10

Among one of many testimonials of ex-Muslims, WikiIslam (reposting from FaithFreedom) lists how Andrea, a US convert to Islam, was prompted to leave Islam by a list of demands made by her husband. This is the list:

Here are my demands and you will follow them not because I demand them, but because Allah demands them. And Allah demands submission to the husband.

  1. You will wear hijab at all times.
  2. You will not befriend Muslim girls without hijab, and you will absolutely not befriend Kafirs.
  3. When a male friend or colleague of mine enters the house, you will go to a separate room, and stay there until he leaves, unless you serve him food or drink.
  4. You will not work, even if I am not able to financially support you, you will be around Kafirs at work, and they will look at you lustfully and tempt you to do wrong. Women are weak, you are weak, and you will probably end up harassed by a Kafir.
  5. If you leave, even with friends, tell me where you are at all times, and whatever you buy you must show me once you return home
  6. I am allowed to beat you softly, but only under extreme circumstances, such as denying sex.
  7. If I want to get another wife, or two or three, it is my right, and Allah has recommended it, so if you were a good Muslim you will even help me search for a wife. However, if I do find one, you cannot object to me wanting to be a better Muslim.

As far as I can tell, every one of these demands is halal; I seek to confirm this.

Question: Are all of these demands by Andrea's husband legally acceptable?

The husband seems within his rights to make these demands, and if the wife does not obey them, she could be labelled as "rebellious". Imam Shamsu ed-Deen Dhahabi, Al-Kaba'ir (translated) or Major Sins (pdf) lists "A Wife's Rebellion Against Her Husband" as major sin number 47.

Number 6 is an alarm bell for people who have experienced domestic violence. You learn to escape while you are still capable, before it escalates into something more serious. You put physical safety first, and ignore the social cost of your "friends" branding you irrational, rebellious, etc.

  • Is the question whether the demands are halal per se, or whether they are halal assuming the wife threatens to leave Islam if the husband makes them? I don't think they will br, but those might be two different rulings. – G. Bach Jun 15 '17 at 22:08
  • @G.Bach: Just if each demand is halal, i.e., if a husband can legally make these demands. (The rest is giving context to the question.) – Rebecca J. Stones Jun 15 '17 at 22:14
  • For both of the current answers it's unclear to me whether they address your question; I read your question as "if the husband makes these demands, is it obligatory for the wife to fulfill them", is that a fair phrasing? – G. Bach Jun 16 '17 at 12:45
  • @G.Bach: That was my intention, but I'm flexible, and they're useful answers in that they give non-trivial knowledge related to the question. – Rebecca J. Stones Jun 16 '17 at 12:58
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones Maybe you can rephrase your question to suit the answers? People might be coming through here later on without reading the comments and miss the difference in context. – G. Bach Jun 16 '17 at 13:35
6

Assuming that your question is not about being "legally acceptable", but about being "Islamically acceptable", the conditions for a wife to obey her husband are that the husband's demands:

  • do not ask her to commit sins or haram actions,
  • do not cause harm for her, or
  • do not deprive her of her rights.

See this fatwa on differences of opinion between husband and wife concerning matters where the scholars differed for more information. Keeping this in mind, for each of the demands, one needs to examine the above-mentioned three conditions.

You will wear hijab at all times.

Haram: No.

Cause harm: possibly yes in specific conditions, but generally no.

Deprive her of her rights: Yes, as wearing hijab at all times restricts her right to lift hijab in the presence of only mahrams. Hijab is only a requirement in the presence or in the vision of non-mahrams, or when outside one's house. See women not obliged to cover hair at all times for more information.

Conclusion: Husband's request not legally acceptable. Wife's disobedience has no consequence.

You will not befriend Muslim girls without hijab, and you will absolutely not befriend Kafirs.

Haram: No.

Cause harm: No.

Deprive her of her rights: No. Befriending females without hijab (Muslim or non-Muslim) is something that the Prophet ﷺ said not to do as Muslims are to befriend only believers (see Jami' at-Tirmidhi 2395: Abu Sa'eed narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: "Do not accompany except a believer, and do not serve your food except to one with Taqwa."). Note that befriend has a specific meaning in Islam that does not extend to socializing with a non-Muslim, buying them gifts, visiting them when ill, helping them with non-haram things, etc. See making friends with a non-Muslim woman and making friends with a Muslim woman without hijab for more information.

Conclusion: Husband's request is legally acceptable. Wife's disobedience may be considered nushūz (rebellion).

When a male friend or colleague of mine enters the house, you will go to a separate room, and stay there until he leaves, unless you serve him food or drink.

Haram: Potentially, yes, partially. Prohibition of mixing men and women is known (see Evidence — Prohibiting of mixing of men and women for more information).

Cause harm: No.

Deprive her of her rights: No. I am not even sure what the basis of "unless you serve him food or drink" is.

