Rights and obligations of spouses , Online Earning Korner

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Rights and obligations of spouses

According to Islam, both men and woman have rights over each other when they enter into a marriage contract with the husband serving as protector and supporter of the family most of the time, from his means [Quran 4:34]. This guardianship has two aspects for both partners:

  • The husband is financially responsible for the welfare and maintenance of his wife and any children they produce, to include at a minimum, providing a home, food and clothing. In return, it is the duty of the wife to safeguard the husband’s possessions and protect how wealth is spent. If the wife has wealth in her own capacity she is not obliged to spend it upon the husband or children, as she can own property and assets in her own right, so the husband has no right for her property and assets except by her will. A pre-marital agreement of the financial expectation from the husband is in the mahr, given by him to the wife for her exclusive use, which is included as part of his financial responsibility.

Several commentators have stated that the superiority of a husband over his wife is relative, and the obedience of the wife is also restrictive. The Quran advises men that if they are certain of a rebellious attitude by the woman, they should first admonish her, then refuse to share beds, and finally beat ("darab") her, according to Qur’an 4:34.(Today most Islamic scholars agree that it be without leaving a mark and not on the face). This refers to serious breaches of behaviour such as being promiscuous according to renowned 20th-century scholar Muhammad Hamidullah which is not expected from a dutiful wife, and not for simple disobedience to the husband. In explaining this, Ibn Abbas gives an example of striking with a toothstick (a very tiny piece of wood, incapable of creating any pain).

Women are also reminded that in case the husband is not fulfilling his responsibilities, there is no stigma on them in seeking divorce [Quran 4:128]. The Quran re-emphasizes that justice for the woman includes emotional support, and reminds men that there can be no taking back of the mahr or bridal gifts given to women. In unfortunate cases where the agreement was to postpone payment of the mahr, some husbands will bully their wives and insist on the return of what he gave her in order to agree to the dissolution of the marriage, this is un-Islamic and cruel. "Where the husband has been abusive or neglectful of his responsibilities, he does not have the right to take his wife?s property in exchange for her freedom from him. Unfortunately most couples refuse to go to the judge and binding arbitration for these issues even though the Quran says: ?And if you fear a breach between them, then appoint an arbiter from his folk and an arbiter from her folk. If they (the arbiters) desire reconciliation, Allah will affect it between them. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.? [4:36]





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