Marriage to a male who does not have an income

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher

The problem I have is that I have been seeing this boy as a ‘friend’ for approximately 4years. We intend getting married as soon as possible, but the problem is that he is still studying and has no income. I am working and will be able to support both of us on my salary. Our parents believe that the husband has a duty to support his wife.

My question is whether we should continue waiting until he finds a job or would it be more advisable to make the relationship halaal by getting married?

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

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

Dear Sister,

I pray this message finds you well.

My apologies for the delay.

Sacred Law requires that men have a certain measure of financial stability in order to get married.

According to Reliance of the Traveller, a book of Shafi’i jurisprudence, “a man who needs to marry (because of desire for sexual intercourse) and has enough money (for the bride’s marriage payment), for clothing for the season of the year in which he marries, and the expenditures of one day) is recommended to do so (to protect his religion). One who needs to marry but does not have enough to pay for these expenses is recommended not to marry, but rather to suppress his sexual desire by fasting…” [Reliance, m1.1]

Once married, the husband is required to provide financial support in the form of:

1. Food

2. Articles for personal hygiene

3. Clothing

4. Housing

5. And any expenses related to pregnancy and childbirth

[Reliance, m11.0-11.8]

Sacred Law sets down the minimum standards for financial support. In other words, a man has to have these minimum requirements in order to get married. If a man does not have the means to marry, he should fast because this is a way of guarding his chastity. If fasting does not suppress his desire, then he is permitted to borrow what he needs to get married.

How does this apply to your situation?

1. You and the brother need to make sure you observe the limits of appropriate behavior. This means not being alone together, talking on the phone, or having unsupervised contact. Obviously, this is a protection for you both. I know it’s difficult to be in a situation where you feel strongly for each other but cannot afford to marry. Keep in mind, however, that chastity is a precious thing. If you want the pleasure of Allah Most High, you need to cut off all improper contact. Think about the future.

2. It is possible for you to get married and shoulder the financial responsibilities. Please understand that this isnot a suggestion! You should wait until the brother is able to provide at least the basics. However, if you should choose to help him, anything you spend for your support will become a debt he owes to you. His religious obligation is to take care of you. Think long and hard before you decide to spend your own money. You don’t want to end up being the “man.” Often, when women end up supporting men, it negatively affects their marriage, with the man feeling insecure and the woman feeling taken advantage of. Just be aware of this. And also realize that anything you spend on your husband will be sadaqa, charity, and entails great reward for you.

3. Your parents will want to see some evidence of finacial stability from the brother. So please get their blessing before proceeding with your plans. If your parents agree, and if you feel that it is the best thing for your religion, then it is possible to enter into a marriage contract with the brother, but still remain at home until he is ready to support you. This situation has its difficulties, but at least you are married, and any ensuing physical contact will be lawful. Keep in mind, however, that once you have entered into a contract, the brother owes you your marriage payment, mahr, and financial support according to his means.

Finally, here are some articles on SunniPath that may be of benefit:

Salat al-Istikhara: The Guidance Prayer

Marriage: What is the rightful process to find out about each other?

Stipulations in a Marriage Contract Concerning Financial Support and Maintenance

And Allah knows best.


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