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Generally, the husband is seen as the decision maker in Islamic marriages, and the wife is required to obey her husband in non-haram matters. Recently, I've been thinking about the following question:

Question: Can a husband prevent his wife from becoming e.g. a Shia Muslim?

There are e.g. Sunni men who are not fond of Shia Islam, and they may choose not to marry a Shia woman. However, it's possible that a wife would like to become a Shia Muslim after marriage, and the husband may take steps to prevent this.

I just pick the above as one (probably common) example, it could equally apply to a wife converting to any sect/denomination that the husband disapproves of.

My thoughts:

  • If she genuinely accepts Shia Islam, it's hard to imagine a reasonable way this could be enforced.

  • Conversion could result in upset in the marriage.

  • Presumably, someone who wants to convert to e.g. Shia Islam would believe it's haram to not be a Shia Muslim, while the husband would think it's haram to convert.

It's a mess.

  • "If she genuinely accepts Shia Islam, it's hard to imagine a reasonable way this could be enforced." He could divorce her. – G. Bach Jul 5 '17 at 11:01
  • 'Can a husband prevent his wife from becoming e.g. a Shia Muslim?'- A person can be a Shia Muslim by just believing in its principles. How can it be possible for a husband to prevent her from this when it is just belief? Surely he can prevent her from Shia rituals but not belief. – Armaan Jul 5 '17 at 14:56
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    Weird question...A husband/father/mother/etc. have no say when what you want to choose is about right or wrong — for afterlife. The matter is of paramount significance. * لا طاعه مخلوق فی معصیه خالق * ‌But this goes both ways ie if a Shia woman thinks becoming a Sunni/Christian/Jew is right then her husband has no say it. Women aren't servants of their husbands. They are servants of Allah and must answer to him! (Obviously some religions/sects are better, but if someone has decided to change their religion, brute forcing it won't help, an academic discussion and understanding is necessary) – Honey Jul 5 '17 at 15:32
  • It is weird but it happens. – Nik Jul 12 '17 at 4:56
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Both spouses are free to believe as their hearts feel is right. However it would be advisable to discuss this with each other freely and at length. The most important question would be if, in your example, the wife insists on a path that involves "shirk" or idolatry, or if the belief is something contrary such as believing in Ali as a prophet or believing certain of sahhaba (companions) or wives of the prophet are going to hell. Such a belief is unacceptable and would invalidate the marriage should the wife become an idolator (mushrika) or otherwise reject Islam and that Mohammad is the seal of the prophets. But discussion and patience should precede such a step.

A few important issues were not discussed in the above answer which should be addressed. First, you mentioned that this example (Sunni wife becoming Shi'a) is not common, and requires certain uncommon circumstances. In this example, unlike joining another entirely different religion/ belief system, such as Taoism, both sects agree on certain basic things: Allah is one, Mohammad is His messenger/ prophet, Resurrection and Judgment after this life, the angels, and the Quran. Within each sect are variations as to practice (schools of thought) and details regarding belief, such as whether or not Prophet Mohammad was m'asoum or free from mistakes. Then there is, further, a certain degree of leeway where Muslims may agree to disagree, such as whether or not a woman can pray wearing clothes made with printed cloth or the whole issue of wearing black, white, or colors. Disagreement over such minor issues should not cause a rift in a marriage; even outside the subject of religion there will always be such trivial disputes.

During the time of Prophet Mohammad, Allah ordered to change the qibla which Muslims face in salat. This was a test of faith; would the believers follow Mohammad's directive, knowing it was from Allah, or would they dispute this break from tradition? In Surat al-Baqara 2:143, we read:

And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you. And We did not make the qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels. And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allah has guided. And never would Allah have caused you to lose your faith. Indeed Allah is, to the people, Kind and Merciful.

The lesson here is not only that we must obey the prophet even when he orders a change that breaks with a major established norm, but also that Allah's word supersedes tradition or "established norms". There is a sense in which the Shi'a/ Sunni schism is more about history, traditions, and tafseer or interpretation than about the bedrock of faith; for that reason there is an established norm of both sects joining in the one Hajj, an established norm I applaud for its acknowledgement that faith supersedes these differences, or can if we don't get bogged down in details.

