Emulating Prophet Muhammad SAW: On Marriage & Spouses

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When we look at our relationship with our spouse or even our friends’ relationships, can we spot whether it is a loving one or a toxic one? Sometimes it’s obvious, but we are often unable to spot the red flags until it’s too late.

There are also cases where one party knows they are facing abuse but is being gaslighted into thinking they are at fault or that the one abusing them will change. For example, a wife is afraid to go against her husband’s unreasonable commands because it is an “unislamic” thing to do.

But when we look at the life of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, we can see that the statement could not be further from the truth.

His relationships with his wives were based on mutual love and respect.

Throughout his life, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. treated his wives the way they should be treated. They were gratified by his presence, tenderness, affection, and the love he provided to them was second to none. The Quran perfectly encapsulates the tranquillity and respect in marriage:

وَمِنْ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦٓ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَٰجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوٓا۟ إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“And one of His signs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves so that you may find comfort in them. And He has placed between you compassion and mercy. Surely in this are signs for people who reflect.”

Surah Ar-rum (30:21)

His first wife, Khadijah r.a., was his source of emotional and spiritual comfort. It was Khadijah r.a. who instilled confidence in him when he received the first revelation. It was in her that he sought support and strength throughout his quest in uplifting humanity. 

His wife, Aisyah r.a. was the one he spent his last days with and throughout their marriage, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. treated her in a very gentle and romantic way. They played together, drank from the same spot of the cup, and constantly exchanged sweet words.

The Prophet s.a.w. also uplifted the status of women from that of being the property of men to that of equal status in the society with accorded rights and dignity. The Prophet s.a.w. paid special attention to the women in his society, who previously had been denied any rights, freedom and space. He was patient and kind towards them and listened to their plight. 

Several women had come to him inquiring about the issue of divorce (khula), including the wife of Thabit ibn Qay. 

The wife of Thabit ibn Qays came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said,

“O Messenger of Allah, I do not reproach Thabit ibn Qays in respect of character and religion, but I do not want to be guilty of showing anger to him.” (Her meaning was that although Thabit was a good man, she could not get along with him and thus might not be able to show him the respect due to a husband.) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked her about what she had received from him. She replied, “A garden.” He asked, “Will you give him back his garden?” “Yes,” she said. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then told Thabit, “Accept the garden and make one declaration of divorce.”

Reported by al-Bukhari and an-Nasa’i

Marriage is a sacred bond that brings together a man and a woman under the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Nobody would want a divorce without any good reason. Therefore, the separation between a man and his wife [without just cause] was considered one of the significant and grave sins and one of the most beloved actions of Satan, as was narrated in several hadiths.

Just as a man must never divorce his wife to bring harm upon her without reason, it is also forbidden for a woman to ask for a divorce without a sensible explanation. However, she is still allowed to ask for a divorce for an acceptable reason.

“The woman who cannot bear to live with her husband has the right to free herself from the marriage bond by returning to her husband the mahr (required marriage gift) and gifts he has given her, or more or less than that according to their mutual agreement. It is, however, preferable that he should not ask for more than he has given her. Allah Almighty says: “…And if you (the judges) fear that the two may not be able to keep to the limits ordained by Allah, there is no blame on either of them if she redeems herself (from the marriage tie by returning all or part of the mahr)…”

Al-Baqarah: 229

So to conclude, I just want to emphasise that husbands and wives should emulate the relationships of Nabi SAW and his wives. And if you are in a relationship where you are being harmed physically or mentally, don’t be afraid to leave it because society says it is “unislamic” to do so.