Family Role of the Wife [Mother]
The role of the wife in a Muslim family is a multifaceted and crucial aspect of the family structure, guided by Islamic teachings and principles. Islam places a strong emphasis on the importance of marriage and family life, viewing it as a cornerstone of society. Within this framework, the role of the wife is defined by a blend of spiritual, social and practical responsibilities that contribute to a harmonious and balanced family life.
At the heart of the Islamic perspective on marriage is the concept of partnership. The Quran, the holy book of Islam, emphasises the idea of mutual respect, love and cooperation between spouses. The role of the wife is not one of subservience, but rather that of a partner who complements her husband. The Quran in chapter 2, verse 228 states,
“…. Women have rights similar to those of men equitably, although men have a degree [of responsibility] above them. And Allah is Almighty, All-Wise”
This verse establishes equality in terms of human dignity and respect, while recognising that men and women may have different responsibilities within the family structure.
One of the primary roles of the wife in a Muslim family is to create a nurturing and supportive environment. She is often described as the “manager” of the household, responsible for maintaining a peaceful and welcoming home. This includes managing domestic affairs, overseeing the upbringing of children and ensuring the family’s emotional well-being. The wife is also tasked with managing her husband’s wealth and property in a responsible and ethical manner, which reflects her role as a partner in both spiritual and worldly matters.
Submission to the will of Allah (God) is a fundamental tenet of Islam, and this applies to both spouses. The wife’s submission, however, is often misconstrued. It does not imply blind obedience or oppression. Rather, it signifies a willingness to cooperate and respect the husband’s leadership, as long as it aligns with Islamic values. The husband, in turn, is instructed to treat his wife with kindness, compassion and understanding.
The Islamic family is designed to be a source of spiritual growth and support. The wife plays a significant role in fostering a spiritually enriching atmosphere within the household. She is responsible for the religious education and moral upbringing of the children, ensuring they are well-versed in Islamic teachings and values. Her devotion to her faith serves as a model for her family members, encouraging them to strengthen their connection with Allah and leading by example in acts of worship, such as prayers, fasting and charity.
Islamic teachings also highlight the importance of intimacy and companionship between spouses. The wife is considered a source of solace and comfort for her husband. The Quran, in chapter 2, verse 187, refers to spouses as “garments” for each other, signifying their role in providing protection, adornment and emotional support.
“…. Your spouses are a garment for you as you are for them”
The Blessed Messenger Muhammad, emphasised the importance of maintaining a loving and affectionate relationship within the marriage, stating:
“The best of you is, who are best to their wives.”
In terms of financial matters, the wife has the right to receive financial support from her husband. This includes her basic needs, such as food, clothing and shelter. While it is not obligatory for her to contribute financially to the household, Islam encourages mutual cooperation. If the wife chooses to work or engage in economic activities, she is entitled to keep her earnings for her personal use, without any obligation to contribute to family expenses.
In Islam, marriage is considered a contract between two consenting adults, each with their own rights and responsibilities. The role of the wife is not a monolithic concept, as it can vary based on cultural, regional and personal factors. What remains constant, however, is the core principle of partnership and mutual respect within the family. The wife’s role is integral to the success of the family unit, contributing to its emotional, spiritual and practical well-being. By fulfilling her responsibilities with devotion, love and a commitment to Islamic values, the wife becomes an embodiment of the principles that underlie a strong and harmonious Islamic family.