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A controversial answer to Does Islam teach subjugation and inequality of women, or is that due to a wrong interpretation of the religion? states:

... the husband can determine where she lives, whether she can leave the house or take up a job, demand sex and she has to oblige ... -- G. Bach

and a follow-up comment says

... I'm not aware of any substantial gender-specific enforceable rights that women have over men. I see no reason to include exhortations and unenforceable recommendations ...

Assuming I've combined these claims correctly, they imply the claim that a man has an enforceable right to his wife not leaving the house without his permission. I.e., it's not merely that "she should not leave the house without his permission", but there are worldly consequences if she does so. I want to check this specific claim.

Question: Does a man have an enforceable right to his wife not leaving the house without his permission?

The supporting evidence given was another answer by G. Bach which links to an IslamWeb fatwa which writes:

If she goes out without his permission then she is sinful but we are not aware of any specific punishment for this; for more benefit, please refer to Fatwa 83157.

This does not support the claim. Despite this, I speculate there might be some scholars who hold an opinion of punishment (possibly in Saudi Arabia, where gendered segregation is widespread). I'm wondering (a) if there are other fatawa which instead support the claim, or, (b) if the claim is indisputably false, seek multiple consistent fatawa to refute the claim.

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Enforcability is not just via criminal prosecution, it can also be via civil liability.

Fatwa 83157 does say "Therefore, the wife should ask her husband's permission to leave her house, let him know where and when she is going and with whom she holds her meetings etc., all these matters come under the obedience of her husband." Disobedience relieves the husband of his obligation to support her according to Reliance of the Traveler m11.9:

She is not entitled to support from her husband when [..] she is rebellious (nashiz, def: m10.12 [..]) even if for a moment.

In his comments to m10.12 Nuh Ha Mim Keller says:

(2) It is not lawful for a wife to leave the house except by the permission of her husband, though she may do so without permission when there is a pressing necessity.

(4) If the wife does not fulfill one of the above-mentioned obligations, she is termed "rebellious" (nashiz)[..]

After that the recommends steps to stop her rebelliousness (admonition and advice, leaving the marriage bed, hitting her; attempts to stop her from rebelling are made in that order as mentioned in a number of answers on this site as well); the text is clear that she is considered rebellious and that this relieves the husband of his duty to support her, and if admonishing and advising her and not sleeping with her don't work, then he can hit her; Keller (still in m10.12) mentions the condition for hitting that:

(c) if keeping from her is ineffectual, it is permissible for him to hit her if he believes that hitting her will bring her back to the right path, though if he does not think so, it is not permissible. His hitting her may not be in a way that injures her, and is his last recourse to save the family;

So, at least according to Reliance of the Traveler: if a wife leaves the house without her husband's permission, he does not have to support her until she stops doing that, and additionally can hit her if she doesn't respond to admonition and advice or sexual separation.

If I find the time this weekend, I'll look at Hanafi sources as well.

  • Just to reinforce: The hitting must not cause pain and is intended to make her realise that she has transgressed against her husband’s rights. – Dinar Mar 30 '17 at 16:22

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