Islamic Law regarding
rights and obligations of husband and wife
Islam has put great stress on the relationship
of husband and wife. It has clearly laid down the respective
rights and obligations to avoid confusion and complication in this
The basis of husband-wife relationship is love
and compassion. In this regard the Quran states,
"And among His sings is
this that He has created mates from among yourselves, that you may
live in comfort with them, and he has put love and compassion
among you (husband and wife). Surely in that are sings for those
who think " (30: 21)
The role of husband normatively revolves round
the principles that it is his solemn duty to Allah to treat his
wife with kindness, honour and patience, to keep her honourably of
free her from marital bond honourably, and to cause her no harm of
grief (Quran, 2 : 229-32 and 4 : 19).
The wife's position has been explained in the Quran by saying
"Women have similar
rights over men as men have over women."
(2 : 228)
The husband in Islamic law is under obligation
to maintain her wife. Maintenance includes the wife's right to
lodging, clothing, nourishing, care and well being. The wife has a
right to enjoy all these things according to her status and
according to capacity of her husband.
The wife, however, loses her right of
maintenance, according to the unanimous opinion of the Muslim
jurists, in case of Nushuz, that is her hatred of defiance of
husband or her attraction to another person.
In case of husband's recalcitrance to maintain
wife, the law enforcement agencies are required to enforce
maintenance. The majority of Muslim jurists also allows the wife
the right to seek divorce in such a case. If she wishes so, the
court must comply with her request and grant her the divorce.
The wife has also the right to receive dower
from the husband at the time or in consequence of marriage. The
dower is a gift of husband to his wife. This symbolises an
assurance of economic security from the husband towards wife. The
amount can be big or small depending on mutual agreement and
economic condition of the two parties. This is, however, no price
of sexual enjoyment. This can not be so because sexual enjoyment
is not a one-sided affair. (Ref: The Family Structure in Islam,
Chapter 3, by Dr. Hammudah Abdul Ati, American Trust
The main obligation of the wife as a partner in
a marital relationship is to contribute to the success and
blissfulness of the marriage as much as possible. She should be
attentive to the comfort and well being of her mate. The Quran
mentions good wife as "comfort of eyes."
(25 : 74)
The husband has been stated by scholars as the
head of the family in Islamic family system. It is the duty of all
family members to obey him in lawful matters. However, Islam has
enjoined on all Muslims to manage their affairs (which includes
family affairs) by mutual consultation. However, in case of
disagreement, the head of the family should be obeyed. The mutual
relation of men and women in Islam is that of "friend" and not of
master and servant. The Quran says,
"Believers men & women
are friends to one another (Wali), they enjoin right, forbid
wrong, establish Salat, pay Zakat ,obey Allah & His Prophet"
(9 : 71)
This is the last verse of the Quran on man-woman
relationship and it shows that duties of men and women are
basically same. (Please also refer verses 30
: 21; 3 : 194; 2 : 187; 33 : 35)
Husband alone has the right of sexual intimacy
with wife. The wife must not allow any other person to have access
to that which is exclusively the husband's right. Wife has similar
right in this regard.
Islam has given the correct principles and
instructions regarding rights and obligations of husband and wife.
These principles, if obeyed in true spirit, would ensure better
family and social life.