In many cultures, there is a tendency to offer advice to women more than men , especially those who are getting married. Advice such as: how to be a good wife, how to be a righteous wife, how to fulfill her husband’s needs, etc.
What is conspicuous about our heritage is that most, if not all of this guidance is based on the assumption that it is the woman who should do her utmost and make sacrifices for the sake of her husband and her house. This issue is looked at as a “sacred” mission and it’s almost a cultural issue , not a religious one. It is a must that the woman has to do because she should only blame herself if the marriage collapses.
Imagine the amount of physical, mental, and psychological burden imposed on women, and how much work they have to do in order to keep their marriage, their houses, and their families intact? These concerns are not taken into consideration because, strangely enough, we do not give enough attention to women’s concerns and their sacrifices. Why do we have so much literature with advice for women, while this literature ignores the role of man and the nature of sacrifice he has to make in order to keep his family intact as well?
When we look at our societies we find that, the only advice out there for young men deals with work, politics, status, manhood, etc. The literature focuses on personal promotion and the investment on his own future and self-interests, not the interests of his wife and his family.
To a woman, her house and her husband are depicted as her future and central focus. She is looked upon by the literature as an “incomplete being” that is in constant need of guidance. She is seen as irrational mentally, and in need of continuous advice to be reminded of her role. This is why literature keeps reminding her of her role, and the sacrifices she has to make and the investment she needs to make in her husband and her house.
In many societies and contrary to Islamic teachings, women are being treated unfairly, especially those who do not have the opportunity to get an education. Most social values promote male advancement, and consequently, put females down. Women are not given equal opportunities to develop their skills and God-given abilities to compete with their male counterparts.
Let us look at the following advice given by Omama Bint Alhareth to her daughter, Um Iass on her wedding day. This is considered to be among the most famous pieces of advice given by a mother to her daughter throughout our history. She said:
“Oh my daughter, your are about to leave the nest you were born in and raised in to a nest that you are not aware of, and to a companion you have not been acquainted with. Remember these ten things; you will be better off, and he will be very appreciative to you – submission with satisfaction; be a good listener; be obedient; be careful where he looks or smiles, do not let his eyes fall on a filthy thing of you; be careful of his sleeping time and his food, hunger is upsetting and sleep disruption is annoying; be careful in spending his money, the best in money management is moderation; do not ever disobey an order of his and do not tell his secrets, because if you disobey him you will annoy him and if you tell his secrets you should not feel safe from his tricks; I warn you of showing happiness when he is sad or showing sadness when he is happy.”
This is the wise woman, but who is the wise man that should deserve such a woman?
Next week, we’ll discuss the wise man.