Opinion, August 2003, www.aljazeerah.info
Obligations Toward Parents and Wife
Arab News, 8/9/03
Q. After four years of marriage, a wife is asking her husband to move into a separate home, rather than continuing to stay in his parentsí home. The husband feels that he has obligations toward his old parents, who are kind and caring. But the wife thinks that she is entitled to her own home where she has the privacy she needs.
(Name and address withheld)
A. It is the right of every wife to have a home of her own according to the standards of her own social group. If she is unhappy with her husbandís parents because they may often interfere in her life with her husband, or because they are too demanding, or because they expect her to treat them as if they were her own parents, then she has a genuine reason to complain. In such a case, her husband must deal with the situation according to his means.
At the same time, a man has duties toward his parents, and he must look after them, particularly if they are weak and cannot cope on their own. But this is his own duty. If his wife helps to look after his parents, her action is voluntary and very commendable. She deserves his gratitude for it, and no doubt God will reward her richly for her kindness.
Having said that, I should add that it is often the case that when a man has his own home, away from his parents, he finds the situation more conducive to better family relations all round. Therefore, couples who need to stay with their parents for a while normally try hard to move into their own homes as soon as they can afford that. This does not normally affect the relationship with the husbandís parents, because they expect that this will have to happen eventually. When such a move takes place, it is important for the husband to realize that he should continue to look after his parents, and try to make their life as comfortable as possible.
I have already stated that a wife is entitled to have a home according to the standards of her social group. She is also entitled to have all her living expenses met by her husband. Both man and wife also have the duty to help each other to maintain their chastity. In the case of the wife, this means that she must respond to her husbandís sexual needs, as long as they remain within what is permissible in Islam. His rights also include that she does not let into his home anyone he disapproves of, and that she must keep his secrets and speak well of him in his absence.
When a Baby Is Born
Q.1. I have some doubts about the rules of aqeeqah, which I request you to clarify. It is said that on the 7th day of a childís birth, sacrifice should be made, the child should be given its name, and its head should be shaven. The first two are easy, but shaving the childís head seems to be very difficult. Could it be left till later?
Q.2. Could you please tell me the meaning of the names Hajirah and Afshaa.
H. Ghouse ē Al-Jubail
A.1. Aqeeqah is the name people associate with the practices recommended after the birth of a child, whether boy or girl. Yet it originally means the slaughter of the sacrifice. The sacrifice of one or two sheep should be made, and the meat is used to give a dinner to neighbors, relatives and friends, so that the community would share in the joy of one of its families. This is recommended to be done on the 7th day of the childís birth, but it could be done at any suitable time, close to the childís birth.
The other practices are to give the child a name, remembering that choosing a good name is a duty of the father. It is also strongly recommended to shave the childís head and weigh its hair. Then an amount equivalent to the weight of the hair in gold or silver be given to the poor as a sadaqah, or charity. Moreover, if the child is a boy, then he should be circumcised.
All these are recommended to be done on the seventh day, or around that time. Shaving the childís head is not difficult, although parents may think so. It may be easier if a hairdresser does it. If this is left much later, the childís hair would have grown and its weight in gold could be a large sum. Besides, shaving the head at this early age ensures that the childís hair is stronger. The charity adds to the blessings the child receives from God Almighty.
A.2. There is an Arabic word pronounced as haajirah, which means either 1) the woman who abandons a person temporarily or permanently, or 2) midday when the sun is at its highest. Hence, the noon prayer is sometimes described as the haajirah prayer. To my knowledge, this word is not used as a name in Arabic. If the name is pronounced as hajeerah, then it has no meaning in Arabic. As for Afshaa, this is not an Arabic word. I do not know if it has a meaning.
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.