Permission to observe voluntary fast?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher

My wife is really struggling with the idea that why does a woman need to get her husband’s permission to observe voluntary fast? She is really confused about the fact that this is an act between her and Allah, why does she need permission from a human being? She has got some answers from local Imams saying that the man is more inclined towards going out and committing Zina, so that’s why the woman should be readily available for her husband. This answer really made her upset, becuase she contested that there are women out there who are as vulnerable as men. Can you please provide us a detailed answer, becuase she is really struggling with this spiritually and physically.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

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

Praise be to Allah.

May Allah’s peace and blessings shower upon our beloved Messenger.

Dear Brother,

I pray this message finds you and your wife in good health and spirits.

The basis for a woman’s asking her husband’s permission to do a voluntary fast comes from the hadith of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “A woman should not fast (optional fasts) except with her husband’s permission if he is at home (staying with her).” [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 120]

Our duty as Muslims is to approach the teachings of the Prophet, peace be upon him, with the attitude enjoined by the Qur’an, “And it becometh not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His messenger have decided an affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say in their affair; and whoso is rebellious to Allah and His messenger, he verily goeth astray in error manifest.” [Al-Ahzab, 33:36]

The essence of Islam resides in sublimating our inclinations to what the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, brought us.

Please reassure your wife that her seeking your permission to perform a voluntary fast is neither demeaning nor degrading to her. Unlike obligatory fasts, which are an obligation solely due to Allah Most High, voluntary fasts involve the rights of a fellow human being, namely the husband. Out of respect and consideration for each other, both husband and wife should check with each other before performing a voluntary fast.

My teacher told me that the fundamental purposes of marriage are love, intimacy, and companionship. It’s hard to satisfy these purposes if the spouses do not make themselves sexually available to each other. In Islam, marriage is a form of contract, based on the premise that the woman will make herself sexually available to the man with his promise that he will support her and their children. It is the wife’s religious and legal obligation to make herself available to her husband. Likewise, it is the husband’s religious and legal obligation to satisfy his wife. Thus, they keep each other chaste.

Your wife is correct: there are some women out there who are inclined to stray. However, generally speaking, the urge for men to stray is usually much stronger. The rulings of Sacred Law usually address themselves to general cases, rather than exceptions.

When a woman gets her husband’s consent to perform a voluntary fast, she can attain to much baraka (blessing) because:

1. She is following the Sunna of our Beloved Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

2. She is letting her husband know how much she cares about him.

3. She is exemplifying the noble spirit of Islamic marriage: an attitude of loving, compassionate concern.

4. When she exhibits such a positive attitude, Allah willing, her husband will reciprocate.

May Allah Most High bless you and your wife.

And Allah knows best.

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