I want to know why in Islam a wife must obey her husband with the exception of doing sinful acts.

What affords her husband the right to command her at all times ( with the exception of that which is prescribed by religion)?

2 Answers 2


Because Allah has commanded it and made it a virtue for them:

فالصالحات قانتات

So righteous women are devoutly obedient

Quran 4:34

التي تسره إذا نظر وتطيعه إذا أمر ولا تخالفه في نفسها ومالها بما يكره

[The best woman is] The one who makes him happy when he looks at her, obeys him when he commands her, and she does not go against his wishes with regard to herself nor her wealth.

Sunan Nisai

And because Allah has commanded the husbands to spend on their lodging and maintenance (Nafaqah) so it is reciprocated:

وبما أنفقوا من أموالهم

and because they spend (to support them) from their means

Quran 4:34

  • RIght okay. But lets say the wife is prohibited by her husband from doing things she wants to do, the only options that exist for her are to either attempt to convince him to change his mind, or to request a divorce from a judge yes?
    – John Doe
    Sep 8, 2018 at 18:45
  • This would depend on the 'things'.
    – UmH
    Sep 8, 2018 at 18:59
  • @JohnDoe Requesting a divorce does not have to be through a judge
    – Aboudi
    Sep 8, 2018 at 18:59
  • @JohnDoe Also the recommended approach is to seek council from different members of the household prior to making a decision. Even the prophet (PBUH) went by his wife's advice on occasions and he used to always undertake house chores. I suggest looking into how a wife is to be treated in Islam and what are her rights rather than concentrating on that which is controversial for a better understanding. Also children are to hold their mothers at a higher level than their fathers.
    – Aboudi
    Sep 8, 2018 at 19:14
  • Well what i'm getting at is that she can either plead permission from her husband , ask someone to talk to him for her, or seek divorce from some authority figure ( not necessarily a judge). I just wanted to know if that's the case.
    – John Doe
    Sep 8, 2018 at 19:19

Islamically speaking, the first and foremost reason is that Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (saaws) have commanded a Muslim wife to obey her husband.

وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍۢ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُۥٓ أَمْرًا أَن يَكُونَ لَهُمُ ٱلْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ ۗ وَمَن يَعْصِ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَـٰلًۭا مُّبِينًۭا ٣٦ When Allah and His Messenger have decided on a matter that concerns them, it is not fitting for any believing man or woman to claim freedom of choice in that matter: whoever disobeys God and His Messenger is far astray. (Quran: 33:36)

For a Muslim wife, obey her husband is also one of the ways by which she can attain Paradise; in the words of the Prophet:

If a woman prays her five (daily prayers), and fasts her month (Ramadan), and maintains her chastity, and obeys her husband, she will enter the Paradise of her Lord.’ (Ibn Habban 4252, At-Tabarani, 4738)

Apart from the strictly religious/scriptural reasons, it does make sense that families need leaders. An institution with a leader functions better than a leaderless institution. If two drivers are driving a car at the same time, the result will most likely be a crash. If two CEOs are running a single company, the result is going to be chaos and confusion.

As for why the family's leader should be the man rather than the woman: Men are better at making quick sensible decisions, whereas women tend to get emotional more easily.

Besides, even today, with all the social and economical changes, the basic psychology of men and women remains the same. Women are generally attracted to men who can take charge and lead. Men are by and large attracted to women who respect them and allow them to take charge (by being obedient and submissive). This means that when a woman obeys her husband, this increases her husband's love for her, whereas the reverse is generally not true.

That being said, obedience is not the only necessary ingredient in a successful marriage: there are many other things that need to be present: respect, love, kindness, communication, trust, maturity, appreciation, gratitude, etc.

A Muslim family isn't an army; it shouldn't be all about giving and taking orders. There should also be love and constant effective communication.

A wife should obey her husband, but that doesn't mean she can't (or shouldn't) disagree or argue with her husband. She can, and should, express her feelings and thoughts openly. Obedience, in this case, means that when there's a disagreement, and neither of them can convince the other, the husband has the last say on things. Yes, she might not get what she wants; but this is still better than continuing an endless (and often pointless) argument.

Also, a husband has the right to lead, but he also has to be kind and considerate to his wife, and to respect her Islamic rights.

  • I have some follow up questions. Why should there need to be only one permanent leader? Can't the leader depend on the situation, for example if one is more knowledgeable in one aspect they can lead in that but may not lead when it comes to something else. Also, I'm not seeing the need for a leader in principle if it's merely a relationship between two people that we're talking about. Is there a prescribed leader in a friendship for example? Not really. And if that were the case, I'm sure the other friend would be fed up with being controlled at the end of the day.
    – John Doe
    Jul 28, 2022 at 23:22

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