Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
Question: Assalamu alaykum
I met an Imam about my bad marriage. He said paradise lies at the foot of the husband and that I must obey him in everything because men are caretakers of women. However, what if he is mistreating the wife, emotionally abusing her, and not fully supporting her financially when able? What if she works full-time and feeds and clothes herself? Does he still have a right to be obeyed? Why is a man’s behavior towards his wife barely discussed, but paradise is still at his feet? This is like slavery. Can he command me to do things such as cooking, cleaning, which are not obligatory in Shafi’i madhab? Can he order me to hop on one foot for an hour? Do we have to obey them only concerning his rights or is it a blanket statement?
Answer: Assalamu alaykum,
Thank you for your question. I am sorry that you are experiencing problems with your husband, this can cause a lot of frustration and unhappiness. All of this can be rectified with the help of Allah and you asking for sincere guidance on the topic.
Your answer is found here in the following link: Is It Sinful to Disobey to One’s Husband?
In short, obedience to the husband regarding permissible actions is obligatory, whether he is supporting her fully or not. [see link above] A marriage is built on the premise of love, mercy, understanding and aiming to please Allah. Harmony, peace, and aligning yourselves in your relationship is key.
Although this may be difficult to digest, taking the first step to a marriage’s harmony is usually done by the wife. A woman has enough patience, wisdom, sweetness, and smarts to completely change a man.
A marriage should never be about the black and white rules of obedience. These rules should only be brought up when a couple is unable to get along. Then the shari`ah is called upon to settle a dispute between them. Generally speaking, if a woman is kind to her husband and does obey him, he will move mountains for her.
Please take a course on marriage together: Keys to Successful Muslim Marriages: Practical lessons that explain the Prophetic Spirit of Marriage
Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriage
See these answers about marriage:
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
And these articles will answer some of your questions as well:
Obedience to the Husband in Mustahab and Makruh Acts
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
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. Afterwards, 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.