The “Larger Than Life” Wife

‎بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ

An edited/abridged version of this post was first published in SISTERS Magazine.

Over the hill.

Has-been.

Past her prime.

Off the shelf.

Used goods.

And the worst: “hag!”.

How many subtle and direct titles and tags does modern media and journalistic chick-lit use nowadays to remind a woman who is approaching, or has already passed, the 35-40 age range, that she is no longer young and beautiful, and hence, by some fallaciously presumed and mass-endorsed correlation, not that desirable any more, especially as a wife?

When you hear or think of a woman past 40 today who has been widowed twice, what picture crops up in your mind? Perhaps a lady who is rotund, portly, loud, irritable and cranky; a woman insecure about her physical appearance, struggling to get back into, or establish anew, a fledgling career in order to make ends meet?

Someone sharp-tongued and crabby, who is angry with the hand fate has dealt her? Someone whose innate insecurities fuel her bitterness and jealousy towards younger, happily married, successful and productive women? Someone who has lost all hope of getting married again to a righteous, noble man; of attaining marital bliss and enjoying the rewards of motherhood?

The history of Islam provides examples of amazing women who were not just strong in faith, spotless in character, and righteous in deeds, but were also successful in areas of worldly life, such as education, marriage, business and motherhood.

Reflecting Upon the Effect of Aging Upon Women’s Self-Esteem..

As I traverse my mid-thirties, I find myself pondering on the self-depreciating psyches and self-esteem issues that contemporary women my age adopt and experience as they grow older, primarily those related to physical beauty and self-worth, both of which are, – for many of my feminine counterparts, – two sides of one coin.

Farhat-Hashmi

One of the most righteous, productive, empowered, secure, and beautiful (inside & out) older women I know today

I wonder why some (rarer) older righteous women do not attempt to hide their age in public, nor resort to using loud, tarty makeup, nor hide from view the white hairs on their heads when in the company of younger women and girls, like you’d expect most older women to do (and yet they look more beautiful)?

Why do they not hide their year of graduation, or date of birth, in an effort to obliterate their older age?

Why are some women secure, while others are not?

The human mind is a complex piece of work, I must say. Which is why it baffles me why perfectly talented and efficacious women sometimes tie their feelings of positive self-esteem and level of self-worth to their relationship with, and the approval received from, other human beings, when they should be doing so solely with their relationship with Allah?

Wives are no exception. In fact, I often find myself wondering, especially after I behold an oppressed, ill-treated, servile, and docile wife, who may otherwise be a decent and righteous woman, continue to allow her husband to treat her unjustly, all in the name of “sabr” (patience)?

Surely Allah has not allowed any believer to lose their self-respect in the name of honoring and serving a higher ‘authority figure’, not even the leader of a family, namely the husband?

And as I muse, I find myself admiring with more and more fervor the lovely Khadijah Bint Khuwailid (رَضِىَ اللهُ عَنهَا).

Posthumous Envy in a Younger Co-wife

The much younger girl who became Khadijah’s third husband’s wife after her demise – the only nubile female virgin he ever married – felt pangs of envy stemming from natural, territoriality-based “gheerah” because of the way he remembered, mentioned and praised the much older Khadijah, long after the latter was gone. This girl had never even met or seen the much older woman whom her husband found hard to forget:

A’ishah (رَضِىَ اللهُ عَنهَا) reported:

I never felt jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ) as much as I did of Khadijah, although I have never seen her, but the Prophet (ﷺ) used to mention her very often. Whenever he slaughtered a sheep, he would cut it into pieces and send them to the women friends of Khadijah. When I sometimes said to him: “You treat Khadijah in such a way as if there is no woman on earth except her”. He would say, “Khadijah was such and such (commending her and speaking well of her), and I had children from her.””

[Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Another similar hadith in Sahih Al Bukhari mentions how Allah conveyed glad tidings to Prophet Muhammad via Archangel Jibreel, of a special palace reserved in Paradise for Khadijah:

image courtesy: roxanneardary.com

Narrated Aishah, “I did not feel jealous of any woman as much as I did of Khadijah, because Allah’s Messenger used to mention her very often.

He married me after three years of her death, and his Lord or Jibreel ordered him to give her the good news of having a palace of ‘Qasab’ in Paradise.”

And yet another similar hadith narrated by A’ishah that occurs in Sahih Muslim ends like this:

“….I annoyed him one day and said: (It is) Khadijah only who always prevails upon your mind. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “Her love has been nurtured in my heart by Allah Himself.””

