What Are the Rights of a Woman over Her Husband?

Answered by Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Fayez Awad


What are the rights of a woman over her husband?


Praise be to Allah (Most High), blessings and peace be upon the one whom Allah (Most High) has sent as a mercy to the worlds, upon his Family, Companions, and brothers until the Day of Judgment.

Marriage is a partnership between a man and his wife in building a righteous generation that worships Allah (Most High) and contributes to the development of life.

The foundation of marriage in Islam is based on love, affection, and preferring the other person.

For this union to continue, Allah (Most High) has legislated certain rights that each spouse must uphold.

“O humanity! Be mindful of your Lord, Who created you from a single soul, and from it, He created its mate, and through both, He spread countless men and women. And be mindful of Allah – in Whose Name you appeal to one another – and honor family ties. Surely Allah is ever Watchful over you.” [Quran, 4:1]

Allah has legislated rights for spouses to preserve their marriage and fulfill their duties towards one another. These include protecting and providing for one’s spouse following the guidance of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), who told us to be good to our women. He also emphasized maintaining good relations with one’s family. He said the best of you are those who are best to their women, and I am the best of you to my woman. [Tirmidhi; Darimi; Sahih Ibn Hibban]

These rights include:

1. The Husband Commanding His Wife to Obey Allah.

This is the husband’s right, for Allah has legislated marriage that would help in obedience to Allah (Most High), and a means to attain His mercy. It is obligatory upon the husband to command his wife to fulfill what Allah has deemed obligatory and to prohibit her from doing what Allah has deemed prohibited.

Allah pointed to this when he said

“Bid your people to pray and be diligent in observing it. We do not ask you to provide. It is We Who provide for you. And the ultimate outcome is only for the people of righteousness.” [Quran, 20:132]

2. Being Kind and Excellently Dealing with Your Wife

The wife is a trust entrusted to the man; being kind and gentle in speech and actions with her is obligatory. Regarding treating them well, Allah (Most High) has said, “Treat them fairly.” [Quran, 4:19]

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said that a believer should not hate a believing woman. If he dislikes a trait of hers, there may be another that he likes. [Muslim; Ahmad; Bayhaqi, Al-Sunan al-Kubra]

3. Protecting One’s Wife, Having Jealousy over Her, and Showing Her Respect

Having jealousy over your wife is a primordial trait. Sa‘d Ibn ‘Ubada (Allah be pleased with him) said to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace): “‘If I saw a man with my wife, I would strike him with my unsheathed sword.’ The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Are you amazed at Sa‘d’s jealousy? I am more jealous than him, and Allah is more jealous than me. It is due to Allah’s jealousy that He has prohibited obscenities, whether committed openly or in secret.’” [Bukhari; Muslim]

4. Decency towards One’s Wife

This is an established right for the wife; the Prophetic Sunna confirms it. There is a Hadith that is agreed upon that ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr Ibn ‘As (Allah be pleased with them both) narrates where he said that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “O ‘Abdullah, have I not been informed that you fast during the day and pray at night?’ So I said, ‘Yes, O Messenger of Allah.’ He replied, ‘Don’t do that, fast and break your fast. Stand in prayer and sleep, as your body has rights over you. Your eyes have a right over you, your wife has a right over you, and your guest has a right over you. [Bukhari; Muslim]

Thus, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) informed us that a wife has rights over us.

This right is also considered a type of worship for which a man is rewarded. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) once said that there is a charity associated with every joint in our body. The people asked him if fulfilling one’s desires also falls under this charity. In response, the Prophet explained that if someone unlawfully fulfills their desires, they would be sinning. Conversely, if they lawfully fulfill their desires, they would be rewarded for it. [Muslim]

5. Keeping Her Secrets

This is, in fact, a mutual right between the spouses.

’Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri reports from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) that he said, “Among the worst of people in Allah’s sight on the day of judgment is a man who spreads his wife’s secrets.” [Muslim]

6. Maintenance and Financial Support

The man must spend on his wife; this applies to food, clothing, and shelter.

Allah (Most High) says in the Quran: “Men are the caretakers of women, as men have been provisioned by Allah over women and tasked with supporting them financially.” [Quran, 4:34]

He (Most High) also said:

“Let them live where you live during their waiting period, according to your means. And do not harass them to make their stay unbearable.” [Quran, 65:6]

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) was asked about the wife’s rights, and he replied, “You should feed her when you eat, and clothe her when you clothe yourself, and do not strike her face or insult her, and do not forsake her, except within the house.” [Abu Dawud]

‘Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) reports that Hind, the daughter of ‘Utba said, “‘O Messenger of Allah, Abu Sufyan is a stingy man, and he does not give me what suffices my child and me except what I take from him without his knowledge.’ The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘Take what suffices for you and your child with kindness.’” [Bukhari; Muslim]

7. Excusing the Wife’s Mistakes

Human beings are not perfect; mistakes and mishaps are expected. The just thing to do is to ignore minor mistakes. We previously mentioned the saying of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), “That a believer should not hate a believing woman. If he dislikes a trait of hers, there may be another that he likes.”

The intelligent husband does not take his wife to task for minor mistakes or hold her accountable at the first slip. Instead, he looks for excuses for her and sees her as having the best intentions. He then advises her to the best of his ability.

8. Fairness between Multiple Wives (If Applicable)

Allah (Most High) has said, “If you fear you might fail to give orphan women their due rights if you were to marry them, then marry other women of your choice – two, three, or four. But if you are afraid you will fail to maintain justice, then content yourselves with one or those bondwomen in your possession. This way, you are less likely to commit injustice.” [Quran, 4:3]

We ask Allah (Most High) for protection and safety, well-being from all ailments, and the ability to follow the example well of the leader of the Prophets; blessings and peace be upon him, his Family, and Companions.
[Shaykh] Dr. Muhammad Fayez Awad

Shaykh Dr. Muhammad Fayez Awad, born in Damascus, Syria, in 1965, pursued his Islamic studies in the mosques and institutes of Damascus. A graduate of the Islamic University of Medina in 1985, he holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Bahauddin Zakariya University in Pakistan.

He has extensive experience developing curricula and enhancing the teaching of various academic courses, including conducting intensive courses. Shaykh Awad has taught Fiqh, Usul al-Fiqh, Quranic sciences, the history of legislation, inheritance laws, and more at several institutes and universities such as Al-Furqan Institute for Islamic Sciences and Majma‘ al-Fath al-Islami in Damascus.

He is a lecturer at the Sultan Muhammad al-Fatih Waqf University in Istanbul, teaching various Arabic and Islamic subjects, and teaches at numerous Islamic institutes in Istanbul. Shaykh Awad is a member of the Association of Syrian Scholars, a founding member of the Zayd bin Thabit Foundation, a member of the Syrian Scholars Association, and a member of the Academic Council at the Iman Center for Teaching the Sunna and Quran.

Among his teachers from whom he received Ijazat are his father, Shaykh Muhammad Muhiyiddin Awad, Shaykh Muhiyiddin al-Kurdi, Shaykh Muhammad Karim Rajih, Shaykh Usama al-Rifai, Shaykh Ayman Suwaid, Shaykh Ahmad al-Qalash, Shaykh Muhammad Awwama, and Shaykh Mamduh Junayd.