The Qur’an states: ‘They (women) are your garments. And you (men) are their garments.’ (Qur’an, 2:187). These words from the Holy Scriptures define how men and women relate to each other -like body and its garments. Without garments a body is meaningless, and without a body garments are meaningless. The two must go together, for, apart, they have little reason to exist. This symbolizes the closeness of the two sexes in the material and spiritual senses. What fundamentally determines the rights and duties of men and women in the roles of husbands and wives is the fact that they are partners for life. This basic principle is derived from the verse of the Qur’an, which says that men and women are part of one another. (Qur’an, 3:195). Islam being a religion of nature, its teachings are based on simple principles of nature. When these principles are earnestly adhered to, the family becomes a cradle of peace and amity. When a man and a woman enter into the marital bond, they bring into existence a social unit called the family. Like any other social unit, this requires an organizer or supervisor. For this special role, Islam has chosen man. Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. (Qur’an, 4:39). Making man the maintainer in no way indicates that to God man is superior to woman. This choice is based on man’s capacities for management rather than on his superiority. In a democratic system, everyone has been granted an equal status yet when a government is formed; one particular individual is entrusted with supreme political power. This does not mean that this possessor of power is superior to other citizens. In a democratic system, the president or the prime minister has one vote like all the other citizens. Even then in the interest of good management, authority is entrusted to a single individual. Except for man’s role as managers, man and woman have completely equal status. For instance, if a woman kills a man, and the crime is proved, the woman will be required to pay the penalty (Qur’an, 2:178). There is no legal discrimination in the eyes of the Shari’ah between woman and man. The laws applicable to men are also applicable to women. The Prophet Muhammad was once asked who of all women was the best. He replied, ‘One who makes her husband happy when he sees her, who obeys her husband when he asks her for anything and who does not do anything against his will as regards either herself or his wealth.’ (An-Nasa’i, Sunan, Kitaban-Nikah, 6/68). This hadith very aptly points out a woman’s duties towards her husband. On the subject of their wives, the Qur’an enjoins men: ‘Treat them with kindness; for even if you do dislike them it may well be that you may dislike a thing which God has meant for your own good.’ (Qur’an, 4:19). This teaching means that even if outwardly unpleasant, a wife should not cause aversion, because God has not made anyone imperfect in all respects. All men and women, if deficient in some respects are gifted in other respects. What is intended by making women obedient to their husbands is to cultivate in them the kind of fine temperament that will make them true partners to their husbands. This will result in a positive and constructive atmosphere at home rather than one of confrontation and discord. An obedient wife wins the heart of her husband and thus gains the upper hand. Hers is the highest place at home. A disobedient wife on the contrary keeps quarrelling with her husband so that her whole life in consequence is marred with bitterness. So far as men are concerned, Islam aims at cultivating fair mindedness on all occasion. Being the maintainer of the house, the man should not lose sight of the fact that after death he will be faced with the greatest of the Lords and Masters. There he will not be able to justify himself for being hard to those who were under him in the world. While those who were kind to people under them will be given kind treatment by God. Here is a hadith to this effect, related by, Aishah: The Prophet said, ‘The best of you is one who is best for his family, and I am best of all of you for my family.’ The rights of men and women, in reality, are not a matter of legal lists, but rather it is a matter of good living. Islam wants both the man and the woman to acknowledge natural realities. Both should keep their eyes on their responsibilities rather than on their rights. Both should attach real importance to the common goal (the proper maintenance of the family system) rather than on their own selves, and should be ever willing to make any personal sacrifice aimed at this goal. Some Quranic Verses In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. O Mankind, have fear of your Lord, who created you from a single soul. From that some He created its mate, and through them He scattered the earth with countless men and women and fear God, in whose name you claim (your rights) of one another, and of the ties of kinship. God is ever watching you (4:1). Believers fear God as you rightly should, and when death comes, die true Muslims (3:102).