a problematic argument: “islam tells us that ‘woman has been created from a crooked rib, in such a way that if you come to straighten it, you would break it’. at the same time, the husband is required to amend his wife under the pretext that ‘if you leave it [the rib], it would remain crooked.”
the truth of the matter is that there is no difficulty in this issue. amending one’s wife depends upon three important points:
patience: {and enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein.} [quran 20:132]
leniency: “leniency is never found in anything but that it adorns it.” [muslim] both leniency and patience are the fundamental parts of amending anything, and should they gather together, they bring about amendment in the best way.
understanding: i.e. understanding the nature of the woman and her way of thinking, as her priorities differ from those of the man. a wise man is he who could accommodate his priorities and those of his wife.
here, two points should be made clear to the husband:
a man fails when he starts to imitate the woman, and the woman fails when she starts to imitate the man.
familial life affairs are divided into two groups:
some in which the woman has authority and the right to take decisions, and those matters usually pertain to the house like the arrangement of it, and giving it the touch of beauty. henceforth, it is due upon the man not to interfere in all things, lest he would spoil the world of the woman.
others are in connection with the decision that is up to the man, while preserving her right of consultation and expressing her opinion. that is, in some affairs, the woman should be given full freedom, particularly in those pertaining to the house; and other affairs should be undertaken by the man. in this way, all life affairs may be addressed suitably.
islam does not require the husband to alter the priorities of his wife and her feminine nature. rather, it does not want him to be strict with these priorities to the extent that the feminine identity is removed from them, nor should those priorities lead the way for him and his entire family.
it is narrated on the authority of abu hurayrah  may allaah be pleased with him that the messenger of allaah,  sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may allaah exalt his mention ), said: “no believing man should hate a believing woman [his wife] for if he hates a characteristic in her, he would like another in her.” [muslim] the meaning of this hadeeth is also included in the former one, i.e. a woman might do something that would disturb her husband; however, he should not dislike her, but rather to reduce her crookedness he has to entrust to her some affairs, while keeping the whole matter under his observation.
there is a quranic verse that talks about the responsibility of the man in amending his wife. allaah the almighty says (what means): {and enjoin prayer upon your family [and people] and be steadfast therein. we ask you not for provision; we provide for you, and the [best] outcome is for [those of] righteousness.} [quran 20:132]
many a man engages in securing sustenance for his family but forgets the great mission of enjoining upon them to offer prayer and do what is necessary for life to be upright according to the requirements of sharee‘ah. prayer is mentioned here in this verse because of its great importance.
the second step
the husband should endeavor to enhance his wife’s scientific and educational level. this is of great importance for the wife. many men are too reluctant to help add to the young women they have married by assisting in improving and introducing worthy traits. they want that they take the wife from her family being an epitome of perfection, being just as they like them to be, without contributing to building her personality. furthermore, they are not willing to accept in their wives any flaw or mistakes.
before a man blames his wife for her slips, he has to teach, educate and prepare her in order to be a good, righteous mother, and which mission is more vital than this?
many men do not sit with their wives to teach them, although the prophet,  sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may allaah exalt his mention ), said: “the best of you is he who is best to his wife.” [at-tirmithi and abu daawood] that applies not only to service and co-operation in the house, but also to raising the wife’s religious, knowledge and intellectual levels.
the third step
he should treat her in such a way as makes her feel the affection and mercy with which allaah the almighty described marriage in islam when he said (what means): {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.} [quran 30:21]
this is the shortest way to amend a wife. kind people know for certain the effect of kindness on others.
the fourth step
a husband has to respect his wife’s dignity before her family and, more particularly, before his family. this can deeply influence her, which would make her readier to accept change for the better.
these four steps and others are included under a single quranic command (that means): {advise them.} [quran 4:34] to understand her disposition, enhance her knowledge, and deal with her kindly are all included under the concept of advising and kind treatment commanded by allaah the almighty in the verse (that means): {keep [her] in an acceptable manner.} [quran 2:229]
it is a great mistake of a man to try to amend his wife by inverting the sequence that is mentioned in the verse in which allaah the almighty says (what means): {men are in charge of women by [right of] what allaah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. so righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what allaah would have them guard. but those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. but if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. indeed, allaah is ever exalted and grand.}[quran 4:34]
some husbands begin the process of amending their wives by forsaking them in bed or by striking them, forgetting that they should come upon the first and essential stage, i.e. that of advising and instruction. that inverted sequence of amendment necessarily leads to unrecoverable aversion and a fracture that would be difficult to repair.
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