In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
“What do you do all day?”
“Why aren’t those dishes washed?”
“Why haven’t you wiped the toothpaste off of the bathroom mirror?”
What do these questions have in common? They’re all the kind of question the prophet (upon whom be peace and blessings) never asked of his servant, and certainly never even thought of asking any of his wives. (To be fair, he didn’t have a bathroom mirror or toothpaste, but I think that little fact can be overlooked for purposes of this discussion). They have another thing in common as well: many a Muslim woman has heard some variation of the above from her Muslim husband who believes that his contribution to family life is limited to earning a wage and ensuring that the women in his life do nothing but cook and clean all day.
Now let’s think about this for a moment. Firstly, as has been mentioned above, the prophet of Allah, (surely a nobler man than any of our husbands, and therefore a worthier man of service) was kinder and gentler to his actual servant than too many men are to their wives. Secondly, as every Muslim man must be aware of by now, (because we women are constantly reminding you), the same prophet also did housework, sweeping and mending his own clothes. And it’s not as if he couldn’t find a woman to do these things for him. Don’t forget, he had nine wives and four daughters. Surely, if it were the duty of a Muslim woman to be the unpaid servant in her home none of those thirteen women would ever have allowed him to even touch a broom, let alone use it.
Now some men will say, “Oh, I’m not him, and these days things are different.” Absolutely. He had nine houses, which is to say nine little rooms, almost no possessions, no bathroom, and practically nothing in the way of a kitchen. What are you asking your one wife to clean all by herself? Two bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, livingroom, hallway, all the laundry, and maybe even the yard and car? And when you’ve come home after a long day’s work, are you putting your feet up while you watch her bustle around behind you, the house, and the children? Are you asking her to bring you things, like a nice cold glass of water, a hot cup of tea, or a homemade TV dinner? Are you then asking her why the children aren’t in bed? Or why there’s toothpaste on the bathroom mirror? Or what she’s been doing all day?
Allow me to tell you what she’s been doing all day. She’s been cooking. She’s been cleaning. She’s been doing laundry. She’s been keeping the children from electrocuting themselves, setting themselves on fire, throwing all the flour in the house all over the kitchen floor so they can draw in it, beating each other to a pulp, breaking everything you own, destroying every scrap of paper in your home, drowning in the bathtub, cracking their tiny skulls open, and every other disaster that didn’t happen today. She’s also been cleaning up after some of the disasters she just wasn’t quick enough to prevent. And all that while, she was just dying for you to come home so that she could have just a few minutes of conversation with another adult, and maybe a little help preventing the next disaster the little people have cooking.
So the next time you come home after a long day’s work, don’t just put your feet up, order some food and drink from your wife, and watch complacently as her work day continues around you. Help. This is your house too. The two of you have more housework than the prophet and his wives did, and less help. Show her that you see her struggles, and lift as much of the burden from her as you can. After all, didn’t Allah give the broader shoulders to you?