Cross-posted at Womanist Musings.
The Prophet said:
If a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses, thereby upsetting him, the angels will continue to curse her until the morning.
If it were permissible for a human to prostrate to another, I would have ordered a wife to prostrate to her husband because of the enormity of his rights over her. By God, if there is an ulcer excreting puss from his feet to the top of his head and she licked it for him – she would not fulfill his rights.
After my conversion it didn’t take long for the advice to start rolling in. A lot of it was couched in more cultural expectations, such as: “change your name to a more Muslim (read: Arab) sounding name” or “you can’t be a vegetarian now, God has made meat allowable for you to enjoy.” But sometimes people would give me sincere religious advice based on sayings made by the Prophet. A few were excellent and made sense to me: “Eat and drink moderately,” “please your partner sexually,” and “tie up your camel” — meaning: do everything you can to ensure your safety, protect your property or implement a plan, and then trust in God. But if you just leave everything up to God and hope that everything will turn out okay, instead of taking personal action, your camel will walk away.
But sometimes I was offered advice based on sayings that didn’t sit well with me. Especially the religious advice for women that seemed to come at the price of personal freedom or with the threat of hellfire — and backed with, “well the Prophet said it, so it must be valid and important” and “if it doesn’t sit well with you, you’re not being faithful enough.” True, for many Muslims worldwide, following the Sunnah or the Prophet’s example is just as important as revering the Qur’an as the word of God. The Prophet is untouchable, a model human to be admired and loved. To deny any of the sayings attributed to him could be blasphemous.