In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
If according to the custom prevailing in your culture or country, it has been deemed to be the responsibility of the parents to provide for the same before consummation, then the custom prevails. If not, you have to support her before the consummation of marriage.
Responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
Once the marriage contract has been formalized, generally speaking, it is the husband’s responsibility to provide maintenance and support for his wife. Allah says, “Men are protectors of women, because of what (strength) Allah has given the one more than the other, and because of what they spend of their property (to maintain them).” (An-Nisaa’ 4:34)
The responsibility for maintenance includes food, shelter, clothes and other legitimate expenses such as medical and others.
There are, however, certain exceptions to the above rule.
First, if according to the custom prevailing in your culture or country, it has been deemed to be the responsibility of the parents to provide for the same before consummation, then the custom prevails, since marriage is more of a social contract than a ritual and as such customs are to be taken into account so long as they do not contradict any of the stated principles of the Shari`ah.
Second, if there is no such custom dictating that the parents provide maintenance, and yet you have a general understanding before or at the time of marriage with your wife and her parents that you would assume responsibility only on consummation of the marriage, then you may also be excused from this responsibility.
If neither of the above is the case, then, definitely it is your responsibility as a husband to maintain your wife once the marriage contract has been finalized.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.