In the Books of Ephesian (5:22-28) and Colossians (3:18-19), it is clear that the wives are to submit to the husbands, and the husbands are to love the wives. The husbands are reminded not to be bitter to the wives. In many instances also, the Muslims have been blamed for treating their wives as a second class citizen. Now, I am not going into the argument regarding this statement, but I am merely sharing my thoughts based on what the Revealed Books (Quran and Bible) have told us and reminded us of our responsibilities.
The Revealed Books have made it clear that a husband’s love for the wife is not based primarily on sexual or emotional factors, although both of these are involved. It is a love that loves in spite of the response, or lack of it, from the one loved. A husband can only love his wife properly if he is the head of the household and that he looks toward the Almighty as his goal and is guided by the words of the Lord.
Further, the Revealed Books have told us that a husband must honour his wife which is due to her because she is his wife. The husband must take his wife into every aspect of his life. The remarkable similarity between the Quran and Bible in these areas is further affirmed in that a husband must uphold his duties and responsibilities as a husband so that his supplications to God will not be hindered. Only in this way will it be possible for the husband to love his wife as God intended and manifest his headship properly.
It is rather unfair to conclude that the Muslims have treated their women folk with unkindness when in fact what God meant for the children of the Books has remained the same. Some bad examples are not representative of the Muslim population. But what we know now is that if we look at it from the correct perspective as taught by the Almighty, a wife is to submit to her husband. We further know that submission in itself is held in high esteem because of the responsibilities, both physically and spiritually imposed on the husband as a way of honouring his wife.
As Muslims, we must also distinguish religious requisites from cultural norms. While some men are served hand over fist by their wives, and sometimes, impose on the wives to do so, these men should look back on the pre-requisites from religious standpoints and change the way they view and treat their wives. A loyal, submissive, and soft spoken wife should be treated with honour and love and not to be stepped on as dictated by culture, which contradicts with religion. It is perplexing to see this in our society today because such expectations are deemed to be “religious” when in fact they are not.