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Mutual Rights – Maintaining Chastity

Maintaining Chastity

The second right of the two rights that this series of articles pertains to is the overnight stay, which signifies that the spouses help each other in observing chastity. Each of the spouses should fulfill this right for the other. Some scholars have said that the purpose of marriage is that both the man and the woman preserve their chastity. Thus, the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Whoever has the ability [to get married] should marry. It helps a person lower his gaze and maintain his chastity.” [Muslim]

A man cannot properly lower his gaze and guard his organs from violating the boundaries and prohibitions of Allah The Almighty except when the woman plays the role of a good wife to him. The same applies to the wife. So, the husband should help his wife observe her chastity, considering it an act of worship. The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “There is a charity in having intercourse with one’s wife.” The Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, said, “O Messenger of Allah, if one of us fulfills his desire, is there a reward in that?” He, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, replied: “Do you not see that if he does it in an unlawful way he will have the burden of sin?” [Ahmad]

Allah The Almighty appreciates this act from the husband, so He gives him a reward for the sperm he puts into his wife. This good act which is done to the wife helps her abstain from violating the rules of Allah The Almighty and prohibited acts, and helps her follow the straight path of Allah The Almighty. It is the duty of the husband to help his wife in this way, and it is the duty of the wife to help her husband in this way by utilizing the lawful available means. The woman should perfectly adorn and beautify herself for her husband in order to make him lower his gaze and observe his chastity. The man should do the same.

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, affirmed the words of Salmaan, may Allah be pleased with him, when he, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Your wife has rights over you.” [Muslim]

One day, Salman, may Allah be pleased with him found Umm Ad-Darda‘, may Allah be pleased with her, looking untidy and dressed in shabby clothes. He asked her why she was in that state. She, may Allah be pleased with her, replied that his brother, Abu Ad-Darda‘, may Allah be pleased with him, was not interested in her. When Abu Ad-Dada‘, may Allah be pleased with him, arrived, Salman, may Allah be pleased with him, admonished him, and said, “Your body has a right over you; your wife has a right over you and your family has a right over you. So, fulfill the rights to those whom they are entitled,” as if it was like a debt that he owed to his wife. Abu Ad-Dardaa‘, may Allah be pleased with him, went to the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and reported the whole story. The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Salman has told the truth.” [Al-Bukhari]

A man certainly owes rights to his body and rights to his family. This story took place when Salmaan, may Allah be pleased with him, found the woman dressed in shabby clothes and knew that she could not fulfill the rights of her husband in that way. He, may Allah be pleased with him, was sure that there was something behind that state, so he, may Allah be pleased with him, investigated the matter and asked to know what was the matter with his brother. Once he found out that negligence was on the part of his brother, he admonished him, reminded him and explained to him that this was a duty upon him. A Muslim seeks closeness to Allah The Almighty through bowing and prostration for Him, and he also seeks closeness to Him by guarding himself against committing prohibitions. Allah The Almighty is obeyed in two ways; by carrying out His commands and by avoiding His prohibitions.

Among the gravest sins that people fall into is committing adultery – Allah forbid! Adultery is always an immorality, abominable and an evil act. It violates the honor of the Muslims, leads to mixing up of the progenies and lineages and entails enormous evil that only Allah knows the extent of. It is the righteous wife and the righteous husband who, after Allah The Almighty, guard the chastity of one another, particularly at a time filled with temptations. The woman should pursue the means of beauty and perfection so that the husband would find everything he needs in her, and hence, he would not approach any other woman. Also, the man should prepare himself by avoiding staying frequently outside the house late at night or returning in the hours in which he is very tired, exhausted and sluggish and consequently neglect the right of his wife and deprive her of affection and the means that help her maintain her chastity and guard her against the prohibitions of Allah The Almighty.

Both of the spouses should prepare themselves for that, and the husband should manage his time well to give the family and the work their due hours. Thus, scholars always recommend time management. One of the largest catastrophes the Muslim Ummah suffers, especially in this era, is staying up late at night. It has destroyed Muslim homes and caused negligence of the rights of spouses and children. Most divorce cases arise from staying up late at night because by doing so the husband neglects the rights of his wife and children. If people properly utilize their time, especially after ‘Ishaa‘ prayer and the man was keen to organize his time so that he could find some to bring happiness to his family, this would not happen. This is because Allah The Almighty made the night a time for rest.

Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {[He is] the cleaver of daybreak and Has made the night for rest.} [Quran 6:96] This is the law and creation of Allah The Almighty. He has assigned rights for the wives upon their husbands and assigned other rights for the husbands upon their wives.

