Rights of spouses
Fatwa No: 90395

Question

I would like to ask about a woman serving her husband. If she accepts the opinion that it is not obligatory as some scholars have said (especially in the case where the woman works and the husband is unemployed), then what about the case when her husband orders her iron his clothes for example. Does this suddenly become obligatory because the obligatory nature of obedience to the husband? Or does he have no right to order her to serve him? (Note that I said order and not request).

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 is His slave and Messenger. We ask Allaah to exalt his mention as well as that of his family and all his companions.

 

Know, dear sister, that marital intimacy and understanding between both spouses should prevail in the home. In fact, they are the greatest means of a happy married life. A wife has to obey her husband as long as there is no disobedience to Allaah. This practice takes her nearer to Allaah, as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "A woman who performs her five prescribed daily prayers, fasts the month of Ramadan, guards her chastity and obeys her husband, she will be addressed (on the Day of Resurrection): Enter Paradise from any gate you like." [Ahmad] In return, it is recommended for the husband to share household tasks with his wife. The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was the ideal husband. 'Aa'ishah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her was asked what the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) used to do in his house? She replied: "He used to serve his wives, and when the time for prayer came he used to go out for the prayer." [Al-Bukhari] If both the husband and wife live with understanding as mentioned, then surely it brings harmony and tranquility and develops stability in marital life.

If any discord arises in some matters, such as a wife serving her husband, or taking care of the household matters, they should consult a religious judge, or some one else like an Islamic center, to judge between them.

We would like to highlight here two important matters:

First, basically, a woman has to stay at home. If she is compelled to work outside she has to follow the Islamic rulings such as wearing Hijab, avoid mixing with member of the opposite sex or staying alone with them, etc.

Second, a man has to make every effort to get a lawful job to fulfill his responsibility of spending on his family and the like.

The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) said: "It is enough a sin for a man to neglect those on whom he has to spend." [Abu Daawood]

Allaah Knows best.

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