Who is a Good Husband?

17 November, 2020
Q Assalamualaikum. Thank you in advance for answering my question. I know of a friend's grandfather, and how the state of his relation is with his wife. He is a very, very helpful man, and he helps people irrespective of whether they have any relation with him or not. He is also an intellectual and he is aware of things around him very well. But the scenario is entirely different when it comes to his own wife. My friend's grandmother is a home maker. She is a highly sensitive person, and she loves her children and grandchildren dearly, and I feel that for her, meeting her children is the only thing she has to look forward to. What I have understood about her is that she prefers to suffer in silence, even if she were to be in unbearable pain (mentally) than to speak up about anything. I've also heard her say plenty times that she dies so that she is not a burden for anybody, and that she is a waste of life. I've heard many such things from her.The grandfather, although he looks after her needs, always shouts at her, yells at her, but infact that's the way he speaks. He shouts at everybody, but he does help. But at his wife, he shouts the most. Sometimes he has blasted her with so much of negativity that she would fall ill soon after all that, and she would cry, cry and cry and even puke sometimes because of her sadness. The grandfather is steadfast in his salah, and also gives zakah, and like I said, helps people. On one hand, he is pretty much ignorant and harsh towards his wife, and on the other hand, he does look after her. What can be said about such behaviour (of the grandfather)?

Answer

Short Answer:

  • One thing entrusted to us with the responsibility of al-amanah is our spouse. I ask you: What do you think of a man who treats his wife in such a way that she cries, throws up, wishes for death? Do you think he is treating her with the care required of him by Allah? Is he fulfilling his responsibility of al-amanah? Does it suffice that she has a roof over her head and food in her belly? Is that all that is required of a man towards his wife?
  • If this woman does not want to be helped, you likely cannot help her. However, I feel a moral obligation to point this out: this woman should leave her abusive husband. She deserves a life, no matter how old she may be, that does not leave her believing that she is a waste. She deserves to live in a way that does not cause her constant anxiety.
  • Please direct your friend to resources for abused women in your country. Even if you think the grandmother will not be amenable to it, it is your duty to do your best to make sure she knows that there are options for her. Why do I say it is your duty? Because we have the responsibility of al-amanah towards those who are being oppressed.

………….


Alaykum salaam, sister. Thank you for this question. The theme of it is unfortunately all too common.

Inexcusable

I am going to say right out of the gate that this behavior is reprehensible. There is no excuse to treat any other human being the way this man treats his wife. That’s the worst part of it: it isn’t just any other human being. It is his wife.

Even if she was a negligent wife or mother, even if she was rude to him, even if she is not perfect – there is absolutely no reason that a person should be treated in such a manner.

Unfortunately, this does need to be unequivocally stated. Why? Because too often when a man treats his wife this way, excuses are made for him. People say “Oh, but, masha’Allah, he is so generous otherwise!” or they wonder what the wife must have done to “deserve” this treatment.

So again, I will say: no amount of do-gooder behavior on his part, and no amount of poor behavior on hers, warrants the sort of treatment described in the question.

But He is so Good!

Is he?

Salaat is good. Zakat is good. Sadaqa is good. Allah sees these deeds.

Allah also sees the way a person behaves in private. Almighty sees the way this man behaves towards his wife.

Behavior like this is extremely common in abusers. They present to the public eye a persona of being good, or pious, or charitable. They are rewarded for this good behavior by having a good reputation. Then when allegations of abusive behavior surface, the public will not believe them (they see how generous he is!) and the abuse will be allowed to continue.

You, sister, have seen past the public persona – but it still influences your view such that your question is laced with commentary on how generous this man is.

For people like this, even their generosity is selfish. Why? Because it serves the purpose to maintain the positive public image.

What does Islam Say of This?

“Best among you is one who is best to his wife.” (Tirmidhi)

This is a commonly known saying from the Prophet. It is simple and places no conditions.

There is a concept in Islam called amanah. It is difficult to translate directly into English, but is means something like fulfilling or upholding trust or responsibilities. This concept is mentioned in the Quran:

Surely, We offered al-amanah to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they refused to undertake it and feared from it. But man undertook it; surely he is unjust, ignorant. (Quran 33:72)

This is just a basic introduction of the concept, but to simplify it: human beings have the responsibility of al-amanah. The term is used to define our rights and responsibilities as humans towards each other, and all of Allah’s creation.

And in Surah Takathur, Allah tells us that we will be held accountable in our maintenance of these responsibilities:

…You shall most certainly be questioned about the bounties (Quran 102:8)

One thing entrusted to us with the responsibility of al-amanah is our spouse. I ask you: What do you think of a man who treats his wife in such a way that she cries, throws up, wishes for death? Do you think he is treating her with the care required of him by Allah? Is he fulfilling his responsibility of al-amanah? Does it suffice that she has a roof over her head and food in her belly? Is that all that is required of a man towards his wife? Who is a Good Husband?

Tell me, dear reader. Would you be comfortable on the Day of Judgment, standing before your Lord and explaining that you were generous to strangers and your wife was not left homeless, so your treatment of her should be overlooked?

What Can Be Done?

If this woman does not want to be helped, you likely cannot help her. However, I feel a moral obligation to point this out: this woman should leave her abusive husband. She deserves a life, no matter how old she may be, that does not leave her believing that she is a waste. She deserves to live in a way that does not cause her constant anxiety.

Please direct your friend to resources for abused women in your country. Even if you think the grandmother will not be amenable to it, it is your duty to do your best to make sure she knows that there are options for her. Why do I say it is your duty? Because we have the responsibility of al-amanah towards those who are being oppressed.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Assalam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

About Leah Mallery
Leah is a Muslim convert of almost a decade. She has two kids, an intercultural marriage, and half of a French degree in her back pocket, looking to switch gears to science and medicine. She has lived abroad for over a decade, having just recently become reacquainted with her roots in America. She currently lives in Michigan near her family and – masha’Allah – a sizeable Muslim community.