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The Obligation Of A Woman's Serving Her Husband

The Obligation Of A Woman's Serving Her Husband

I say: And some of the Ahaadeeth just mentioned clearly show the obligation upon a woman to obey and serve her husband as far as she is able - and there is no doubt that one of the first things included in that is service in the house and what is connected to it - such as bringing up the children and its like. And the scholars have differed about this, so Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah says in `Al-Fataawaa' (2/234-235):
"Scholars have differed as regards to whether she has to serve him with regard to the like of attending to the furnishings of the house and preparing food and drink - and grinding flour and preparing food for his slaves and animals, and feeding his horse, etc. So some of them say: The service is not compulsory. And this is a weak saying, just as weak as the saying of those who say that he doesn't have to treat her well or have sexual intercourse with her! Since this would not be treating him in a good manner, just as a companion on a journey... if he did not help him then he would not be treating him well.
And it is said: And this is correct - that serving him is obligatory, since her husband is named as her master in Allaah's Book and she is a captive with him as is shown in the Sunnah of Allaah's Messenger (sallallahu alayhe wassallam) and the slave and captive have to serve - and because that is what is well-known.
Then some of them say: Easy service is obligatory. And others say the service that constitutes good treatment is what is obligatory - and that is correct. So she has to provide the service that is expected from one of her station for one of his station - and that varies according to varying circumstances. So the service of a desert-woman is not the same as that of a town dweller, and the service of a strong woman is not the same as that of a weak one."
I say: And that is the truth, if Allaah wills, and it is the saying of Maalik and Asbigh as occurs in `Al-Fat'h' (9/418) and Aboo Bakr Ibn Abee Shaybah, and likewise Al-Tawzijaaree of the Hanbalees as occurs in `Al-Ikhtiyaaraat' (p145) and a group of the earlier and later scholars as occurs in `Az-Zaad' (4/46) and we do not find any suitable proof for the ones who say that service is not compulsory.
And some of them say: "The marriage contract necessitates enjoyment/use for one's benefit - not service" and that is rejected since that is the same for the woman through her husband - so they are the same in that respect. And as we know, Allaah ta'aalaa obligated something further upon the husband and that is the provision of clothing, housing and spending upon her - so it is just that something further should be made obligatory upon her - and that is nothing but her serving him. Especially since he is the one in charge of her as has preceded, so if she does not serve him then he will have to serve her in the house which will put her in charge - and that is opposite to the Aayah of the Qur'aan as is obvious - so it is established that she must serve him.
And also the man's serving leads to two contradictory situations - that the man would be prevented by the service from seeking after their sustenance and other necessities - and the woman would remain at home without anything at all that she has to do - and the futility of this saying can be seen since the Sharee'ah did not give the husband and wife equal rights - rather it gave the man an extra degree and there Allaah's Messenger (sallallahu alayhe wassallam) did not act upon the complaint of his daughter Faatimah when she: "came to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wassallam) and complained about the hardship caused to her hand from the handmill - and she heard that a captive had been brought to him, but she didn't find him so she informed 'Aaishah of that. When the Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wassallam) came, 'Aaishah informed him of Faatimah's visit. 'Alee (radhiyAllaahu 'anhu) said: The Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wassallam) came to us after we had gone to our bed. So we started to get up but he said:
«Remain at your place» So he came and sat between me and her so that I felt the coolness of his feet upon my stomach. So he said:
«Shall I not inform you of something better than what you have asked? When you go to bed then say `Subhaanallaah' thirty-three times, `Al-hamdu lillah' thirty-three times and `Allaahu Akbar' thirty-four times - for that is better for you than a servant» 'Alee said: `So I never left it after that.' It was said: `Not even on the night of Siffeen?' He said: `Not even the night of Siffeen!'
[Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (9/417-418)]."
So you can see how the Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wassallam) didn't say to 'Alee: She doesn't have to serve you - rather you have to. And he (sallallahu alayhe wassallam) did not take into account preference of certain people in giving a ruling - as pointed out by Ibn Al-Qayyim (radhiyAllaahu 'anhu) - and he who wishes to look further into the matter, then let him refer to his valuable book "Zaadul-Ma'aad" (4/45-46).
And there is nothing in what has preceded to deny the preferability of a man's helping her in that if he finds the time - rather that is part of good treatment between the two and therefore 'Aaishah (radhiyAllaahu 'anhaa) said: "He (sallallahu alayhe wassallam) used to be in the service of his family - then when the Prayer was due he went out."
[Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (2/129 & 9/418), At-Tirmidhee (3/314) who declared it Saheeh, Al-Mukhallis in `Al-Mukhallisiyaat' (1/66), and Ibn Sa'd (1/366)]
And it is reported in "Ash-Shamaa'il" (2/185) by other isnaads with the wording: "He was a man of the men, he would attend to his own clothes, milk his sheep and serve himself." And its narration are those of the Saheeh and some of them are slightly weak.* However Ahmad and Aboo Bakr Ash-Shaafi'ee report it with strong isnaad as I have shown in `Silsilatul-Ahaadeethus-Saheehah' (no.670) and success lies with Allaah.
*I say: Therefore the checker (editor) of `Sharhus-Sunnah' (13/243/3676) declared it weak and he didn't come across the strong isnaad which we mention. And refer if you wish to my book "Mukhtasar ush-Shamaa'il" (no.293).
This is the end of what Allaah most Blessed and most High has allowed me to write about the etiquettes of marriage in this book.

Book of marriage by Shaykh al-albaani rahimahu Allah.


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