A Wife's Rebellion Against Her Husband is major sin 47 in al-Dhahabi's Major Sins (pdf). Generally, this is interpreted as meaning any sharia-compliant instruction:

Obedience is the first right that Islam acknowledges for the husband over his wife. She is required to obey him in everything unless he commands her to do an act of disobedience.

Doing otherwise is being rebellious. Generally, there's an underlying assumption that the husband is being a reasonable Muslim, and he has his wife's best interests in mind.

If there's a foreseeable risk of some path leading to sin, then we're encouraged to avoid it. If a woman foresees becoming a rebellious wife, it seems like the woman should avoid getting married, but this goes against the sunnah.

Question: Should a woman avoid getting married out of fear of becoming a rebellious wife?

For example, a career woman could have her career destroyed (along with a lifetime of hard work) when her husband decides he wants her to focus on housework, cooking, and sex. Such a woman might refuse to sacrifice her life, thereby becoming rebellious.

2 Answers 2


[4:97] Indeed, those whom the angels take [in death] while wronging themselves - [the angels] will say, "In what [condition] were you?" They will say, "We were oppressed in the land." The angels will say, "Was not the earth of Allah spacious [enough] for you to emigrate therein?" For those, their refuge is Hell - and evil it is as a destination.

[4:98] Except for the oppressed among men, women and children who cannot devise a plan nor are they directed to a way -

[4:99] For those it is expected that Allah will pardon them, and Allah is ever Pardoning and Forgiving.

--[An-Nisa' 97-99]--

Fundamentally, this isn't a question of marriage so much as a question of your willingness to submit to authority.

Marriage in Islam, like any other hierarchical institution, is as much about trust as it is about power and authority: If you don't trust someone to use their power appropriately, you probably shouldn't submit yourself to that authority if you have any way to avoid it. Same way you probably shouldn't work for an employer or live under a ruler who you fear may be abusive or who will make you do things you don't want to do.

So, should you marry a man who you fear may abuse his authority and who you don't trust to respect your needs and wishes as much as his own? I, and many people I know, would vehemently argue "No" but that's still ultimately up to you. However you choose, without that basic foundation of trust your marriage environment will probably just turn hostile, no matter if you act outwardly rebellious or bottle everything in.

And even if you do decide "No", does this mean you should never get married at all? That may end up being the case if you're unwilling or unable to trust anyone in this sort of position ever, but that suggests underlying trust issues which would probably negatively affect any marriage, Islamic or otherwise. But the earth of Allah is large — as is the number of marriage candidates in it — so there's really no excuse to just "make do" with someone when you know (or strongly suspect) you'll end up sinning as a result.


I don't think she should avoid getting married in general. She should, however, avoid getting married to the wrong person. Not every man is right for every woman, and vice versa.

There are many men who approve of and support their wives working outside the home. There are also men who expect their wives to be fulltime housewives. If a woman's career is important to her, she should marry a man from the former group; and likewise, if she is happy to be a housewife and a mother, she should marry a man from the latter group.

It's essential to have a serious and honest conversation about work, household chores and whether or not you want children (and if yes, how many) before deciding whether or not to marry someone.

As for obedience, yes, the general rule is:

She is required to obey him in everything unless he commands her to do an act of disobedience.

But if you're married to the right person, it's not as scary as it initially sounds. In a healthy marriage, there are many other principles at play: love, trust, emotional maturity, communication, forgiveness, kindness, gratitude and appreciation.

If all of these pillars are present, obedience comes naturally. You obey your husband, because you love and trust him, because you know that he has your best interest at heart, and because he is more important to you than other things you hold dear.

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