Husband’s right to know the reason behind his son’s illness
Fatwa No: 30798

  • Fatwa Date:23-1-2014 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 22, 1435
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Question

Assalaamu Alaykum,
I am a married man and have a ten-month-old child. Does my wife have the right to lie to me about the reason behind my son’s illness, hiding the real reasons for his sickness under the pretext that we have problems and that she thinks that I would accuse her of negligence? The child suffered from intestinal obstruction and had to undergo two operations at the age of six months and the doctors cut four centimeters of his intestine, but my wife still refuses to tell me the details of his illness from the beginning. I work abroad while my wife and son live in Cairo with my in-laws. Is omitting part of the truth so as to convince the husband of something else to mislead him permitted by Islam?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

The marital life is founded mainly on frankness and clarity; the married couple should take care of each other, especially in such aspects and other aspects in general.  The husband has every right to know what is going on in his own house; he should know what enters his house or comes out of it, except for the things which are commonly considered permissible to hide.

The marital life should be based on mutual honesty and lucidity in order to attain love and compassion that are the natural outcome of a healthy marital life.

The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, highlighted things that the wife should not do behind her husband’s back. He said: “… the wife should not spend anything of her husband's money without his permission." When people inquired, "Even food?" The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said, "Indeed, food is the best of our money." [Ahmad and At-Tirmithi] 

In a Hadeeth narrated on the authority of ‘Amr ibn Al-Ahwas, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, also said in the Farewell Hajj:

… Your rights over your wives are that they should not allow anyone whom you hate to sit on your own beds, or admit anyone whom you hate into your homes…  [At-Tirmithi, Ibn Maajah and An-Nasaa’i]

However, there are certain things that are permissible for the wife to hide from her husband; she might have certain flaws, which, if her husband was told of them, would cause him to feel distaste for her, and this would accordingly undermine the marital life and enfeeble its pillars.

Furthermore, a wife is allowed to hide her righteous deeds such as giving charity and offering voluntary acts of worship except for the voluntary fast; for she has to have the consent of her husband first.

Moreover, it is permissible for the wife to conceal her sins and wrongdoings from her husband; since Allaah Almighty Ordered Muslims to hide their sins and misdeeds. It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:

All the people of my Ummah would get pardon for their sins, except those who brag about their sins. Bragging about sins is when the slave commits a misdeed at night and then tells people in the morning that he did so-and-so, whereas his Lord Has Concealed it for him. He commits a wrongdoing at night and his Lord Conceals it for him, but he defeats the concealment of sins that he was granted by Allaah in the morning. [Muslim]

Therefore, it is better for the woman, both in the affairs of her life and her religion as well, to repent to Allaah, the Exalted, of her misdeeds.

However, it is important for the husband to know the reason behind his son’s illness so as to eschew it in the future and so that he would be able to advise his wife if she neglected him or the like or try to find a way to save his son’s life from the mother’s negligence. However, if the wife found that telling her husband about that would result in a huge problem between them, then she should not inform him of it in order to shun any potential harm, and so as to keep their marital life sound and healthy.

On the other hand, the husband has to believe what his wife tells him, because all Muslims, in principle, should be seen as trustworthy and just, and the worthiest person of your trust and confidence is your own spouse. In fact, the marital life will not function properly without mutual tolerance and overlooking your partner’s lapses and slips. Lastly, we advise the wife to take good care of her child; for she will be held accountable for him before Allaah Almighty. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “The woman is a guardian in her husband's home and in charge of his children and she is responsible for her subjects…” [Al-Bukhari]

Allaah Knows best.

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