The Scope of the Duties of the Wife in Respect to the Family and Home, According to Verses and Traditions
Legal-Jurisprudence < Article <

The Beauties of God's Command

    The fall of Adam together with Eve, this harmonious and compassionate couple from heaven to the earth was a covered fact that the holy Quran disclosed with its eloquent, fluent and pleasant words and revealed the mystery of harmonious peace and ascension for humans thanks to marriage. This descent was unpleasant and had the bitter taste of the temptation and deception of their cunning enemy Satan. It was painful for the first couple and this fall from grace to the earth caused them both psychological distresses. However, they were able to display a beautiful picture of their ascension as a result of being proper spouses, partners, and counterparts and examples for human beings. The first couple is a pleasant experience of returning to God owing to unity and mutual understanding, and set a good example for all thoughtful perfection seeking couples up to the Day of Judgement.

    The beautiful tradition of marriage has been an innate and natural affair in the life of human beings from the very beginning. Consequently, it has been recommended in all righteous civilized societies and it is quite manifest for all human beings that the soundness and security of the society depends on the soundness and security of the family.  

    In the pervious chapters we examined several subjects including the family and its relevant relations, and the scope of the duties of men towards the family according to verses of the Holy Quran, traditions, civil law, and family law. Now we want to examine the scope of the duties of women regarding the family according the verses of the Holy Quran, traditions, and civil and family laws.    

    We begin with discussing the duties of the wife and the cases of violation of duties according to traditions and the behavior of the holy prophet (P) which are in the from of commands and prohibitions. The great number of traditions in this respect similar to those about the duties of men requires that women's duties should be classified in categories.


The First Category of Traditions:

The Beauty of the Wife's Honorable Conduct

    This category includes the texts that refer to the behavioral models of women, which consist of two sections.

    Since 'mother' is the basis of the formation of the identity of the family, and even the social personality of the spouse and children are influenced by her deeds, the felicity and wretchedness of the family is also ascribed to her. This is why in traditions the wife has been mentioned as the best ornament and the greatest prosperity for a competent and righteous man. And the elite and leaders of the world consider their own worth and value the result of the efforts, virtues and proper training policies of their mothers. Some of these traditions follow:

1.    Koleiny (R) narrates a tradition from Imam Reza (P), "no advantage is better for a man than a wife whose sight and companionship causes joy and happiness of the spouse, and in the absence of her husband she observes faithfulness and protects the sanctuary of herself and the family and protects his property.

2.    Imam Sadegh (P) says, "a man said of the holy prophet (P), " I have a wife who welcomes me whenever I arrive at home, and if she sees that I am unhappy says, "what is the cause of your grief? If you worry about your provision in this word, another is responsible to provide your subsistence, but if you are concerned and worried about the next world, may God multiply your sadness and anxiety." The holy prophet (P) said, "O’ men, God has representatives and agents on the earth, and this lady is one of them and deserves to receive half the reward of a martyr.

3.    A tradition from Imam Musa Ebne Ja'afar (P) quoted by Varam Ebne Abifaras, states that the 'jihad' (struggle in a holy war) for a woman, is her honorable care of her husband. There is the reward for one year of devotion, fasting during the day and staying up for prayer at nights, for the wife who offers her husband a drink of water. And for every drink of water she serves him God will grant her a city in paradise and forgive seventy of her sins.

4.    Sokuni narrates a tradition from Imam Sadegh (P), "the best wife among our followers is the one who has the best temperament".

5.    Abdullah Ebne Sannan quoted from the holy prophet (P), "the worst of your wives is the one who lacks valuable qualities, is bad natured, obstinate and disobedient, is considered lowly by her tribe and kinsmen, while she considers herself dear and great, does not perform her duties towards her husband and violates his rights while at the same time she has the most submissive and humble character towards others".

6.    Jamil Ebne Dorraj quoted from Imam Sadegh (P), "any wife who disappoints her husband and says she did not enjoy any benefit in his companionship and in their common life, will ruin her good deeds by such behavior".

