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Why Can’t Women Make Decisions for Themselves Instead of Going From Obeying Fathers to Obeying Husbands?

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Question: Why is it that women in Islam are never allowed to make decisions of their own? Before marriage, they obey their parents and, after, their husbands. Is this because Islam doesn’t see women as fit to make decisions for themselves? How do we draw the line for obeying creation? Does obeying creation mean giving up your own rights as well? Can a husband force you to live with his parents and take your salary? If my husband changes his decision because I wanted something else, am I sinful?

Answer:

Assalamu alaykum,
Thank you for your question. It is perfectly fine for women to make their own decisions within the permission of their caretakers.

Caretakers of women

Allah, Most High, said, “Men are the caretakers of women, as men have been provisioned by Allah over women and tasked with supporting them financially. And righteous women are devoutly obedient and, when alone, protective of what Allah has entrusted them with. And if you sense ill-conduct from your women, advise them ˹first˺, ˹if they persist,˺ do not share their beds, ˹but if they persist,˺ then discipline them ˹gently˺.2 But if they change their ways, do not be unjust to them. Surely Allah is Most High, All-Great. [Qur’an, 4:34]

Allah, Most High, has given women the honor of being taken care of in Muslim society, so they are not left to being impoverished, unprotected, and unsupported with their children. This is a gift, and after some thought and after looking at the atrocities around the world regarding women, you may view this as a mercy.

Obeying your guardian

Obedience to a guardian does not mean giving up your own rights, but rather living with mutual love, respect, and understanding, using the Prophet’s relationships as the standard. May Allah bless him and grant him peace. If your husband were to change a decision based on your preferences, there would be nothing sinful about this, but rather, it would be praiseworthy for taking your feelings into account.

Withholding rights

A man cannot force a woman to live with her in-laws, nor can he forcefully take her salary. These are cultural norms, and on top of that, some men have a hard time giving women these rights because they themselves don’t know the truth. A woman should learn to deal with her father and husband, work with his strengths and weaknesses and intend Allah behind her activities. Allah will always find a way for those who are sincere.

Resources

Please see these links for much more information and detail:
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/im-fearful-islam-causing-depression-can/
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/shafii-fiqh/can-women-student-representatives/
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/what-is-seekersguidance-input-into-the-fight-for-womens-rights/
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/hanafi-fiqh/does-a-working-woman-have-to-give-her-salary-to-her-husband/

May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, Tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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