2. al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Bakrah from his father.

Principles and rules for man and woman in family

Family is itself institution of state. Principally,
a state is required to be headed by a person; a family is also required to have
a head. It can be husband or wife, but a man possesses those qualities which
are required for the custodianship of family. In fact, in His book Allah says,

“Men are the protectors and maintainers
of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because
they spend (to support them) from their means”al-Nisa’ 4:344

Ibn Katheer (may Allah have
mercy on him) said: 

“Allah says ‘Men are the
protectors and maintainers of women’ meaning that the man is in charge of
the woman, i.e., he is the leader and head of the household, the one who
disciplines her if she goes astray because Allah has made one of them to
excel the other’ i.e., because men are superior to women and are better
than women. Hence Prophethood was given only to men, as was the position of
khaleefah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
‘No people shall ever prosper who appoint a woman as their ruler.’ This was
narrated by al-Bukhaari from the hadeeth of ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Bakrah from
his father. The same applies to the position of qaadi (judge), etc. 

‘and because they
spend (to support them) from their means’ refers to the mahr and the spending on women’s maintenance that Allah
has enjoined upon men in His Book and in the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
So a man is inherently better than a woman, and he is superior to her because
he spends on her. So it is appropriate that he should be in charge of her, as
Allah says, ‘but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them’ al-Baqarah
2:228. 5

‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah said,
narrating from Ibn ‘Abbaas: ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women’
means that men are the leaders of women and they should obey them in areas
where Allah has enjoined obedience. Obedience may mean treating his family
kindly and protecting his wealth.” 

(Tafseer Ibn Katheer,
1/490) 6


However, it does not mean that man is
superior to woman in all walks of life. There are certain areas where women are
ahead of men. For example, man cannot take care of the children as woman can
do. There is an inherent difference between man and woman. Man has an edge over
woman in some physical aspects. Any step in the direction of equating both has
proved futile. It considers all such moves a war against God and human
wisdom.10In the modern times most countries of the world equate women with men.
Legal and constitutional equality does not mean that they become equal in all
fields of life. A few women who prove themselves equal to men in some fields,
they have to lose many feminine traits of their personality. They have to lose
their own female identity and finally absorbed in the man folk. Any move
towards the equality of man and woman may culminate in a permanent clash between
both. If clash between inherited differences between sexes continues it will
end up in the destruction of the social and universal system. There is a vast
field available to compete with each other. This field is not in the material
world but it is the field of morality. In this field, a woman can supersede a
man many times if she wishes. She can glorify herself more than a man through
her noble deeds.

The Quran states, ‘And in no wise covet those
things in which Allah hath bestowed his gifts more freely on some of you than
on others: to men is allotted what they earn and to women what they earn: but
ask Allah of His bounty: for Allah hath full knowledge of all things. ‘An Nasa (4:32)7

In family, man is required to provide
sustenance to his wife and children. Woman is exempted from all economic
struggles. Instead, she is expected to be obedient to her husband, the way
citizens obey state authority. She is also required to be guardian of the
private life of her husband. It is wife who knows all weakness and frailty of
man and husband became vulnerable if his wife did not take care of him.8 man
can take the following measures to restore order at home. Woman should be
persuaded through arguments and guidance and then through warning to mend her
ways. If woman does not do adhere, then, man should separate his bed from her
and try to make her realize the negative consequences of her behavior. If this
does not work, man is then allowed to punish his wife physically. However, the physical
punishment should not be severe in nature, but should be that of a teacher
correcting students. It is pointed out that punishable disobedience is not an
ordinary one. Physical punishment of wife is allowed when it challenges
authority of the head of family. An anarchic situation is expected to appear in
family, if it is not checked in time.9Moreover, disobedience does not mean an
error, carelessness, or negligence. Secondly, the punishment should not be
severe. According to Javid Ahmad Ghamidi, the punishment should not leave a permanent
imprint on the body.10 .If punishment works and behavior of wife return to
normal, then she should be pardoned and man should not be in search of a pretext
to take revenge from her.11

Giving the right of custodianship to man
does not mean that woman merges her personality in man’s entity. A woman is not
to be considered as personal property; rather she is an independent entity. This
view is important, as there exist some societies including Muslim societies
which do not give due status to women and continue to exploit them in the name
of religion. The issue got much attention after the emancipation of woman in
the Western industrialized societies. A woman considered fully independent
member of society and asked man to honor this independent status of woman.

In order to maintain the bond of marriage,
Islam emphasizes greatly on the reconciliation of husband and wife if there is
a dispute between them. In such cases, formation of a reconciliatory committee
is suggested. The committee should comprise two representatives: one from the
husband’s side and the other from the wife’s side. It is an observation that
such a measure saves many families from disintegration. If reconciliation
becomes impossible then the spouses can separate from each other. In such
cases, the imposition of family bond on such a couple is not recommended at the
cost of anyone of the spouses.

