Roles in the Muslim Marriage

When Muslim marriage is discussed, it is often mentioned that women should submit to their husbands. Is that an accurate portrayal? Well, yes and no.

Actually, a Muslim marriage is about submitting to Allah’s (God’s) will. As Muslims, we believe that Allah has given men and women distinct roles in life and in the family. We believe that men and women are created equal, but different. We believe that these differences make each uniquely suited to various roles.

Women, for example, are typically more nurturing, more sensitive, and more patient. This combination makes (most) women perfectly suited to raise children, lovingly guiding the next generation to be the best that they can be. Men, on the other hand, are generally more driven to protect and to serve. This makes them ideal for the job of going out day after day and earning an income.

Now, there is a bit of crossover within these roles. In my house, for example, I work as a freelance writer. I don’t make a lot of money (yet!), but it is enough to allow me to nurture my creativity. It also fulfills my need to contribute financially and it helps hubby pay the bills. Still, I recognize that my primary job is to take care of my family and help my kids reach their full potential.

For his part, my husband often cleans the kitchen after dinner. He has spent many Sunday afternoons folding laundry as he watches football. He takes the kids out most Saturdays to allow me to rest and recharge for another week of home schooling and housework. But his main job is slaying our dragons and bringing home the bacon (turkey bacon, of course!).

When men and women submit to Allah’s will and happily accept their separate, but equally important, roles in life, marriage can be a beautiful thing. In a marriage like that, each partner is happy to fulfill his or her life’s mission. The roles are complementary, and the two become equal partners, two imperfect halves coming together to form a perfect whole.

Problems can arise when either is unhappy with the marital roles, or when work has been divided unfairly. We can discuss those issues in another entry, en sha Allah. Assalamu Alaikoum!