Residence requirements of a wife from her husband and other matters
Fatwa No: 83207

  • Fatwa Date:5-9-2001 - Jumaadaa Al-Aakhir 17, 1422
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Question

I know from learning Islam that maintenance (al-Nafaqah) is Wajib (on the husband) and is the right of one's wife to get food, cloths and a residence, some other essential services and medicine, even if the wife happens to be a rich lady. My question is regarding her residence. What I would like to know is if a husband provides every thing to his wife (cloth, food, and medicine), but when it comes to residence he only provides a room and makes his wife share the kitchen and bathroom with his family. Now according to the scholars a husband must provide at a minimum a room, and according to others a kitchen and bathroom (that is not shared with the rest of the family) as well. 1. Is it Wajib to provide a room for his wife or does he have to provide a kitchen and bathroom (not shared with the rest of the family) as well. 2. If he only provides a room and not a separate kitchen and bathroom for his wife, is he a Fasiq (sinner) in Islam. Is he committing a minor or major sin? 3. Can a wife ask for a divorce from her husband if he fails to provide proper residence, meaning he only gives a room to her but not a kitchen or bathroom of her own? As I follow the Hanafi school of thought I would really appreciate their rulings (Fatwa's) of Fiqh in this matter and the opinion of the other schools of thought.

Answer

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.
The maintenance (Nafaqah) of a wife is compulsory on her husband. Maintenance also includes an appropriate residence, for the Saying of Allah: "Lodge them (your wives) where you dwell, according to your means, ….." [65:6].
Receiving residence is the absolute right of a wife. The suitable residence is that which fulfills her basic needs. Among those basic needs is a residence that should be separate for her without sharing with a fellow wife, or with the relatives of her husband such as his mother, sister or else. A residence necessarily contains a kitchen and bathroom, and sharing them annuls the privacy and independence of the wife; so a husband is obliged to provide them separately to his wife. If a husband does not provide his wife with a completely separate residence, i.e. with separate kitchen and bathroom although he can do so, he then commits a sin. But, he is not considered Fasiq (dissolute) or a person who has committed a major sin.
If his wife accepts what he provides her, like an accommodation which she shares with others then he is no longer considered a sinner. If a husband is poor and can not provide his wife with a complete and independent residence, he should at least provide her with an independent separate room. She may then have to share the kitchen and bathroom with other members of his family. As long as he is not able to provide more he can not then be forced to do what is beyond his capacity.
On the other hand, demanding divorce without any valid reason is not permissible and it is among the major sins. The Prophet said: "If a woman asks her husband for a divorce, for no reason, then the smell of Paradise is forbidden for her". (Imams of Sunan narrated it and Imam Tirmizi graded it as Hasan)
Therefore, some lack of conveniences does not give her a sound reason to ask for divorce. But, she may demand what she lacks from her husband if he has the capacity to provide it; otherwise, he has to provide her with a separate independent room that she does not share with anybody else, and a kitchen and bathroom which could be with some sharing.
Allah knows best.

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