There is a hadith that always brings a smile to my lips. Why this is so, I will attempt to explain below in a moment, inshaÁllah.
But first, I want to point out when and how I heard it in the first place.
I first heard it during a Quran tafsir class in which the concept of shafaáh (intercession) in Islam was being explained. The hadith was definitely not quoted for the reasons for which I am choosing to delve into it today.
The purpose of referring to this hadith was to clarify the difference between advice, a direct command, and intercession, on behalf of someone who is in authority over another, and how the implications for each are different for the intended recipient. That is, it was solely discussed with reference to the concept of shafaáh. This was back in 2000-2001 (18 years ago).
A wife who chose to leave her loving husband
Now, let me actually place the hadith in question before you:
It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that: The husband of Barirah was a slave called Mughith. It is as if I can see him walking behind her weeping, with the tears running down onto his beard. The Prophet ﷺ said to Al-‘Abbas: “O ‘Abbas, are you not amazed by the love of Mughith for Barirah and the hatred of Barirah for Mughith?”
The Messenger of Allah said to her: “Why don’t you take him back, for he is the father of your child?”
She said: “O Messenger of Allah, are you commanding me (to do so)?”
He said: “I am just interceding.”
She said: “I have no need of him.”
The grade of authenticity of this hadith is sahih. It has also been quoted (with some variation) in 2 other hadith books, Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah.
First up, a little background. The person being mentioned in the hadith, named Barirah, was a slave girl who was bought and emancipated by the Prophet’s wife, Aishah. Her husband’s name was Mughith, who has been mentioned as a slave in one report, and a free man in others. I am mentioning this background in order to shed some light about the role of the Prophet in interceding to Barirah on behalf of her husband, Mughith. According to one report, Barirah was one of the people the Prophet leaned on during the last hours of his life.
So this indicates that Barirah was someone close to his family, and part of his household.
Now, as for her husband. As is obvious from the above hadith, Barirah wanted to leave her husband i.e. divorce him. She clearly stated that she had “no need” of him, despite 3 open facts:
- He loved her so much, that tears of sorrow fell from his eyes, on to his cheeks, in public, as he followed her on the streets of Madinah once she had decided to leave him. Crying. Following a wife. On the streets. (Men were real men in those days. They had no care in the world about what others would say about their “manhood”, did they?)
- She had a small child with him.
- Prophet Muhammad, as an official judge, leader, her guardian and the husband of her emancipator, interceded in the matter and requested her to go back to Mughith.
Now, I ask you, do you wonder why I smile whenever I come across this hadith?
And do you now understand why I chose the title above for this post?
Do you really think that, today, any imam or khateeb of a masjid would quote this hadith when talking in detail about divorce in Islam?
Not from a legal, technical and jurisprudential point of view, but strictly from a Muslim woman’s rights point of view?
Yeah, yeah. Now go on. Accuse me of being a feminist. A liberal. Accuse me of wanting to break up homes and families. Of sucking up to the so-called “Western”/secular ideals of female empowerment. I will not be surprised if you do.
As for the self-proclaimed feminists smirking as they read this, you can sit back too. I am in no way advocating that wives walk out on their husbands with their baby in tow as soon as a marriage goes sour and bad days come.
Basically, what makes me smile is the emotional, mental and psychological strength displayed by a girl who used to be a slave; who was purchased and emancipated by another Muslim girl, A’ishah bint Abi Bakr (who was herself just a teenager at the time of this incident).
I mean, think about it!
These are young teenaged girls we are talking about!
The words chosen by our Prophet to describe the couple’s emotions
Furthermore, I want to elaborate upon two Arabic words in the hadith, which the Prophet used to describe the feelings of Barirah and her husband, respectively.
The first is حُبِّ, which means love. And the second one is بُغْضِ, which means resentment.
The latter is a word used very often in the Urdu language as well, to denote hatred or grudge against someone that resides in the heart.
Older Muslims (well-intentioned givers of advice) use it a lot, usually whilst holding up their index fingers, when admonishing someone who is being oppressed and rightfully feeling angry at their oppressor, to not harbor any grudges against the latter, and to forgive and overlook even the greatest of injustices unconditionally.
