Is a Man Permitted To Keep His Wife Cooped Up at Home?


Question:
Why does the wife need the husband’s permission to go out?
Answer:Assalamu alaykum,

Thank you for your question. When one is uncertain of something in the Shari’a, it is very good to ask, and I encourage you to always ask in order to remove baseless misgivings.

 

A Necessity

Leaving the house is a basic human need and a woman has a right to leave her house, as explained beautifully here: https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/can-woman-leave-house/

 

A Husband’s Governance

One must understand that a marriage is a team, and every team has a leader. In this instance, the husband is the leader, and he may direct his team (wife and children) to prioritize things as he sees fit, because he is responsible for protecting and supporting them.

At the same time, every man has been commanded by the Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace, to be good to his wife, and he will be accountable if he is not. This is why it is of the utmost importance to choose a pious man for marriage who fears Allah and has good character.

 

Excerpt

Shaykh Abdur-Rahim Reasat clearly explains the hadith about a woman needing a husband’s permission to go out, at this link, and I have pasted the relevant excerpt below for you. Please read the article in full.
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/im-fearful-islam-causing-depression-can/

 

Leaving the House

Another related point is the narration you mentioned which suggests that if a woman was to leave her home without the permission of her husband, the angels all curse her. As far as the standards of hadith criticism go, this narration is so weak that it cannot be relied upon for rulings. [al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib, ed, al-Karmi] According to some scholars it is fabricated narration.

Does a woman need the permission of her husband to go out of the house? It depends on the reason. The scholars of Islam have laid down scenarios where the wife would need permission – which some scholars considered to be the husband’s knowledge of it without his objection [Fatḥ al-Bari, Ibn Rajab] – based on some narrations from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace). There are various reasons for this, but most return to her safety. The husband is responsible for the safety of his wife, and for her to leave home with no way of him knowing where she is, or if she is safe, then he has fallen short of his responsibility.

The situations which do allow her to leave home are well documented in the books of Law, such as if she needed to learn her religion and he was unable to teach her, or if she had a genuine need. Being in constant contact with people all day is a very recent phenomenon, therefore, laws reflect the majority of cases. Also, this is not a right that is used as a whip to subdue someone; rather the spirit of Islam calls for everything to be “wrapped up in goodness.”

To the modern mind, this may seem strange, but relative safety is not something that has always been around. These matters change from time and place. Twenty years ago, for a parent to leave an eight-year-old in the car while she goes into a supermarket to buy some milk may have been acceptable, but now, in many places, it is not. Therefore, those charged with responsibility for others are also granted the use of certain measures, within reason, to ensure that their function is properly performed. There are other factors too, such as matters which could lead to the detriment of the marriage, so the husband is responsible for ensuring things remain smooth.

But if we go and ask most Muslim women, the chances are that there is no exhaustive list stuck on the fridge, stipulating when she can and cannot leave the house. These are matters which are best dealt with the principle of dealings being “wrapped up in goodness” depending on the situation. Having said this, many righteous women do request permission from their husbands as an act of obedience to Allah, so they do not contradict the literal wording of some of the statements of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace).

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next. Do not hesitate to follow up if you have any more concerns or questions.

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.