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Am I being a controlling husband or is she being a disobedient wife?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

Salamalikum, I live in the US and have been married to my wife for almost 4 years. Please help guide us in this significant disagreement that has led us to separation. What I believe is a case of a wife’s disobedience she insists is my backwardness in mentality. My wife has a full-time job that she drives to in her own car at her own will. I asked her to give up working upon marriage but she insisted she wanted to work as it enables her to support her divorced mother and siblings. I do not have a problem with this. Recently she has quit her job while I was out of the country and moved back with her mother alleging that I am a “control freak” and “sick in the head” who wants to imprison her. The reason for her claim are the following 4 events that have occurred over the last 4 years of our marriage Event 1: While I needed to travel abroad on a business trip, she wanted to go to my younger brother’s new in-laws (out of state) to buy clothes from his mother in-law. I told her that it is not appropriate for her to go out of state to my brother’s in-laws by herself. There are multiple non-mahram men in their house that I do not know well. I suggested to my wife that if she really must go then she should take my mother (her mother in-law) whom she gets along with. This led her to conclude that either I am a restrictive, suffocating husband or I am doubtful of her character. This disagreement led to discord Event 2: While she accompanies me to the masjid for juma prayers, she wants to go to the masjid to socialize with other women in the evening. She insists that if I do not go with her, she wants to go alone. Again, I advised her to not go alone and if she must go, take one of my family members with her. She insists that I am restricting her rights by not letting her go to the masjid. Event 3: My wife and I go for juma prayers every week. While my wife wears a scarf and seemingly understands the concept of modesty, she wore an extremely bright red, eye-catching dress. Needless to say that she stood out in the entire crowd. In the car, on our drive back I tried to explain to her that modesty goes beyond covering your hair and that wearing an eye-catching bright red dress should be discouraged. She got really upset over this. Event 4: She met a married muslim woman whom she wanted to befriend. She visited their house with me a few times. The woman hesitated to come to visit our house due to me (non-mahram) being present yet invited my wife to visit her instead. Note that woman’s husband and her brother in-law live with her. My wife went a couple of times by herself but I told her it is not appropriate for her to go there alone. She insists that if I am serious about the above points I should accompany her everywhere whenever she wants. This is not practical as in addition to working two jobs I am also a PhD student. However, despite the numerous professional responsibilities, I spend every weekend with her and usually take her on trips/drives every two weeks if not more. During the weekdays I am home before she is. While I understand that she may have a higher need to socialize with other people, I believe these are inappropriate settings for a young woman to be in by herself. She does not agree that her husband has a say in this. Please note, that my wife has been free to host any of her friends and family at our house for extended periods (days to months) without any restriction. She has also had a free hand in terms of visiting her family (out of state). She also has no financial restrictions (alhamdulilah I make enough to carry our expenses comfortably) she also has no restrictions in where/when she can go to shop or seek out any essentials. She leaves the house from 8am-6pm every day for the week by herself and I am fine with that, however in the few occasions I have exercised my right as a husband to forbid her from certain situations, she has opposed me vehemently and labeled me as a sick, controlling man with a way of thinking that is not compatible with modern times. She recently left our house without my consent (while I was out of the country on a business trip) and essentially we are at the verge of divorce for a combination of other similarly nuanced claims of which my being over-controlling is one. As a short introduction, for whatever it is worth – I pray 5 times a day, fast, give zakah and strive every moment to live as a good, productive and impactful muslim citizen of the world. I am a scientist by training and have been educated fortunately at some of the best universities in the world. My wife is an accountant and I believe is a good person and Islam is also an important part of her life –except for her inability (in my view) to understand the concept of obedience to her husband. Kindly guide us on this matter. Am I being a controlling husband or is she being a disobedient wife?


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

We take note of the four events in reference. If what you have stated reflects the realities of the situations, then you have exercised your Shari right as a husband over your wife.

However, we advise you to attempt a reconciliation and address the disagreements through the intervention of a mutually agreed person.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Huzaifah Deedat

Student Darul Iftaa
Lusaka, Zambia 

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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