My husband often wants me to be totally naked when he is at home. What is the 'awrah between husbands and wives?
Yes, it is permissible for spouses to look at each others' 'awrah (private parts), e.g., when totally naked.
The Qur'an says that guarding private parts is a general rule that has only two exceptions; wives and right-hand possessions:
وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ لِفُرُوجِهِمْ حَافِظُونَ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ فَإِنَّهُمْ غَيْرُ مَلُومِينَ
And those who guard their private parts except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they are not to be blamed.
'Ā'isha, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ, said that they used to do ghusl (take a bath) together from one vessel:
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ كُنْتُ أَغْتَسِلُ أَنَا وَرَسُولُ اللَّهِ، صلى الله عليه وسلم مِنْ إِنَاءٍ - بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَهُ - وَاحِدٍ فَيُبَادِرُنِي حَتَّى أَقُولَ دَعْ لِي دَعْ لِي . قَالَتْ وَهُمَا جُنُبَانِ
'A'isha reported: I and the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) took a bath from one vessel which was placed between me and him and he would get ahead of me, so that I would say: Spare (some water for) me, spare (some water for) me; and she said that they had had sexual intercourse.
It is understood by anyone who performed ghusl before that this could only be done while one is not wearing any clothes. Furthermore, from the hadith of Haida ibn Mu'āwiyah ibn Qushair:
عَنْ بَهْزِ بْنِ حَكِيمٍ عَنْ أَبِيهِ عَنْ جَدِّهِ، قَالَ قُلْتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ عَوْرَاتُنَا مَا نَأْتِي مِنْهَا وَمَا نَذَرُ. قَالَ: احْفَظْ عَوْرَتَكَ إِلاَّ مِنْ زَوْجَتِكَ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ
Narrated through Bahz ibn Hakim said that his father told on the authority of his grandfather: "I said: 'Messenger of Allah, from whom should we conceal our private parts and to whom can we show?'" He replied: "Conceal your private parts except from your wife and from whom your right hands possess (slave girls)."
This hadith stipulates that one need not conceal one's 'awrah (private parts) in front of one's spouse.
Based on the above
- Ibn Qudamah in Al-Mughni 7/101 said that it is permitted for spouses to enjoy each others' private parts, including looking and touching, as is the rest of each other' bodies.
- Ad-Desouki in Hāshiyat Ad-Desūqi 'ala Ash-Sharh al-Kabīr 2/215 said that it is permitted for either spouse in a valid marriage may look at a part or all of the other spouse's body, including private parts.
- Ibn Hazm in Al-Muhalla 9/164-165/1875 said that it is permitted for the man to look at his wife's and his right-hand possessions' private parts, and likewise, they are also permitted to look at his private parts.
- Ibn Hajar in Fat'h al-Bāri 1/364 in his commentary on the hadith of 'Ā'isha bathing with the Prophet said that Ad-Dawūdi used it to indicate that a man may look at his wife's 'awrah and vice versa.
There are other hadiths that point to the contrary, i.e., that a husband and wife should not fully don their clothes in each others company. None of these hadiths go above the grade of da'īf (weak); therefore, they do not apply as a prohibition. For your reference, these hadiths are:
- Sunan Ibn Majah 3/9/1921 "When anyone of you has intercourse with his wife, let him cover himself and not be naked liked donkeys."
- Musnad Al-Bazzār 16/215/8628 "When one of you goes in unto his wife, let him be covered, for if he is not covered, the angels feel shy and depart, then if they have a child, the Shaytaan will have a share of him."
- Jāmi' at-Tirmidhi 5/41/2800 "Beware of nakedness! For indeed there are with you, those who do not part from you except at the place of defecation, and when a man goes into his wife. So be shy of them and honor them."