Q: What does the Quraan say about how a man should feel towards his wife? Is it mentioned anywhere that he should “love” his wife? Or is the wife just meant to be “cared” for and is she just a “responsibility”? This is a question that would really help to understand what to expect from a marital relationship.
A. Islam teaches a husband that he must care for his wife, fulfil her needs, be kind to her, treat her with respect and dignity, that she is his responsibility, etc.
Love is not something which falls under the above category. Love is an emotion which builds up over a period of time and there has to be reasons for development of love. If a wife does not possess those qualities that will make the husband love her, is neglectful of her duties and responsibilities, it is not going to happen.
In the same vein, if the husband does not possess qualities to make his wife love him and he is neglectful of his duties and responsibilities towards her, she will not develop love for him. Do remember that whether there is love or not, both have to fulfil their duties and responsibilities towards each other. Love does not play a role in the fulfilment of rights.
Mufti Siraj adds:
There is nothing like Nikah for two people who love each other. (Hadeeth)
One meaning of this Hadeeth is that love is an essential part of Nikah. The Holy Qur’aan states: And among His Signs (one) is that He created for you, from among your own kind, partners so that you may find comfort in them; and He has established between you (spouses) love and mercy. (Surah Rum, verse 21)
Another verse states: It is He who created you from one soul (i.e. Adam Alayhis Salaam) and then made from that soul its spouse so that he (Adam) may find solace in that (female) spouse. (Surah A’raaf, verse 189)
Elsewhere, the Holy Qur’aan teaches: And live with wives in kindness (Surah Nisaa’, verse 19)
All the above quotations of Allah and His Rasool clearly spell out the key ingredients of marriage: love, kindness, affection, mercy. The one spouse should find solace in the other; they should mutually console and comfort each other. For this to become a reality in marriage, the bond should not be a cold and informal one; instead there should be sharing of love and kinship, of kindness and affinity, of caring and compassion. Without these key elements, the marriage is doomed to failure.
The other aspects such as provision of food, drink, accommodation, expenses, etc are additional forms of support for the physical needs of the wife, whereas the key ingredients mentioned earlier make up the spiritual, emotional, and psychological needs of the wife. Sometimes, the latter is more important that the former.
Moulana Yusuf Laher
Checked by: Mufti Siraj Desai