“… ikut perintah suami”

That would be one of those things I would vow NOT to say ever. Every time I hear that (and nowadays it’s repeated on Suria due to coverage of the celebrity couple’s wedding), I cringe. It makes me sick in the stomach that someone as independent as the bride has internalised such patriarchal ideas about marriage without questioning it and just accepts it as ‘what Islam says’.

For some reason, since young I have always wondered why. Why, during family gatherings, when an idea is surfaced to go out or do something together on another date, or simply to leave at a later timing, my aunts would always say, “Wait, let me ask my husband first.” Why? Why can’t they just make the decision on their own, and then INFORM their husbands that this is what they would like to do? I have also always wondered why they and my mother would do things for their husbands (and my father) like take food and serve it for them when we are at family gatherings where the food is presented potluck-style. Nak cakap kasar, diorang takde tangan dan kaki sendiri ke nak ambil makanan sendiri? I have also always wondered, why, during kenduri doa selamat, it’s always the women who are busy working in the kitchen, yet every single time the prayers are over, it is always the men who get to eat first. Why?

Each and every human being is created to worship and serve and submit to God, alone. The ‘ikut perintah suami‘ mentality is almost like replacing  ‘serving and submitting to God’ with ‘serving and submitting to the husband’. Sounds like shirk to me. Think about it.

6 thoughts on ““… ikut perintah suami”

  1. I know you’d never say it, but would you accept it if the tok kadi at your wedding includes that in your wedding khutbah? This happened at my akad nikah, and I wanted to punch him in the face. And then shrivel up and die.

    I’ve also noticed the ‘ask husband first’ thing happening. Sometimes I also catch myself doing it with the Dutchman even though he’d rather die than have me obey him haha. But I see it more like a practical thing sometimes — even when I lived with a flatmate I would ask her first before we organised parties or decided to do something together.

    The serving men part — this is so ingrained in our society. Once, at a wedding, a male relative offered to get some tea for his wife, but then he made such a big deal about how fantastic a husband he was by doing that — that just wasn’t the point. Some men want to do things differently, but then they mock themselves (or others mock them) to keep themselves in line with the misogynist status quo.

    • Wow, that’s fast! I think wedding khutbahs in Singapore are somewhat standardised? It seems they’re reading off memory of the same script. I totally understand how you feel. I’d feel the same way too! I bet I’d make a really masam face and do lots of eye rolls sampai mata macam nak terkeluar when that part is said. Perhaps I should tell my photographer to take my photo of that precise moment, just to show to the world how much it irks me. Hahahaha (imagine that as hysterical frustrated laughter).

      I’m also reminded of something that the groom is made to read after the akad nikah which sounds something like ‘kalau saya memukulnya etc.. sedangkan dia taat kepada saya, dan mengadu dia kepada mahkamah Syariah dan terbukti aduannya betul, maka jatuhlah talak etc’. ‘Sedangkan dia taat kepada saya’? WTH? So if I am disobedient to my husband, say I refuse to pick up his dirty laundry which he leaves all over the place, he has the right to hit me, because technically I was disobedient? Or, if he told me to be at a place at a certain time because he’s picking me up, and I’m late by a few minutes, so he has the right to hit me because I was technically disobedient?

      As for the ‘asking the husband before doing things’, I do see the practical aspect of it. What I get from their responses, however, is more like ‘I can’t say anything until he approves’. For me, I would straight away give a ‘Ok let’s do it’ response, but perhaps the date and time can be confirmed later, after I have consulted with the husband about the feasibility of doing something especially if it involves shared property like our house or there is something going on in our lives which makes our combined schedules pretty packed.

  2. Ah that famous taqliq. Islamically you have the right to add on or change this (THIS is the marriage contract all the proponents of ‘Islam honours women’ are talking about), but IRL, no one actually does. If I had had a choice I would have tried to meet up with the kadi beforehand to discuss this. But realistically, I think our cultural tendency to 1) defer to authority and 2) follow anything ‘official’ or ‘standard’ makes this really hard.

