Allah (SWT) has ordained a certain set of duties and responsibilities upon the believing men and women, which include the rights and duties of husbands and wives. In order to create a balance, husbands and wives enjoy their own well-defined rights in their own capacities, as quoted in the Holy Quran:
And they (women) have rights (over their husbands) similar (to those of their husbands) over them to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them (Quran 2:228)
Through the beautiful discourse of the Holy Quran and Sunnah, Muslims come to learn about the various rights that Allah (SWT) has enjoined upon His creation – in a practical and detailed manner.
Without the fulfillment of these basic rights, the whole institution of marriage would cease to remain healthy and sustainable – it would fall apart. Just as women enjoy a set of rights upon their husbands, husbands also possess certain rights over their wives in return.
Here is a look at some of the rights possessed by a husband in the realm of Islam:
1- Obedience and Respect
In the natural scheme of things, Allah (SWT) has made men the protectors and guardians of women – it is their rightful and obligatory duty to take care of women and provide for them (physically and financially) as stated in the Holy Book of Allah (SWT):
Men are the maintainers of women, because Allah has made some of them to excel others, and because they spend out of their property. (Quran 4:34)
Hence, there is a certain level of respect in the relationship where men are the protectors of women. It is enjoined upon the wife to be respectful of her husband and to not be disobedient when it comes to matters of the family, children, wealth etc. and to exercise patience and obedience with her husband.
2- The Wife to be Available for her Husband
In Islam, once a couple is married, the wife is not to refuse her husband when it comes to sexual fulfillment. Unless or until the wife is not feeling or unable to have intercourse due to obligatory fasts, periods etc.; she is obliged to make herself available to her husband upon the commencement of their marriage whenever he asks her.
A wife’s refusal of her husband’s request for physical intimacy is greatly condemned by Allah (SWT) as is showcased in the following hadith:
Narrated by Abu Hurayrah:
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: ‘When a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, and he went to sleep angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning.’ (Muslim, 1436)
The main rationale behind this is so that the husband does not fall astray and commit Zina.
3- Barring anyone who the Husband dislikes
One of the rights a husband holds over his wife is that the wife must not allow any individual to enter their house which the husband does not like or approve of.
Even in the very last sermon of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), he shed light upon the rights of men and women and instructed that the wives are not to allow any person into their houses that the husband does not approve of.
You have rights over your women and your women have rights over you. Your rights over your women are that they should not let anyone whom you dislike sit on your bed and they should not let anyone whom you dislike enter your house. Their rights over you are that you should feed and clothe them well. (At-Tirmidhi, 1163)
4- Good and Kind Treatment of the Husband
Just as the wife enjoys the right to kind behavior from her husband, the husband also enjoys the right to receive good and kind treatment from his wife. If there is no mutual kindness and respect between a husband and wife, there can be no companionship or understanding, which will eventually result in the decaying of the marriage.
The husband and the wife, both, should implement and practice compassion, forgiveness, and gentleness in their relationship on an everyday basis; and should work towards creating a healthy and happy environment for their family and themselves.
Islam is a religion founded upon equality, justice, fairness, love, and humanity. Thus, it is not surprising that Islam ordains both the husband and wife to exercise their own set of rights and freedom in a marriage; they are meant to nurture and beautify the whole institution of marriage itself if followed correctly and according to the laws of Allah (SWT).