7.    Shaikh Sadugh (R) quotes from Imam Sadegh (P), "if a wife hurts and offends her husband, her prayer and good deeds will not be accepted by God even though she devotes all her time to performing prayer and fasting, and also ransoms slaves and gives alms, till she gives up this behavior and tries to accompany, assist, and please her husband". Then he added, "the husband too, will totally ruin his good deeds and will be punished if he oppresses or injures his wife". According to another tradition the holy prophet (P) said, "do you want me to introduce who the worst men among you are?, they said: "yes, and he added, "the worst man among you is the one who lacks a plan and policy for living, is a miser, ill-mouthed, and eats alone, does not help his family, beats his wife and slave so that his family seek refuge in others, and his behavior causes him to be cursed by his parents". Article 1103 of the civil law is about honorable conduct, which has been discussed previously.


The Second Category of Traditions:  

    This category includes various texts which forbid the wife from beautification and adornment when appearing among those who are not legally related to her on the one hand and recommend and emphasize their cleanliness, neatness, beautification and adornment at home and in the presence of the husband on the other hand. The religion of Islam approves this behavior and urges the wife to observe and perform this duty without any extravagance. This recommendation by Islam is due to its positive effects on the individual, social and family life and its valuable role in the wholesomeness and security of society. Some of the advantages and positive effects of the observance of this duty follows:

The First Advantage:

    Since the novelty and beauty creating Lord loves beauty, and women are the manifestation of the attribute of beauty, adornment is more proper for women. Of course the concept that man does not need to pay attention to cleanness and neatness of appearance is a vain and false idea which is strongly rejected by Islam and differs the opinions of our Lady, the daughter of the holy prophet (P) and the Innocent Imams (P). The prophet of God himself not only had a clean, neat, and pleasant appearance, but also paid special attention to perfume so much that his perfume expenses exceeded his living expenses. According to a tradition he says, "an unclean and untidy person is a bad and disapproved servant of God". And according to a tradition from Imam Reza (P) he says, "it may sometimes happen that a man's wife loses her chastity due to her husband's carelessness in his appearance.

The Second Advantage

    Related women’s cleanliness and adoring herself is that performing this function is compatible with her natural instinct of adornment, beauty and charm. Islam has taken this into consideration, which is a natural tendency, but it has given it a moderate and balanced form. Therefore not only has it given the woman the priority to utilize and enjoy all kinds of ornaments, but has also charged the husband with providing them. Islam has also permitted the use of certain ornaments only for women and prohibited them for men, for instance using gold or pure silk or shaving facial hair, which causes their faces to resemble those of women. It has been recommended that women beautify themselves and wear jewelry all the time and never separate them from themselves.

The Third Advantage

    The third advantage is that besides creating moral and spiritual love and affection, it causes mutual confidence and assurance that both are doing their best for the mere pleasure of each other. Consequently, neither does the wife think of a man other than her husband nor the husband does of another spouse or woman but her. And this feeling and confidence brings about a security that pervades all aspects of the family and strengthens it on the basis of a good relationship and of mutual confidence and trust, and according to the holy Quran each of them becomes the protector of the interests and a source of pride and prestige for the other.

The Fourth Advantage:

    Social security and soundness is the soul of the society. If the woman disregards her principal duties concerning the family, instead of being the source of peace and security for the family, society, and history, she changes to an undesirable element not only depriving herself from freedom and security but also leads the society to insecurity. She has neither inward satisfaction nor that of the family nor does the society value her suitably or value her human station. She becomes an agent in displaying modern ignorance and descends from the climax of honor under God's servitude and human nobility as well as from the enjoyment of a virtuous marriage. Under the name of false freedom, she submits herself to disgraceful slavery, which not only ruins the family foundation, but also in its worst form has a bitter and humiliating aftermath. Smuggling of women to spread prostitution is published as statistics in the global media and international organizations. Unfortunately, the providers of this business for these dark, dismal and corrupt companies are mostly girls and women from the third world.


