I heard different things about the difference in roles of the wife & husband in Islam… FINANCIALLY. I hear that the husband is responsible for supporting the family including the wife and children financially, and that all the money he makes belongs to him AND the wife, while if the wife CHOOSE to work, then she is entitled to all her earned money, while still entitled to half of her husband’s. Also the wife is responsible for bringing up the children.
Is this true or not? Please give details, and quotations, especially from the Qur’an.
Most of the duties and the responsibilities that you have mentioned in your question relate to the generally accepted social and family norms, rather than the Shari`ah. Of all the duties and the responsibilities that you have mentioned, only one is mentioned in the Qur’an and that too as a passing reference rather than a directive. In Al-Nisaa 4: 34, the Qur’an says:
Men [as husbands] are responsible for [their] women, because God has bestowed on one more than the other in different spheres and because they spend their wealth.
As should be clear from the above verse, the Qur’an has given two reasons for making the husband the head of the family and thus responsible for his family’s well being. Firstly, by nature, God has made the male more suitable for this responsibility – just as God made women more suitable for a number of other responsibilities. Secondly, because the responsibility of providing for the family lies on the shoulders of the male member. Furthermore, one of the important necessary elements in a Nikah, according to the directives of the Islamic Shari`ah is ‘Mehr‘1. ‘Mehr‘ is actually a token amount paid by the man to the woman, at the time of marriage to signify the recognition and the willingness on the part of the man to accept the financial responsibility of his wife and the family that shall subsequently take shape.
However, this does not automatically mean that ‘all the money he [the husband] makes belongs to him AND the wife’. That is to say, that the wife does not automatically become a legal owner of all or any part of the possessions of her husband. Obviously, had that been the case, there was no need to allot shares of inheritance after the death of a married person.
Finally, you have asked:
The wife is responsible for bringing up the children. Is this true or not?
This is not correct. The correct statement would be that both the parents are responsible for providing a healthy environment for their children. The only aspect of difference in this common responsibility of the parents is that the woman would perform the duties of a ‘mother’ and the man that of a ‘father’. Once again, the distinction between the duties of a mother and father is more a matter of the nature of man and woman and the generally accepted norms of the society and the family setup prevalent in the society, rather than the Islamic Shari`ah.
30th January 2000
- A mutually agreed upon amount of money that the husband gives to the wife. [↩]