It is widely talked about how men don’t know the rights of women in Islam but the reality is that both sides do not have the correct understanding of each others rights. Men in general have a much more public role in society while the woman has more of an influence on the internal affairs of the family and the household. Below we will point out the rights of a husband in a marriage and the wife’s obligation towards her husband and family.
1. Submitting to Authority
One point in Islam that is misunderstood by many men and women is that when men are given a higher degree over women in Islam it is referring to a degree of responsibility and to separate as well as to classify the roles for men and women. In Surah Baqarah verse 228 Allah says “And due to them (the wives) is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them (in responsibility and authority). Allah is All Mighty and Wise.”
2. Being Kind to the Husband
Sadly a lot of women in today’s society are disrespecting their husbands and are not treating them with kindness and care as they have been commanded by Allah. As one of the obligations of the wife is to treat her husband with honor, kindness and good manners. Beyond finances, there are many psychological and emotional needs that a husband fulfills for his wife and to show gratitude towards him she should be kind and humble. A good example is Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her), who was wealthier than the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) but she did not make it a means for her to be arrogant or ungrateful to her husband.
Abdullah Bin Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “Allah does not look (with mercy) at a woman who is not grateful to her husband when she cannot live without him.” (recorded by an-Nasai)
3. Obeying her Husband
Obeying the husband is one of the obligations upon women in Islam. A woman will obey her husband to please Allah and to seek his pleasure. The reward for women who obey their husbands is great. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “When a woman prays her five (prayers), fasts her month (Ramadan), preserves her chastity, and obeys her husband, she will enter Jannah.” (recorded by Ahmad)
On the other hand for a woman to disobey her husband is a great sin. Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) reported the Messenger of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said “There are two individuals whose prayer does not rise above their heads; a slave running away from his masters – until he returns to them, and a woman who disobeys her husband – until she returns (to obedience).” (recorded by Al-Hakim)
Some guidelines for Obedience:
a. By obeying her Husband she is obeying Allah because he requires that from her.
b. Obey your Husband as long as it is within your capacity.
c. The Husband should not be obeyed if it involves being disobedient to Allah.
4. Fulfilling Husbands Physical Desires
One of the major obligations for a wife is to fulfill the physical desires of her husband. It is a major sin for a wife to deny her husband intimate relations without a valid reason. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said “If a man invites his wife to bed and she refuses to come and he sleeps while angry, the angels curse her till the morning.” (recorded by Bukhari and Muslim)
Another hadith in regards to this matter that shows the magnitude of a wife’s obligation; Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “By the One in whose hand is my soul, never would a man invite his wife to his bed and she refuses but that the One who is above the heavens would be angry with her until he (her husband) forgives her.” (recorded by Muslim)
5. Avoiding Suspicion
It is an obligation on the wife to avoid the following situations to remove the probability of suspicion coming into the marriage.
a. Avoid displaying her beauty (charms) to other men
Fudallah Bin Ubaydah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “There are three (types of) individuals that you need not ask about (because they are doomed): a man who departs from the Jamaah, disobeys his imam (ruler), and dies in a state of disobedience; a female or male slave who runs away from his master and dies in that (fugitive) state; a woman that, when her husband is absent – even though he had sufficed her from all worldly worries – she adorns herself in his absence (to other men). So, you need not ask about those.” (recorded by Bukhari)
b. Avoid unnecessary talking to Other Men
A woman should not talk to men without her husband’s permission. And even when she does talk to them it should be formal, limited and to the point. Amr Bin al-As (may Allah be pleased with them) reported “The Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) prohibited speaking to woman without her husbands’ permission.” (recorded by at-Tabarani)
c. Avoid Privacy with Other men
A woman should not be in a private setting with another man unless he is her mahram. Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them) reported that Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “A woman may not travel except with a mahram. And no (unrelated) man may come into her presence unless she has a mahram with her.” (recorded by Bukhari and Muslim)
d. Avoid traveling without Mahram
A woman may not travel without her mahram. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “It is not permissible for a woman to travel except in the company of a mahram.” (recorded by Muslim).
On a subject of travelling, scholars have difference in opinions about distances and other conditions. Please research this topic further on your own.
e. Avoid going outside without reason
A woman should avoid as much as possible going outside her home without reason. This involves more interaction with men or even being in close proximity to them. Allah says in Surah Ahzab verse 33 “And abide in your homes and do not display yourselves as was the display of the former times of Jahiliyyah.”