The Third Category of Traditions:

    This category argues about the positive and honorable duties of the wife in the family.

1)    According to Imam Sadegh (P) the holy prophet (P) said in response to a woman who asked about the duties of the wife towards her husband, "the wife must use her best perfumes and wear her best cloths and ornaments for her husband".

2)    Jaber Ebne Abdullah Ansari quotes the holy prophet's (P) comment about the righteous wife, "the best wife is the one who is kind and chaste, dear and respected by her relatives and flexible and obedient to her husband, beautifies and adorns herself when she is with him but protects herself from others.

3)    Muhammad Ebne Muslem quotes from Imam Bagher (P), "it is proper for a wife to pay attention to her appearance even if it is only by wearing a necklace and not to stop dying her hands even if she has to make ablutions when her hands are dyed with henna".

4)    Asbagh Ebne Nabateh quotes from Ali, the commander of the faithful (P), that near the time of the end of the world which is the worst of ages there are women who refuse to maintain their chastity and modest attire and appear naked. They transgress the bounds of religion and move towards corruption. They are inclined to lust and passion, hasten to seek pleasure and attempt to legalize the illegal "and then he added", they will be inhabitants of the fire forever".


The Fourth Category of Traditions:

    This category includes the traditions in which the loyalty of the wife towards her husband is emphasized. Disregarding the obligations of the marriage contract by the wife is considered an offense and sin and any illegal relations with any one except the spouse is strongly disapproved. This duty is mutual and is not specific to the wife.

1.    According to a tradition from the holy prophet (P) the worst and the most evil doing woman is the one who lacks values and virtues, is obstinate, a mischief-maker, rebellious and ostracized by her relatives for her evil deeds. Also she s one who feels great inwardly but is abased publicly, is reluctant to associate with her husband but easily accessible to others.

2.    Muhammad Ebne Muslem quoted from Imam Sadegh (P), "God does not speak with three groups. One of them is a woman who places her husband's bed at another man's disposal".

3.    According to a tradition from Ali, the commander of the faithful (P) he says, "do you want me to introduce the worst woman to you?" they answered "yes". Then he said, "a woman who has sexual intercourse in her husband's bed with another man and even more shameful is that she imposes another man's child upon her husband. She is a servant at whom God will never look with favors nor will He speak to her on the judgement day nor will He forgive her.

    We have read in the holy Quran the verse, "Maryam the daughter of Imran who preserved her womb, so we blew in it of our spirit". If we have not yet noticed the part that the chastity of this great lady played in the advent of a personality like Jesus, the Spirit of God (P) this manifest verse makes clear several realities in the system of creation. First, whatever values the righteous people of the world possess are the consequence of woman who plays a universal role which has worldwide influence. Secondly, from the viewpoint of law the reason for the value of Jesus is having a mother like Mary (P) and the opposite is not true, although having a righteous child is the source of the greatest pride for the mother. Thirdly, the chastity of a woman is the source of the survival of her character in the history of humanity forever.

    Fourth, the extent of the value of a woman is directly proportional to the extent of her obedience to God's commands and her chastity. Finally a mother who is concerned about and thinks of the good of her children will never commit evil and corruption.


The Fifth Category of Traditions:

    The reasons for the compliance of the wife: In this category several points are emphasized:

1)    Emphasis on compliance, particularly by the wife, and yielding herself with her husband.

2)    Not to refuse having sound conjugal relations, that is intercourse,  between husband and wife.

3)    To avoid conjugal relations or seeking sexual pleasure in  public and social environments or where there are sensually desirous eyes. In Islamic culture, the main objectives and duties of the couple are these characteristics: Namely the woman's nobility, family interests, and the wholesomeness of the society leading us to understand the philosophy of many of the religious decrees which are prescribed precisely along the lines of attaining these objectives. Therefore any sort of sexual enjoyment outside of the family is strongly forbidden. But within the family, conjugal relations and full enjoyment of the married couple of each other is permitted and lawful.