Conclusion: Husband's request is legally acceptable for the part of mixing. Wife's disobedience may be considered nushūz (rebellion). The exception of serving of food is inconclusive.

You will not work, even if I am not able to financially support you, you will be around Kafirs at work, and they will look at you lustfully and tempt you to do wrong. Women are weak, you are weak, and you will probably end up harassed by a Kafir.

Haram: No.

Cause harm: His request does not cause harm per se. However, his claim that it is to protect her from harm is either incorrect or inaccurate as a blanket statement. Prohibition of work for women is not a blanket statement. Workplace harassment potentially exists when there is mixing of men and women in the same place, and when the people involved are of the mentality to tolerate, accept, or endorse such practices. Saying that one group of people are more prone to being harassers is not accurate. There are also certain jobs and conditions that women are actually encouraged to take (e.g., gynecology). See working women and pre-conditions for a woman to work for more information.

Deprive her of her rights: Potentially, yes.

Conclusion: This is a highly contextual situation that requires a case-by-case evaluation.

If you leave, even with friends, tell me where you are at all times, and whatever you buy you must show me once you return home

Haram: No.

Cause harm: No.

Deprive her of her rights: No. A woman is required to ask for her guardian's permission before leaving her house. A wife is also required to ask for permission prior to spending from her husband's money. She is of course allowed to do whatever she wants with her own money. See Sahih Muslim Hadith 1026.

Conclusion: Husband's request is legally acceptable for the part of mixing. Wife's disobedience may be considered nushūz (rebellion).

I am allowed to beat you softly, but only under extreme circumstances, such as denying sex.

Haram: No.

Cause harm: Yes in terms of beating, but overruled by a clear verse that allows this specific situation: An-Nisa' 4:34. Potentially, yes in terms of demand for sex (Is the request reasonable? What is her physical condition? etc.).

Deprive her of her rights: No, a husband may beat his wife as a last resort, and denying sex without a valid excuse is considered a potential reason. However, beating the wife is neither mandated, nor encouraged, nor is it the first resort. See explanation of Surah an-Nisa434 for more information.

Conclusion: Husband's request is legally acceptable. Exercising the right to administer such punishment is contextual — a judge will need to investigate on a case-by-case basis.

If I want to get another wife, or two or three, it is my right, and Allah has recommended it, so if you were a good Muslim you will even help me search for a wife. However, if I do find one, you cannot object to me wanting to be a better Muslim.

Haram: No.

Cause harm: No, according to Islam. Overruled by a man being permitted to have up to four wives at any one time, provided he is able to fulfill the conditions of polygyny. See Islam and polygamy for more information.

Deprive her of her rights: No.

Conclusion: Husband's request is legally acceptable. Wife's disobedience may be considered nushūz (rebellion). Exception is if the marriage contract stipulates otherwise, in which case, the husband has to comply with the terms of the marriage contract or divorce his wife. See Jami' at-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1352 and IslamWeb Fatwa 283636 (Arabic only, but basically it is about contractual obligations in a marriage that they have to be fulfilled, provided they are halal).

2

Evidences for the obedience

First of all the obedience of a wife to her husband is usually based on verses such as:

... And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. ... (2:228)

and

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. ... (4:34)

and ahadith such as:

“Nothing is of more benefit to the believer after Taqwa of Allah than a righteous wife whom, if he commands her she obeys him, if he looks at her he is pleased, if he swears an oath concerning her she fulfills it, and when he is away from her she is sincere towards him with regard to herself and his wealth.” (sunan ibn Majah)

There's also a hadith quoted by Imam Ahmad dn ibn Hebban:

إذا صلت المرأة خمسها وصامت شهرها وحفظت فرجها وأطاعت زوجها دخلت من أي أبواب الجنة شاءت

which may be translated: "If a woman (wife) prayed her five (obligatory prayers), and fasted her month (Ramadan), and guarded her private parts (from zina), and obeyed (followed the orders of) her husband, she will enter paradise (jannah) from whatever door she wants"

and there are other ahadith which seem to say a woman needs to do her best to keep her husband happy (however most have a da'if taste). (Arabic source islamweb #8083)

Note that basically fulfiling the conditions of agreed contracts is binding according the qur'an (5:1) and sunnah. But I found especially on islamqa self-contradictory fatwas when it comes to some conditions of the wife. So if the wife agreed on all of this she is asked to respect those rules and conditions, however they are far away of being imposed by shari'a, but one may ask what happens if a husband didn't follow the conditions of his wifes and acted opposed to that, could the wife do the same?

Comments on each condition

1. You will wear hijab at all times.

This is simply against the Qur'an which allows a woman to reveal herself without hijab to her mahrams (24:31) and the sunnah which shows that even the wives of the Prophet put on the hijab when they left the house or if a non-Mahram came in.

