Question: I’m a married man. I admit to being fearful of falling into the trap of modern-day feminism where manhood and masculinity are criticized. In an attempt to uphold my status, authority, and/or power as a husband, it has come to my attention that I constantly use the “I am your husband” card on my wife even for simple matters, suggestions, discussions that she proposes. She has expressed her hurt and discomfort with this, but I insist on establishing boundaries and limits as the decision-maker.
Thank you for your question.
The trump card
I feel that you are a heartfelt person and self-confident, but I must tell you that nothing shows confidence more than a merciful man. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was the king of humanity, and he never once used his rank for decision-making with his Companions. Rather he consulted them, trusted them, and made them all feel important and worthy. Please see these links to see how he was viewed as a companion and husband:
Love of leadership
One of the spiritual diseases of the heart is the love of leadership (hubb al-riyasah), and we, as Muslims, are not just obliged to imitate the Prophet; may Allah bless him and grant him peace in his word and deed, but also his spiritual states. One should strive to prevent this spiritual sin from entering the heart and take one’s position with mercy and kindness and not boast it or flaunt it in the face of one’s dependents. It’s lowly, ugly, and unbecoming of good character.
You insist that you establish boundaries, but I guarantee you that the boundaries are already established. A man does not need to remind someone twice, and you would only need to re-iterate your rank if your wife is challenging it. I am certain that she is not. Rather, if your wife is an intelligent woman, she knows that two heads are better than one, and she wants to be a fruitful partner who can contribute to the family conversation. If your harshness continues, you will squash her self-confidence and creativity.
Don’t fear the modern-day criticism of masculinity, rather strive toward being the type of man that the Prophet described, and make that your only standard. May Allah bless him and grant him peace. He said, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “The nobility of a man is in his religion, his manhood is in his intellect, and his honor is in his character.” [Musnad of Ahmad]
A Chinese saying
Please see this excellent article about the following saying: “The higher my rank, the more humbly I behave. The greater my power, the less I exercise it. The richer my wealth, the more I give away. Thus I avoid, respectively, envy and spite and misery.” [Sun Shu Ao (Chinese minister the Chu Kingdom, Zhou Dynasty, c.600BC.)]
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next, and may you be pleasing to the greatest Master of all, and you pleased with Him.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.