    Examination of these points makes it clear that willingness and providing the satisfaction of the spouse for her husband merely to satisfy his sexual instinct is foremost to show humble obedience to the All Wise Creator's command. Second, it is to show pure love, and faith to the sanctities of the home and create confidence and respect for herself and her spouse’s personality. Third, to strengthen the marriage covenants and show fidelity to a heavenly vow and to fulfill the woman's duty towards creation.

    Note. In the case of specified compliance obligatory for (sexual intercourse) of the wife, if she has a legal or rational excuse or if it is against the custom, for instance, menstruation or disease which makes intercourse impossible or may harm her, the excuse is plausible and does not cause Noshuz (that is violation of the husband's rights.) Some traditions of this category follow:

1.    Tabarsi quotes in his book Makaremul Akhlagh from the holy prophet (P), "it is not proper for the wife to go to bed unless she shows her inclination to be intimate with her husband so that is she lies under a single covering with him and undoes her dress and places a part of her body touching his. In this case she has done he duty. "Anyhow this means that with fine specific actions she should attract her husband, and bring about his desire so that he may become satisfied and be happy with her".

2.    Muhammad Ebne Muslem quotes from Imam Bagher (P), "the wife must not deny her husband even if she is on horseback". (Riding a horse is not a special case but it is only an example of a woman's performance of daily work or a trip.)

3.    Jaber Ebne Abdullah Ansari quotes from the holy prophet (P), "the worst woman is the one who denies her husband in private from sexual enjoyment…".

4.    Imam Bagher (P) says, "the best wife is the one who strips herself of modesty for her husband when they are alone".


The Literal Meaning and the Type of Tamkin Compliance

    It is an infinitive article, which has several meanings as follows:

    To accept, to shake hands, to establish, to give energy, to strengthen, to respect, to obey, and to be able to.

    In the Islamic texts and traditions Tamkin is:

1.    Specific willingness of the wife to engage in sexual intercourse with the which is his Islamic right after the marriage contract with husband.

2.    General compliance, which means the wife's yielding towards her husband in the common married life other than the specified compliance. For example, the husband may restrict and supervise his wife's leaving the house and her association with others, he can choose their dwelling place in order to maintain the interests of the family, unless he has signed a condition in the marriage contract stating the right to choose their dwelling place is with the wife. Of course, the husband's supervision should be based on the family and not be arbitrary in the form of commands and domination as previously discussed in detail.


The Sixth Category of Traditions:

    This category deals with the cases of general willingness of the wife and describes the Noshuz. Some examples follow:

1.    Bad behavior

2.    To refuse to cooperate and assist to strengthen the foundations of the family.

3.    To leave the house without husband's agreement.

4.    To refrain to live in the house chosen by her husband for their common living.

    In the next essay we will discuss these cases in detail from viewpoint stated in the civil law.

1.    Sa'adan Ebne Muslem quotes from Imam Sadegh (P), that the holy prophet (P) said to women in the tradition of allegiance, "listen! O women, I accept your allegiance only if you do not associate anything with God in worship, do not steal other people's property, do not commit adultery, do not kill your children, do not slander one another and do not disobey your husbands in proper and common affairs. (In this tradition compliance and towards the husband is conditioned by the term common and proper, that is the husband does not have the right to demand anything of his wife which is against the commands of God and the holy prophet (P), or the common law and customs or behavior of the righteous).

2.    Imam Sadegh (P) said, "if a woman performs the five daily prayers, fasts during the month of Ramazan, goes to Mecca for pilgrimage, performs her duties towards her husband, and believes in the Imamat of Ali and his eleven successors  (P), then admission to paradise becomes an obligation for her from any door she chooses.

3.    Imam Sadegh (P) said, "the best wife is one who is scented, and a good cook, observes the principle of Ma’ruf that is both her almsgiving and her economizing is based on what is moderate and common. Such a woman is an agent of God on earth who will never be desperate or regretful."

4.    At the end of the tradition of 'ascension', the holy prophet (P) said, "prosperous is the wife who has been able to satisfy her husband".