One of the ways a wife can show her love towards her husband is by serving him and by cooperating with him to the best of her ability. Serving her husband includes taking care of the household and the daily matters related to the house. Muath Bin Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “If a woman knew her husband’s right, she would not sit while he is eating his dinner or supper until he finishes eating.” (recorded by at-Tabarani)
7. Pleasant appearance
As a side tangent from Kindness towards her husband a woman should look pleasing to her husband. She should make an effort to look a certain way in different settings as her husband would like her to be; for example at home she would wear beautiful clothes (attractive), beautify herself, smell nice and when outside dress according to her husband desires (in conformity with Islamic teachings) and wear hijab, modest clothing and bring joy to her husband inside and outside the home. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said “The best of women is that who pleases him (i.e. her husband) when he looks at her, obeys him when he orders and does not subject her person or money to what he dislikes.” (recorded by Ahmad)
8. Admitting people with permission
One of the rights of the husband is that no one should enter his house without his consent. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “It is not permissible for a woman to fast, while her husband is present, without his permission – except for Ramadan. Nor is it permissible for her to admit anyone to his house except with his permission.” (recorded by Bukhari and Muslim)
9. Permission for Voluntary Fasting
A wife should not conduct voluntary fasting without the consent of her husband. The reason is because her voluntary fasting interferes with her obligation of fulfilling her husband’s desires. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said “If her husband is present, a woman may not fast without his permission – except for Ramadan. And if he is present, she may not admit anyone into his house with his permission. And he will surely receive half of the reward for whatever she spends of his earning without his permission.” (recorded by Bukhari and Muslim)
10. Financial Responsibility of a Woman
The responsibility of finances of the home is not the sole task for the husband. Below are some key responsibilities for the wife to maintain the finances of her home.
a. Safeguarding Possessions
Allah says in Surah An-Nisa verse 34 “So, righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah), guarding in (their husbands) absence what Allah commands them to guard (their husband’s honor, property, secrets etc.)
b. Spend with Permission
A woman may not spend her husband’s wealth without his consent. Abdullah Bin Amr (may Allah be pleased with them) reported that Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “It is not permissible for a woman to give a donation unless her husband allows that.” (recorded by Abu Dawud)
c. Dispensing Food
A woman should not dispense food without her husband’s consent. Abu Umamah al-Bahili (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “Allah has appointed for everyone his due right; thus no bequest may be made to a (standard) heir. And a woman may not spend anything from her house without her husband’s permission.” Someone asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! Not even food?” He SAW replied “That is our best type of wealth.” (recorded by Abu Dawud)
d. Exception for Permission
A woman is allowed to give charity or dispense food if she knows that her husband will not object to it or that her family will not suffer due to it. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “When a woman gives away (as charity) from her home’s food, without causing harm (to the family), she earns her reward because of her spending, and her husband earns his reward because he provided (the food).” (recorded by Bukhari and Muslim)
e. A Woman’s personal wealth
The husband has no right to his wife’s wealth or possessions but a woman may not spend from her own wealth without the consent of her husband. Wathilah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said “It is not permissible for a woman to spend of her money except with her husband’s permission.” (recorded by at-Tabarani)
11. Wife’s Obligation towards children
a. Protect them from the fire
Raising the children is a shared responsibility but it is emphasized that since the mother spends more time with them she has the ability to supervise and guide them. Allah says in Surah al-Tahrim verse 6 “O you who believe! Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones. Appointed over it are angels who are harsh and severe. They do not disobey Allah in what he commands them but do what they are commanded.”
b. Breast Feeding Children
A woman has an obligation to breast feed her children up to two years of age. Allah says in Surah Baqarah verse 233 “Mothers should nurse their children two complete years – for whoever desires to complete the nursing term.”
There is a hadith of much benefit and it also shows the severity of not fulfilling the obligation upon a women to breast feed her child. Abu Umamah al-Bahili reported that Allah’s Messenger (Peace be Upon Him) said:
“While I was sleeping, two men (angels) came to me, held my upper arms, and took me to a rough mountain. They said,” Climb.” I said,” I cannot climb it.”
They said, ” We will make it easy for you.”
He continued: ” So I ascended until I reached a high place in the mountain. I heard fierce cries and asked, ” What are those cries?” They replied, ” That is the howling of the people of the Fire.”
He continued: “We moved on until I saw some people who were suspended by their Achilles’ tendons, their cheeks cut and gushing blood. I asked, “Who are those?” They replied, “Those are the ones who break their fast when it is not permissible.”
He continued: “We moved on until I saw people who were awfully swollen, and had the most foul stench and the most hideous appearance. I asked,” Who are those?” They replied,“Those are the dead of the kuffar (on the battlefield).”
He continued: “We moved on until I saw some people who were awfully swollen, and had the most foul stench—their stench was like that of gutters. I asked,” Who are those?” They replied,” Those are the male and female adulterers.”
He continued: “We moved on until I saw some women with snakes biting at their breasts. I asked,” Who are those?” They replied, ” Those are the women who deny their children their milk.”
He continued: “We moved on until I saw boys playing between two rivers. I asked,” who are those?” They replied, ” Those are the believers’ offspring (who die before puberty.)
Recorded by Ibn Khuzaymah (no.1986), Ibn Hibban and others. Verified to be authentic by Sheikh Albani (Sahih ut-Targhib no.991)