Cup of tea?

I followed the lamentations about the Westernisation of Muslim women for a while—I call them islamofeminists, quipped one of their detractors—but it started to occur to me that the complainents’ views had a ring of the very traits they claimed to abhor. Remarks about the housework began to fall flat as I recalled the scholars of our deen who spent their lives cooking every single meal for their families. Yes, and as I remembered that our blessed Prophet, peace be upon him, mended his own clothes, a habit that even the most enlightened Westerner would still consider women’s work. A poor husband feels oppressed because a wife will not respond with a cup of tea when he asks for one. For crying out loud, man, do it yourself. And while you’re at it, offer to make her one too. You might get some reward.

Races off to do Maghrib… and a thought occurs to him…

I mean, you will happily spend several hours watching your football each week. It’s a bit like the toaster calling the kettle white. Isn’t that Westernisation?

10 thoughts on “Cup of tea?

  1. ‘…the scholars of our deen who spent their lives cooking every single meal for their families’

    And those scholars would be…?

    Is it really fair, brother, for a man to work hard to provide for his wife, even allowing his wife to work and keep her money for herself- and do all the cooking at home, or even most of it? That isn’t fair, is it? Or am I an unenlightened misogynist? Thing is, there was a clear division of labour in the days of RasulAllah- salAllahu `alayhi wa sallam. I doubt the male sahaba ever cooked. And even if they did—what is expected of us as the men of our households? I have no objections whatever to helping out around the house, especially after kids come—but I ask again, is it fair for us to do two jobs at once?

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  2. Wa `alaykum ussalam my brother (sorry I forgot to ‘salam’ you in my first comment),

    I don’t think I was being petty (if you were accusing me of that)- most women recognise such a thing as an equitable division of (the domestic) labour. Also, akh, I’m not sure what you were implying with your comment about boiled water- but, as pointed out, I have no problem at all with helping out at home, and in fact am forever chasing after my sisters to clean their plates when they finish with them.

    Notice how, in most of the examples mentioned- in fact, in *all* of them- the men in question had no living wives! Rather telling, don’t you think? Sha’rawi, for example, didn’t remarry after the death of his wife (despite the insistence of his children)- hence his cooking. Touche! And if we’re speaking in terms of normative behaviour, or the state that obtained throughout the history of the ummah- no doubt about it, women did almost all the cooking (except at court, but that isnt the best of exceptions to cite against the general practice).

    I emphasise the point that I’m not at all averse to helping out around the home. I will add a point mentioned by Kecia Ali; historically, the primary duty of a wife towards her husband was considered to be her sexual availability. Hence all the nasty consequences of rejecting her husband’s advances…etc.

    ‘Allah has put love and mercy between you…’

    He’s put more than that- duties, and obligations, my friend. These, more than anything, bind us to our peers. As `Umar (ra) once said, and I’m paraphrasing- true love rarely obtains between husband and wife. When love and mercy fail- and they almost invariably do- we have the law. And where would we be without that?

    It is law, not love, that distinguishes us from the animals.

    And what, my friend, do you say to that? *smile*

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  3. And I suppose I should say that I’m wondering, at this point, what you’d do if your wife was to forsake your bed, refuse to help about the house and abandoned you (not legally) for her friends. Wouldn’t you be entitled to anger?

    Isn’t a wife whose husband fails to maintain her entitled to anger? What about a wife whose husband beats and abuses her? Or is it only men who are petty, only men who have no rights?

    A man is the head of his household. His word, within reason, is law. To be a good husband is to be an enlightened despot.

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  4. Salam alaikum,

    I had in mind the likes of the late sheikh Asharawi from Egypt, who used to cook for his whole family into his old age, but I can think of others including a well respected Arabic teacher in this country.

    What I object to is the extraordinary pettiness of some men (and indeed women) when it comes to their relationships with their spouses, whom Allah has described in the most beautiful terms of garments for one another.

    One of my closest friends’ father brought up four children single-handedly, cooking every meal for them, washing their clothes, managing the household and educating them, all while developing his career as an academic.

    A local brother near me lost his wife to cancer about four years ago and has been looking after his young son only with the help of his two older children ever since.

    These are real men. Not those who can’t carry the burden of splashing some boiling water into a mug.

    And be careful with your “is it fair?” because one who carries a baby in her womb for nine months—whose reward is that of a martyr should she die while carrying such a burden, so great is the magnitude of that act—might also ask you that question one day. And what will you say?

    Allah has put love and mercy between you. What more do you need?

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  5. The post is entitled, “Cup of Tea?” and is about a man who feels oppressed because a wife will not respond with a cup of tea when he asks for one.

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  6. Sheikh Asharawi’s wife used to get upset with him when he cooked for his family, saying, “If you also do the house work what do we then do?” A reporter found it hard to believe that he cooked for the whole family when he told him that this was the case, and only believed it when his grand-daughter testified that it was the case.

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  7. Hmmm…you must be right, he (rahimahullah) must have had a kink in his brain. That would explain his politics; my father always said Sha’rawi’s politics stank. And he was right. Sadat.

    I would have traded him for a scholar who didn’t know how to cook but showed some integrity.

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