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I Can’t Wrap My Head Around Idea of Being Obedient Servant to Husband



Reply Date

Jun 19, 2019


I’ve been reading a bunch of articles on your website, and they’ve been so helpful!!

To give you some background, my boyfriend (A Sunni Muslim from India) introduced me to Islam a while ago, and we’ve been discussing my conversion for a bit now (he wants me to truly believe in it and not just convert for him). However, it is a requirement for us to get married.

There are some questions he is unable to answer and some “requirements” he has stated that feel inherently “wrong” to me (I’m not trying to criticize the Quran or God, just explain how much certain things my boyfriend says deeply bother me). For example, I have been listening to the Quran, but I had not yet gotten to the Surah about The Women. He informed me that women in Islam are expected (as stated almost explicitly in this Surah), to be obedient to their husbands and ask permission (to go out of the home, etc.). I did look up this Surah after, but I am still struggling to understand how women, especially those raised in the west, apply it to their lives. I understand that there are certain rights that a wife and husband have in a relationship, but I cannot wrap my head around the idea that women always being obedient to their husbands is one of them. Of course I would consult my boyfriend on topics I believe really only affect me (and even defer the final say to him on joint decisions), not out of obedience, but respect for his opinion and wisdom. And I would expect him to do the same. The same goes for idea of permission. I’m fine with saying to him “hey is it cool if I miss dinner tonight to go out with my friends?” if he asks me the same thing in return. But when it is just me asking, I feel less like partners and more like a master and an obedient servant.

I trust my boyfriend, but I also need the right to make my own choices. How I interpret his statement is a request for me to give up my free will to another human being, something I would not give to anyone. I really care for him and want to reconcile this issue, but I cannot accept it as he as explained.

So I’m emailing you to ask for another opinion on how Muslim women (especially one in America) might handle this situation or how you think it should be applied. So much of Islam makes sense to me, but there are certain issues like this on which I can’t accept my boyfriend’s opinion. I was hoping for someone’s example of how they handle this in their day to day life, how they apply the specifications of the Quran to a modern existence in America.

Thank you so much for your help. I’m incredibly grateful. And I wanted to apologize for any misconceptions, unintentional insults, or incorrect information I have relayed in this email. I don’t pretend to know very much about Islam as I am still learning and looking for different perspectives.

Thank you again.



About Leah Mallery

Leah is a Muslim convert of almost a decade. She has two kids, an intercultural marriage, and half of a French degree in her back pocket, looking to switch gears to science and medicine. She has lived abroad for over a decade, having just recently become reacquainted with her roots in America. She currently lives in Michigan near her family and – masha’Allah – a sizeable Muslim community.

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