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Why do we find so many hadiths about the punishments of a wife

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Fatwa.ca


Why do we find so many hadiths about the punishments of a wife, e.g., her prayer not being accepted if she disobeys her husband, she gets cursed by the hoors whenever she annoys him among so many others, but we do not find hadiths about the husband being punished for any abuse he shows towards his wife? I even saw a fatwa of a woman complaining about her husband breaking her arm, and nothing was said about that.

All these things have made me reach the conclusion that if a wife slips and does any mistake towards the husband, this is major sin, and she is automatically cursed, and her prayer is not accepted. But if the husband comes in and breaks her bones, nothing is against him. Or, if that is considered a sin, it is a very minor one.

I am really scared of marriage, because all I see is the punishments of the wife for every single mistake she may make and the superior rights of the husband and no hadiths about him getting punished. If that is the case, then what is the point of getting married as we have to live with the fear that even if we slip with one word we are in huge trouble and abuse against us is ok?

Please I really need to understand why are punishments in hadith only for the wife and not for husband.


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ʿalaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Your question pertains to why more hadith exist about punishment for wives rather than husbands. Before answering, your we wish to highlight some precursor to the subject at hand.

Harming another creature of Allah without right is forbidden. This applies to animals and even more so, to human beings. Harming a human being is even more egregious when her protection was entrusted as a responsibility. A husband who harms his wife purposely and unjustly is an oppressor to her. Allah ta`āla keenly hears the duas of the oppressed.[1]

Mention is even made in the Qur’an to a woman who complained about an injustice from her husband.

قَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّتِي تُجَادِلُكَ فِي زَوْجِهَا وَتَشْتَكِي إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ يَسْمَعُ تَحَاوُرَكُمَا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ

Certainly, has Allah heard the speech of the one who argues with you, [O Muhammad], concerning her husband and directs her complaint to Allah. And Allah hears your dialogue; indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing. (al-Mujādilah 1)

Without knowing the details of the fatwa you have read, a husband, who breaks his wife’s arm instead of protecting her, has committed a major sin, failed in the responsibility Allah gave him, and will answer for it on the Day of Judgment before Allah.

Moreover, a person is neither accountable for that which is beyond their ability nor for that which is done in error. Allah ta`āla states:

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۚ لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ ۗ رَبَّنَا لَا تُؤَاخِذْنَا إِن نَّسِينَا أَوْ أَخْطَأْنَا

Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred.” (al-Baqarah 286)

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah has forgiven my nation for mistakes and forgetfulness, and what they are forced to do.”[2] Hence, if a wife slips or makes a mistake regarding her husband’s rights, be rest assured that it is not a sin nor is she cursed even slightly.

Now, returning to your question, lets understand the broader mechanism in place. Allah ta`āla is Just (al-Ādil). He has shown equity between the genders not by making them compete in the same things but by making them complementary to one another. He says:

وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

Women have rights similar to what they owe in recognized manner though for men there is a step above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise. (al-Baqarah 228)

In other words, wives have rights that equate to the responsibilities given to them, and husbands have rights in a similar way. However, husbands have been tasked a step above with responsibility over the family unit for which they will be accountable before Allah. This is in keeping with Allah’s wisdom.

In our time, the relationship between husband and wife has become one of conflict and comparison. This is a result of an un-Islamic worldview which has crept into our thinking. An un-Islamic worldview sees a struggle between the genders in which each one vies for their rights and their place in the dunya (world). This leads to each spouse becoming distrustful of the other and counting what is owed to them.

In Islam, marriage creates a team with complementing roles and a common goal of pleasing Allah individually and together. Each member has their responsibility to fulfill. Responsibilities have been assigned to both husband and wife. Some rights are exclusive to one gender and some, like kind treatment, showing leniency, and tolerating one another, are common to both.[3] Shirking of those responsibilities may be punishable in this dunya or the Hereafter. Fulfilling them will be rewarding.

