Rights of the Husband and Wife in Islam

A Qatari couple relaxes in the evening

A Qatari couple relaxes in the evening

Based on Hammudah `Abd al-`Ati’s famous book, Islam in Focus, with some modifications.

First of all, we’d like to state that in Islam the marriage of a man and a woman is not just a financial and physical arrangement of living together but a sacred contract, a gift of God, to lead a happy, enjoyable life and continue the lineage. The main goal of marriage in Islam is the realization of tranquility and compassions between the spouses. For the attainment of this supreme goal, Islam defined certain duties and rights for the husband and wife.

For a detailed account of these mutual duties and rights, we’d like to cite the following:

“Piety is the basis of choosing the life partner. Many are the statements of the Qur’an and the Sunnah that prescribe kindness and equity, compassion and love, sympathy and consideration, patience and good will. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, says, “The best Muslim is the one who is best to his family.” Also, he says, “… and the most blessed joy in life is a good, righteous wife.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)

The role of the husband evolves around the moral principle that it is his solemn duty to Allah to treat his wife with kindness, honor, and patience; to keep her honorably or free her from the marital bond honorably; and to cause her no harm or grief. Allah Almighty says: “…consort with them in kindness, for if you hate them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein Allah has placed much good.” (An-Nisa’: 19)

The role of the wife is summarized in the verse that women have rights even as they have duties, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree over them. Allah Almighty says, “And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Al-Baqaraqh: 228)

This degree is usually interpreted by Muslim scholars in conjunction with another passage which states, among other things, that men are trustees, guardians, and protectors of women because Allah has made some of them excel others and because men expend of their means. Allah Almighty says: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah has guarded. As for those from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great.” (An-Nisa’: 34)

A-The Wife’s Rights; The Husband’s Obligations:

Indonesian Muslim couple in love

Indonesian Muslim couple

Because the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, have commanded kindness to women, it is the husband’s duty to:

1- Consort with his wife in an equitable and kind manner. Allah Almighty says, “… and consort with them in kindness.” (An-Nisa’: 19)

2- Have responsibility for the full maintenance of the wife, a duty which he must discharge cheerfully, without reproach, injury, or condescendence. Allah Almighty says: “Let him who has abundance spend of his abundance, and he whose provision is measured, let him spend of that which Allah has given him. Allah asks naught of any soul save that which He has given it. Allah will vouchsafe, after hardship, ease.‏” (At-Talaq: 7)

Components of Maintenance:

Maintenance entails the wife’s incontestable right to lodging, clothing, nourishing, and general care and well-being.

1-The wife’s residence must be adequate so as to provide her with the reasonable level of privacy, comfort, and independence. The welfare of the wife and the stability of the marriage should be the ultimate goal.

2-What is true of the residence is true of clothing, food, and general care. The wife has the right to be clothed, fed, and cared for by the husband, in accordance with his means and her style of life. These rights are to be exercised without extravagance or miserliness.

Non-Material Rights:

A husband is commanded by the law of God to:

1- Treat his wife with equity.

2- Respect her feelings, and to show her kindness and consideration.

3- Not to show his wife any aversion or to subject her to suspense or uncertainty.

4- Not to keep his wife with the intention of inflicting harm on her or hindering her freedom.

5- Let her demand freedom from the marital bond, if he has no love or sympathy for her.

B. The Wife’s Obligations; The Husband’s Rights:

The main obligation of the wife as a partner in a marital relationship is to contribute to the success and blissfulness of the marriage as much as possible. She must be attentive to the comfort and well-being of her mate. She may neither offend him nor hurt his feelings. Perhaps nothing can illustrate the point better than the Qur’anic statement which describes the righteous people as those who pray saying: “Our Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the joy and the comfort of our eyes, and guide us to be models of righteousness.” (Al-Furqan: 74)

This is the basis on which all the wife’s obligations rest and from which they flow. To fulfill this basic obligation:

1- The wife must be faithful, trustworthy, and honest.

2- She must not deceive her mate by deliberately avoiding conception lest it deprive him of legitimate progeny.

3- She must not allow any other person to have access to that which is exclusively the husband’s right, i.e. sexual intimacy.

4-She must not receive anyone in his home whom the husband does not like.

5-She may not accept their gifts without his approval. This is probably meant to avoid jealousy, suspicion, gossip, etc., and also to maintain the integrity of all parties concerned.

6- The husband’s possessions are her trust. If she has access to any portion thereof, or if she is entrusted with any fund, she must discharge her duty wisely and thriftily. She may not lend or dispose of any of his belongings without his permission.

