After reading Muṣannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah, 29677, we get to know that the Prophet Muhammad PBUH gave his daughter, Hazrat Fatima (RA) the duty of managing the affairs of the household while he gave his son-in-law, Hazrat Ali (RA) the duty of managing affairs outside the house.

Why then, according to majority of scholars, cooking and cleaning is not the duty of the wife? I know that the Hanafis say that it depends on which class the woman belongs to but I am trying to understand the opinion of the majority.

I got to know about the opinions of the schools of thought by an answer here:- https://islamqa.org/hanafi/daruliftaa/7935/

They have said

You mention regarding the cooking of food. Firstly, a wife is not legally even required to cook for her husband. This is the case in the three schools of Fiqh and one of the two opinions in the Hanafi Madhhab. Now, if the husband comes and asks the wife to cook a certain type of food for him, then the wife is not legally obliged, but the rewards for doing so are great.

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    Please provide evidences of your claims!
    – Medi1Saif
    Oct 14, 2021 at 15:12
  • @Medi1Saif I have added them now
    – Ma148
    Oct 15, 2021 at 18:39
  • Sorry but the linked post actually says something rather different than you claim.
    – Medi1Saif
    Oct 15, 2021 at 18:52
  • @Medi1Saif there are two answers there. I am talking about the one with 2 votes
    – Ma148
    Oct 15, 2021 at 19:01
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    This matter has been debated among the scholars and the most authentic opinion I found is the examples set by the wives of prophet PBUH and the wives of the companions. It's only in the latter generations that this debate arose specially with the establishment of the thought schools. it's clearly mentioned in Quran and Sunnah that the husband has to provide food for the wife. So someone may ask, does that mean husband has to bring take-away food all the time for the wife or does he bring the raw materials to make a meal?. Marriage itself is based on mutual consents, so why do we complicate?. Oct 15, 2021 at 20:32

1 Answer 1


The view of the majority is that doing cooking and other household labor is not obligatory on the wife. But it is permissible for her to do so if she does it voluntarily. And it is recommended for her to do it if the custom of the place is that women do household chores.

According to the Hanafis it is the ethical obligation of the wife but is not enforceable if she refuses. According to the Malikis it is obligatory on the wife to do the indoor tasks of the household if the custom is that women do these themselves.

See Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah: Vol 19 - page 41-44 and Vol 24, page 59 and Volume 30 - page 126 and Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuhu. Further they state that in certain cases it is actually obligatory on the husband to provide a servant to the wife who would do such chores, and the conditions for that include:

  • when the wife does not agree to do such chores herself
  • the wife is from a family whose custom or financial status is such that in her own home these tasks were done by servants. If she did not cook and clean in her own father's house then she can not be expected to start cooking and cleaning in the husband's house.
  • the wife is unable to do the tasks, because of weakness or an illness etc.
  • the husband is financially able to afford a servant, if he is not able then it is obligatory on the wife to do the work

Why is this the case? Because there is no clear evidence to support the claim that doing household work is obligatory on the wife. The only obligations on the wife that are made by the marriage contract are those which are required for sexual intimacy. Maintenance is actually due on the husband, and services like cooking and cleaning etc. are really a form of maintenance.

This is despite the fact that we might find reports that the sahabiyaat performed household chores. For example Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet ﷺ (see Bukhari 5361) and Asma bint Abi Bakr (see Bukhari 5224 and Muslim 2182b).

If the Prophet ﷺ asked Fatima to do household chores that does not mean that it was made a religious obligation, rather it was personal advice, and Fatima voluntarily agreed to it, and Ali was not able to afford a servant anyways. Similar was the case with Asma, her husband was poor and Asma had voluntarily agreed to perform the tasks. A brief discussion of this is found in Fath al-Bari 16/351 and 15/643.

On the other hand, it is well established that providing food, clothing, maintenance and accommodation is the duty of the husband. Cooking and cleaning are services that are associated with these. Further it is also established that the maintenance should be according to the financial means of the husband and according to what is considered appropriate according to customs.

وعلى المولود له رزقهن وكسوتهن بالمعروف

Upon the father is the mothers' provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable.

Quran 2:233

لينفق ذو سعة من سعته ومن قدر عليه رزقه فلينفق مما آتاه الله

Let a man of wealth spend from his wealth, and he whose provision is restricted - let him spend from what Allah has given him.

Quran 65:7

أسكنوهن من حيث سكنتم من وجدكم ولا تضاروهن لتضيقوا عليهن وإن كن أولات حمل فأنفقوا عليهن حتى يضعن حملهن فإن أرضعن لكم فآتوهن أجورهن وأتمروا بينكم بمعروف وإن تعاسرتم فسترضع له أخرى

Lodge them [in a section] of where you dwell out of your means and do not harm them in order to oppress them. And if they should be pregnant, then spend on them until they give birth. And if they breastfeed for you, then give them their payment and confer among yourselves in the acceptable way; but if you are in discord, then there may breastfeed for the father another woman.

Quran 65:6

ولهن عليكم رزقهن وكسوتهن بالمعروف

Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner.


Further it is prescribed to treat the wives with kindness, and it is against kindness to obligate her to perform services against her customs or habits and that too when it is financially possible to provide an alternate for them:

وعاشروهن بالمعروف

And live with them in kindness.

Quran 4:19

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    Also note that the report on the division of labor between Ali and Fatima that has been cited in the question from Muṣannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah 29677 is weak. See the footnote on page 36 in this arabic publication and hadithanswers.com.
    – UmH
    Oct 16, 2021 at 18:07
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    A nice and well researched answer
    – Ma148
    Oct 16, 2021 at 21:20
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    I'm curious, is the view that it's obligated the mutamad for Hanafis?
    – Affan
    Oct 27, 2021 at 10:53
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    The view of the Hanafis that is cited in the sources is as follows: وذهب الحنفية إلى وجوب خدمة المرأة لزوجها ديانة لا قضاء this means that it is an ethical obligation on the wife but not a legal obligation. She should do it but it can not be enforced if she refuses.
    – UmH
    Oct 27, 2021 at 13:13
  • is the wife obligated to every obey permissible orders given by husband?
    – Litten
    Jun 5, 2023 at 5:45

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