Why Do Women Not Have a Right to Insist on Intimacy with Their Husbands?
Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
In this answer, Shaykh says, “The only difference is that the Sacred Law gives the husband the right to insist.” and “The opposite is also true, except that the wife does not have the right to insist.”
I would like to understand why women do not have the right to insist. Where does this come from since we have the same rights? Why could men insist (threatening in practice with the hadith, unfortunately for many) and women not? I don’t understand the reason for the discrepancy.
Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for your sincerity and for seeking to understand Islamic law so you can apply the guidelines to your life.
When informed of Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr’s neglecting of his wife’s conjugal rights, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reminded him, “Your wife has a right over you.” [Bukhari]
Allah Most High says, “And live with them in kindness.” [Quran, 4:19].
Disregarding one’s spouse’s natural needs is certainly not kindness. Similarly, God tells us, “Women have rights similar to those of men equitably.” [Quran, 2:228]
In a weak hadith narrated in Musnad Abu Ya`la, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported to have said, “If any of you has intercourse with his wife, let him be true to her. If he attains his pleasure before her, he shouldn’t hurry her away until she also attains her pleasure.” Though the hadith is weak, the meaning is sound, as mentioned by scholars.
I’m not sure what “insist” means, but insisting here does not imply forcing, and neither husband nor wife is permitted to force. I know a woman has a right to ask her husband to satisfy her. Although nagging doesn’t usually motivate a man, she is not expected to sit by and wait for him to come to her. She may initiate, ask, and if there is disagreement, a God-fearing man would still take care of her physical rights as this is the covenant he entered with her willingly.
Both parties would be accountable for not fulfilling the needs of the others, and both parties should fear this accountability. Marriage is not something light. It is serious, and nurturing the marital relationship is essential for healthy families and healthy Muslim societies. Man and wife should strive to fulfill the hadiths below; they should exhibit emotional intelligence and patience and leave the matter in Allah’s hands when it is out of their own.
The Standard of Islam
It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, what type of wife is best? He said, ‘The one who makes (her husband) happy when he looks at her, and she obeys him if he instructs her to do something, and she does not do anything concerning herself or his wealth in a manner of which he does not approve.’” [Ahmad]
And he said (Allah bless him and give him peace), “It is enough for a person to be considered sinful, that he neglects those whom he is responsible to sustain.” [Nasa’i]
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “The most perfect of faith of the believers is the best of them in good character – and the best of you are those who are best to their wives.” [Tirmidhi]
What Does Islam Say About the Neglect of the Wife’s Sexual Rights?
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[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, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin and completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.