Sitting comfortably on my couch while reading my favorite newspaper, I asked my wife to please make me a cup of tea… and to take care not to put too much sugar in it, to open the window, put the fan on, lock the front door, and put my shoes in their proper place. And as on many other previous occasions, she did just that, and subsequently went back to doing whatever it was she was doing.
Now I had always considered myself the nice, pious, hardworking Muslim husband – someone I felt she was really blessed to have got for a spouse. I however learned something which changed a lot of those assumptions about myself on one cold and rainy Saturday morning.
She was preoccupied with reading a book of general interest which I cared little for, while I had finished my report for the office, had nothing left to do, and was actually feeling a little bored. Out of nowhere, she asked me i a soft voice if I could please make her a cup of coffee… to add honey to it and not sugar, to please close the windows, put the fan off and then lock the front door.
I was flabbergasted! I thought I was hearing things. Who in the WORLD did she think I was? And who in this UNIVERSE did she think SHE was?! I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just stood there in shock looking at her big head from behind as she continued to read her book, and then slowly moved to the kitchen where I decided to make a cup of tea for myself . . . and SINCE I HAPPENED TO BE THERE, I decided to make one for her also. Still, I could not get over the feeling of being asked to do things, and I was in no hurry to do as I was told!
A few minutes later, a voice from the couch shouted “Honey, I’m waiting…” I felt like exploding! And throwing her cup of tea against the wall! That was it! I had had enough, and told her angrily “Go make yourself, I’m busy!” as I proceeded to storm out of the house.
When I was outside, I got into my car and drove around, and after a few minutes, I parked by the roadside to shuffle my thoughts and clear my head over the incident. These were the thoughts that passed through my head as I watched the rain through the windows:
- Why was her request so distressing to me? She had no problem with my own demands even though she was not obliged to do anything.
- Why couldn’t I meet her demand for the sake of Allah also? What was the real issue? Was it a problem of cultural expectations dictating my own reactions?
Did I have a problem of pride that she didn’t have?
If I’m as good a Muslim husband as I claim to be, what would Islam encourage me to do in response to her requests? What would be in the interest of being closer to Allah’s ideal of “love and mercy” between our hearts? And where should my loyalties lie when what I want conflicts with such Islamic values?
Why did I take on the attitude that it was undignified for a man to serve tea to his wife when the sunnah of the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) was to serve his household?
Am I a weak Muslim for fearing a threat to my position of authority more than I fear the atom’s weight of pride that may keep me from entering paradise?
And why did I even interpret her simple request as being an order and therefore a threat to my authority?!
It became apparent to me that I wasn’t as nice and pious a husband as I thought I was. It seems that the struggle to improve and surrender to Allah’s will is never-ending, and it’s not just a problem of my pride but also my insistence on meeting the expectations of my culture as opposed to meeting the expectations of Allah and my religion.
I returned home to find my wife upset. With all my courage, I swallowed my pride to apologize,and from then on, have given myself the honorable position of tea-maker for the entire household.
(Adapted from, Pride & Her Cup of Tea.)