Taking this further, there is a scenario in which the wife could be Shi'a and the husband Sunni and it could work; but only if both agree on the "high road" on both sides, that is, with their strongest mutual commitment to the bedrock of common faith, and willingness to compromise if one can show the other that a particular detail contradicts that bedrock of faith. This is far more likely to work if they married like this; for her to suddenly convert unexpectedly to Shi'a, there would have to be discussion as to why, what attracted her to the change and why or if it is important to her. If it is a superficial matter at heart, such as her having gone to a Shi'a mosque and gotten along better with the Muslimat there, maybe. But as you said, it would be difficult, especially if her husband saw this as kufr.

The issue is so fraught with details and subjectivity. But if the dispute brought irreconcilable differences, it could end in divorce. Then what if she changed her mind again — changes of this nature could be a sign of a vacillating state of mind and lack of commitment — would he take her back? And if she is undecided at heart, why break off from one and jump into the other without giving it time?

There is also a danger for anyone who seeks to change from Islam over some details that are made clear in the Quran: In Surat Al-Shura 42:16;

And those who argue concerning Allah after He has been responded to - their argument is invalid with their Lord, and upon them is [His] wrath, and for them is a severe punishment.

If the spouse who changes their sect or religion,m had read and understood something about their faith to begin with and then after marriage wanted to change, that change should not be entered into without seriously thinking about it. More than the marriage itself, the wrath of Allah, were their decision to turn away from Him, would be a far worse outcome than divorce. And that issue may be in the mind of the unchanging spouse, but should be on the mind of both.

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم

In regards to your interesting question, briefly speaking, based on my research and also according to what I have perceived about Islam, I can remark that:

In such situation (conversion to Shia or other sects), there cannot and there must not be any forcing about that. Actually, the best logical reaction is that the husband (or even the wife in converse situation) starts explaining about the superiority of his beliefs about the righteous sect (by presenting evidences + logic, not force) to persuade her, otherwise:

The wife (and even everyone) is free -and logically must be free- to choose the right way based on what Allah wants us to do. I presume the following example can be helpful too:

For instance, (based on Islam) there is a high emphasis on respecting and obeying the parents –at the maximum level of that-, we must not obey them (the parents) in the affairs which are against Allah’s orders. Hence as a logical conclusion, there cannot be any forcing in the belief (even if the parents/wife/husband order us).


Reference:

http://ar.wikishia.net/view

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1. A husband must prevent his family from all sins, shirk and wrongdoings.

Men should do at his best to guide his family members to obey Allah, stay on the right path till the end and on to Jannah.

As told in the Quran, Allah says in surah Al-Tahrim verse number 6:
https://quran.com/66/6

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَّا يَعْصُونَ اللَّهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ - 66:6

O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from (Hell) Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded. [66:6]

Then in verse number 9, Allah told us to be firm.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ جَاهِدِ الْكُفَّارَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ وَاغْلُظْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ وَمَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ ۖ وَبِئْسَ الْمَصِيرُ - 66:9

O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be stern upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination. [66:9]

Then Allah present an example in verse number 10:

ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا امْرَأَتَ نُوحٍ وَامْرَأَتَ لُوطٍ ۖ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَالِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَقِيلَ ادْخُلَا النَّارَ مَعَ الدَّاخِلِينَ - 66:10

Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, "Enter the Fire with those who enter." [66:10]

Allah told us how men should act upon their wife:

In surat an-Nisa verse number 34, Allah says:
https://quran.com/4/34

الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ۚ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا - 4:34

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. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. [4:34]

2. An act of treason (munafiq) & apostasy (murtad) is way more injurious than disbelieving (shirk or jahil) and therefore is treated differently.

The following verse (2:256 & 109:6) are meant for disbelievers who does not yet accept Islam they are free to choose what to believe.

But the act of treason & apostasy are destructive and impermissible.