Scholars have said that it is obligatory upon the man to have intercourse with his wife, but they differed about the frequency. Some said that it is obligatory upon the husband to have intercourse with his wife once every four nights. They argued that Allah The Almighty allowed men to marry up to four women at the same time, so the minimum share of the woman in case of plurality of marriage is one night out of four. For that reason, they said that he should have intercourse with his wife once every four nights. .

Therefore, when a woman came to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, and said, “O Commander of the Believers, my husband observes fasting during the day and performs voluntary prayers during the night.” He, may Allah be pleased with him, replied, “May Allah bless your husband for you,” and he spoke good of him. The woman left and came again and said, “O Commander of the Believers, my husband observes fasting during the day and performs voluntary prayers during the night.” He, may Allah be pleased with him, asked her who her husband was, and when she mentioned his name, he, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “May Allah reward you for letting us know his virtue.” Again, the woman left and returned and said, “O Commander of the Believers, my husband observes fasting during the day, and performs voluntary prayers during the night.”

The words of the woman show the perfection of the righteous predecessors and their politeness and bashfulness. How beautiful women are when they observe bashfulness and shyness! They amount to perfection. Scholars have said that bashfulness is like the wrapping on a sweet; when the wrapping is removed, flies fall on the sweets. Similarly, when the woman is adorned with bashfulness, it approaches perfection and becomes a valuable secret and well-kept pearl. The woman felt too shy to speak explicitly and hurt her husband by saying directly that he had mistreated her. Scholars interpreted her behavior in two ways: she was shy and shyness is good, or she was a noble woman and did not want to belittle her husband in front of ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him.

In any case, Ka‘b, may Allah be pleased with him, who was attended the conversation, said, “O Commander of the Believers, the woman came to complain about her husband.” We should not think that ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, did not understand her. No. ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was intelligent, but he wanted the woman to be patient. This was the practice of ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, and he would dismiss the prescribed punishments in case of uncertainty.

He, may Allah be pleased with him, did the same thing with Az-Zibriqan ibn Badr, may Allah be pleased with him, when he came to complain about Al-Hutay‘ah. So, ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, would always use indirect words to clear the problems between people because the more people settle their own problems, the better. He, may Allah be pleased with him, did not encourage them to lodge complaints, then call them to judge between them, and this methodology is known in managing the affairs of people.

‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said to Ka‘b, “Since you have understood their case, you shall be the one to judge between them.”

The man came, and the woman said, “Prayers have kept my husband away from my bed and he does not sleep during the day or the night, and in matters related to women, I do not praise him.”

The woman did not say that, “my husband does so-and-so, he is unfair,” or that “he has such-and-such faults,” contrary to many women today. Such women abuse and revile their husbands before judges, and once a woman suffers ill-treatment, she overreacts. She does not leave any defect or bad quality in her husband but she reveals it. May Allah have mercy upon this righteous woman!.

When righteousness touches a woman, one would not hear or see from her anything but good. Such is the righteousness of the early Muslim generations about whom the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, spoke highly, saying: “My generation is the best of generations.” Surely, they were the best generation, men and women, old and young people, and children. Allah The Almighty brought about goodness through them. Look how the woman refused to react in a bad way or say hurtful words; rather, she mentioned that his prayers kept her husband away from her bed, and listed his virtues and good qualities. Even her saying that she did not praise him in matters related to women, may be a fault in the state of perfection, not necessarily a criticism. The man replied that the chapters in the Quran of An-Nahl and the seven lengthy Surahs (Al-Baqarah, Aal ’Imran, An-Nisa‘, Al-Ma‘idah, Al-A’raf, Al-An’am and Yonus) kept him away from her bed and cast fear in him from Allah The Almighty and reminded him of the Hereafter. He, may Allah be pleased with him, said that when he read the Quran, it portrayed the Hereafter to him as if he was seeing it with his own eyes. So, Hell and its chains as well as Paradise and its bliss made him relinquish this temporary enjoyment and transitional delight.

Ka‘b, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “O man, she has rights on you, and you should have intercourse with her at least once every four nights. Adhere to this and do not make excuses.”

There is no excuse and a wise man should do so once every four days, because Allah The Almighty permitted the free man to marry up to four women, so each of the four women has the right to one night out of four.

