Husband Is Not Sinful for Refusing to Have Sexual Intercourse Unlike the Wife
Fatwa No: 431272

  • Fatwa Date:5-11-2020 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 20, 1442
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Question

Al Salam Alkium, I am really confused. We always hear that it is a grave sin for the wife refusing intemacy for no reason but I have never heared of the same being a gave sin for the husband. I have heard that if a husband has only one wife he only has to sleep with her one out of the three nights and during the other three nights he can spend doing voluntary worship but if his wife asks him for intemacy on any of these three nights it is not sinful for him to refuse. Is that true?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

Some jurists held that it is obligatory on the husband to spend with his wife one night out of every four nights if he has no excuse to not do so. Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Al-Mughni: “If he has a wife, it is incumbent on him to spend with her one night out of every four nights, unless he has a (valid) excuse preventing him from doing so.” [End of quote]

Other jurists, however, chose not to set a particular period and left it to be decided based on the scholarly Ijtihaad (personal reasoning).

Al-Mardaawi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in Al-Insaaf: “Al-Qaadhi and Ibn ‘Aqeel said: ‘It is obligatory on the husband to spend with his wife enough nights to eliminate the harm of loneliness and achieve the intended intimacy for the marital relationship without specifying a certain period. The judge determines the adequate period based on his personal Ijtihaad,’ and I believe this to be the correct opinion in this regard.” [End of quote]

As for the woman’s right over her husband regarding sexual intercourse, we believe that the preponderant opinion is that it is incumbent on him to preserve her chastity and satisfy her desire, according to her needs and his ability, and this was the opinion chosen by Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him. He said in Al-Fataawa Al-Kubra: "It is obligatory on a husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife on a reasonable basis, and this is one of her greatest and most emphasized rights over him. It is even greater than her right to be fed. One scholarly opinion holds that it is incumbent on a husband to have sexual intercourse with his wife once every four months. Another opinion holds that it should be according to her needs and his ability, just as he is enjoined to provide her with food according to her needs and his ability. This is the more correct of the two opinions, and Allah knows best.” [End of quote]

The fact that the Sharee‘ah strictly warned the wife against refusing to respond to her husband’s request to have sexual intercourse with her, unlike the case if it were the other way around (i.e. the husband refusing her request to have sexual intercourse), is due to the different natures of men and women with regard to their need for sexual intercourse and endurance of the lack thereof. Ibn Hajar  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, quoting some scholars: “A man’s ability to endure abstinence from sex is weaker than a woman’s, and the strongest of distractions to a man is his sexual urge, and therefore the Sharee‘ah enjoins women to help men in this regard.” [End of quote]

Allah Knows best.

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