The Qur’an is full of amazing and miraculous stories of the Prophets of Allah subhanahu wata ‘aala. Where one aspect of these stories talks about patience, endurance, perseverance, tolerance, faith and courage; there is another side of the picture that is also worth noting.
All prophets were faced with enmity and hatred. They often had to face mistrust and people misunderstood them. They had to withstand forces of evil, physical harm, mental torture and humiliating disgrace, for calling the people of that time to the message of ‘Tawheed’ (Oneness of Allah). History is a witness that the wives of all Prophets (may Allah be pleased with them all) had a choice between leading a pious life or a sinful one; however; most of these noble women actively and consciously chose imaan (faith) over kufr (disbelief).
“Allah sets forth an example for those who disbelieve: the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were under two of our righteous servants, but they both betrayed them. So, they availed them not against Allah and it was said: “Enter the Fire along with those who enter!’” (66:10)
Prophet Nuh alayhi salaam
Prophet Nuh, alayhi salaam, invited his people to the message of unity for nine hundred and fifty long years, a period which didn’t bear any substantial fruits. A lot of narrations relate that only about eighty people believed in him in this long duration of time. People were so involved in worshipping idols and giving into Shaytaan’s whispers of making and worshipping statues that they did not pay heed to Prophet Nuh alayhi salaam’s call.
The Prophet called them to the message of “Tawheed” (Oneness of God) but the people denied. He warned them and continued his sincere endeavours, calling them to their message and the truth, but the people were too arrogant and proud and did not take his admonishments seriously. His son and his wife were among the disbelievers and so they were doomed with the rest of them too. This was very painful for Prophet Nuh alayhi salaam as he had tried to convince his people, especially his family, of the message of Allah his entire life. One is forced to wonder, why did the Prophet’s efforts bear such little fruits, when his intentions and efforts cannot be doubted?
His difficulty in bringing the masses to Islam can in some ways be attributed to the mischievous attitude of his wife. She betrayed him and kept instigating people to disbelieve in him and his message.* This sets forth the worst examples of the wives of the Prophets’ mentioned in the Qur’an. However, worth-noting is the fact that the Qur’an does not refer to this betrayal in the sense of cheating him in their marital life. There is no further evidence for the reason of her heart remaining unaffected and unmoved by the message, or the reasons for her conspiracies against her husband.
Prophet Lut alayhi salaam
Prophet Lut alayhi salaam was sent to the people of Sodom with Allah’s message of leaving their indecent behaviour, which included not only being involved in robbing and killing people, but also men having sex with the same gender. The Prophet tried to summon them to Allah’s call but they were so immersed in their immoral habits that instead of listening to the message of their Creator, they started threatening the Prophet that he would be thrown out of the city if he did not stop his preaching. Among the disbelievers was his wife, and though he was grieved deeply to see her untouched by his message, he patiently persevered and persistently preached to her along with his people.
Just like the people of Nuh alayhi salaam, Allah punished this society in a terrifying sequence of events. Allah first turned the city upside down, and then He sent from the sky stones that were inscribed with the name of the person they were decreed to harm. Prophet Lut alayhi salaam’s family was saved, except his disbelieving wife.
“So when Our command came, We made the highest part [of the city] its lowest and rained upon them stones of layered hard clay, [which were] Marked from your Lord. And Allah’s punishment is not from the wrongdoers [very] far.” (11: 82-83)
1. Turning Honour into Disgrace
Being a Prophet’s wife is an honour given to a handful of women in history. Whereas, the wives of all Prophets knew that their husbands’ were chosen by Allah because of their wisdom, virtues and obedience, and that they wouldn’t lie or say anything that they weren’t asked to convey, these two women as mentioned in the Qur’an, failed to realise this great honour and turn it into a reward for both this world and the next. They were in fact disgraced and doomed and became the worst example for the women to follow.
2. Wasting Opportunities
Despite their closeness to these Prophets’, and knowing how much Allah loved them, they wasted their lives in plotting and planning against the religious lives of their husband, instead of facilitating their mission and fulfilling the rights of a dutiful wife.
3. Disregarding the Message
Whereas these women were the closest witnesses of their husbands’ truthful characters and their excellent qualities, they overlooked the message that was being conveyed. They could have earned Allah’s mercy by being obedient and sincere to their husbands and would have been able to earn more rewards for being believing wives. Instead they both became the worst examples of Prophets’ wives in the history of mankind.
4. The Qur’an on the Relationship Between Husband and Wife
A closer look at the husband-wife relationship stressed upon in Islam helps us assess the roles of the aforementioned women. Allah subhanhu wa taala says explicitly in the Qur’an:
“They [spouses] are libas (i.e. body cover, screen, dress) for you and you are the same for them.” (2:187)
What does this imply? Obviously, a covering is supposed to act as a shield. A husband must provide for his family, give them a place to live, food to eat and clothes to wear, according to the following hadith:
It was reported from Hakim bin Mu’awiyah Al-Qushairi, fom his father, that he asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH)! What are the rights that our wives have over us?” He replied, “That you feed her when you eat, and clothe her when you wear clothes, and that you avoid hitting her in [the] face or disgracing her, and that you avoid abandoning her except at home.” (Abu Dawud)
He is also responsible for fulfilling the emotional needs of a wife. Prophet Nuh and Prophet Lutalayhimus salaam both were able to prove themselves not only as compassionate, caring, loving and sensitive husbands, but they also tolerated the hurt caused by their wives, during their prophethood. They were extremely patient with them. They were not hasty to break ties with their wives like we see with couples today. In fact they prayed for their hidayah (guidance) and continued to call them upon the path of their Lord.
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (RA) said: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “No believing man should hate a believing woman. If he dislikes one of her characteristics, he may be pleased with another.” (Muslim)
Weren’t these the exact characteristics of the prophets that we are discussing in this write-up today? Subhan’Allah, indeed this fact creates awe, because the Qur’an came much later. There is no need for further evidence of the chosen prophets being the best of human beings among their nations, Allahu Akbar!
On the other hand, the wife is the covering of the man she is married to in the sense that she loves him, cares for him, nurtures his children and takes care of his home. She is also responsible for safeguarding her husband’s secrets and facilitating him in his work. Being prophets, the work of Prophet Nuh and Prophet Lut alayhimu salaam was to spread their message to people. However; we have discussed before that their wives did not prove to be the best that they could have been and became one of the biggest hurdles in obstructing their husband’s religious missions. Allah Subhanahu wa Taala punished them and showed us all that indeed there is no place for disbelievers in Islam. Whoever thinks that the prophets are able to intercede for their families must remember that there is no pardoning for kufr or shirk with Allah.
The following hadith sets forth a yard stick for every married woman on this planet (of course there are exceptions to the rule, but discussing that is beyond the scope of this article):
Umm Salamah (radiallahu anha) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Whichever woman dies while her husband is pleased with her, then she enters Paradise.” (Tirmidhi)
May Allah subhanahu wata ‘aala make our husbands pleased with us and allow us to fulfil all the obligatory rituals of our Deen, in order that they may lead us to Jannah.
This article was originally published at Moments of Perfect Clarity.