What are the Rights of Wife over Her Husband?

The women's rights in Islam include their right as wives in the marital relationship as well. In Islam, marriage is not confined to satisfying physical and emotional needs. There are many verses, stories, and narrations speaking about different aspects of marriage, including the mutual rights that the couple has over one another.

 

In this article, the rights of the wife over her husband have been summarized into the following two categories of financial and non-financial. It is noteworthy that this classification is embedded neither in the Quran nor the narrations and therefore, other classifications from other perspectives are also possible.

 

women's rights, family in Islam, Salam Islam

 

Financial Rights of Women as Wives

 

It is obligatory for a man to pay marriage portion (Sedaq) to his spouse as one of the most significant women's rights in Islam. The marriage portion is, by definition, a property which a husband gives his spouse upon marriage. This mandatory payment whether in the form of money or possession is upon husband until the time he fulfills it.

 

In due course, his wife has the right to either ask for or forgo it. In the case of forgoing, the husband is no longer required to fulfill this duty. Interestingly, in contrast with the idea which regards marriage portion as a price for a woman, a marriage without a fixed marriage portion is also correct [1].

 

But, how much should the marriage portion be? Islam has not specified the exact amount of the marriage portion. However, the amount of five hundred silver coins (Derham), which is equal to today’s $724.5 [i], fixed by the Prophet (PBUH) for his wives and daughters is an encouraged model for Muslims. On account of this, it has been recommended that the marriage portion doesn’t exceed this fixed amount. Nevertheless, any amount of marriage portion that both parties agree upon is allowed by Islam [2].

 

Furthermore, a man is financially obligated to pay for the living expenses of his spouse (Nafaqah) including food, clothes, shelter, living necessities and the things that a wife usually needs in her life [3]. It makes no differences in this duty of the husband, whether his spouse earns money out of work or not, since she is not required to provide for the family [4].

 

As for the woman’s property, her husband also doesn’t have the right to take the outcome of her efforts into his possession [5]. Even if the wife asks wages for her works inside the house, the husband is supposed to pay, due to the Islamic laws [6]. God has underscored this supportive role of the men in the Quran as follows: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women… (4:34)”

 

women's rights in Islam, Salam Islam, family in Islam

However, the man is responsible for arranging the comfort of his spouse as long as she does not disobey his legal demands [7]. Moreover, it makes no sense whatsoever to take the duty of providing the sustenance of the family as the sign of superiority of the man over his spouse [8].

 

When the husband dies his spouse inherits from him as well. According to the Islamic rules of inheritance, the woman is entitled to one-fourth of her spouse’s property in the case that he leaves no child as heir. But, if her spouse has any children, she is just entitled to one-eighth of her spouse’s property [9]. However, this topic in different cases includes some details which have been elaborated in the judicial sources.

 

Non-financial Women's Rights in Islam as Wives

 

The second type of women's rights in Islam concerns the moral rights of the wife. Our infallible Imams (A.S) reportedly advised their followers to be kind and respectful toward their wives and treat them gently. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says: “The best of you are the ones who treat their family the best, and I am the best of you towards my family.” [10]

 

He, also, on various occasions recommended his companions to help their wives in the household chores and outlined many rewards for them regarding this act [11]. When some people inquired from him about the rights of a wife over her husband, he answered: “He should overlook her minor faults, and if she commits a major mistake then he should forgive her.” [12]

 

women's rights in Islam, Salam Islam, family in Islam

 

Imam Sajjad (A.S) has beautifully described women's rights in Islam and men’s moral duties toward their wives by demonstrating the blessings which God grants them through marriage: “The right of your wife is that you know that God has made her a repose and comfort for you; you should know that she is God’s favor towards you, so you should honor her and treat her gently.”[12]

 

Notes:

[i] This amount has been calculated based on the price of silver on 11th of November 2016. It may need further modification in future.  

References:

[1] Islamic View on Human Rights: Viewpoints of Iranian Scholar.

[2] http://www.hadith.net/.

[3] Ali Ibn Hussein Zaynul Abidin, A commentary on Imam Sajjad’s “The Treaties of Rights,” translated by Ali Peiravi, Ansariyan Publication.

[4] Islamic View on Human Rights: Viewpoints of Iranian Scholar; this book is available at https://www.al-islam.org/.

[5] Makarem Shirazi, Naser, 180 Questions Enquiries about Islam, translated by Shahnawaz Mahdavi, vol. 1.

[6] Khorasani, Hussein Vahid, Islamic Laws, Create Space Independent Publishing, 2014, p. 393.

[7] Hussein, Jamila, Islam, Federation Press, 2011, p. 109.

[8] Kamrava, Mehran, The New Voice of Islam: Rethinking Politic and Modernity: a Reader, University of California, 2006, p. 163.

[9] Shabir Khan, Muhammad, Status of Women in Islam, APH Publishing, 1996, p. 50.

[10] Ali Ibn Hussein Zaynul Abidin, A commentary on Imam Sajjad’s “The Treaties of Rights”, translated by Ali Peiravi, Ansariyan Publication.

[11] Javadi Amoli, Abdollah, Mafatih al-Hayat, Asra, 2012, p. 257.

[12] Rizvi, Athar Hussein, Islamic Marriage, World Islamic Network.

[13] Ali Ibn Hussein Zaynul Abidin, As-Sahifa Al-Kamilah Al-Sajjadiyya, Muhammadi Trust of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.