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How to Deal with My Wife’s Lack of Personal Hygiene?

Answered by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I recently got married alhamdulillah. My wife is spiritual and religious but she does not care about bad armpit odour and bad breath. How can I ask her to take care of these things without offending her?

Answer: Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

I pray this message reaches you in the best of health and iman.

I was asked to answer your question by our Answers Service.

The best way to deal with this issue is to repeatedly ask your wife to let you know if she notices any bad smell from you at any time, as you are seeking to emulate the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم in how only good smell emanated from him.

Make a point of brushing your teeth and using toothpaste with each wudu, and telling her how you like do this as the sunna is to make sure one’s breath is fresh at all times, and tell her to let you know if she ever senses otherwise, as you don’t want to repel anyone.

You can also tell her you find her especially attractive after showering, and she should spare no expense and shower every morning and wear the nice clothing she received as a bride at home. You should also make a point of showering daily to emphasize this point. The weather is quite warm in Pakistan so this is the best way to keep everyone fresh.

You can ask her to help you by checking your used clothing for any signs of bad smells and washing them promptly, as you want to make sure that you are fresh at home and when you go out.

You can also buy her nice soap sets and perfume as gifts, and include a good quality deodorant/ antiperspirant in the gift basket. Make a point of using a deodorant daily when you are getting ready for the day and ask her if the one you have is good enough quality as you want to make sure you are fresh at home and when you go out.

You can see here that the continual emphasis here is on yourself and not her. This way you can teach her in a way that is non-offensive or hurtful to improve her personal practice. You are very right in thinking that it would be difficult to address the issue directly with her, as it would hurt her a great deal and as Muslims we should seek to not break the hearts of other people.

And Allah Most High knows best.

[Ustadha] Shireen Ahmed (Umm Umar)

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed (Umm Umar) inspires her students as a living example example of what is possible when one is committed to gaining sacred knowledge.  Teacher, student, activist, mother, wife — Umm Umar shows that it is possible to balance worldly responsibilities with the pursuit of knowledge.

Umm Umar was born and raised in Canada, where she graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology. During her university studies, she was actively involved in MSA work at the local and national levels. After graduation, she set out to formally pursue sacred knowledge, studying Arabic at the University of Damascus and Islamic studies at Jamia Abi Nour and taking private classes in Qur’anic recitation, Prophetic traditions, Islamic Law (Hanafi) and the Prophetic biography.