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Ordinary, a wife is expected to obey her husband. However, she is forbidden to obey if her husband requests something forbidden (e.g. anal sex).

However, there are matters which are doubtful, which we don't have a clear-cut halal/haram ruling about. Muslims are encouraged to leave doubtful matters, as per the Hadith:

The lawful is clear and the unlawful is clear, and between that are matters that are doubtful (not clear); many of the people do not know whether it is lawful or unlawful. So whoever leaves it to protect his religion and his honor, then he will be safe -- Jami' at-Tirmidhi 1205 [grade: sahih]

I'm wondering what a wife should do in circumstances where her husband requests something doubtful.

Question: Does a wife have to obey her husband in matters that are doubtful?


Possible examples of doubtful matters:

  1. the husband requests a specific sexual act to be performed, but it's unclear if it's halal (perhaps something involving sex toys or almost-but-not-quite pornography);

  2. the husband requests his wife to go out wearing clothes, where it's unclear if they adequately meet the requirements of hijab;

  3. the husband insists she eats a certain dish (perhaps cooked by one of his relatives), but she's uncertain if the food is halal;

  4. the husband distracts his wife from prayer until the exact last moment, when she has to perform it in a hurried fashion;

  5. the husband requests his wife gets cosmetic surgery.

I give these examples to illustrate the question, but I'm seeking a general answer, not limited to these specific cases.

  • Could you add an example of something doubtful in a situation between a married couple ? Makes it easier to answer. – Kilise Jun 30 '17 at 9:39
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    I'm worried if I do that, then answers would be about that specific example, and not the general question... but I'll try. – Rebecca J. Stones Jun 30 '17 at 9:40
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Obedience to husband's commands is constrained to what is permissible. If a wife sees the command leaning more towards the action being not permissible, she should not obey her husband. Allah ﷻ knows our intentions and thoughts, and will judge us accordingly, among other factors that He declared or kept to Himself.

In Islamic jurisprudence, the default of a ruling is that it is unconstrained (mutlaq, Arabic: مطلق), unless constrained by a verse (muqayyad, Arabic: مقيد). Obedience of a wife to her husband is constrained by the requested by a permissible action (see Sahih al-Bukhari 7257 that does not result in harm (see 40 Hadith Nawawi, Hadith 32), and to obey within one's ability (see Sahih al-Bukhari 7288). Therefore, scholars stipulated that 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. Any action that is considered to be of doubtful nature is to be judged based on the action itself using the above rules. Permissibility of doing the action will not be changed by whether this is a command from a husband to a wife or not. If the wife is convinced that the action required is leaning towards non-permissibility, she should not obey her husband.

Not only so, but even in matters where there are difference in opinions among scholars (as per the Islam Q&A fatwa above), the same rules apply. This would apply even to matters where there are more than one option of permissible actions (condition 1 is fulfilled as action in command is permitted, then conditions 2 and 3 need to be examined). See IslamWeb Fatwa 18814 for more information (Arabic only).

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According to Allahs words which is the quran. A woman and man is to obey Allah. Not spouses, yes they should co operate and keep each other happy and listen to them but obey we should Allah.

  • <comments deleted> We are not a debate site. All posts here, be they questions, answers, or comments, must be written politely and with respect for those who may disagree with you, not for tearing down belief systems of other users. Our Be Nice policy applies to everyone. – goldPseudo Jun 30 '17 at 15:59

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