Yes, this word بُغْضِ is dropped around a lot by Muslims, when they discuss the malice in someone’s heart against another whom they dislike due to their vile actions. They talk about it as if a victim of injustice and oppression should feel nothing but love in their heart towards those who wronged them. As if the laws of our perfect religion do not even include designated capital punishments for legally convicted criminals and evil-doers!
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used this word — بُغْضِ — to describe what Barirah felt in her heart for her husband Mughith, at the point when she had decided to leave him for good.
Yet, and here is the clincher: the Prophet ﷺ was not mentioning this hatred that she felt, in a negative light. He did not admonish Barirah harshly to free her heart from this malice, to repent to Allah for being a rebellious wife, and to go back to her husband without question.
And to make him a nice cup of tea. The way our elders do. 🙂
No. He did not do any of that.
Instead, even though he was the official judge in their matter, in addition to her legal guardian whom she had dwelled with, in his home, along with his wife, he mentioned two things to her that were of importance and consequence.
The first was, as was obvious, his amazement at Mughith’s love for her. He mentioned it specifically to his cousin, Al-Abbas (the narrator of this hadith).
The second was that she had a child with Mughith. Of course, this was probably because having a child has major future implications for any couple when their divorce happens.
“Don’t leave him!”
Before we go on to analyze Barirah’s intelligent reply, please focus on one important thing first:
The above two aspects regarding a husband are almost always quoted by bystanders and well-wishers as the main binding reasons why a Muslim wife, who wishes to get a divorce, should remain married to her husband (even if she hates him): i.e. (i) he loves her a lot, and, (ii) they have a child (or children) together.
“Think of your children! What will become of them?”
“Look at how much he loves you! He is crying his eyes out and wallowing in misery. Please go back to him.”
What these people do not realize is that a Muslim wife who truly fears Allah can find it almost impossible to respect a husband whom she hates, or to give him his due rights.
She will just not be able to fulfill the Islamic rights that are due upon her regarding him. Such as obedience in all matters (qunoot), being respectful in tone and demeanor at all times, and providing sexual intercourse to him happily whenever he desires.
Being human, she will loathe the sight of him and react in anger most of the time, raising her voice, perhaps even being physically or verbally abusive, and not obeying him willingly. And this will make her tremble with fear when she thinks about being taken to account by Allah in the Hereafter, for whether or not she fulfilled her dues as a wife.
For such a wife, this hadith provides not just hope, but also welcome relief: knowing that Islam allows her to leave her husband, even if he loves her and they have a child together.
Barirah then asked the Prophet, probably to be absolutely clear about his verdict, whether he was commanding her to go back to Mughith (as her Prophet, judge, and leader), or was he merely interceding and advising her to do so?
When it became clear to her that our sweet, empathetic and sincere Prophet was merely interceding, she announced her final decision immediately.
And that was it.
It was over.
Consider the consequences before jumping the gun, sisters!
Now, before the unhappily married girls (and women!) who are reading this, jump the gun and decide to take off from their abusive/dull/dead marriages (I have been there before, with some of my readers taking some of my rants a little too seriously, and doing something brash without thinking of the consequences, or considering all the aspects of the situation, first), I do wish to give all Muslim wives who are contemplating (i.e. dreaming wishfully of) divorce, some advice:
- Are you ready to live with the consequences of divorce? The good ones, the bad ones, or both? You will be finally free from your toxic husband and happily single again (inshaÁllah), but you will also have added responsibilities, especially if you will have to raise your children alone as a single mother. They will grow up and definitely ask you questions about what happened, for one thing, and you will have to tell them the truth (that is, if the divorce happened when they were too young to comprehend what was going on). And one or more of them might hate/resent you for leaving their father. Keep that in mind.
