Treating women well

Riyad as-Salihin (The Meadows of the Righteous)

by Imam Nawawi

34. Chapter: Treating women well

Allah Almighty says, "Live together with them correctly and courteously," (4:19)

and the Almighty says, "You will not be able to be completely fair between your wives, however hard you try. But do not be completely partial so as to leave a wife, as it were, suspended in mid-air. And if you make amends and have taqwa, Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (W4:128; H4:129)

273. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Treat women well. Woman was created from a rib. The most crooked part of the rib is the top part. If you try to straighten it, you will break it. If you leave it, it remains crooked. So treat women well." [Agreed upon]

In a variant in the two Sahih collections, "A woman is like a rib. If you straighten it, you break it. If you wish to benefit from her, you can benefit from her in spite of her crookedness."

In a variant in Muslim, "Woman was created from a rib, and you will never find any means to straighten her. If you wish to benefit from her, you can benefit from her in spite of her crookedness. If you try to straighten her, you will break her, and breaking her means divorcing her."

274. 'Abdullah ibn Zam'a reported that he heard the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, giving a speech in which mentioned the She-camel and the one who hamstrung her. The Messenger of Allah said, "'The worst of them rushed ahead,' (91:12) means that a mighty, malicious, powerful man in his party leapt to do it." Then he mentioned women and gave an admonishment regarding them, saying, "Some of you go and flog their wives as a slave is flogged and then sleep with them at the end of the day." Then he admonished them about their laughing at people breaking wind and said, "Why does one of you laugh at something he himself does?" [Agreed upon]

275. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "A believing man should not hate a believing woman. If he dislikes something in her character, he should be pleased with some other ­ or another­ trait of hers." [Muslim]

276. 'Amr ibn al-Ahwas al-Jushami reported that he heard the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say during the Farewell Hajj after praising and glorifying Allah, and reminding and admonishing, "Treat your women well. They are as captives in your possession. You have no rights over them except that [i.e. physical enjoyment and that they protect their husband's interest in respect of themselves and his property]. If they act licentiously in an open way, then leave them alone in their beds and beat them but not severely. If they obey you, you have no way against them. You have rights over your women and your women have rights over you. Your right over them is that they do not allow into your bed those you dislike and do not permit those you dislike to enter your house. Their right over you is that you are good to them in respect of their clothes and food." [at-Tirmidhi]

277. Mu'awiya ibn Hayda said, "I asked, 'Messenger of Allah, what is the right of someone's wife over him?' He said, 'That you feed her when you eat and clothe her when you clothe yourself and do not strike her face. Do not malign her and do not keep apart from her, except in the house.'" [Abu Dawud]

278. Abu Hurayra stated, "The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'The most perfect of believers in belief is the best of them in character. The best of you are those who are the best to their women.'" [at-Tirmidhi]

279. Iyas ibn 'Abdullah ibn Abi Dhubab reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Do not beat the female slaves of Allah." Then 'Umar came to the Prophet and said, "The women have become bold towards their husbands," and so he made an allowance to beat them. Then many women surrounded the family of the Messenger of Allah to complain about their husbands. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The people of the household of Muhammad have surrounded by many women who are complaining about their husbands. Those men are not among the best of you."

280. 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'As reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "This world is enjoyment, and the best of its enjoyment is a righteous woman."