What are the Husband's Rights over His Wife?

When you hear this question the first thing that comes to your mind is probably the following: “Do husbands have rights too?” and "What are husband's rights in Islam?" In today’s modern societies whenever the issue of rights is discussed, particular groups are considered; mainly women and children.

 

However, it seems that men’s or husband's rights have been neglected or never talked about since no one thought it was necessary!

 

Here we want to pay our attention to MEN and specifically those men who are involved in family life, say husbands!

 

husband's rights, family in Islam, marriage in Islam

Husband’s Status in Family

 

Since in Islam, the family is seen as an essential entity of the society, the wife-husband relations, their responsibilities and rights over one another is to be seen in the light of their status in the family.

 

When a man is called ‘husband,’ it means so much to him. He has to provide, has to fulfill his wife’s needs emotionally and economically.  There are so many responsibilities that a man as a husband has towards his wife, and when it comes to Islamic culture and teachings, it is even more demanding.

 

The only provider in Islam is considered to be the husband, and wife has no responsibility whatsoever to provide for the family, unless she works and earns money only for her own pleasure (She may voluntarily, however, support the family financially. As it is the case in many Muslim families nowadays).

 

The Prophet (PBUH) said: 'Man is the guardian of his family and every guardian has responsibilities towards those under his guardianship' [1].

 

Also, it is mentioned in the Quran that the husband is the ‘manager’:

Men are the managers of women, because of the advantage Allah has granted some of them over others, and by virtue of their spending out of their wealth...’ (4:34)

 

A modern reader of this verse may wonder why men should be the managers. One of the reasons mentioned in the above verse is due to his financial role in the family: ‘and by virtue of their spending out of their wealth...’

 

However, one may argue that, in today’s societies, this is not always the case. Today both men and women work, both earn money, both are educated, and they both have the same virtues. Then, what feature(s) of men has made them capable of being in charge of the family?

 

1. Husband’s Rights: Respect and Obedience

Righteous women are obedient..’ (4:34)

 

What does it mean to be obedient? Can it be applied to today’s societies in which men and women are considered the same?

 

Modern thinkers have mainly focused on the similarities between men and women to defend women’s rights. They have strived to show that women have the same power as men to build the history [2]. At the end of the day, however, they are two ‘unique’ creatures of God, each of them possessing their beauty and strengths that fit well with his or her purpose of being. This is well addressed in the following verse:

And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves...’ (30:21)

 

The word ‘mate’ in the above verse refers to the fact that man and woman are incomplete on their own, and they need each other [3].

 

In other words, men are created to be fathers, the same way that women are created to be mothers! Is it not enough to understand their different duties, rights, and responsibilities?

 

Islam advocates the priority of neither gender; rather it allows every person to fulfill their potentials, without any discrimination.

 

Alexis Carrel, the well-known French physiologist, and biologist admits the fact that men and women have been made differently according to the law of creation and he also confirms that these dissimilarities make their duties and rights dissimilar [2].

 

When Islam introduces husband as the manager, it means he is fully responsible for all family affairs. Accordingly, one of his rights is to be obeyed by family members including his wife and children. 

 

What is primarily important here is that there should be a balance between rights and duties for each member of the family.  When a family is seen as a big picture in which every member has their own role, different rights and duties of husband, wife and children can be easily explained.

 

husband's rights  in Islam

 

2. Husband's Rights: Sexual Availability

 

Parallel to his duties and responsibilities, a husband also has some rights over his wife. Sexual satisfaction is one of them.  A wife has to sexually submit herself to her husband unless during the wife’s state of menstruation:

They ask you concerning [intercourse during] menses. Say, ‘It is hurtful.’ So keep away from wives during the menses, and do not approach them till they are clean’ (2:222)

 

This is indeed one of the advantages that Islam gives to women to protect them.

 

One might argue why sexual availability is considered as a duty for the wife and one of the husband's rights? An examination of the philosophy of marriage in Islam will be helpful to find the answer [4].

 

In Islam wife is considered as husband’s mate towards whom husband take comfort as you can see in the following Quranic verse:

And of His signs is that He created for you mates from your own selves that you may take comfort in them, and He ordained affection and mercy between you...’ (30:21)

 

From the Islamic point of view, if a man is sexually and emotionally satisfied at home he will be protected against corruption outside. Same goes for women of course; hence we have many instructions for men on how to care for their wives and pay attention to their sexual needs.

 

Last word...

 

We can never talk solely about husband's rights or wife’s rights. They are members of one social unit called ‘family’; a unit that is of high value and importance in Islamic teachings. Husband, like the wife, has his own rights and duties.

 

As for his duties, he is considered as the only provider for the family, and as the guardian, he has to take care of his wife and children. As for husband's rights, he has to be sexually and emotionally satisfied by his wife.  Also, as the manager of the family, the husband is to be obeyed.

 

Wife and children must recognize the role of man in the family for the family to stay on the right track. However, man is to provide whatever means possible to fulfill his wife's and children’s needs emotionally and economically.


References:

[1]  Mustadrak, vol 2, p 550.

[2] Mutahhari Murtadha, The Rights of Women in Islam, available at https://www.al-islam.org

[3] Almizan, Tafir, Vol 16. Sura Rum, verse 21. http://www.aviny.com

[4] The Importance of Marriage in Islam’, available at https://www.salamislam.com