In case of separation, a method has been
proposed, leaving room for reunification of the couple. After two pronouncements
of man divorcing his wife, they can reunite on their own. After the third
pronouncement they can reunite only if the woman marries another man and that
man divorces her or dies. If a person violates the proposed method of divorce
then certain punishment can be awarded to the violator.12

After separation, the most important
issue is future of the children. In views, upbringing of children by the
parents is very important. His summaries the teachings on the subject as
enumerated in the Quran: The divorced woman is required to breast feed her
infants for two years if father of the children wishes so. During this period
man is required to pay for living expenses to his ex-wife according to his
financial status, requirements of the woman and customs of the locality. There
has to be consensus between the parties on the arrangement of living expenses.
None of the parties is expected to exploit the vulnerabilities of the other due
to children. If father of the children is dead then responsibilities will be
performed by his successors. Both parties after agreement can decide about
weaning of the child. After paying to mother, the child can be breast-fed by
another woman as well.13

Another important issue after separation
is the second marriage by any of the ex-spouses. The holy Qur’an clearly
instructs that nobody should hinder the marriage of the ex- spouse. Islahi
warns that whenever this instruction has been ignored (especially in
Indo-Pakistan), it has led to emergence of other social and ethical evils. Some
families consider second marriage as an insult and try to prevent women from
doing so. In such situations, Islahi says, woman starts unlawful, secret sequel
contacts. As doors of remarriage are closed for woman, she has no choice but to
elope. It thus results in stigma and humiliation of her family14 .In some cases
it even generates enmity and inflicts heavy financial and human losses.

The method of separation is not simple;
rather the most complicated one and divorce should not be taken lightly. If
somebody wishes to pronounce divorce, he should think a hundred times about the
far-reaching consequences of such a decision.15The provision talaq (divorce)
with nikkah is not a part of the original scheme (a man and woman live together
for the whole life) but it is the unavoidable treatment of an unwanted
situation which does occur in social life.16Separation of husband and wife is
the most undesired among lawful things before God.17

 3. Man and
Woman interaction and Pardah

A family i.e. man, woman and their
children cannot live in isolation. They have to contact people outside the
family.  It is consider men and women equal
in status, but socially roles are different for men and women. Differences in
role are due to physical structure and capabilities of the two sexes. Duties of
woman revolve around home and children. She has to pay more attention to her
home and children. That is possible if she confines herself to be a housewife
the main sphere of function of a woman is her home. However, it does not mean
that a woman cannot come out from her home and perform certain other
activities. Principally, when men and women meet during the course of their
activities in public, both should keep their eyes low while passing each other.
Keeping eyes low does not mean looking downwards to the earth all the times. It
means modesty in look, free from any licentious gaze. Some parts of women’s
attract men’s sexual attention; Islam suggests measures that this should not
happen. If these lust inviting encounters between men and women, other than
spouses are not checked, destruction of family life takes place and human
society turns into a gathering of animals. Measures to prevent this are
mentioned by Muslim scholars under the title Pardah (to veil one’s self
appropriately). Also they used this term to describe the manner of meeting of
men and women in society.

 It was
narrated from Safiyyah bin Shaybah that ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with
her) used to say: When these words were revealed – “and to draw their veils all over Juyoobihinna (i.e. their bodies,
faces, necks and bosoms)” – they took their izaars (a kind of garment)
and tore them from the edges and covered their faces with them. 

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4481 18

In the same way, in time of emergency
like fire and flood or drowning of woman in river etc man is allowed to touch a
woman. A woman can also appear without veil before a judge.19

According to Muslim scholars, in three categories
that a woman can meet and this classification can be named as closest circle of
relatives; a closer circle of relatives and friends; and outsiders and

 The closest circle includes closest relatives
only e.g. husband, father, brother, father-in-law, nephews, stepbrothers, small
children etc. A woman usually deals with this category inside her home. In such
a situation, a woman is allowed to appear without any veil before these
relatives. She is also not prohibited to display her beauty before them.
Restrictions on a woman in these conditions are very nominal.

Second category of people includes all
those people set down in verses 31 and 61 of surah Al-Noor. These verses
described the kind of Pardah, which Muslim women are required to observe
strictly. It includes lower of gaze and guard of their modesty, not displaying
their beauty and unnecessary ornaments and should not act to attract others to
them. There arose certain ambiguities in the time of the Holy Prophet regarding
these restrictions, e.g. that the observance of Pardah will end all social contacts
and dependants who did not come under the classifications of mahram (close
relatives) will be left unattended. Another verse in the same surah was
revealed. It states that restriction does not mean end of all social relations.
Close relatives and sincere friends not only can meet with each other but they
can also break bread together.

 In all such places, there is no threat to
woman’s chastity, this may include educational institutions, hospitals,
offices, factories and all places where men and women can do work together.

The third category comprises outsiders
and strangers. Usually a woman meets such people in public. It is asserted that
all Muslim women are instructed to remain at home and should not go out unless

In order to protect dignity of the
Prophet, the wives of the Prophet were instructed to remain in their homes.

Moreover, the wives were instructed to
be available in their homes, as their special status and responsibilities
required from them.