Question: Am I sinful if I let my Christian wife dresses indecently outside of the house?
Thank you for your important question.
Given that a Christian does not have to undertake the religious obligations of Islam, she doesn’t have to wear a hijab. She should, however, dress in a way that does not harm your relationship and is not against Christian teachings.
There are three issues here: what is in keeping with Christian guidelines, what affects your relationship, and what you as the husband ask her to do.
If exposing the thighs, for example, in her denomination of Christianity is acceptable. It would, in principle, be permissible for the husband not to forbid to dress that way in public. (Kashf al-Qina, Bahuti)
Now, if her dressing immodestly in public affects the relationship, in that they live in a conservative society and it is causes of embarrassment, or that it leads to men looking at her excessively such that it is a genuine weight on the relationship, he could definitely forbid her from going out like that. (Mughni al Muhtaj, Khatib al Shirbini)
The third consideration is that, while he may not be obliged to tell her to dress properly, he would still have the right to do that, and she would be morally obliged to comply.
One practical approach would be to go with her to a Christian figure that she listens to and get his/her input on the discussion, and try to agree on some rules that you will keep from this point on.
You also have to look at the kind of relationship that you have. When the scholars of Islamic law talk about these kinds of thing, they are talking from two angles: the moral responsibility each partner has to the other, and the legal repercussions of the wife’s “disobedience”; that is to say, what can they ask of each other, do they have to “obey,” and if she didn’t, would that affect his financial obligations to her.
A relationship is not based on moral or financial rights; the discussion here is really quite different.
Try and work towards an agreement whereby she dresses in a way that does not harm your relationship and is not against Christian teachings. As head of the family, you do have to guide her closer to Islam as much as possible. ‘Each of you is a shepherd, and each of you will have to answer for his flock.’ (Bukhari and Muslim)
I pray this helps.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language