Some scholars have said that it is not obligatory on the man to have intercourse with his wife and this should be left to his activity and strength, but this is limited to four months. If the four months elapsed without intercourse, the husband would bear a sin and would be unjust because four months are the period of Eelaa‘(mourning). In fact, the first opinion, which is having intercourse once every four nights, is preponderant because it is based on a Shari‘ah fundamental. The period of Eelaa‘, which is four months, would be the maximum period in which the man may not approach his wife. After this period, the wife has the right to lodge a complaint against him, particularly if he swore not to have intercourse with her. True, intercourse should be left to the activity of the husband, and a man should not be obliged to excessively have it, as scholars said. They added that if the woman has impediments, such as lack of beauty or that the husband is not inclined to his wife or does not desire her, then the best form of kindness to the wife occurs in this state. This is because the man often has intercourse with his less beautiful wife for the sake of Allah, out of fear from Him and for fulfilling the rights that Allah entitled for the woman. If the man showed this to his wife and tried his best to guard her against prohibition, it would be of a greater effect. If the woman is beautiful, intercourse in this case takes place as a natural tendency and self desire. If the woman is not beautiful, scholars say that the husband honors himself and tries to overcome himself in order to increase his reward.

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “There is a charity in having intercourse with one’s wife.” [Ahmad] The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, informed us that having intercourse with one’s wife is considered an act of charity.

This encourages the man who has a less beautiful or unattractive wife to remember the goodness and righteousness in her. Perhaps a woman is not beautiful, but she is one of the righteous and devoutly obedient women who guard in the husband’s absence what Allah The Almighty would have them guard. Moreover, a man does not know what would have happened to him if he had married a very beautiful woman. She may betray or dishonor him – Allah forbid. Also, a beautiful woman may look at her husband with contempt, thinking that she is more entitled to a more handsome husband. However, Allah The Almighty may favor the woman who is not beautiful with a good mind, religiosity and observance of the Islamic teachings that she appreciates.

There are many unattractive women, but Allah The Almighty compensates them with a good mind. It is commonly known that the more a man lacks beauty, the more Allah The Almighty may distinguish him in his religiousness, mind, wisdom, insight, health or well-being. Allah The Almighty is just and does whatever He wills. He distributes His blessings among His slaves. His is the judgment and there is no one to put back His judgment. The point is that the husband should immediately fulfill his duties, and some scholars said that he should do so even if he is tired or exhausted, hoping for the reward from Allah The Almighty.

Some righteous men get bored with these things, and sometimes they impose on their wives to be in the state of obedience, religious matters and worship. A wife may be busy with religious matters but not give the rights of Allah their due. For instance, an Islamic caller may devote himself to the Da‘wah (call) or a scholar may devote himself to knowledge but this takes place to the detriment of the family and wife. He should organize and manage his time, and should not set out for Da‘wah or travel unless he fulfills the rights of his family so that he has guarded them against prohibitions. He should not leave until he feels that his absence or traveling would most probably not lead them to commit anything unlawful by fulfilling this duty in the most perfect way.

Equal overnight distribution:

The right to equal distribution and overnight stay implies that since it is obligatory on the spouses to fulfill this right, it is not permissible for the wife to decline the request of her husband to share his bed. The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “For a woman who declines the request of her husband to bed, the angels curse her until the morning.” He also said: “For a woman, whose husband calls her for intercourse, and she refuses, those in heaven will keep cursing her until the morning.” Therefore, the spouses should observe this right.

This right leads to another issue, which is distribution and equality between co-wives when they are four. The Sunnah of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, outlined this distribution, and we will discuss it in brief. Every wife has the right to one full night, namely, an overnight stay. The guidance of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, regarding the daytime was that he might have visited his wife on a day other than hers; if the night was for another wife, he, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would visit the rest of his wives after the ‘Asr Prayer, according to some scholars, particularly if the other wife had children or needed his presence. In that case, he would fulfill their needs and check their affairs.

This distribution was obligatory on him even if he, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was sick. In the latter case, he would move between the houses. Thus, in the sickness in which he died, the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would: “Where will I move to tomorrow?” He, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam,asked the permission of his wives to be nursed in the house of ‘Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, and they agreed and gave him permission. This indicates that equal distribution was obligatory upon him even if he, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was sick. If a man is severely sick and cannot move to another house, he should ask their permission to be nursed in one of their houses; if they agree, it would be fine; otherwise, he should draw lots as he does in travel.

There are two cases if he wishes to travel:

• There is no problem to take them all, and in this case he would distribute the nights as usual.
• He cannot take them all, and in this case he would draw lots. It was narrated that when the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, intended to go on a journey, he would draw lots to decide which wife would go with him. After his return, the distribution would continue as it was before he left.

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