- Are you willing to accept that your child/children or even your siblings and parents might choose to stay in touch with your ex-husband, even after your divorce? Will you be able to handle that with patience, open-mindedness, big-heartedness, and maturity? Will you allow your children moderated visits with their father/your ex in-laws? After all, joining relations with your ex-husband and his parents/siblings will be obligatory upon your children once they become adults. In addition, it is possible that while your ex-husband might not have been great as a husband, he could be a nice guy otherwise (as a son, brother, father, or friend). Maybe your parents, siblings, cousins, children and even other relatives (or only some of them) might want to continue to meet/communicate with him. Will you be OK with that?
- Re-marriage: do you intend to get married again? If so, please remember that in certain countries, being a divorcee carries certain unavoidable social and cultural implications in the marriage proposal process. Even if you avoid the nosy-and-judgmental aunty brigade (the ones who always blame a woman for divorce), it could still be challenging to adjust to marriage with another man, when you already have (growing) children. He might be much older than you, with an ex-wife (or a dead one!) and children of his own. Remember that this might complicate your second marriage and make it more challenging.
- Supporting yourself financially: it goes without saying that, if a divorced woman is not able to find another husband soon enough, she will have to work in order to support herself financially. So bye-bye to any financially “cushioned”, carefree married life that she once lived (that is, IF her ex-husband was financially sound in the first place). Sadly, most toxic marriages do not have any “cushion” (comfort) factor at all! They are absolute hell-holes of misery that most wives flee from in relief. Just remember, you might have to find work quickly, and keep a job. And this could mean a lot of time spent away from your child(ren). And more physical/mental stress, which could take an eventual toll on your health and upon your positive outlook (especially if you don’t enjoy your new job).
- In the case of those married couples who shared the same group of friends and social contacts, some (or all) of them might choose to side with your ex-husband. This could mean that you would lose out on your past social life as well, after your divorce.
- Resident bitterness: in addition to transitioning from the role of a housewife living a cosy homemaking domestic life to that of a working career woman, and perhaps losing the love of some family members and friends, you will also need to work very hard on getting over your own bitterness and resulting depression. Remember to move on and not look back. Focus on positive thoughts and keeping yourself constructively occupied, intending with deliberate effort to live happily and positively after your divorce. Do not allow Satan to make you wallow in self-pity and regret. Move on and try new things, especially those activities that you could not partake in when you were trapped in that toxic, suffocating marriage. If you will be seen happy and smiling after your divorce, it will make your parents and children happy too!
Conclusion: a new world
I have a lot of thoughts about the way the occupations, mindsets and roles of women in society are rapidly changing. I think that the generation born before 1970 really has very little idea about what exactly is going on. They are so wrapped up in past social habits, mindsets, and thought-bubbles (perhaps because they hang out with people of the same age?), even if they are tech-savvy and active on social media, that they really cannot truly see just what is coming for the generations ahead.
I had never thought that I would live to see some of the minor signs of the Qiyamah, but I have (bedouins competing in the construction of tall buildings, for one).
The girls today need us older women to guide them about how to navigate the turbulent social trends and changes coming their way. And just one of these, is the increasing financial/economic/political empowerment and independence of women, which is partly fueled by (or perhaps caused by) increasing emasculation among males.
I hope that my male readers will not take offense at my saying this. Truth be told, they are also the victims of unavoidable circumstances here. But it is true, that many young men from the generation that was born after 1990 are finding it increasingly difficult to financially support their wives and children single-handedly, on their own income, without taking any help at all from their parents, in-laws, or wives, for this purpose. And I mean this just for affording the necessities of life; to maintain a very basic standard of living — luxuries and perks completely excluded.
Furthermore, the twin evils of pervasive-technology-fueled porn-and-masturbation addiction have unfortunately caused many young Muslim men to become prematurely emasculated, quite literally, vis-a-vis, they suffer from erectile dysfunction long before they hit age twenty-five, or get married (whichever comes first). And it is common knowledge among psychologists and experienced, senior sages alike, how difficult it can be for a sincere wife to respect a husband who cannot rise to the occasion (pun unintended) when it comes to satisfying her biological needs in the bedroom, or fulfilling her financial needs for basic survival.
There really is no point in casting the blame for these changes that are happening, upon either the women or the men in the current era, because it is like a “chicken-and-egg” situation. Women are becoming increasingly emancipated from financial dependence upon men, and men are finding it increasingly acceptable, if not praiseworthy, for women to become more independent and dominating by nature.