7- With respect to intimacy, the wife is to make herself desirable; to be attractive, responsive, and cooperative.

8- A wife may not deny herself to her husband, for the Qur’an speaks of them as a comfort to each other. Due consideration is, of course, given to health and decency.”

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Husband and Wife Relationship

26 Comments

  1. Assalamualeikum and thank you for a most enlightening article.

    However I am continuously perplexed by a certain hadith that keeps cropping up concerning how a wife is not allowed to deny her husband his sexual needs (as inferred in #8 of a wife’s obligations).

    I am led to understand that if a wife refuses her husband’s bed (ie. refuses sex with her husband) the angels will curse her until dawn.

    I am not in any way doubting the authenticity of the hadith instead I am wondering why nobody has ever inferred that the same goes for the husband refusing his wife. That is, if the husband refuses sex to his wife do the angels curse him till dawn?

    Or is the husband, unlike the wife, ALLOWED to refuse his wife’s sexual needs?

    I am very perplexed because it is not unusual for some wives to be refused sex from her husband (sometimes for months on end) for absolutely no cause and with married life otherwise very amicable.

    Does Islam have anything to say about a wife’s rights concerning her sexual needs within marriage and a husband’s obligation to his wife?

    Please advise. Jazak Allah Khair

    • Halima, your question is a valid one, and in response I have published this article:

      Sexual Rights in Islam

      Wael
      Zawaj.com Editor

      • Brother Wael

        Sister Halima is asking a very valid question.The link you are providing is in general duties and rights of husband towards eachother but in person if husband denies to fullfill the needs of a wife , what shall she do? moreover i have same kind of situation which lead to worst and now i am in sever mental pains. so please tell me where can i post my quesion in one of your leading website , and which section?
        Ur all work is great, May ALLAH give u reward for this.

        • Zara, the article answers sister Halima’s question, which was, “Does Islam have anything to say about a wife’s rights concerning her sexual needs within marriage?”

          Your question is different. You are asking how to resolve this problem in your marriage specifically. I suggest the following:

          1. Try to determine the root of the problem. If the relationship between you and your husband is bad and for that reason he does not want to be intimate with you, then you might see a marriage counselor to help improve your marriage and communication.

          2. If your husband is physically incapable of satisfying you (for example he is impotent), then he should consult a doctor who can help him with that.

          There’s more I could say but without more information from you I am just guessing blindly. I suggest that you visit our sister site, http://www.IslamicAnswers.com, and post your question there. Make sure to provide sufficient details, and you will get a detailed response Insha’Allah.

          Wael
          Zawaj.com Editor

  2. wot exactly happens in a muslim wedding???

    • Typically an Imam will recite some verses from the Quran and maybe say some words about marriage, then will verify that both the groom and bride agree to the marriage. The Imam, the groom, the bride (or her guardian) and two witnesses sign the marriage contract. Then there will be a dinner, and often singing and dancing.

      Wael
      Zawaj.com Editor

  3. There are some rights which each of the two spouses has over the other. These include:
    1- The right to enjoy each other.
    2-The right to inherit from each other.
    3-The right of confirmation of the lineage of their children.

  4. I am very much glad with this articles,may Almighty Allah grant you and us with his endless bliss.Ameen

  5. i want to know that is a husband still bound for the maintenance of wife even if she is not obedient and adopt insulting behavour.if she dont care for her husband need,like food,cloths,etc, with reference to Quran and Haddith.

  6. I wish my wife would put me in a position where she would even ask such a question that halima asked. She doesnt even wanna know. Its so frustrating! Ive got a headache, im tired, why do u come to me so late. I feel sick blah blah blah

    Seriously frustrating.

  7. Assalam aleykum

    RE: Halima’s post, I cannot seem to find the article in the link that you have provided. Please help as I also would like the answer the Halimas question.

    [--------Assalamualeikum and thank you for a most enlightening article.

    However I am continuously perplexed by a certain hadith that keeps cropping up concerning how a wife is not allowed to deny her husband his sexual needs (as inferred in #8 of a wife’s obligations).

    I am led to understand that if a wife refuses her husband’s bed (ie. refuses sex with her husband) the angels will curse her until dawn.

    I am not in any way doubting the authenticity of the hadith instead I am wondering why nobody has ever inferred that the same goes for the husband refusing his wife. That is, if the husband refuses sex to his wife do the angels curse him till dawn?

    Or is the husband, unlike the wife, ALLOWED to refuse his wife’s sexual needs?

