Can Married Couples Live Apart?

05 July, 2018
Q I am a Muslim woman and I want to know if a woman and a man are obliged to live together when they are married or if they can be married and live separately?

Answer

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:

1- Both the husband and wife should try their best to protect themselves from all kinds of evils by staying together. Being with each other will protect them from the snares of the accursed Satan.

2- However, if there is a necessity which warrants temporary separation between both of them, then there is nothing wrong with living apart as long as the separation doesn’t lead any of them to commit any prohibited acts.


Responding to the question, Dr. Sano Koutoub Moustapha, professor of Fiqh and its Principles, International Islamic University, Malaysia, states:

The relations between the spouses should be based on tranquility, love and mercy. Allah says, “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (Ar-Rum 30:21)

Tranquility (sakan), love (mawaddah) and mercy (rahmah) are very important concepts in Islam. These three summarize the ideals of Islamic marriage.

It is the duty of the husband and wife to see that they are a source of comfort and tranquility for each other.

Islam strongly recommends couples to live together and protect each other against evils and devils.

Living together is known to be one of the main objectives of marriage in Islam. The Qur’an describes spouses as sakan which means homes where both couples get love, compassion, mercy, sincere affection and so on. All these would happen when married people stay together.

However, Islam doesn’t prohibit a couple from sometimes living separately as long as the separation doesn’t lead one of them to commit any prohibited actions. Both spouses have the right to ask one another to live together.

However, there is no harm for them to agree on temporary separation on the condition that the objectives of marriage are observed and respected such as continuous communication and fulfillment of obligations.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.