See also: Covering Face In The House

2. You will not befriend Muslim girls without hijab, and you will absolutely not befriend Kafirs.

How while Allah says (49:13)?:

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.

so by qur'an we are not hindered from getting to know non-Muslims, of course one can choose, setting non-hijab wearing Muslim women equal to non pious is an interpretation and can be discussed. So the hadith saying:

"Do not accompany except a believer, and do not serve your food except to one with Taqwa." (Jami' at-Tirmdihi and sunan abi Dawod)

does not necessary mean that a Muslim women shouldn't have non-hijab wearing female friend. So at the end this is a ruling that falls under obeying your husband, no more nor less!

3. When a male friend or colleague of mine enters the house, you will go to a separate room, and stay there until he leaves, unless you serve him food or drink.

At least Imam Malik would reject this as stated in his Muwatta' (but not yet translated on sunnah.com):

قَالَ يَحْيَى سُئِلَ مَالِكٌ هَلْ تَأْكُلُ الْمَرْأَةُ مَعَ غَيْرِ ذِي مَحْرَمٍ مِنْهَا أَوْ مَعَ غُلاَمِهَا
فَقَالَ مَالِكٌ لَيْسَ بِذَلِكَ بَأْسٌ إِذَا كَانَ ذَلِكَ عَلَى وَجْهِ مَا يُعْرَفُ لِلْمَرْأَةِ أَنْ تَأْكُلَ مَعَهُ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ ‏.‏ قَالَ وَقَدْ تَأْكُلُ الْمَرْأَةُ مَعَ زَوْجِهَا وَمَعَ غَيْرِهِ مِمَّنْ يُؤَاكِلُهُ أَوْ مَعَ أَخِيهَا عَلَى مِثْلِ ذَلِكَ وَيُكْرَهُ لِلْمَرْأَةِ أَنْ تَخْلُوَ مَعَ الرَّجُلِ لَيْسَ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهَا حُرْمَةٌ ‏.

(here my own translation take it with care)

Yahya said: Malik was asked can a woman eat with a non-Mahram or with her slave?
He answered: there's no harm, if it is of the kind of men which a woman is used or known (local custom? or mahram as the further statement may indicate) eat with. And he added: and a woman is allowed to eat with her husband and with those whom eat with him, or with her brother in the same case, but it is frowned upon that a woman stays all alone with a man which is not her mahram!

Ibn Abd al-barr commented this fatwa of Malik, by saying that the times have changed!

Of course if she isn't allowed to stay with the (male) guest it sounds contradictory, if the husband expects her to serve, as those whom don't allow a wife to stay with the (male) guests wouldn't allow her to serve them too!

4. You will not work, even if I am not able to financially support you, you will be around Kafirs at work, and they will look at you lustfully and tempt you to do wrong. Women are weak, you are weak, and you will probably end up harassed by a Kafir.

Well yes he can ask her not to work and she must obey based on the principle that a woman is asked to follow her husbands orders as long as he doesn't order something haram based on the verses and ahadith quoted in my intro.
But once he couldn't stay in charge for her, some madhabs would say he lost the right of his wife's obedience (see my answer on What does "obey" mean in "righteous women are devoutly obedient" in Qur'an 4:34?), so he can't expect her not to work if he is jobless. And it is shameful if not haram for a Muslim to stay to be dependent on external help without doing any effort!

5. If you leave, even with friends, tell me where you are at all times, and whatever you buy you must show me once you return home

This is to some extent correct according to hadith, but she must not show him, as there are ahadith where the Prophet () allowed Hind the wife of abu Sufyan to take some of his money as her husband was stingy (see for example sahih al-Bukhari).

6. I am allowed to beat you softly, but only under extreme circumstances, such as denying sex.

First this reads as if our Prophet () and our religion is a call for domestic violence and also supporting the claim of enemies of Islam that our Prophet () was a pervert whom was sex thirsty and so should Muslims be. And that is simply not correct!

Verse (4:34) clearly shows that violence or beating (even softly as stated by scholars) is the last choice after taking former steps! So a husband can't come and beat his wife unless she went ahead with her nushuz نشوز after the two former steps:

  1. advise them

this needs a conversation between the spouses without any violence, but maybe by a good remainder of some verses of the Qur'an etc.

  1. forsake them in bed

oh? he wanted to beat her because she refused intercourse, now -in fact-he is asked to "punish her" by the same before even thinking of beating her softly!

  1. strike them.

this is where this husband wants to start :(, but it can't be unless he left a few days or weeks pass, because of 2.!

Note that a wife isn't nashiz if the husband is not a good Muslim if she refuses sharing his bed. Also note that the Qur'an always use the terms "and if you fear" when referring to the relationship husband/wife, so this practice is hardly going ahead with what Allah asks and wants as to do. See also Wife's Tamkin and Marital Rape

7. If I want to get another wife, or two or three, it is my right, and Allah has recommended it, so if you were a good Muslim you will even help me search for a wife. However, if I do find one, you cannot object to me wanting to be a better Muslim.

