By Nadirah Angail
â€œMen are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husbandâ€™s) absence what Allah would have them guardâ€ (4:34).
It was bound to come up, guys. We couldnâ€™t just keep glossing over it like we didnâ€™t see it. Somebody had to address this â€œobedienceâ€ issue. So, here I am. Yes, we are Muslim women, but weâ€™ve also been raised in a country that doesnâ€™t take too kindly to the â€œOâ€ word. In general, American culture looks down on obedience when it comes to a wifeâ€™s obligation to her husband. Itâ€™s been branded with an alternate meaning: oppression. Have we not been affected?
The command of obedience can be hard to swallow, even for Muslim women. It has a connotation we donâ€™t always want to associate ourselves with. To some of us, an obedient wife is a voiceless woman that cowers in her husbandâ€™s shadow. It doesnâ€™t have to be this way. It shouldnâ€™t be this way.
The problem is that weâ€™ve gotten away from the real meaning. Obedience doesnâ€™t mean the woman, all of a sudden, loses her right to be heard, and the man is free to behave in any way he chooses. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) set a wonderful example for husbands to follow. He wasnâ€™t harsh and insensitive toward his wives. He didnâ€™t make obedience a chore for them. He was kind and allowed them to speak their minds, even when they didnâ€™t agree with him. There is a hadith about how the best of men is he who is kindest to his wife (paraphrased). The husband does not have free reign. He has rules too.
With this in mind, obedience takes on a different light. It doesnâ€™t seem hard and oppressive. It seems fair. Letâ€™s consider a different scenario: the workplace. When you get a new job, you understand that you will have to obey your boss. It doesnâ€™t mean youâ€™re weak. It doesnâ€™t mean sheâ€™s mean. The two of you are just doing your jobs; and, if you have a good boss, it will be enjoyable. You wonâ€™t mind being obedient because your boss respects you and doesnâ€™t abuse her power. It is only when you have a jerk of a boss that obedience becomes a problem.
Marriage is no different. If youâ€™ve married the right personâ€” a kind, caring, considerate manâ€” obedience shouldnâ€™t be a problem. If youâ€™ve married an overbearing, â€œMe Tarzan, you Janeâ€ kind of brother, you may have some trouble. These are the kinds of brothers that can make obedience depressing. (If you are a brother taking offense to this, you are probably a Tarzan type.)
Sometimes, though, itâ€™s not the husband. Sometimes itâ€™s us. No matter how sweet and kind some husbands are, some brainwashed women are convinced to do what they want, when they want. Because so many of us want desperately to be â€œindependent women,â€ we defy our husbands just to make a point that we will not be controlled. Of course, these same women still expect their husbands to â€œcontrolâ€ their responsibilities of providing for her and the children. They just donâ€™t want him to do anything that would prevent them from having their way. This is a shame, because society has convinced some of us that being independent means disregarding our husbandsâ€™ feelings. This isnâ€™t independence. Itâ€™s selfishness, and there is no room for that in a healthy marriage. No matter how independent you want to be, youâ€™ve got to be dependent on someone.
We depend on our jobs for paychecks.
We depend on parents for love, comfort, etc. We depend on friends for companionship, entertainment and advice. We depend on schools to teach us. We depend on daycares to watch our children. This list could go on.
No one is truly independent. Weâ€™re just not that strong. Allah (swt) didnâ€™t make us that way. We all need people to depend on, and if donâ€™t want you husband to be one those people, youâ€™ve got yourself a problem.
Nadirah Angail; â€œEmpowering women- through knowledge, recognition & guidanceâ€: www.nadirahangail.com.