In the name of Allah ,the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Chapter 8:
Effect of a Sound Marriage: Rights of the Husband and Wife<

In This Chapter:

  • The importance of meeting the spouse's rights in a marriage.
  • The rights of the wife over the husband.
  • The rights of the husband over the wife.


The first thing that every married Muslim must realize is that one's spouse is first and foremost another Muslim.  He/she is one's brother and sister in Islam.  Therefore, at minimum all rights that fall upon a Muslim due to the general brotherhood of Islam are also due to one's spouse.  It is a sad situation for a Muslim brother or sister to respect their Muslim brothers and sisters outside of the house but for the situation in the house to degenerate into less even than that minimum standard of respect and kindness inside the household.  Therefore the first step is for every Muslim to open some of the books about respect, manners (adab) and couresty towards other Muslims and to realize that all of those principles apply to their partner in their house.  The Prophet (sas) stressed this when he said:'

"Laa yu'minu ahadukum hattaa yuhibbu li akheehi ma yuhibbu li nafsihi."
"No one of you has believed until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself."  Bukhari & Muslim

Clearly, husband and wife have even greater rights and obligations toward each other due to the great and important contract which ha been transacted between them and on which basis they live together.  In the Qur'an, Allah states that if a husband wishes to divorce one wife and marry another that he may not take back any of the dowry which was given no matter how large it was.  Then, Allah says:

{Wa kaifa ta'khudhoonahu wa qad afdhaa ba'dhukum ilaa ba'dhin wa adhadhna minkum meethaaqan ghaleedhan.}
{How could you take it once you have entered unto one another and they (the women) have taken from you and awesome covenant.}  An-Nisaa:21

Because of this "awesome covenant", rights and obligations between husband and wife should not be looked at coldly or legalistically.  Spouses should strive to make other happy and take into consideration the needs, abilities and weaknesses of the other.  Since in most cases, neither spouse is completely fulfilling their obligations, they should both realize and acknowledge their own shortcomings.

The Prophet (sas) in particular advised the husbands to treat their wives in the best way - perhaps due to their greater authority in the household and their greater strength.  This is clear in the following hadith:

"Khairukum khairukum li ahlihi wa anaa khairukum li ahliy."
"The best of you is the best of you to their family and I am the best of you to my family."
"Istawsoo bi an-nisaa'i khairan fa innahunna khuliqa min dhila'in wa inna a'waja shai'in fiy adh-dhila'i a'laahu fa in dhahabta tuqeemuhu kasartahu wa in taraktahu lam yazal a'waja fastawsoo bi an-nisaa'i khairan."
"I entreat you to treat women well for they have been created from a rib and the most crooked part of a rib is the upper part.  If you insist on straightening it, you will break it.  If you leave it, it will remain crooked.  So, I entreat you to treat women well."  Bukhari

Actually, both spouses usually fail to some extent in fulfilling their obligations.  Therefore, before criticizing the other or being harsh with the other due to some shortcoming, each one should look first to themselves and realize what wrong they may be doing.

Common Rights Between the Two

There are some rights which each of the two spouses has over the other.  These include:

  1. The right to enjoy each other.
  2. The right to inherit from each other.
  3. The right of confirmation of the lineage of their children.

Rights of the Wife/Obligations of the Husband

Allah said in the Qur'an:

{Wa lahunna mithlu alladhiy 'alaihinna bi al-ma'roofi}
{And for them (women) similar to what is upon them according to what is right.} Al-Baqarah:228

Commenting on this verse, Ibn Katheer wrote that the spouses have similar rights upon one another and each must do his or her best to fulfill the other's rights.  In the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet (sas), stated:

"...wa ittaqoo Allaha fiy an-nisaa'i. Fa innakum akhadhtumuhunna bi amaani Allahi wa istahlaltum furoojahunna bi kalimati Allahi wa lakum 'alaihinna alla yooti'na furushakum ahadan takrahoonahu fa in fa'alna dhalika fadhriboohunna dharban ghaira mubarrihin wa lahunna 'alaikum rizquhunna wa kiswatuhunna bi al-ma'roofi."
"...And beware of Allah concerning women.  You have taken them as a trust from Allah and have made their bodies lawful to you by the word of Allah.  You have the right upon them that they no allow anyone in your house that you dislike.  If they do that, you may hit them in a way which does no harm.  They have a right over you for sustenance and clothing according to what is right."  Muslim

The rights of the wife over the husband which we will discuss in this chapter are as follows:

  1. The dowry
  2. Support
  3. Kind and proper treatment
  4. Marital relations
  5. Not to be beaten
  6. Privacy
  7. Justice between multiple wives
  8. To be taught her religion
  9. Defense of her honor

The rights of the husband over the wife which we will discuss are:

  1. Being head of the household
  2. To be obeyed in all that is not disobedience to Allah
  3. Marital relations
  4. That she not allow anyone in the house of whom he disapproves
  5. That she not leave the house without his permission
  6. That she cook for him and keep his house (two opinions)
  7. To be thanked for his efforts
  8. That she now fast a voluntary fast without his permission

Next: Rights of the Wife Over the Husband