First, one should understand that men, in general, have a greater responsibility than women. They are, in their capacity, responsible for what transpires outside and within the house. Outside the home, they have a responsibility for protecting the people, ensuring order, and fulfilling the rights of neighbors and community. This ought to be understood by the men of our Ummah, regardless of whether they fulfil these duties or not.  Since this is primarily their responsibility, all the hundreds of ayāt and hadiths pertaining to these topics and the punishments associated with failing them, applies to men over women.

Next, within the home, they have a responsibility to the wellbeing and rights of their wives, young children, and parents. Specifically, regarding their wives, Allah ta`āla commanded:

وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ

Live with them in kindness. (al-Nisā 19)

The Prophet ﷺ informed us, “All of you are responsible. All of you will be asked about their responsibility… The man is responsible for his family.” Hence, to some degree, the husband is accountable and thus punishable for the wrongs his wife does. However, the wife is not accountable or punishable for her husband’s wrongs.

Additionally, we should not mistake the absence of a mention of a specific punishment with the absence of a punishment. A command without a stipulated punishment is often more threatening, just as parents sometimes tell their children, “If you do such and such, you just wait and see what I’ll do!”

The Prophet ﷺ commanded in the khutbah of his Ḥajj, “Fear Allah concerning women. You have taken them as a security (amānah) from Allah.” He ﷺ advised, “Treat your women with kindness.”[4] These ahadith weigh heavily on the husband and induce fear of khiyānah (treachery) in the responsibility given to them by Allah.

Also, it would be incorrect to count number of hadiths on a topic and relate it to gender. The number of hadith is not an indication towards the severity of the punishment. Likewise, the lack of such specific hadiths for men is not an indication for the absence of punishment.

If we were to entertain this train of thought, one would have to count the number of hadiths burdening men with responsibilities and their subsequent punishments. Or, one would point out that there is an āyah in Surah al-Nisā (above) obligating men to be kind but no such āyah exists specifically addressing women to be kind to their husbands.

Similarly, one could point out the Prophet ﷺ metaphorically placed paradise under the mother’s feet but not the father’s. Or, one may contest there are many hadiths about the rewards of being a good wife, but such rewards are not mentioned for being a good husband, and so on. However, a mindset of competition between the genders is not the mindset Islam inspires.

Instead, we should look at marriage as two people coming together to protect one another from the trials of this dunya and to eventually live together in Jannah. Each one assisting the other in fulfilling their respective and mutual responsibilities.

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed, in that are signs for a people who give thought. (al-Rūm 21)

Rather than fearing failure in your marriage responsibilities, focus and strive for the rewards mentioned. For example, the Prophet ﷺ said, “When a woman observes the five times of prayer, fasts during Ramadan, preserves her chastity and obeys her husband, she may enter by any of the gates of paradise she wishes.”[5]

Finally, to address the question as to why we find hadith explicitly stating the wife’s punishment, perhaps the wisdom is in warning people to not disobey those placed in a position over them. Just as women are warned about disobeying their husbands, men are similarly warned against disobeying their rulers.

The Prophet ﷺ said, “One who withdraws his hand from obedience (to the ruler) will find no support for him when he stands before Allah on the Day of Judgment,” “Whoever obeys the leader has obeyed me, and whoever disobeys the ruler has disobeyed me,” and “Indeed, one who departs from the ruler a handspan, dies the death of the Days of Ignorance (Jāhiliyyah).” Similarly, we find parallels in men following their leaders in the Prophet’s words, “It is obligatory upon a Muslim to listen (to the ruler) and obey whether he likes it or not, except when he is ordered to do a sinful thing; in such case, there is no obligation to listen or to obey.” “Listen to [your rulers] and obey them. They are responsible for their obligations, and you are accountable for yours.” And, “Fulfill the responsibilities due on you (to the ruler), and ask Allah for those rights due to you.” [6]

Similar hadiths are found regarding the obedience of children to their parents and slaves to their masters. The common theme is to avoid fitnah whose wisdom is not lost on anyone, and about which Allah ta`āla clearly states:

وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ

Fitnah is worse than killing. (al-Baqarah 193)

And Allah taʿāla knows best

Maulana Mateen Khan
New Jersey, USA

Checked and approved by:

