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I would like to know about the limits of the requirement for women to obey their husbands.


Selam alaikum,

I would like to know about the limits of the requirement for women to obey their husbands.

There seems to be a difference of opinion about the things in which things the wife should obey and on which it is not required.

All agree that the wife is not to obey in things that are prohibited by Allah.

But some hold that the wife should obey her husband literally in everything which may leave the woman without freedom in the smallest detail of her life.

Others think it involves things required by Islam and those related to the husband’s rights – but not to other things.

Where does the line go and why? Is either of the above mentioned affirmed by the Quran or the Hadith?


Wa Alaykumussalam

Thank you for your question


الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنْفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ..

 Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded…(Surah Nisa/34)


The wife should obey her husband in all matters except things which are prohibited by Allah. But this doesn’t mean the husband should be too strict in other matters. Allah (swt) has made the marriage, a strong bond between a husband and a wife to reach the proximity of Allah(swt). In order to reach those spiritual levels, husband and wife should have good relationship between themselves as they are referred as a “garment for each other” in the Holy Qur’an(Surah Baqarah/187).

There can be a mutual understanding on some of the matters in our lives where once permission is taken would be enough. Like a husband; who has allowed his wife to go out whenever she wants,  who has allowed his wife to use his wealth, who has allowed his wife to take her decisions on her own etc. Once these understandings are built, the wife can have an easy life where she doesn’t require the permission again. But it is always better to discuss and take further steps to prevent mishaps.


Some rules regarding obedience towards husband in a permanent marriage according to Ayatullah al-Udhma Sayyid Ali Sistany:

Ruling 2430. It is unlawful for a woman in a permanent marriage to leave the house without the permission of her husband even if this does not infringe on his rights, except in the following cases: [i] a necessity requires her to; [ii] staying in the house causes her hardship (Haraj); [iii] the house is not appropriate for her. Also, she must submit to giving her husband sexual pleasure, which is his right, whenever he wishes. She must also not prevent him from having sexual intercourse with her without a legitimate excuse (ʿudhr). It is obligatory on a husband to provide his wife with food, clothing, housing, and other things that she needs. If he does not provide these for her, irrespective of whether he is able to or not, he will be indebted to her. Furthermore, one of the rights of a wife is that her husband must not subject her to harassment or abuse, and he must not treat her in a harsh or rough manner without a legitimate reason.

Ruling 2431. If a woman does not perform any of her marital duties with regard to her husband, she has no right over him for food, clothing, and housing, even if she continues to live with him. And if she sometimes refuses to submit to her husband’s legitimate sexual wants, then based on obligatory precaution he is not exempted from providing her with her maintenance. As for her dowry, if she does not perform her duties, he is in no way exempted [from owing her it].

Ruling 2432. A man has no right to compel his wife to do housework.


Question: What are the legal obligations of a wife towards her husband?

Concise Answer: The sustainability, continuity and stability of a marital life depend on love, understanding and respect for mutual rights.  In order for the family, which is small social unit, to be solidified and strengthened, the religion of Islam has made an arrangement in a way such that it has determined specific rights for the wife and husband. It has also assigned some duties to them against these rights. In this study, we shall take up the discussion on women’s duties and obligations towards men. Some of the most important legal duties of a woman towards her husband are the following:

  1. Accepting husband as head of the family: If a problem arises in the family, its solution rests with the final view of the husband. In fact, this duty of the husband should be fulfilled in an appropriate frame and within the limits set by the Islamic Shari’ah. He cannot misuse this duty to his own interest and to the disadvantage of his wife.
  2. Wife’s submission and obedience: The wife should be available for her husband; she should surrender herself to her husband for sexual intercourse or other conventional pleasures to the extent she is expected in common view. In case she is in her menses or is sick or has other valid excuses, she has the right to refrain from surrendering herself to her husband.
  3. Place of residence: A woman should live in the place of residence chosen by her husband except for when her husband should have relegated the right to his wife or when the residential place is so bad that it is below the social status of the wife or when it is insufferable and physically harmful to her health.
  4. She may not go out of her house without her husband’s consent nor should she let any one in unless her husband permits. This obligation should be observed and carried out within the customary limit except for some exceptions such as when a woman wants to go out to perform obligatory Hajj or to visit a doctor for medication or when staying indoor may be harmful to her physical health or to her reputation.
  5. A woman should obey her husband in terms of starting a job or the type of a job she may wish to take up especially when it is against the prevailing social norms or dichotomous with the woman’s position or status.

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Unfortunately, there are some husbands who are very strict in all regards concerning their wives, such as they won’t allow their wives to visit or speak to their parents etc. there should be some leniency in the relationship to live a happy life.

We should learn from the lives and relationship between Imam Ali (as) and Bibi Fatima (as) as husband and wife. A few days after their wedding, Prophet Muhammad(saww) called on his daughter, and asked her how she had found her husband. She said that she found him the best companion in giving devotion and obedience to God. Later, he asked Imam Ali(as) how he had found his wife, and he said that he found her the best companion in giving service to the Creator.

Prophet Muhammad (saww) said: “No house has been built in Islam more beloved in the sight of Allah than through marriage.” (Wasa’il ul-Shi’a, vol. 14, p. 3)

To make the house beloved, there should be mutual understanding between husband and wife. They should live a happy life by acting upon the Islamic duties towards each other. No sort of Zulm or oppression be done on each other, then only the house will become a house which our Prophet is referring to.


May Allah(swt) grant you success


Syed Haider