Wife obeying husband – (Hanbali Fiqh)

Answered according to Hanbali Fiqh by

Assalamualaikum. I come to know that imam Ahmad and other scholars says that the wife is not obligated to do housework and some scholars even say that the husband cannot force her to do housework if she the same time, we know that the women must obey her husband. So how do we balance this? If the husband instructs the wife to do housework must she obey? To what extent must she obey? 

Answered by Imam Zahed Fettah



The standard rule of marriage is that each spouse treats the other with goodness and kindness. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an: “And accompany them (your wives) with goodness” [Qur’an (4:19)]. The details of fiqh should not always be taken as the general rule for marriage. Rather, the rule is kindness and good manners. This should always be kept in mind first before getting into the details of what the law says.

Bearing this in mind, strictly speaking it is not compulsory for a wife to cook and clean the house, but it is recommended for her to do such things, because it is part of the custom of people that wives take care of the housework. This is the official position of the Hanbali madhhab [Sharh al-Muntahā (5/311) and al-Iqnā’ (3/426)].

There is another opinion in the madhhab, which is preferred by Imam ibn Taymiyyah and Shaykh Abdu-l Rahman al-Si’di, which makes it obligatory for a wife to do that which is customary practise, such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the house within reason. This does not mean that the house needs to be in perfect condition at every moment or that she must cook all the time. She is obliged to do that which is reasonable according to the custom of people and her situation.

The ruling of the wife obeying the husband is not an absolute one according to any of the scholars. The schools of law have explained when obedience is obligatory and when it is not obligatory.

Nonetheless, both husband and wife should be reasonable and show excellence to the best of their ability, as opposed to only doing the bare minimum. If the wife refuses to do any of the housework and the husband refuses to allow her to visit her family, then although this is permitted by the letter of the law, such a marriage will not be a successful one, and this is not what Islam has commanded. Each spouse should do their best to make the marriage a success, even if that means compromising within reason, because strong households result in stable communities.

And Allah knows best

This answer was collected from The Hanbali Madhhab website. The answers to the questions are given by Imam Zahed Fattah in accordance to the Hanbali School of Jurisprudence.

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