What is concluded and inferred from this collection of traditions is along the line of the words of God in verse 34 of Surah Women:

" الرِّجالُ قَوّامُونَ عَلي النِّساءِ بِما فَضَّلَ اللهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلي بَعْضٍ وَ بِما اَنْفَقُوا مِنْ‌ اَمْوالِهِمْ فَالصّالِحاتُ قانِتاتٌ حافِظاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِما حَفِظَ اللهُ وَاللاّتي تَخافُونَ نُشُوزِهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ في المَضاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَاِنْ‌ اَطَعْنَكُمْ‌ فَلا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبيلاً اِنَّ اللهَ كانَ عَلياً كَبيراً"
" the good women are therefore obedient guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded;".

    This implies that righteous women equipped with the weapon of faith, who think of the interests of the family along the path of God's servitude, that is, when they are with their husbands and their families in the house they perform the duty of infusing God's love and compassion into the home and family and are a source of peace and relief for them. In the absence of their husband they perform the heavy task of guarding the prestige of the family and stabilizing moral virtues in the home. If God has relieved her of working outside the house and exempted her from tackling difficulties and anxieties in the society, and inside the house has charged her with no apparent heavy duties since, household work is not an obligatory duty for her, this is because she is responsible for the creation and maintenance of peace and relief in the home. If this duty is not property fulfilled, the husband will not be able to perform his duties outside of the house. If the inside of a body is not in order, in good health and organized, the external part will not be stable and orderly either. Of course, this does not mean that we ignore the social presence of woman and prohibit her from performing necessary and suitable activities. In addition to playing the important roles of being a mother and spouse, she must also do her duty in solving scientific, political, economic and social problems of the society as has been realized and practiced by our outstanding religious examples. This can be seen when one examines the life of the holy prophet's daughter (P) who is the best and worthiest wife and mother at home. According to our late Imam Khomeini, "from a modest mud house, human beings are introduced whose light and brilliance overspreads the heavens and earth. They are also unique in the field of science and reflection of divine verses. Her eloquent and fluent speech in the mosque of Madina is an example, and reveals the fact that the world has not witnessed anyone like of her in the various fields of history, sociology, philosophy, the rise and decline of nations, philosophy of the 'principles of faith' and the 'secondary precepts the religion',  the position of  leadership, the functions of devotion and sincerity. This proves that woman's duty is multidimensional".


Summary of the Duties and Obligations of the Wife According to Verses and Traditions:

Obligatory Duties

1.    Honorable conduct.

2.    Specific compliance to her husband. (intercourse)

3.    Purity and chastity both in the presence and the absence of her husband.

4.    Avoiding leaving her husband's house without his permission and agreement.

5.    Cleanliness, neatness, hygiene, beautification adornment and jewelry, good appearance, aiding in the theoretical and practical advancement of the family, and at the same time undertaking the roles of mother and spouse.

6.    To live in the house prepared by her husband for common married life (unless it is stated otherwise in the conditions stipulated in the marriage certificate.)

7.    Not giving away the husband's property without his permission.

Non-Obligatory Duties

1.    To compromise as far as possible in order to maintain the interests and peace of the family.

2.    To avoid whatever causes her husband to be hurt or offended.

3.    To be a good aid for her husband in order to enable him to face difficulties and ups and downs of life.

4.    To practice patience and piety for they are sources of abundance and benefit.

5.    To avoid shame and shyness in the presence of her husband in private.

6.    To prefer to perform the recommended devotions with her husband's permission, and between performing these types of devotion and union (intercourse) with her husband, choose the latter if her husband shows inclination.

7.    To be patient and tolerant towards her husband’s injuries and bad habits.

8.    To perform the internal housework as far as possible in order to cooperate with her husband.

9.    To try to elevate the values in the house and establish them in practice.


source: Women’s Socio- Cultural Council’s Quarterly

Authors: Ezatossadat Mirkhani
Content Type: Article
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