Mufti Faisal bin Abdul Hamīd al-Mahmudi

[1] رد المحتار على الدر المختار، ابن عابدين، دار الفكر (الشاملة)، ج 6 ص 296
كره كل تعذيب بلا فائدة

صحيح البخاري، كتاب المظالم، باب الاِتِّقَاءِ وَالْحَذَرِ مِنْ دَعْوَةِ الْمَظْلُومِ، حديث 2448
عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم بَعَثَ مُعَاذًا إِلَى الْيَمَنِ، فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ اتَّقِ دَعْوَةَ الْمَظْلُومِ، فَإِنَّهَا لَيْسَ بَيْنَهَا وَبَيْنَ اللَّهِ حِجَابٌ ‏”‏‏.‏

 الموطة لامام مالك، كتاب الأقضية
عَنْ عَمْرِو بْنِ يَحْيَى الْمَازِنِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ لاَ ضَرَرَ وَلاَ ضِرَارَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

سنن ابي داوود، كتاب الأقضية، باب فِي الْقَضَاءِ، حديث 3635
عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّهُ قَالَ ‏ “‏ مَنْ ضَارَّ أَضَرَّ اللَّهُ بِهِ وَمَنْ شَاقَّ شَاقَّ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

صحيح البخاري، كتاب الأدب، باب مَا يُنْهَى مِنَ السِّبَابِ وَاللَّعْنِ، حديث 6044
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ سِبَابُ الْمُسْلِمِ فُسُوقٌ، وَقِتَالُهُ كُفْرٌ

[2] سنن ابن ماجه، كتاب الطلاق، باب طَلاَقِ الْمُكْرَهِ وَالنَّاسِي، حديث 2045
عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَضَعَ عَنْ أُمَّتِي الْخَطَأَ وَالنِّسْيَانَ وَمَا اسْتُكْرِهُوا عَلَيْهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

فتاوی محمودیہ، دار الافتا جامعہ فاروقیہ کراچی، باب احکام الزوجین، ج ۱۸ ص ۵۹۶

[3] فتاوی حقانیہ، جامعہ دار العلوم حقانیہ، باب حقوق الزوجین، ج ۴ ص ۴۳۳

[4] صحيح البخاري، كتاب النكاح، باب الْمَرْأَةُ رَاعِيَةٌ فِي بَيْتِ زَوْجِهَا، حديث 5200
عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ ـ رضى الله عنهما ـ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ، وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ، وَالأَمِيرُ رَاعٍ، وَالرَّجُلُ رَاعٍ عَلَى أَهْلِ بَيْتِهِ، وَالْمَرْأَةُ رَاعِيَةٌ عَلَى بَيْتِ زَوْجِهَا وَوَلَدِهِ، فَكُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ ‏”‏‏.‏

صحيح مسلم، كتاب الحج، باب حَجَّةِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم، حديث 1218
فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ فِي النِّسَاءِ فَإِنَّكُمْ أَخَذْتُمُوهُنَّ بِأَمَانِ اللَّهِ

 صحيح مسلم، كتاب الرضاع، باب الْوَصِيَّةِ بِالنِّسَاءِ، حديث 1468
اسْتَوْصُوا بِالنِّسَاءِ خَيْرًا

[5] مشكاة المصابيح، كتاب النكاح، باب عشرة النساء – الفصل الثاني، حديث 3254
وَعَنْ أَنَسٍ قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «الْمَرْأَةُ إِذَا صَلَّتْ خَمْسَهَا وَصَامَتْ شَهْرَهَا وَأَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا وَأَطَاعَتْ بَعْلَهَا فَلْتَدْخُلْ مِنْ أَيِّ أَبْوَابِ الْجَنَّةِ شَاءَتْ»

[6] رياض الصالحين، كتاب المقدمات، باب وجوب طاعة ولاة الأمر في غير معصية وتحريم طاعتهم في المعصية

This answer was collected from Fatwa.ca, which is a fatwa portal operated by Mufti Faisal al Mahmudi from Canada. 

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