    OMG I never noticed there was a “sedangkan dia taat pada saya” part in it! I think as women we’re supposed to feel honoured and protected that we can seek divorce for physical abuse, but whoa, it’s not a right for men to give us.

    It’s shameful and dishonest to say “women in Islam had rights 1400 years ago”, live in a secular state where we are almost gender-equal economically, and keep such a clause in the taqliq.

  3. I have always had an issue with the patriarchal aspect of this as well. While I understand that the husband’s role is to mainly to protect the wife, it should not be a subjugation. There is a clear difference and many men still take advantage of their role to subjugate their wife instead. I personally feel that a marriage should be one between equals and that one partner should not have the right over the other. and yah I agree, men have hands right they can help themselves too right! I’ll definitely help Mr H out , but only because I sincerely want to not because I have to. Though I bet you if I start speaking my mind on this topic with the makcik crowd, they will throw a hissy fit and start lecturing me on the roles of a traditional husband and wife. zzzz.

    • I would say, as equal partners, the husband’s role is the same as the wive’s: to have mutual respect and provide mutual support to each other as they go through life together. This support encompasses all aspects that make a person, be it physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, sexual, social.

      Certainly, a man may be physically stronger than a woman, thus since it is within his capability to physically protect his wife, doing so would be ONE way of playing his role as a spouse. There are so many other ways for him to play his role as a husband.

      Conversely, if a wife is capable of physically protecting her husband, so be it. (These days a woman who masters martial arts may be technically stronger than a man who doesn’t.) Gender should not restrict or define the roles that one play as a spouse.

      I experienced this first-hand: My dad resigned from his civil service job the year I was born, as he could not cope with the stress. My mother continued to work in the same line while he stayed home. My dad started giving tuition to the neighbourhood kids, but tuition was neither as popular nor as lucrative as it is now. My mom took on both the responsibility as a traditional wife AND the main breadwinner. She became like a superwoman to me; she woke up extra early to cook for the family before leaving for work, and she did most of the domestic chores (my dad did the rice-cooking, egg-frying when needed, laundry – minus ironing – minding us siblings when my mom went to work, and most of the discipline).

      Perhaps therein lies my utter dislike (hate? contempt?) of patriarchal ideas. I witnessed my mother taking on the supposedly ‘male’ role yet somehow she was still expected to take on the traditional ‘female’ role. Where is the fairness? Domestic chores aren’t something that can only be uniquely done by women – we all know of men who become great chefs and tailors / fashion designers. In fact, by virtue of their supposed greater physical strength, it is the men who should take on domestic chores as they mostly require simple skill and physical strength (yes, even cooking which everyone can do decently with help from a recipe book, and lots of practice.)

      I always voice my thoughts via loud retorts whenever I encounter such patriarchal ideas in the presence of my parents (mostly they appear in television dramas, so somehow my retorts don’t seem to attack their values directly) so they know I won’t ever be that kind of traditional wife. As for the makcik-pakcik crowd, I think it’s hard to change ingrained mindsets so I’m not going to bother. Change starts with us, with our generation.

      This comment is so long it should be a blog post haha.

  4. I share the same sentiments. It’s just sad that people (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) end up associating gender inequality with Islam, when it actually stems from culture. The problem is that people don’t understand and don’t make a conscious effort to understand what “taat” in a marriage encompasses. Our parents’ generation clearly misunderstand “taat” to be total submission on the wife’s part. And then without so much as a question, many of us in the following generation blindly follow suit. Which is a shame, because marriage can be so much more if we truly understood our roles in marriage. Look, to put it simply, how can such a notion be right if even our Prophet never subjected any of his wives to such inconveniences?

    I’ve blogged about this as well: http://feelingfeelingkawin.wordpress.com/tag/in-islamic-context/

    Glad to know there are like-minded individuals who want to start a revolution around!

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