The Arabic words in the latter hadith are رُزِقْتُ حُبَّهَا (“ruziqtu hubbahaa”) – which mean that Allah Himself had given Prophet Muhammad the “provision” (rizq) of the love (“حُبَّ ”) of Khadijah. In other words, it was Allah who made the Prophet love his deceased first wife years after she was gone from his life, even after he married a beautiful girl who was decades younger.

Other Virtues

Khadijah was also one of the wealthiest women of Makkah at the time she married Prophet Muhammad. She was the first Muslim to accept Islam, and the first family member to support Allah’s Messenger emotionally and financially in his mission.

Her legacy lived on after her demise in the form of she ruling as “queen” of her husband’s heart; a continuing lineage of righteous offspring/descendents, and the joining of relations that she formed and upheld.

Entitlement vs Obligation: Not a Part of Healthy Marriages

As I said, the Quran and sunnah provide timeless guidance to Muslims in every arena, including the realm of marriage and husband-wife relations.

A healthy marital relationship is devoid of the love-killing duo of “entitlement” and “obligation” viz. one spouse feeling ‘entitled’ to a certain kind of treatment from their partner, even if the other cannot provide it for valid Shari` reasons, and the other feeling “obligated” to mete out this treatment, even if they cannot.

In the culture from where I hail, husbands are usually raised from childhood to feel “entitled” to unflinching servitude from their wives, with the result that some wives become no more than their husbands’ personal valets, chefs, secretaries and housekeepers, instead of soul mates, comrades, best friends, confidantes, trustees and consultants.

The spouses just live like two cohabitants under one roof, not emotionally close to each other at all. This sense of “entitlement” in the husbands is juxtaposed by wives feeling “obligated” to perch them up on high pedestals; pedestals that sometimes surpass those on which they should place Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ)!

I often end up shaking my head in dismay when I behold Muslim wives of all ages, who are otherwise righteous, consistently think and act insecurely on the basis of worldly fears and apprehensions regarding their husbands’ love for them.

For example: fearing his hatred or indifference if they do not beget a son to carry on his family name. Fearing not being attractive enough to prevent him from looking elsewhere: at younger, more readily available ‘specimens’. Fearing not being needed by him any more, even if his ‘need’ of her reduces her to no more than just a personal assistant performing his domestic chores.

Fearing financial insecurity in old age with the curtailment of his career or life, but not using their brains and spare time to attain financial independence via halal online or home-based business, despite being highly educated and otherwise enlightened. The list goes on.

With age, women’s fears and insecurities not only get more set into their psyches, but also increase in variety.

Set Aright Your Intentions, Witness Wonders Unfold

When a wife has her intentions and loyalties in the right place – aiming for the highest goal: the pleasure of Allah, supplemented by the love of His last Messenger (ﷺ) that supersedes the love she has for any other human being – she automatically achieves the much lower goal of pleasing her husband as well.

Khadijah had it all: she pleased Allah so much so that He sent her glad tidings through His special angel, of an abode reserved just for her in His Paradise.

As a result of Allah’s pleasure with her, she also acquired the undying love of the most exalted human being who ever walked this earth, not to mention the most noble of husbands – Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ);- a love so strong, that it did not die with her death.

She was also blessed by Allah with righteousness of progeny;- children/bloodline descendents who were chosen by Allah to not just propagate the legacy of Islam, but who also attained ultimate success in the Akhirah.

It really makes me wonder then, how we modern women can become like Khadijah, whose successful and prosperous Muslim life literally started at 40 – an age at which most of us women consider ourselves “past our prime”?

I say: when you aim for a score of 1000, you automatically achieve 50. And aiming for 1000 automatically reduces the significance of 50 in your eyes.

We should therefore make our intention in life solely the acquisition of the pleasure of Allah, and stop associating – even slightly, – anyone else with Him, even our husbands.

Only then, we can hope to watch Allah’s wonders unfold in our marital lives, as He turns our husband’s, in-laws’ and other people hearts towards us, granting us higher levels of honor, respect, love and self-worth that will hopefully leave a trailblazing and lasting Islamic legacy behind us too, long after we are gone from this world.

And even then, the abode waiting for us at the other end will be much better than the one we leave behind – insha’Allah.

Lastly, here’s a thought: I think that young single girls, as well as young wives who haven’t yet had children, should aspire to be like the vivacious and passionate knowledge-seeking A’ishah.

As for those women who are close to hitting, or have already traversed, the age of 40, they should try to emulate the wise, generous, motherly, loving, supportive, and (not to mention) the affluent and socially well-connected Khadijah!

