The Woman: Wife and Mother
The Koran gave the good wife and mother very high status. The work and effort a woman exerts in the running of her household, spending time with her husband, and raising her children involves enormous commitment and is not underestimated in Islam. Like the husband, the wife has been given a set of instructions and a warning to keep her from neglecting her duties. According to the Koran, it is a major sin if a woman ignores her husband's needs or neglects her children (unless she is not capable due to health reasons).
Duties Toward the Household
Unlike her husband, the wife is not obligated to spend money on her family. She may or may not work for pay, and if she does, the money she earns is hers to keep. The Koran specifically tells men not to take their wives’ money by force. Muslim authorities say that if the family is in need of extra financing, it is favorable for the wife to share in meeting the expenses, for which Allah will reward her. Whether she chooses to spend or to save her earnings is entirely her decision.
As for the living environment, there is no specific law in the Koran that obliges women to take over the cleaning and maintaining of the house. A woman's direct responsibility is satisfying the needs of her husband and children. However, Muslims view the responsibility of maintaining the household environment as an inherent part of satisfying the family's needs. Therefore, a Muslim career woman would neither be exempt from nor required to perform her household duties, but in a matter of good manners, the husband's willingness to help her will be rewarded.
Not all husbands and wives follow the rules set to them by the Koran and the Sunnah; some men beat their wives and some wives neglect their children. According to Islam, even a mistreated member of the family must abide by the rules, as it is up to Allah to punish the one who strays from the right path.
Life with the Husband
Women in modern times struggle to achieve equality with men and as they do, they sometimes struggle for the upper hand in the running of the family and household. While men are asked to treat their wives with utmost consideration, their assigned role as the head of the family is a position that is indisputable in Islam. Even if a woman equally provides for the family, she is to remain deferential to her husband. Islam requires her to make him comfortable and respect his wishes.
Allah says in the Koran, “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah has guarded” (4:34). Allah does not intend for the husband and wife to compete for domination over each other. He states in the Koran that He created them to complement each other according to their best natural abilities. The previous verse explains that men are head of the family because they protect and provide. In turn, women must respectfully satisfy their wishes.
Scholars explain that the requirement of wives to fulfill their husbands’ requests is not to be taken as oppression of women. If the husband treats his wife in the manner outlined previously, the wife's requests will consequently be fulfilled, too. And of course, the husband's requests of his wife must be reasonable, as mentioned in the Koran. Scholars describe a righteous wife as patient with her husband even in his outbursts, just as a righteous husband is kind and respectful to her. According to the Koran and Sunnah, tyranny should never rule the household and all matters of the family should be decided in consultation with its members.