Notifying One’s Wife Before Returning From a Trip

Question: Is it obligatory or recommended in Shafi’i school to warn one’s wife when the husband returns home or is he allowed to return unexpectedly? I ask you the question in the case of returning from a long trip or of a short absence of a few hours. Is it the same rules for men and women?
 Answer: Thank you for your question. It is not obligatory in the Shafi’i school to warn one’s wife when returning home from a trip, but rather praiseworthy to do so [Al-Majmu` Sharh al-Muhadhdhab]The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “When one of you stays away (from his family) for a long period of time, let him not surprise his family by night.“ In another narration, Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, prohibited us from coming back to our family at night.“ [Bukhari and Muslim].The Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “If you enter (your town) at night (after coming from a journey), do not enter upon your family till the woman whose husband was absent shaves her pubic hair and the woman with unkempt hair, combs her hair.“ Allah’s Messenger, may Allah bless him and give him peace, further said, “(O Jabir!) Seek to have offspring, seek to have offspring!“ [Bukhari and Muslim]The tremendous benefits of informing the lady of the house before returning home is clear. It is more conducive to a loving relationship when a lady has time to prepare and beautify herself, even beautify her children and home, in order to receive her provider properly. This makes him feel honored and respected, and the whole reception is more pleasant. May Allah bless every home with such Prophetic standards.

As for the case of a person, who came home to find his wife fornicating, he has bigger problems. I will go as far as to say that a cheating wife should not be given advance notice that her husband is coming home.

As for coming home after a few hours, it is superior manners (adab) to inform one’s wife that the husband is coming home. Some of my teachers from Jordan and Damascus always rang the doorbell or knocked twice before opening the door with the key, in order to inform the wife. This was very useful especially if she had a visiting friend sitting in an open view.

As far as I know, this does not apply to a woman coming home from a (permissible) trip to her husband. However, she would be rewarded according to her intention as nothing is lost on Allah. And Allah knows best.

May Allah guides us all to living Islam as the Prophet taught us, may Allah bless him and give him peace.

[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.