Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Regarding the Observances of Marriage


Marriage is a religious institution, and should be treated in a religious way, otherwise the mating of men and women is no better than the mating of animals. The Law enjoins that there should be a feast on the occasion of every marriage. When Abdurrahman Ibn Auf married, the Prophet said to him, "Make a marriage-feast, even if you have only a goat to make it with." When the Prophet himself celebrated his marriage with Safia he made a marriage-feast
[1. The dirhem--about six pence.
2. Saying of Muhammad.]
{p. 110}
of dates and barley. It is also right that. marriage should be accompanied with the beating of drums and of music, for man is the crown of creation.
Secondly, a man should remain on good terms with his wife. This does not mean that he should never cause her pain, but that he should bear any annoyance she causes him, whether by her unreasonableness or ingratitude, patiently. Woman is created weak, and requiring concealment; she should therefore be borne with patiently, and kept secluded. The Prophet said, "He who bears the ill-humour of his wife patiently will earn as much merit as Job did by the patient endurance of his trials." On his, death-bed also he was heard to say, "Continue in prayer and treat your wives well, for they are your prisoners." He himself used to bear patiently the tempers of his wives. One day Omar's wife was angry and scolded him. He said to her, "Thou evil-tongued one, dost thou answer me back?" She replied, "Yes! the Lord of the prophets is better than thou, and his wives, answer him back." He replied, "Alas for Hafsa [Omar's daughter and Muhammad's wife]
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if she does not humble herself"; and when he met her he said, "Take care not to answer the Prophet back." The Prophet also said, "The best of you is he who is best to his own family, as I am the best to mine."
Thirdly, a man should condescend to his wife's recreations and amusements, and not attempt to check them. The Prophet himself actually on one occasion ran races with his young wife Ayesha. The first time he beat her, and the second time she beat him. Another time he held her up in his arms that she might look at some performing negroes. In fact, it, would be difficult to find any one who was so kind to his wives as the Prophet was to his. Wise men have said, "A man should come home smiling and eat what he finds and not ask for anything he does not find." However, he should not be over-indulgent, lest his wife lose her respect for him. If he sees anything plainly wrong on her part, he should not ignore but rebuke it, or he will become a laughing-stock. In the Koran it is written, "Men should have the upper hand over women," and the Prophet said, "Woe to the man who is the servant of
{p. 112}
his wife," for she should be his servant. Wise men have said, "Consult women, and act the contrary to what they advise." In truth there is something perverse in women, and if they are allowed even a little licence, they get out of control altogether, and it is difficult to reduce them to order again. In dealing with them one should endeavour to use a mixture of severity and tenderness, with a greater proportion of the latter. The Prophet said, "Woman was formed of a crooked rib; if you try to bend her, you will break her; if you leave her alone, she will grow more and more crooked; therefore treat her tenderly."
As regards propriety, one cannot be too careful not to let one's wife look at or be looked at by a stranger, for the beginning of all mischief is in the eye. As far as possible, she should not be allowed out of the house, nor to go on the roof, nor to stand at the door. Care should be taken, however, not to be unreasonably jealous and strict. The Prophet one day asked his daughter Fatima, "What is the best thing for women?" She answered, "They should not look on strangers, nor strangers on
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them." The Prophet was pleased at this remark, and embraced her, saying, "Verily, thou art a piece of my liver!" The Commander of the Faithful, Omar, said, "Don't give women fine clothes, for as soon as they have them they will want to go out of the house." In the time of the Prophet women had permission to go to the mosques and stand in the last row of the worshippers; but this was subsequently forbidden.
A man should keep his wife properly supplied with money, and not stint her. To give a wife her proper maintenance is more meritorious than to give alms. The Prophet said, "Suppose a man spends one dinar[1] in religious war, another in ransoming a slave, a third in charity, and gives the fourth to his wife, the giving of this last surpasses in merit all the others put together."
A man should not eat anything especially good by himself, or, if he has eaten it, he should keep silent about it and not praise it before his wife. It is better for husband and wife to eat
[1. About ten shillings.]{p. 114}
together, if a guest be not present, for the Prophet said, "When they do so, God sends His blessing upon them, and the angels pray for them." The most important point to see to is that the supplies given to one's wife are acquired by lawful means.
If a man's wife be rebellious and disobedient, he should at first admonish her gently; if this is not sufficient he should sleep in a separate chamber for three nights. Should this also fail he may strike her, but not on the mouth, nor with such force as to wound her. Should she be remiss in her religious duties, he should manifest his displeasure to her for an entire month, as the Prophet did on one occasion to all his wives.
The greatest care should be taken to avoid divorce, for, though divorce is permitted, yet God disapproves of it, because the very utterance of the word "divorce" causes a woman pain, and how can it be right to pain any one? When divorce is absolutely necessary, the formula for it should not be repeated, thrice all at
{p. 115}
once, but on three different occasions.[1] A woman should be divorced kindly, not through anger and contempt, and not without a reason. After divorce a man should give his former wife a present, and not tell others that she has been divorced for such and such a fault. Of a certain man who was instituting divorce-proceedings against his wife it is related that people asked him, "Why are you divorcing her?" He answered, "I do not reveal my wife's secrets." When he had actually divorced her, he was asked again, and said, "She is a stranger to me now; I have nothing to do with her private affairs."
Hitherto we have treated of the rights of the wife over her husband, but the rights of the husband over the wife are even more binding. The Prophet said, "If it were right to worship any one except God, it would be right for wives to worship their husbands." A wife should not boast of her beauty before her husband, she should not requite his kindness with ingratitude, she should not say to him, "Why have you
[1. The formula for divorce has to be repeated thrice to make it complete.]{p. 116}
treated me thus and thus?" The Prophet said, I looked into hell and saw many women there; I asked the reason, and received this reply, 'Because they abused their husbands and were ungrateful to them.'"

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