Why Would An Angel Curse a Woman

QAfter my article about Mahr was posted, many readers raised questions regarding the subject matter of a Hadeeth which mentions angels cursing a woman who refuses to respond to the sexual overtures of her husband.

AMy comments:

My article about Mahr was meant to develop an appreciation and understanding of the significance and role of Mahr in Islamic marital contract. In explaining the point about the husband owning the marital right, a Hadeeth was quoted about angels cursing a woman who does not respond positively to her husband’s sexual needs. This was done to contrast it with the Western ideas where a wife can refuse relationship with husband as and when she likes. The sentence preceding the Hadeeth clearly stated that it applies where husband is in compliance with Islamic Sharee‘ah and Islamic principles such as fairness, reasonability, consideration for the wife’s circumstances, etc. A footnote was given to explain that this is not a place to discuss the rights and obligations of spouses in any detail.

Despite the context of the article, its wording and the footnote, some people have still raised questions. One of the questions was about the conjugal relations if the wife was sick. It is just common sense that sickness will be a valid exception. (Besides, I cannot imagine that any husband will insist on sex when his wife is sick.)

Some sisters have asked whether a husband is cursed in the like manner if he does not respond to his wife’s overtures in this regard. The brief answer is that I am not aware of any such narration. And before they question as to why there is no such narration warning men in this regard, they should consider the following:
  1. We should always remember that Ahaadeeth about our worldly matters are situational, i.e., the guidance was given to address a situation in the society and to deal with matters that actually arose in the lives of Muslims at that time. Islam is a religion of practice, not of theory. The Prophet did not sit down with Companions and talk about theoretical, imaginary or speculative matters. Rather, he provided practical guidance to apply Islamic principles in matters of life as they arose in the society. That guidance was practised by Muslims as well as reported for us in the form of Hadeeth.

  2. Generally speaking, males and females have very different natures both in their relationships and sexuality / conjugal relation needs. Males desire sex more frequently than females. That is why marriage counsellors hear wives complaining about too frequent demands and husbands complaining about not enough response, but seldom vice versa. The counsellors also hear about situations where women use this male inclination to their advantage by withholding themselves from their husbands as a weapon. If women are allowed to play such games, it endangers the purity of the society, which is not tolerable in Islam. Considering that a wife is sexually off limit for a week or so every four weeks (due to menstruation) plus there are always some other factors (like sickness) that keep them away from conjugal relationship, if she refuses relations during her remaining time of normal conditions, Shaytaan may seize a chance to incite the man to look for other avenues to satisfy his natural urges, thus creating corruption in the society; hence, the warning to women through this Hadeeth.

    In normal circumstances it is possible for a wife to refuse but there will be hardly any husband who will ever resist overtures from his wife. Because on the whole, husbands generally do not refuse wives’ advances, a need did not arise for the Prophet to say anything in this respect.

    In odd situations, if a husband does not respond to wife’s advances, it means one of the following:
    • He is satisfying his needs through other wives (if he has more than one). In that case, there are strong warnings for neglecting a wife and not keeping equality among them.
    • He is committing Zinaa, in which case he will face dire consequences.
    • There is something wrong with him physically, psychologically or emotionally because of which he cannot perform. In that case he is handicapped and there is no sense in warning a person for his handicap. If handicap is temporary (because of sickness, stress, shock, etc.), he is in the same situation as a sick wife. If this handicap is permanent/incurable, the wife needs to evaluate her options and perhaps seek a divorce so that she can marry a suitable person.
  3. By accepting Mahr as a consideration for marriage contract, a women grants full marital rights to her husband, and gives up her right to refuse sex with him. Any refusal by her without a legitimate reason contravenes that contract of marriage, and that is why she is being warned.

    The legitimate question is that although husband owns the marital rights what if he abuses those rights by depriving his wife from satisfaction of her natural needs and desires due to marital strife, anger, vengeance, etc. If a husband neglects his wife depriving her of her needs of conjugal relationship, without any legitimate reason (such as sickness) and it continues for four months, the marriage is terminated and he loses those rights . This is to protect the wife from neglect and save her from Shaytaan who may seize the opportunity to incite her for fulfilling her natural desires through improper means.

Before closing, I would like to invite the readers to reflect on the following:

We are all subjected to a constant barrage of propaganda about Western/feminist concept of ‘equality’ between men and women that completely disregards the difference in the nature, inclinations, tendencies, psychology, physiology, etc. of males and females. In contrast, Islam accords dignity to both sexes according to their nature, needs and roles on the basis of the perfect knowledge of Allaah SWT and the wise guidance of His messenger.

While asking questions to learn, clarify and understand are commendable, we should also be on our guard lest Shaytaan uses the seeds sown by Western propaganda in our minds to incite these types of questions to weaken our faith in the Knowledge and Wisdom of our Creator or His Messenger.

When such questions arise in our minds, we should introspectively examine our thought process to determine: Am I questioning the knowledge and wisdom of Allaah and His Messenger or am I seeking to learn, understand and establish the authenticity of the teaching? If it is the former, we must immediately seek Allaah’s refuge from Shaytaan.

May 18, 2003
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