The Home can be a heaven or hell, depending on what the couple makes of it. As the custodian of the day to day organization of the home, the wife sets the atmosphere and tone of the household. She is expected to be orderly, active and cheerful.
While a Muslim wife is not legally required by Islamic law to cook and clean, she is the home manager and therefore responsible for ensuring that these essential jobs are done. If the husband can afford a servant or two he is expected to provide them to relieve the wife of heavy labour. Nowadays labour-saving devices are also available to ease the housework. If the husband cannot afford a servant or the wife is anyway accustomed to housework she is expected to contribute her own labour as a form of Sadaqah (charity) for which she will receive Allah's reward.
The supervision of the household is very important for the happiness and welfare of all who live in it. Anyone who has stayed in a badly-supervised hotel knows the frustrations of delays in meals, poorly-cooked food, broken-down and dirty facilities and, underlying it, the feeling that the Management does not care whether the guests are comfortable or not. It is the same in the home.
The wife who wants to keep the family together should ensure that the home is a pleasant place to be in physically and psychologically. Good colour schemes, well-chosen furnishings, and a clean and comfortable environment all contribute to a pleasant home.
The wise wife also knows the value of the personal touch around the house. Even if she has an outside job or has servants, the wife's own cooking, and her own sense of making the house pleasant have a strong influence on family love and cohesion. The English proverb "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" is as valid today as it ever was. Preparing and serving food has a special blessing and importance in Islam whether as hospitality to guests or as charity to the needy, or as a way of pleasing the family. Even if a wife is too busy to cook on a daily basis, whatever food she prepares with her own hands to please her family will earn her their special appreciation and love.
The supervision of the household is not the only duty of the wife. She is also responsible for the care and early education of the children if she is blessed with them.
The importance of breast-feeding should be emphasised, both for its physical benefits to the child and for establishment of a close bond between mother and baby. Modern studies of the effects of breast-milk have revealed its role in protecting young children from disease, and there is also growing evidence of its link with intellectual development. The Qur'an recommends a long period of breast-feeding which maximise the benefit to the child. (see Surah Al-Ahqaf, 46:15).
The mother's way of relating to the child is of lasting significance, since the effects of the training and impressions of early childhood remain throughout adult life. It has been described as like "writing on stone"; its effects last forever. A wise mother can use this powerful influence to nurture a family that grows up to be loving, kind, co-operative, considerate, confident, disciplined, spiritually and intellectually awake and conscious of Allah in whatever they do.
An Arab proverb says "The mother is a school".
This is not just an empty compliment but an important observation which has implications for the seriousness of the mother's task. The psychologist Adler confirms this observation from his studies of human development:
"From the moment of birth a baby seeks to connect himself with his mother. This is the purpose of his movements. For many months his mother plays overwhelmingly the most important role in his life he is almost completely dependent upon her. It is in this situation that the ability to co-operate first develops. The mother gives her baby the first contact with another human being, the first interest in someone other than himself. She is his first bridge to social life; and a baby who could make no connection at all with his mother, or with some other human being who took her place, would inevitably perish...
...her skill, or lack of skill, has influenced all the child's potentialities. We mean nothing else by a mother's skill than her ability to co-operate with her child and to win the child to co-operate with herself. This ability is not to be taught by rules. New situations arise every day. There are thousands of points in which she must apply her insight and understanding to the child's needs. She can be skillful only if she is interested in her child and occupied in "winning his affection and securing his welfare ...
...the whole of human society is bound up with the attitude of women to motherhood. Almost everywhere the woman's part in life is undervalued and treated as secondary...
 Adler: What Life should Mean to You (George AlIen & Iluwm Chapter 6: Family Influence.
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