As-Salam Aliaikum I have read various articles, fatawas and heard and listened to many Islamic lectures regarding women/wife rights which have raised few questions in my mind which I have submitted to many websites but haven’t received answers to all my questions. Islam orders men to give women rights and treat them kindly but I cannot understand the way the emotional nature of woman used to justify her rights and duties. Islam doesn’t give a women right to divorce because they may make an emotional decision. Women testimony is not accepted (in most cases) as they may give incorrect testimony out of emotions. Women cannot marry without the consent of her wali as she may make incorrect choice out of emotions. She cannot be given any position of authority as she may make an emotional decision. But if woman refuses to have intercourse with her husband (and her husband is angry) out of emotions she is cursed by angels all night. Sometimes due to certain emotional circumstances she may not be able to respond but at the same time man is not under the same compulsion to respond to his wife’s request. Out of these emotions if she does something which makes her husband displeased with her then her prayers will not be accepted while he is angry with her. As humans we all can make mistakes which can sometimes hurt others. I haven’t read any Hadees regarding the punishment for a husband who has unfairly treated his wife. If the husband for no reason stops his wife to go and see her parents or relatives she has to leave her emotions aside and obey him even if they are very sick or if that means breaking the ties kinship. I know man shouldn’t do this but if he is that unfair to his wife his wife still hasn’t got any other option then to obey him doesn`t matter how torturous that obedience is for her. Isn’t it inhuman to stop someone meeting their parents? This means rights of unkind husband take priority over woman to be treated humanely I understand that there are only two rights of wife which are protected one is practicing Islam and second is Khula. She can exercise it without husband’s consent. All other rights are at the mercy of her husband. Sexual satisfaction in marriage is the right of both man and woman but even if a man deliberately doesn’t satisfy his wife she still hasn’t got the right to refuse when he demands that from her. Woman has the right to be treated kindly but if a man is unkind and neglect her rights she still cannot disobey him unless he asks for something she possibly cannot do or ask her to do something sinful. It’s her right to be able to meet her family but if a husband stops her from going to them she cannot do that. Only when she cannot bear it anymore she can ask for divorce. On the other hand husband has got means to ensure that he gets his rights like if he finds his wife negligent he can punish her, stay away from her bed, stop paying for maintenance etc. Islam is a religion of Fitra and isn’t it natural for a human being to retaliate when they are wronged and even in Quran there is a verse which says something like that if someone harm a person he can take the revenge then why wife is not allowed to withhold husband’s right when she is not getting hers. Women cannot leave the house without permission of her husband unless there absolute necessity but if the husband wants to take another wife he doesn’t have to tell his first wife. It is regarded as good manners if he takes her into confidence but he doesn’t have to. It’s not permissible for her to let her parents and family in the house if a husband doesn’t want them in the house. On the other hand she cannot stop anyone from her husband’s family coming to the house. She even has to cook and serve them if he orders her to do that whether she likes them or not. If he orders her to wear something which she doesn’t like she is obliged to obey him as long as that doesn’t go against Islam but husband is not obliged to listen to her in that matter. If a woman asks for divorce for no reason she will have severe punishment though it is disliked but there is no punishment for a man if he divorces his wife for no reason. Is marriage for a woman kind of slavery if she cannot bear it she can ask for divorce otherwise no matter how verbally or physically abusive, oppressive or unkind the husband is she has to accept it and give him all his rights and try to please him to the best of her ability? After reading writings of some scholars it seems that whole purpose of married woman life after worshipping Allah is to obey her husband and serve him and his family. Though Islam teaches Muslims to treat women kindly but there are good and bad people in every society. There is no accountability for men they can nearly get away with a murder where women answerable for everything. This creates an environment where abuse of women rights becomes very easy and common. Western societies with all their other failings have given rights to women to fight for their rights both at social and legal level and don’t demand women to accept men’s/husbands total control of their lives.
All praise be to Allah, and may his peace and blessings be on the last and best prophet and messenger, Muhammad.
Thank you for seeking the truth, and I hope my answer will satisfy you, even though a detailed answer is beyond the scope of this fatwa service.
You seem to have the right knowledge of many things, whereas you have overlooked some and misquoted others, and some of the things you mentioned are completely false.