And this trend seems to be here to stay. We now have to make our social and mental adjustments, accordingly.
That is enough on this topic for now. I think I meandered away from the main point for a bit.
Anyhow, so what do you think?
Do you think us Muslims will ever hear an elaborate analysis of the above hadith from the pulpits in our mosques, especially during Friday sermons, when the majority of the audience comprises of men?
Barakallahu fih my sister, you have said a naked truth.
Wa iyakum. And you have been brave enough to endorse this post, especially as a male. So I appreciate your comment. Jazak Allahu Khair.
One more thing sister, It is not the Good act that the messenger pbuh is requesting you something and you deny. I’m not saying her act was not justified. It’s her life She can make decisions. This is what the hadith tafseer but another hadith you need to spread to give motivation and patience.
In that hadith A marriage was made without permission of a girl.
She went to Rasool pbuh and asked I didn’t like my husband but my wali made my nikah. Rasool pbuh said If you don’t like him and you were not agree nefore marriage So Let me cancel yoir marriage Right Now but She said No O Rasool pbuh. I just wanted to ask about my rights.
It was narrated that Buraydah ibn al-Haseeb said: A girl came to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) and said: My father married me to his brother’s son so that he might raise his own status thereby. The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) gave her the choice, and she said: I approve of what my father did, but I wanted women to know that their fathers have no right to do that.
Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 1874. It was classed as saheeh by al-Buwaysiri in Masaabeeh az-Zujaajah, 2/102. Similarly Shaykh Muqbil al-Waadi‘i stated: (It is) saheeh according to the conditions of Muslim. End quote from as-Saheeh al-Musnad, p. 160
prophet was wise to know her response. he did it to show, make example and give strength. Islam does not come in this matter. she asked if this is your commandment?
Hundreds of HADITHS which are in the Favour of Not divorcing your spouse for such reasons that could be solved. You ignored all those Ahadith Even Ayah of Quraan as well where It is mentioned that :
Allah, the Almighty says,which means,
“And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (AI-Baqarah, 2:216)
I think You missed the Whole story and incident and logic and humour behind this Ayah when, why and which time it was revealed.
Better to read this Ayah in detail which will surely kill or vanish your thinking about Just one hadith, Which had a different reason and which could be interpreted.
Most welcome. You have motivated me to write in further detail about what the Quran says about divorce. And the fact is that it says a lot.
The beautiful verse that you have mentioned actually corroborates divorce that is justified on Islamic grounds, because divorce is (for most) a highly disliked/repulsed occurrence. But in deserved/valid cases, it brings about much relief and betterment.
Jazak Allah khair.
I have stumbled across your blog by chance and wow what a pleasent surprise so far. Wish I had found it sooner. With regards to this topic, could you kindly elaborate on, what you mean by “divorce that is justified on Islamic grounds”. Do you think there are any nonislamic grounds for divorce? Or do you mean that on some grounds a divorce is not justified? If yes can you kindly give some examples? Should two people continue to live together, if one or both parties do not wish to? Even if their reason is not endorsed by society or orthodoxy?
how do you solve that a wife DOES NOT LOVE HER HUSBAND?
