Thursday 26th of May 2022
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A Father's Family Duties

Why does the Quran say al-rrijalu qawwamun 'ali an-nisa ?

The definition of the patriarchal family system has been the subject of various interpretations and comments in the laws of different countries. Basically the point should be discussed as to whether or not it is necessary that one should rule over the other in the bilateral partnership which is established between a husband and wife, whose goal is marital living and raising of children?  And if it is necessary, then why should the husband be charged with it?
Based upon individual liberty and the necessity of honoring the opinion of other persons, some believe that the family should be jointly run by both husband and wife. But other lawyers, while confirming the fact that the parties should solve their problems with mutual understanding, believe that man is more competent in the final decision owing to more social experience, and that emotional aspects interfere with his decision-making less than that of a woman.  Therefore, in most countries, the husband's rule over the family has been accepted in  present civil codes.  Of these, the civil codes of France, Switzerland and Italy could be mentioned which have explicitly accepted this matter.
But what is meant by the patriarchal system, or as the Quran says, "Men are the maintainers of women?" (4:34). Can the husband run the family merely based upon his desires or is his power for managing the family limited to the good of the family members? Should he consider the good, comfort and  prosperity  of  all  the  family members in every decision that he makes?  There is no doubt that the patriarchial  system  is justified and acceptable only in the latter form.  It can have no purpose other than this. The important point is that the husband's rule over the family is not solely a right, rather it also has obligations entailed to it.  One of the obligations that is created as a result of the patriarchal system, is the obligation to nourish.   That is, the husband is obliged to provide the living necessaties of the wife and children. Why? The existence of this obligation is so that women may be able to proceed with managing the family's internal affairs and raising the children with peace of mind. In this way, the anxiety over providing food and the basic necessities of life would not deprive them of peace of mind which is among the ingredients of good management of the family life, the establishment of peace in the house and in the warm nucleus of the family?  In this way, wives are able to give their husbands' rest without any anxiety and with a firm heart and a peace of mind.
The verdict of the obligatory nature of the man's responsibility to pay for the expenses of the wife and children, is coupled with an important guarantee.  No disruption should occur in managing of the family which might hinder women's lives.   A husband's abuse of his wife by forcing his wife to work in order to gain the means of livlihood to pay the living costs, should be prevented.  In furtherance of this, Islamic jurisprudents, based upon valid documents, have proclaimed that should a husband who is capable of paying the family expenses, refrain from doing so, the wife has the right to refer to a religious arbitrator and to force the husband to pay.  If the religious arbitrator does not succeed, he would order the husband to divorce his wife, for according to the rule of negation of hardship, which is one of the important rules  of jurisprudence  based  upon reason and substantiated by Quranic verses and narrations, no verdict and the enforcing of no rights should result in difficulty and cause hardship, just as we know in the precepts governing the ritual prayers, one could perform the dry  ablution instead of the minor ablution, should use of water prove to be harmful.
In the legal issues and those concerning the relations between individuals, no verdict should cause loss and hardships.  Since the continuation of marital life could put place the women in a difficult position in the case of non-payment of the expenses by the husband,  the  religious judge and the representative of Islamic society could force the husband to separate at the final point.  At this point, it might be useful to state that due to the direct responsibility of man in managing the family, if he has other individuals who he must support like a mother and father and his income cannot provide the expenses of all of these  people, then the wife's expenses take precedence over other deserving relatives. With this, we observe how providing the wife's peace of mind and living expenses is the most important obligation of the husband.
In  addition  to supplying the material needs of the family, the husband's running of the family must be towards creating the means of welfare and spiritual comfort of the wife and children, and not towards a dictatorial and brutal attitude.  Basically a good attitude in the family has been taken to be a good criterion.  It is quoted from the Holy Prophet (SAW), "The best among you is the one who has the best attitude towards his family."  Such a person, due to the responsibility which he is charged with towards the members of his family, will expend all of his efforts for their welfare and comfort. Women, on the other hand, are encouraged to satisfy their husbands and to create an atmosphere of sincerety and serenity in the house through their good temper, mild and friendly attitude.
During the time of the Holy Prophet, when one of the pure hearted and  eloquent   Muslim   women complained about the mandate of Islam and asked why women were not allowed to participate in jihad and defence of Islam as an active soldier, the Prophet answered, "Your good behavior towards your husbands  and well-management of the house is like jihad."
With this remark, the Prophet had wanted to emplant the idea that men and women should pay their debt to society with each others help and according to the responsibilities that have been entrusted to each of them. One works in the battlefront and the other should work behind the lines. Each of them not only undertakes a part of the duties of life during war and jihad, but also during the period of peace which helps the correct management of the society through its performance and with each others help.

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