How many of us have been counselled by our mothers on the eve of our marriage? If we are among the few, we should consider ourselves to be fortunate because this tradition is vanishing. Sometimes it seems that the planning of the perfect wedding steals the very essence of this very important moment in one’s life.

A popular counsel was given by Umamah Bint Al-Harith to her daughter Umm Iyas bint Awf on the night of her wedding. She said: “O my daughter! You are about to leave the home, in which you grew up and where you first learned to walk, to go to a place you do not know, to a companion with whom you are unfamiliar. By marrying you, he has become a master over you, so be like a servant to him, and he will become like a servant to you.” (“You can be the happiest woman in the world” by Dr. Aid Al-Qarni)

A servant to our husband? Did we hear it correctly? Any wife would hit the ceiling after reading this. But what exactly did Umamah mean by the word ‘servant’? She didn’t imply that one should be inferior, enslaved or trampled, as we might immediately think. She meant serving our husbands with sincerity, winning their trust, being dependable in times of need and respecting them. Isn’t that the definition of a truly worthy servant? And what will be the consequence of this conduct? Our husbands will gladly serve us! Isn’t that also every married woman’s dream?

Umamah further described ten qualities of a remarkable wife, who will almost always be able to win the heart of her spouse:

The first and second advice is to be content in his company, and listen to and obey him. Sarah, a married lady in her thirties, observes: “We are so occupied with finding faults in our spouses that it is next to impossible to experience a feeling of contentment in each other’s company. We would rather sit in front of the TV and spend hours viewing our favourite heroes’ movies and shows, than sit even for a couple of minutes with our husband to enjoy his company. And then we complain when our husbands don’t give us time or would rather read the newspaper in the bathroom than be with us.”

Interestingly, we have also heard the generation of our grandmothers, when women would not even speak a harsh word to their other halves out of respect or fear of them. It was simply something unheard of, and so were disputes and divorces. Today, with a more defiant woman emerging on the scene, many husbands are literally spoken to no better than the Chowkidar of the house. Criticizing, taunting, misbehaving, ridiculing – all this is justified as confidence and liberalism. One may think that some wives today behave more like mothers-in-law towards their husbands rather than their spouses! Imagine Allah’s (swt) displeasure. It is understandable that there will always be arguments and disputes in a household. The point is not who is right or wrong. It is mainly a question of handling the situation with wisdom and dignity. Apparently, we have given up both.

The third and fourth advice for a wife is to always try to smell and look good. Now, this shouldn’t be too difficult. We generally dress up for others, especially when going out. It would be far more effective to do the same when staying at home or awaiting our spouses’ arrival. Hina shared: “I always used to be so pressed for time that whenever my husband arrived from work, I was a rotten mess – sometimes, all sweaty from frying onions in the kitchen. But after reading this piece of advice, I try to do all the smelly and sweaty stuff in time, so I can take a quick shower and change right before my husband comes home. When I did this for the first time, my husband instantly inquired: ‘Where are you off to?’”

The fifth and sixth quality a caring wife must have is to prepare meals on time and ensure peace in the house when her husband is asleep. If we consider ourselves, we will realize that we lose temper most when we are hungry or when our sleep pattern is disturbed in any way.

The seventh and eighth piece of advice is to manage servants and children effectively and take care of the husband’s wealth. It has been noticed that men stay away from home if they know that after a hectic day at work, they will find chaos at home. If the wife maintains a proper spending budget of the household and other expenses that the husband is paying for, she will show him that she appreciates his hard work. A friend once said: “It is really pitiful to notice that many women are constantly complaining in public, how little their husband makes and that it is almost impossible for them to survive.”

Finally, it is advised that a faithful wife should never disclose any of her husband’s secrets and always try to obey his orders. Huma Hassan says: “If spouses are like garments protecting and gracing each other, imagine your horror if your garment starts to reveal your waistline in public.” Our husband will never trust us if he suspects that we give away all his secrets.

Umamah Bint Al-Harith concluded: “Be careful, my daughter, of showing joy in front of him, when he is upset, and do not show sorrow in front of him, when he is happy.” That is all about using our common sense coupled with consideration.

The above counsel is about creating an individual, who cares about and is cautious of her own conduct. She demonstrates a high level of humanitarian values and, consequently, is a source of pleasure for those around her. I can’t possibly imagine a home of peace and love, without a wise woman, exhibiting the aforementioned qualities. Can you?

Text of Umamah bint Al-Harith’s Advice

“The first and second of them are: be content in his company, and listen to and obey him, for contentment brings peace of mind, and listening to and obeying one’s husband pleases Allah (SWT).

The third and fourth of them are: make sure that you smell good and look good; he should not see anything ugly in you, and he should not smell anything but a pleasant smell from you. Kohl is the best kind of beautification to be found, and water is better than the rarest perfume.

The fifth and the sixth of them are: prepare his food on time, and keep quiet when he is asleep, for raging hunger is like a burning flame, and disturbing his sleep will make him angry.

The seventh and eighth of them are: take care of his servants (or employees) and children, and take care of his wealth, for taking care of his wealth shows that you appreciate him, and taking care of his children and servants shows good management.

The ninth and tenth of them are: never disclose any of his secrets, and never disobey any of his orders, for if you disclose any of his secrets you will never feel safe from his possible betrayal, and if you disobey him, his heart will be filled with hatred towards you.”