Subhanallah exactly we do not know… like you stated it is stated in the quran
I feel we have become selfish and we don’t w9rk for the hearafter rather we work for here this world for this world only claiming we are working for the hearafter we judge even the best of knowledge because it doesn’t suit us… unfortunately this geneenaration is selfish and wants to be independent in all aspects in life. Marridge is a serious relationship how both parties handle this roles and responsibilities Allah is watching and for the sake of Allah you are together to please only Him… I’m astonishing by what I’m seeing, reading and hearing nowadays
Tall building are not only the signs the major signs are also have been seen for many year coming especially in this generation
and Divorce is also a sign
There are Many ways of avoiding this but unfortunately like you said we don’t get tought this, the right way forward its just all like a maze and we have to make a mistake or two to realise the mistakes we are making we feel like we are getting closer to Allah and jannah but what if we are getting closer to hell fire.. ultimately only Allah knows right we can only try our best
Allah dislikes The oppressor and the oppressed because Allah has sent Down the book of knowledge and the hadith but we refuse to gain knowledge or even accept what is right and wrong
May Allah guide us and alow us to help one another to build knowledge in all aspects of Islam and keep us guided on the straight path ameen
The hadith should be read and adopt above a gender centric perspective. No one needs to suffer due to a toxic relationship beyond their capacity. Knowing ones capacity limits might be a little trickier, but should not be dragged beyond limits, that it start cannibalizing the individual. Mentioning the incompitency of males born after 80s, both financially or physically, as well as implanting doubts about those who are standing on pulpits and their Male majority audience is giving an impression that men were always culprit, then and now, which is too gender centric point of view. BTW, thanks for sharing the hadith.
You are welcome. Muslim men have been appointed by Allah as leaders, including those of families. They hold tremendous authority over their wives and children, and are therefore more accountable to Allah. They also possess an exclusive superior right in marriage, and that is the right to issue divorce. This includes the final, irrevocable divorce. They can do this, literally, within just a few seconds.
Brother, marriage and divorce are serious issues that men (as primary guardians) are mainly responsible for. It’s not me who is “blaming” the men. It is Allah most High who will take them to account more harshly than women, as He is the one who appointed them as leaders in the first place.
But you are right that this hadith should not just be interpreted from a gender-centric perspective.
May Allah make ease for us all. Ameen.
In the sight of Allah Ta’ala both Male and Female are equal. This is very true that Allah has granted men a leadership position, but in case of divorce man is more accountable than his spouse, I dont agree. Marriage is a mutual contract and both need to honor it, and maintain. We can’t generalize that man are more responsible in case of any failure to this contract. I’m not sure where are you getting this perspective that based in gender inequality is more accountable than other.
Unfortunately I know many women who are told that they have to be in fear of their life, or basically be beaten bloody in order to be divorced. And we have imams backing this up refusing to intercede for a woman who’s abusive husband refuses to grant her one. I’m so relieved to read this post! It not only demonstrates just how great the sunnah is, but it provides even further proof for a woman’s case if she is searching for it. Jazakallahu khair for writing this!
A sister just told me yesterday that a friend of hers committed suicide because she was struggling to get a divorce via the local muslim authority. I, myself, was granted a very, very speedy divorce (applied for a fasakh, but hub confirmed in writing that he had previously issued talaq, no witnesseses notwithstanding). But that may have also had to do with the fact that I threw a brick through his car window the last time I attended a fruitless divorce session.
May Allah bless you. How nice it is to see Muslims who understand that it’s not necessary to adhere to one of misogynism or liberalism in order to disavow the other. Marvelous article.
As for the hadith mentioned, I want to ask that the lady was Hz ayesha freed slave wasn’t the lady married under duress during her time of slavery. And hz Ayesha ra purchased her and freed her….
Dear Sister Sadaf,
You have provided a different and wonderful insight to the concept of divorce in Islam. This gives hope to women in oppressed marriages with innately malevolent men (whose true nature is usually uncovered after marriage unfortunately because we as humans are very good at putting on a show/mask), who are not kind/affectionate/caring to thier wives.
Many authentic ahadith have clearly established the kind of character a husband has to display towards his wife and what rights she has, and yet all we hear about is how the wife should please the husband and his rights and nothing on the other way around.
If both husband and wife fulfill the rights of each other and have mutual respect/love/care, than their marriage is a blissful journey through this temporary testing-ground-for-the-afterlife life.
I pray for guidance for all in these times of moral and societal degradation.
It was good to see such a positive comment on this post from a male reader. Indeed, you are right: many of our sisters are stuck in loveless marriages, in which their status is little more than that of a child-bearer, chef, and servant/maid. I ask Allah to bless you soon with a righteous wife and loving marriage, in which you both are the “coolness of the eyes” for each other. Aameen.
Very interesting article I must say. In the matters of divorce and some other topics of marriage, it is very rare now adays to find interesting thoughts that add value to discussion. I enjoyed your post and hoping to read more on your blog.
