The Ideal Muslim Husband

The prime duty of a husband is to provide adequate maintenance, protection, welfare and take overall responsibility of his wife. This is prescribed in Quran.
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. ~
Quran 4:34

This includes feeding, clothing and shelter for the wife and for any children from the marriage. This is a legally enforceable duty, which remains even after divorce until the expiry of the Iddah or even longer in the view of some of the scholars. Financial responsibility for the family therefore rests squarely on the husband, and the wife has no duty to contribute to family expenses unless she has the means and the wish to do so.

Here's the prime accountability of a husband and a wife in Islam. Once this is clear it is easier to understand why Islam gives a lot of emphasis to a man, the leader of the house, to do certain things in a certain way.

Advise by The Prophet (pbuh)

Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) guiding principles on how to treat one's wife is stated in the following well-known Hadiths:

From among the believers are those who have the kindest character and those who are kindest to their families. Such are those who show the most perfect faith. ~ Bukhari and Muslim
In another instance he (pbuh) said, “The best of you is the one who is best to your wife.” ~ Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah
On another occasion he (pbuh) said, “O people, I command you to treat your women kindly.” ~ Bukhari and Muslim

Likewise, since a Muslim must emulate The Prophet (pbuh) it is important to know how the Prophet (pbuh) himself exemplify kindness and love towards his women.

Help your wife

Firstly he (pbuh) was not at all difficult husband who regarded all household chores as “women’s work”. He (pbuh) used to serve his family and do household chores. He (pbuh) used to mend his own clothes. He (pbuh) didn’t make a fuss about food. If he (pbuh) liked something he ate it, and if he (pbuh) disliked it, he (pbuh) just abstained from it. The Prophet (pbuh) never complained about the food or how it was cooked.

Be a sport with her

He (pbuh) indulged playing sports with his wife and demonstrated it as one of the legitimate entertainment. In illustration of this practice, Aisha (ra) records that on more than one occasion she and the Prophet (pbuh) ran races and sometimes she won and sometimes he won. Most men nowadays consider it far beneath their dignity to play any sort of game with their wives, and their marriages are the duller and poorer as a result of it.

Aisha (ra) reported that whenever she was sick, the Prophet (pbuh) would come to her to show his sympathy. Nor, was he (pbuh) ashamed to let it be known that his love for his wife was greater than his love for any other human being. It is recorded in the hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim that someone asked The Prophet (pbuh): "Who among all the people is most beloved by you?" He (pbuh) said “Aisha”.

Right to proper education/care

The Prophet’s (pbuh) attitude towards female children and female education is a beautiful elaboration of what is found in the Quran. The Quran not only forbade the practice of female infanticide, but even condemned the practice of showing disappointment or anger over the birth of a female child. See Quran 16:58-60.

He (pbuh) decreed that every Muslim – male and female – must as a duty seek knowledge and prescribed education for all children in the following words:
No present or gift of a parent, out of all the gifts and presents to a child, is superior to a good broad (general) education. ~ Tirmidhi and Baihaqi 

He (pbuh) laid special emphasis on the education of daughters:
Whoever brings up two sisters or two daughters, and gives them a broad education, and treats them well, and gives them in marriage, for him is Paradise. ~ Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi

Women can go out when required (including Masjid) - with Hijab

One of the testimony that women can go out is that Allah has ordained Hijab for women. The Prophet's (pbuh) wives were not locked-up so that they could not experience what was going on in the outside world. They wore modest clothes (hijab) and went out and saw everything that was going on, and they participated when necessary, for example in nursing the wounded on the battlefields. The following hadith is narrated by Aisha (ra):
Umar once criticised the Prophet’s wife Saudah for going out, saying he had recognised her in the street. So she appealed to the Prophet (pbuh) for support and he supported her saying: “Women have the right to go out for their needs.” ~ Bukhari and Muslim

Similarly the Prophet (pbuh) allowed his wives and other women to go out to the masjids for their prayers. He advised other men:
Do not prevent the female servants of Allah from visiting the mosques of Allah, but they may go out (to the mosque) having no perfumed themselves. ~ Abu Dawud 

In another narration he (pbuh) preferred women to pray in their house.
A woman’s prayer in her room is better than her prayer in her courtyard, and her prayer in her cabinet is better than her prayer in her room. ~ Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi

However if a women wants to go and pray in the mosque, she should be allowed to do so. The ideal Muslim husband therefore does not impose restrictions on his wife greater than those imposed by Allah, or by The Prophet (pbuh) on his own family. All the foregoing indicates that the women who is married to an ideal Muslim husband is protected but not suppressed, and is therefore certain to be happy and contented.

Have positive jealousy towards your wife

Ghirah is an Arabic word (Ghairat, in Urdu; opposite Be-ghairat) which means protective justifiable jealousy ― positive jealousy ― of a spouse against the other. Largely in context of Ghirah it is the husband's protective jealousy over his wife, as you will read from Hadith below. In addition you will also realize that Our Prophet (pbuh) had Ghirah more than us, and Allah has Ghirah (towards his servants) more than The Prophet (pbuh). In short, Ghirah is a recommended noble character of a Muslim.

Read our exclusive article on this topic here.

Guide your wife wherever necessary

However, the Muslim husband is not expected to please his wife at all cost, if what pleases her may be wrong or against her interests or the interests of the family. The Quran says:
O you who have attained to faith! Ward off from yourselves and your families that fire (of the hereafter) whose fuel is Human beings and stones. ~ Quran 66:6

In this respect a husband has a duty to ensure that his wife is fully educated as a Muslim. If this has been neglected in her parents’ home, he must take necessary steps to remedy it. Either by teaching her himself or by arranging for her Islamic education by other means. The husband is expected to give leadership in the family. We have seen that this form of leadership is not dictatorship or tyranny. The wise husband will consult his wife on important matters concerning the family, and if he sees her advice is good, accept it. However, Islam has given the man authority as the head of the family, and he is expected to abide by the Quran and Sunnah and endeavor to ensure that his family does not violate Islamic code of conduct and prescribed norms of behavior.

>> More about the 'Men in Islam' here.

Finally the supreme guidance from The Quran

It is not for a believer, man or woman, to exercise their choice in their affairs, when Allah and His Messenger have decided on a matter. ~ Quran 33:36

While all of the above is imperative for a husband, the wife also has certain obligations towards the Lord of the Worlds. Click here to find out who are those women who are accursed in Islam - by Allah and His Messenger (pbuh).

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