The rights of the husband upon his wife are greater than the rights of the wife upon her husband for the simple reason that Allah, the Almighty, stated in the Glorious Quran what means: “…And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise." [Quran 2: 228]
The rights of the husband upon the wife
Man is the caretaker of his wife and household. He is responsible for all her affairs. He is responsible for training, direction and discipline if needed. Allah Almighty Says what means: “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth…” [Quran 4:34]
It is an essential right of man over his wife to be obeyed so long as his commands do not conflict or contradict the commands of Allah, the Almighty, Allah’s Messenger and the general teachings and codes of ethics of Islam.
Allah Almighty Says in the same verse mentioned above (what means): "…But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.." [Quran 4:34]
A Muslim wife must protect her husband’s secrets, privacies, honor and dignity. She also must protect his wealth, children, finance, belongings and other aspects of his household, as much as possible.
Allah Almighty Says in the same verse (what means): "…So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard…" [Quran 4:34]
Allah’s Messenger said: "The wife is the guardian over the house of her husband and his children." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
And, “If I were to command a single person to bow in prostration to another person, I could have commanded a woman to bow down (in obedience and respect, not in worship) to her husband.” [Abu Daawood]
Allah’s Messenger also said: “If a husband calls his wife to his bed, but the latter refused to fulfill the call (for any reason other than a lawful one), which drives the man to become upset with his wife, then angels will curse such a wife until she gets up in the morning.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
He furthermore, said: "Their (husbands’) rights over you (wives) is that you do not allow anyone whom they dislike onto your bedding and you do not allow anyone whom they dislike into your house." [At-Tirmithi]
The wife must not leave the house except with her husband’s permission and approval. She must also lower her gaze, keep her voice low, keep her hands from reaching out to anything evil and keep her tongue from any lewd or foul speech. She also must not harm his parents or near relatives.
This is because Allah Almighty has said (what means): "And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance…." [Quran 33:33]
Allah Almighty also has said (what means): "…Do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech." [Quran 33:32]
In another verse, Allah Sayas (what means): "And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof…" [Quran 24:31]
Allah’s Messenger said: "The best woman is the one who when you look at her, you are pleased; when you order her, she obeys; if you are absent from her, she guards herself and your property." [At-Tabarani]
An other right of the husband over his wife is that the husband may ask his wife not do something, including, but not limited to voluntary acts of worship, other than obligatory, which cause her to lessen the time that her husband may have to enjoy her.
Allah’s Messenger stated: “A wife is not allowed to observe fast (other than fasting in the month of Ramadan, the prescribed, unless she has his permission. She may not allow any one to come into his house, unless he permits.” [At-Tirmithi]
Moreover, Allah’s Messenger placed the satisfaction and pleasure of a husband to be one of the reasons to enable the wife to enter Paradise.
At-Tirmithi reported from Umm Salamah, the mother of the believers, may Allah be pleased with her, that Allah’s Messenger said: “Any woman whose husband dies while he is pleased, happy and satisfied with her (acts, attitudes and behavior) will enter Jannah (Paradise).”
These are but few items of the many rights that Islam, the religion of truth, imposes upon those who commit themselves to follow and practice it as a way of life. We vividly see that such rights, if maintained properly, will lead a society to peace, happiness and tranquility.
A husband becomes caring, affectionate, loving and responsible, yet directing and capable of discipline when needed to improve a troublesome situation, regardless of his tender care and love for his wife, so that vise and wickedness will not spread in the society.
A wife becomes more respected, adored, cared for, highly needed and appreciated if she respects the rights of her husband, and equally given the rights she is entitled for by Islam.
In such a coherent way, the religion of truth, goodness, justice, equity, and all fairness coincide with basic requirements of life including harmony between all the members of the society, especially between the husband and the wife.