    I am very perplexed because it is not unusual for some wives to be refused sex from her husband (sometimes for months on end) for absolutely no cause and with married life otherwise very amicable.

    Does Islam have anything to say about a wife’s rights concerning her sexual needs within marriage and a husband’s obligation to his wife?

    Please advise. Jazak Allah Khair-----------------]

  8. Asslam O Alekam
    i have a question. it is always said that if a wife commits adultery, she should be punished or this or that bla bla, or she needs to guard her husband’s rights and should not show any inclination to any other man etc. she is doing a sin.

    what about husband?? is he allowed to show his inclination towards other women? or have affairs? or have oral sex?? or intercourse???
    what is the punishment for such husband? i searched every wher and could not get the answer. help me plz

  9. Assalamualaykum, I have a horrible marriage, I am married to a man who lies all the time, we have two beautiful children. My husband refuses to have any sought of sexual relations with me, if I want to hug him he’ll tell me to f…. off. I dream of leaving him and going back to my parents. He also lost his job about 9 months ago and has become extra violent. He kicks me chokes me, last week he through me outside onto the streets. I have told his mother about his violent ways but she never did anything about it. I have not told my parents as they are old and I don’t want to dissapoint them. My husband and I don’t even share a bed and I am tired of begging him to sleep next to me. He always humiliates me and degrades me, loves calling me stupid. I have no family here all my family is on another continent… Every day I wish I never ever met him. He’s a horrible person and husband. Should I go or should I stay? Life is too short to be this unhappy everyday

    • Juno, no human being deserves to be treated the way you have described. It is certainly not Islam’s idea of marriage. If you have the ability to leave, then take your children and go. Find a way, before you are seriously injured or crippled. Go to your parents. Their disappointment about the failure of your marriage is not as important as your emotional and physical safety.

      Wael
      Zawaj.com Editor

    • i wish i could be 10 years older ! nd marry u with ur kids ! but i’m too young for now ! i hate when i see men like this abusing womenx ! they dont deserve good nd obeying womens like juno !

    • one more thing juno ! if u want ur relationship get better i guess u should do one thing ! ignore ur husband ! for 1 week ! be rude ! show that ur mood is off due to his attitude towards u ! dont talk just do wht he says ignore him by saying hmm huh ! … becasue its man’s nature ! or to say human being nature ! that when a thing is given without any struggle! we dont care for it ! because we did’nt earn it ! its a for free ! so let ur husband earn u first ! trust me Insha’allah ! ur relationshiop wil get better !

  10. Salam Juno, you should concentrate and devout yourself in supplication to Allah. Commit yourself to your Ibadat read the Qur’an, keep the nigth vigil and forward your problem to Allah, all your diffulties will be solved Insaha Allah All your worries shall become history..

  11. I know its to late but leave and get a divorce

  12. Instead of worrying about their obligations towards their spouse husband and wife both get more interested to know about their own rights and use religion for their benefit for healthy relationship we should forget about our rights and worry more about our obligations

  13. Salaams

    I would like to know if a husband has the right to make certain decisions without consorting or discussing the matters with his wife first. For example, if the husband wants to leave the country to visit relatives on his own, or financial decisions which include his wifes earnings too as she works, is it acceptable for the husband to go ahead to make such decisions without consulting or discussing it wth his wife? I understand and accept men are the head of the household and family and are the guardians of their wives. But I would like to know Islam’s stance on this matter.

    • Sister K, As-salamu alaykum,

      With regard to the wife’s earnings, Islamically they belong to her exclusively. She may share them with her husband if she wishes, but she is under no obligation to do so. So the husband has no right to spend that money without your permission.

      As far as visiting relatives or traveling, the husband is not obligated to secure the wife’s permission. But marriage is more than just a collection of obligations. Any good husband will include his wife in all important decisions, because that is the way to a harmonious and happy marriage.

      Wael
      Zawaj.com Editor

  14. Hi All,
    I have a question, my husband is very good , loves me a lot n I love him too, we dnt hav kids yet and he is not interested in sex at all. I am so worried because he is so good before he was fine like one year and now almost 4 years and he just hugs me all da tym and loves me too but when I ask for sex , he just avoid .in 1 year we hardly do twice. I can not complaint any one as its so bad. I need kids also. I pray to Allah not to punish him as I forgive him but any idea why its happening. what islam says about such husbands? I herd also dat if u don’t do intercourse 4 months without any reason then ur nikkah gets makrooh. is it true. and all of you plz pray for my olaad. thanks n comment pls.

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