What Are the Rights of the Wife?

22 February, 2017
Q I have noticed that many Pakistani and Indian sisters, especially those who are newly wed, are treated live slaves by their in-laws. Is there any Islamic basis for this?

Answer

Asalamu Alaikum,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

Brother Nouman Ali Khan, founder of Bayyinah Institute, addresses this question in the video below:

Transcript: 

Asalamu Alaikum everyone, during the Gulf tour, I received a number of letters. Here is one of them. I am a non-Muslim working in Kuwait for a few years.

And I’ve been very close to accepting Islam, as I was impressed by a very pious Muslim colleague and wanted to marry him (atcha).

So, I wanted to learn more about Islam. The man that I like is a Pakistani brother. And to know his culture I got close to another Muslim, female colleague who is married to a Pakistani family.

I’m studying about Islam and Quran where the rights of a wife are so impressive and full of equity.

But when I see my female friend’s life … she is asked to do so much work for her in-laws and is forced by her husband to take care of her mother-in-law.

And the mother-in-law tortures her a lot by creating fights between the couple. Also the sisters-in-law are expecting her to work like I a maid all the time.

Her husband is very strict and I see a lot of injustice where he threatens leaving her if she doesn’t listen and do what in-laws want. If this is Islam, then I’m confused about becoming a Muslim. What’s your advice?

This is actually not the first time I’ve gotten a question like this one. There are a bunch of people who ask me questions about the rights of women, particularly having to do with in laws. It’s a complicated subject. But I want to lay down a couple of basic things for everybody to understand.

The sister who asked the question, first of all, thank you for your question because it’s not just you. I think it’s countless others that can benefit inshaAllah wa taAllah. The first thing is that in Islam every relationship we have comes with a set of rights and responsibilities.

So, as a man, for instance, I am, I owe certain obligations to my wife. Just like she owes me certain obligations. And I owe certain obligations to my parents. Just like they owe me certain, I have certain rights that they, you know, that I have over them.

Now, the principle is that you cannot allow any one relationship’s rights to do injustice over anybody else’s rights. Now, how do you balance all of these together? Specifically, we’re talking about a husband, wife, and in-laws.

For me, as a son I owe my parents obedience. I owe them respect. I owe them kindness. I owe them anything they ask really. Unless it’s outside of the fold of Islam or they’re asking me to disobey Allah. I really don’t, should not have any qualms in obeying them in every matter.

However, my wife shows them respect, owes them courtesy. She does not owe them obedience. And me expecting from my wife to serve my parents is actually an injustice on my wife. She holds her own parents service. She has parents of her own. These are not her parents. These are your parents.

As a matter of fact, the ties of blood are different from the ties of marriage. And so, to expect from the wife to serve your parents, as a husband, is actually a form of injustice. And this is not something Islamically allowed. And it’s not something, as a matter of fact, it’s not even something sanctioned by Islam.

Some people say, well, you have to obey your husband no matter what he says. That’s not entirely true either. We don’t obey any human being with that disclaimer: no matter what they say. I can’t even obey my parents no matter what they say.

If my dad was telling me to take a student loan with interest in it, I wouldn’t take it. I can’t. It’s disobedience to Allah. I’m not going to do it. If my, if, and as a matter of fact, sometimes you have to even disobey your parents out of respect if they’re being unreasonable.

It has to happen sometimes. If your, you know, your father’s asking you to take a loan, even it’s not an interest based loan, or he’s asking you to go into a business, which you know is going to sink, you absolutely, you know, guaranteed it’s not going to fly, but he wants you to take all of your life savings and put it in that business.

You not listening to your dad in that situation is not disobedience to your father. That’s not how that works. As a matter of fact, our obedience to our parents is within the realm of reason.

And of course, the thing that even when we disobey them, you know, we don’t disobey them at all ever outside the bounds of respect. And, of course, even if things are difficult on us we should still obey them even if they’re difficult on us.

But one day, you know, when there is something completely unreasonable or it’s going to put others in difficulty. The example I just gave you, for instance, if I ruin all of my savings or all of my assets on some business that they want me to get into, that I know won’t work, then I won’t just be doing something they wanted me to do.

I’d be putting my children in difficulty. I’d be putting my wife in difficulty. I’d be putting other people that depend on me in difficulty. I can’t do that. They can do whatever they want with me, but they cannot allow me to do injustice to anybody else.

That’s just not how it works. Then there are families who force the husband to have one account, right, and the parents are co-signers on the account and the wife gets like a twenty-dollar bill every week or something. That’s not how it works either.

You cannot do that. You can’t have your wife: you married her; you took her from her father to become her wali, and you owe her now the same responsibilities her father used to owe her.

And now to treat her like a second-class citizen inside the house or a maid to your parents or to your sisters or somebody else this is all absolutely absurdly ridiculous and this is one of the things you and I are going to be asked about on Judgment Day.


… for the rest of the answer continue watching.

I hope this helps answer your question. You can also check out more from Bayyinah at the link here.

Walaikum Asalam. Please keep in touch.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

https://aboutislam.net/shariah/shariah-and-humanity/shariah-and-life/childs-rights-parents-duties/

https://aboutislam.net/shariah/hadith/cherish-your-wife-the-prophets-way-10-hadiths/

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-about-islam/abuse-womens-rights/