I am writing about a topic that may not sit well with a few wives, but it is something that needs to be said and something that we as Muslim wives need to adhere to for our husbands sake – but more importantly to please Allah (swt). I am referring to that character trait that our parents demanded from us as kids – the trait of respect.
Somewhere along the way we grew up thinking (not learning), that respect is something that our husband’s have to ‘earn’, and that only if he is someone we look up to based on our standards, then would he be deserving of our respect as wives. Well maybe this kind of respect is appropriate for strangers, teachers, co-workers, friends or even your boss, but there is a ‘different kind of respect’ that does not need to be earned. It is the same respect you give to your parents, and the same respect you owe to your husband.
If you think back to your childhood, how many of us can say that our parents were perfect human beings, or that we wished to be exactly like them (may Allah grant them Jannah). Our ideal shouldn’t be to follow in the footsteps of our parents anyway, but rather to walk in the footsteps of the greatest being that ever lived, our beloved Prophet Muhummed (saw). Knowing this we still respect our parents, and yet some of us may not want to do things the way they did – some of us may not even like the way they did things, but this does not make us respect them less. Why? Because we understand that the respect we offer our parents is not earned, it is their right as parents. This is the type of respect I want to discuss when referring to your husband.
In Islam a wife is supposed to respect her husband – and yes so too should the husband respect his wife, the kids should respect their parents, and the parents should respect their kids and so on and so forth. But I am not writing this post on the rights of a wife nor on the rights of a mother, I am covering a topic that is rarely spoken about and sadly lacking in many wives of today – the respect that your husband deserves and his right to have it from you.
“…So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard…” [Quran 4:34]
When I got married I did not understand that obedience is really the respect that a wife affords to her husband unconditionally. I was never taught how to be a good MUSLIM wife, I only knew what was considered a GOOD wife according to society’s standards. You know the usual, cook well, clean well and take care of the children. I just followed the trend of my parents and considered my husband to be my friend and equal. I think that many issues in a marriage arise from the lack of respect between the couple. And yes here’s the kicker sisters – respect starts with the wife first. It starts with YOU!
During our marriage and in my ignorance, I would blame my husband for not thinking like I did, or not doing things the way I thought it was supposed to be done. At times, I even thought I was better at deciding about certain things for our home and our kids because I was the mother. I failed to look at my own actions because I was too busy looking at his and poking holes through it. Women tend to be controlling of their household especially when we become mothers, we get so caught up in running our kids that we want to ‘run’ our husbands as well. That is where many of us go wrong with dear hubby. You can’t give your husband respect if you do not give him the reins – sorry again sisters, it’s a fact – there just can’t be two people in charge.
“…And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.” [Quran 2: 228]
Alhumdulillah Islam has given us the perfect balance of the husband being the provider who has to lead his family. Allah has set it all out for us to follow, it’s the natural way of things and it is how we have been created. Haven’t you noticed that as a wife and busy mother, when you take charge of something major in your household or for your kids, it causes a lot of strain on you? You feel like you have to do it all because you don’t ‘trust’ your husband to do it the way you want it to be done or you want it done immediately. This causes an extra burden on you that does not need to be there and sometimes even resentment. It also shows your husband that you do not respect him enough to let him handle the situation. It really does not come down to whether you trust him or if he does it as good as you, it comes down to thinking you know better. It becomes blatantly evident what you are saying to him. “I don’t respect you and I don’t trust your judgement.” When you see it this way – it sure sounds arrogant huh? Do you really know without a doubt that your way is better?
When you hand over the reins to your husband, you are saying that you need him and you trust him to lead the family, and that you respect that he may do it differently than you but the outcome will be what is best for the family. When I let go of my pride as a wife and realized my dreadful mistake, I noticed that my husband tried to please me even more and my respect for him increased. That belief in him that he is free to do it his own way and that you have faith and trust in him, makes a man feel more motivated to please his family. I remember one day as my husband and I were arguing and I said something like, “You’re so uncaring of what I do!” He replied “I don’t bother because you will do whatever you want to do anyway.” At the time it made me feel angrier and more alone because I thought he was making excuses, but it was only later that I realized the honest truth. He was stepping back because he was frustrated. When he removed himself from the situation by not stating his opinion, I saw him as being uncaring, but he did it to keep the peace and to have patience with me.
When I finally realized what was happening, I started to consult him about our home and kids all the time instead of just sometimes, and I would ask him for advice about everything even when I thought I had the answer. I suddenly saw the man who he truly is – a man that I respected a great deal more. I had been so busy wanting him to keep earning my respect, that I did not see how much it was there all along. Unfortunately I had the wrong mindset when I got married and I followed society’s idea of what a husband should be like and how I should act as a wife. And that is the true sadness in a marriage – society is dictating to us as Muslim wives, how we should treat our husbands and not our Islamic teachings. This is where many wives go wrong in their relationship and why many women feel unhappy with their husband.
Besides seeing my husband in a new light, I also felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was less burdened and did not have the pressure of worrying about everything anymore. I truly saw the wisdom in respecting my husband’s opinion more each day. I realized that when he made a choice for our family to do things a certain way, it was well-thought out and had long-term results. Whereas I would have done something completely different in the same situation, my outcome was more instant and short-term. Because Allah Created a man to provide and maintain for his family, men are wired differently than women. Men think of the bigger picture and think more long-term, whereas women think of the present state of affairs and how it can be solved ASAP! I learned that having respect for my husband not only meant having faith in him, but having the patience to wait and see why he chose to do something a certain way. Alhumdulillah I appreciate his wisdom so much more now and I see the result of his decisions more clearly.
As a wife (if you haven’t already) it is incumbent on you to respect your husband because he deserves it and not because he has to ‘earn’ it. It is commanded to us by Allah (swt) and it is his right as a husband. It is the way of things and how it is supposed to be, but that is only one part of it. The other part is that if you show your husband more respect, he will show you more love. Respect to a man is as important as love is to a woman. Ask your husband if he would rather hear you say “I love you” or “I respect you” first, and many men will say they want respect first and foremost. Why? Because Allah created a man to be a certain way, to have a strong sense of duty, to protect women and children, and to fight for his family against all odds. A woman can protect her family as well, but she is created with different strengths and does it in her own way. Women have been given ‘rahmah’ (mercy) of which cannot be compared to a man. Why is it that the majority of nurses, caregivers and teachers of young children are mostly female if this were not true?
“Of course, this connection of rahmah and motherly love is linguistically unsurprising, for rahmah is related to the Arabic word rahm, which means “uterus,” “womb,” and figuratively “family ties.” This close linguistic connection is so eloquently expressed in Allah’s statement as transmitted in a hadith qudsi, “I am al-Rahman and created the rahm (uterus) – And I named it after Me.” Therefore, if we are to grasp the rahmah that is core to God’s very nature, we must look to what this feminine organ symbolizes – the nurturing emotions we find in mothers and the bonds that tie families together. (Source: Adnan Majid on Muslim Matters)
What is relieving to know, is that if we learn about the differences between male and female and we study our role as husband and wife in Islam, we will understand ourselves and our spouse even more, and have less relationship issues – a topic for another post InshAllah. Respecting your husband is not the difficult part, it’s respecting yourself as a mother and accepting your role as a wife with dignity – that is the true challenge. It is our ticket to Jannah my dear sisters InshAllah. May Allah make it easy for us all, ameen.
Allah’s Messenger (saw) said: “Any woman whose husband dies while he is pleased, happy and satisfied with her (acts, attitudes and behavior) will enter Jannah (Paradise). (At-Tirmithi reported from Umm Salamah)