If you would like to read about an intentional Islamic lifestyle, hop on over to my blog too: https://chaosnconfessions.wordpress.com/
I share my journey of finding mindfulness in life along with snippets of life, travel, food, parenting and personal development.
Its truly unfortunate that you never heard this from the pulpit, this is unimaginable and rather concerning. as this is a rather famous Hadith , or the Hadith of Buraydah ibn al-Haseeb about the lady who was forced to marry, and so forth.
My first memory of this hadith is from a Khitab when i was 13 or 14 around 18 years ago, I’m sure I heard it before but was too young to pay attention and I’m certain. I wasn’t the only one in Jumma’ that day, or the many other Kutabat, Lectures, books etc and this hadeeth had always been discussed in the context of divorce, rights and love.
Its also unfortunate that the community around you does not teach women their rights. This is Job ordained for the parents not for a Khateeb on the pulpit. May Allah have mercy on this Ummah, we have been delinquent in teaching our children their rights and facilitating their oppressions.
As Salaamu 3laykum,
JazakaALLAAH Khairan for the hadith. I make dua that you have increased knowledge and understanding. Ameen.
Regarding, the hadith stated in your post, I think it would be important to state that even though he loved his wife , there might have been some things that he did that not positive and thus she disliked him very much. Because we see from this hadith below
Abu Dawood (2226), al-Tirmidhi (1187) and Ibn Majaah (2055) from Thawbaan (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Any woman who asks her husband for a divorce when it is not absolutely necessary, the fragrance of Paradise will be forbidden to her.”
Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Have a nice day!
BarakAllahu feek for such lovely post! I must say some us sisters are tired of hearing have sabr in circumstances which the Prophet saw never told us to have sabr in.
Sabr is beautiful act of worship but we don’t transgress Allah has given us rights to alhamdulillah.
Just to add another beautiful Hadith just for a benefit Inshaa Allah.
it is permissible to seek a divorce if a woman hates her husband and cannot bear to stay with him is the report narrated by al-Bukhaari in his Saheeh (4867), that the wife of Thaabit ibn Qays came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, I do not blame Thaabit ibn Qays for any defect in his character or his religious commitment, but I would hate to commit an act of kufr when I am a Muslim.” [Ibn Majaah (2056 added): and I cannot stand him ] The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Will you give him back his garden [which he had given as mahr]?” She said, “Yes.” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said (to Thaabit), “Accept the garden, and divorce her once.”
What is meant by “I would hate to commit an act of kufr when I am Muslim” is: I would hate to do a deed that is contrary to Islam such as hating my husband or disobeying him or not fulfilling his rights, and so on.
See: Fath al-Baari (9/400).
I, myself as a man, read this and found it insightful. I am at a stage of divorcing my soon to be ex-wife and, having troubling thoughts, I stumbled across this article so that I can find hope with my decision to leave.
Sadly, I am still in trouble and I am looking for guidance (by Allah’s means). My wife did something horrible in our years of marriage. Though I still stuck by her, I pleaded her to pray and repent sincerely. From what our religion tells us, not praying takes out of the fold of Islam. I even told her that I cannot be married to someone who is not on Deen.
Despite the action she has taken to break my heart and betray my trust, I still remained in the hopes that the marriage survives I realised there’s nothing I can do to influence her to be a good Muslimah for Allah, so I decided to leave her.
She pleaded for me to stay. I told her no. Not once did she ask me what she can do to change my mind. Otherwise, I would have told her to pray to Allah sincerely.
Am I glad I made this decision? Do I want this divorce?
The answer is no. However, I have made my mind up not for myself but for Allah’s sake.
I pray that Allah blesses me (and you) a spouse who will be the joys of our hearts and a means of peace for us.
Brother, please pray istikharah before issuing the final divorce. When a Muslim does istikharah, not only does Allah bless the final outcome and guide them to it with ease, but their heart also feels at peace with Allah’s final decision and there are no regrets.
May Allah decree what is best for you both, and grant you a spouse who is much better than the one you lost. Aameen.