“The best of you is the one who is best to his wife and I am the best of you to my wives.” (At-Tirmidhi, IbnMajah)
While endorsing the blessed Prophet’s (sa) Sunnah, the above hardly comes across in conversations between men. I wonder why? Supporting one’s spouse is as significant as offering timely and appropriate Salah, giving Zakah, observing Saum and performing Hajj. Because when a husband and wife have a partnership in harmony, mercy and understanding in their attitude towards each other, they are seeding the grounds for a firm and strong Muslim household. This house will then become a home where children will observe their fathers as not just bread winners, critics or harsh dictators, but active, flexible and eager coaches demonstrating the true spirit of service. Some ideas to catch on:
1, Do what you can do most easily
When inquired about the Prophet’s (sa) role at home, Aishah (rta) is reported to have said: “He did what one of you would do in his house. He mended sandals and patched garments and sewed.” (Adabul Mufrad).
Fix a deal with your wife regarding the chores you can take on effortlessly and regularly. That can give her some relief- especially if you have small kids, or many children, or a hectic social set up; or a working spouse due to financial needs. Just remember to honour your commitment as you are being counted on.
2, Don’t become a house husband, just balance it out
Aishah (rta) also once replied: “The Prophet use to keep himself busy serving his family and when it was the time for prayer he would go for it.” (Bukhari)
Men fear that if they begin to offer help at home, they might be taken for granted. For this very reason, it is important for you to inform your wife and your family about your exact availability. Then be theirs in the real sense. Let them play with you, talk to you or work along. It is a great bonding time which maybe men underestimate. When it is time for your Salah, office, studies, exercise, etc. get up and leave.
3, Learn to enjoy homely tasks
I know that in most Asian cultures, men are accustomed to being served. They have their mothers, sisters, and later wives and daughters fetching for them or cleaning after them. But surprise, surprise! When Aishah (rta) the wife of the Prophet (sa) was asked: “What did the Prophet use to do in his house?” She reported to have said that: “He milked his goat.” (Ahmad)
Not everything about a culture is beneficial, especially if it conflicts with your Deen. And we don’t want to pass on questionable legacies to our sons rewriting the script of mistakes we are making today. If the beloved Prophet (sa) didn’t find milking a goat womanish or useless, I am certain that there is plenty of stuff men can lend their hands with to their wives.
Just as charity begins at home, so does service to the family. It hardly weighs much to smile at strangers but frown at home. Offer help to outsiders but boss around in the family. Or be a diligent worker outside the house but be a slacker at home.
This Sunnah, if preserved well today, can bring revolutionary changes at home. It is not just about sharing the burden. It is about caring from the heart. And your reward lies with Allah (swt) (As Sami) The All-Hearer.