What are the etiquettes of married life and the rights of spouses in Islam in the opinion of Allamah Mansoor Hashemi Khorasani, may God Almighty protect him?
In Islam, spouses have equal rights and responsibilities, except for the management of the family that lies with the husband; as God Almighty has said: ﴿وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ﴾; “And for women is the like of that which is on them, and for men is a degree over them, and God is Mighty, the Wise.”
Generally, the shared rights and responsibilities of spouses toward each other in Islam are as follows:
1. Sufficient and appropriate Sexual Relationship
In Islam, it is obligatory for the husband to share a bed and have a sufficient and appropriate sexual relationship with his wife, and it is also obligatory for the wife to allow him and remove anything that may make him give up doing so, except in cases where there is a legitimate impediment for her, such as menstruation or obligatory fasting; because it fulfills natural needs, prevents harm and deviations, creates a sense of tranquility and satisfaction, and strengthens the shared life for both of them; especially considering that many divorces and family disputes, whether openly or secretly, directly or indirectly, are traced back to the lack of a sufficient and appropriate sexual relationship between spouses.
2. Good treatment
In Islam, it is obligatory for spouses to have good treatment toward each other; as God Almighty has said: ﴿وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ﴾; “And treat them the way it deserves,” in this way that they should treat each other with “affection” and “mercy” so that it leads to comfort and peace within the family; as God Almighty has said: ﴿وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ﴾; “And one of His signs is that He created for you spouses from yourselves so that you may find comfort with them, and He placed between you affection and mercy. Undoubtedly, there are many signs in this for people who reflect.” Achieving this is not possible except with mutual respect and tolerance, and that is because spouses are “clothing” for each other; as God Almighty has said: ﴿هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَهُنَّ﴾; “They are clothing for you, and you are clothing for them,” and clothing is what conceals the flaws of the body, beautifies it, and protects it from cold, heat, and harm; as God Almighty has said: ﴿يَا بَنِي آدَمَ قَدْ أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْكُمْ لِبَاسًا يُوَارِي سَوْآتِكُمْ وَرِيشًا﴾; “O children of Adam! We have sent down clothing to you that conceals your private parts and is an adornment,” and said: ﴿وَجَعَلَ لَكُمْ سَرَابِيلَ تَقِيكُمُ الْحَرَّ وَسَرَابِيلَ تَقِيكُمْ بَأْسَكُمْ ۚ كَذَلِكَ يُتِمُّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُسْلِمُونَ﴾; “And He provided you with garments that protect you from heat (and cold), and garments that protect you against (harm in) your battle. This is how He perfects His blessing upon you so that you may submit (to Him).” Therefore, it is obligatory for spouses to conceal each other’s flaws, compensate for each other’s weaknesses, and protect each other against the hardships and difficulties of life, just as clothing does, and in this way, each of them should become a “complement” to the other, and there is no doubt that the husband is more deserving of patience, forgiveness, and restraining anger than the wife; because the intellect tends to prevail in him, while emotion tends to prevail in her, and nothing comes out of the sack but what was in it; as Ali, peace be upon him, said in his will to his son Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah: «إِنَّ الْمَرْأَةَ رَيْحَانَةٌ، وَلَيْسَتْ بِقَهْرَمَانَةٍ، فَدَارِهَا عَلَى كُلِّ حَالٍ، وَأَحْسِنِ الصُّحْبَةَ لَهَا لِيَصْفُوَ عَيْشُكَ»; “Indeed, a woman is like a fragrant flower, not a hard-working warrior. So treat her with kindness and be courteous in every situation, so that your life may be filled with happiness.”
3. Enjoining right and forbidding wrong
In Islam, spouses are not just responsible for their life in this world, but rather they are obligated to protect each other from the punishment of the Hereafter; as God Almighty has said: ﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ﴾; “O you who believed! Save yourselves and your families from a fire, the fuel of which is people and stones.” This can be achieved by making sufficient and appropriate efforts to reform each other’s beliefs and deeds in the light of the teachings and rulings of Islam; as God Almighty has said, for example: ﴿وَأْمُرْ أَهْلَكَ بِالصَّلَاةِ﴾; “And command your family to (perform) prayer,” and said: ﴿يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لِأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِنْ جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ﴾; “O Prophet! Tell your wives, your daughters, and the wives of believers to draw close their outer garments over themselves.” It is hereby understood that spouses are not allowed to prevent each other from fulfilling religious obligations or lead each other toward false beliefs or forbidden deeds by misusing the marital relationship; as God Almighty has sternly warned against it and said: ﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجِكُمْ وَأَوْلَادِكُمْ عَدُوًّا لَكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُمْ﴾; “O you who believed! Indeed, some of your wives and children are your enemies, so beware of them,” and said: ﴿قُلْ إِنْ كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُمْ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتَّى يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ﴾; “Say: ‘If your fathers, sons, brothers, spouses, relatives, wealth that you have gathered, trade that you are afraid of its decline, and houses that you like them are dearer to you than God, His Prophet, and struggling in His way, then wait until God brings His punishment, and God does not guide the group of sinners,’” and said: ﴿ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا امْرَأَتَ نُوحٍ وَامْرَأَتَ لُوطٍ ۖ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَالِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَقِيلَ ادْخُلَا النَّارَ مَعَ الدَّاخِلِينَ﴾; “God sets forth as an example for those who disbelieve: The wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut, who were under two of Our righteous servants, but they betrayed them, and their husbands were of no benefit to them against God, and it was said to them: ‘Enter Hell with those who enter.’”
In addition to these shared rights, the wife has the right to “financial maintenance” (i.e., nafaqah) from the husband, which is to provide her with what she needs in life such as food, clothing, medicine, housing, and furniture to the extent that is conventional and within the husband’s ability, and the husband has the right to “obedience” from the wife, which is to submit to his management of the shared life, by complying with his orders, and following his final decisions, in cases that do not contradict Sharia; as God Almighty has said: ﴿الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ﴾; “Men are guardians of women because God has made some of them superior to some others and because they spend from their wealth.”