I will not go into the details of how Islam was unprecedented by any of the man made systems or revealed laws in giving the women so many rights they didn’t have prior to it. This would take books to explain, and you seem to have some knowledge about it. Also, it is not hard to find articles online on this issue.
I will however start by reminding you of the following facts.
Regarding marital life:
- The man is obliged to spend on his wife, but the opposite is not true. This is also true for the man’s female relatives. The woman, therefore, may take from her husband’s money if he is stingy without his permission, but the opposite is not true. (Should men cry injustice because of that?)
- The Muslim woman is not obliged to serve her husband’s family. In fact, according to the majority of the earlier scholars she is not even obliged to serve her husband. Many people walked away from this opinion because they felt it would be unfair to ask the man to work outside and inside and the woman doesn’t have to do either. In recent times, some Muslim men are unfair to their working wives because they expect them to share the work outside and do all of it inside. That has nothing to do with Islam.
- As for the woman taking her husband’s permission to visit her parents that is part of good companionship and it is natural to seek permission from the one who is responsible for the safety, welfare and wellbeing of the household. However, the husband is not permitted to prevent her from visiting her kin, nor can he prevent her first degree relatives from visiting her unless there is a reasonably verifiable harm from such visits.
- As for the sexual needs of the man and woman, it is quite natural that the emphasis was placed on forbidding women from rejecting their husband’s request to have sex for the following reasons:
- o Usually, it is the man who seeks his wife more than the opposite, so it was natural to remind the sought after to not refuse the seeker’s invitation, not vice versa. This is like reminding the children to be kind to their parents more than the opposite way, because it is natural that the parents will show kindness to their children.
- o The man can’t have sex or more precisely, intercourse unless he has the physiological urge for it, because otherwise he will not have erection. This is not the case for women. However, The man is required to satisfy his wife’s needs, and he may be given an ultimatum to do that or divorce her. She is even required to ask for separation if she fears that she is not satisfied and prone to sin.
- o The refusal of the woman to have sex with her husband will result in infidelity which she herself will be the first sufferer of its consequences.
After all, the woman who refuses her husband’s invitation because of any valid reason, whether physical or psychological is not blameworthy in the sight of God.
- As for punishments, the women do punish their husbands by many means that they were given, and they know best, which are not necessarily like the men’s and are not necessarily haram. They are fully entitled to exhorting their husbands and reminding them of Allah with all assertiveness appropriate for a woman. But, if you mean that she can’t discipline him by more punitive measures, then I wonder how you want the woman to punish her husband? Should there be a policeman in every home forcing the husband to listen to his wife? Should she beat him? Is this natural, or does it happen in reality. Do you see in the west men rushing to the emergency rooms because they were beaten by their wives? I see the opposite frequently. How could the family function as a unit if leadership will not be given to one person? Have you ever heard of a plane with two pilots or a ship with two captains? But since the woman will not be able to discipline her husband by more than advice and exhortation, and having family and imams and judges intervene on her behalf, what could she do if he doesn’t listen? Unlike other religions, the justice and mercy of Islam allowed women an exit out of a dysfunctional marriage as you can see here below? And that is the only reasonable and rational solution.
- The woman – unless specified as a prenuptial agreement – will need to seek divorce from a court not only because women are emotional – which they are[i] – but because of many other factors, including that the financial burden of marriage falls on the man, also, the woman is entitled to financial rights upon the man at divorce, but not the opposite. So it is unfair after he spends a great portion of his wealth or all of it to marry, that she can divorce him and look for another one and so on. If that is not what most of the women do, some may do that, and it can undermine the whole institution of marriage. That could lead to disinterest in marriage on the part of men. And if you live in the west, you know that the price paid because of that is paid mostly by women. It is the woman who is usually afraid of her boyfriend breaking up with her after many years of illegitimate relationship because her chances – as she gets older – of finding a suitor dwindle after every such separation, while he moves on to another one with considerable ease.
- The idea of the woman being empowered by Islam to exit from a dysfunctional marriage is one of the greatest privileges Islam unprecedentedly gave to women, for in other religions divorce is not allowed, period, or only with extreme conditions. In fact, in my country of origin (Egypt) many Christian women married to Christian men converted to Islam only to get rid of their husbands.
