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Can a wife refuse to sleep with her husband if he is not fulfilling her rights

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by DarulIftaBirmingham

Answered by: Maulana Muhammad Afzal Hussain


I need to ask if my husband doesn’t want to spend time with me inside the house or outside or on the weekend and in particular his behaviour is such that the world revolves around him then what is ruling to share(sleep) the bed with him for me? I am very upset and hurt at present.


It is narrated by `Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-As:Allah’s Messenger said, “O`Abdullah! Have I not been formed that you fast all the day and stand in prayer all night?” I said, “Yes, O Allah’s Messenger!” He said, “Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.” [Bukhari: 5199]

In another hadith, it is narrated by Ibn Umar Radiallahu Anhu: The Prophet Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam said, “All of you are guardians and are responsible for your subjects. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects, the man is a guardian of his family, the woman is a guardian and is responsible for her husband’s house and his offspring; and so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your subjects.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Riyadus Saliheen: 283].

This hadith ordains every individual in society, whether he is a ruler or a ruled citizen or even a woman who leads her life within the four walls of her house, to perform his or her duties within his or her own sphere. Not only that, every person has been made responsible to reform the state of affairs in his control and establish equality and justice because he will be held accountable for any negligence on his part in this respect.

Allah said, “And live with them (wives) honourably.” (Al-Baqarah: 228)

And live with them honourably by saying kind words to them, treating them kindly and making your appearance appealing for them, as much as you can, just as you like the same from them. Allah said in another Ayah, ‘and they have rights similar over them to what is reasonable.’ (2:228)

The Messenger of Allah said, the best among you is he who is the best with his family. Verily, I am the best one among you with my family. It was the practice of the Messenger of Allah to be kind, cheerful, playful with his wives, compassionate, spending on them and laughing with them. The Messenger used to race with Aishah, the Mother of the Faithful, as a means of kindness to her. Aishah said, “The Messenger of Allah raced with me and I won the race. This occurred before I gained weight, and afterwards I raced with him again, and he won that race. He said, this (victory) is for that (victory).” When the Prophet was at the home of one of his wives, sometimes all of his wives would meet there and eat together, and they would then go back to their homes. He and his wife would sleep in the same bed, he would remove his upper garment, sleeping in only his lower garment. The Prophet used to talk to the wife whose night it was, after praying Isha’ and before he went to sleep.

Allah said: And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, This Ayah indicates that the wife has certain rights on her husband, just as he has certain rights on her, and each is obliged to give the other spouse his due rights.

Imam Muslim reports that Jabir Radiallahu Anhu said that Allah’s Messenger said: Fear Allah regarding your women, for you have taken them by Allah’s covenant and were allowed to enjoy with them sexually by Allah’s Words. You have the right on them that they do not allow anyone you dislike to sit on your mat. If they do that, then discipline them leniently. They have the right to be spent on and to be bought clothes in what is reasonable.

Bahz bin Hakim said that Muawiyah bin Haydah Al-Qushayri related that his grandfather said, “O Messenger of Allah! What is the right the wife of one of us has?” The Prophet said: To feed her when you eat, buy her clothes when you buy for yourself and to refrain from striking her on the face, cursing her or staying away from her except in the house.

Waki related that Ibn Abbas said, “I like to take care of my appearance for my wife just as I like for her to take care of her appearance for me. This is because Allah says: (And they (women) have rights similar (to those of their husbands) over them to what is reasonable).” This statement is reported by Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abu Hatim.

It is clear from the aforementioned information that the wife has a right to be provided with accommodation, food, medication, clothing, basic Islamic education and all basic human needs and rights.

Regarding your question about sharing the bed (sleeping) with your husband, there are ahadith, which clearly explains that a wife should not refuse the husbands call to intimacy.

For example, Abu Hurairah Radiallahu Anhu reports: Messenger of Allah said, “When a man calls his wife to his bed, and she does not respond, the angels curse her until morning”. [Al-Bukhari: 5193,  Riyadus Saliheen: 281].

However, if a woman refuses to sleep with her husband or does not allow the husband to sleep with her, then if it is done with the intention to rectify his behaviour so that he can feel remorse at what he has done to his wife, then for a temporary period she can do that. This particular rule can be derived from the story of Kaab Ibn Malik Radiallahu Anhu who did not attend the Battle of Tabuk, which resulted in the Prophet Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam and the companions boycotting him for fifty days.

Only Allah Knows Best

Written by Maulana Muhammad Afzal Hussain   

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

This answer was collected from DarulIftaBirmingham.co.uk, which is run under the supervision of Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah from the United Kingdom.

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