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Regarding maintenance (al-nafaqah) for one’s wife? Shelter in particular.

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

Q1 Is it wajib for a husband to provide a room for his wife or does he have to provide a kitchen and bathroom (not shared with the rest of the family) as well. Q2 If he only provides a room and not a separate kitchen and bathroom for his wife, is he a Fasiq (sinner) in Islam, is he committing a minor or major sin? Q3 Can a wife ask for a divorce from her husband if he fails to provide proper shelter, meaning he only gives a room to her but not a kitchen or bathroom of her own? 4a) Lastly could you also explain if the husbands mother and his wife do not get on well together, and there is always great fitna in the house, (troubles and arguments etc) would it become WAJIB for the husband to provide a place for his wife, separate from his mother to avoid the fitna even if his wife is of lower financial class (only entitled to a room)? Note that every thing possible was done to solve the situation and that the whole family is suffering. And if things get out of hand and get really bad, i.e. wife becomes depressed and ill and children suffer. Will the husband not be sinful in the sight of Allah for not providing separate shelter,even if his wife is of lower financial class (only entitled to a room)? 4b) Is the wife in this particular situation entitled to ask for a divorce from her husband, if he does not provide seperate shelter?


I want to live separate

I am a newly-wed wife and still trying to come to terms with my new role and
circumstance. I personally feel that my husband and myself would be a lot
happier if we were staying on our own rather than in the home of my in-laws.
This is not to say that I am being ill-treated but rather I would feel much
more at ease if I had more privacy especially considering that my brother
has younger brothers also at home. From the viewpoint of the Shari’ah, what
rights do I have in this regard? Also briefly the basic rights of the wife.
May Allah reward you.

While the religion of Islam propagates the loyalty of the wife to the
husband, it also greatly emphasizes on the rights of the wives. The Qur’an
and Ahaadith are replete with such injunctions. Sura Nisaa (S4) and Sura
Talaaq (S65) of the Qur’an specifically discusses the rights of women. In
the light of the Qur’anic injunctions and the Ahaadith of Rasulullah
(Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), the Jurists have outlined 3 basic rights of
the wife.

The above are the basic necessities of every living individual. However,
since the domestic duties (nurturing of the children and caring for the
husband) will occupy the wife fully, it is now Fardh and the sole
responsibility of the husband to provide the wife with the above three

Just as it is Fardh for the husband to read Salaat and to fast, it is also
Fardh to fulfill the rights of the wife. Just as it is a major sin to be
negligent towards the rights in Salaat and fasting in Ramadhaan, so too it
is a major sin to be negligent towards the rights of the wife. If a person
treats the injunctions of Salaat and fasting lightly, it leads to Kufr, so
too if he treats the injunctions of the rights of the wife lightly. Allah
Ta’ala says in the Qur’an Kareem “And provide them shelter where you stay
and do not harm to frustrate them”. (S. 65 V. 6)

When a man divorces his wife, he must provide her shelter during her Iddat.
Even when the marriage has deteriorated, the husband has to provide her
shelter. How much more important it is upon him to fulfill the obligation
during the normal marriage period. The verse clearly indicates that the
husband must provide shelter for the wife. This is to protect her belongings
and her privacy. However, the Jurists have mentioned that the financial
situation of both partners be taken into consideration in fulfilling her
rights. If the husband and the wife (her parents) are of a financially high
class, then the wife is entitled to a completely separate house. If they are
of a financially middle class, then she is entitled to an apartment that is
a room in a house with separate kitchen, toilet and bathroom. If they are of
a financially low class, then the wife is only entitled to a separate room.
It is not permissible for any person of the house to enter her room without
her consent. She is not entitled to a private kitchen, toilet and bathroom.
She will have to share these facilities with the other members of the house
(Shami Vol. 2).

Since the financial situation of every individual differ according to his
income, expenses, etc. therefore it is difficult to precisely specify a
ruling without intimate knowledge of the financial situation of the specific
case. Every individual must fear Allah Ta’ala, understand his obligation and
fulfill it accordingly. The husband will be answerable to Allah if he failed
in carrying out his duty in fulfilling the rights of the wife. If the
husband is of a high or middle financial ranking, he cannot impose upon his
wife to stay in the same house of the parents. If she stays with them on her
own wish and accord then it is her choice.

Especially cases where the parents are very emotionally attached to the son
(or grandchildren) or are in need of the Khidmat (care) of the son; should
the wife make a personal sacrifice, she will then receive great reward.
However, she cannot be compelled.

And Allah Knows Best.

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

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

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