- In Islam, if the woman can prove that her husband mistreats her, she will earn divorce and keep all of her financial rights. That is in contrast to your notion that he can get away with nearly murder, which is a little shocking that you could think this way of God’s justice, and what adds to my shock is that there is no disagreement whatsoever that if one killed his wife he gets killed for her. Also, if he causes her infirmity or bodily harm, he gets punished for that with the regular qisaas rules applicable equally between all people regardless of their gender.
- And if she couldn’t prove that he mistreats her, she still can ask for khul’. Where do you find that in other religions?
- After divorce, custody of the children goes to the woman and then to female members of her family before the father and his family. While the kids are in her custody, the man is responsible to provide for them, which means be default provide for her as well, because he should afford them decent accommodation and living conditions.
- As for men being discouraged from divorce, no one said they are not discouraged, but you have to remember that divorce for most men means huge financial burdens, so they are not inclined to it because of the economic factor. Despite that, here is some evidence that divorce is discouraged:
Al-Hakim reported that the Prophet (s) said: “When the devil wakes he then dispatches his soldiers and when they return to him he says to them, ‘Whoever misguided a Muslim today, I will crown him so one of them comes out and says, ‘I made him divorce his wife.’”
The other hadeeth says: “I made him mistreat his parents.” And the third one says: “I made him commit shirk.” (authenticated by Albani)[ii]
It is clear that the devil is intent on causing us to deviate and commit one of the above mistakes. To put divorce in the middle of this with mistreatment of the parents and shirk is quite telling.
Allah also discourages us from divorce in the Quran:
“And live with them (your spouses) in kindness. For if you dislike them, perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” (4:19)[iii]
Regarding the testimony:
- The single woman’s testimony in certain issues counts alone, when two men are required for the validity of the testimony.
- The testimony of a woman counts as half of that of men in matters of financial transactions because – amongst other reasons – they collectively have less experience in this field. In areas where they have more experience such as child birth, their testimony is taken over that of men as indicated here above.
- Their testimony is fully taken whenever events take place within women gatherings.
To conclude, Allah says[iv]:
4/32. And wish not for the things in which Allâh has made some of you to excel others. For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned, and ask Allâh of His Bounty. Surely, Allâh is Ever All-Knower of everything.
And He says[v]:
33/36. It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allâh and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allâh and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error.
May Allah guide our hearts to full acceptance of his word and complete submission to his will.
Allah knows best.
[i] Equity between the genders which is established in Islam doesn’t mean they are similar and have the same roles, and subsequently the same rights and duties. That notion brought about grief to the western women and it constitutes one of the west’s falsest and most unfounded dogmas they deem above any discussion. And while they pride themselves on the following of science and reason, no one is allowed, even if he was the president of Harvard University to hint to possible inherent differences between the genders resulting in men’s better performance in science and math. As a father of three daughters and one son, I don’t want my daughters to be burdened with more than their capacity, but I equally want for them to be respected, appreciated for their contributions, protected, and honored. I believe that Islam does provide for them all of that.
[ii] عن أبي موسى عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : إذا أصبح إبليس بث جنوده فيقول من أضل اليوم مسلما ألبسته التاج قال فيخرج هذا فيقول لم أزل به حتى طلق امرأته فيقول أوشك أن يتزوج ويجيء هذا فيقول لم أزل به حتى عق والديه فيقول أوشك أن يبر ويجيء هذا فيقول لم أزل به حتى أشرك فيقول أنت أنت ويجيء فيقول لم أزل به حتى زنى فيقول أنت أنت ويجيء هذا فيقول لم أزل به حتى قتل فيقول أنت أنت ويلبسه التاج (الحاكم و غيره)
[iii] ( وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِنْ كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئاً وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْراً كَثِيراً)(النساء: من الآية19)
[iv] “وَلا تَتَمَنَّوْا مَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بِهِ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبُوا وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا اكْتَسَبْنَ وَاسْأَلُوا اللَّهَ مِنْ فَضْلِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا”
[iv] “وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ وَمَنْ يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلالا مُبِينًا”