This husband seems not to have any idea of women, and their feelings, a new wife would never ever think of finding an other wife for her husband. But a wife whom may have lived long enough with her husband and understand his needs and might be aware that she can't fulfil all his desires or a woman whom just can't fulfil them no more for some reasons might help in that case.
The Qur'an however is clear that having more than one wife is only allowed if a husband is able to threat them equally and that is practically impossible, especially when it comes to feelings.


So far these comments are only based on shari'a without any relation to the rule saying "obey the law of the land" based on fulfilling contracts (5:1) (see What are counter arguments for those who do not admit to the laws of a secular countries?) as @Kilise reminded me in the comment!
Of course the husband can define his home as a separate caliphate and apply them there, and there only ;)!
Rejecting the contract is of course theoretically possible, but usually marriage contracts of Muslims are only made in Muslim countries, I've witnessed a marriage where no contract was made -in means of quoting mahr conditions of spouses etc.-, so I only know that in Morocco a contract is prescribed by the authorities (even if not always applied in some rural environments), so in practice the chance is few that such a contract -as described- would have any official value in a non-Muslim country.

  • Sorry, what does "nashiz" mean? – Rebecca J. Stones Jun 16 '17 at 9:07
  • 1
    noshooz نشوز is often translated as disobedience or rebellion, but a more correct interpretation is that a woman considers herself as better than her husband, or she considers him as of lower position ... than herself and acts according to that without any respect towards him. – Medi1Saif Jun 16 '17 at 9:16
  • 1
    Maybe commenting on Obey the law of the land, if a term in the contract contradicts the law of the country (like to beat the woman), while the term is not wajib in islam, the term in the contract should be rejected according to the principle of obeying the law of the country. – Kilise Jun 16 '17 at 10:03
  • I can't discern whether or not this answers the question; as I read the question, it asks "are these demands by the husband legally binding on the wife", and most of the points you raise read like you're answering "are these demands of the husband binding on the wife per default as opposed to due to his demanding them?". "This is simply against the Qur'an which allows a woman to..." A woman is allowed to do many things per default that her husband can nevertheless legally demand she doesn't do. – G. Bach Jun 16 '17 at 11:40
0

The requirements sound more like a female slave (کنیز). Only that the name isn't carried.

The Sunni view is: He can ask anything that isn't sinning.

Shia view is view is he can only has authority for sharing a bed and not leaving the house without permission. But other than that it's highly recommended that the wife obeys.

A husband can include all of these conditions in the marriage and the bride my choose to not accept and the marriage will never happen. So all of them are legally acceptable if they agreed unto them. None of them are acceptable if they didn't agree unto.

I personally find the husband a 'non-rational—holier than thou'. I mean marriage is about rules AND love. He seemed to miss the 2nd part. Did this husband also allow the wife to add rules that you would have to get me a maid for cooking? Take him out to have fun? Buy her stuff? And then even if he did allow. What kind of a marriage is that is based on such rules? (I'm not saying you shouldn't have rules. I'm saying rules are OK, but don't ever expect to flourish a relationship through rules. Humans are complex emotional beings). Love-less marriages have been the greatest silent killer among our communities. They have created many many depressed women. Both the men and women don't know how to resolve conflicts of modern life and Islam and this is what happens. Such a husband need consultation on how to manage his wife and far deeper understanding of Islam. I advise you to see my answer to What does it mean for a wife to be obedient?. His wife isn't his slave. She's her soulmate in ubudiyya:

The prophet asked Ali how do you see Fatimah?

"I see her as a great partner in submitting to Allah".

The only thing that I don't sense here is a partnership. It's a futile effort towards ubudiyya.

  • Your statement about the shi'a view seems clearly in conflict with this seemingly shi'a hadith quoted in the post islam.stackexchange.com/q/40737/13438 – Medi1Saif Jun 17 '17 at 2:00
  • @Medi1Saif I don't know about that narrations authenticity. Yet my statement still matches that. I said she isn't allowed to leave unless her husband allows.... But again the ability to not allow your wife to not leave is to be used rarely. Plus I find this narration a little odd. I mean what was the reason she wasn't allowed to leave?! (I am not undermining it...simply asking a question) – Honey Jun 17 '17 at 2:48
  • "I mean marriage is about rules AND love." And this question is about the rules. Can you cite any references from shia fiqh for what you say? – G. Bach Jun 19 '17 at 23:46
  • @G.Bach you misunderstood me. My point is: if you bring downgrade marriage to a set of rules, you'll fail miserably (as with this case). Emotions should also be heavily involved. I'm undermining the entire logic. – Honey Jun 20 '17 at 17:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.