Is the Husband Responsible for Wife’s Religious Commitment?

It is to be noted that in Islam everyone is held responsible for his own actions before Allah. However, it is the duty of every Muslim to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. The duty of a Muslim towards his family is much more stressed, as the husband is the guardian of his family and therefore he should strive to protect his wife and children and help them lead an Islamic life. Almighty Allah says, “O ye who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire whereof the fuel is men and stones, over which are set angels strong, severe, who resist not Allah in that which He commandeth them, but do that which they are commanded.” (At-Tahrim: 6)

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states: “It is the duty of a husband to persuade his wife to follow Islam; he should do so through gentle persuasion and wisdom. Ultimately everyone is responsible for his/her own actions or behavior. Allah says in the Qur’an: “Whatever (wrong) any human being commits rests upon itself alone; and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another’s burden. And, in time, unto your Lord you all must return.” (Al-An`am: 164). The above verse, however, should not prevent you, as a husband from advising your spouse and persuading her, using all of the best methods or means at your disposal. Once you have done your part, you are free from blame.

While stressing the importance of using wisdom in seeking to change your partner, I must say we can never be guilty of overdoing it: There is a big difference between threatening a person to be good and persuading him. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Gentleness embellishes everything while harshness makes everything ugly.” It is worth remembering that when Allah sent His Prophets Musa and Haroon to preach to Pharaoh, the tyrant, they were admonished, “Speak to him gently; perchance, he may receive admonition or fear (the Lord)”