"There shall be no compulsion in the religion." Al-Baqarah [2:256]
or
"(Say): For you is your religion, and for me is my religion." Al-Kafirun [109:6]

3. To marry after they believe, to be firm on towards.

Allah told us not to marry non-believer. In surat Al-Baqarah verse number 221, Allah says:

And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you. Those invite [you] to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember. [2:221]


The conclusive answer for the question "Can a husband prevent his wife?" was answered in point #1. A men can and should prevent his wife from all sins. But the discussion of weather or not to consider "Shia as a Muslim" would open up a debate that should be discussed in another thread instead. (this answer presume that Shia is different from Sunni)

  • Isn't mutadi == apostasy ? I believe rebellion is different from apostasy. I fail to see a conclusive answer in above. Can you please add conclusion – user22565 Jul 12 '17 at 4:38
  • Thank you @Preordainment. Yes you are correct, the coorect term for Murtad is Apostasy. I'm sorry. – Nik Jul 12 '17 at 4:42
  • The conclusive answer for the question "Can a husband prevent his wife?" was answered in point 1. A men can and should prevent his wife from all sins. But the discussion of weather or not to consider "Shia as a Muslim" would open up a debate that should be discussed in another thread instead. (this answer presume that Shia different from Sunni) – Nik Jul 12 '17 at 4:50
  • as per your answer, becoming shia is a wrongdoing, is my conclusion correct? I'm a shia of abu bakr, Umar, uthman. – user22565 Jul 12 '17 at 5:32
  • "A husband must prevent his family from all sins, shirk and wrongdoings." and then you quote the verse "O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from (Hell) Fire " there is no mentione of the word husband in this verse. It means "those of you who believe" A believer could be a husband, a wife or a son. Secondly "The following verse (2:256 & 109:6) are meant for disbelievers who does not yet accept Islam they are free to choose what to believe." there is no mentioned of the word Disbelievers in this whole verse so how can you justify that? – Qaisar Khan Jul 12 '17 at 23:43
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Both a husband and a wife has tremendous amount of rights on each other. Some argue that the rights of husband over a wife are more, since he is responsible to protect her and provide for her with food.

Allaah says:

Quran 4:34 “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means”

And as a context to that. Wives should consider the following hadiths.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone else, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands.”

Narrated and classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi (1159); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.

It was narrated that Abu Umaamah said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There are three whose prayer goes no further than their ears: the runaway slave until he returns, a wife whose husband remains angry with her overnight, and a imam who leads the people in prayer when they object to him doing so.” Narrated and classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi (360).

It was narrated from Mu’aadh ibn Jabal that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No woman offends her husband in this world but his wife among the hoor al-iyn says, ‘Do not offend him, may Allaah kill you, for he is only with you for a short time and soon he will leave you and come to us.’” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1174) and classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “It is not permissible for a woman to fast when her husband is present except with his permission, or to allow anyone to enter his house without his permission.”

Narrated by al-Bukhaari (4899) and Muslim (1026).

Considering these hadiths. we can easily derive that a wife should do her best not to disobey her husband, as long as he is not asking her to go against Islam.

However, we all agree that the rights of God are way more than that of a husband and therefore my personal opinion is that if God has allowed freedom of something then a husband should refrain from restricting the freedom that God has bestowed.

Therefore, as far as religion and belief is concerned, there is a very well known and clear verse:

Quran 2:256 "There shall be no compulsion in the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing."

Based on this verse it is crystal clear for a wife to freely believe in whatever belief she likes. A husband cannot prevent her from what has been rightfully allowed by God. If he happens to disagree he can divorce her.

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    You have note Quran 3:34 wrongly. In surat al-Maryam 3:34 Allah says: "Descendants, some of them from others. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing." quran.com/3/34 – Nik Jul 12 '17 at 2:52
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    The quoted verse is from surat an-Nisa 4:34. – Nik Jul 12 '17 at 3:01
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    Thanks for updating me @Nik. I knew the source and it seems the mistake was unintentional and a typo. Based on your comment I edited my answer to reflect the correct reference – Qaisar Khan Jul 12 '17 at 23:56

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