******
Here is an article related to this topic that I’d highly recommend reading, especially to my male readers: Would You Reject a Proposal From Khadijah?
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About Sadaf Farooqi

Homeschooling parent, writer, teacher, Muslim activist, and amateur foodie.
This entry was posted in Islamic Knowledge, Marriage, Motherhood, Pleasing Allah, Reflections and Reminders, Social Psychology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The “Larger Than Life” Wife

  1. Khadijah says:

    Thank You for the thought provoking article on a topic rarely considered seriously by Khateebs or Writers.

    Conclusion. …Keeping Aakhirah as ur target and Pleasing Allah as ur ultimate aim automatically boosts ones morale and self esteem ….And thus eventually let u lead a more progressive, positive and REAL life.

    “And take provision, verily the best of provisions is At-Taqwa.” [Meaning of Al-Qur’an 2:197]

  2. Sabin Ahsan says:

    Such insightful thoughts, I especially love the advice in the end, for younger women to aspire to be like h Aishah ra and for older women to try and emulate h Khadijah ra! What a great idea!

  3. wandpen says:

    Nice, insightful post mashAllah.

  4. Momina Asif says:

    This has been so beautifully put. And one can’t help but smile at the sweetness with which the holy Prophet (PBUH) so lovingly mentioned his first wife (May Allah be pleased with her) and show his love and affection for his other wives. And the openness of Hazrat Aisha in acknowledging the greatness of Hazrat Khadijah (RA) :)

  5. Abdul Basit says:

    60 Islamic ways to get and keep your wife\’s love

    60 Islamic ways to get and keep your wife\\\\\\\’s love
    Worth reading it:

    1. Make her feel secure; (sakina- tranquillity) QUIT BEING AGGRESSIVE

    2. When you go home say \\\\\\\’Assalamualaikum. \\\\\\\’ (Greetings) It kicks the shaitaan out of your home!

    3. Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) described the wife as a fragile vessel and said to take care of this vessel that’s fragile. Remember that there is goodness in this vessel so treat it gently.

    4. When you advise her, do so in privacy, in a peaceful environment. NOT IN PUBLIC as it’s a type of slandering.

    5. Be generous to your wife- it keeps her LOVED

    6. Move and let her have your seat. It will warm her heart.

    7. AVIOD ANGER. HOW? Keep your wudu at all times. Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said if you are angry, sit down, if you’re sitting, then lie down. Follow the sunnah!

    8. Look good and smell great for your wife. IT keeps the LOVE!

    9. Don’t be rigid. It will break you. Prophet Mohammed – sallallahu alaihi wa sallam (SAW means “May the blessings and the peace of Allah be upon him” (Muhammad).) said \\\\\\\’I am the best amongst you and I am the best to my wife\\\\\\\’. Being rigid and harsh will not bring you close to Allah and neither does it make you more of a man.

    10. Listen to your wife-BE a GOOD LISTENER

    11. YES to flattering NO to arguing. Arguing is like poison in a marriage. Al zawai said \\\\\\\’When Allah (swt) wants evil for people He will leave them to argue amongst themselves\\\\\\\’.

    12. Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said to call your wives with the best name, any name she loves to hear. Prophet Mohammed sallallahu alaihi wa sallam called Aisha \\\\\\\’ya Aish\\\\\\\’ as an endearment.

    13. Give her a pleasant surprise. I.e. if she loves watermelon, bring her one out of the blue. It will grow the love in her heart.

    14. Preserve your tongue! Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said the tongue will throw people in the hell fire so watch what you say and how you say it!

    15. All of us have shortcoming. Accept her shortcoming and Allah (swt) will put barakat in your marriage.

    16. TELL her you appreciate her. SHOW her you appreciate her.

    17. Encourage her to keep good relation with her relative, her mum and dad etc.

    18. Speak with her with a topic of HER interest.

    19. In front of her relative praise her. Confirm/ realize that she is wonderful, and that she is a good person in front of her family.

    20. Give each other gifts. You will love each other more. Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said gifts increases love.

    21. Get rid of the routine once in a while, surprise her with something, it will get rid of the rust and polish it!

    22. Husnul zaan- We have a demand from Allah (swt) that we have to think good of people. Think good of your spouse.

    23. Ignore some of her mistakes- pretend you did not see/hear some of her small mistakes. It was a practice of Ali (RA). It’s like putting a hole in your memory. Don’t save it in your memory!

    24. Increase the drops of patience, especially when she is pregnant or when she is on her monthly period.

    25. Expect and respect her jealousy. Even Aisha (ra) used to get jealous.

    26. Be humble. If your profession is good, respect that she is looking after your children, she is much more than you, she is the leader at home, her strength is your strength, and her success is your success.

    27. Don\\\\\\\’t put your friends above your wife.

    28. Help your wife at home. Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam used to help his wives at home and he was the best of creation. He used to sew his own clothes.

