Allah, the Exalted, says:
"... and live with them honourably". (An-Nisa 4:19)
"You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire, so do not incline too much to one of them (by giving her more of your time and provision) so as to leave the other hanging (i.e., neither divorced nor married). And if you do justice, and do all that is right, and fear Allah by keeping away from all that is wrong, then Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'' (An-Nisa 4:129)
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported: Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
"Take my advice with regard to women: Act kindly towards women, for they were created from a rib, and the most crooked part of a rib is its uppermost. If you attempt to straighten it; you will break it, and if you leave it alone it will remain crooked; so act kindly toward women". [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
In another narration of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
"A woman is like a rib, if you attempt to straighten it, you will break it; and if you benefit from her, you will do so while crookedness remains in her".
In another narration of Muslim, Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
'Woman has been created from a rib and will in no way be straightened for you; so if you want to benefit from her, you will benefit from her while crookedness remains in her. If you attempt to straighten her, you will break her, and breaking her is divorcing her".
Commentary: The words (Istawso bi' nisa') mean, take care of your wives. Whatever is the formation of the words of the Hadith, it stresses the importance of kind treatment to wives because woman is not only weaker than man by nature, but also less intelligent. On account of his being more intelligent and having greater patience, man should be more forgiving in his dealing with her. The secret of a pleasant family life lies in this advice of the Prophet (PBUH) with its emphasis on kind treatment to wives.
`Abdullah bin Zam`ah (RA) reported that he heard the Prophet (SAW) giving a speech when he mentioned the she-camel (of Prophet Salih) and the man who had killed her. Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
"When the most wicked man among them went forth (to kill the she-camel).' (91:12) signifies that a distinguished, wicked and most powerful chief of the people jumped up to kill the she-camel.'' Then he (SAW) made mention of women and said, "Some of you beat your wives as if they were slaves, and then lie with them at the end of the day".
Then he (SAW) admonished them against laughing at another's passing of wind, saying, "Why does any of you laugh at another doing what he does himself" [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: Although Islam has permitted man, in inevitable circumstances, to rebuke his wife, it has also suggested a very wise course for it. It has suggested that first of all he should advise and preach her, and if she does not mend her ways by these means, then he should stop sleeping with her, which is a great warning for the sensible wife. If she does not improve even by this method, then he may take recourse to slight beating, but in that he must avoid her head and face. He should take recourse to beating if he thinks that it would work, otherwise it is better to avoid it. But surprisingly enough some start the process of reformation with beating and that too with great ruthlessness which has not been permitted by Islam in any case. It is this aspect which the Prophet (PBUH) has highlighted in this Hadith. He has contended that when the wife is indispensable for man and it is very difficult for him to pass night without her then why should he beat her like a slave or bondmaid? He should try to understand that she, too, has feelings and her position is like one of the two wheels of the cart of life. If at all it comes to beating her then he must keep her true status in view before taking recourse to it. He should never loose sight of her importance in conjugal life.
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported: Messenger of Allah (SAW) said,
"A believer must not hate (his wife) believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics he will be pleased with another". [Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith also contains a very wise counsel for a happy married life. It tells us that every person has certain good qualities as well as some shortcomings. Man has been advised here to overlook the shortcomings that he does not like in his wife and appreciate her good qualities. Similarly, a woman is advised to ignore the shortcomings of her husband and admire his good qualities.
`Amr bin Al-Ahwas Al-Jushami (RA) reported that he had heard the Prophet (SAW) saying on his Farewell Pilgrimage, after praising and glorifying Allah and admonishing people,
"Treat women kindly, they are like captives in your hands; you do not owe anything else from them. In case they are guilty of open indecency, then do not share their beds and beat them lightly but if they return to obedience, do not have recourse to anything else against them. You have rights over your wives and they have their rights over you. Your right is that they shall not permit anyone you dislike to enter your home, and their right is that you should treat them well in the matter of food and clothing". [At-Tirmidhi].
1. Here again we find justification for beating one's wife in case of her persistence in default, but it is to be done in the manner prescribed in the Hadith quoted above.
2. It is the responsibility of the wife that during the absence of her husband, besides the guarding of her own chastity, and property of her husband, she should not let in anyone who is not liked by her husband, however closely related that person be to her.
3. It is the responsibility of the husband to provide, according to his means, good food and clothes to his wife.
Mu`awiyah bin Haidah (RA) reported: I asked Messenger of Allah (SAW): "What right can any wife demand of her husband?'' He replied,
"You should give her food when you eat, clothe her when you clothe yourself, not strike her on the face, and do not revile her or separate from her except in the house". [Abu Dawud].
Commentary: If it comes to temporarily severing relation with a disobedient wife to set her right, it should be done within the house and the best course for it is that one suspends the practice of sleeping with her. Some people say that this suspension should be to the extent of sleeping with her only and one should not stop speaking to her because that will increase the rift between the two. But in case of special circumstances, one can separate from her by leaving his home, as was done by the Prophet (SAW) by shifting to upper room of his house.
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported: Messenger of Allah (SAW) said,
"The believers who show the most perfect Faith are those who have the best behaviour, and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives". [At-Tirmidhi].
Iyas bin `Abdullah (RA) reported: Messenger of Allah (SAW) said,
"Do not beat Allah's bondwomen.''
When `Umar (RA) came to Messenger of Allah (SAW) and complained saying: "The women have become very daring towards their husbands,'' He (SAW) gave permission to beat them. Then many women went to the family of the Messenger of Allah (wives) complaining of their husbands, and he [the Prophet (SAW)] said,
"Many women have gone round Muhammad's family complaining of their husbands. Those who do so, that is, those who take to beating their wives, are not the best among you". [Abu Dawud].
Commentary: This Hadith tells us that those who take to beating their wives are not perfect people. The decency of manners warrants that one must refrain from beating, as is evident from the conduct of the Prophet (SAW) who neither resorted to beating with his own hand any of his wives nor slaves nor any other. He would avenge those who transgressed the limits of Allah.
`Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`as (RA) reported: Messenger of Allah (SAW) said,
"The world is but a (quick passing) enjoyment; and the best enjoyment of the world is a pious and virtuous woman". [Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith mentions the qualities of a virtuous woman. When her husband looks at her, she pleases him; when he orders her, she obeys him; and when he is absent, she guards herself (chastity) and the property of her husband. (Abu Dawud and Nasa'i).
This Hadith stresses the fact that if one wants success in this world and the Hereafter, he should select a pious wife. Rather than going after her beauty, lineage and wealth, one should give preference to her Faith over all other considerations. If he chooses a woman who is faithful to her Deen and strictly adheres to the Shari`ah, she would be a source of blessing for him in this life and the Hereafter.