    29. Help her respect your parents, you can’t force her to love them, but she can be helped to gradually love them.

    30. Show your wife she is the ideal wife.

    31. Remember your wife in your duaas. It will increase the love and protect it.

    32. Leave the past. It brings nothing but pain and grief. It’s not your business. The past is for Allah (swt).

    33. Don\\\\\\\’t try to show her that you are doing her a favour by doing something, like buying food for the house, because in reality we are the courier of sustenance, not the providers, as Allah is the provider. It’s also a way of being humble and thankful to Allah (swt)

    34. Shaitaan is your enemy, not your wife. Sometime when husband and wife are talking a fight breaks out, then shaitaan is present there as a third person so he is the real enemy. It is not enough to hate the shaitaan, but you have to see him as an enemy as Allah has commanded. Shaitaan loves divorce. HE comes everyday and sits office and asks the devils what they have done, some say i have made a person steal, or i have made someone drink etc. And one devil will say i have made a man divorce his wife, and he is crowned as the one who has done the best job.

    35. Take the food and put it in her mouth. Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam taught us this. It’s a blessing. The food doesn’t just go to her stomach, but straight to her heart. It increases the love and mercy between you.

    36. Protect your wife from the evil of the shaitaan and mankind. She is like a precious pearl that needs protecting from the envy of human devils and shaitaan.

    37. Show her your smile. Smile at your wife. IT’S A CHARITY.

    38. Small problems/ challenges can become a big problem. Or if there is small thing she didn\\\\\\\’t like and you keep repeating them anyway, it will create a wall between you. Don’t ignore them as it can become big.

    39. Avoid being harsh hearted and moody. Allah said of prophet (saw) \\\\\\\’if you were harsh hearted they (the companions) would have left you.\\\\\\\’ It confirms prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam was not harsh hearted, so GET RID OF IT.

    40. Respect her thinking. It’s strength for you. Show you like her thoughts and suggestions.

    41. Help her to achieve her potential and help her to dig and find success within as her success is your success.

    42. Respect the intimate relationship and its boundaries. Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said she is like a fragile vessel and she needs to be treated tenderly. Sometime she may not be feeling well; you must respect and appreciate that feeling.

    43. Help her to take care of the children. Some men think it makes them appear less of a man but in fact it makes you appear a bigger man and more respected, especially in the sight of Allah (swt).

    44. Use the gifts of the tongue and sweet talk her. Tell her she looks great, be an artist. Pick and choose gifts of the tongue.

    45. Sit down and eat with her and share food with her.

    46. Let her know you are travelling. Don\\\\\\\’t tell her out of the blue as it’s against Islam. Tell her the date/ time of when you are coming back also.

    47. Don\\\\\\\’t leave the house as soon as trouble brews.

    48. The house has privacy and secrecy. Once you take this privacy and secrecy to your friends and family you are in danger of putting a serious hole in your marriage. This secrecy stays home. Islam is against leaving them out like a garage sale for anyone to come and pick and choose.

    49. Encourage each other for ibadah, i.e. plan a trip for hajj or umrah together. It increases and strengthens the love when you help each other perform a good deeds together i.e, do tahajuud together,or go to a dars together etc.

    50. Know her rights, not only written in paper but engraved in your heart and engraved in your conscious.

    51. Allah( swt) said \\\\\\\’live with your wives in kindness.\\\\\\\’ Treat them with kindness and goodness. It means in happy times and in sadness treat her with goodness and fairness.

    52. Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam showed that at the time of intimacy. Don’t jump on your wife like an animal!

    53. When you have a dispute with your wife don’t tell everyone. It’s like leaving your wounds open to germs so be careful who you share your problems and disputes with.

    54. Show your wife you really care for her health. Good health of your wife is your good health. To care for her health shows her that you love her.

    55. Don’t think you are always right. No matter how good you are you have shortcomings. You are not perfect as the only one who was perfect in character was prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam Get rid of this disease.

    56. Share your problems, your happiness, and your sadness with her.

    57. Have mercy on her weakness. Have mercy when she is weak or strong as she is the fragile vessel. Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said that your wife is a trust in your hand.

    58. Remember you are her strength, someone to lean on in times of hardship.

    59. Accept her as she is. Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said that women are created from the rib which is bent. If you try to straighten her you will break her (divorce). Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa sallam said that you may dislike one habit in her but you will like another manner in her so accept her as she is.

    60. Have good intention for your wife all the time, Allah monitors your intention and your heart at all times. Allah (s.w.t) said Among His Signs is that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.
    http://www.learnquraan.co.uk

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